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 request; to express a desire for: Erika had no choice but to ask Rickey for help in changing the tire.
3. To demand or to expect; such as, a price: The antique dealer wanted to ask $25.00 for the watch.
Come on Wade, didn’t you ax Arturo about that movie yesterday?
This pronunciation still exists in many dialects, but it is "no longer considered acceptable" in standard English.
When Olivia was writing an anthology of rural folk tales, she often had to ask the local people to explain what they were saying.
Juana was amused by the frequent response, "Lady, you ax me about that TV program already."
2. In linguistics, the act of pronouncing the sound of a breath: The aspiration of the letter "h" as in "a house" is one example of pronouncing aspirated letters.
3. In medicine, removing liquid from a person's body: Amelia was treated with the aspiration of stomach fluids.
4. Breathing something into the lungs: Ken was having problems caused by the aspiration of fluids into his lungs.
2. The act of breathing in, especially the inhalation of air into the lungs: The doctor was trying to help Alison improve her inspiration after years of lung problems.
Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
Dwight told his friend, Doctor Sergeo, that he was an inspiration for him to complete his medical studies after he treated Dwight for the aspiration of fluid into his lungs.
Dr. Sergeo laughed and reminded Dwight that he would have to shed a lot of perspiration and tears during his medical training.
2. To want to have or to achieve something; such as, a particular career or level of success: These young men and women aspire to careers in medicine.
2. To breathe one's last breath; to die: It is medically obvious that Austin will expire sometime during the day as a result of his long-term illness.
3. To exhale; to breathe out: Doctor Armando wanted to measure the volume of air which Mamie could expire.
2. To inhale air or a gas into the lungs: While they were climbing in the high mountains, Isabel and Morris had to inspire oxygen before they could climb any higher.
Monique wants to aspire to become a teacher because she wants to inspire students to appreciate poetry.
One of Cody's fellow students remarked that it was a shame that many famous poets expire when they are young, and are often poor and ill, too.
Assassin came from Arabic hashshashin, "hashish-users", a name of an Islamic order founded about 1090, whose members were said to take hashish before being sent forth to assassinate leading Crusaders.
The police were able to catch Sidney's assailant. Enrique Wade was already wanted by the police because he was a suspected assassin of another person who was in the same park where Sidney was attacked.
It seems to be a bit unfair that the newspapers referred to the attempted shooting of a famous man as an attempt to assassinate him. Ordinary people have to be satisfied with being subject to an assault by someone attempting to assail them.
Take time to assay the information before drawing a conclusion.
Felix wrote his essay for the professor about how to assay the minerals found in the local stream.
2. To learn something so that it is fully understood and can be used: Children need to assimilate new ideas and there is a lot of information to assimilate in schools.
3. To cause a person or group to become part of a different society, country, etc.: Schools have been used to assimilate the children of immigrants.
2. To have or to take on the appearance, form, or sound of: The wall surface was constructed to simulate stone.
The contractors understood Jordan's request to simulate brick when building the new house; however, it took the workers time to assimilate the instructions of exactly what Jordan was actually expecting.
2. Financial support: Public assistance is needed to build the orphanage.
Yvette asked the mover, Kirk and his assistants, for their assistance in carrying her heavy boxes up the stairs.
2. To take on, become responsible for, take care of: The new buyer will assume the mortgage on the house.
2. To rely on too much: Lora wants to presume on Dylan's writing talents to compile her memoirs.
These words have related but distinguishable meanings
To assume is to take for granted, to infer without proof: "Mrs. Blake assumed that her husband had paid the bill."
To presume is to believe something to be a fact: to infer as true without actual proof to the contrary.
When Stanley came upon another explorer in Africa, he didn't say "Dr. Livingstone, I assume" but "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" This was because circumstances clearly indicated that the man he was meeting could be no one else.
In ordinary conversation; however, the words may be used interchangeably.
Please, do not presume to second guess what Candice is going to say. She only wants to assume responsibility for her exact words.
The insurance broker wanted assurance that Kari would pay the insurance premiums on time each month.
2. To make something certain: Winning the literary award should assure Paulette's publisher that the novel will be a success.
2. To make safe or secure: The government took steps to ensure the people that they would be safe from tyranny and terrorism.
3. To make or to take steps to provide for the safety of an object, individual, or situation: Shoveling snow after a snowfall was a way to ensure the safety of people walking on the sidewalks.
Heath, the owner of the new house, tried to insure it for $500,000.2. To take steps or precautions for the safety of a situation; often done in an anticipatory or precautionary manner: Nadine bought a bag of sand for the sidewalk before the major storm to insure she was prepared for any icy conditions.
Jody and Trent always try to take great care to insure the safety and security of their home.
Apparently assure, ensure, and insure all include the meaning "to make secure or certain". The use of assure refers to a person as in the sense of "to set the mind at ease"; as "Krista wanted to assure her employer that she was ready to handle the new assignment".
A person can ensure that there will be prompt delivery of an item while insure is the only proper verb to use when someone means "to protect against loss".
So, although ensure and insure can be interchangeable in some situations, insure is normally used in American English in the sense of "to guarantee people or property against the risk of physical harm, damage, or loss" as when people have health insurance, property insurance, etc.
Everyone should ensure that he or she will insure a new car before driving it off the sale's lot.
Leticia's astronomy professor was very well informed and had a good sense of humor. In fact, he was even patient when people would ask him about astrology, seemingly confusing the scientific study of the universe with the suggestion that the stars and constellations influence human affairs.
Jeremy ate the eight small pieces of chicken that were on his plate.
Later, Caroline saw an octet consuming their food; in other words, she saw eight who ate at the table in the restaurant.
2. Number present, audience, crowd: The attendance at the game was over 75,000.
Elena always dreads winter and its related attendants of hardships.
The attendants danced in attendance at the dance at which the attendance was estimated at about 300 people with the attendant confusion of hats and coats.
2. A priest in ancient Rome who was a member of the College of Augurs that numbered twelve; six patricians, and six plebeians: Marc Anthony was a distinguished member of the College of Augurs.
The Celtic augur reflected for a long time before he spoke: "I augur that the hero in the epic poem will use an auger to bore his way through the stone wall to make his escape from prison."