Confusing Words Clarified: Group E; Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs, Synonyms, Polysemes, etc. +

(lists of "E" sections that are organized into what for some people are confusing groups of words)

All of the main entries in these "Confusing Words" groups are explained, or defined, followed by pronunciations, and sentences which are meant to enhance your understanding of their meanings.

The definitions provided are based on dictionary presentations and are meant to help you differentiate between the various meanings of each word group.

Many current dictionaries, popular writing books, specialized topical resources, and style guides were consulted for these groups so you can develop better word skills and communication tools.

In your daily writing, be aware of what the "right words are for the correct meanings" so you can improve your writing accuracy in a positive way.

A great deal of effort has been devoted to help you grasp the meanings of over 1,700 word groups (or more than 5,100 entry words in the sections) which may be confusing to you so you can utilize them with greater accuracy in your communications.

Your comments and suggestions are always welcome by writing to: E-mail Contact (just click it for an e-mail form) or by typing,, as the address in your e-mail heading.

If you have any problems understanding the pronunciation symbols, go to this Pronunciation Chart for clarifications.

earn, urn
earn (URN) (verb)
To acquire as a result of effort or action: After all of Wiley's hard work, he will earn the prize as the best speller.
urn (URN) (noun)
An ornamental vase for holding the ashes of the dead: The ornamental urn held the ashes of Jodie's father after he was cremated.

Bernardo's fame will earn him the honor of being buried in an urn during a special ceremony in the town square.

earthly, earthy
earthly (URTH lee) (adjective)
Suggestive of belonging to the earth; ordinary, practical: Issac could think of no earthly reason to say no to the request for ice cream on a hot day.
earthy (UR thee) (adjective)
1. Practical and straightforward; open and direct: People were impressed by the speaker's earthy realism.
2. Plain and simple in style: This restaurant tends to serve food that is made with simple, earthy ingredients.
3. Not polite; somewhat rude or crude: Charley's humor tends to be earthy and impolite.

Haley and Art went to the new restaurant which served earthy, organic foods, because neither of us could think of any earthly reason to go to a high-priced restaurant.

eave, eve
eave (EEV, EEVZ) (noun)
The lower edge of a roof that overhangs the wall: The wide eave of the roof was painted bright yellow to contrast with the green walls.
eve (EEV) (noun)
1. Typically used to refer to the night before a special day: December 31 is New Year’s Eve and many people like to go to parties.
2. The period of time just before an important event: The students were nervous on the eve of their graduation.

It was on a cold winter’s eve, just a week before New Year’s Eve, Mary and Andra thought they heard the crack of an icicle breaking from the eave at the front of the house and so they went out to investigate.

effective, effectual, efficient
effective (i FEK tiv) (adjective)
Capable of having a decisive or desired result: Brushing your teeth twice every day is an effective way to reduce tooth decay.
effectual (i FEK choo uhl) (adjective)
Having produced or caused the desired result: A trained police force was effectual in reducing crime in the city.
efficient (i FISH uhnt) (adjective)
Achieving the desired result with a minimum of waste: The new water heater in the kitchen was very efficient.

Reading the manual on teaching fractions is a very effective way to increase the effectual nature of the teachers who are always striving to be efficient.

e.g. (Latin), exempli gratia; i.e. (Latin), id est
e.g. (ig zem" plee GRAY shee uh; ek SEM plee GRAT tee a") (abbreviation, noun)
For example: Many of the products in our stores are imported from many countries, e.g. Germany, Japan, and China.
i.e. (id est) (abbreviation, noun)
That is: used to introduce something that explains a preceding statement more fully or exactly: The medicine needs to be taken for a short period of time; i.e., three to five days.

When the teacher was correcting her students' essays, she noticed that they frequently confused e.g. as in exempli gratia, "for example" with i.e. from id est, "that is", which suggests "a clear explanation is to follow".

egg (noun), egg (verb)
egg (EG) (noun)
The round or oval female reproductive body of various animals, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects, consisting usually of an embryo surrounded by nutrient material and a protective covering: Kirby likes to consume at least one egg every day.
egg (EG) (verb)
To encourage or to incite to action: The basketball fans continued to egg their team on again and again.

The football fans were eager to egg their team on to victory; however, in their enthusiasm, each fan brought an egg to throw at their opponents which disturbed all of the other people who were in the stadium.

egoism, egotism
egoism (EE goh iz" uhm, EG oh iz" uhm) (noun)
A policy or doctrine that suggests that self-interest is a valid reason for all actions: Unfortunately, the recent events in Parliament suggest that egoism is the prevalent doctrine, excluding considerations for national interests.
egotism (EE guh tiz" uhm, EG uh tiz" uhm) (noun)
An overblown sense of self-importance: Cole's egotism stood in the way of his making practical decisions.

Judging from the headlines, it would appear that the egotism of the prime minister is reflected in the egoism of current legislation which appears to favor industry and commerce.

egoist, egotist
egoist (EE goh ist) (noun)
Someone who constantly talks about himself; who is boastful and conceited: Leann confided to her friend that Mr. Smith was such an egoist, talking about himself all the time, and being very boring.
egotist (EE guh tist) (noun)
A person who pursues a policy of self-seeking and whose actions are determined by self-interest: Mr. Smith was such an egotist, thinking only of himself, that no one would support his decision to run for mayor.

The newly elected mayor who is a bit of an egotist was always complaining about the former mayor who he described as an egoist.

An egoist is a person of low taste, more interested in himself than me.

—Ambrose Bierce

An egotist is a person with self admiration letting off esteem and someone who has his I's too close together.

