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.

sic, sic, sick
sic (SIK) (verb)
To attack someone or something, usually used as a command to a dog: "When her neighbor saw the stranger trying to break into his house, he told the thief to stand still or he would sic his dog on him."
sic (SIK) (verb)
To indicate that the spelling or wording of something is intentional or original: "The editor wrote sic in the margins of the copy so the typesetter would understand that any misspellings or misuses of any words were intentional because they were written that way by another writer who was being quoted exactly."
sick (SIK) (adjective)
1. Not well, being ill, feeling queasy, or being nauseated: "He had a sick feeling all day and so he was not able to do any work on the project."
2. Corrupt in a spiritual or moral sense: "His sense of humor was vulgar and no one laughed at his sick jokes."
  3. Filled with anxiety: "She was sick with worry before her daughter finally came home late from school."
4. Emotionally unsound or disordered: "Her mind was sick and she had to be psychologically treated for several months."

At first she thought that she was sic [sic] with fear that her angry neighbor would sic his dog on her; however, she later determined that she was just sick with the flu.

side, side, sighed
side (SIGHD) (verb)
To support or to agree with: "She expects you to side with her when the two of you talk with the school principal."
side (SIGHD) (noun)
1. Either the left or right portion of the body: "He described a sharp pain in the right side of his body."
2. A group of contestants or a team: "We cheered for our side as our spelling team won the spelling bee."
sighed (SIGHD)(verb)
1. To have made the sound of gently moving air: "The wind sighed through the bare tree branches."
2. To have taken a deep breath that may be heard by others: "When she stood up, she sighed because she was tired and her feet hurt."

"Oh, dear", she sighed, "I have a terrible pain in my side."

sigher, sire, sire
sigher (SIGHR) (noun)
An individual who tends to breathe deeply and heavily: "She always sounded like a sigher because it was difficult for her to breathe easily."
sire (SIGHR) (noun)
1. The male parent of a domestic animal: "Black Diamond was the sire of the famous racehorse."
2. A form of address used to refer to a man of authority: "When the butler spoke to the landowner, he referred to him as 'sire' as a form of respect."
sire (SIGHR) (verb)
To breed or to parent a domestic animal: "We want our horse to sire at least one colt before he is sold."

The sire of the farmer's favorite calf was ill. He said that the animal seemed to be a sigher because of a lung infection which could be cured.

sighs, size, size
sighs (SIGHZ) (verb)
1. To make or to take a deep audible breath: "She sighs when she is tired and needs a cup of tea."
2. To take in and let out a long and audible breath in a way that shows that someone is bored, disappointed, relieved, etc.: "It was possible to hear some sighs of relief from students when they found out that they had passed the final exam."
size (SIGHZ) (noun)
1. The physical shape or bulk of something: "The size of the rain clouds was amazing."
2. An indication of an item of graduated measurements or proportions: "I tried on a size seven dress and it fit me perfectly."

"What size shoe do you wear?"

size (SIGHZ) (verb)
1. To alter, to make, or to modify something to correspond to its actual shape or bulk: "The seamstress had to size the arms of the jacket to match the length of the coat."
2. To cover something; such as, wallpaper with a sticky substance called sizing (glue, flour, or varnish) in order to make it stiff or smooth or to attach something else to it: "The paper hanger had to size the paper before he could attach it to the walls."

With many sighs, she had to agree that her foot size was a little too large.

sign, sign, sine
sign (SIGHN) (SIGHZ) (noun)
1. A motion or gesture the purpose of which is to communicate a signal or command: "He gave the sign for the race to begin."
2. A defined set of signals or gestures used for communication by individuals who are unable to hear properly: "He used his hands to make signs to his friends that it was time to go to the ball game."
3. One of two characters (+, -) used to indicate positive or negative factors in mathematics: "The student missed one question on the math examination because she forgot to put the correct sign in the answer."
4. A poster or bill board typically used for advertising or providing information: "The directions said to turn right at the sign pointing to the bridge."

"We noticed that our neighbor had a For Sale sign on his car."

sign (SIGHN) (SIGHZ) (verb)
To make signals or gestures the purpose of which is to communicate a signal or command: "He used his hands to sign to his friends that it was time to go to the ball game."
sine (SIGHN) (noun)
The ratio of the hypotenuse to the opposite side of a right-angled triangle: "His geometry assignment was to calculate the sine of the right triangle using the measurements which his teacher provided."

