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, [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.

addenda, addendum, agenda
addenda (uh DEN duh) (noun, plural)
Things to be added, as in a supplement or an appendix: The author included three addenda of new materials in his book.
addendum (uh DEN dum) (noun), singular
Something that has been added in a written document: The report has an addendum clarifying certain procedural actions.
agenda (uh JEN duh) (noun)
A list of things to be done at a meeting; schedule, program: What is on your agenda today?

Agenda was originally the plural of Latin "agendum" (thing to be done) and is still considered by some to be a plural form.

In modern English; however, agenda is usually considered as the singular form with agendas the plural: What is on the agenda for the meeting?

The secretary kept track of the two executives’ agendas.

After his secretary printed the new agenda, Gordan realized he also needed the revised addenda which should be printed in an addendum.

adder, adder
adder (AD uhr) (noun)
Someone or something that adds; especially, a computational device that performs arithmetic additions: The accountant used her adder to determine her total income for the year.
adder (AD uhr) (noun)
Any of several nonvenomous snakes; such as, the milk snake of North America, popularly believed to be harmful: While going for a walk, Melvin suddenly saw what he believed was an adder crawling through the grass.

An experienced adder is the person who should count the number of adder in the local park.

addible, edible
addible (AD uh b'l) (adjective)
That which can be increased in size, quantity, quality, or scope: Earl found that his yard still had addible areas for more new flowers.

The new part-time job made it possible for Edna to have addible cash for her expenses.

edible (ED uh buhl) (adjective)
Anything that can be safely eaten: Erin was looking for edible fruit on the trees in her back yard.

Josephine was compiling a list of edible vegetation areas in her garden; however, when the calculations were completed, she realized there were still some addible spaces to also cultivate flowers.

addition, edition
addition (ad DISH uhn) (noun)
1. A mathematical summation: In school, addition is usually taught before subtraction.
2. Inclusion or being part of a group: The addition of a baby to the household changed their lives.
3. Increase, enlargement, extra: The addition in cost over last year’s tuition is $500.
4. Annex, extension, adjunct: The addition to the town library will double its size.
edition (i DISH uhn) (noun)
1. One of a number of printings of books and newspapers: The book was so popular that the publisher had to print a fifth edition.
2. The size, style, or form in which a book is published: The publisher also printed a smaller "pocket edition".

The index was a new addition to the latest edition of the textbook.

adduce, deduce
adduce (uh DOOS, uh DYOOS) (verb)
Offer as a reason in support of an argument; cite as pertinent, conclusive, or persuasive: At least the speaker did adduce three reasons for his actions.
deduce (di DOOS, di DYOOS) (verb)
1. Reach a conclusion by reasoning: Based on the forensic evidence, the police officer was able to deduce that the criminal was a man.
2. Trace the course, descent, or origin of: Based on Rhonda's conversation, Floyd could deduce that she had come from a large family.

Because the officer was able to adduce an explanation for the accident, the judge was able to deduce who was responsible.

adherence, adherents
adherence (ad HIR uhns) (noun)
1. A steady attachment, as of a person to a rule: The hockey coach demanded adherence to the rules of the game.
2. Adhesiveness, stickiness: Warren was putting more glue on the wallpaper to increase its adherence.
adherents (ad HIR uhnts) (noun)
Supporters, allies, followers; sticking or holding together: Reverend Wesley is a leader with many loyal adherents.

The new sports team adherents exhibited a steadfast adherence to the guidelines for behavior in the stadium.

adjoin, adjourn
adjoin (uh JOIN) (verb)
To be next to; to be in contact with: Yes, as strange as it may be, the hospital did adjoin the cemetery.
adjourn (uh JURN) (verb)
1. To put off or to suspend until a future time: The meeting will adjourn until next week.
2. Move, depart for: Having finished dinner, the guests decided to adjourn to the living room for coffee.

As chairman, Curtis decided to adjourn the meeting so the group could go for their lunch in the restaurant which adjoined their meeting place.

adolescence, adolescents
adolescence (ad'l ES uhns) (noun)
Growth from childhood to adulthood: The period of adolescence is an important introduction to adulthood.
adolescents (ad'l ES uhns) (noun)
People growing up from childhood to adulthood; especially, those from about 12 to about 20 years of age; teenagers: Over 70 percent of today's adolescents are expected to finish high school.

Some adolescents complete their adolescence when they are old enough to vote.

adverse, averse
adverse (ad VURS, AD vurs") (adjective)
Opposed to, hostile to; unfavorable, contrary: Adverse winds prevented the plane from arriving on time.
Do not be discouraged by adverse criticism.
averse (uh VURS) (adjective)
Disliking; unwilling; having a feeling of great distaste or an inclination against something or someone: Regina's father is always averse to spending money unless it is really necessary.
Fred does not approve of liquor in any form and he is even averse to drinking wine.

The adverse publicity didn't hurt Zachary's acting career; however, the hostility of the crowd did make him averse to performing at the next theatrical performance.

advice, advise
advice (ad VIGHS) (noun)
1. A recommended opinion; counsel: Since this was a legal matter, the company was urged to get a lawyer’s advice.
2. Formal or official information about something; intelligence, news, report: Advice from abroad indicated that war was about to begin.
advise (ad VIGHZ) (verb)
1. To offer an opinion or a course of action; to counsel; to recommend: Jane's parents wanted to advise her to reconsider her decision to sell her car.

Lorraine will advise her friend to get a second medical opinion for the treatment of her ailment.

2. To inform, tell, notify, make known: The weather report did advise the community that the roads were too icy for the trip.

