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.

cubical, cubicle
cubical (KYOO bi kuhl) (adjective)
Descriptive of the shape of a cube, having identical measurements in all dimensions: The cubical shaped blocks have the alphabet printed on them so children can pretend to spell words.
cubicle (KYOO bi kuhl) (noun)
A space in a large room that is partitioned off, often to ensure privacy: Each of the workers was assigned to a cubicle, complete with a computer, file cabinet, and telephone.

In the privacy of his cubicle, Professor Lucas tried to develop a different use for an object with a cubical shape.

cue, queue
cue (KYOO) (noun)
1. A rod or "stick" used to propel or to move a ball in the game of pool: The billiard player sighted down his cue, determining the best angle at which to strike the ball.
2. A prompt or signal to do something: The actress did not need a single cue during her performance of the long play.
queue (KYOO) (noun)
1. Primarily British, a line of people or vehicles waiting their turns: Percy stood in a queue at the bank, waiting for a teller to help him.
2. In computer science, a sequence of storage computer data awaiting processing: Three jobs remain in the printer queue.
3. A pendent (dangling, hanging, or suspended) braid of hair on the back of the head; a pigtail: Darla wore her long blond ringlets in a queue which helped her endure the heat of the day.

Raquel stood in a queue in front of the billiard parlor waiting for a cue that there was a cue available for her and Amos with a table so they could go in to play.

curb, curb
curb (KURB) (noun)
A raised paving or concrete border or row of joined stones forming part of a gutter along the edge of a street: The car drove into the parking space, stopping when the front tires bumped against the curb.
curb (KURB) (verb)
To restrain or to control; to rein in: When Clay got very angry, he had to remind himself to curb his temper so he wouldn't get a headache.

Walking across the street, Phil tripped on the curb. This really upset him so he had to remind himself to breathe deeply so he could curb his anxiety, because although he could have broken his foot, he didn't.

cure, cure, curé
cure (KYOOR) (verb)
1. To restore a sick person or animal to health: The doctor will try to cure Jane with a new series of medicines.
2. To preserve food; especially, meat or fish, usually by smoking, drying, or salting it, or to be preserved by one of these methods: The farmer will cure the pork for the restaurants.
cure (KYOOR) (noun)
A means of treating or restoring an individual to improved health: It isn't easy to find a cure, or therapy, for Jill's illness.
curé (kyoo RAY, kyoor RAY) (noun)
A parish priest: After the church service, Elvira and Dexter wanted to talk to the curé or clergyman.

The local curé often worked with the local doctor to help cure the ill parishioners.

The parishioners would take food staples to the curé, promising to cure a fish for him later in the winter.

curious, curious
curious (KYOOR ee uhs) (adjective)
Unusually inquisitive, eager to learn: The boys became very curious when they saw the girls whispering in the corner.
curious (KYOOR ee uhs) (adjective)
Strange, very novel, causing great interest: Drew was asked if he had ever seen such a curious stone as this one.

Rolando and Lorena were curious about the curious stone structure which they found on the hillside; so, they took a photograph of it to the university lab for analysis.

currant, current, current
currant (KUR uhnt) (noun)
A shrub which produces small red, black or white berries which are typically used for making jams, jellies: The current in Lana's backyard produces an excellent crop of currents every year which she uses in her kitchen.
current (KUR uhnt) (adjective)
Pertaining to something which is happening in the present time: In class, the students shared the current events which they had read in the newspaper.
current (KUR uhnt) (noun)
1. The swift flow or movement of water: The current in the center of the river was very strong.
2. The movement of electricity: The meter on the wall measures the amount of current used in Sheldon's household.

The currant bushes grew next to the river current which was helpful in washing the berries when Lila was harvesting them.

cursed; cursed, curst
cursed (KUR sid, KURST) (verb)
To have sworn or to have responded by using vulgar language: When Jim became upset, he cursed with the terms he had learned from his parents as a child.
cursed, curst (KURST) (adjective)
Seen as deserving of prayer or invocation for harm: On days when everything went wrong, Faith felt she was cursed by the gods!

Noah's uncle cursed because something went wrong and he felt he was curst by the fates at that particular time.

customer, costumer
costumer (KOS too" muhr, KOS tyoo" muhr) (noun)
An individual who makes, buys, or sells the clothing used by actors, etc. for dressing differently for special occasions: The performers went to the costumer to get the right outfits for their parts in the new play.
customer (KUS tuh muhr) (noun)
An individual who buys a service or item: Meghan was a good customer at the store because she was always purchasing her books from them.

As a customer, Santiago went to the shop to talk with the costumer about the costumes which he wanted for the costume party.

cyclone, hurricane, tornado
cyclone (SIGH klohn") (noun)
A storm or wind system that blows in a rapid, circular fashion (clockwise in the southern hemisphere; counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere) and often accompanied by rain: Raquel planned her vacation so she could avoid the season when a cyclone would hit the area where she would be because she didn't enjoy such rain storms.
hurricane (HUR i kayn") (noun)
Typically a tropical storm accompanied by high winds, thunder, lightening, and rain: It took the city years to recover from the damage caused by the hurricane.
tornado (tohr NAY doh) (noun)
A violent windstorm accompanied by a funnel shaped cloud that moves across the land: The radio broadcast warnings about the approaching tornado alerted the people so they could find a place to protect themselves from such a storm.

While Lana was holed up in the tornado shelter, her cousin speculated which would be worse; to be caught in a tornado, a hurricane, or a cyclone because any one of them can cause a great deal of damage.

cygnet, signet
cygnet (SIG nit, SIG nuht) (noun)
A young swan: Carol saw a mother waterbird, with a long neck and all white, with just one cygnet swimming beside her in the lake.
signet (SIG nit, SIG nuht) (noun)
1. A seal; especially, as used on a document often one which is engraved on a ring: The king used sealing wax to press his signet on the letter.
2. An impression made with a seal: The signet was unbroken, assuring the reader no one had pried into the contents of the letter.

Grady noticed that the ring which he used for a signet had a cygnet worked into the design which made a handsome wax signet on the letters which he was sending out.

cymbal, symbol
cymbal (SIM buhl) (noun)
A percussion instrument consisting of a concave brass plate that makes a loud clashing sound when hit with a drumstick or when one of them is hit with the other one: The symphony came to an end with a resounding volume when one cymbal was hit against another one.
symbol (SIM buhl) (noun)
1. Something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible: While discussing the planets, the teacher used an orange as a symbol for the sun and small rubber balls as symbols for the planets.
2. In psychology, an object or image that an individual unconsciously uses to represent repressed thoughts, feelings, or impulses: The tall tree was a symbol for the patient representing strength and independence.

There was a directional symbol posted in the auditorium. Kate noticed that the symbol for QUIET was a cymbal with a line stroked through it.

cypress, Cyprus
cypress (SIGH pris) (noun)
One of a number of evergreen trees that have leaves which overlap like scales: In the warm climate, the cypress trees grew dark and green on the hillsides.
Cyprus (SIGH pruhs) (noun)
An island in the Mediterranean Sea: Randal and Tricia planned to spend their summer holidays on the Island of Cyprus.

Lana's friend, who grew up on the island of Cyprus, told Eloise that the island was once covered with cypress trees and that reforestation efforts were being undertaken to bring them back.

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.