Confusing Words Clarified: Group A; Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs, Synonyms, Polysemes, etc.
(lists of "A" 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, firstname.lastname@example.org, as the address in your e-mail heading.
If you have any problems understanding the pronunciation symbols, go to this Pronunciation Chart for clarifications.
2. To divide or to assign something for a purpose: Craig wanted to allot some money for the city park.
There was a lot more to be done before Sara could allot the various aspects of the project to the president of the company.
A very fashionably dressed young man asked, "Do you think this is the right attire for me to wear when I change a tire on my bicycle?"
2. Used to ask someone to repeat something: Slim was only three feet tall!
"Eh? How's that again?"3. Urging someone to agree: Let's have another drink, eh?
This use of eh occurs especially in British and Canadian English.
A Canadian was chatting with a friend who asked, “What I described makes a lot of sense, eh?"
When Mildred decided to end her addiction to smoking, Maria and Melissa agreed to support her, including her abdication as organizer of the Friday night social meetings which usually took place in smoky clubs and restaurants.
2. Having more power or skill than usual; skillful: Joan Gilbert was an able teacher for more than 40 years.
Do you think you are able to tell the Biblical story of Cain and Abel without becoming uncomfortable about the horror of death by violence?
2. Capable of learning or doing; power or fitness: Last year's class of graduates demonstrated a great capacity for learning.
The ability of Congressman Brad Arnold to fill the capacity of the peoples' attention in every town on the lecture circuit was considered an amazing achievement.
Professor Cory apparently was able to demonstrate that his students have an insatiable capacity for obtaining information by using their computers.
2. A washing or cleansing as a religious ceremony of purification; ceremonial washing, ritualistic washing: After his ablution in the river, the holy man continued on his journey.
There were many visitors to the religious shrine earlier and the water was obviously murky; so, some of the people decided not to take part in the ablution; however, they did participate in the absolution by the religious leader.
2. Restrict, limit, curtail, diminish, deprive a person of, take away: No country should be allowed to have citizens who have been abridged of their legal rights.
After the famous author submitted an unabridged version of his epic poem to an editor, he abridged the original version for publication in the magazine.
2. Not doing that which is required of a person or a group of people: The banking officials were accused of trying to abrogate their duties.
Some U.S. Presidents have decided to arrogate the power of congress to declare war.2. To assign or to attribute to another person without justification: Neil accused the woman next door of wanting to arrogate to herself the power to punish people.
2. To say or to suggest that someone, or something, is not worthy of respect or is not important: There were times when the man's wife would derogate him for not achieving better pay from his company.
A delegate is someone who is sent with authority to represent another or others; to delegate work or authority is to transfer or to send it to another person.
2. Easily damaged, spoiled, fragile, frail, perishable; dainty: The plate was so delicate that Sarah was afraid to wash it for fear of breaking it.
3. Frail, feeble, debilitated, weakened; infirm, unwell, sickly, ailing: Marie and Jamie were concerned about their little girl's delicate condition.
4. Palatable, savory, delicious, appetizing, luscious: Debra, the hostess, presented a tray of delicate food to her guests.
5. Soft, muted, subdued: Ted and Cheryl had the walls of their apartment painted with a delicate blue color.
6. Exquisite, minute, detailed: Clyde and Donna admired the delicate workmanship on the bronze doors.
7. Tactful, tasteful, diplomatic, careful, sensitive, refined: Jessie Brown, the public relations manager, handled the situation in a delicate manner.
The female senator decided to leave her senatorial seat after she abrogated a decision that would arrogate her right to become a delegate of a congressional committee when a political opponent felt the need to derogate her because of her delicate physical condition.
2. Includes; joins: Cindy adds special greetings whenever she meets her friends.
Working out by chopping wood with an adz (adze) really adds to Jim's abs. In fact, he is looking so great, he has been asked to pose for ads in the local fitness-studio publication.
2. To refrain from voting: Forty-five senators voted in favor of the new health bill, forty-five voted against it, and twenty-five decided to abstain.
Diana's midlife heart attack made her realize the importance of taking care of her body and so it turned her towards a more abstemious and healthful lifestyle.
The terms abstain and abstemious seem to have similar formats and both have meanings involving "self-restraint" or "self-denial".
Although they may appear to come from the same root and both of them start with the Latin prefix abs-, meaning "from" or "away"; abstain is traced back to abs- plus the Latin verb tenēre, "to hold"; while abstemious gets its -temious from a suffix related to the Latin noun temetum, "intoxicating drink".
2. Needlessly wordy or repetitive in expression: Too often student papers are filled with redundant phrases.
3. In Britain, dismissed, laid off, or fired from a job because someone is no longer needed: More than 500 of the company's employees have already been made redundant and it is likely that more will also be declared as being redundant.
Too often a politician's speeches are abundant with redundant statements; in fact, the mayor of of the town became redundant because people were fed up with his abundant unfulfilled promises.
A politician should be careful not to abuse the rights and responsibilities of his or her elected office. Audits of governmental departments often unearth information suggesting that some officials misuse their privileges.
2. To excel, predominate, surpass, be superior: Georgia actually did exceed all of the other contestants in the singing contest.
When he appeared before the judge, the miscreant stated he would accede to the court order that he no longer exceed the speed limits on the city streets.
2. To cause to happen sooner; to hasten: Resting will often accelerate a person’s recovery from an illness.
When Darren will accelerate his car on the highway, the rush of air through the window will serve to exhilarate him; however, he needs to remember that excessive speed can also accelerate the process of getting a speeding ticket.