"Jackie, Derrick wants to advise you to take Glenn's advice and to continually increase your vocabulary skills as often as possible."

aerie; airy; eerie, eery
aerie (ER ee, IR ee) (noun)
The nest of an eagle, or other bird of prey, which is constructed in a high place: The ornithologist was able to see the eagle's aerie on the side of the mountain.
airy (ER ee) (adjective)
1. Well ventilated: The castle halls were large and airy.
2. Jaunty, sprightly, lively, frolicsome: The little goats hopped around in an airy way.

"The band played an airy tune."

3. Imaginary, fanciful, dreamy, ethereal, unrealistic: The daydreamer's head was full of airy thoughts.
eerie, eery (IR ee) (adjective)
So strange as to inspire a feeling of fear; uneasy because of superstitious fear; ominous, ghostly, spooky: Seeing the old graveyard at night usually gave any visitors there an eerie (or eery) feeling.

Seeing the aerie of the eagle in the airy forest gave Glenda an eerie feeling.

affect, affect, effect, effect
affect (uh FEKT) (verb)
1. To influence, to act on, to modify, to pertain to: The rain will affect Nellie's plans for a picnic with her family and friends.

The soft, gentle breezes affect her disposition.

2. To pretend, to feign: Although Joy is from New York; as an actress, she had to affect a British accent.
affect (uh FEKT) (noun)
A feeling, an emotion: The affect of the patient in the clinic appeared to be very flat and unemotional.

effect (i FEKT) (noun)
1. A result, a change; usually; a consequence: The farmers in this area felt the effect of the drought for several years.

The soft gentle breezes have an effect on Marvin's disposition.

2. Influence, power, force: The plea for clemency had no effect on the judge.
effect (i FEKT) (verb)
1. Actuality, fact, reality: Heidi's insult really did effect her friendship with Claudia in a negative way.
2. To produce, to accomplish, to bring about: Does the new hairdo effect Lydia's appearance?

The affect of the curve ball did not effect the batter's hitting a home run.

affinity, infinity
affinity (uh FIN uh tee) (noun)
1. A natural liking or fondness for something or someone; a rapport: Many classical musicians have an affinity for jazz.
2. Family resemblance, similarity, likeness: There is a close affinity between lemons and limes.
infinity (in FIN uh tee) (noun)
1. Unlimited space, time, distance; extending beyond any measure or comprehension; without beginning or end: Beyond the Earth, astronomers have indicated there is only infinity.
2. In photography, a distance setting, as on a camera, beyond which the entire field is clearer and sharper: Tanya, the landscape photographer, set the lens on her camera to infinity so objects at a distance would be in focus.

Carla seemed to have an affinity for photography; with careful precision, she set the aperture of the camera to infinity when taking long-distance shots.

affluence, affluents, effluence, effluents, influence
affluence (AF loo wuhns; af LOO wuhns) (noun)
An abundance of riches, wealth, or opulence: The ideal economy has enough affluence to benefit everyone.
affluents (AF loo wuhns; af LOO wuhns) (noun)
Applies to people who have large incomes, usually incomes spent freely: The residents of the gated community, including Pete and Helen Box, were obviously affluents who were members of the international jet set.
effluence (EF loo uhns) (noun)
1. The act or process of flowing out: The effluence of enthusiasm of the Labor Day crowd could not be repressed.
2. Something that flows out or forth; the emitting or sending out: The odor of the gas leak became an effluence that made several people ill.
effluents (EF loo uhns) (noun)
Sewage liquids, or industrial chemicals, that are released as waste: The fish processing factory has been accused of discharging effluents into the river.
influence (IN floo wuhns) (noun)
1. The power of a person or a thing to affect others, seen only in its effect: Special-interest groups have too much influence on the government.
2. The ability to produce effects indirectly by means of power based on wealth, high position, etc.: The office gossip was that Ophelia, who was his secretary, had a strong urge to marry Jim Pendleton, the CEO, not for love, but because of his affluence (wealth) and influence in politics

The influence of the affluents didn't matter when the city was trying to solve the problem of the effluence of the effluents into the sewer system.

aggravate, annoy, exasperate, irritate
aggravate (AG gruh vayt") (verb)
1. To make worse, make more severe; to intensify: The school nurse urged Jenny not to scratch the insect bite because scratching would just aggravate the itch.
2. To exasperate, anger, vex: The bossy attitude of Earle's supervisor, Helen Jones, tends to aggravate him a great deal.
annoy (uh NOI) (verb)
1. To cause uneasiness to; especially, by repeated acts; to make somewhat angry: Tammy asked Carson to please let her know if playing her radio would annoy him during work.
2. To trouble, to upset, to disturb: Howard wanted to know why Jennifer had to annoy him during his afternoon nap.
exasperate (ig ZAS puh rayte") (verb)
1. To provoke, peeve, infuriate; "slang": to bug, to turn off: Constant interruptions will only exasperate the speaker.
2. To make someone very angry or frustrated, often by repeatedly doing something agitating: Bradley's and Mary Ann's mother complained that every time they were bickering, it would exasperate her.
irritate (IR i tayt") (verb)
1. To anger, to make impatient, or to provoke: George’s mother was afraid that his whining might irritate the nurse.
2. To make painful, to make sore: Woolen clothing tends to irritate many people; especially, if they have a rash.

The sound of the music from the apartment upstairs is starting to annoy Tara.

If the noise from the radio gets much louder, it will aggravate Connie to the point that it will exasperate her and she might have to go upstairs to speak to Edwin and she hopes that when she asks him to lower the sound that it won't irritate and upset him.

Pointing to explanation of homonyms, homophones, and homographs, etc. Confusing Words: Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs; explained and demonstrated.

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

Pointing back to Confusing Words Quizzes Confusing Words: Vocabulary Quizzes Listed.