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.

appraise, apprise, a prize
appraise (uh PRAYZ) (verb)
To place a value on; to judge the worth of something: The agent decided to appraise the house at $100,000 for tax purposes.
apprise (uh PRIGHZ) (verb)
To inform or to give notice to someone about something; to notify: Police should apprise an arrested person of his or her right to remain silent and to be represented by a lawyer.
a prize (uh PRIGHZ) (noun)
Something offered or won as an award for superiority or victory, as in a contest or competition: Jordan won a prize for compiling the best computer program.

After the important contest, Perry's friend wanted to apprise his coach of the fact that he won a prize.

Dave's friend was asked by the reporters to appraise the value of the prize, but he declined to do it.

appreciate, depreciate
appreciate (uh PREE shee ayt") (verb)
1. Be grateful for, be thankful for, regard highly: Velma will certainly appreciate all that Dwight has done for her.
2. To realize the worth of, estimate justly: Dora, you don't have to be a connoisseur to appreciate good cooking.
3. To increase in value: Given the history of the company, Daisy's investment could appreciate over the months.
depreciate (di PREE shee ayt") (verb)
1. To reduce or to lower the value of: Runaway inflation can quickly depreciate the country's currency.
2. To belittle, to disparage: Enrique felt that he had to depreciate Naomi's efforts to help him.

The end of the fiscal year is a time to appreciate the value of the stocks which did appreciate significantly in the Stock Market.

There was a slight period during which the stocks seemed to depreciate but they rallied after a short time. .

apprehend, comprehend
apprehend (ap" ri HEND) (verb)
1. To arrest, to take into custody: The police expect to apprehend the kidnappers before nightfall.
2. To understand, to perceive: The public doesn't fully apprehend the complexity of space flight.
comprehend (kom" pri HEND, komp" ri HEND) (verb)
To take in the meaning, nature, or importance of; to grasp: Jimmy couldn't comprehend the advanced textbook that was being used in his class.

Kirk found it difficult to comprehend that, when the police had to apprehend the motorists who were speeding, the drivers seemed unable to apprehend the danger they created by speeding on the highway.

apt, opt
apt (APT) (adjective)
1. Exactly suitable; appropriate: Velma made an apt reply to the query made by her friend.
2. Quick to learn or to understand: Erika was an apt student; especially, in mathematics.
opt (OPT) (verb)
To make a choice or decision: Sergio was given a chance to opt for retirement or to opt for a reduction in pay because of the company's financial difficulties.

Courtney's apt response to Patsy's insult was to opt for calmness instead of anger.

arbitrate, mediate
arbitrate (AR bi trayt") (verb)
1. To decide or to sit in judgment after listening to both sides: The United Nations will try to arbitrate the dispute between the nations.
2. To settle an argument or a disagreement in which the people or groups on both sides present their opinions and ideas to a third person or group for settlement: The teachers' union agreed to arbitrate its pay differences with the school board.
mediate (MEE dee ayt") (verb)
To bring about an agreement: The lawyer tried to mediate between the car company and the auto union.

To mediate a dispute is to try to find a middle ground or compromise on which both sides may agree.

At first Rex thought there would be a need to arbitrate an end to the disagreement; however, once all of the parties sat down together, they realized that it was possible to mediate an agreement without difficulties.

arc, ark
arc (AHRK) (noun)
A curved line, arch, crescent, bow: The rainbow formed a beautiful arc in the sky.

Both arc and "arch" come from the Latin element arcus, "bow". Archery and archer also come from this same Latin element.

ark (AHRK) (noun)
1. The chest containing the Ten Commandments of God, written on stone tablets and carried by the Hebrews during their long desert wanderings: As they wandered the desert, the Hebrews carried the Ark with them because it contained their sacred documents.
2. The boat mentioned in the Bible which God commanded Noah to build for shelter during the Great Flood: Noah was commanded to build an ark, big enough for two of each species of animals, in anticipation of the flood.
3. A large, flat-bottomed or awkward boat: They lived on an ark, or house boat, on the Seine River in Paris.

When Wilbur decided to move off the isolated island, he determined to build an ark to carry his possessions. The builder designed the ark using a long arc shaped bow.

archive, archive
archive (AR kighv") (noun)
A place or collection containing records, documents, or other materials of historical interest: The government kept documents about the war in a special archive.
archive (AR kighv") (verb)
To collect and to store material, such as recordings, documents, or computer files, so they can be found and used when they are wanted: Violet made sure to archive the content of her website on a separate disk in case her computer crashed.

Ira really enjoyed his summer job because he was working in the government archive department for local history. His job was to archive the collection of newspaper articles about the town.

are; are, ar; or, our
are (AR) (verb)
Second person singular and plural, and first and third person plural of the present indicative of "be": You are going and we are also going and Alton understands that they are going, too.
are, ar (AR) (noun)
A metric unit of area equal to 100 square meters (119.6 square yards): By careful measurement, Grant determined the size of his property to be 100 square meters (119.6 square yards) or one are.
or (OR) (conjunction)
A grammatical form suggesting an alternative: Blake was told to pay the price or simply leave.
our (OUR) (pronoun)
The possessive form of "we"; used as a modifier before a noun; relating to or belonging to us: We were reminded of our accomplishments in our hometown newspaper.

We kept our promise even though we were criticized for our actions.

