Confusing Words Clarified: Group C; Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs, Synonyms, Polysemes, etc.

(lists of "C" sections that are organized into what for some people are confusing groups of words)

Three words that every student of language should understand are homonyms, synonyms, and antonyms.

Homonyms are words that sound alike, but have different meanings. Synonyms are words that are related in meaning but do not sound alike (begin and commence, for example).

Antonyms are direct opposites in meaning, as hot and cold; white and black.

With homonyms, the following set of to, too, and two are all pronounced exactly alike, but by no means are they interchangeable in writing. To be sure that you choose the correct spelling for any on these, you must know the meanings of all three so you will not make wrong choices with a feeling of vagueness and uncertainty.

Efforts have been made to help you grasp the meanings of these and other 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.

corespondent, correspondent
corespondent (koh" ri SPAHN duhnt) (noun)
An individual cited in a matter of divorce as having committed adultery with another party of the case: Tiffany, the show girl, was named as the corespondent in the famous divorce proceedings.
correspondent (kor" i SPAHN duhnt, kahr" i SPAHN duhnt) (noun)
Someone employed by the print or broadcast media (TV, radio, etc.) to supply news stories or articles: Paula served as a correspondent for the local newspaper, sending her reports via fax.

The headlines of the newspaper stated that the local correspondent for International News Coverage was named as the corespondent in the divorce case of the publisher.

cornet, coronet
cornet (kor NET) (noun)
1. A brass instrument similar to a trumpet, having three valves operated by pistons: Jody played a solo on her cornet during the band performance.
2. A cone or trumpet shaped object; such as, that which is used in cream pastries or some plumbing equipment: They stopped at the bakery and each one bought a cream cornet.
coronet (kahr" uh NET, kor" uh NET) (noun)
A small crown worn by princes and princesses and by other nobles below the rank of sovereign: Stuart's wife wore the family coronet during the reception for the queen.

The baker who knew how to bake cornets also knew how to play the cornet which he did when the coronet was placed on the head of the prince who was visiting and who went to the bakery and enjoyed several cream filled cornets.

corporal, corporal, corporeal, corpulent
corporal (KOR pur uhl, KOR pruhl) (adjective)
Bodily, as physical punishment: The teaching manual at the school indicated teachers were NOT to use any kind of corporal discipline on the students.
corporal (KOR pur uhl, KOR pruhl) (noun)
1. A military rank (below sergeant): Elena was very proud to be appointed the first female corporal in her military unit.
2. A white linen cloth on which the consecrated elements are placed during the celebration of the Eucharist: The women of the church committee embroidered the corporal for the priests to use at mass.
corporeal (kor POH ree uhl) (adjective)
Having a material body (not spiritual); tangible: The Food Bank was established to meet the corporeal needs of the neighborhood residents.
corpulent (KOR pyoo luhnt) (adjective)
Fat and fleshy; stout; obese: The doctor advised his corpulent patient to lose weight for the sake of his health.

Corpulence is the survival of the fattest.

—Evan Esar

The corpulent corporeal did volunteer work at the local mission helping to provide corporeal assistance to the poor.

correspondence, correspondents
correspondence (kor" i SPAHN duhns) (noun)
Letter writing; mail, communication: At Alfred's office, e-mail appears to be the primary mode of correspondence among the departments.
correspondents (kor" i SPAHN duhnts) (noun)
Writers, reporters, contributors of news, etc.: Florence belongs to the elite group of foreign correspondents, working in Europe for her Canadian based newspaper.

Edith and Herbert were correspondents who were having difficulty keeping up with the correspondence in the office so they decided to hire an assistant.

costume, custom
costume (KAHS toom", KAHS tyoom") (noun)
An article, or articles, of clothing: The costume that the actor wore had been made of gold cloth.
custom (KUS tuhm) (noun)
1. A long established practice: It was the family custom to go for a walk in the woods before dinner.
2. A duty or tax on imported and some exported goods: Kurt was informed at the border that he could not bring the package into the country until he paid the officer the required custom.

It is the custom at New Years to wear an elaborate costume to parties.

council, counsel, counsel, consul
council (KOUN suhl) (noun)
A group appointed or elected to make decisions: Most cities and towns have a council that makes rulings or recommendations on specific aspects of governance.
counsel (KOUN suhl) (noun)
A lawyer working on a legal matter: Everett's counsel, or attorney, did an excellent job of providing a valid case, while the social worker tried unsuccessfully to counsel the parents.
counsel (KOUN suhl) (verb)
To suggest, recommend, or to advise regarding a course of action: The teacher tried to counsel her students about applying for scholarships.
consul (KAHN suhl) (noun)
A government official representing a country in another country: A new consul was appointed last week to handle negotiations for a peace treaty.

The counsel suggested to the consul what to say to the city council.

counselor, councilor
counselor (KOUN suh lur) (noun)
An adviser who provides guidance; usually an attorney: The counselor prepared the case to present to the judge.
councilor (KOUN suh lur) (noun)
A member of an assembly of people called together for consultation, deliberation, or discussion; such as, one which is convened to advise a governor: Dianna's neighbor was elected to be the city councilor for her area.

