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

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

Three words that every student of language should understand are homonyms, synonyms, and antonyms.

Homonyms are words that sound alike, but have different meanings. Synonyms are words that are related in meaning but do not sound alike (begin and commence, for example).

Antonyms are direct opposites in meaning, as hot and cold; white and black.

With homonyms, the following set of to, too, and two are all pronounced exactly alike, but by no means are they interchangeable in writing. To be sure that you choose the correct spelling for any on these, you must know the meanings of all three so you will not make wrong choices with a feeling of vagueness and uncertainty.

Efforts have been made to help you grasp the meanings of these and other 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.

continence, continents
continence (KON tuh nuhns) (noun)
1. Self-restraint, moderation: Daryl was glad that he had enough continence when he was tempted by seeing so many kinds of cakes that were available.
2. Self-control over urinary and fecal discharges: Jody read that most children have continence by the age of three.
continents (KON tuh nuhnts) (noun)
The principal land masses of the earth; usually,regarded as including Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America: Manfred was an anthropologist who traveled the continents of Africa and Asia to research the cultures that exist in those places.

History suggests that many nations did not exercise continence when they were colonizing land in the various continents around the world.

continual, continuous
continual (kuhn TIN yoo uhl) (adjective)
Always recurring, frequently repeated: The continual drumming of the rain on the tin roof was very distracting.
continuous (kuhn TIN yoo uhs) (adjective)
Characteristic of an action or circumstance that continues for a period of time without being stopped or interrupted: When Elena retired, she had a record of 45 years of continuous service in the office.

The continual tapping of the rain on the roof reminded Kirk of the continuous noise of tropical birds hopping on the tin roof of his lodge in the jungle.

continuance, continuation
continuance (kuhn TIN yoo uhns) (noun)
The postponement of the proceedings in a court to a future date: The judge ordered the continuance of the trial for the following week.
continuation (kuhn tin" yoo AY shuhn) (noun)
The resumption of an activity after an interruption: The children in the class anxiously awaited the continuation of the story after lunch.

The continuation of the trial was scheduled for two weeks after the judge ordered a continuance for health reasons.

continue, resume
continue (kuhn TIN yoo) (verb)
To sustain a course of action or direction: After lunch, Morris and Sally decided to continue their trip to the lake country.
resume (ri ZOOM) (verb)
To undertake an activity after an interruption: There was considerable applause after which the speaker decided to resume his speech.

After the interruption by the radio announcer, Krystal and Kari decided to resume their discussion of whether they should continue their day trip to the famous cathedral or go to the local pub.

contract, contract
contract (KAHN trakt") (noun)
An agreement between two or more parties; especially, one that is written and enforceable by law: The contract requires Rene to finish this project by the end of the year.

The company was awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to build a new courthouse.

They will make a legal contract for the marriage to take place in June.

contract (kuhn TRAKT) (verb)
1. To make something smaller or shorter: He was able to contract his lips into a thin line, a grimace, etc.
2. To become ill with a disease: Doreen apparently did indeed contract malaria while she was traveling in Africa.
3. To make an agreement to work or to pay someone to work: The carpenter will contract with the couple to do the work on their house.
4. To agree formally to a marriage, an alliance, etc.: The company wanted to contract an alliance with a former competitor.

The two families agreed to sign a contract which would create a formal contract between them.

However, this contract was canceled when one of the family members appeared to contract a disease while traveling abroad.

converge, diverge
converge (kuhn VURJ) (verb)
To move towards a common point or point of interest: The two lanes of the highway will converge at the edge of the city.

During their discussion, the two members of the debate team realized that their views on the subject did in fact converge.

diverge (di VURJ, digh VURJ) (verb)
To move away from a common point or point of agreement: Watching the road signs carefully, the driver noticed that the lanes of the highway would diverge at the intersection, one lane leading to the countryside.

Realizing that our thoughts would diverge on the issue of the consequence for highway speeding, we decided to drop the subject.

Rather than having their travel program diverge from the original plan, Wade and Austin decided to converge in the next town and have lunch before continuing any farther.

conversion, diversion
conversion (kuhn VUR zhuhn, kuhn VUR shuhn) (noun)
1. A clear and decisive decision to adopt a different perspective, point of view, or a religious belief: After much thought and prayer, he was sure his conversion to the faith of his girlfriend was the right decision.
2. The accomplishment of a point or free throw in a sports activity; such as, American Football: The team captain kicked the ball for the conversion, tying the game, 1 to 1.
diversion (di VUR zhuhn, di VUR shuhn; digh VUR zhuhn, digh VUR shuhn) (noun)
A distraction from the pursuit of an activity: The presence of chocolate candy in the kitchen proved to be a diversion from Nadine's decision to do her homework assignments.

The player was all set to kick the ball for the conversion point and win the game when there was a diversion among the fans in the stadium that may have caused him to miss the point.

convince, persuade
convince (kuhn VINS) (verb)
To bring to an understanding by means of an argument or discussion: Jack mentioned, "Casey, you might be able to convince the teacher that your point of view is right if you can show him another piece of evidence from an authoritative source."
persuade (puhr SWAYD) (verb)
To determine a course of action as the result of reasoning or pleading: Jane said, "O.K., Kurt, if you can persuade my husband to go out for dinner tonight, then I will go, too."

