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.

O, oh, oh, owe,
O (OH) (noun)
1. The fifteenth letter of the English alphabet: What letter comes after O in the English alphabet?
2. A design in the shape of a circle: The bright blue O in the advertisement caught the buyers' attention.
3. This letter symbol is often incorrectly used to indicate a zero or no amount: The final score in the game was "10 to 0", instead of saying, "10 to zero"; however, there is a significant difference between the letter 'oh' and the number 'zero' despite their similarities in format.
oh (OH) (interjection)
1. Used to express emotion or to acknowledge information: Jerry was so startled when the runner bumped into him that all he could say was, OH! in reaction.

Susan said, "Oh, yes, I understand what you are saying."

2. Used to address or to speak to someone directly: The man at the counter said, "Oh sir, you forgot your change."
3. Used to express surprise, happiness, disappointment, or sadness: Grandpa remarked, "Oh no! I forgot my glasses."
oh (OH) (noun)
Often used verbally to indicate zero: Half way through the game the announcer indicated the score was "oh to oh" when technically he should have said "zero to zero" because "one" is a letter and the other "one" is a number.
owe (OH) (verb)
1. To be responsible for the repayment of a debt or a loan to someone: Grace asked her husband, "Jim, don't you owe the bank a significant sum of money because of the loan that you negotiated last year?"
2. To be indebted or under obligation for something: Lucinda said, "I owe my good fortune as a writer to my English teacher when I was in school."
3. Used to say that something should be done for or given to someone: Peter's mother stated, "Peter, you owe Josie an explanation and it is possible that you also owe her an apology.

Oh, Lenora, I owe you an apology for confusing "O" with "zero" in our recent e-mail.

oaf, oath
oaf (OHF) (noun)
An insult indicating someone who is regarded as unintelligent, clumsy, or uncultured: Dennis's sister said, "Oh, come on Dennis, quit making such blunders, you big oaf!"
oath (OHTH) (noun)
1. A solemn, formal declaration or promise to fulfill a pledge, often calling on God, a god, or a sacred object as witness: They were required to take an oath of loyalty.
2. A formal and serious promise to tell the truth or to do something: When he joined the military service, he took an oath to defend his nation.
3. An irreverent or blasphemous use of the name of God or something held sacred: Trisha uttered an oath that was offensive and which was used to express anger and frustration.

The police officer, who must have been an oaf, insisted that Mildred take an oath not to disturb the peace during the parade.

Flubber Hall of Fame, Oaf of office

On Tuesday, January 20 (2009), Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Flubber Hall of Fame when he administered the presidential oath of office apparently without notes.

Instead of having Barack Obama "solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States," Roberts had him "solemnly swear that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully."

When Obama paused after "execute", the chief justice prompted him to continue with "faithfully the office of president of the United States."

Language pedants hew to an oral tradition of shibboleths that have no basis in logic or style, that have been defied by great writers for centuries, and that have been disavowed by every thoughtful usage manual.

Nevertheless, they refuse to go away, perpetuated by the Gotcha!Gang and meekly obeyed by insecure writers.

Among these fetishes is the prohibition against "split verbs", in which an adverb comes between an infinitive marker like "to", or an auxiliary like "will", and the main verb of the sentence; for example, when Captain Kirk of the starship "Enterprise" said, "to boldly go where no man has gone before"; it should have been "to go boldly where no man has gone before".

When Chief Justice John Roberts changed the oath of office from "solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States" to "solemnly swear that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully", he is accused of making the "oath of office" an "oaf of office".

—Excerpted and compiled from an article titled
"Flubber Hall of Fame, Oaf of office" by Steven Pinker
(chairman of the English-usage panel of The American Heritage Dictionary);
International Herald Tribune, January 23, 2009; Editorials & Commentary; page 6.

oar, o'er, or, ore
oar (OR, OHR) (noun)
A long pole that is flat and wide at one end and narrow at the other end as a handle, all of which is used for rowing and steering a boat through the water of a lake, river, etc.: Each of us gripped an oar and started rowing the boat to the shore.

Oars are usually used in pairs with at least one oar on each side of the boat and utilized by one or more rowers.

o'er (OR, OHR) (adverb)
An abbreviation for the word "over": The dance will be o’er soon and it will be time to go home.
or (OHR, UHR [when unstressed]) (conjunction)
1. Used to indicate an alternative, a choice, and an option between two possibilities: "Will you want tea or coffee for breakfast?"
2. To suggest an approximation, an uncertainty, and other options: It will take five or six hours to drive from the city to the vacation site."
ore (OR, OHR) (noun)
1. A mineral of rocks, earth, etc. that can be mined, typically containing a valuable substance; such as, gold, silver, iron, etc.: The iron ore was mined and then shipped to a smelter for processing.
2. A former coinage designation for Sweden, Denmark, and Norway: Lenora had an ore left from her Scandinavian vacation of several years ago which she saved to put in her coin collection.

