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.

prescribe, proscribe
prescribe (pri SKRIGHB) (verb)
1. To provide or write an order for medications or recommendations: Kenneth asked his doctor to prescribe physiotherapy for his sore wrist.
2. To indicate or to dictate regulations that are to be followed: The school principal decided to prescribe new playground rules for the pupils.
proscribe (proh SKRIGHB) (verb)
1. To prohibit or to condemn as harmful: The village elders determined to proscribe smoking in the public buildings.
2. To make something illegal or to forbid certain things: The principal said he would proscribe the use of cell phones in school.
3. To publish the name of an individual who is condemned to death or whose property is forfeited to the government: The next edition of the internal newsletter at the prison will proscribe the list of inmates each week.

When Keith asked the doctor to prescribe pain killers for his injured ankle, he agreed, but said that he would also proscribe strenuous physical activity for at least a month.

prescribed, required
prescribed (pri SKRIGHB'd) (verb)
1. Specified with authority: The driver's handbook prescribed the consequences of driving without a valid driver's license.
2. To have required the use of something as a remedy: The doctor prescribed a week in the mountains as a cure for Trina's asthma.
required (ri KWIGHR'd) (verb)
1. Wanted as an essential or compelling need for something: The animals required fresh water every day.
2. Expected as suitable or appropriate: A black tie was not required at the formal dinner, but Karin's friend was embarrassed because his polka dot tie was too informal.
3. Imposed, expected, or necessitated: The taxi driver carried a special license, as required by the law.

Jason is required to take the prescribed training course before he can become a therapist.

presence, presents, presents
presence (PREZ uhns) (noun)
1. A quality of poise and effectiveness that facilitates a relationship between individuals: The presence of the speaker encouraged a warm response from the audience when she read her poetry.
2. The immediate proximity of something or someone: Daniel could feel an eerie presence when he walked through the graveyard after dark.
3. The sense that something is close by: Rebekah's presence was felt throughout the room because of her charming personality.
presents (PREZ uhnts) (noun)
Items that have been given to someone; especially, as a way of showing affection: Mike received three presents for his birthday.

Stephen gave Adele two books as presents for her help.

presents (pri ZENTZ) (verb)
1. To formally introduce or to announce: The butler presents each of the guests to the host as the guests arrive at the party.
2. To give or to grant awards: The school principal always presents certificates for good citizenship to certain students at the end of the school ceremonies.
3. To describe or to show someone or something in a particular way: Rena presents herself as a very ambitious candidate.

The presence of the agency's president at the retirement party for his colleague made him anticipate that certificates and presents would be awarded. The president presents herself as an outgoing and friendly person.

present, present
present (PREZ uhnt) (noun)
1. A moment or period in time perceptible as intermediate between past and future; now: The days gone by, the present, and the approaching days are all linked together.

Greg decided to leave things as they are for the present or for the moment.

There's no time like the present for getting things done!

2. Something that is given to someone; especially, as a way of showing affection or thanks: Richard gave her a book as a present.

The couple received a wedding present from a friend in France.

present (pri SENT) (verb)
1. To formally talk about something one has written, studied, etc. to a group of people: The chemist wanted to present his report to the committee.
2. To make something available to be used or considered: The defense lawyer will present evidence refuting the charges against his client.
3. To show something to someone: Estella's sister was told that she would have to present her passport when she was ready to cross the border.

It is said that there is no time like the present, so Bill thought it was time to present the present to his wife now.

presumably, supposedly
presumably (pri ZOOM uh bli) (adverb)
Regarding how something is assumed to be true without specific facts: Walt was presumably not aware that it would be sunny in the afternoon.
supposedly (suh POHZ uhd li) (adverb)
Pretendingly, allegedly, believingly: Ronda was supposedly Wilber's best friend and he could not imagine that she would tell such lies about him.

Supposedly the family should be able to drive to the city and home again in three hours.

