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.

biased, biased, bigoted, intolerant, prejudiced
biased (BIGH uhs't) (verb)
A prejudiced outlook or perception of something or someone: Gilbert's opinion was biased by the books he had read about the achievements of men who were dominating the administrative positions in politics.
biased (BIGH uhs't) (adjective)
In statistics, a tendency to yield one outcome more frequently in a statistical exercise: The outcome of the research appeared to be biased, based on the teacher’s review of the statistics.
bigoted (BIG uh tid) (adjective)
Stubborn or intolerant adherence to one’s opinions or perceptions or prejudices: The old farmer maintained a bigoted position about hiring foreigners to work on his farm.
intolerant (in TOL uhr uhnt) (adjective)
Related to an unwillingness to ensure that others have equal rights; for example, in religions, politics, or professions: The company appeared to be intolerant of the same treatment for women in higher bureaucratic positions as it was for men.
prejudiced (PREJ uh dis) (adjective)
An irrational attitude or judgment or action that is based on incomplete information or without just grounds or a biased strong personal opinion: Much of the violence that was observed in the county was the result of prejudiced behavior of the residents.

Laura's prejudiced attitude appeared to be intolerant of the new neighbors because she said they seemed to have a bigoted idea of what being a friendly neighbor involved.

During the conversation, Brad admitted that his feelings about the new neighbors are probably biased, because he really liked his former neighbors much more.

bibliography, biography
bibliography (bib" lee AHG ruh fee) (noun)
A listing, often descriptive, of materials, with information relating to a specific subject: The student compiled an extensive bibliography of materials available in the library to give to the professor.
biography (bigh AHG ruh fee) (noun)
Usually the written account of a person's life: Elizabeth Gaskell wrote the biography of Charlotte Bronte at the request of the Bronte family.

Barry's thesis consisted of an annotated bibliography of all the biography books in the library.

bid, bid, bide
bid (BID) (verb)
1. To make an offer for the price for something; often in the context of an auction: During the auction of furniture, the housewife bid the highest amount for the set of chairs for her living room.
2. Offering an invitation as a greeting: When the women met on the street, the older one bid her friends to join her for tea in the shop.

After their tea, the women bid each other farewell as they went on their various ways.

bid (BID) (noun)
An offer to do a job for a particular price: The company is accepting the man's bid for the renovation project.
bide (BIHD) (verb)
To wait for the right time before doing something: Tim will bide his time waiting for the right opportunity before asking his parents for a loan.

While Mike wanted to bide his time before making his bid at the auction, he thought he would go to meet a friend who bid him to come for a cup of coffee after the auction.

As promised, Mike met Cindy and then he bid her goodbye and he went back to the auction hall to submit his official bid.

bidding, biding
bidding (BID ing) (verb)
To offer to pay a particular amount of money for something that is being sold: Calvin is not bidding on the painting if the price exceeds $1,000.
biding (BIGH ding) (verb)
Waiting for the right time before doing something: Dean is biding until he has more money before he tries to buy a new car.

Paula is biding her time until she can be bidding for the glass pitcher at the auction. She will be bidding on a beautiful set of glasses, too.

bigamy, monogamy, polygamy
bigamy (BIG uh mee) (noun)
The act of being married to two spouses at the same time: The women were horrified to realize they were the victims of bigamy when they discovered they were both married to the same man!
monogamy (muh NAHG uh mee) (noun)
Marriage to only one person at a time: In many cultures, monogamy is the typical practice of marriage with just one spouse at a time.
polygamy (puh LIG uh mee) (noun)
Plural marriage; having more than one wife or husband at the same time: Occasionally there are articles in the newspapers about obscure religious groups that practice polygamy; for example, one man with thirteen wives.

Bigamy is proof that two rites make a wrong.

—Evan Esar

Monogamy is a monopoly.


The media headlines about marriage lifestyles were rampant, exclaiming that those who practiced either bigamy or polygamy were carrying things too far. There was no mention about the success of monogamy.

billed, build, build
billed (BILD) (verb)
1. Presenting a charge or writing a statement of an amount owing for an item or service: The hotel billed the traveler for the cost of his room and his meals.
2. Writing an announcement for public information: The actor was billed to play Romeo in the upcoming play.
build (BILD) (verb)
To form or to construct an edifice or a thought by assembling the necessary pieces: The carpenters will build a garage for the car once the lumber has been delivered.
build (BILD) (noun)
The shape and size of a person's body: Alvin has a strong and muscular build.

