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

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

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

incipient, insipient
incipient (in SIP ee uhnt) (adjective)
Relating to something which is beginning to exist or to appear: It seems as if there is an onset or an incipient personnel problem.

The project is still in its incipient or in its initial stages.

insipient (in SIP ee uhnt) (adjective)
Lacking in wisdom; foolish: Keith's insipient decisions were absolutely unacceptable.

Another insipient politician was more than the voters were willing to accept.

Politicians suddenly become incipient when it is election time and they too often become insipient when they make speeches.

incite, insight
incite (in SIGHT) (verb)
To stir up, spur on, arouse, or provoke to action: It is easier to incite a mob than to disperse it.
insight (in SIGHT) (noun)
1. The quality of understanding of people and situations in a very clear way: Penetrating insight is given to a few who must lead the others.
2. The ability to discern the true nature of a situation: People need to gain insight into the economic situation that is going on in the world.

It takes a great deal of insight to talk with an angry crowd without appearing to incite them to violence.

incoherent, inchoate
incoherent (in" koh HIR uhnt) (adjective)
Referring to the lack of orderly thought or relevance; not logically connected; disjointed; rambling; lacking orderly continuity: Dina was so upset by the accident that her speech was incoherent and nobody could understand her.
inchoate (in KOH it) (adjective)
Concerning the initial rudimentary formulation of something; just begun; in the early stage; not yet clearly or completely formed or organized; imperfectly developed; such as, an idea: Harry's inchoate approach regarding the new theory intrigued his students.

Henry's initial inchoate speech sounded a bit incoherent; so, obviously he needs to do a lot of reworking of his presentation.

incompetence, incompetents
incompetence (in KAHM pi tuhns) (noun)
Behavior that is characterized by being inadequate or unsuitable for effective action: Kelsey's glaring incompetence caused a significant delay in completing the project.
incompetents (in KAHM pi tuhnts) (noun)
Individuals who are unsuitable for a specific task: Bernhard was disturbed by the incompetents that the employment agency sent to him.

The incompetence of the incumbent incompetents is truly amazing.

inconceivable, unthinkable
inconceivable (in" kuhn SEE vuh buhl) (adjective)
Impossible to understand: It was inconceivable that the professor wrote such an unsubstantiated article about the president of the university.
unthinkable (un THING kuh buhl) (adjective)
1. Impossible to be understood by the mind or contrary to reasonable expectations: It was unthinkable that the children should be expected to walk so far.
2. Difficult to imagine or to believe: It was unthinkable that the teacher was leaving the school before the end of the semester.

Tamika found the mathematical formula on the examination inconceivable, however it was unthinkable that she would fail the exam because of this one problem.

incredible, incredulous
incredible (in KRED uh buhl) (adjective)
Unbelievable: The modern world is accepting many incredible happenings as reality.
incredulous (in KREJ uh luhs) (adjective)
Unbelieving; skeptical: The incredulous men have been deceived so often that they hesitate to believe obvious events.

As incredible as it may be, Frank found himself totally incredulous when the results of the election were announced and he had won.

indeterminable, indeterminate
indeterminable (in" di TUR muh nuh buhl) (adjective)
Concerning something which is not able to be settled or decided on in a definite manner: The indeterminable date for completing the project is still obviously unknown.
indeterminate (in" di TUR muh nit) (adjective)
Inconclusive; referring to something which cannot be determined by a specific answer: The outcome of the chemistry experiment was indeterminate and puzzling.

The indeterminate response which the student received to his questions to the editor of the journal will create an indeterminable delay in the completion of his essay.

indict, indite
indict (in DIGHT) (verb)
To make a formal accusation against someone by the findings of a jury; especially, a grand jury: It is much easier to indict than to convict.
indite (in DIGHT), archaic or literary (verb)
To write; especially, formally: Few people now indite an epistle; instead, they scribble a note.

The judge announced that he will indite his decision as to whether he will indict the self-professed fraud artist.

indigenous, indigent
indigenous (in DIJ uh nuhs) (adjective)
Pertaining to a person or something that is native to a place; relating to a thing that exists or is produced naturally in a region or country: Tobacco was indigenous to the New World or the Western Hemisphere.

The clinic provides free medical care for indigenous patients, but not for foreigners.

indigent (IN di juhnt) (noun)
A person who is or a group of people who are poor, needy, lacking money; poverty stricken or destitute: Every society must make some provisions for the indigent.

