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

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

A great example of confusing words

Once upon a time in the unknown past, at a dinner party in Texas, a man from South America was telling about his country and himself, concluding with "And I have a sympathetic wife but unfortunately, no children. My wife, she is unbearable."

Those who were listening greeted his statement with puzzled glances, so he tried to explain: "My wife, she is inconceivable." Noticing from the bewildered looks of the guests that this didn't clarify the matter, he finally explained with a triumphant smile: "I mean, my wife, she is impregnable."

—Compiled from Humorous English by Evan Esar;
Horizon Press; New York; 1961, page 164.

Never use big words where a diminutive one will suffice.


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

garret, garrote
garret (GAR it) (noun)
A small space under the roof of a building; sometimes used for storage or converted into a place for human occupancy: When Jack moved to the city, he lived in a garret at the top of the winding stairs.
garrote (guh RAHT, guh ROHT") (noun)
A method of execution formerly practiced in 17th century Spain, in which a tightened iron collar was used to strangle or to break the neck of a condemned person: The multiple murderer was executed by the Spanish authorities with a garrote which was also the criminal's method of killing others.

Be sure you know the difference between a garret and a garrote because there is definitely no similarity in their applications.

According to a medieval legend, the man who was responsible for several murders by garrotte was hiding in the garret of a small house in the lane.

gay, gay
gay (GAY) (adjective)
1. Happy and excited: The gay and carefree children were playing in the park.
2. Very bright in color; colorful: Marge and Mike were enjoying the gay colors of the spring flowers during their walk in the nearby woods.
gay (GAY) (adjective)
Characteristic of someone who is attracted to someone else of the same gender: There are those who are striving for gay rights with the same privileges as married heterosexuals.

The use of the term gay with the meaning "happy and excited" has been superseded with another gay expression that refers to those who are "attracted to others of the same sex" instead of people of the opposite sex.

gays, gaze
gays (GAYZ) (noun)
A reference to people who have a sexual orientation to people of the same gender: The flag that the gays like to display is designed with rainbow colors.
gaze (GAYZ) (verb)
To look steadily, intently, and with fixed attention: Over a romantic dinner, Karen only wanted to gaze intensely into Jim's eyes.

The friends and families of the participants like to gaze at the gays in their outrageous costumes for the Halloween Parade in West Hollywood.

—Callie Cardamon

When Jerry was watching the parade in San Francisco, it was hard not to gaze at the huge rainbow flag that the gays in the parade were waving.

geek, freak
geek (GEEK) (noun)
A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is perceived to be socially inept: Willard admitted that his great interest in computer activities rather than socializing with people might make some people think of him as a geek.
freak (FREEK) (noun)
A thing, or occurrence, that is markedly unusual or irregular: A freak of nature produced a midsummer snowstorm.

Frankenstein was a freak which was created, according to mythology, by a geek experimenting in a laboratory.

gel, jell
gel (JEL) (noun)
A colorless or slightly yellow, transparent, brittle protein formed by boiling the specially prepared skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals which is used in foods, drugs, and photographic film: How many people would continue to consume gel as a desert if they knew where it came from?
jell (JEL) (verb)
To take shape or to fall into place; to crystallize: Ken said that a plan of action was able to finally jell in his mind.

Brenda added a flavored gel to the salad in hopes that it would jell in the mould so she could put it on a plate as decoration.

generic, genetic
generic (juh NER ik) (adjective)
1. Relating to a whole group or class: The term "flu" is sometimes used as a generic term for any illness caused by a virus.
2. Not sold or made under a particular brand name: They are selling generic drugs at a lower price than the better-known brands.
3. In biology, a class, group, or kind with common attributes; the more general class or kind in which something is included: In the short story, the author made generic references to animals rather than to specific dogs or cats.
genetic (juh NET ik) (adjective)
Relating to, or influenced by the origin or development of something: The police used genetic material at the scene of the crime to identify the man as the culprit.

The Swedish beauty said that her daughter's generic features could not be attributed to genetic inheritance.

—Callie Cardamon

The genetic makeup of plants and animals differ significantly; however, there are some biologists who believe that there is a generic relationship among most groups of plants and among most groups of animals.

genes, jeans
genes (JEENZ) (noun)
Functional hereditary units that occupy a fixed location on a chromosome: The doctor specialized in the study of the genes of his male patients.
jeans (JEENZ) (noun)
Pants made of jean or heavy denim or trilled cotton: Originally designed in the United States for gold prospectors, jeans rapidly became very popular for all hardworking individuals.

The first known reference to trousers called jeans actually came from mid-19th century England.

The name jeans came from a kind of tough twilled cotton cloth called "jean" which is the shortened term for "jean fustian", which was introduced into English in the mid-16th century, in which the "jean" represented a modification of Janne, the Old French name of the Italian city of Genoa.

The name "jean fustian" was "cotton fabric from Genoa", so named because that was where it was first made.

—Based on information located in the Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto;
Arcade Publishing; New York; 1990; page 307.

