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.

displace, misplace, replace
displace (dis PLAYS) (verb)
To take from or to remove from the original location of an object or individual: Due to the destruction by the flooding river, the trucks will help to displace the local residents.
misplace (mis PLAYS) (verb)
1. To put in the wrong or untypical location: Marlon managed to misplace his glasses again and he couldn’t find them anywhere!

Jeremy was worried that his editor might misplace a comma in the introductory sentence of his new novel.

2. To direct a feeling; such as, trust or confidence toward someone or something that does not deserve it: Emanuel's lying all the time caused Haley to misplace her trust in such tall red haired men.
replace (ri PLAYS); this should NOT be pronounced as, (ri PLAYZ) (verb)
To return an object to its original location: Leanne was careful to replace the book exactly where she found it.

While Selma was doing a thorough cleaning at the library, she had to displace the books from the shelves. When it was time to replace them, she was afraid that she would misplace some of the titles and confuse the users.

dissidence, dissidents
dissidence (DIS i duhns) (noun)
Disagreement or a contrary opinion on a subject: There was a sense of dissidence or discordance among the students during the professor's lecture.
dissidents (DIS i duhnts) (noun)
Individuals who maintain a difference of opinion or disagreement regarding a particular situation: The student dissidents decided to organize a silent march to protest the university rules.

It soon became apparent among the dissidents that there was a strong dissidence between their movement and the university administration.

distinct, distinctive
distinct (di STINGKT) (adjective)
1. Different in a way that can be seen, heard, smelled, felt, etc.; noticeably different: The class focused on U.S. English as distinct from British English.
2. Easy to see, hear, smell, feel, etc.: Latisha spoke with a distinct British accent.
3. Strong and definite: A cancellation of the flight is a distinct possibility.
4. Remarkable or unmistakable: Bianca's distinct style of dress caught the eye of the famous clothing designer.
distinctive (di STINGK tiv) (adjective)
1. Demonstrating unique characteristics or style: Dolly's accent was distinctive and unforgettable.
2. Appealing or interesting because of an unusual quality or characteristic: This store sells the most distinctive chocolates."

There is a distinct difference between the large department stores and the smaller stores that sell distinctive clothing.

distracted, distrait, distraught
distracted (di STRAKT id) (verb)
To call attention away from the focus of a situation: The loud shout on the street distracted the concentration and thinking of the people in the bank.
distrait (di STRAY); distraite (dis TRAYT) [French] (adjective)
Inattentive or preoccupied, especially because of anxiety: When Shauna didn't show up for the meeting, her employer was uneasy and distrait.
distraught (di STRAWT) (adjective)
Confused or stirred up due to mental conflict, anxiety or doubt: When Sheena's son was late coming home from school, she was distraught, imagining all sorts of things which might have happened to him.

Frieda's mother appeared to be distraught and distrait during the school meeting and we were all distracted by the noise of the train speeding past across the street.

divers, divers, diverse
divers (DIGH vurz) (adjective)
Various, several: There were divers students and professors attending the speech.
divers (DIGH vurz) (noun)
People who jump into the water from special boards, from boats, etc.: Pearl divers need to be able to swim very well.
diverse (di VURS, digh VURS) (adjective)
Different, varied, not similar: It was apparent during the debate that the candidates were very diverse in their recommendations and quite distinct from each other.

The divers who worked for divers pearl companies often received diverse wages for the same dangerous work.

divorce, divorcé; divorcee, divorcée
divorce (di VORS, di VOHRS) (noun)
1. The legal dissolution of a marriage: Millie was so unhappy in her marriage that she decided to apply for a divorce and live by herself.
2. A complete or radical severance of closely connected things: To ensure a completely neutral decision, there should be a divorce between the church and the courts.
divorcé (di vor SAY, di vor SEE; di VOHR say") (noun)
A man who has officially ended his marriage and who has not married again: As a divorcé, Grover was cautious about going on dates again.
divorcee, divorcée (di vor SAY, di vor SEE) (noun)
A woman whose marriage has been terminated by law and has not wedded again: In many old movies, the divorcee always seems to be having a good time.

When the divorcé was talking with a divorcée, they discovered they had used the same divorce lawyer when each one finalized his and her divorce.

do, doe, dough
do (DOH) (noun)
A syllable that represents the first note in a musical scale when singing solfeggio which represents the note C: The singer started her practice with do re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do.

There is also the verb do (DOO): To perform or to execute, plus many other meanings; however, the do (DOH) in this section is presented with doe and dough to demonstrate their "homonymic" relationships.

doe (DOH) (noun)
The female of the deer, antelope, rabbit, kangaroo, and certain other animals: The kangaroo doe carries her young in the pouch on the front of her body.
dough (DOH) (noun)
1. A soft mass of moistened flour or meal and other ingredients, mixed for making bread, pastry, etc.: Bret's mother was mixing dough for fresh loaves of bread.
2. Slang for "money": Reuben said he was running out of enough dough to take care of his family's needs.

Anton doesn't have much dough these days to pay for all of his expenses.

