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

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

English can be very confusing; for example, a house burns up as it burns down, a form is being filled in as it is being filled out, and an alarm goes off by going on. How about when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible?

As you examine the groups of words in this unit, you will find many examples of confusions; sometimes, just one or two letters in a word can change its meaning completely. There are also times when two different words get confused because their meanings apply to things that are very similar.

Efforts have been made to help you grasp the meanings of various words 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.

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

store, store
store (STOR, STOHR) (verb)
1. To put something that is not being used in a place where it is available, where it can be kept safely, etc.: "Mandy will store her jewels in a safe at the bank."
2. To collect and to put something into one location for future use: "The solar panels store energy for later applications."
3. To place information in a person's memory or a computer's memory: "The website information has been formatted they can store it with an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
store (STOR, STOHR) (noun)
1. A building or room where things are sold: "Sally is going to the store to buy groceries."
2. A larger amount or supply of something that is kept for future use: "The internet is the world's greatest store of information ever created by mankind."

People go to a store to buy all kinds of goods where they store such things for present and future acquisition.

straight, strait
straight (STRAYT) (adjective)
1. Existing without curves, bends, angles, etc.: "The straight road lay ahead of us and appeared to be well paved."
2. Uninterrupted, direct, or candid; originating from a trustworthy source: "The teacher gave straight answers to their questions which made learning easier."
3. Consecutive, ordered, or correct: "It rained for twelve straight days."

"Joan interviewed the candidates to get the straight facts about their plans for the economy."

4. Conventional, not deviating from what is accepted as normal: "Mary's manners are straight and old fashioned which is very appealing in this age of hustle and bustle."
strait (STRAYT) (noun)
1. A narrow passageway of water connecting two larger bodies of water: "The group of tourists sailed safely through the strait despite the terrible weather."
2. A situation that is puzzling and causing distress: "Declaring bankruptcy was a strait that the cooks had not anticipated when they started up the new restaurant."

If you walk straight across the meadow, you will discover the strait that links the large ponds that the cattle use during the summer.

straightened, straitened
straightened (STRAYT n'd) (verb)
1. To have removed crookedness, bends, curves, etc.: "Over the summer, Fred noticed the mountain road had been straightened and it was safer for driving."

"It was not until after Bill straightened his back, that he realized how hunched over his desk he had become."

2. To have corrected or provided accurate information: "During Sara's rebuttal of the arguments presented by the opposition, the lawyer straightened out the facts of the case with the judge."
straitened (STRAYT n'd) (adjective)
Not having enough money or having less money than before: "After the bankruptcy, the corporation was in straitened circumstances."

"The family now lives in straitened conditions since the father lost his job."

The construction company was in straitened circumstances and it was not sure if it could fulfill its contract to have straightened the road before winter sets in.

stray, stray
stray (STRAY) (verb)
To go in a direction that is away from a group or from the place where someone or something should be: "Joe could see the two cows stray through the broken fence into the street."

"As Susan worked on her computer, her eyes would stray as she looked out the window."

stray (STRAY) (noun)
1. An animal; such as, a cat, dog, etc. that is lost or has no home: "The new cat was a stray that Jimmy found waiting at the back door."
2. Someone or something that is separated from a group: "Tim's mother matched up the socks after washing and drying, but she often had an unmatched stray one."

He found a stray kitten in his yard in the morning and he was wondering how it managed to stray into his yard because he has a dog out there that barks at everything.

streak, streak
streak (STREEK) (noun)
1. A long, thin mark that is of a different color from its background: "Marcus left a streak on the windshield when he wiped the windows of his car."
2. A quality that is noticeable; especially, because it is different from a person's other qualities: "Ed's friend has an adventurous streak in her."
3. A period of repeated success or failure: "Irene had a lucky streak of success against her golf competitors."
4. A long, narrow area or flash of light: "There was a streak of lightning followed by a great burst of thunder."
streak (STREEK) (verb)
1. To make long lines of a different color on or in something: "Marilyn was determined to streak her hair with blond stripes."
2. To run through a public place naked in order to get attention: "The ceremony was interrupted at the football stadium when a guy decided to streak across the field."

They were all astonished because immediately following a streak of lightening in the sky, they saw a naked man streak across the lawn to the old house at the back of the garden.

The student had to clean her glasses to see better because she thought she must have a streak on them.

stress, stress, stress, stress
stress (STRES) (noun)
1. Importance, significance, attention to, or emphasis placed on something: "The stress that the dentist put on flossing regularly really paid off because when Sam went to see him the next time, he didn't find any new caries."
2. A greater loudness or force given to a syllable of a word in speech or to a beat in music: "Stress falls on the first syllable of the word language."

