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

(lists of "O" 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.

optimist, pessimist
optimist (AHP tuh mist) (noun)
1. Someone who puts a positive interpretation or spin on actions and events: Jordan is such an optimist because he is sure the rain will stop before the parade begins.
2. A person who usually expects good things to happen: Somehow Pete remained an optimist despite all that had happened to him.
pessimist (PES uh miz" uhm) (noun)
1. Someone who tends to emphasize the negative or to expect the worst possible outcome: It is discouraging to talk with Joe's sister who is always such a pessimist because she is sure that something terrible is about to happen.
2. A person who usually expects bad things to happen: Sharon exclaimed, "Stop being such a pessimist, Shelby! Believe it or not, there is still a very good chance that we will complete this project."

The two detectives on Myrna's favorite TV program are well matched; Don is the eternal pessimist, who believes that nothing is ever going to be solved; Shawna is the cheery optimist, who maintains that it will all come out right.

ordinance, ordnance
ordinance (OR duh nuhns) (noun)
1. A law established by a governmental authority: There is a municipal ordinance respecting dogs in the parks which are not on a leash.
2. Something that is fore ordained by fate or deities: In mythology, the wreck of the ship was an ordinance from the gods.
ordnance (ORD nuhns) (noun)
1. Supplies, guns, tanks, and ammunition that are used for military purposes: There was a large supply of military ordnance stored in the empty lot across the street.
2. A military officer whose responsibility it is to provide the supplies needed for the military: Tim's promotion meant he was the officer in charge of the ordnance.

Rick just received a citation for breaking the local ordinance against keeping ordnance in his residence.

orient, Orient, orientate
orient (OR ee uhnt, OR ee ent, OHR ee uhnt) (verb)
1. To determine where someone is or to figure out if a person is going in the right direction: Dennis uses the tall spire as a landmark to orient himself when he is in the city.
2. To face in a specific direction on the compass: The builders of the church will orient it to the east to catch the morning light.
3. To inform someone of the facts of a situation: The principal will orient the new teachers about the school's operational procedures.
Orient (OR ee uhnt, OR ee ent, OHR ee uhnt) (noun)
When capitalized it refers to the countries of Asia: Trisha and Karin are planning to go on a cruise to the Orient the following year.
orientate (OR ee en tayt", OR uhn tayt") (verb)
To decide one's position by using another point as an object of reference: The group of travelers are using the compass to orientate themselves before crossing the desert.

Because Matthew is travelling by car when he visits the Orient, he will be attending a lecture course to orient himself to its history and culture.

Once he has set off, he will use a compass to orientate himself each day so he won't get lost.

oscillate, osculate, vacillate
oscillate (AHS uh layt") (verb)
1. To move like a pendulum that goes back and forth: The fan on the table was set to oscillate in order to keep the air fresh.
2. Changeable feelings varying from one extreme to the other: When Mildred heard the news of the accident, her reactions seemed to oscillate between hope and despair.
3. To move from above to below a mean value: The stock market seemed to oscillate around the 2500 mark.
osculate (AHS kyuh layt") (verb)
To use one’s mouth to bestow a kiss: At the end of the wedding ceremony, the couple decided to osculate in front of all their friends.
vacillate (VAS uh layt") (verb)
To fluctuate, to waver, or to hesitate: After the breakup with her boyfriend, Lucinda seemed to vacillate between being very angry and very sad.

Sometimes Mike thinks his kid sister is like a pendulum because she tends to oscillate back and forth in her opinions; for example, Lenora and her husband promised to osculate at the end of their wedding ceremony; then she started to vacillate, thinking to osculate before so many people would be embarrassing.

outcast, outcaste
outcast (OUT kast") (noun)
A pariah or someone who is no longer welcomed in a typical society: Justin's long history of drug use makes him an outcast to his family and friends.
outcaste (OUT kast") (noun)
Someone who has been rejected from a hereditary social system or group: When Tamika chose to marry the person she loved instead of the person her parents and social group chose for her to marry, she became an outcaste.

Despite being an outcast, the famous author published many poems describing the pain and suffering she experienced as an outcaste by her family.

overate, overrate
overate (oh" vuhr AYT) (verb)
To eat to excess, especially when habitual: Leonard overate so often that he had to keep expanding the sizes of his pants, shirts, and other clothing.
overrate (oh" vuhr RAYT) (verb)
To overestimate the merits of; to value too highly: The coach has a tendency to overrate the players on his team.

People tend to overrate contests; for example, there was someone who took part in a competition in which the participants overate for three weeks to see who could gain the most weight.

overdo, overdue
overdo (oh" vuhr DOO) (verb)
To exaggerate or to use to excess: Jillian had a tendency to overdo her compliments to the chef.
overdue (oh" vuhr DOO, oh" vuhr DYOO) (adjective)
1. A responsibility that was not paid on time: Nathan has a library book that is overdue.
2. Arriving late after an appointed time: Because the train was overdue by an hour, the passengers received a discount on their next tickets.

Don't overdo your anxiety about the overdue library book because you can always call the special number to renew the use of the book for another week.

overseas, oversees
overseas (oh" vuhr SEEZ, OH vuhr seez")
Beyond or across the ocean: Janine and Dena lived overseas for several years because of their mother's job.
oversees (oh" vuhr SEEZ)
To supervise or to inspect: Randy oversees the production of the toys to be sure that they are safe for children.

Vincent and Eugenia hired a nanny from overseas and she oversees their children when they walk to school each day.

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.

Pointing back to Confusing Words Quizzes Confusing Words: Vocabulary Quizzes Listed.