Rod promised Jodie a lot of dough if she would go to the forest with her camera and take a picture of the doe. This made Jodie so happy that she walked away singing

doc, dock, dock, dock
doc (DAHK) (noun)
A casual reference for the term "doctor": Jim asked, "Am I going to be all right, doc?"
dock (DAHK) (noun)
Any of a number of weedy broad leafed plants with a long tap root system: When it blooms, the dock in the ditch by the roadside is very colorful.
dock (DAHK) (verb)
To reduce or take away: Thomas commented, "If you are late three times in a row, Roscoe, the paymaster will dock your wages.
dock (DAHK) (noun)
1. A specially designed platform or area for boats or ships when they are brought close to land: Elwood hired an architect to design a new dock for his sailboat.
2. A specified location within a courtroom where the prisoner or accused person remains during a court proceeding: The Old Bailey Courthouse has a famous dock for criminals.

The lawyer, who everyone referred to as "doc", often went to the cottage by the lake where the dock bloomed.

Going to the cottage always gave him a reprieve from having to see his clients in the dock. He sailed a lot and would bring his boat up to the dock at the end of the day.

does, does, doze
does (DUHZ) (verb)
The third person, singular, present tense of the verb "do": The passerby shouted, "What does Grace think she is doing running across the street like that?"
does (DOHZ) (noun)
Female deer: Xavier watched the does in the meadow feeding in the tall grass.
doze (DOHZ) (verb)
To sleep lightly: Vance couldn't help but doze off as he sat in the chair by the fireplace because it was so comfortable.

If the buck doesn't doze, then he probably does get excited when the does come around.

When does a female deer sleep? Well, we can see those does doze there in the field right now.

done, dun, dun
done (DUN) (verb)
To be completely finished: Devon will travel many miles in several days before he's done with his trip.
dun (DUN) (verb)
To make persistent demands to a debtor for payment of debts: The bailiff will dun the farmer until all the debts to the bank are paid.
dun (DUN) (adjective)
A grayish brown or reddish brown color: The dun horse with the black mane pulled the wagon into the barn.

Ernie, the bailiff, travelled in a carriage pulled by the dun horse when he went to dun the debtors; as a result, he was always very tired when he was done with a day's work.

doom, dune
doom (DOOM) (noun)
Inevitable destruction or ruin: Jayne had a sense of doom when she lost her passport.
dune (DOON, DYOON) (noun)
A hill or ridge of wind-blown sand: Hal and Jack climbed the dune at the edge of the desert to scan the vastness of the land before them.

If the storm blowing sand off the dune lasts very long, Devon is afraid it will doom his plans to cross the desert on camel back.

dope, dupe, dupe
dope (DOHP) (noun)
1. Any drug or narcotic: The slick looking man on the street corner looked like he was selling dope.
2. Slang for someone who is not considered to be very intelligent: When Hans lost the spelling bee, he felt like a complete dope.
dupe (DOOP, DYOOP) (verb)
To deceive by trickery; to fool or to cheat: The man in the hotel tried to dupe Cathleen's friend into paying a high price for a cheap watch.
dupe (DOOP, DYOOP) (noun)
A person who is easily deceived or tricked: Scott was an unwitting dupe in the scheme to trick the woman out of $500.

Any dope who allows a friend to dupe him or her into using dope will feel as if the friend tried to dupe that person into believing that using dope would be a healthy choice.

douse, dowse
douse (DOUS) (verb)
1. To wet thoroughly; to drench: "Carmela will douse her hair with warm water before she shampoos it."
2. To put out (a light or fire); to extinguish: "Burton, don't forget to douse your campfire before leaving the camp ground."
dowse (DOUZ) (verb)
To use a divining rod to search for underground water or minerals: "Kendrick used a willow branch to dowse for water on the farmer's land."

When Scotty and Shauna went camping, they tried to dowse for water because they needed lots of water to douse the campfire and to douse thier faces, etc. in the morning.

dove, dove
dove (DUV) (noun)
A small wild bird that is related to pigeons: "There was a dove eating seeds in Lea's back yard."
dove (DOHV) (verb)
1. The past tense of dive; such as, having jumped into water with the arms and head going in first: "Tonia dove into the swimming pool from the diving board."
2. To go underwater or to go down to a deeper level underwater: "The whale dove way down into the ocean."
3. To suddenly jump toward something that is on or near the ground: "Because of the hail and strong winds, Nolan dove for cover in a safe more protected place."

After hearing the wild cat creeping up through the dry leaves, the dove dove into the bushes.

down, down, down, down, down
down (DOUN) (adverb)
1. From a higher to a lower place or position: "The hill slopes down to the river which made it easier for the group to hike down into the village."
2. In a low position or place: "Mike, make sure you keep your head down as we go into the cellar."
3. On or to the ground: "Darwin's neighbor's house burned down."
down (DOUN) (adjective)
In a low place or position; on the ground or floor: "The window shades are down and a pile of dirty clothes are down on the floor, too."
down (DOUN) (preposition)
From a higher to a lower part of something: "Elwood could see sweat dropping down Sheena's neck as they ran down the hill together."
down (DOUN) (noun)
1. Fine, soft, fluffy feathers forming the first plumage of a young bird and underlying the contour feathers in certain adult birds: "Shana still had a pillow filled with goose down."
2. A covering of soft, short hairs, as on some leaves, fruit, insects, and some animal fur: "Ants have down, there are leaves with down, peaches have down, and there are humans with soft down on their faces; as well as some animals which have soft-fur down."
down (DOUN) (verb)
To cause something to fall to the ground: "Electrical storms can down aircraft and strong storms also often down power lines."

When Jodie went hiking, she wore a down coat to keep warm as she was going down the steep slope of the hill, but she warmed up quickly and she could feel the sweat running down her neck.

Kermit was not watching where he was going and so he fell down and rolled down the hill and landed down at the bottom of the slope.

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.