It was a sign that she would not be much of a mathematician when she couldn't figure out what the sine was on the geometry question in the quiz.

simmer, summer
simmer (SIM uhr) (verb)
1. To cook something so it is almost boiling for a certain period of time: "The directions for the recipe said to put all the ingredients in a pot and simmer for 45 minutes."

"Simmer the stew for 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened."

2. To be filled with a strong feeling that is difficult to control or to hide: "It was easy to see the customer simmer with anger when he couldn't get anyone to take his payment."
summer (SUHM uhr) (noun)
The season or time of the year that occurs between the seasons of spring and the fall, characterized by being warm or hot: "The girl said that she loves summer because there is no school and she can go to the beach every afternoon."

"Her children have wonderful memories of camping each summer over the years."

It is so hot this summer, that he feels as if he were a pot which has been set to a slow simmer.

simple, simplistic
simple (SIM puhl) (adjective)
1. Not requiring a high degree of sophisticated understanding: "The directions looked so simple that even my three-year old nephew could understand them."
2. Unconditional, readily understood, and uncomplicated: "The conditions of the warranty for the new vacuum cleaner were simple to understand."
3. Not special or unusual: "He enjoys the simple pleasures of spending time with his wife and children when he gets home from work."
simplistic (sim PLIS tik) (adjective)
1. The presentation of a problem in a manner that seems deceptively easy and ignores certain relevant information: "To say that the butler did it seems like a simplistic approach to solving the mystery."
2. Not complete or thorough enough, or not treating or considering all the possibilities or parts: "The scientist's simplistic interpretation of the results failed to clarify what actually happened."

It is not so simple just to give simplistic explanations for the current situation. Much more research is required before an adequate solution can be determined.

simulate, stimulate
simulate (SIM yuh layt") (verb)
To copy or to imitate, often in such a manner as to be deceptive: "The students practiced flying a machine that was designed to simulate the actual flight of a jet."

"The jeweler agreed to simulate the antique necklace so the original could be kept in safe storage."

stimulate (STIM yuh layt") (verb)
To arouse, to excite, or to provoke. "The professor was exceptional and could stimulate her students to an active discussion of the issues."

"A salary raise for employees could very well stimulate more production for the company."

It might stimulate more learning if someone could design a game to simulate the peaceful uses of space ships.

sing, singe
sing (SING) (verb)
1. To make musical tones by using the voice: "She was determined to learn to sing so she enrolled in a vocal music program."

"Since he has retired, he will only sing opera for his family and friends, but not for others."

2. Informal, to give information, often in a clandestine or secret manner: "He agreed to sing on his criminal comrades in exchange for his freedom."
singe (SINJ) (verb)
To burn in a superficial or slight manner: "Be careful when you lean across the table, you might singe your hair in the candles."

It was an amusing incident that could have turned tragic. Just as the soprano was getting ready to sing her famous aria, she leaned too close to the candles and her wig started to singe; so, she grabbed the wig off and threw it on the floor.

sink, sink
sink (SINGK) (verb)
1. To do something that is morally wrong: "How could he sink so low as to cheat on his final exam?"
2. To fall or to drop to a lower level; especially, to go down below the surface of water, mud, etc.: "We could see the car sink into the muddy river after it ran off the highway."

"The water in the lake is expected to sink several feet during the long, dry summer."

sink (SINGK) (noun)
A water basin fixed to a wall or floor and having a drainpipe and generally a piped supply of water with faucets: "We just installed a new sink in our bathroom."

"We had to clean the stopped-up drain in the kitchen sink."

It was sad to hear that he had to sink so low as to hoard so much water during the drought. Apparently he not only filled the sink every day, but also his bath tub and a big-plastic barrel.

skim, skimp, skin, skin
skim (SKIM) (verb)
1. To remove a layer of something from the surface of a liquid: "The cook wanted to skim the fat from the broth."
2. To look over or to read something quickly; especially, to find the main ideas: "She only had time to skim the reading assignment before the class started."
3. To move quickly or lightly along, above, or near the surface of something: "It was interesting to see the ducks skim over the lake before landing in the water."
skimp (SKIMP) (verb)
To spend less time, money, etc., on something that is needed; to provide for or to supply inadequately; to be stingy with: "When it comes to their child's safety, parents should not skimp."