Have you ever heard that chromosomes have dungarees? In other words, is it possible that genes wear jeans?

genius, genus, genre
genius (JEEN yuhs) (noun)
Talent; a great mental capacity and inventive ability; especially, great and original creative ability in some art, science, etc.: Lenora showed a great genius for engineering.
genus (JEE nuhs) (noun)
A class, kind, sort: A Swedish botanist named Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778) defined the genus of plants, helping to form the modern basis of modern classifications.
genre (ZHAHN ruh) (noun)
A kind, or type, as of works of literature, art, etc.: The famous author specializes in the genre of short stories.

Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them.

—Joseph Joubert

A genius is a man who shoots at something no one else can see and hits it.

—Evan Esar

The author, who was considered a genius, wrote in a particular genre and her genius was making sense of the genus and species of plants in the aquatic world.

genteel; gentile, Gentile; gentle
genteel (jen TEEL) (adjective)
Showing the good taste and refinement associated with polite society; elegant or fashionable: Karin's genteel manners made her a welcome guest for every event.
gentile, Gentile (JEN tighl) (noun)
Anyone who is not of the Jewish faith: People who are gentiles often shop on Saturday when observant Jewish people do not.
gentle (JEN t'l) (adjective)
1. Suitable to polite society; that is, refined, courteous, etc.: Dorothy's gentle voice was pleasing.
2. Not violent, harsh, or rough: The waves on the lake were gentle and did not cause the boat to rock dangerously.

Rena's genteel Jewish upbringing was reflected in her gentle voice and her respect for the Gentile population in her neighborhood.

gesture, jester
gesture (JES chuhr) (noun)
Movement of body parts, arms, hands, to communicate information: The man used a gesture to indicate in which direction we should go to catch our bus.
jester (JES tuhr) (noun)
Someone who acts in a foolish manner attempting to be witty or playful: In medieval castles, a jester was often expected to entertain guests.

The court jester made an odd gesture that amused the king.

—Callie Cardamon

During the entertainment, the court jester used a silly gesture that made every one laugh.

ghastly, ghostly
ghastly (GAST lee) (adjective)
Terrifying, frightening, horrifying, or extremely unpleasant: When the car windows were opened, the passengers wanted to know what the ghastly smell coming from outside was.
ghostly (GOHST lee) (adjective)
1. Characterized by a shadowy, spectral appearance: It felt as if there were a mysterious or ghostly presence in the room.
2. A reference to a hint, or to a shadowy trace, of something: A ghostly smile flickered across his face at the discomfiture of William's guests when a wail echoed through the building.

It was a ghastly experience being frightened by the ghostly appearance of Marla's long dead grandfather.

gibe, jibe, jive
gibe (JIGHB) (verb)
To taunt or to tease in a derisive manner: Joshua attempted to gibe the speaker, which resulted in his being led away by the ushers.
jibe (JIGHB) (verb)
1. To move forcefully from one side of a position to another: The sailors had to jibe the sails on the ship so it would change course.
2. To be in agreement: Sam's position on the issues does not seem to jibe with his earlier statements.
jive (JIGHV) (noun)
Foolish, informal, or deceptive speech; often characterized by slang: Mildred grew up talking street jive.

It seems that we jibe in our assessment that jive talk is fun; however, we should be careful that we don't gibe our neighbors who talk jive with an accent.

gild, guild
gild (GILD) (verb)
1. To cover with gold or gold coloring: The jeweler was able to gild the antique necklace for her customer.
2. To give an often deceptively attractive or improved appearance to something: In order to sell his house quickly, the owner decided to gild the front door with a new coat of paint in order to cover up the nicks and scratches.
guild (GILD) (noun)
An association of persons of the same trade or pursuits, formed to protect mutual interests and maintain standards: The bakers’ guild met every month to determine the price of bread.

The ancient guild of gold workers struggled hard to perfect a secret formula with which to gild the base metal with gold.

gilt, gilt, guilt
gilt (GILT) (noun)
Covered with a brilliant substance such as gold or artificial gold color: The picture frames appeared to be covered with gilt making them look very expensive.
gilt (GILT) (adjective)
Having a golden color: The hall in the building had a beautifully made gilt marble surface.
guilt (GILT) (noun)
1. Feelings of responsibility for real or imagined offenses: When the car stalled, Lucinda had an awful feeling of guilt because the car ran out of gas.
2. Responsibility for a crime or for doing something bad or wrong: The jury will try to determine the defendant's guilt or innocence today.

Going from gilt to guilt is now part of the global landscape of luxury purchases that is changing, and not only because of financial chaos.

gist, grist, jest
gist (JIST) (noun)
The essence or main point of a matter: Shelby's opening speech at the inquest provided the gist of the issues to be reviewed.
grist (GRIST) (noun)
1. Grain, or a quantity of grain, for grinding: The farmer delivered corn to the mill to become grist or cornmeal.
2. Something that can be used to one's advantage: As a writer, Pete's friend, Trina, regards her difficult childhood experiences as grist for the mill; that is, she considers such experiences as examples which she can use in her novel.
jest (JEST) (noun)
A frivolous comment made to communicate mockery rather than precise truth: Bill's jest about the speaker was considered to be in poor taste.

The gist of the story involved the difficult experience that the farmer had when he tried to deliver the grist for milling.

This is not a story that should be told in jest because it is related to the farmer's precarious livelihood.

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.