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.

crane, cranes; crane, cranes
crane (KRAYN), cranes (KRAYNz) (noun)
1. Any of various large wading birds of the family Gruidae, having long necks, long legs, and long beaks that live near water; such as, swamps or rivers: It was interesting to see the cranes as they were trying to catch fish in the marshes."
2. A machine for hoisting and moving heavy objects by means of cables attached to a movable boom: There were several cranes working on the construction of the new hotel.
crane (KRAYN), cranes (KRAYNz) (verb)
To stretch one's neck toward something for a better view: The people had to crane their necks to see the movie star as he walked on the sidewalk in their direction.

There is a big difference between cranes that fly and cranes which are used for lifting and moving heavy materials despite the fact that both types are involved in the construction of something; for example, those that build nests and those which help in building various structures.

crape, crepe
crape (KRAYP) (noun)
An armband of dark cloth, often worn on one's sleeve, as a sign of mourning: While deciding to attend the funeral of his friend, Wilbur thought about wearing a crape on his left sleeve as well as on his hat.
crepe (KRAYP) (noun)
Woven fabric that has a slightly crinkly appearance: The shop attendant stated that the crepe came in several colors for spring.

The dark crepe which Jean bought at the store will be used to make a crape to wear to the memorial service for her former boss.

crawl, crawl, trawl
crawl (KRAHL) (verb)
To move in a slow manner, as in traffic or by moving on one's hands and knees: The traffic was so slow that we all joked that we could crawl faster on our hands and knees.
crawl (KRAHL) (noun)
1. A stroke used when anyone moves in water that involves alternate overhand movements of the arms and accompanied by kicking of the legs: Joey won several prizes for his prowess in the crawl during the swimming meet.
2. In the fishing industry, a confined space in shallow water for such crops as lobster: The angling community protected the trout in the crawl from illegal fishers.
trawl (TRAHL) (noun)
A method of fishing using a large cone shaped net which is dragged through the water, catching whatever is in the area: There are many organizations that oppose the use of the trawl net because of the destruction of endangered species.

From the shore, people were watching the boat trawl for fish and it seemed to crawl at a slow pace probably because it was passing through a crawl for lobsters before moving into the open sea.

creak, creak, creek
creak (KREEK) (noun)
A particular kind of grating or sharp shrill sound: Marta could hear the creak of the hinges as someone was opening the old door.
creak (KREEK) (verb)
To make a harsh, squeaking sound: Sara's new shoes will creak when she wears them until she has worn them for a few days.
creek (KREEK, KRIK) (noun)
A very small stream which is often a shallow or intermittent tributary to a river: When Donnie was a boy, his brother and Rick used to go to a creek where they would seine or fish with a small net to catch some tiny fish to put in their aquaria.

Down by the creek was an old house and Carlton noticed that when the door was opened, it seemed to creak as if it hadn't been opened in a long time.

crease; creese, kris
crease (KREES) (noun)
A mark in fabric that is the result of folding the material along a line: The cleaners used a special iron to make the crease on the suit pants.
creese, kris (KREES) (noun)
A snake shaped dagger of Indonesian or Malay origin: The tourist bought a kris, or creese, at the market as a souvenir but the officials at the airport told him to pack the dagger in his check-in baggage.

The crease in Pete's trousers was as sharp as the blade of a creese or kris.

credible, creditable, credulity, credulous
credible (KRED uh buhl) (adjective)
Believable, capable of being believed, or worthy of confidence; reliable: During the trial, Eloise was presented as a credible witness for the defense.
creditable (KRED i tuh buhl) (adjective)
Worthy of credit or praise for doing something: Winning the spelling match was the result of the creditable performance by all of the students.
credulity (kri DOO li tee) (noun)
A tendency to believe too readily: The police captain questioned the credulity of the new officer during the investigation of the crime.
credulous (KREJ oo luhs) (adjective)
Inclined to believe almost anything; gullible; naive: The credulous behavior of the young man who had just moved to the city suggested that he was naive.

With the appearance of credulous behavior, Miranda told a credible story of the school competition during which the students gave a creditable performance of a mystery play which stretched the credulity of the audience.

crevasse, crevice
crevasse (kri VAHS) (noun)
A large, deep fissure; especially, in a glacier: The exploration team moved carefully over the deep ice which was formed by compacted snow in the arctic and they were trying to be careful not to fall into any existing crevasse.
crevice (KREV is) (noun)
A narrow split or crack: It always amazes Marta that flowers in the desert grow within almost any crevice in rocks.

The determined tree grew from the crevice of the rocks on the side of the mountain; however, further up there was a glacier and nothing could grow in its crevasse.

crews, cruise, cruise
crews (KROOZ) (noun)
1. Groups of people working together: The workers were sent out in separate crews or teams.
2. Personnel on two ships, or aircrafts, who assist in the operations of the crafts which may or may not include officers: Will both of the crews of the ships be ready to depart tomorrow?
cruise (KROOZ) (verb)
1. To sail or to travel about for pleasure: Blake and Jeannie will cruise on a luxury ship from Los Angeles to Mexico next year.
2. To travel at a velocity providing the utmost operating efficiency for a sustained period: The bus will cruise at a maximum acceleration which is not in excess of the posted speed limit.
cruise (KROOZ) (noun)
A pleasure trip typically on board a ship or boat: Mercedes enjoyed the cruise down the Rhine River in Germany with her friends.