The councilor was elected to city hall; however, she felt unsure about all of the issues so she hired a counselor to assist her.

counter, counter, counter
counter (KOUN tuhr) (noun)
A piece of furniture with a flat surface that workers and customers stand on opposite sides of when doing business in a store, restaurant, etc.: Marlow walked up to the counter and ordered his food and he also put his money down on the counter.
counter (KOUN tuhr) (noun)
A person or device that tabulates or records something: The counter documents how many people visit the web site.
counter (KOUN tuhr) (noun)
Something that is made or done as a defense against or in response to something else: The government policy is intended as a counter to efforts to decrease spending on education.

The assigned counter, of how many customers came into the store last month, laid out his report on the counter when he was discussing the counter offensive with his supervisor.

courier, courier, currier
courier (KOOR ee ur, KUR ee ur) (noun)
A messenger; especially, someone on official diplomatic business: A courier will deliver the government documents in the evening.
courier (KOOR ee ur, KUR ee ur) (verb)
Chiefly British, to use a messenger to send a message, package, etc. to a person or a place: Terrence will courier a package overnight to the office.
currier (KUR ee ur) (verb)
1. Anyone who processes animal hides into leather by soaking, coloring, and who finishes the leather after it has been tanned: Clayton made his living as a currier in the leather processing industry.
2. A person who grooms a horse with a currycomb: The currier uses a square comb with rows of small teeth to curry or to groom his mare giving her a neat appearance.

In Medieval mythology the currier was secretly the courier for the king and he was working in the villages to learn how the people felt about the king.

When the currier had some information to send to the king, he would hire a courier to courier the message safely.

courteous, polite
courteous (KUR tee uhs) (adjective)
A reference to having and usingDemonstrating respect by good manners and behavior: It is courteous to stand when the justice enters the court room.
polite (puh LIGHT) (adjective)
A reference to having and using proper social skills and manners: Mary's polite manners have a certain polish, reflecting the education and experiences she acquired when she was attending a university.

Byron's mother taught him to always be polite to her friends; and as a result, they often told her how courteous and charming he was.

courtesy, curtsy
courtesy (KUR ti see) (noun)
Generosity, as demonstrated by providing gifts or special privileges: Doreen received a ticket to the event which was given to her as a courtesy of her employer.
curtsy, curtsey (KURT see) (noun)
The act of demonstrating respect for an individual by bending one’s knees and bowing one's head: Krystal practiced her curtsy in front of the mirror in anticipation of meeting the Queen of England.

As a courtesy to the visiting nobility, Elena learned how to curtsy correctly.

covet, covert, overt
covet (KUV it) (verb)
To ardently want something that another person has; to long for with envy: When Nadine was young, she used to covet her friend’s pretty clothes.
covert (KOH vurt) (adjective)
Concealed, hidden, disguised, secret, or surreptitious: The head of the company received a covert threat in an unaddressed envelope which was pushed under his office door.
overt (oh VURT, OH vurt") (adjective)
Clearly evident: Virgil had an overt dislike for his new supervisor.

Mona was very overt in her wish to covet her grandmother's necklace; however, after receiving a covert threat from another relative, she changed her mind.

cow, cow
cow (KOU) (noun)
1. The mature female of cattle of the genus Bos: A cow produces milk for her young and for people as an important food.
2. The mature female of other large animals, or mammals; such as, whales, elephants, or moose: The female whale is another animal known as a cow.
cow (KOU) (verb)
To frighten with threats or a show of force; to intimidate: They were trying to cow him into silence with attacks in the press.

The sharks swam around the whale cow and her calf which certainly cowed the young whale.

coward, cowered
coward (KOU uhrd) (noun)
An individual who shows fear in the face of danger or pain: Blake was a coward who deserted his family when the house caught on fire.
cowered (KOU uhrd) (verb)
To cringe in fear: Malcolm cowered in his house as the windstorm blew harder.

As Tom cringed in his house during the thunder storm, there is no doubt that he was a cowered coward.

cramp, cramp, cramped
cramp (KRAMP) (noun)
1. An involuntary, sudden, painful muscular contraction; such as, in a leg, often caused by a strain or a sudden chill: Too often, Ira wakes up with a cramp in each leg which hurts her so much that she can hardly get up!
2. A paralysis of local muscles caused by continued over exertion: Otis developed writer's cramp in his hands because he would not stop for a rest.
3. An iron bar bent at both ends, used to bind two stones, various timbers, etc., together: Orlando was able to hold the two large stones together with a cramp.
4. An adjustable frame in which pieces may be held or forced together, as when making a joint; a clamp: The carpenter used a cramp, or two, to make the window frames.
cramp (KRAMP) (verb)
1. To press or to confine something into a space: In order to get a ride in the small car, Lorene had to cramp herself into it.
2. To prevent someone from behaving or expressing his or her emotions and thoughts freely: Marta felt as if the school's strict rule of not talking unless called upon by the teacher would cramp her desire to express herself.
cramped (KRAMP't) (adjective)
1. Not having enough space to move freely or feeling crowded and uncomfortable: Because of the winter storm, several people were cramped inside the tiny cabin.
2. Small and having parts too close together: It's impossible to read Gwen's cramped handwriting.

Sonja's cramped handwriting described the cramp she experienced when she was traveling on the subway which was so cramped that she had to cramp herself into a corner.

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

Pointing to explanation of "Standard English and Nonstandard English" article with a poem of confusing English words.

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