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

(lists of "P" 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.

piteous, pitiable, pitiful
piteous (PIT ee uhs) (adjective)
Referring to something which elicits a strong sense of sympathy or compassion: The circumstances of poverty were piteous and Nikki was motivated to help in the local soup kitchen.
pitiable (PIT ee uh buhl) (adjective)
Wretched, paltry, lamentable: When the Industrial Revolution was just getting started, employees earned pitiable wages and often lived in piteous housing.
pitiful (PIT i fuhl) (adjective)
Concerning a person or animal that is in an unfortunate and sad situation; touching; pathetic; miserable: The man who was standing on the corner looked so pitiful because he had no umbrella and he was being soaked by the unexpected rain.

The famous British author, Charles Dickens, created pitiable characters in his books, for example the pitiful story of Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol. His situation and the poverty of his family was piteous.

place, plaice
place (PLAYS) (noun)
An area with definite or indefinite boundaries; a portion of space: Larry had to hunt for a large parking place for his truck because it was so big.
plaice (PLAYS) (noun)
A large edible marine flatfish: For lunch Lenora and Frank decided to have plaice and chips at the roadside shop.

Kenneth took his place at the table and the waiter served him a lovely dish of plaice and chips.

plain, plain, plane, plane
plain (PLAYN) (adjective)
1. Outspoken, without subtlety: The mayor was plain spoken and did not try to disguise what she was saying.
2. Descriptive of a lack in affectation; ordinary: Mildred's manners were plain and helped to make visitors very comfortable.
3. Not complicated: Celeste's mother preferred plain home cooked meals instead of highly spiced foods.
4. Pertaining to something simple; without ornament: The plain curtains in the window were strictly functional.
plain (PLAYN) (noun)
A wide and open stretch of land that is often treeless: The fields of wheat covered the plain as far as Josie could see.
plane (PLAYN) (noun)
1. An instrument or tool for making the surface of wood smooth: The cabinetmaker used a sharp plane to level the surface of the table made of pine.
2. A level of consciousness or development: Henry's plane of thought was lofty and purely academic.
3. A major supporting surface of an aircraft: The plane of the new airplane was designed to hold the wing and be strong but not heavy.
4. A word used interchangeably with "airplane": The plane taxied to the take-off site.
plane (PLAYN) (adjective)
Flat, level; without depressions or elevations: The plane surface of the table was enhanced by the vase of stunning flowers.

As Myrna got on the aircraft, she noticed that it was just a plain plane without any luxuries.

plait, plait, plate, pleat
plait (PLAYT, PLAT) (noun)
A braid or pigtail: Bonita's plait of hair was dark, heavy, and it was hanging down her back.
plait (PLAYT, PLAT) (verb)
To braid: Sallie decided to plait her hair with colored ribbons.
plate (PLAYT) (noun)
1. A flat and usually round dish which is used for eating or serving food: Mark had a full plate of meat and vegetables so he didn't need to have any second servings.
2. A table setting or cutlery that is made by the process of chemically or electronically bonding a thin layer of a valuable metal onto a less valuable base metal: The host set the table with the old family plate.
3. Any of large movable segments of the earth's surface that shift during an earthquake: The seismologist studied the plate in the temblor-prone area of the desert.
4. The dish which is passed among people for collections, often in a religious context: The ushers passed the plate for contributions to support the church fund.
pleat (PLEET) (noun)
A fold in a piece of material, often cloth, made by doubling the material over itself: The seamstress made a pleat in the belt on the coat so it would hang in an attractive style.
pleat (PLEET) (verb)
To create a fold: Mrs. Smart wanted to pleat the curtains carefully before hanging them up again.

When the female potter works, she keeps her plait of hair tied up so it won't get caught on the potter’s wheel. In fact, Karin has been making a large plate with a pleat style crimping of the edge.

pleas, please, please
pleas (PLEEZ) (noun)
1. Statements made by a party in a legal proceeding in support of the party's position; as well as, the responses of an accused person to the charges brought before the court: The alleged robber entered pleas of not guilty in the court to the charges of robbing the bank and breaking the front door of the bank.
2. Explanations offered to excuse or to justify a decision: Jack and Jill decided to leave the party early, extending their pleas to the host that they had an early appointment the next day.
3. Earnest beseechings and pleadings for something: Tammie's pleas to stay out late did not make her parents change their position that she should be home before midnight.
please (PLEEZ) (verb)
To give satisfaction or pleasure: Tabitha decided to please her friend by making a special chocolate cake for dessert.
please (PLEEZ) (interjection)
A word used to express politeness: Tabitha asked, "Won’t you have some cake, please?"

Tabitha's husband said, "Please sit down and be comfortable by the fire."