The newspaper reported that the indigenous population in the far north is often indigent and in need of special medical services.

indignant, indignity
indignant (in DIG nuhnt) (adjective)
1. Filled with anger caused by something unworthy or mean: Shanna was indignant when she read the mean-spirited article in the newspaper.
2. Pertaining to a person who feels or shows anger because of something that is unfair or wrong; especially, because of an unjust, mean treatment, or action: Brian was very indignant about the excessive charges made by the taxi driver.
indignity (in DIG ni tee) (noun)
1. A behavior which offends, humiliates, or insults: The comments in the newspaper suggested that a great indignity had been given to the visiting scholar.
2. An act or occurrence which hurts someone's pride or self-respect; an affront: So many elderly people seem to find it necessary to endure one indignity after another as a result of growing old.

Caroline was filled with indignant outrage when she witnessed the indignity which was being inflicted on the hapless old horse that was pulling a heavy cart.

indiscreet, indiscrete
indiscreet (in" di SKREET) (adjective)
Relating to the lack of good judgment and sensitivity; injudicious: Fred was making so many indiscreet remarks that the audience started to walk out because they were unable to tolerate such indiscretions.
indiscrete (in" di SKREET) (adjective)
Referring to something which is not divided or divisible into separate parts: There were layers of pages that were fused into an indiscrete bulky mass.

It would be indiscreet to believe that the crowd in the town square was indiscrete because there were obviously several different organizations waving their banners.

inequity, iniquity
inequity (in EK wi tee) (noun)
Injustice, unfair treatment: The inequity of punishing the innocent man shocked the whole city.
iniquity (i NIK wi tee) (noun)
Wickedness, being unfair or evil: The consistent iniquity of mankind discourages any hope of a Utopia.

Too many people in the world are plagued by corruption and iniquity.

The iniquity of the landlord towards the unemployed tenants was perceived as a great inequity.

inert, insert, insert, inset
inert (in URT) (adjective)
1. Very slow, sluggish, lacking the ability to move: Roger was so tired after the marathon, that he felt inert.
2. Pertaining to something which does not have the anticipated reaction, either chemically or biologically: The chemistry formula proved to be inert and not dangerous.
insert (in SURT) (verb)
To put or to incorporate one thing into the structure of something else: While editing the manuscript, the professor suggested a new paragraph to insert into the text.
insert (in SURT) (noun)
That which is included within the framework of another item: The newspaper had a special insert about the car race.
inset (IN set", in SET) (noun)
A small representation or part which is incorporated into the larger body of an item: There was an inset on the map showing the larger cities.

There was a colorful inset on the insert which the staff put in the programs for the theater performance.

After completing the task of putting 700 inserts into 700 programs, they were so tired that they were totally inert.

infectious, contagious
infectious (in FEK shuhs) (adjective)
Capable of spreading or communicating: Susana's enthusiasm for Justin's work was infectious.

Theodora's illness is infectious and requires medical attention.

contagious (kuhn TAY juhs) (adjective)
1. Characteristic of a disease or infection that is spread by contact: Mildred's cough was highly contagious and she wore a mask to be sure others did not become ill, too.
2. Descriptive of an influence or mood that spreads rapidly: The long sunny days created a contagious sense of well-being for people in the community.

The unusually infectious Norovirus was considered highly contagious; so, the patient was placed in isolation for a week.

infer, imply, insinuate
infer (in FUR) (verb)
To come to a conclusion based on facts or observations; to conclude from certain evidence (literally, "to bring in", "to deduce"): Trudy and James could infer that there was a forest fire when they saw so much smoke on the horizon.
imply (im PLIGH) (verb)
To suggest a consequence rather than to make a clear statement: As chairman, Douglas seemed to imply that the meeting was over without actually saying it.
insinuate (in SIN yoo ayt") (verb)
1. To insert something into a context with an indirect suggestion: Gerald appeared to insinuate that the man was dishonest by questioning his integrity.
2. To gradually make oneself a part of a group, a person's life, etc.; often by behaving in a dishonest way: Shirley stood next to the speaker hoping to insinuate herself into the conversation.

Roger has managed to insinuate himself into the city's highest social circles.

Speakers and writers imply; listeners and readers infer from what the speaker has implied.

Careful speakers and writers distinguish between these two words, using imply to mean, "to indicate without saying outright"; and infer to mean, "to draw a conclusion by reasoning".

Sam's warm smile implied that he was pleased to see us.

We inferred from Sam's warm smile that he was pleased to see us.

Imply, Infer

What I imply, I hint. What you infer
Is what you think I hinted. Better, madam/sir,
To say "hello" in error for "good-bye"
Than to say infer in error for imply.

—Willard R. Espy in his book
Say It My Way; Doubleday & Company, Inc.;
Garden City, New York; 1980, page 152.

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