—Evan Esar
egress, ingress
egress (EE gres) (noun)
A way out or an exit: People who use an egress will find themselves outside.
ingress (IN gres) (noun)
A place or means of entering, an entrance: People who use an ingress will be entering a building or similar structure.

A story that was going around some years ago, the source for which is now unknown, relates how P.T. Barnum was presenting a "freak" show in a tent. In those days, it cost each person five cents to wander around and gawk at the deformed people and animals.

It seemed that too many people stayed too long to look and there wasn't enough room for the new customers; so, Barnum had a sign set up next to one of the tent-flap exits saying, This way to the Egress.

Not knowing what an Egress was (or meant), the people would go through the door-type flap of the tent and they found themselves outside. If they wanted to go back in, then they had to pay the entrance fee again.

In an unrelated situation from that shown above, people were in a building where they noticed that the signs for INGRESS were printed in green but that the signs for the EGRESS were printed in red which might have made the meanings easier to understand.

either ... or, neither ... nor
either ... or (EE thuhr...OR, IGH ther...OR) (conjunction)
A choice between only two alternatives: The decision was to travel either by bus or by train.
neither ... nor (NEE thuhr...NOR, NIGH thuhr...NOR) (conjunction)
A choice between two or more alternatives: On the multiple choice questionnaire, neither #1 nor #2 was the correct answers.

Going out for dinner can be stressful; either we go to an inexpensive place where the food is good or we go to a prestigious place where the food is not so good; or maybe we should go somewhere else altogether different.

Neither the second choice nor the third choice was appealing, so we decided to eat at home instead.

either, ether
either (EE thuhr, IGH ther) (pronoun)
One or the other: Mike will need to choose either toast and tea or eggs and ham for breakfast.
ether (EE thuhr) (noun)
A volatile, highly flammable liquid, used chiefly in industry and as an anesthetic: The doctor used ether so the patient was asleep during the operation.

The patient was faced with a choice; either the doctor could use ether or a local anesthetic for the minor operation.

elegy, eulogy
elegy (EL uh jee) (noun)
Chiefly, a poem of sorrow for the dead: Thomas Gray wrote a famous elegy which is often quoted at funerals.
eulogy (YOO luh jee) (noun)
High praise, written or spoken, usually about someone who has died: The speech was so full of praise for the president, it sounded like a eulogy instead of a nomination speech.

Eulogy is praise that is usually too much and too late.

—Evan Esar

The politician delivered a eulogy for his former friend. In his eulogy, he quoted a lovely elegy which had been written more than a century ago.

elicit, illicit, licit
elicit (i LIS it) (verb)
To draw out, extract, or to bring forth: The teacher tried to elicit an answer from her students.
illicit (i LIS it) (adjective)
Not permitted, unlawful, illegal, banned: Irwin was caught with illicit drugs in his briefcase.
licit (LIS it) (adjective)
Permitted by law; legal: Cole claimed that his activities were licit under the law.

The licit activities of the sheriff are often seen by criminals as attempts to elicit information about illicit activities.

eligible, illegible, ineligible, legible
eligible (EL i juh b'l) (adjective)
Qualified, entitled: Maria is eligible for a secretarial position.
illegible (i LEJ uh b'l) (adjective)
Unreadable: Many people write so carelessly that their writing is illegible.
ineligible (in EL i juh buhl) (adjective)
Not qualified or permitted to participate: Because of his low grades, Gary was ineligible for playing on the baseball team.
legible (LEJ uh b'l) (adjective)
Handwriting that is clear and can be easily read and understood: The journals were written in a legible hand by the secretary.

Who would be the most eligible for the new position: The one who had the most legible handwriting but had poor Public Relations skills, or the one who had illegible handwriting but who was great with people?

Finally, it was decided that the person with good handwriting but poor PR skills was ineligible for the position.

emanate, eminent, immanent, immediate, imminent
emanate (EM uh nayt") (verb)
To come forth, as from a certain source: The smoke did indeed emanate from the distant chimney.
eminent (EM uh nuhnt) (adjective)
1. Well-known, prominent, renowned: The doctor was an eminent surgeon in the local hospital.
2. Rising above other things or places: The snow capped mountain was eminent among the other low hills.
immanent (IM uh nuhnt) (adjective)
1. Living, remaining, or operating within, inherent: Greta demonstrated immanent good sense in her dress and behavior.
2. Present throughout the universe, said of God: Transcendent, immanent, and indwelling the universe, time, etc.; or God as immanent and existing in and extending into all parts of the created universe.
3. A thought or activity which occurs within the mind: Thinking or daydreaming is an immanent activity.
4. Qualities or characteristics which are common throughout something: Self-preservation is an immanent characteristic of most mammals.
immediate (i MEE dee it) (adjective)
1. That which happens or is accomplished with a minimum of time or distance: The clap of thunder was immediate after the flash of lightening.
2. Happening without disruption or delay: The telegram asked for an immediate answer.
3. To describe one's position in relation to others; next in line: Stefan was Luisa's most immediate relative.
imminent (IM uh nuhnt) (adjective)
1. Likely to happen without delay, near at hand; that which may happen at any moment: Judging by the gray clouds in the sky, a thunderstorm is imminent.
2. Immediate, ready to happen without further notice: Leaping onto the subway tracks places a person in imminent danger and is a foolish thing to do.

The imminent arrival of the eminent performer seemed inevitable.

Suddenly, there was a cheer which did emanate from the crowd waiting at the station; however, it was difficult to determine what the immediate cause of the cheering was.

The performer arrived, as always exuding immanent courtesy and charm.

Pointing to explanation of homonyms, homophones, and homographs, etc. Confusing Words: Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs; explained and demonstrated.

Pointing back to Confusing Words Quizzes, Part AConfusing Words: Units, Groups A to Z.