Barbara could hear Jimmie's pleas as he tried to please his mother in hopes of getting an extra dessert.

plebeian, proletarian
plebeian (pli BEE uhn) (noun)
A common or ordinary individual or behavior: Steve always joked that he was a plebeian and rode his bicycle to work instead of taking the car.
proletarian (proh" li TAIR ee uhn) (noun)
A person who has low social status; such as, a member of the working class: Because Bernhart lacked a proper education and gregarious existence, he spent his whole life as a poor proletarian.

Even though Joshua claimed he was a member of the proletarian, he did not have plebeian manners.

plum, plum, plumb
plum (PLUM) (noun)
The edible part of a tree which developed from a flower and is smooth-skinned with a large seed or pit in the middle: Ingrid has a plum tree in her garden which yields delicious purple fruit.
plum (PLUM) (adjective)
Descriptive of a color that is dark reddish or purple in tone: Cleo's winter coat was of a lovely plum shade and looked nice with the white fur collar.
plumb (PLUM) (noun)
1. A weight on the end of a line, employed to ascertain water depth: The captain of the ship dropped the plumb to determine how deep the river was.
2. A small piece of lead, on the end of a cord or piece of string, used especially by carpenters and masons to determine a true vertical: The builders used a plumb quite often so they could be sure that the structure was straight and not leaning.

When Aaron had to survey the site of the accident, he didn't have a professional plumb with him; so, he improvised and used the seed of a plum suspended from a string.

plump, plump
plump (PLUHMP) (verb)
1. To sit, fall, or to lie down in a sudden, awkward, or relaxed way: Consuelo came home tired and decided to plump on the couch in the living room.
2. To shake or to hit something; such as, a cushion, to make it fuller, softer, or rounder: When Jacob got into bed, he tried to plump up his pillow.
plump (PLUHMP) (adjective)
Descriptive of something or someone that has a full, rounded shape; chubby: Until Luis was about ten years, he was not a skinny boy, but quite plump.

Martin ate a juicy and plump peach with his lunch.

How do you make thin boys fat? You throw them up in the air and they come down plump!

After a hard day's work, it is a relief to plump down in a comfortable chair with plump pillows and enjoy a dish of ice cream with slices of peaches that are plump and ripe.

poise, poise, poised
poise (POIZ) (noun)
1. A calm, confident manner: Although Jeremy was verbally attacked, he responded with poise and dignity.
2. A graceful way of walking, moving, standing, etc.: Trudy was a dancer with great poise and elegance.
poise (POIZ) (verb)
1. To hold something in a balanced and steady position: The teacher saw the students poise their fingers over their computer keyboards as they waited for his signal to begin the assigned research on the internet.
2. To hold or to support, as in readiness: The congressional committee wants to poise a new proposal for the health bill.
poised (POIZ'd) (verb), past tense
1. Not having moved, but ready to move when the situation calls for such action: All of the actors were poised on the stage prepared to do their parts when the curtain was opened.
2. Prepared or ready for something: The new senator-elect was poised to take on his new duties.

They were poised to become top scholars in their academic fields.

3. Having been in a state, place, or situation that was between two different or opposite things: The survivors of the earthquake were poised between struggling as survivors and additional devastation.

A Roman gladiator cut the noose that was thrown by an opponent with a single slash of his sword while the rope was still poised in mid-air.

The politician was poised to answer the questions from the press with poise even after being attacked for his current political position regarding the war.

Poise is the ability to hide one's anger; or, poise is the ability to be ill at ease without showing it.

Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivific!

Fain would I fathom thy nature specific,

Distantly poised in the ether capacious,

Closely resembling a gem carbonaceous.

Did you have difficulty understanding this sesquipedalian version of the poem? If so, here it is in a simple format.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star!

How I wonder what you are,

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.

pole, pole, poll
pole (POHL) (verb)
To move an object or person forward using sticks to propel the object or person: The riverboat operator was able to pole the raft across the river.

The champion skier could pole his way on the slopes with great skill.

pole (POHL) (noun)
1. One of two opposite positions, situations, etc: The two politicians were each on the reverse pole of the argument; in other words, they were poles apart.
2. Either end of the axis of a sphere; such as, the earth: The arctic explorers planted a flag at the North Pole to mark their discovery.
3. Either of the two ends of an electric power unit: The directions said to place the positive pole of the battery pointing towards the top of the flashlight.
poll (POHL) (noun)
1. The flat striking end of a heavy instrument; such as, a mallet: The carpenter used the poll of her hammer to drive the nails into the lumber.
2. The location where votes are cast and or counted in an election: Ernest's poll for the upcoming referendum is just across the street.

Polly's uncle was assigned to her poll when it was time to tally the ballots after the primary.