David supposedly was to have started the new job last week. He had hoped to receive the contract to sign two weeks ago; but it was presumably delayed in the mail.

presumption, presumptive, presumptuous
presumption (pri ZUHMP shuhn) (noun)
1. The inference of fact based on information that is founded on other factual information: The lawyers agreed on the presumption of certain knowledge supported by the hospital reports.
2. A belief or attitude based on probability: In Shelby's country, there is a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise in the legal system.
3. Audaciousness or discourteousness: It was a presumption on Jack's part to think that tennis shoes were appropriate for the luncheon at the hotel.
presumptive (pri ZUHMP tiv) (adjective)
Descriptive of something embryonic, small, or immature in nature, but capable of developing normally: Marie was the heir presumptive to a fortune whenever she would complete her education.
presumptuous (pri ZUHMP choo uhs) (adjective)
Pertaining to a person who steps out of bounds of appropriate and expected behavior: Samuel's loud and crude language was considered presumptuous in the quietness of the library board meeting.

It is presumptuous of Jeffrey to say anything to the press about the presumption that the prison was going to close because any discussion about prison closings is still in its presumptive stages.

pretend, portend, portent, potent
pretend (pri TEND) (verb)
1. To give a false impression; to make believe: When they were children, Etta's sisters and Julie used to dress up and pretend to be fairy princesses.
2. To make a false claim or assertion: Roger and Trina will pretend that they have tickets and hope to go to the parade.
portend (por TEND, pohr TEND) (verb)
To give a sign in anticipation of something; to suggest an omen: The dark clouds over the bay seem to portend a storm.
portent (POR tent", POHR tent") (noun)
That which foreshadows an event in a prophetic manner: The arrival of the seagulls in the farmer's field Is often the portent that it will rain in about two hours.
potent (POH n't") (adjective)
1. Powerful; mighty: The police proved to be a potent fighting force.
2. Referring to something producing powerful physical or chemical effects: Henry used a potent drug to fight the cancer.
3. Relating to something or someone having or exercising great power or influence: The higher interest rate was a potent factor in the economy.

The potent status of the newly elected mayor is a portent that he will pretend to be a friend of the people; however, some of his statements portend hidden taxes and a cut in services for the future.

prevent, hinder
prevent (pri VENT) (verb)
To keep from happening or succeeding; to deprive of hope or power: The flat tire on the car will prevent Lenora from going to the movies in the evening.

The birth of the prince will prevent the revolutionaries from taking power from the king.

hinder (HIN duhr) (verb)
To delay, to impede, to make progress difficult: The heavy snow drifts on the roads will hinder Jim's ability to go home as quickly as he usually does.

The fact that a major report is due tomorrow will hinder Alisha's ability to meet with Brian this evening; however, it will not prevent her from having lunch with him next week.

preventative, preventive
preventative (pri VEN tuh tiv) (adjective)
An action taken to deprive something from succeeding: Getting a flu shot now is a good preventative measure so Melba won't become ill later.
preventive (pri VEN tiv) (adjective)
Descriptive of a measure taken to forestall or to keep something from happening: Careful crop management is a preventive procedure in terms of soil erosion.

The agronomist urged the farmers to take preventative measures regarding soil nutrient depletion. He suggested that crop rotation is one preventive action.

preview, purview, purvey
preview (PREE vyoo") (noun)
1. An advance showing, as of a movie or art exhibition, to which a selected audience is invited before public presentation begins: Dennis had the opportunity of seeing the motion picture at a special preview.
2. An introductory or preliminary message, sample, or overview; a foretaste: The magazine includes a preview of the newest fall fashions.
purview (PUR vyoo") (noun)
1. The range of a manoeuvre, authority, control, concern, etc.: The CIA drones won't cease operating, but a separate group of drones will now be under the purview of the Defense Department and, for the first time, will be allowed to venture beyond the border areas.
2. The full scope or compass of any document, statement, subject, book, etc.: The moral dilemmas of the early settlers are beyond the purview of the present publication.
purvey (puhr VAY, PUR vay") (verb)
To publish or to pass on news, especially gossip, scandal, or other kinds of information that people generally feel should not be circulated: The blog kept trying to purvey personal details about well-known people.

Marina, will you allow Sam to preview your new book? He sees the purview is the development of settlements along the river.

Once Isaac has had the opportunity to preview Ingrid's book, with her permission, he will purvey his impressions to a wider audience.

pride, pried
pride (PRIGHD) (noun)
1. A gathering of lions: On their safari, Jane and James saw a pride, or a group, of lions.
2. Justifiable self-esteem: Zelda felt a great deal of pride at her accomplishments as a painter.
3. Delight or pleasure in one's own accomplishments or those of another individual: Mark took great pride in his daughter's success as a conductor of the orchestra.
4. Disdainful behavior or treatment towards others: Henry's pride towards his neighbors tended to blind him to their friendliness.
pried (PRIGHD) (verb)
1. To have opened, exposed, or extorted with difficulty: Millie's sister pried Adele's secret recipe for cookies from her.
2. To have pulled something apart by using a lever: Using a crow bar, Marla's brother pried open the buried treasure chest.

