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.

cheap, cheep
cheap (CHEEP) (adjective)
1. Not expensive or not costing a lot of money: You can always get a cheap meal at this restaurant.
2. Low quality, not worth a lot of money: These curtains were made of cheap fabric.
3. Not willing to share or to spend money: Bill was too cheap to pay for the dinner.
cheep (CHEEP) (verb)
To chirp or to peep, as a baby chick or to make a quick high sound: The newly hatched chick had to cheep loudly in order for its mother to come and feed it.

Seth has a less expensive bird for sale which he calls a cheap cheep or at least a cheaper cheeper.

check, check, Czech
check (CHEK) (noun)
1. In chess, the exposure of the King to be captures, thus needing protection: During the chess game, the strong player often moved his King, to avoid being in check.
2. In banking, a written order to be submitted to the bank, directing it to pay the amount indicated on the order: Mabel always used a check to pay her bills.
check (CHEK) (verb)
1. To inspect for accuracy or safety: Ada's plan for the holidays was to check the tests the students wrote in her class just before the holiday began.
2. To halt, slow down or stop, often abruptly: Dave put out his hands to check his fall against the wall.
Czech (CHEK) (noun)
A native of or the language of the Czech Republic: Even though Natasha had lived in New York for many years, she still spoke Czech fluently.

When he accidentally fell, the woman's Czech companion managed to diminish his descent by putting out his hand; however, he had to go to a hospital for a check up after which he wrote a check to pay his medical bill.

cheek, cheeky, chic, chic, sheik
cheek (CHEEK) (noun)
1. The fleshy part of either side of the face below the eyes and between the nose and ears: Cora's father kissed his daughter on the cheek.
2. British, informal: impertinent boldness, an attitude, or way of behaving that is rude and does not show proper respect: Bernard had the cheek to insult his hosts at the party.

Jane said, "Sabrina had the cheek to complain that our birthday present was cheap."

cheeky (CHEE kee) (adjective)
Primarily British: rude and showing a lack of respect often in a way that seems playful or amusing; impertinently bold; impudent and saucy: Freddie's cheeky humor often resulted in cheeky grins from the rest of the students.
chic (SHEEK) (adjective)
Conforming to the current fashion; stylish: Fannie always wore the most chic clothes.
chic (SHEEK) (noun)
An admired fashion that reflects a degree of sophistication: This particular style is the height of chic this year.
sheik (SHEEK, SHAYK) (noun)
1. A leader of an Arab family, village, or tribe: The tourists paid a visit to the sheik while they were traveling in his village.
2. A senior official in an Islamic religious organization: Norris was happy to learn more about Islam from the sheik.

Chic refers to the woman who is always ready to take what's "becoming" to her.

—Evan Esar

The cheeky sheik tried to be very chic in his manners when he kissed his guest on the cheek.

chew, eschew
chew (CHYOO) (verb)
1. To bite food and to grind it with the teeth: Many health experts believe people should chew their edibles more before they swallow them.
2. To meditate on; to ponder or to think about: Daryl had to chew the problems of arranging transportation, hotel reservations, etc. before he could go on the trip.
eschew (es CHYOO) (verb)
To avoid doing or being involved in something disliked, harmful, or which is not proper or right: Many people eschew the violence that is going on in so many parts of the world.

There are those who are convinced that we should eschew the term "masticate" when we mean chew.

chews, choose, eschews
chews (CHYOOZ) (verb)
Biting and grinding something with the teeth: Stuart chews his food carefully and prefers to take more time to consume his food during his meals.
choose (CHYOOZ) (verb)
To select or to prefer: How can a person choose when there are so many things available?

Fred and Sally are being forced to choose sides in the dispute.

eschews (es CHYOOZ) (verb)
To avoid something especially because a person does not think it is right or proper: Olivia is a psychologist who eschews the traditional methods of psychotherapy.

Masticate is the word to eschew when you mean chew.

—Evan Esar

Virgil's cousin eschews green beans when she has to choose her vegetables because she doesn't like the texture when she chews them.

childish, childlike
childish (CHIGHL dish) (adjective)
Suggesting a simplicity or immaturity befitting a very young person: Sidney had childish tantrums; especially, for a person who was working at the bank.
childlike (CHIGHLD lighk") (adjective)
Resembling behavior or attitudes compatible with the period of a person's life when he or she was very young: Faye had a childlike innocence about her that was appealing.