3. The questioning of individuals typically selected randomly to obtain information or to determine the opinions of the population: Bruce was contacted by telephone to complete a poll regarding the upcoming election.
4. A process of an election whereby people are requested to indicate their choice individually: The poll on the decision to break for coffee was done by a show of hands.

In order to canvas each poll in the voting district, Rodney had to pole his way across the river to visit the remote sites, even though he knew that the opposition candidate was on the opposite pole of the central issue of taxes.

polish, Polish
polish (PAHL ish) (verb)
1. To perfect, to shine, to make glossy or refined: Fred will use a soft cloth to polish the furniture.
2. To improve something by making it better than it was before: Willie and Ralph need to polish up some areas in their project before they can say that they are finished with it.
polish (PAHL ish) (noun)
1. The confident and cultured manner of a person's behavior and language; not coarse or rude: Harriet's speech reflected the polish of her fine education and training.
2. A preparation which is used to clean or to shine furniture, etc.: Eugenia used the polish on the silver plate that her grandmother gave her.
Polish (POH lish) (adjective)
Relating to, or referring to, Poland, the Poles, their language, or their culture: Chopin was a famous Polish composer and pianist.

It was necessary that Patricia polish the Polish tables and chairs.

pomace, pumice
pomace (PUHM is, POHM is) (noun)
1. That which has been crushed into a pulp: The tomato pomace which the farmers made is great in tomato sauce.
2. The residue of material from which the liquid has been removed: There was a layer of pomace at the bottom of the grape press.
pumice (PUHM is) (noun)
A stone that is filled with air spaces and is very light, often used as a polishing agent: There was some pumice on exhibition that was from Mt. Vesuvius in Southern Italy.

The lapidists used a fine pumice to clean, smooth, and furbish the gem once it had been cut.

The blades of the equipment used to create the thick tomato pomace need sharpening; so, she will use a fine pumice to do the job.

pommel, pommel, pummel, pummel
pommel (PUHM uhl, PAHM uhl) (verb)
To beat, to hit: The rowdy boys on the playground tried to pommel a group of other boys.
pommel (PUHM uhl, PAHM uhl) (noun)
The high, round part on the upper front part of a saddle; a saddlebow: The cowgirl wrapped her lasso around the pommel on the seat of her horse.
pummel (PUHM uh) (verb)
To clobber or to knock down: The angry crowd wanted to pummel the thief who was trying to get away after whacking the old lady down and taking her purse.
pummel (PUHM uh) (noun)
The fact or act of overwhelming someone or something: The pummel of the stock market took Mildred by surprise.

The hero of the local myth was said to have rested a heavy stick on the pommel of his saddle and he continued to carry the stick in case he had to pummel any highway robbers.

poor, pore, pour
poor (POOR) (adjective)
1. Inadequate, meager, inferior, characterized by poverty, without material possession: The critics agreed that the singer at the concert was a poor and inferior choice.

The living conditions for the refugees in the large city were poor and very unsatisfactory.

The children felt very poor because they did not have the latest TV model.

2. Not good in quality or condition; bad: Harry's poor state of health makes it impossible for him to find a job.

The driver couldn't see the road sign because of his poor and feeble vision.

3. Referring to someone or something as to show sympathy: Leave the poor man alone, because he can't help it if he can't walk faster.

I wonder how those poor birds find food during the winter when the snow covers everything.

pore (POHR, POR) (verb)
To study intently, to meditate upon something in a steady manner: The scholarship candidate was determined to pore over her notes before the examination.

Ernest sat quietly in the comfortable chair in order to pore over the sad news from home.

pour (POHR, POR) (verb)
1. To precipitate hard and consistently: The weather prediction is that the rain will pour down for about three hours.
2. To flow or to dispense from a container: The maid was careful to pour the tea from the pot into the new cups.
3. To give uninhibited expression to: The two friends agreed to meet and to pour out their concerns to each other.
4. To come continuously: Compliments about the new fashion designs seemed to pour in every day.

The librarian exclaimed, "You poor dear, having to sit in the library all day to pore over these ancient documents. You must come down to my office so I can pour you a cup of tea."

poplar, popular
poplar (PAHP luhr) (noun)
A perennial woody plant having a main trunk and a number limbs and leaves: The gardener planted a poplar in his backyard hoping that it would grow quickly and provide shade during the summer.
popular (PAHP yuh luhr) (adjective)
1. Inexpensive and available to the majority of the population: The pink sunglasses were very popular among the girls at the local school.
2. Plain, easily understood: The historian wrote a popular book about local events in the village.
3. Widely accepted or encountered: It is a popular myth that the moon is made of green cheese.

A popular tree to plant in gardens and along the side of the roads is the poplar.

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