Kim hired a contractor to build her new home; later, he also billed her for drilling a well.

birr, burr
birr (BUR) (noun)
1. Force or momentum; vigor: The birr of the winds swept down from the canyons.
2. A whirring sound: The bag pipes make a birr when the players attempt to tune them.
burr (BUR) (noun)
1. A roughness or rough edge; especially, one left on metal after casting or cutting: The apprentice used the tools to remove the burr on the finished bust.
2. A rough or prickly part of a plant that easily sticks to a passerby: After walking through the rough grass, the traveler noticed that there was a burr sticking here, there, and everywhere on his trouser legs.

When Kim walked across the field, she noticed that she had picked up a burr or two on her pants.

In addition, Kim could hear a distinctive birr from the many insects that were in the tall grass.

bisect, dissect
bisect (BIGH sekt", bigh SEKT) (verb)
To cut or to divide into two parts; especially, two equal parts: The lines on the map served to bisect the property into two sections.
dissect (di SEKT, digh SEKT, DIGH sekt") (verb)
To separate into sections for close scientific analysis or interpretation: The students in the biology class each had a frog to dissect as their class project.

The diagram showing us how to dissect the specimen directed us first to bisect it from right to left.

bisected, dissected
bisected (BIGH sekt'd) (verb)
1. Having cut or divided something into two parts: The city was bisected by the highway.
2. Having split or forked: The driver noticed that the highway was bisected by a median strip which consisted of many beautiful trees.
dissected (DIGH sekt'd) (verb)
1. Having cut apart or separated (tissue), especially for anatomical studies: As part of the anatomy class, the students dissected a large worm which smelled awful.
2. To have examined, analyzed, or criticized in minute details: They dissected the company plan afterward to learn why it failed.

The panel dissected each point of Oscar's argument.

Jorge and Annie got lost when they discovered that, when the highway had bisected, they took the wrong turn.

There was a great deal of discussion while the driver and the tour guide dissected the problem before deciding what to do.

bite, bite, byte
bite (BIGHT) (verb)
To cut, tear, or grip with or as if with the teeth: The nature film showed how the lion will bite and snarl while he is eating.
bite (BIGHT) (noun)
A stinging or smarting sensation: The negative comment made by the supervisor had a distinctive bite to it and made the employee unhappy.
byte (BIGHT) (noun)
In computer science, a unit of computer information that is equal to eight bits; a bit being a single unit of computer information that is represented as either 1 or 0: Calvin has a computer with a six gigabyte hard drive meaning that he has a unit of computer information equal to 1,073,741,824 bytes.

Wanda started to gnash her teeth and bite her thumb because she was so frustrated trying to understand the byte capacity of her new computer.

blast, blast
blast (BLAST) (noun)
1. A mass of air that moves very fast and forcefully or a very strong gust of wind or air and the effect of such a gust: During the winter storm, Judy experienced a cold blast when she opened the door.
2. A forcible stream of air, gas, or steam from an opening: Ronnie was hit by a blast of water from the hose when it burst open.
3. A violent explosion, as of dynamite or a bomb: There was a strong blast that destroyed the power plant that was under construction.
4. An informal expression indicating a very enjoyable and exciting experience: Edwin had a blast when he went on a trip to the mountains.
blast (BLAST) (verb)
1. To knock down or to shatter by or as if by an explosion; to smash: The construction crew will have to blast a tunnel through the hill before they can continue building the highway.
2. To kill or to destroy by hitting or shooting; or to have a harmful or destructive effect on: The navel gunship will blast the enemy submarine in order to stop the torpedoing.
3. To criticize or to attack someone or something vigorously; especially, in public: Several human rights groups plan to blast the government for its treatment of terrorist prisoners.
4. At full speed, volume, or capacity; to make a loud and usually unpleasant sound: The people next door always seem to blast the neighborhood with their TV during the day and even late into the night.

As Darrell and Cliff walked home from the party, they agreed that they had a blast. Fortunately, the neighbors didn't complain about the blast of music from the speakers.

