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.

bath, bathe
bath (BATH) (noun)
1. That which is associated with the process or equipment for washing the body or an item: The Roman Bath in the city attested to the resourcefulness of the citizens, using natural waters to fill the bath.

Mason tried to give his dog a bath in the bathtub.

2. A chemical solution in which to immerse something: The scientist prepared an acid bath in which to immerse the metal object.
bathe (BAYTH) (verb)
To immerse in water or other liquid for the purpose of refreshment or cleaning oneself with a sponge or cloth and soap: During the hot weather, Carmela had a strong desire to bathe her face frequently with scented water.

Justine will bathe the baby after she eats.

While Ursula and Ned were on vacation in England, they decided to bathe in the famous Roman bath that was near their hotel. In fact, they found out that they could bathe their dog in the special pet bath next to the ancient bath.

bathos, pathos
bathos (BAY thos") (noun)
A sudden change in speech or a writing from what is a serious or important subject to one that is silly, ordinary, or disappointing; particularly when someone is striving for a much more serious effect: The important message of the film is ruined by the bathos of its ridiculous ending.

Clarice walked across the street, lifting her skirt to avoid the puddle, only to create a picture of bathos by stepping into the manure left by a passing horse.

pathos (PAY thos) (noun)
Something that genuinely evokes pity or sorrow: The people's knowledge of his tragic end adds an element of pathos to the story of his early success.

The stage play, based on the story of a farm boy, created a sense of pathos in the audience as they remembered their own experiences.

Because of the melodramatic bathos of the film, Shelby found it difficult to generate any genuine pathos for the main character.

baton, batten
baton (buh TON, BAT'n) (noun)
1. A slender wooden stick or rod used by a conductor to direct an orchestra or band: The orchestra conductor raised his baton to start the music.
2. A hollow metal rod with a heavy rubber tip or tips that is wielded and twirled by a drum major or drum majorette: The majorette twirled the baton as she led the marching band.
3. A short staff carried certain public officials as a symbol of office: The mayor gave the baton of authority to the new mayor.
4. A cudgel or heavy stick carried by some police officers: The standard police equipment in Hiram's town also includes a heavy baton.
batten (BAT'n) (verb)
1. To prepare for possible trouble or difficulty: The city is ready to batten down for the weekend's scheduled protests.
2. To thrive and to prosper, especially at another person's expense: Adolph could only batten like a leech on the financial savings of other people.

In anticipation of difficulties with rioters during the convention in the city, the Police Chief planned to batten for any possibility, including equipping each of the officers with a baton.

During the entrance parade, the police captain marched at the head of the parade holding a baton high for the others to follow.

batter, batter, batter
batter (BAT uhr) (verb)
To hit heavily and repeatedly with violent blows in a way that causes much damage or injury: The sun, wind, and rain will continue to batter those mountain tops just as they have for thousands of years.
batter (BAT uhr) (noun)
The player at bat in baseball and cricket: Rusty does equally well as both a left-handed and a right-handed batter.
batter (BAT uhr) (noun)
A liquid, or semiliquid mixture, as of flour, milk, and eggs, which is used in cooking and which is also used to cover other kinds of food before it is fried: Dip the fish in a batter of flour, milk, and eggs and then fry it.

The lead batter for the team had many hidden talents, including how to make a delicious batter for a chocolate cake.

bazaar, bizarre
bazaar (buh ZAR) (noun)
An Oriental market place; shopping quarter; marketplace, trade center: Cathleen bought this rug at the bazaar in Marrakesh.
bazaar (buh ZAR) (adjective)
Awe-inspiring, awesome, wondrous: The astronauts know the bazaar expanse of the solar system.
bizarre (bi ZAR) (adjective)
Strange, weird, outlandish, odd, unusual: Children like to wear bizarre costumes on Halloween.

Remember the differences between these words: Jayne wore a rather bizarre dress as she bought a cake at the village bazaar.

Bazaar is a word for a charity sale spelled in a bizarre way.

BB, be, bee
BB (BEE BEE) (noun)
A tiny ball, or shot, measuring .18 of an inch (.46 centimeters) in diameter and which is fired from an air rifle or a shotgun: Rory's target practice consisted of shooting one BB at a time.
be (BEE) (verb)
1. The verb "to be"; to exist in actuality: Cliff will be here later.
2. To have reality in one's life: Shakespeare’s character, Hamlet, pondered reality: "To be or not to be...".
bee (BEE) (noun)
1. An insect, solitary or social in habit, some species of which produce honey: Vince had bee hives so he could harvest the honey.

The bee flew from flower to flower collecting pollen which would be made into honey.

2. A get together or gathering of people for a specific purpose; such as, a competition between schools or the completion of a joint project: The sixth grade students won the spelling bee.

The women met once each month for a quilting bee.

A bee is an insect that teaches us two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

—Evan Esar

Dudley's teacher gave him an assignment to write a silly sentence or two. This is what Dudley wrote: "To be or not to be a bee, that is the question. Is it more painful to be stung by a bee or to be accidentally hit by a BB?"

beach, beech
beach (BEECH) (noun)
The sloping shore of a body of water: Silas and his family planned a picnic on the beach at the local lake.
beech (BEECH) (noun)
A kind of tree that grows in temperate regions with smooth, ash-gray bark and bearing an edible nut: The squirrels in the garden loved to collect the beech nuts that fell to the ground.

A beach is the seaside where people rarely bother to hide their hides.

—Evan Esar

The gray squirrel was perched on the branch of the beech tree that was growing near the beach of the local lake.

beat, beat, beet
beat (BEET) (verb)
1. To hit or to strike repeatedly; to flog: The cruel captain on the ship would beat the sailors who disobeyed him.
2. To speak about or to discuss something in a round about way: Emery tried to beat around the bush instead of providing a direct answer.

