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

(lists of "L" 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.

lather, leather
lather (LATH uhr, sounded as with then or father) (noun)
1. Soapy foam that is created when soap is agitated in water: Nathan used a shaving brush to create a soft lather before shaving his face.
2. Characterized as having been worked up into an agitated state: Trisha was all in a lather about the way the furniture was delivered.
leather (LETH uhr, sounded as with then or father) (noun)
Animal skin that has been cured or prepared to be used to make objects; for example, shoes: Bruce worked in a tannery, preparing the leather to be used in the manufacture of sofas.

The old fashioned barber worked up the lather on the face of his customer and sharpened the straight edged razor on the leather strap.

Latin, latten
Latin (LAT'n) (noun)
The Indo-European language of the ancient Latins and Romans and the most important cultural language of Western Europe until the end of the 17th century: Latin continues to be an important origin of thousands of English words.
latten (LAT'n) (noun)
An alloy of or resembling brass which is hammered into thin sheets: Latten is often used in the manufacture of church vessels.

The minister raised the plate that was made of latten and recited a prayer in Latin.

latitude, longitude
latitude (LAT i tood", LAT i tyood) (noun)
1. Freedom of choice or opportunity: The school curriculum gave the teachers considerable latitude in terms of planning daily lessons.
2. In geography, a series of imaginary lines that are drawn around the earth parallel to the equator, uniform distances from each other: The line of latitude on the map went right through Abigail's town which was indicated on the map.
longitude (LAHN ji tood", LAHN ji tyood") (noun)
On a map, imaginary lines that are drawn around the earth, passing through both poles and which are at right angles to the equator: Lines of longitude are useful to identify one’s location on a north to south axis.

Marissa's geography teacher always told her students, "Remember, longitude is like L-O-N-G lines stretching from pole to pole; lines of latitude choose to wind around the earth."

laud, lord, lord
laud (LAWD) (verb)
To praise or to extol: Tony spoke to laud his predecessor and to thank her for her support.
lord (LORD) (verb)
To act in a manner suggestive of being superior to others: Because Ben lived in the country, he always tried to lord it over his friends, who lived in the city.
lord (LORD) (noun)
A male ruler or land owner who has his office typically through inheritance: The lord of the manor was an agreeable person and well liked.

According to legend, the crowd of farmers sang songs to laud the lord of the manor when lower taxes were announced.

laudable, laudatory
laudable (LAW duh buhl) (adjective)
Meriting praise and worthy comment: Alan's performance in the equestrian events was laudable and brought him the blue ribbon award.
laudatory (LAW duh tor" ee, LAW duh tohr" ee) (adjective)
Expressive of praise or commendation: Celeste's speech was overflowing with laudatory comments about her colleagues.

The laudable result of the students at the Junior Science Fair was reflected in the laudatory comments which the school principal made.

lay, lay, lei
lay (LAY) (noun)
The orientation or direction in which a rope is twisted, including angle of the threads or strands: The sailor was very knowledgeable about the lay of each rope on the ship.
lay (LAY) (verb)
1. To bet: Jim will lay his ten coins that he is right.
2. To put down or to set in an order: Rebekah will lay the table for six people for dinner.

I will lay my books on the desk.
3. To place a burden or punishment on someone: The Sheriff will lay charges of theft against the three men.

lei (LAY, LAY ee) (noun)
A circular arrangement of flowers and foliage for decorative purposes: When Karl went to Hawaii for his vacation, the host gave him a beautiful lei to wear around his neck.

When Aimee visited the cemetery, she decided to lay the lei of flowers on the grave of her grandparents.

lay, lay, lie, lie
lay (LAY) (adjective)
Descriptive of an individual who may perform some activities in a church but who is not ordained: The lay minister read the lesson for the day.
lay (LAY) (verb)
1. To hit, to beat down or to strike: The gang leader threatened to lay Ralph low if he told the police what happened.
2. To place, to set, or to position in a particular location: Please lay all the maps on the table so Tracie can look at them.
3. To impose a duty or a penalty: The government may lay a heavy tax on the importing of machinery.
lie (LIGH) (noun)
A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood: The principal confronted the children, telling them that she did not want to hear a lie from them.
lie (LIGH) (verb)
To assume a horizontal position; such as, for sleep or rest: Cara wants to lie down on the couch for a few minutes because she is too tired to do anything until she gets some rest.

The child said, "I cannot tell a lie, I did not lay the box carefully on the shelf and that is why it fell off."

leach, leech, leech
leach (LEECH) (verb)
1. To remove a chemical, a metal, etc. from a substance by the action of a liquid passing through the substance: It is possible that just a small amount of rain can leach toxic materials from the soil.
2. To draw out or to remove as if by percolation or seepage; to dissolve, to remove, or to wash out: Francisca poured water through the ashes from the fireplace to leach the lye in the ash so she could make soap.
leech (LEECH) (noun)
1. Any of several blood-sucking worms (Hirudinea): In ancient medicine, the doctors would use a leech to draw blood from an ill person, hoping to make that person well.
2. Someone who uses other people for personal gain or anyone who tries to get what he or she can swindle from others: Celebrities often have at least one leech, who is trying to leech them for money or other material rewards.
leech (LEECH) (verb)
To use a blood-sucking worm for medicinal purposes: The doctor said the only thing he could do for the patient was to leech her arm and hope for the best.

One species of the this blood-sucking worm has been used in medical treatments for many years to leech patients or to eat away putrid flesh from a wound.

When using a leech on the patient, the doctor was heard to comment that he wished it were as easy to leach toxins from the soil as it is to leech toxins from an ill person using a leech or two.

