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

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

A classic story tells how Plato had defined man as a featherless two-tooted animal, and his students agreed. The next day, Diogenes pulled the feathers off a cock and took it to Plato.

"Here's Plato's man," he said.

It was an embarrassing moment for Plato. Thereafter he corrected the definition to "a featherless two-footed animal with flat nails".

Ever since Plato's description, man has never ceased to define man, and has constantly sought a more meaningful self-definition. Voltaire altered the Platonic version, in Candide, to "man is a featherless biped with a soul".

Another unknown author created, "Man is the only animal that eats when he is not hungry, and drinks when he is not thirsty."

—Compiled from the "Foreword" of
Esar's Comic Dictionary by Evan Esar;
Doubleday & Company, Inc.; Garden City, New York; 1983.

Efforts have been made to help you grasp the meanings of various words that may be confusing so you can utilize them with greater accuracy in your communication.

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

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

bank, bank, bank
bank (BANGK) (noun)
1. A piled-up mass, as of snow or clouds: A bank of dark clouds could be seen in the western sky and a bank of fog was also moving into Shana's area.
2. A slope or higher ground adjoining a body of water, especially along a river, lake, or channel: Gavin sat near the bank of the river to watch the boats going past.
bank (BANGK) (noun)
1. A business establishment in which money is kept for saving or commercial purposes or is invested, supplied for loans, or exchanged; as well as, the building where such a business operates: Trina's paychecks are automatically deposited into the bank.

How much money does Lane have in his account at the bank?

2. A place where something is stored until it is needed: Information is stored in Charley's computer memory bank until it is needed for the yearly report.
bank (BANGK) (verb)
1. To cause something; such as, an airplane to tilt or to lean to one side when turning: The pilot will bank the plane to the left and then level it out to land.
2. To cause something; such as a ball to bounce off a surface: The basketball player tried to bank the ball off the backboard.
3. To put money into a commercial organization so it will hopefully be safe: Aurora will bank the extra money in a separate account for emergencies.

The pilot who was also vice president of the local bank noticed a large bank of heavy clouds ahead of him.

Irwin started to bank his plane so he could fly around the bank of clouds; it felt as if he were about to bank off the bank of clouds. At the same time, he thought, "I must put this experience in my memory bank to tell my family while we are camping on the bank of the river next summer."

Some time in the past, a person told Jim that a bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it starts to rain.

banking, banking
banking (BANG king) (adjective)
The business of operating a financial institution that saves, invests, and loans money: Marla and Gavin are both in the banking business and their daughter is also preparing for a banking career.
banking (BANG king) (verb)
1. To count on; to depend on; to trust, and to have confidence in: Josie is banking on Eddy to hand her a reasonable bill for his services.

Jane asked, "Are you sure it is safe to be banking on banks as reliable places to keep our money?"

Dick told his friend, "I am banking on you to help me understand the new banking procedures."

barbarian, barbarians; barbarian, barbaric, barbarism, barbarous
barbarian (bar BAIR ee uhn) (noun)
1. Savage, alien, outlander: The city barricaded itself against the invading barbarians.
2. Hoodlum, roughneck: Young barbarians have defaced public buildings throughout the city.
3. Anti-intellectual, lowbrow, illiterate: The barbarian in the audience jeered the composer's new work.
barbarian (bar BAIR ee uhn) (adjective)
Uncultivated, uncultured, crude: The artist accused the public of having barbarian tastes.
barbaric (bar BAIR ik) (adjective)
1. Uncivilized, savage, wild: The Huns were notorious for their barbaric cruelty.

The tribal dance was a spectacle of barbaric splendor.

2. Coarse, uncouth, crude, ill-mannered, vulgar, rude: Charley's behavior with the guests was barbaric and embarrassing.
barbarism (BAR bur iz'm) (noun)
1. An instance, an act, a trait, or a custom marked by coarseness or brutality: When Scot slapped the child with such harshness, his barbarism resulted in his being arrested by the police.
2. The use of words or forms felt to be incorrect or nonstandard; a specific word or form so used: Using the word "ain't" is considered a barbarism.
barbarous (BAR bur uhs) (adjective)
1. Cruel, brutal, harsh: It is barbarous to keep a large dog cooped up like that.
2. Coarse, crude, vulgar: The letter of complaint was written in barbarous English.

Shelby's friend, who was an English teacher, constantly commented about the barbarous language written by some of her pupils.