Fannie's nephew usually acted in a very childlike manner when he was visiting his grandmother; but when he threw a temper tantrum, it was more childish than usual.

chile, chili; Chile; chili, chilli; chilly
chile, chili (CHIL ee) (noun)
A pepper, sweet or hot, that provides a strong savor or tang to food; such as, a vegetarian sauce: The cook wasn't satisfied with just using one chile to give the soup a strong flavor; so, he decided to put in two more!
chili, chilli (CHIL ee) (noun)
Alternative spellings for a pepper, hot or sweet, that adds a strong flavor to food; such as, a thick meat sauce: Ted's mother tried another kind of chili to enhance the taste in the special relish she was preparing for the dinner guests.
Chile (CHIL ee) (noun)
A country in South American bordering on the Pacific Ocean: For her vacation, Sabrina wanted to go to Chile to see the famous ruins and to enjoy the fine food and wine.
chilly (CHIL ee) (adjective)
Unpleasantly cold; lacking in warmth or feeling: The governor gave a chilly reception to his opponent on the blustery, chilly day.

When they were on a hiking vacation to Chile, Ross and Angie were often very chilly in the mountains.

It always felt good to stop for lunch and have a dish of chilli which was spiced with several different chilli peppers.

choir, quire
choir (KWIGHR) (noun)
1. An organized group of singers; especially, in a church: Verna sang in the choir at her high school.

The church choir was rehearsing for next Sunday's service.

2. The part of a church where singers assemble to sing during a service or ceremony: The choir was in the balcony and the members of the choir had to climb the steps carefully before each performance.
quire (KWIGHR) (noun)
1. A compilation of 24 (or 25) sheets of paper of uniform size and quality: The publisher decided to use a quire of yellow paper when publishing the book of poetry.
2. One twentieth of a ream of paper (500 sheets of paper): Austin counted out a quire of paper when he was in the store buying paper for his printer.

The music for the school choir was available in a printed quire which they could buy at a local store.

choler, collar, collar, color, color
choler (KAWL uhr, KOH luhr) (adjective)
Hot tempered and easily provoked: The candidate often demonstrated a choler temper when participating in a debate.
collar (KAWL uhr) (verb)
To get control of or to stop: The dog catcher attempted to collar the run away dog.

The police were waiting to collar the robber when he left the bank.

collar (KAWL uhr) (noun)
1. The band of cloth that finishes the neckline of a shirt, jacket, or blouse: The collar of the shirt was stripped, to contrast with the plain cloth of the shirt.
2. Any item worn around the neck, decorative as a necklace, or serviceable; such as, part of a harness for a horse: Melody wore a diamond collar around her neck, a gift from her mother.

The collar for the horse was studded with brass to create a decorative pattern.

color; British, colour (KUL uhr) (verb)
1. To add vividness and/or variety of language when speaking or writing: Louise would often color her prose with startling descriptions to capture the readers’ attention.
2. To add distinction or vividness to a picture or writing: The child liked to color pictures for her mother.
color; British, colour (KUL uhr) (noun)
Visual distinction of an object based on the quality of light possessing hue, chroma (purity) and brightness: The color of the ancient vase was a deep hue of cobalt.

When someone is displaying a choler temperament and the color of his face is turning red, we sometimes say that he is getting "hot under the collar".

Virgil thinks Ivan should take a program to learn to collar his temper.

choral, chorale, coral, corral
choral (KOHR'l, KOR uhl) (adjective)
Referring to a choir or chorus: The choral group at the church met every Thursday evening to practice.
chorale (kuh RAL) (noun)
A hymn sung by the choir and congregation of a church: The chorale which the choir is going to sing was written by J. S. Bach who wrote for soloists and choirs.
coral (KAWR uhl, KOR uhl) (noun)
Colonial marine animals and the hard, rock-like structure, formed by such organisms: The pink coral in her necklace came from the coral reefs in the ocean.
corral (kuh RAL) (noun)
An enclosure for confining livestock; such as, horses, cattle, etc.: The cowboys exercised the horses in the corral every morning.

For the TV program, the choral group, "The Singing Cowboys", was standing in the corral singing a chorale work which had been written for them.

Their insignia was a small piece of coral mounted on each of their silver belt buckles.

chord, cord, cored
chord (KORD) (noun)
1. At least three musical notes which are sounded simultaneously: The piano concerto ended with a resounding chord.
2. Emotional or prevailing responsiveness: Flora's comments struck a chord with her audience.
cord (KORD) (noun)
1. A long, thin piece of material that is usually thicker than a string but thinner than a rope: Beatrice wore the key to the house on a cord around her neck.
2. An electrical wire that is wrapped in a protective covering and used to connect a device to a power source: Candice and her family have to be careful that they don't get their feet entangled in the extension cord to their TV set and the lamp.
3. A part of the human body that is like a string or rope: The body has a specific cord for various parts of its anatomical structure; including, a nerve cord, a spinal cord, an umbilical cord (at birth), and vocal cords, to name just a few.
4. An amount of wood that has been cut for burning in a fireplace, a stove, etc.; and such a unit contains cut fuel wood, equal to a stack measuring 4 × 4 × 8 feet or 128 cubic feet (3.62 cubic meters): The truck delivered a cord of wood for our fireplace.
5. Clothing made of corduroy material: Virgil was wearing a black-cord jacket and dark blue cord pants.
cored (KORD) (verb)
To remove the innermost part of such things as fruit: Jodi cored the pears and apples before using them in her pies and cakes.