Our parents had to decide whether they would purchase an ar and build their house or if they would purchase a pre-fabricated house. They are going to meet with a lawyer tomorrow with their decision.

area, aria
area (AIR ee uh) (noun)
1. Surface; space: The apple orchard covers a large area of the farm.
2. Region, territory, district: Alligators are found in this marshy area.
3. Field, sphere, realm: France has always excelled in the area of the arts.
aria (AH ri uh) (noun)
A melody sung solo or as a duet in an opera, oratorio, or cantata: The two singers closed the concert with an aria.

The area of the stage and auditorium was vast; fortunately, Ramona’s voice was strong as she sang the lovely aria and everyone could hear and appreciate each note.

Armageddon, snowmageddon
Armageddon (ahr" muh GED'n) (noun)
1. In the Bible (Revelation 16:16); the scene of a final battle between the forces of good and evil, prophesied to occur at the end of the world: Armageddon represents the location of the final cosmic battle of the forces of good and of evil.

Armageddon is often used to mean simply an "apocalyptic-scale disaster"; for example, news sites refer to "financial Armageddon", "environmental Armageddon", "Toyota Armageddon", etc., where there is no indication of warring parties.

2. A decisive or catastrophic conflict: Efforts are being made by some to avoid the threat of a nuclear Armageddon.
snowmageddon (snoh" muh GED'n) (noun)
An awesome accumulation of snow: Snowmageddon is a hyperbolic exaggeration referring to the "monstrous" snow storms which took place in parts of the United States in the early days of February, 2010.

Mid-Atlantic residents in the U.S. were buried by a likely record-setting blizzard which President Obama jokingly labeled Snowmageddon as well as those who were brave enough to try to clear a path through the wet, heavy mounds, of thigh-high snow.

The Farmers’ Almanac predicted an Armageddon of rain and winds during the summer and a repeat of the snowmageddon which we experienced two winters ago.

arraign, arrange
arraign (uh RAYN) (verb)
1. To call into court for some legal action; to accuse, to charge: The district attorney wanted to arraign the suspect immediately.
2. To accuse; to call to account: The medical association met to arraign the doctor for his unethical behavior.
arrange (uh RAYNJ) (verb)
1. To put in order; to organize: Kermit, please arrange the books in alphabetical order.
2. To plan; to schedule: The travel agent tried to arrange the trip with a stopover in Rome.
3. To orchestrate; to adapt: Roderick, the musician, will arrange the symphony so it can be performed by a marching band.

The police officer knew that it was important to arrange all of the evidence for the case before asking the court to arraign the man on criminal charges.

arrant, arrantly; errant, errantly
arrant (AR uhnt) (adjective)
1. Used to emphasize that someone or something is an extreme example of that which is unacceptable: This is arrant nonsense!
2. Without qualification; used informally as (often pejorative) intensifiers: Alton dismissed the rumors that he would quit his job as arrant nonsense.
arrantly (AR uhnt li) (adverb)
Of the worst kind, impudently or not showing respect for other people: Pete was arrantly smoking in the non-smoking area of the restaurant.
errant (ER uhnt) (adjective)
1. Roving or wandering; especially, in search of adventure: Sonia was reading about an errant traveler.
2. Straying from the proper course or correct standard: Kristina could no longer tolerate her errant husband.
errantly (ER uhnt li) (adverb)
A reference to someone or something that goes outside of a specified area or a designated place: The calf errantly went into the neighbor's garden.

Neal thought it was arrant behaviour when he saw the doctor arrantly smoking while standing outside the hospital. Is it possible that Violet is also errant in her personal health practices?

Perhaps Lindsey should have errantly gone outside to get some fresh air before continuing with the strenuous work that she was doing.

artist, artiste
artist (AR tist) (noun)
A person who is skilled in drawing, sculpture, painting, music, etc.: The paintings of the artist were displayed at the community center.
artiste (ar TEEST)
A skilled public performer or entertainer; especially, a singer or dancer: The artiste closed the concert with a new song.

When Katrina visited the dance artist at her studio, Claire recognized that she was a fine artiste in her interpretation of the music and choreography.

ascension, assumption
ascension (uh SEN shuhn) (noun)
Rising, climbing, scaling: The climbers' ascension of the mountain was more difficult than they had expected.
assumption (uh SUMP shuhn) (noun)
1. A belief, supposition, or premise: The couple rented the old house on the assumption that the landlord would renovate it.
2. Becoming responsible for, undertaking: Damien's assumption of his brother's debts was considered to be very admirable.

The decision to climb the mountain range was based on the assumption that there was a meadow part way up the slopes; however, Elvin's and Mandy's ascension was slowed significantly when they realized that the meadow was on the other side of the mountain.

asinine, ass
asinine (AHS uh nighn") (adjective)
Stupid, foolish, simpleminded, irrational: It was an asinine suggestion to buy a house so close to the river that over flows every year.
ass (AHS) (noun)
1. A donkey or similar horse-like animal with long ears and a braying call; "jackass" is a term for a male donkey; a burro: One small ass was hitched to the cart.
2. A fool, an idiot, a nitwit: Don't be an ass and quit your job before arranging for another one.

The director was very angry and exclaimed, "Don’t be such an ass! It was an asinine suggestion you just made to the actress that she should ride a real ass across the stage."

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