"A different stress can fall on each beat in different parts of a song."

stress (STRES) (noun)
In physics: an applied force, or system of forces that tends to strain or to deform a structure: "The stress on the beams of many bridges is a potential danger to those who use those constructions as a means of travel."
stress (STRES) (noun)
Regarding physical and mental health: a mentally or emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences and capable of affecting physical health; usually, characterized by increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, muscular tension, irritability, and depression: "Gisela apologized for being so grumpy, but she explained that she has been under a lot of stress at work lately."
stress (STRES) (verb)
Giving special emphasis to something either verbally or through writing: "The teacher wanted to stress to the students that it is important that they do their homework every day."

He is feeling a lot of stress right now because at the conference next week, he is expected to give a speech in which he will stress the importance of understanding the properties of stress on the beams that will be part of the new bridge.

stricture, structure, structure
stricture (STRIK chuhr) (noun)
1. Restriction or a law or rule that limits or controls something: "The unexpected stricture on speed on this road really slows the traffic down."

"The local law has a stricture against the sale and possession of weapons."

2. A strong criticism: "They don't agree with her stricture, or strictures, on the state of contemporary theater."
structure (STRUK chuhr) (noun)
1. Something that has been built or constructed: "When will the structure at the entrance of the museum be completed?"

"The sentence structure was complex and very interesting."

2. The specific arrangement of parts or particles of something: "In Fred's science class, he studied the molecular structure of the chemical elements."
structure (STRUK chuhr) (verb)
To create or to form into a recognizable shape; for example, a building: "The workers undertook to structure the new barn after the old one burned down."

There is a new stricture regulating how tall a new structure can be. This new structure was subject to strong stricture in the press.

strident, trident
strident (STRIGHD n't) (adjective)
1. Characterized by a loud, harsh, and discordant sound: "Our supervisor spoke in a strident manner as he shouted commands to the workers."
2. Commanding attention by creating an intrusive impression: "The posters on the building were strident as they exhorted the workers to strike against the factory."
trident (TRIGHD n't) (noun)
1. A spear with three prongs such as one that is used for fishing: "The hapless fisherman was trying to catch the fish using a trident."
2. In classical mythology, the three-pronged spear carried by the Greek sea god, Poseidon, or his Roman equivalent, Neptune: "The masthead of the ship represented Neptune carrying a trident."

The actor had a strident voice that was perfect for his part as Poseidon when he entered the stage carrying a trident.

strike, strike
strike (STRIGHK) (verb)
1. To hit sharply, as with the hand, the fist, or a weapon; to inflict (a blow): "While they were struggling to catch the football, you could see one player accidentally strike another one in the face."
2. To cause to come into violent or forceful contact: "Elaine warned her friend to be careful or she might strike her knee against the desk if she were to make a sudden turn in her chair."
3. To produce a flame, light, or a spark from something by friction: "Nick had to strike a match so he could start the fire in the fireplace."
strike (STRIGHK) (noun)
1. A period of time when workers stop working in order to force an employer to agree to their demands: "The airline had to delay its flights because the pilots were on strike for better working conditions."
2. In baseball, a ball thrown by a pitcher which passes through a certain area over the home plate without being hit and that counts against the batter: "The batter had a third strike which meant he was out and so a new batter would take his place."
3. In the game of bowling, the achievement of knocking down all ten pins with the first roll of the ball: "Kate surprised everyone, including herself, when she made a strike with her first attempt with the bowling ball."

Mother often confused her sports. She would cheer when the umpire would call "STRIKE" against our local baseball players. She would laugh when she got a strike when she was bowling. Every once in a while, she would shake her head and strike her forehead as an apology for the goofs she would make.

strip, strip, strip, stripe
strip (STRIP) (verb)
1. To remove the covering of something: "Joe's job for today is to strip the paint off the old bench under the tree."
2. To take a person's possessions away: "The court decided to strip the traitor of his wealth and possessions."
3. To make bare, to take away equipment or furnishings: "When the owner decided to sell the store, he agreed to strip the shop to the walls and sell everything that could be removed."
strip (STRIP) (noun)
A long narrow stretch of water or land: "The airplane landed on the narrow strip of land next to the river."
strip (STRIP) (adjective)
A shopping area bordering a road: "The couple went to the strip mall to get some soft drinks for the BBQ."
stripe (STRIGHP) (noun)
1. The design of a textile that includes bands of contrasting color against a background: "Horst likes the design of the stripe on his new summer coat."
2. The band of braid or embroidery worn on the sleeve of military person to indicate the length of service or rank: "As an enlisted man, Pete had a single stripe on his sleeve because he just started his military career."
3. A kind or distinct sort or variety: "It was Howard's impression that those who attended the convention were of the same political stripe."

