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.
Stepping on the accelerator and moving at great speed is often an exhilarator to people; that is, until they get caught in a speed trap.
2. Pronunciation, enunciation, or modulation of speech: The famous movie actor speaks with a French accent.
3. A hint, a touch, a detail: The room was painted white with just a slightly green accent.
The ascent to the top of the mountain was difficult for Jared, Adrian, and Javier.2. Incline, slope: The road made a sharp ascent to the top of the hill.
3. Advancement, progress: Marie's parents were amazed about her ascent from being a secretary to becoming president of the company in just five years.
Romeo was willing to assent to Juliet's request that he come again.
With the assent of the board of directors, the new board room was painted green with an accent or two of white highlighting the ascent of the ceiling to the skylight in the center.
2. To take what is offered, receive willingly: Sherry was happy to accept Rita's offering of a cool drink on such a hot day.
The professor announced that no one in the class will be excepted from taking the test.
What Sally said about some people applies to men in general, present company excepted.
2. To assume, to presume, to calculate, or to contemplate: Can Edith still expect to see Jerome here anytime soon?
What do you expect from us when everyone except you can accept the decision?
2. A way of getting to something or someone, admittance; entrance: The thief gained access to the vault.
The hallway offers good access to the bedroom.
2. To judge, evaluate, appraise, determine: General Jones will assess the situation and call for reinforcements if needed.
2. Superabundance, surplus, overabundance, too much, oversupply: The teacher thought little Bobby had an excess of energy.
There is an excess of poverty, hunger, and suffering in the world.
Some people always confuse access and excess. Access is a way of getting to something or someone; excess is a surplus, a state of overabundance: "How could the thief have gained access to the vault?" "Dieting will take off your excess weight."
Excess is what some people always enjoy drinking to.
Darryl and Ted wanted to assess the situation and decide what they were going to do next because since there was no access to the compartment, they couldn't pump out the excess water.
When Jessie assesses real estate, he often finds himself accessing the property so he can see firsthand all the details about the conditions of what is available.
"Accidentally" is often mispronounced and misspelled.
The correct word has five syllables ac-ci-den-tal-ly: The use of accidently is considered a gross error and displays a lack of knowledge of what is supposed to be the correct spelling and pronunciation.
James accidentally tallied the incidental car repair costs inaccurately and scared Jane silly.
Later, James tried to explain the accidental nature of his calculations to Jane which greatly relieved her.
2. A voice vote, shout of approval: Frank Ferguson was elected president of the union by acclamation.
2. Adjustment of an organism to its natural climatic environment: Now that winter is over, the spring acclimation of earthworms will proceed naturally.
There was no need for polling the delegates because they nominated Madeline for president with a thunderous acclamation. In fact, she found that acclimation to the suddenly new heights of power was not at all difficult to experience.
2. Strange or unusual: Jared, the scientist, had eccentric behaviors and ideas that were weird as indicated by his eccentric clothes.
3. Not following a perfectly circular path: The asteroid was moving in an eccentric orbit around the star.
The pictures which the eccentric artist painted appeared to have an acentric balance that puzzled the patrons of the gallery.
This confusing ending is pronounced the same in all three spellings.
The biology class went on a hike to collect the leaves from several herbaceous plants in the park.
Billy's teachers observed that he was a pugnacious boy when he was with other children on the playground.
Carol's friend, Isabel, is very flirtatious or playful with boys.
Keep in mind that "-acious" is more than likely to be the correct ending whenever there is any serious doubt as to which suffix to use.
If Ivan is very cautious, he will be gracious to the botanist who is studying the herbaceous growth patterns on the local hillside.
2. A reference to vinegar or other acid characteristics: The acetic flavor of vinegar is used in salad dressings to give them a little punch.
Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
so you can see more of Mickey Bach's cartoons.
Sometimes a very ascetic person can develop an acetic personality which spoils the natural aesthetic potential of the individual.
The television station issued a challenge to its viewers to suggest an acronym which would be the name of the new program for the fall that would feature an anagram contest.
2. A process of doing certain things: The criminal was caught in three acts of stealing.
3. The main divisions of a play or opera: The play had five acts.
4. Displays of affected or pretended behavior: Tina is not really angry; she has been putting on these acts to get attention.
Will companies axe ad spending next year?
There were three acts in the play; at the end of the second act, the murderer had used an axe to ax the victim.
There is no doubt that tiredness affects visual acuity.
2. Quickness in understanding and dealing with a situation; keen insight: The student contestant had the acumen to figure out which version of the homograph to spell correctly.
2. Extremely severe and sharp; such as, an intense pain: Tyrone is suffering from acute appendicitis.
3. Keenly perceptive or discerning, ingenious: Einstein is said to have been a man of uncommonly acute intelligence.
Megan's natural acumen in science suggested that she had an acute sense of smell and good visual acuity.
2. To go on to say or to write more: Helen said goodbye and wanted to add that she had a pleasant visit with Darren and Yvonne.
3. To join one thing to another so as to increase the number, quantity, or the importance of something: Lynn decided to add a new wing to her house.
Francisco and Thelma placed an ad in the paper because they wanted to add a pool to their yard; however, after they decided to add all of the expenses, they found it much more feasible to invest in a wading pool instead.
The eminent sociologist could not adapt himself to such a primitive society.
2. To fit for a new use; rework, convert, make suitable, modify, alter: The team of producers will adapt the drama from a short story.
2. To take up and use (an idea, a practice, etc.) as one’s own: The new CEO wanted to adopt a Latin motto for the company business.
3. To accept and to put into effect; formally approve: Schools should adopt new methods of teaching English vocabulary if they want to enhance the word knowledge of their students.
Jennifer proved herself to be very adept at learning to adapt to new situations; especially, when her company decided to adopt new regulations for the employee's parking lot.