Well, Jim, should we use an oar or a pole to get o'er the lake to investigate the new ore deposit in the nearby hills?

oath, minced oath
oath (OHTH) (noun)
1. A commitment to tell the truth; especially, in a court of law: To lie under oath is to become subject to prosecution for perjury.
2. A solemn promise, usually invoking a divine witness, regarding one's future acts or behavior: Jason took an oath of allegiance to his country.
3. A profane or obscene expression usually of surprise or anger: Aurora was heard screaming an oath of "damn it!" after she hit her finger with the hammer.
minced oath (MINST ohth") (noun)
1. A type of euphemism based on a profanity that has been altered to reduce or to remove the disagreeable or objectionable characteristics of the original expression: One example of a minced oath is to use "heck" for "hell".
2. The use of a word or phrase to replace another one which is considered less offensive or less vulgar than the word or phrase it replaces: Another example of a minced oath is to say "dang it" or "darn it" instead of "damn it".

From time to time when Scott gets upset, he has been known to mutter an oath; however, depending on the person he is going to talk to, he tries to be careful and to use a minced oath now and then, if he feels the need to express his feelings in stronger ways.

object, object
object (AHB jikt) (noun)
1. Something perceptible by one or more of the senses; especially, by vision or touch; a material thing: "Kenneth placed the object on the table after it fell off the shelf."
2. The purpose, aim, or goal of a specific action or effort: "It is Marina's object to win this game for her family."
object (ahb JEKT) (verb)
1. To present a dissenting or opposing argument: "Lenora said, 'I object to the fact that some people will have to pay more than others for the same service.' "
2. To put forward in or as a reason for opposition; offer as criticism: "Many people object to the excessive violence and vulgarity on TV and in movies these days."

Ken didn't object to the object Mildred put on his desk.

obscene, lewd
obscene (ahb SEEN, uhb SEEN) (adjective)
Repulsive, suggestive of lust or depravity: "Pornographic pictures are considered obscene by many people."
lewd (LOOD) (adjective)
Wicked; considered sexually suggestive: "Walter's lewd remarks to his colleague were very inappropriate and resulted in a reprimand from his supervisor."

Kerri thinks it is obscene that it is possible to purchase lewd pictures when a person is visiting a tourist agency.

observance, observation
observance (uhb ZUR vuhns) (noun)
1. Paying close attention to something; such as, customs or rules: "As a driver, Mark is expected to maintain a close observance of posted speed limits."
2. A regular and accepted practice or rite: "The observance of the liturgical calendar was important to the members of the religious community."
observation (ahb" zuhr VAY shuhn) (noun)
1. The process of recognizing or noting information or a fact: "By close observation, Alisha will note the change in the weather."
2. A statement based on information: "Based on how dark the clouds are in the sky, it is Michael's observation that there will be a storm very soon."

It is Greg's observation that the observance of local holidays is important to the community.

obsolete, obsolescent, anachronism, archaic, archaism
obsolete (ahb" suh LEET, AHB suh leet") (adjective)
Unfashionable, no longer current or useful: "The use of a horse drawn carriage for everyday travel is obsolete."
obsolescent (ahb" suh LES uhnt) (adjective)
Being no longer useful or fashionable: "Gas lights in houses are now obsolescent and dangerous."
anachronism (uh NAK ruh niz'uhm) (noun)
1. Something that is chronologically out of place with the rest of a context: "Knights in armor are an anachronism in today's sporting events."
2. The representation of someone as existing or something as happening in other than chronological, proper, or an historical order: "The novel has one anachronism after the other."
archaic (ahr KAY ik) (adjective)
Characteristic of or belonging to a former or earlier time: "There are some archaic expressions used in this book that are charming."
archaism (AHR kee iz" uhm, AHR kay iz" uhm) (noun)
Something that is characterized as old fashioned or is no longer used: "Wearing a bloomer as an article of clothing is an archaism which belongs in the history books."

It is an obsolete notion to wear a bustle which has become obsolescent for daily wear. It is somewhat of an anachronism, like wearing lace mitts to the opera because lace mitts are archaic, something my great grandmother wore; however, now they are just considered an archaism best left for the manikin in the museum.

obstacle, impediment
obstacle (AHB stuh kuhl) (noun)
Something that stands in the way of achievement or progress: "The rainy weather is an obstacle to George's camping trip."

"The course for the race was well planned with one major obstacle about half way through the course."

"Being short was never an obstacle to Jerry's success as a singer."

impediment (im PED uh muhnt) (noun)
That which is a hindrance or a bar to the successful achievement of something: "Andrew's sprained ankle should not be an impediment to his attending the ceremonies at school."

"Karin worked hard to overcome the impediment of a lisp in her speech."

