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

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

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

key, key, quay
key (KEE) (noun)
1. An instrument, usually made of metal, used for unlocking something; such as, a padlock or a door: Tracy kept her house key on a ring so she wouldn't lose it.
2. An aid; such as, a word that helps to resolve a situation or a puzzle: The key to solving the crossword puzzle was "siphon".
3. A legend or explanation of markings on a map: Dora checked the key on the map so she could determine the distance to the next city.
4. A coral reef off the southern coast of Florida: Have you ever been to the Florida Key?
key (KEE) (adjective)
Of significant or vital importance: The key points in Jeff's speech were underlined for emphasis.
quay (KEE, KAY) (noun)
A structure alongside a body of water to use for landing boats or to bring boats to shore: The quay was constructed of broken concrete with a paved road on the top.

After studying the key on the map, Bryan traveled to the Florida Key where he located the historic quay.

The guide, after Karen's speech, which outlined the key points in the history of the quay, used her key to unlock the gate and we spent the day exploring the quay and admiring the key on the blue sea.

kill, kiln
kill (KILL) (verb)
1. An informal term meaning to make a strong or favorable impression: Cara will kill the audience with her interpretation of the main character in the play.
2. To slaughter an animal for food: The Indians on the plains of North America were hunting to kill the bison and deer for food and for their hides.
3. To cause an interruption or stoppage: Danny had to kill the engine in his car because the motor was smoking and making an awful noise.
kiln (KILN, KIL) (noun)
A heated oven or enclosure typically used for firing ceramics or objects made of clay to dry them to a fine hardness: The potter used a large kiln when making the water pitchers and mugs.

When Marissa starts her electric kiln, she must be careful not to overload the circuits or she will kill the electrical input and have to change the fuse.

knave, nave
knave (NAYV) (noun)
1. A humble man or a clever trickster: Mike was a clever knave and entertained the visiting royalty to their delight.
2. A rogue or a rascal; a dishonest person; a deceitful and unreliable scoundrel: The knave was caught trying to put his hand into the woman's purse to steal her money while he was pretending to help her across the street.
3. One of four cards in a set of playing cards depicting a jokester or trickster: When Karin was playing cards, she had one knave, or jack, and was hoping to collect the other three.
nave (NAYV) (noun)
The central interior of a church the ceiling of which typically rises higher than that of the aisles: Myrna walked down the nave of the church admiring the fine stained glass windows on either side.

The knave was caught hiding in the nave of the church.

knead, kneed, need
knead (NEED) (verb)
1. To mix and work into a uniform mass, as by folding, pressing, and stretching with the hands: Tammie said she had to get home so she could knead the dough for the bread that she would bake the next day.
2. To make or to shape by or as if by folding, pressing, and stretching with the hands: The artist had to knead the clay until it was smooth so he could create his sculpture.
3. To squeeze, press, or to roll with the hands, as in massaging: Shirley went to the physical therapist so he could knead her painful shoulder muscles.
kneed (NEED) (verb)
Having hit someone with the middle joint of the leg: In order to protect himself, Rodney kneed his attacker in the stomach.
need (NEED) (noun)
A condition or situation in which something is required or wanted: It was obvious that Earl's crops were in need of water.

Children have a special need for affection.

"I work as a baker," said Dusty Joe, "since I'm a cake maker and knead the dough."

—Ennis Rees, Pun Fun

Nathan will need to go to the massage therapist because he was accidentally kneed when he was playing football. He is convinced that it will feel good to have the therapist knead his back muscles for a while.

kneaded, needed
kneaded (NEED'd) (verb)
To work or to shape a substance using one's hands or a specifically designed machine to create a desired texture: Shawna kneaded the bread dough for about 10 minutes to make it smooth and elastic so she could bake a good loaf.
needed (NEED'd) (verb)
To require something that is necessary for the survival of organisms: The silk worms needed the leaves of the mulberry tree in order to thrive.

Kay felt that she needed a new pair of shoes although she already had several pairs in her closet.