"For the sake of our health, we should not skimp on sleep."

"His written instructions certainly don't skimp on details."

skin (SKIN) (noun)
1. The natural outer layer of tissue that covers the body of a person or an animal: "She had to be careful not to let the sun burn her skin."
2. The outer cover of a fruit, vegetable, etc.: "He was told that potato skin is nutritious."
skin (SKIN) (verb)
Informal, to skin someone alive; that is, to punish someone severely: "His mother is going to skin him alive when she finds out about the window that he broke while playing baseball in the front yard."

Don't skimp on your efforts to skim the fat from a cooled soup base that was made from boiling the skin, the flesh, and the bones of a chicken; as well as, from vegetables.

slam, slam
slam (SLAM) (verb)
1. To close something in a strong way that results in making a loud noise: "Now, why did you have to slam that door?"
2. To criticize someone or something harshly: "The workers voted to slam the company for not paying decent wages."
slam (SLAM) (noun)
1. The act of closing something in a forceful way that makes a loud noise: "She closed the book with a slam which expressed her anger at being disturbed."
2. U.S. informal, something which is certain to happen or to be successful: "The legal decision of guilty as charged was a slam dunk because there was no doubt that he committed the crime."

You don’t need to slam him just because the door closed with a slam when a strong wind forced it to suddenly shut.

slash, slash
slash (SLASH) (verb)
1. To make a long cut in something with a knife or other sharp tool: "The man threatened to slash the upholstery in the car when he was looking for hidden drugs.."
2. To reduce something by a significant amount: "They decided to slash prices to increase their sales."
slash (SLASH) (noun)
1. A thin and usually long cut made with a knife or other sharp object: "You could see the horrible slash on his arm which happened when he reached through the broken window."
2. The punctuation mark / which is used to mean "or" as in and/or; "and or" as in bottles/cans; "per" as in kilometers/hour; or as a division sign in fractions as in 1/2; also called a slash mark: "The slash symbol, or slash mark, is often used in computer programming, website addresses; as well as, in the situations shown in the examples presented in this #2 definition."

The store manager decided to slash the prices on many kitchen utensils. The poster for the sale listed many different utensils with a slash mark between the names of each one.

slate, slate
slate (SLAYT) (verb)
1. A kind of hard stone that splits easily into thin layers: "Most school blackboards were once made of slate and some schools still use this form of chalk board for classroom use."
2. A fine-grained rock that splits easily into layers and is widely used as a roofing material and on walls: "The house was constructed with a slate roof."
3. A list of people who are attempting to win a political election: "The local political party presented an impressive slate of candidates for next year."
4. A record of some past performance or activity: "The party members will have to start over with a clean slate if they want any of their candidates to win during the next election."
5. A portable computer that does not have a keyboard input device physically attached to it: "The slate is essentially a computer that consists of a touch input screen and relies on input to come from finger or stylus input and on-screen keyboards for textual input."

"A slate is a class of notebook computers that accept input from an electronic pen rather than from a keyboard."

slate (SLAYT) (verb)
1. To arrange or to plan for something to happen: "The city is planning to slate a new science museum to be opened next year."

"The singer will slate her new album for release next month."

2. To be chosen for some position, job, etc.: "The company apparently plans to slate our supervisor to become the company's next CEO."

His former boss is on the slate of directors for the new museum that presents an exhibition of roofing styles, materials, and equipment. There is also a very ornate slate roof on the museum structure that was imported from another country.

slay, sleigh, sleigh
slay (SLAY) (verb)
1. To kill in a random and wanton manner: "Wild animals do not slay other animals just for recreation, but for food."
2. To delight or to amuse someone, or others, very much: "You slay me when you tell such outrageous jokes."
sleigh (SLAY) (noun)
A vehicle with runners used to drive across the snow or ice: "The horse pulled the red sleigh over the snow on the way back to the barn."
sleigh (SLAY) (verb)
To drive a large, open vehicle that is usually pulled by a horse over snow or ice: "The man from the city wanted to learn to sleigh during his winter vacation on the farm."

The way he tells the story of the runaway sleigh was so amusing, it could only slay (amuse) the audience.

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Pointing back to Confusing Words Quizzes, Part AConfusing Words: Units, Groups A to Z.

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