Bonita figured the mountain was just another impediment. She was determined that there would be no obstacle to her summer hiking vacation.

oculist, optician, ophthalmologist, optometrist
oculist (AHK yuh list) (noun)
An individual who may be a medically trained person whose specialty is to test someone's vision and to prescribe corrective lenses: "The office for Marina's oculist is very convenient to where she works so she can get her eyes tested during her lunch break."
optician (ahp TISH uhn) (noun)
1. An individual who makes or sells equipment for the assessment, etc. of eyes: "Jason's new job is as an optician, working for a large company which makes optical equipment."
2. An individual who grinds the lenses for eye glasses according to a prescription: "To be an optician requires a careful and steady hand when operating the equipment to grind the lenses for eye glasses."
ophthalmologist (ahf" thuhl MAHL uh jist, ahp" thuhl MAHL uh jist) (noun)
A medical doctor who specializes in the diseases, functions, and structures of the eyes: "Myrna's cousin was inspired to be an ophthalmologist after his mother lost her eyesight."
optometrist (ahp TAHM i trist) (noun)
An individual skilled and trained to test for defects in vision and to prescribe corrective spectacles: "The local optometrist placed his certificates of training and education on his office wall so people would feel confident in his abilities to properly examine their eyes."

Years ago, the oculist was like a travelling salesperson who would come to a person's door; open a suitcase, and demonstrate the wares.

Now, someone can go in for more specialized services: A person can be referred by his or her optometrist to see an ophthalmologist if the optometrist suspects she or he has an eye disease.

If the ophthalmologist gives someone a prescription for new glasses, he or she can go to the optician to have the prescription filled.

ode, owed
ode (OHD) (noun)
A poem characterized by effusive expressions of feelings and complexity of stanza forms: "The Poet Laureate for the City wrote an ode to honor the workers who built the subway tunnels."
owed (OHD) (verb)
To have been indebted to another person for something or to have been under obligation to repay a debt: "Jerry owed the bank a large sum of money to repay the loan he obtained to start up his new business."

Lottie owed a great deal of gratitude to her English professor for introducing her to poetry including the famous ode which celebrated the Nordic heroes of ancient times.

official, official, officious
official (oh FISH uhl, uh FiSH uhl) (noun)
An individual who administers the rules for a game: "The official at the tennis tournament was a retired tennis pro."
official (oh FISH uhl, uh FiSH uhl) (adjective)
Authoritative or authorized: "The document had the official seal from the office of the President."
officious (oh FISH uhs, uh FISH uhs) (adjective)
Meddlesome or getting involved in an activity where one's help is neither asked for nor wanted: "Lenora had a very officious manner, always trying to intrude herself into other people's projects in the office."

Sometimes the local official at the railway station can be very officious by demanding to see Marissa's ticket, then demanding that she check her luggage in, etc.

omission, oversight
omission (oh MISH uhn) (noun)
Left undone or neglected: "The omission of the title page in Marina's essay was quickly corrected."
oversight (OH vuhr sight") (noun)
1. Responsible care: "Andrew maintained oversight of the project from start to finish."
2. An accidental error: "The fact that Jose's name was left off the list was a complete oversight."

The oversight of the banquet was left to Ronda's aunt because she was conscientious and people were confident that there would be no omission of the slightest detail.

one, one, won
one (WUHN) (adjective)
1. A single or an individual unit: "Adraina asked for one boiled egg for breakfast."
2. Indicating something specifically or the only choice: "This was one glorious morning for going for a walk."

"When Lenora met Joshua, her first thought was that he was the one for her."

3. United, combination of two or more elements: "When the two elements were fused, the company created one new metal which was easy to use."
one (WUHN) (pronoun)
1. A member of a vaguely defined group or organization: "Kevin was one of several hundred students enrolled at the college."
2. A third person pronoun used to indicate the first person: "Celeste is tired but she is one who does not wish to stop until the assignment is completed."
won (WUHN) (verb)
1. To have succeeded in a contest: "Thomas won the tennis match against his cousin."
2. To have obtained by effort or good luck: "Rena's uncle was a gambler who won his fortune in card games."
3. To have succeeded through personal endeavor: "Richard won his promotion by working hard and supporting his colleagues."

James won just one ticket to the movie.

opaque, translucent, transparent
opaque (oh PAYK) (adjective)
1. Difficult to understand: "Manfred's oral instructions were opaque and Dennis had to ask for an explanation."
2. Not allowing light to pass through: "The windows were painted black so they would be opaque thus permitting the photographer to work in his photo-processing laboratory without unwanted light."
translucent (trans LOO suhnt, tranz LOO suhnt) (adjective)
Not completely clear or transparent, but clear enough to allow light to pass through: "The frosted glass in the door was translucent."
transparent (trans PAIR uhnt, trans PAHR uhnt) (adjective)
1. Allowing light to pass through: "The new window in the sunroom was transparent and let all the sunshine in."
2. Easy to notice or to understand; being obvious: "Trina's facial expression was so transparent you always knew what she was thinking."

The information from the lecture was completely opaque to Ryan and so he couldn't understand a thing.

After Howard read the text book, his mind felt more translucent, as if some light on the subject was getting through and the information was beginning to make sense, but not completely.

Then, after Marla asked for an explanation, the answer suddenly became transparent.

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