Getting a massage makes Josie feel kneaded and she can't think of anything else that is needed more for muscular relaxation.

knell, knoll
knell (NEL) (noun)
1. The slow, ominous ringing of a bell often used to indicate a sad event; such as, a funeral: The funeral procession moved slowly, marching to the knell of the bell in the church.
2. A phrase used to signify the end of something: The failure of the bank was the death knell for the road construction project.
knoll (NOHL) (noun)
A small gently rounded hill: When they arrived at the knoll, the hikers could see the hotel in the distance where they were staying.

From the top of the nearby knoll, Norman and his friends could see the village church and they could also hear the knell of the bells indicating the end of the working day and the start of evening prayers.

knew, new, gnu, nu
knew (NOO, NYOO) (verb)
To be knowledgeable of or informed about; to be conscious of the truth and facts of a situation: Abigail and Todd read the map carefully and knew their way across the mountain pass.
new (NOO, NYOO) (adjective)
1. Existing or having been made very recently: Marge wore her new shoes for the very first time when she went to the symphony.
2. Just beginning or starting a situation or relationship: Shawn started his new job on Monday and was very pleased with his new boss.
gnu (NOO, NYOO) (noun)
One of two African antelopes characterized by a large head, a short mane, long tail and distinctly curved horns: From the tourist bus, Alisha observed the gnu running swiftly across the savannah or the flat grassland.
nu (NOO, NYOO) (noun)
The 13th letter of the Greek alphabet: The letter Nu comes after Mu in the Greek alphabet as you can see in this rendition of the Greek letters: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda, Mu, Nu, Xi, Omicron, Pi, Rho, Sigma, Tau, Upsilon, Phi, Chi, Psi, and Omega."

Adam and Eve knew there was a new gnu at the zoo before they went.

Trina saw the antelope that was recently born in the zoo; and she wishes she knew if that new gnu with the Greek name of Nu will like its new home.

knickers, nickers
knickers (NIK uhrz) (noun)
Short pants that are loose fitting and are typically tied at the knees: Instead of a swimsuit, he wore a shirt and knickers when he went swimming.
nickers (NIK uhrz) (verb)
To make the whinnying or neighing sound of a horse: Dale's horse nickers every time it goes to the barn because it knows Tim will have an apple for it.

Travis, the jockey, is wearing new knickers in the colors of the stable for which he is riding. When he walks up to his horse, it nickers for a special treat before the race.

knight, night
knight (NIGHT) (noun)
A medieval tenant giving military service as a mounted man-at-arms to a feudal landholder: The knight fought for his king on a horse while wearing armor.
night (NIGHT) (noun)
The period between sunset and sunrise, especially the hours of darkness: Jillian had a great night at the opera and then spent a good night sleeping.

In the evening, if a man were to see a soldier in shining armor, he might be tempted to say, "Good night, Knight."

Economic advisers to a king suggested that, "To shrink the deficit, we recommend a knight tax which can be titled a sir-charge."

knit, nit
knit (NIT) (verb)
1. To use yarn and needles to create a series of joined loops which will be part of something; for example, a pair of socks: Maribel could knit quickly and accurately even when she was watching TV.
2. To mend or to cause something to grow together: The doctor assured Jack that his bones would knit together quickly after the medical treatment of his broken leg.
nit (NIT) (noun)
The egg laid by lice or other parasitic insects: Because the little child appeared to have lice in her hair, her mother used a special shampoo and comb to remove each individual nit.

The children forgot and exchanged their home knit hats on the playground. Unfortunately, that is a great way to exchange a nit or two and develop head lice, which are hard to get rid of.

knob, nob
knob (NAHB) (noun)
A round, prominent lump or protuberance, often ornamental: The decorative knob on the door was highly individual.
nob (NAHB) (noun)
1. A reference to the Jack or Knave cards, in a game of cribbage which score points for the holder: Walter's nob gave him the advantage over his opponent.
2. Chiefly British, a person of wealth or social standing: Albert was considered a nob in his social circle.