Groups of sailors on ocean ships that carry passengers are known as cruise crews.

criterion (s), criteria (pl)
criterion (krigh TIR ee uhn) (noun)
The basis or standard upon which a judgment may be made: Erma was adamant about her criterion that a good husband must be loving and honest.
criteria (krigh TIR ee uh) (noun)
Things that are used as reasons for making judgments or decisions: The criteria, or qualifications, used to determine the winners of the writing contest were clearly presented by the moderator who presided over the competition.

There were several criteria for choosing a winner in the writing competition.

One criterion was that there be clarity of prose in the compositions.

critic, critique
critic (KRIT ik) (noun)
1. Someone who forms and expresses judgments of the merits, faults, value, or truth of a matter: Alfonso is his own worst critic when it comes to analyzing his writing.
2. A person who specializes especially professionally in the evaluation and appreciation of literary or artistic works: George Bernard Shaw worked as a theater critic before developing his drama writing career.
3. Someone who tends to make harsh or carping judgments; a faultfinder: According to an article in the paper, a mother-in-law is often described as a critic of the marriage partner of her child.
critique (kri TEEK) (noun)
1. An evaluation by using a review or commentary, especially one dealing with works of art or literature: The critique of the new play in the morning paper was very positive.
2. A crucial or decisive discussion of a specified topic: During the course of the dinner, they engaged in a wide ranging critique of the new policies at the university.

The critique of the concert appeared in the paper this morning under the by-line of the famous critic whose face in the picture at the top of the column was always obscured.

croak, croak, crock
croak (KROHK) (noun)
A harsh, rough sounding voice or sound: By the end of the exciting game, Maria's voice was just a croak because of her excessive cheering and yelling.
croak (KROHK) (verb)
To die or to become lifeless: Andres had a heart attack that caused him to croak.
crock (KRAHK) (verb)
1. A pot or jar made of baked clay: When we went to the restaurant, we had chili served in a crock.
2. An old, ill, or unhappy person: Nadine's neighbor is an old crock who complains about everything.

The clerk at the bank who was such an offensive crock apparently croaked last week.

crochet, croquet, croquette
crochet (kroh SHAY) (noun)
A form of needlework made by looping thread with a hooked needle: Lynette's grandmother gave her several pieces of crochet work as a birthday gift.
croquet (kroh KAY) (noun)
A lawn game using mallets, wooden balls, and wickets: Croquet was considered a very genteel game for children during the 1900s.
croquette (kroh KET) (noun)
A fried mixture of mince (chopped) meat, fish, and/or vegetables: The menu at the restaurant featured their speciality of croquette.

After we played a game of croquet on the lawn, we went into the restaurant and ordered a croquette for dinner.

Lucia was impressed with the decor at the restaurant because there was a beautiful piece of lace crochet work in the center of each table.

crop, crop
crop (KRAHP) (noun)
1. A plant or plant product that is grown by farmers: The apple crop is better now than it was last year.
2. An area in the throat of some birds or insects; for example, ants, where food is stored for a time: An ant has a crop where liquid food can be stored and from which it can be passed on to nest mates by regurgitation.

A crop is a pouch-like enlargement of a bird's gullet in which food is partially digested or stored for regurgitation to nestlings.

3. A short and thick quantity of hair on a person's head: Irvin has a thick crop of red, curly hair.
crop (KRAHP) (verb)
1. To cut off the upper or outer parts of something: It is necessary that a barber crops Tim's hair before it gets any longer and we also need to crop the hedge for the same reason.
2. To cut off part of a picture or photograph: Gwen had to crop the photograph so it could fit into the frame.

Tom noticed in the photograph album that there was a photograph of the crop of barley from last year.

The picture was a panorama which someone had tried to crop to fit the page.

cross, cross, cross
cross (KRAHS) (noun)
1. An upright post with a transverse piece near the top, on which condemned persons were executed in ancient times: In earlier history, thieves were often hung on a cross to die a slow death.
2. A mark or pattern formed by the intersection of two lines, especially such a mark (X) used as a signature: Because Mildred never went to school, she had not learned to write, so her name was represented by a careful cross on anything requiring her identification.
cross (KRAHS) (verb)
To move from one location across a space to another location: Jenna must cross the street to catch her bus.
cross (KRAHS) (adjective)
Relating to showing anger or being very upset: After the vase was knocked off the table and broken, Mindy cried to her mother, "Please, don't be cross with me. I am sorry".

Meredith apologized and asked the clerk not to be cross with her because she injured her hand and she can only make a cross on the paper instead of her usual signature.

cry, cry
cry (KRIGH) (verb)
To sob or to shed tears because of grief, sorrow, or pain; to weep: After Christie's cat died, she went to her room to cry in private.
cry (KRIGH) (verb)
To call out loudly or to shout: Rebbeca fell and injured her leg, causing her to cry out for help.

When Percy was lost in the woods, he stopped frequently to cry out or to shout for help. Apparently no one could hear him, so he started to cry because he was afraid he would never get out alive.

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.