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

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

The day-to-day arena of spoken and written communication has always been a perilous place, fraught with endless possibilities for embarrassing blunders by even the most wary.

People may have a fine grasp of grammar, be proficient with spelling and syntax, and still occasionally find themselves in a quandary about which word to use. These days it seems that those of us who want to be precise are having a harder time than ever because there is so much which is working against us.

For one thing, there is the constant bombardment of sloppy English that we are subjected to from what we hear and read; and not just what's overheard on the bus or read on the walls of buildings.

We are also subjected to the many errors audible on TV or radio and published in every conceivable kind of printed matter; especially, in blogs and other presentations on some internet sites. These are strong influences, and if we hear and see a word misused often enough, it takes on a certain "correctness".

—Compiled from the "Introduction" of
Confusion Reigns by James S. Harrison;
St. Martin's Press; New York; 1987.

If you have any problems understanding the pronunciation symbols, go to this Pronunciation Chart for clarifications.

Once again, we want you to know that efforts have been made to help you grasp the meanings of the following and the other word groups 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.

digest, digest
digest, (DIGH jest) (noun)
A collection of condensed information, a summary, or a synopsis; an abstract, a brief, an epitome: When Olive was in the hospital, she found reading a digest of novels was easier than reading the entire book.
digest, (di JEST) (verb)
1. To condense a piece of writing by briefly summarizing or abridging its contents: As a student assistant, Lorene's job was to digest the text of the research article into a summary for publication.
2. To break down food; especially, in the mouth, stomach, and intestines with special juices and bacteria into a form which can be absorbed by the body: After dinner, William likes to go for a walk because he finds that it seems to help him to digest his food.

In order for Tricia to digest the meaning of the digest of information provided to her by the internet, she needs to discuss the concepts with her colleagues; after which, she will be able to prepare a digest of the ideas to present to her students.

digress, regress
digress (digh GRES, di GRES) (verb)
To side track or to divert attention from the topic at hand: Meghan's conversation often seemed to digress from the interests of her visitors.
regress (ri GRES) (verb)
To move backward, either physically or in one’s thinking: When Logan was ill and in hospital, his mind seemed to regress, often talking about his childhood.

Forgive Ken if he seems to digress from our conversation, but he is concerned that his aunt's health will regress while she is hospitalized.

diminish, minimize
diminish (di MIN ish) (verb)
To make less or small; for example, authority or distance: The small stature of the manager seemed to diminish her authority.

The trains went quickly across the country, seeming to diminish the size of the territory by their speed.

minimize (MIN uh mighz") (verb)
To disparage or to reduce to the smallest possible size: Chuck's radical speech attempted to minimize the importance of the celebration.

Elvira's efforts to minimize the importance of the discovery served only to diminish her stature as a government official.

dine, dyne
dine (DIGHN) (verb)
To eat: After a busy day at work, Heath and Darla liked to relax and dine by candlelight.
dyne (DIGHN) (noun)
A unit of force that, acting on a mass of one gram, increases its velocity by one centimeter per second along the direction in which it acts: The dyne is the basic unit of force in the centimeter-gram-second system.

After Marlon will dine with friends, he is going to a lecture at the science center about the dyne and how it relates to every day life.

dinghy, dingy
dinghy (DING ee) (noun)
A small rowboat or an inflatable rubber life raft: The tugboat pulled a small dinghy behind it for emergencies.
dingy (DING jee) (adjective)
1. Darkened with smoke and grime; dirty or discolored: The tenement housing which the author described was dingy with age.
2. Shabby, drab, or squalid: Tina and Antoine lived in a dingy room to save money so they could emigrate to a better country.

Since the boat was old and poorly maintained, it was obvious that the dinghy was dingy.

dire, dyer
dire (DIGHR) (adjective)
1. Referring to having terrible consequences; disastrous: Even the smallest mistake could have dire consequences.
2. Pertaining to requiring urgent and immediate action or treatment: The government is in dire need of reform.
dyer (DIGH'r) (noun)
A person who uses a soluble substance for staining or coloring materials by soaking in a coloring solution: Lorena spent the afternoon as a dyer of certain pieces of clothing and then the dyer of her mother's hair.

Edmond's cousin, who was a dyer in a fashionable hair salon, knew she was in dire trouble when the owner called her into the office.

direct, direct, erect
direct (di REKT, digh REKT) (verb)
To show or to point out a way to accomplish a task; moving from point to point without changing direction: The manager's job was to direct the workers as they built the railroads.

The tourist asked, "Can you direct me to the best route to the next town?"

direct (di REKT, digh REKT) (adjective)
Straightforward, not distracted: Betsy's direct answer to the question was very reassuring to the worried banker.
erect (i REKT) (verb)
To build or to fix something: Elton helped the children erect a model railroad tract.

The shop teacher was able to direct the students so they could erect a safe fire tower outside.

disapprove, disprove
disapprove (dis" uh PROOV) (verb)
To express an unfavorable opinion of; to condemn; to reject: The expression on the teacher's face suggested that she would disapprove of the essay on pets.
disprove (dis PROOV) (verb)
To establish as being false or to be in error; to refute: Margret's research set out to disprove the findings on the topic as presented in the last century.