The card-playing nob rested his hand on the knob of his cane while he was playing a game of nob which he was always winning.

knock, knock, nock
knock (NAHK) (verb)
1. To strike loudly and sharply or to draw attention to a situation or circumstance: Dina will knock loudly on the door so the residents will know that they have visitors.
2. To criticize or to find fault: Because Mark felt insecure, he was always trying to knock his colleagues about their work.
knock (NAHK) (noun)
A loud pounding noise: The engine in Trudy's car has developed an awful knock and so she must take it to the garage.
nock (NAHK) (noun)
1. The groove at either end of a bow for holding the bowstring: The huntsman strung his bow, placing the bowstring in the nock at each end of the bow.
2. The notch in the end of an arrow that fits on the bowstring: Rosario fit the nock of the new arrow carefully onto the bowstring before aiming her shot.

Don't knock Ryan's chances of winning the competition, because he is very good at quickly fitting the nock of his arrow to his bow during archery contests.

knot, knot; naught, nought; not
knot (NAHT) (noun)
1. A bond between individuals usually as part of a ceremony: Frank and Tamika tied the marriage knot during a beautiful ceremony on the beach.
2. An interwoven or interlaced knob created by a flexible cord or fabric: A sailor on the ship needed to know the right knot to use when rigging the sails.
3. The measurement of a ship’s speed: The captain of the ship calculated his vessel was moving at one knot per hour.
knot (NAHT) (verb)
To tie up or to secure by using a flexible cord: David is going to knot his shoelaces twice so they will not come undone.
naught, nought (NAHT) (noun)
1. Nonexistence; nothingness: All of Debora's efforts came to naught.
2. The figure "0"; a cipher; a zero: Helena is going to receive naught for all of the hours that she worked at the food pantry for homeless people.
not (NAHT) (adverb)
Used to indicate the negative of a group of words or phrases: The cook announced there would not be bacon and eggs for breakfast after all.

Douglas and Kim decided not to tie the knot while they were on vacation because they had naught to spend on the ceremony.

Later, Douglas and Kim took the ferry which traveled across the lake at just one knot per hour and she asked the captain if he would tie the knot for them. He did, and he also gave them an ornamental knot of rope as a souvenir.

knotty, naughty
knotty (NAHT ee) (adjective)
1. Complicated, possibly without solution: The two scientists pondered the knotty problem for days before deciding there was nothing that could be done to fix it.
2. A solid mass in a tree the result of the growth of a branch, creating a circular grain in the wood, as opposed to a straight grain when cut: The office was decorated with a panel of knotty pine wood.
naughty (NAW tee) (adjective)
Characterized by disobedience or misbehavior: The teacher had no choice but to make the two naughty children stay after school.

A supervisor's secretary told her fellow worker, "Mr. Smith doesn't want to be disturbed. He says he's working on a naughty problem."

Her colleague replied with, "Hmmm, that sounds just like Mr. Smith."

Overhearing the conversation, the supervisor opened his door and responded with: "I said I was working on a knotty problem, not a naughty problem!"

The principal was faced with a knotty problem; that is, what to do about the two naughty youths who used spray paint on the knotty pine-board partition.

know, no, Noh
know (NOH) (verb)
To have direct information about the problem at hand: Polly commented that she didn't know exactly what her friend was talking about regarding their children.
no (NOH) (adverb)
Used to express negative, disagreement, or refusal: Two-year-old children often use the expression, NO! when talking with adults.

"No, Jim, I'm not wrong, you are!"

Noh (NOH) plural, (noun)
A form of classical Japanese musical drama performed since the 14th century in which many of the characters are masked and men actors often play both the male and female roles: While Carolina was traveling in Japan, she went to the theater to watch a production of Noh, which included music and dances performed in a highly stylized manner by elaborately dressed performers on an almost bare stage.

Fay said, "I know no better way to study Noh theater than to go to Japan."

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