The politician beat around the bush when trying to explain the proposed policy.

beat (BEET) (noun)
The tempo, rhythm or rhythmic unit for music: The violinist used a metronome to set the beat for the scales she had to practice.
beet (BEET) (noun)
A vegetable; the fleshly, succulent root of a biennial herb of the crowfoot family used as a vegetable (beta vulgaris): The chef created a beet salad for the menu.

The bulbous root of the beet is characteristically dark red.

When Deanna saw the chopped up purple vegetable on her plate, it looked like a beat beet.

Barney's and Bianca's cook on the ship was very responsive to music as illustrated when she used to chop the beet root for lunch to the rhythm and beat of Island music.

Haley did not beat around the bush when telling Jarvis how the beat of the music inspired her.

beatify, beautify
beatify (be AT uh figh) (verb)
1. In the Roman Catholic Church, to proclaim a deceased person to be one of the blessed and thus worthy of public religious veneration in a particular region or religious congregation: The Pope will now beatify the nun after more than a hundred years since her death.
2. To make happy; to bless with the completion of celestial enjoyment: Barbara was blessed with spirits that beatify one's life.
beautify (BYOO tuh figh) (verb)
Enhance, adorn, dress up; to make or to become beautiful: Planting flowers along the streets will help to beautify the town.

Kirby's friends and Dion agreed to beautify the nave of the church in anticipation of the announcement that the Pope will beatify the local heroine.

beau, bow, bow
beau (BOH) (noun)
The boyfriend, sweetheart, or lover of a girl or a woman: Matilda was waiting for her beau to pick her up and take her to the dance.
bow (BOH) (noun)
1. A decorative knot: Colby adjusted the bow of his tie before leaving for the dance.
2. A weapon made from a strip of elastic wood, bent by a string and used to project arrows: Harris was practicing his skills by shooting arrows at the target with his bow.
bow (BOU, BOW) (verb)
To curve or to bend: Silas was trying to bow the flexible piece of steel.

My new beau made a deep and respectful bow before my mother.

Leann smiled and helped Merlin to adjust the bow of his necktie; then she asked if he would be going out with his new bow for some archery practice.

beaut, butte
beaut (BYOOT) (adjective)
A slang term for something beautiful or outstanding: When the red car drove by, Quincy exclaimed, “Now, that was some beaut!”
butte (BYOOT) (noun)
A conspicuous hill; one with steep sides and a flat top: The explorers stood on the butte and admired the river below.

Haley stood on the butte to admire the sunrise. Her sister remarked, "That is really a beaut!"

been, bin
been (BIN) (verb)
Past participle of the verb "be": Kirby has been here all morning.
bin (BIN) (noun)
A box or an enclosed place or large receptacle for holding meal, coal, etc.: Irwin replaced the coal in the bin because it was almost empty.

Nelda has been putting all the empty bottles in the bin at the curb side for the recycling truck to pick up.

beer, bier
beer (BIR) (noun)
An alcoholic drink consisting of a fermented beverage made from malt and hops: After work, the women from the factory got together for a beer before going home.
bier (BIR) (noun)
1. A coffin together with its stand prior to burial: The undertaker arranged the coffin and the bier for the funeral reception or wake.
2. A framework for carrying a dead body to the grave: The mourners followed the bier to the cemetery.

A sad fact of life is that if a person drinks too much beer and then drives too fast, he or she may wind up being carried away on a bier to his or her grave.

beetle, beetle, betel
beetle (BEET'l) (noun)
1. A type of insect with wings that form a hard cover on its back when it is not flying: Deana was excited to find a rare beetle for her insect collection.
2. A heavy mallet with a large wooden head used to mash potatoes or to hammer cobblestones into place: The workers completing the road repair used a beetle to set the stones into place.
beetle (BEET'l) (adjective)
Jutting; overhanging: Brock's beetle eyebrows were quite a sight to behold.
betel (BEET'l) (noun)
A climbing pepper plant producing leaves which many Asians chew as a stimulant: To relax after a hard day, the men gathered at the town square and chewed betel leaves and nuts.

Leann noticed a strange colored beetle climbing on the betel plant that is growing in her garden.

Charley grabbed a heavy beetle and banged on the tree to scare the beetle off. It flew off to land on the beetle (projection) of the roof of the garage where Charley stored his beetle or hammer.

believe, feel
believe (bi LEEV) (verb)
1. To accept as true or real: Many people seem to believe that theory, but Jerry finds it difficult to accept.
2. To understand and accept on faith; to have an opinion or conviction as to the truth of something: Looking out the window, Colby saw enough to believe that it would rain that day.
3. To have trust in the ability, worth, etc., of someone or something: The football team hasn't won a championship in many years, but their fans still believe that they will win one day.
4. To regard the existence of God as a reality and to have religious beliefs: Elisabeth goes to church every week to worship God and because she really does believe that Christ is her Savior.
feel (FEEL) (verb)
1. To perceive as a physical sensation: Adeline wants to feel the fabric to determine if it is wool or cotton.
2. To learn about and to experience something through touch or physical exploration: To read Braille, Maxwell feels the raised dots on the page.
3. To be aware of, to be conscious of a state of mind or impression, to experience sympathy or compassion with respect to a situation or individual: Shana expects to feel great sympathy with those who have recently lost their jobs.
4. To believe or to think something: Ester couldn't help but feel the need to say something about the behavior of the neighbor's dog when no one is home.

Frieda really wants to believe that her team will win this season because she is convinced that they can do it. She also can't help but feel that it is important for people to have something of value to have confidence in.

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.