During our conversation, Lynda's cousin, who was wearing a green cord jacket decorated with gold braid cord, helped Iris as they cored the apples for their lunch.

Molly remarked that the piano trio she played with was practicing a unique chord for their upcoming concert.

chute, shoot, shoot
chute (SHOOT) (noun)
1. A narrow tube or passage that things and people go down or through: Hilda could see people sliding down a water chute.
2. An informal term for "parachute": Damon's chute opened automatically as he dived from the aircraft.
shoot (SHOOT) (verb)
1. To cause a bullet, arrow, etc., to move forward with great force from a weapon: Does this gun shoot accurately?

Last Saturday, Rudy tried to shoot a gun for the first time and his friend wanted to shoot an arrow at the target.

2. To kick, hit, or throw a basketball, hockey puck, etc., toward or into a goal: You can't really play hockey if you don't have a goal to shoot at.
3. To film or to photograph something: The producers want to shoot the next movie in the mountains of Colorado.
shoot (SHOOT) (noun)
A part of a new plant that is just beginning to grow: Shelly can see a new shoot on each twig of the tree now that winter is over.

The contestants ran down the chute onto the soccer field where the star player tried to kick the ball into the goal while the goalie made every effort to shoot it down with his foot.

The sports commentator worked hard to shoot all of the action on camera for a later broadcast on TV.

cinque, sink, sink, sync
cinque (SINGK, SANGK) (noun)
The number five in cards or dice: The roll of the dice resulted in a double cinque.
sink (SINGK) (verb)
1. To descend or to move to the bottom; especially, when it moves slowly or in stages: Horace could see the rock sink down to the bottom of the pool.
2. To become lower in amount, value, etc.; or to decline or to decrease: Just watch, this company's stock will sink after it announces that its profits are less than expected.
3. To do something that is morally wrong: How could Neal sink to cheating like that?
sink (SINGK) (noun)
A basin typically with a built-in drain and water supply used for washing hands, dishes, etc.: Shelly filled the sink with water to wash the breakfast dishes.
sync or synch (SINGK) (noun)
1. A situation in which two or more people or things move or proceed together at the same time and speed: You could see the dancers move in sync across the stage.
2. A condition in which two or more people or things agree with or match one another and work together properly: Since Homer's views are in sync with his colleagues, they can proceed with the project.

An informal abbreviation of "synchronization", "synchronism", or "synchronize", etc.

The two players were in sync during the game; however, I am afraid that their luck will sink because an opponent had a cinque in his hand.

After the game, all the players went to the sink to wash up before going out to dinner together.

circle, circle
circle (SUR kuhl) (noun)
1. A perfectly round shape: The student drew a circle around the correct answer on the quiz.
2. An arrangement of people or things that forms a circumference: The campers formed a circle around the campfire.
circle (SUR kuhl) (verb)
1. To form a line around something: Again, you could see the members of the class circle what they thought was the correct answer.
2. To move or to go around someone or something: The pilot had to circle above the airport before he could land.

The pioneers had to circle their wagons so they could defend themselves better if there were an attack.

When Blake was at camp, he would sit in a circle and look up at the sky and he could see the planes circle overhead while they waited for their turns to land at the local airport.

That reminded Blake of the time when he was a child watching skywriters flying overhead and drawing circles and other letters in the sky with the smoke from their planes.

circumscribed, circumspect
circumscribed (SUR kuhm skrighb'd") (verb)
Having defined a space carefully by drawing a line (literal or figurative) around an area: The surveyor circumscribed the building lot before the purchase was finalized.
circumscribed (SUR kuhm skrighb'd") (adjective)
A limited size or amount of something: The circumscribed number of officers on the Board was established by the committee.
circumspect (SUR kuhm spekt") (adjective)
Referring to thinking carefully about possible risks before doing or saying something: These people are circumspect in all their business dealings.

As an architect you will need to be very circumspect in your dealings with the city board whose number is circumscribed by the city council.

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.