When Leon walked around the corner, he was hit with a blast of icy wind that made his eyes sting. His friend, Jim, was so upset, that he started to blast the weather reporter who didn't forecast such an arctic blast.

bleak, blink
bleak (BLEEK) (adjective)
1. Gloomy and somber: The future looks bleak for many people.
2. Providing no encouragement; depressing: Many countries are obviously in a bleak global-economic situation.
3. Exposed to the elements; unsheltered and barren: The bleak weather is cold, rainy, and dark.

Josephine could see the bleak, treeless regions of the high mountains behind her.

blink (BLINGK) (verb)
1. To close and to open one or both of the eyes rapidly: Floyd had to blink his eyes when the bright light shined on his face.
2. To waver or back down, as in a contest of wills: During the international meeting, the U.S. was expected to be one of the counties that would blink and agree to remove the missiles.

It was a bleak and dreary day when Mike and Rita went hiking. The wind was so cold that it made both of them blink their eyes.

bleu, blew, blue
bleu (BLOO) (adjective)
1. A reference to people who are able to cook food to the highest standard: Floyd was described as a cordon (ribbon) bleu chef.
2. A French word for "blue": The group had cordon bleu cuisine for their evening meal.
3. A cheese containing a blue mold; such as, a semisoft cheese made of cow's milk and having a greenish blue mold and a strong flavor: At the end of Lillian's French meal, she had some bleu cheese.
blew (BLOO) (verb)
The past tense of "blow" or having produced an air current: The wind blew hard during the night.
blue (BLOO) (adjective)
A color: Alvin wore a blue shirt with a matching blue tie.

The wind blew Edna's blue napkin onto the bleu cheese sandwich which was prepared by a cordon bleu chef who was working at the picnic.

blob, blobs; blog, blogs; blog, blogs; flog, flogs; flog, flogs
blob, blobs (BLAHB, BLAHBZ) (nouns)
1. A soft, amorphous mass; an indistinct or shapeless form or object: Cave bugs and blobs rewrite the story of the beginning of life.
2. A usually small amount of something thick and wet: Brad still must clean up the blobs of paint that he dropped on the floor while he was painting the porch.
blog, blogs (BLAHG, BLAHGZ) (verbs)
To write entries in, add material to, or maintain a web log or web logs: Ronda blogs for private and for business reasons.

Christine was writing a daily blog about her personal opinions, activities, and experiences.

blog, blogs (BLAHG, BLAHGZ) (nouns)
A web site, typically personal, on which frequent, daily entries and opinions are made: Christine was writing a daily blog and her friends were also writing blogs about their personal opinions, activities, and experiences.

flog, flogs (FLAHG, FLAHGZ) (verbs)
1. To beat or whip someone severely: The guard was about to flog the prisoner as punishment for trying to escape.
2. Used in a figurative sense: The press is expected to flog the police chief for his failure to take appropriate action against the criminal elements in his city.
flog, flogs (FLAHG, FLAHGZ) (nouns)
The practice of public whipping, or beating, was often administered in historical times as a form of punishment and is still being done in some countries; especially, to women: The TV news reveals flogs being administered to women in certain countries even in these modern days.

There are some people who believe that there are way too many blobs (indistinct shapeless forms) of blogs on the internet and there are those who believe that a few flogs from the press would be a good idea.

Karin's idea for a new blog is just a bit of a blob in Herb's mind right now. He must flog his imagination in order to create several blogs each week for his readers.

Readers are very critical and often flog Jim's blogs; so, writing about those experiences often become entries in his new blogs.

bloc, block, block
bloc (BLAHK) (noun)
A group, as of politicians, nations, etc., combined to foster special interests: The coastal nations formed a bloc to advocate for fishing rights.
block (BLAHK) (noun)
A solid piece of wood, metal, etc.; usually with one or more flat sides: The mechanic from the auto repair shop used a block to raise the car so he could change the flat tire.
block (BLAHK) (verb)
1. To obstruct or to prevent passage: That fallen tree will block the road for several hours.
2. To get in the way or to interfere with an activity, e.g. sports: The football player tried to block the player of the other team who was running for a touchdown.

The bloc in Parliament attempted to block the new legislation which was intended to block the importing of a new sports team to the city. In Parliament, the members banged their shoes on the block of wood in front of their desks.

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.