Muriel, if I can persuade you to carry an umbrella, your argument for a walk through the park in this hot sun will convince me of your intention not to get skin cancer.

convulsion, revulsion
convulsion (kuhn VUL shuhn) (noun)
A violent or uncontrolled fit often accompanied by violent contractions of muscles: The doctor prescribed medication to control Diana's tendency to have a convulsion when she was anxious.
revulsion (ri VUL shuhn) (noun)
A negative reaction or sudden pulling away from a situation, individual, etc.: Adrienne showed a natural revulsion to the putrid smells in the factory.

When Jean unexpectedly had a convulsion, she threw up. Although Cynthia could understand what happened, her stomach had an instant revulsion to the odor.

coo, coup
coo (KOO) (verb)
1. To utter the typical murmuring sound of a dove or pigeon; or a similar sound: Leaning over the baby’s crib, Grandmother began to coo and smile at the baby.
2. To express or to utter fondly or amorously, as with a murmuring sound: The lovers sat on the bench in the park so they could coo with each other without interruption.
coup (KOO) (noun)
1. The sudden overthrowing of a government; literally, "a stroke of state": The change of government was accomplished by a coup, headed by academics from the university.
2. A sudden appropriation of leadership or power; a takeover: The joining of the two major companies was an unexpected coup for the Board of Directors.

The daughter of the union boss was pleased with the coup by the workers during the strike and Jody tried to coo her delight about it to her boyfriend who reciprocated.

cool, cool
cool (KOOL) (adjective)
1. Neither warm nor very cold; moderately cold: We enjoyed the fresh, cool water flowing by our tent during a cool autumn evening in the park.
2. Marked by calm self-control: She was a cool negotiator during the heat of the argument.
3. Referring to, relating to, or characteristic of colors; such as, blue and green, that produce the impression of freshness, calm, and no heat: The moderate blue of the room seemed to make Elena feel cool and comfortable.
4. In a calm manner or a way that does not seem unusual or excited: Amy didn't want to seem too eager, so she tried to play it cool or to pretend to be calm even though she wasn't feeling calm.
cool (KOOL) (verb)
To make less ardent, intense, or zealous: The problems that arose tended to cool Pat's enthusiasm for the project.

The cool weather tended to cool the passions of the marchers in the parade.

The marchers were waving flags of many cool colors which they waved in a rhythmic and cool way.

At the end of the parade, the marchers took off their shoes and put their feet in the pond to cool their feet.

coolie, cooly; coolly; coulee
coolie, cooly (KOO lee) (noun)
A poorly paid servant, frequently associated with Asia: In order to pay for his university classes, the young man worked as a coolie during the tourist season.
coolly (KOO lee) (adverb)
Impersonal, lacking in friendliness: Isaac's gaze swept coolly over the crowd as he tried to determine their reaction to his speech.
coulee (KOO lee) (noun)
A typically dry ravine or small canyon or gully: During the thunderstorm, the coulee flooded quickly, creating a danger zone for the tourists who were there.

When the railroad was being built in the coulee, the project manager hired a coolie to work in the kitchen.

Despite Rene's usual good manners, yesterday the project manager seemed to act coolly towards the workers.

coop; coupe, coupé
coop (KOOP) (noun)
A small, enclosed, often crowded pen or holding space: The flock of chickens were kept in the clean coop in the shade of the large tree.
coupe (KOOP), coupé (koo PAY) (noun)
A small enclosed vehicle primarily designed to carry two people which might be horse-drawn or a small automobile: The newly engaged couple went for a drive in the park in a coupe pulled by two beautiful stallions.

When there are too many people riding in the coupe, it can feel like an overcrowded coop.

cops, cops, copse, Copts
cops (KAHPS) (noun)
A slang expression for policemen: Dwight yelled at the two guys in his yard saying that if they didn't leave right away, he would call the cops.
cops (KAHPS) (verb)
To capture or to win: The announcer shouted excitedly, "The home team cops an unexpected victory!"
copse (KAHPS) (noun)
A grove or planting of small trees: A feature of the fine country estate was the lovely copse of evergreen trees down by the lake.
Copts (KAHPS) (noun)
1. Egyptians belonging to or descended from the people of ancient or pre-Islamic Egypt: While the number of Copts continues to increase, their percentage within Egypt may be slowly declining because of lower birth rates and higher emigration rates, in comparison with Egyptian Muslims.
2. A shortened term for members of the Coptic Church: Copts have had to commute to distant churches or worship by hiding at different homes in Cairo, Egypt.

Restrictions in Egypt have exacerbated sectarian violence and discrimination, say Copts, a 2,000-year-old-denomination that comprises about ten percent of the population.

Several members of the Copts decided to plant a copse of trees in the coulee, but first they had to get permission from the cops to do so.

core, corps, corpse
core (KOR, KOHR) (adjective)
Center, an innermost area: The core argument was summed up by the final speaker at the conference.
corps (KOR, KOHR) (noun)
A group of people; literally, a "body of people": The corps of the audience was made up of older men and women who had retired.
corpse (KOHRPS) (noun)
A dead body: The undertaker agreed to prepare the corpse for the funeral.

The corps of friends gathered at the city park in the core of the city for a memorial for the corpse of their friend.

Pointing to explanation of homonyms, homophones, and homographs, etc. Confusing Words: Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs; explained and demonstrated.

Pointing to explanation of "Standard English and Nonstandard English" article with a poem of confusing English words.

Pointing back to Confusing Words Quizzes, Part AConfusing Words: Units, Groups A to Z.