Is it proper to say that a leech can leach blood from an animal?

As a matter of fact, a leech is known to leech blood and dead flesh from bodies while leaching is quite a different process.

In chemical engineering, to leach is the procedure used for separating a soluble substance from a solid by washing or by the percolation of water or other liquid through the substance, as when making coffee.

In geochemistry, to leach is specifically the natural or artificial removal of soluble substances from rock, ore, or layers of soil by the action of percolating substances; such as, water.


A medicinal leech, known as Hirudo medicinalis was utilized in the distant past and is being used again in the modern application of leech blood from patients for specialized procedures.

There is also a tool being used by medical doctors called an artificial leech which consists of a cup and suction pump, or syringe, for drawing blood.


For much more information about leeches and leeching, go to this Medicine, Leeching for Health page.

lead, lead, lead, led, LED
lead (LEED) (verb)
1. To guide or to direct by going ahead or advancing first: The guides will lead us through the jungle.
2. To take action towards a goal: The contract negotiations with the union should lead to a settlement of grievances.
lead (LEED) (noun)
1. The introductory news story of importance: The lead in the morning edition of the paper was about the fire in the factory.
2. A length of rope or cord measured from end to end: The lead for the pony was short so the groom could guide it in a circle.
lead (LED) (noun)
A soft, gray metal (Pb) that is used for solder, in batteries, and in shields for radiation purposes: Before having an X-ray, the technician placed a shield of lead over the patient’s throat.

Karin's heart felt like lead when she heard the news of the accident that her friend was in.

led (LED) (verb)
1. Guided or advanced: Shawn and his friends were led through the crowd to a nice table in the restaurant.
2. To have completed action towards a goal: The path up the mountain led to the summit from which we had a glorious view.
LED (LED) (adjective)
When capitalized, LED is an acronym for "Light Emitting Diode" which is a semiconductor diode used in electronic displays; such as, a digital watch: Lottie says it is easy to read her LED watch.

In the past, Craig led in this kind of race but now, if he wants to lead, he will have to quit dragging his feet as if they were made of lead.

leak, leek
leak (LEEK) (verb)
1. To become known despite efforts of secrecy: The news about the secret marriage of Trina and Maurice was about to leak to the press despite their best efforts.
2. To let a substance or light pass through an opening: Josie is afraid the roof will leak during the thunderstorm.
leek (LEEK) (noun)
An edible plant related to the onion and having a white, slender bulb and flat, dark-green leaves: Soup made with leek, potatoes, and cream is very delicious.

The chef was upset because someone tried to leak her famous recipe for leek soup to a national cooking magazine.

lean, lean, lien
lean (LEEN) (adjective)
1. Lacking in essential ingredients or quality: The corn crop was lean this year because of the lack of rain.
2. Having little or no fat: Trisha will buy a lean roast of beef for dinner.
lean (LEEN) (verb)
1. To bend or deviate from a vertical position: Brenda was so tired that she had to lean against a tree and rest for a few minutes.
2. To be inclined towards an opinion or desire: Mike's tendency is to lean towards chocolate pie for dessert.
lien (LEEN, LEE uhn) (noun)
The right to take and hold or sell the property of a debtor as security or payment for a debt or duty: The bank had a lien on the house of the former business man who was in debt.

In these lean financial times it is not unusual for a bank to hold a lien on a person's property.

learn, teach
learn (LURN) (verb)
To gain knowledge through experience, instruction, or study: The teacher informed his class that they would learn about history by taking a trip to a local site.
teach (TEECH) (verb)
To impart knowledge or skills to others: The auto-mechanics instructor will teach Danny and Louis the best way to change tires.

Good education is always a balance between those who know how to teach well and those whose goal is to learn everything they can.

leased, least
leased (LEEST) (verb)
To arrange to rent or to use property or equipment for a fixed period of time and for a specific cost: The farmer leased a new tractor to use during the busy harvesting season.
least (LEEST) (adjective)
The smallest in size or the lowest in importance: Getting a new car is the least of my concerns.

Compared to the other puppies, "Spot" was the least of the litter.

The farmer had leased the large fallow field to his neighbor whose field was flooded; the farmer stated it was the least that he could do to support his friend.

least, lest
least (LEEST) (adverb)
The smallest or slightest quantity or degree: It is at least twice as cold today as it was yesterday.
lest (LEST) (adverb)
1. For fear that something will be discovered: Luis tiptoed into the house lest the children would hear him.
2. Used as an expression suggesting fear or worry: Martin was worried lest he lose his job because he was late two days in a row.

At the least suggestion of production cutbacks, the man started to worry lest he lose his position as manager.

leave, leave, let
leave (LEEV) (noun)
Permission or authorization to do something: James asked his parents if he had their leave to go to the concert in the park that evening.
leave (LEEV) (verb)
1. To go away; to end an association with something: After school, Stanley and Nettie will both leave for their summer jobs.
2. Continuing after someone's death: Dale will leave a young son and daughter when he dies.
3. Remaining as an after-effect: Spilling red berries on a white shirt will leave a stain that is difficult to remove.
let (LET) (verb)
1. To rent: The landlord let the apartment to the students.
2. To provide an opportunity: The teacher's error in calculating the test scores of the class let William and the others get higher grades on the test than they had expected.

Climbing the tower let the tourists have a spectacular view of the city.

3. To allow passage: "Will you let Jimmy into the room, please."

The butler said, "With your leave, sir, I will let the tourists into the building for an informal tour before you leave on your holidays."

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