It was with great pride that Donald pried the lid off the old paint can without spilling the paint all over himself.

prier, pryer; prior, prior
prier, pryer (PRIGH uhr) (noun)
Someone who is overly interested in the affairs of other people: Cara was always known as a prier concerning what her son was doing when he was away from home.
prior (PRIGH uhr) (adjective)
1. Referring to something which existed earlier, or preceded in time or order: Jason had a prior history of back problems.

James can't join his friends for dinner on Friday because they have a prior engagement with another family.

2. More important than something else because it came first: Arthur has a prior claim to the property.
3. Pertaining to a previous time of being arrested for or found guilty of a crime: The suspect had a prior conviction as a robber.
prior (PRIGH uhr) (noun)
A monk who is the head of a religious house or order: Jonathan went to visit the prior of the local monastery.

Prior to his being transferred, the prior at the local abbey was notorious for being a prier into the affairs of the people in the village.

pries, prize
pries (PRIGHZ) (verb)
1. To use a tool as a lever or to force open something: Charles usually pries open the wooden boxes with a small crowbar.
2. Trying to find out about other people's private lives or snooping into the affairs of other people: Shelby always pries into Bill's business which upsets him.

prize (PRIGHZ) (noun)
1. Something offered or won as an award for superiority or victory, as in a competition: Lenora's grandmother won an authentic wooden shoe as the prize in a spelling contest.
2. Something worth striving for; a highly desirable possession: Winning the scholarship prize was worth all the hard work and practice.

The prize at the Carpenters Competition was the latest tool to use when a person pries the lids off paint cans.

prince, prints, prints
prince (PRINS) (noun)
1. A male person of high standing in his profession: As an actor, Marvin was a prince among his peers.
2. The male child of a king; an heir to a royal throne: Even though William was a prince, he was allowed to attend the local school and make friends with his classmates.
prints (PRINS) (noun)
1. Copies or reproductions of original works of art: At the shop in the art gallery, Ivan bought several prints of his favorite painting to give as gifts to his friends.
2. Original works of art intended as a reproduction and completed under the supervision of the original artist: In Lottie's art history class she learned that many famous masters employed apprentices to paint prints of their famous paintings.
prints (PRINS) (verb)
1. To create copies of something by hand or machine: The new photocopier at the office prints very nicely.
2. To make letters of something by hand: Steve's sister is just starting school and she uses a pencil when she prints her name.

It was easy to see the messy prints of the prince before he washed his hands after working on his wet-clay sculptures.

When told at the camera shop that Josie's photographs were not back from the developer, the woman began to sing: "Someday my prints will come. . . ."

principal, principal, principle
principal (PRIN suh puhl) (adjective)
1. Most important or influential: Gregory was the principal financial backer of the railroad project.
2. A reference to the leading performer in a play or movie: Abigail had the principal role in the newly discovered play by Shakespeare.
3. Relating to a primary source of information: The principal source for Shawn's research was the letters and documents which were located in the library archives.
principal (PRIN suh puhl) (noun)
1. The individual who has significant authority and leadership in an educational institution: Mildred's aunt was the principal at the local high school for almost ten years before she retired.
2. Money that is used to fund an undertaking, not including interest accrued: Walter has his principal in the bank and he is using it to pay his bills and to buy items that he needs.
principle (PRIN suh puhl) (noun)
1. A comprehensive code of conduct: The main rule or principle of the company was declared to be "integrity".
2. An underlying quality or characteristic of something: The famous writer had a principle which involved doing careful research before starting work on a novel.
3. Adherence or devotion to appropriate behavior: Pete was described as a man of principle in terms of his business transactions.
4. The law of science that underlies the operation of an artificial device: The waterwheel operated on the principle that falling water would hit the paddles and turn the wheel.

The professor said that his main code of conduct, or his principal principle, was to make sure that his students would have every opportunity to improve their vocabulary skills.

For more information and mnemonic explanations for determining the appropriate usage of these words, visit this principal, principle, page.

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