Bernadine knows that there are those who disapprove of her efforts to disprove the gossip and rumors that are spreading in town about her cousin.

disaster, holocaust, tragedy
disaster (di ZAS tuhr, di SAS tuhr) (noun)
A sudden event causing great damage or loss: The rise in the river caused a disaster in the farmland.
holocaust (HAHL uh kost", HOH luh kost) (noun)
Destruction or sacrifice by fire; when capitalized, refers to the destruction of the European Jewish community in the mid-twentieth century: The eruption of the volcano caused a holocaust of the villages below its slopes.
tragedy (TRAJ i dee) (noun)
A very bad event that causes great sadness and often involves someone's death: The flight that crashed into the ocean was a terrible tragedy for many people including the people on the aircraft and their family members.

The high floods along the river caused a disaster to the farms. It was truly a tragedy that so many farmers lost their livestock; however, the oldest farmer was philosophical, reminding everyone that at least it was not a holocaust, because no buildings were burned.

disburse, disperse
disburse (dis BURS) (verb)
To pay out or to expend: Our cashier will disburse several thousand dollars later today.

The accounting department is scheduled to disburse Grover's travel expenses next week.

disperse (di SPURS) (verb)
To scatter something: The street department is scheduled to disperse the road salt as soon as some of the snow is removed.

Right after the company will disburse the weekly wages, the workers plan to quickly disperse so they can get home before the thunderstorm starts.

discomfit, discomfort, disconcert
discomfit (dis KUM fit) (verb)
To frustrate the plans or expectation of; to thwart; to make uneasy; to confuse: Barbara will discomfit her sister when her secret marriage is made known.
discomfort (dis KUHM furt) (noun)
Unrelaxed; uneasiness; inconvenience: Jim doesn’t like the discomfort of living in a tent all summer.
disconcert (dis" kuhn SURT) (verb)
1. To upset or to frustrate plans, etc.: The sudden change in the weather will disconcert our plans to hike up the mountain.
2. To upset the composure or self-possession of; to embarrass; to confuse: The realization that Greta's slip was showing served to disconcert the pianist just as she was going on stage to perform.

It will disconcert Emmett and his friends if the perceived level of discomfort with the cabins serves to discomfit their plans for a long voyage.

discreet, discrete
discreet (di SKREET) (adjective)
Marked by using wise reserve in one's speech or conduct; characteristic of being prudent and carefu: The university president was discreet as she spoke to the visitors.
Nola's friends could always rely her to be discreet.
discrete (di SKREET) (adjective)
Constituting a separate thing; distinct: There is a discrete difference between the two sisters because Jane is quite outgoing and Grace is very quiet and reserved.
The teacher presented a number of discrete categories for the students to learn.

There is a discrete difference in the two neighborhoods; so, we must be discreet when we are talking with the local residents.

discus, discuss, cuss
discus (DIS kuhs) (noun)
The plate of metal or stone thrown in athletic contests: Logan used a stone discus during the sports competition and won a gold medal.
discuss (dis KUHS) (verb)
To talk or to write about: Sam would like to discuss the pros and cons of this topic with Bryce some more.
cuss (KUHS) (verb)
1. Alternative term for the word "curse", to swear or to utter a rude comment: Grover was so upset by the accident that he started to cuss.
2. Using an offensive word, or words, when a person speaks; to swear: Flossie started to yell and to cuss as soon as Jess came into the room.

We should discuss the discus competition that is coming up next week. Harley remembers when he first tried to throw a discus, he dropped it on his foot and he started to cuss.

disinterested, uninterested
disinterested (dis IN trist id) (adjective)
Unbiased, impartial, unprejudiced; not personally involved; not influenced by personal feelings, opinions, or concerns: A disinterested third party mediated the dispute in a disinterested pursuit of the truth.

We need a disinterested party to settle the argument.

A judge must be disinterested in the cases he or she tries if a fair outcome is to be achieved.

uninterested (un IN trist id) (adjective)
Bored, indifferent, lacking interest; not wanting to learn more about something nor to become involved in certain things: Dolly was obviously uninterested in Chase's discussion of vocabulary.

Emil said he likes music but that he is uninterested in doing any art work.

Vincent is afraid he is uninterested in the new novel that tells the tale of the seemingly disinterested person who served on the jury, but who was really a spy for the prosecution who was determined to get a conviction.

dispassionate, unimpassioned
dispassionate (dis PASH uh nit) (adjective)
Not influenced by or effected by personal emotion or involvement: A good news reporter will approach each story with a dispassionate attitude.
unimpassioned (un" im PASH uhnd) (adjective)
Marked by a reasonable approach totally devoid of emotional influence or appeal: Bryce answered the court charges with an unimpassioned defense.

The dispassionate nature of the news coverage made it difficult to envisage the emotions behind the unimpassioned telling of the story of the crime.

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 Confusing Words: Vocabulary Quizzes Listed.