"Really, they are little barbarians whose previous years of schooling did nothing to tame their barbaric ways; they often use such barbarisms as 'Yo' instead of calling the person by name."

barbel, barbell
barbel (BAHR buhl) (noun)
One of the soft thread-like appendages to the jaws, chin, or nostrils of certain fish; functioning as an organ of touch: In the aquarium Jarvis saw a large freshwater fish with more than one barbel hanging from its mouth.
barbell (BAHR bel") (noun)
A metal bar with weights at each end that is used for exercise and in weight lifting: Jonathan kept lifting the barbell until he was able to lift more weight than the other guys.

Bruno, the school athlete, excelled in the use of the barbell; in addition, he had a large rare fish collection at home, and one of his more interesting fish had a barbell which it used as it was swimming around looking for something to eat.

bard, barred
bard (BAHRD) (noun)
1. Poet-singer, a poet: The Homeric poems were composed and sung by one bard after another.
2. A narrative poet, writer, minstrel: A local bard read his poetry to the audience.
barred (BAHRD) (verb)
1. To obstruct or to impede; to block: The gate to the estate barred visitors from access to the house.
2. To keep out; to exclude: The guard barred the entrance to the building in order to keep the two men from entering after closing time.

The poet was ostracized by the university, or in other words, they barred the bard.

bare, bear, bear
bare (BAIR) (adjective)
1. Stripped naked, undressed, unclothed, uncovered, unclad: The engineers worked bare to the waist in the broiling sun.
2. Empty, void, vacant; unadorned: Marina wanted to hang up some paintings on the bare walls of the room.

The kitchen cupboard was bare.

3. Lacking full threads, bald, thin: The carpet was worn bare from years of use.
4. Just enough, scant, meager: Rebekah existed on nothing but the bare necessities of food for six months.
bear (BAIR) (noun)
1. The animal, also known as a bruin: The bear was catching salmon in the river.
2. A person who expects the price of stocks to go down and who sells them to avoid losing money: As an investment bear, Irwin is hoping to sell his stocks before the market goes even lower.
bear (BAIR) (verb)
1. To support, to sustain, or to maintain: These columns bear the weight of the roof.

Jackson's office will bear the brunt of the work.

2. To transport, to carry, to tote, to haul, to take: The donkeys had to bear supplies up the steep mountain trail.
3. To give birth to, to bring into being, to bring forth: Jack said, "Yes, Coy's mother did bear three fine sons."

Is it really possible that a woman could bear eight babies as stated in the news?

4. To go, to move, or to turn in a specified direction: When Lucinda gets into town, she will bear to the north at the first street.

A large quadruped bruin normally has thick fur, but if it loses this covering because of some kind of skin disease, it could certainly be a bare bear that will simply have to bear its handicap.

A bare bear is shivering after its loss of hair.
Word Info image © ALL rights reserved.
bareness, baroness
bareness (BAR nes) (noun)
A lack of usual covering or furnishings: The bareness of the room in the motel was depressing for Bonita.
baroness (BAR uh nis) (noun)
1. A woman who is a member of a low rank of British nobility: The baroness was married to a baron.
2. A female industrialist or financier: The baroness of the computer company dealt in a fair manner with all who worked with her.

The corporate baroness was known for her frugal life style; in fact, Trina's office has a bareness that seems almost cold.

barge, barge
barge (BAHRJ) (noun)
A long, large, usually flat-bottom boat for transporting freight that is generally unpowered and towed or pushed by other watercraft in harbors and on rivers and canals: Jesse made a contract with the owner of the barge to transport the auto parts.
barge (BAHRJ) (verb)
1. To transport by flat bottomed boats, typically unpowered: Shelby plans to barge the goods down the river tomorrow.
2. To push in a fast, awkward way, and to intrude rudely or to interrupt: What makes Jeremy think that he can barge in here like that without even knocking?

That river barge should not be allowed to barge its way to the landing dock before it is scheduled."

baring, barring, bearing
baring (BAIR ing) (verb)
1. Uncovering, exposing: James was so disturbed that he could not stop baring his innermost feelings.

Jose stood hatless, baring his head to the rain.

barring (BAHR ing) (preposition)
Apart from the occurrence of; unless something happens; excepting: Barring any adverse weather, Derrick and Jenny will walk the full distance.
bearing (BAIR ing) (verb)
Carrying; enduring; an attitude or behavior: Richard kept bearing the shock of the loss of his youngest child and he is bearing his emotions well.