The skunk has a white stripe down its back. If you ever get sprayed by a skunk, you will want to quickly strip off all your clothes and take a bath as fast as possible.

stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, struck
stroke (STROHK) (noun)
1. One of a series of unbroken, repeated movements: "Every day the swimmer practiced his back stroke in hopes of increasing his speed."
2. The unexpected result of something: "Berhard had a stroke of luck when he went shopping and bought his new car when it was on sale."
stroke (STROHK) (noun)
A medical condition characterized by such things as the sudden loss of consciousness, caused by the obstruction of blood in an artery to the brain: "Gudryn's friend is in the hospital because she had a stroke but she is expected to recover well."
stroke (STROHK) (noun)
The marking of time by hitting a bell to produce a sound: "The race will start at the stroke of noon as indicated by the village clock."
stroke (STROHK) (verb)
To draw a short line through something or on something: "The professor used a red pencil to stroke through the misspelled words in the essay."

"Marie kept track of the days before her holidays started by making a stroke on her calendar for each day."

struck (STRUK) (verb)
1. To have determined not to work in order to obtain certain expectations, concessions, etc.: "The unionized workers struck the factory in hopes of obtaining better working conditions."
2. To have hit or to have caused a blow: "Mina accidentally struck another person with the snowball when she tried to throw it at her friend."
3. To have taken one's flag or pennants down, often in the context of a conflict: "The pirates struck their colors when the navy ship overtook them."
4. To cause something, like a match, to start burning by rubbing it against a surface: "Judy struck a match so she could light the candles on the table."

It struck me that if you use a red pen to stroke through every misspelled word in my essay, you will make one stroke after another.

My essay was about a local custom in which, at the stroke of noon, it was announced that the retired mayor had suffered a stroke.

strut, strut
strut (STRUHT) (verb)
To walk with a proud and affected gait or show of pride: "The officer appeared to strut across the deck of the ship."

"The models for the famous clothing designer always strut across the runway to show off the new fashions."

strut (STRUHT) (noun)
A long, thin piece of wood or metal used as a support or brace in a building, vehicle, etc.: "The carpenters put the last strut in place before they started to work on the roof of the building."

The new summer worker would strut across the construction yard carrying his tool bag and he was even strong enough to carry a strut to load onto the truck.

stumble, stumble, tumble, tumble
stumble (STUHM buhl) (verb)
1. To make an error or to act in a wayward manner; to commit a sin: If Rick continues to go to the horse races, he will stumble in his commitment to stop gambling.
2. To trip or to walk in an unsteady manner: It is difficult to walk on the brick street and Kathryn is afraid that she is going to stumble and seriously hurt herself.
3. To speak in an awkward or hesitating manner: The political speaker is afraid that he will stumble over his words if he doesn't practice his speech this afternoon.
4. To come across something unexpectedly: By reading the police reports, it was clear James would stumble about the truth regarding the bank robbery.
stumble (STUHM buhl) (noun)
The act or occasion of tripping: Because the horse cast a shoe, its walk was more like a stumble.
tumble (TUHM buhl) (noun)
1. An unexpected fall: Bill suffered a tumble when he missed the last step on the stairway to his apartment.
2. Suffering an unexpected defeat or downfall: The candidate's reputation experienced a tumble in the political polls.
tumble (TUHM buhl) (verb)
1. To roll downhill in a head over heels manner: The children lay on the grass and started to tumble all the way to the bottom of the decline.
2. To toss together in a confused mass: The chef was going to tumble the ingredients for the mixed salad while we watched.
3. To drop unexpectedly or to fall into potential ruin: The stock market started to tumble this year and many people lost their shirts.

Be careful not to stumble or you might tumble onto the ground.

subject, subject
subject (SUHB jikt) (noun)
1. A person or thing that is being discussed or described: "The new museum exhibition is the subject of an article in today's paper."

"Death is an uncomfortable subject that few people are willing to talk about."

2. An area of knowledge that is studied in school: "Latin was Sam's favorite subject in high school."
3. A person or thing that is being dealt with in a particular way: "Rose was the subject of a criminal investigation."
subject (suhb JEKT) (verb)
1. To submit for consideration: "The sale of the property is subject to approval by the city council."
2. To cause or to force someone or a thing to experience something that may be harmful, unpleasant, etc.: "During the approaching hurricane, many buildings will be subject to severe winds."

"The schedule is tentative and subject to change at a later time."

The teacher was about to subject her students to tests involving her academic subject.

suburb, superb
suburb (SUHB urb") (noun)
1. A small community that is close to a large city and is within commuting distance: "Josephine and her family live in a suburb of the biggest city in the province and there is a great public transportation system so she is able to commute into the city easily."
2. The residential areas typically on the outskirts of a larger city: "The older suburbs typically have gracious lawns and large trees."
superb (soo PURB) (adjective)
 Characterized as splendid, excellent, or outstanding: "The meal that the members of the Sports Club enjoyed at that restaurant was superb and all the members agreed to go again soon."

"Pete's scores in the track and field events were superb and earned him a university scholarship."

Josephine and her family think it is superb that they now live in the new suburb of the city.

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