The bear was baring its teeth at the photographer who, barring any accidents, like falling over a stone, was bearing down on it.

baron, barren
baron (BAR uhn) (noun)
1. A lord or nobleman; a peer who is a member of the lower rank of British nobility: The term baron is not used as a form of address, but instead he is usually referred to as "Lord".
2. A person with great power, wealth, and influence in some sphere: Because of Vern's substantial accumulation of silver, he was considered the silver baron of the country.
barren (BAR uhn) (adjective)
1. A reference to being unable to produce children: Jim and Greta decided to adopt a child when they realized that she was barren.
2. Concerning the lack of vegetation; being unproductive, unfruitful, depleted: The farmer could could not raise crops on his barren land because of the severe drought.

The baron was astonished when he saw the barren hills that were part of his estate.

base, base, bass, bass
base (BAYS) (noun)
1. Support, bottom, foundation, substructure: The lamp stands on a circular base.
2. Foundation, essence, core, source: The base of Vern's argument is that the price is too high.
3. Camp, station, post, billet, installation: The weary troops marched back to their base.
base (BAYS) (adjective)
1. Inferior, poor quality; adulterated, impure: Zinc and brass are base metals.
2. Lacking proper social values or moral principles; not honest or good: Tom's base motives were soon obvious when he walked off with all of the money people had entrusted to him for their investments.
bass (BAYS) (noun)
1. The range of the lowest male voice, below baritone: Ty sang bass in the quartet.
2. A low, deep sound or tone, as of a voice or a musical instrument: Lorie's father had a bass voice that stood out from any other man that Rhoda had ever heard.
bass (BAHS) (noun)
A kind of fresh or salt-water fish: "Nelda and Donovan caught five large bass for tonight’s fish dinner."

The bass swam around the bass drum in the river where another bass was painted on the base of that bass drum.

Rocco, the villainous singer sang his song in his base bass voice.

based, baste
based (BAYS'd) (verb)
To have as a fundamental principal upon which is formed the foundation of an idea, a construct, or undertaking: The theme of the novel is based on the idea of social justice.
baste (BAYST) (verb)
1. To sew together in a temporary fashion: Bianca, the seamstress, will baste the skirt before the client tries it on to be sure it fits correctly.
2. To moisten periodically with the juice or fat from the meat being cooked: The cook would baste the roast from time to time to be sure it was juicy and delicious.

Nola's new cookbook was based on the principles of healthy fat-free menus; however, once in a while, she likes to have a roast which she can baste.

bases, basis
bases (BAY suhz) Plural of basis and base (noun)
1. Supports, underpinnings, substructures: The tall building utilizes several kinds of bases or foundations to hold it solidly in place.
2. Camps, stations, posts, billets, installations, garrisons: U.S. military units still have several bases in Europe.
basis (BAY seez) (noun)
Base, foundation, fundamental, essential: Charity toward others is the basis of Jill's philosophy and way of life.

The basis of baseball is that there are three bases, plus the home base, around which the players must run in order to score.

bastille, bastion
bastille (ba STEEL) (noun)
1. When not capitalized, a prison or jail: The president decided to close the bastille located on a small island.
2. When capitalized, a reference to the prison, "The Bastille", the storming of which is observed in France on July 14, in commemoration of the storming of the Paris prison in 1789, a citizens' victory at the beginning of the French Revolution: The destruction of the Bastille is celebrated yearly in France.
bastion (BAS chuhn, BAS tee uhn) (noun)
1. A fortified area or stronghold, frequently implying a rampart or irregular fortification surrounding the base of a structure: The castle was considered a bastion of safety during the Middle Ages.
2. An institution serving as an example of strength: Georgina's home was considered a bastion of respectability and good taste.

The bastion on the island was built along the architectural design of the Bastille in Paris.

bat, bat, batt
bat (BAT) (noun)
1. A stout wooden stick used in sports such as cricket and baseball: The baseball player picked up a bat and scored another home run.
2. Any of an order of Chiroptera or flying mammals with modified front legs which form wings: The bat is a mammal that has wings and a furry body like a mouse.

When a bat flies around in the garden, it is a good thing because it will eat many insects.

bat (BAT) (verb)
To hit or to strike with a stout wooden stick as in baseball games: Vern was seen to bat the ball over the fence for another home run.
batt (BAT) (noun)
Pieces of fabric used as lining when making quilts: Sheena used a thick cotton batt when making the beautiful quilts which she sold to several customers.

Jodie's grandmother made a quilt with a baseball theme which included a soft batt to give the bat a 3-D effect.

Elma used batt on her quilt for the bed in order to make it soft and comfortable.

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, Part A Confusing Words: Vocabulary Quizzes Listed.