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.

cast, cast, caste
cast (KAST) (verb)
1. To toss, pitch, throw, or fling something: Dave cast stones in an effort to make them skip on the surface of the lake.
2. To assign a theatrical performer to a part in a drama: Flora's sister was cast in the leading role by the director of the play.
cast (KAST) (noun)
1. An object made by pouring metal, clay, etc. into a mold and allowing it to become hard: Kirk and Kristy wanted to create a cast of an ancient clay pot so they poured the clay into the mold and allowed it to dry.
2. A group of actors participating in a play, movie, or theatrical performance: There was a party for the cast after the opening performance.
caste (KAST) (noun)
A social class, rank, or order: The caste system of India often prevented the lower caste of people from getting an education and better jobs.

Even though Lola's uncle was from the upper caste, he was active in the theater and was often cast in the part of a magician who could cast a ball up into the air and have it turn into a feather.

caster, castor, castor oil
caster (KAS tuhr) (noun)
1. A small wheel on a swivel, attached under a piece of furniture or other heavy object to make it easier to move: It's a good thing that the sofa had a caster on each of its six legs because it was much easier to move it across the room.
2. Someone who throws something: Byron was a professional caster of nets in the ocean so he could catch fish.
castor (KAS tuhr) (noun)
1. The British spelling of "caster" or a swiveling roller fastened under an article of furniture or portable machines to make them movable: A castor on certain segments of furniture facilitate the movement of such structures.
2. An oily odorous secretion of beavers; used in medicine and perfumery: Salvador was surprised to learn that his wife's perfume was made from the unpleasant smelling castor of beavers.
castor oil (KAS tuhr OIL) (noun)
A viscous fixed oil, colorless or pale yellow, extracted from the seeds of the castor-oil plant which is used as a cathartic and lubrication; and also, used in paint and varnish as well as medically: When some people have bowel problems they might take castor oil as a cathartic which causes the emptying of the bowels.

The large cask of castor oil was sitting on the pallet which had casters under it for ease of movement.

It was clearly marked: CASTOR OIL so it wouldn't be confused with the small cask of beaver castor imported from Canada.

casual, causal
casual (KAZH oo uhl) (adjective)
1. Occurring by chance, without predictable regularity, occasional: During the summer vacation, Emanuel worked as a casual farmhand on his neighbor’s farm.
2. An offhand, unfeeling, or uncaring remark: Carol's husband made a casual remark about her shoes.

Helga's son has a casual attitude regarding his homework for school.

causal (KAW zuhl) (adjective)
Relating to any event or circumstances that brings about a result, expected or unexpected: The heavy rains had the causal effect of raising the level in the river.

The inappropriate casual remark made by the neighbor had the unfortunate causal effect of breaking up their friendship.

cat, cats; kat, khat, qat
cat, cats (KAT, KATS) (noun)
1. A small animal that is related to lions and tigers and which is often kept by people as a pet: Carol's cat is curled up on the window sill enjoying the sunshine.

The lion is often called the "King of the Cats".

2. Now considered an old-fashioned word to refer to a man who considers himself to be fashionable: He was a cool cat who wore spats and a striped suit.
kat, khat, qat (KAT, KAHT) (noun)
The leaves of an evergreen shrub, Catha edulis of Arabia and Africa, the leaves of which are used as a narcotic or a euphoric stimulant when chewed or made into a beverage; such as, a tea: In some countries, kat is chewed and enjoyed on a daily basis.

The old cat thought he was so cool when he got some khat to chew, but when he got home he was so sleepy he forgot to feed his hungry cat.

cataclasm, cataclysm
cataclasm (KAT uh klaz uhm) (noun)
Disruption; breaking down: This winter's heavy ice and snow resulted in a cataclasm of electrical and phone lines in several parts of the country.
cataclysm (KAT uh kliz" uhm) (noun)
1. A sudden and violent upheaval or disaster that causes great changes in society: The revolution could result in a worldwide cataclysm.
2. A terrible and devastating natural disaster; such as, a flood: An earthquake can cause a great cataclysm; especially, in a densely populated area.

The summer cataclysm of hail and heavy rains caused a cataclasm of the dikes along the river and a terrible cataclysm of flooding in the river bottoms.

catholic, Roman Catholic
catholic (KATH uh lik, KATH lik) (adjective)
Comprehensive or broad in interests, tastes, or sympathies: Extensive reading and attending lectures at the university gave her a catholic understanding of the issues.
Roman Catholic (ROH man KATH uh lik; ROH man KATH lik) (noun)
The structure and organization of a religious group hat includes a hierarchy of priests bishops, cardinals, etc.: The head of the Roman Catholic church is the pope.

Yvette's friend attended a university run by an order of the Roman Catholic Church where she received a very catholic education which included literature, science, and mathematics.

caudal, caudle, coddle
caudal (KAWD'l) (adjective)
Relating to or situated towards the end of the body: The rooster has large brightly colored feathers at the caudal end of his body.
caudle (KAWD'l) (noun)
A warm drink for invalids made of bread, eggs, sugar and spices: The nurse mixed a warm caudle to give to the ill person who came to the hospital.
coddle (KOD'l) (verb)
1. To treat someone with too much care or kindness; to pamper: Pam has a tendency to coddle her children.
2. To cook slowly in liquid that is just below the boiling point: On Sunday mornings he liked to coddle an egg or two for breakfast.

The doctor advised the mother not to coddle her son so much because she made a dish of caudle every night for him before bed.

Then one night, Billie spilled the caudle on purpose and the mother spanked him on his caudal.

cause, cause, caws
cause (KAWS) (noun)
1. A strong social position or movement which adherents believe must be defended: The young man stood proudly behind the cause of his friends to raise money for charity during school hours.
2. Something or someone that produces an effect, result, or condition: The exact cause of the accident is still not known.
cause (KAWS) (verb)
To make something happen or exist: If he swerved the car, it could cause an accident.
caws (KAWS) (noun)
The cry or "song" of such birds as crows or ravens which are loud and raucous: The ravens at the Tower of London greeted the day with loud caws and much wing flapping.

The caws of the crows were the cause of Olivia's waking up early in the morning.

Fortunately, this gave her more time to prepare for the committee that was working for the cause of the unemployed.

cede, seed, seed
cede (SEED) (verb)
To yield or to transfer, typically through a written document or treaty: The lawyer stated that by signing the papers on his desk, Susan would cede her property to her cousin.
seed (SEED) (noun)
1. A small grain produced by a plant from which a new plant can grow: The farmer bought a bag of grass seed to use in the front lawn.
2. The beginning of something which continues to develop or grow: Amelia's comment planted a seed of doubt in his mind.
seed (SEED) (verb)
To put the grains of a plant into the soil for growing: Opal planned to seed the garden just as soon as she finished lunch.

Lola wants to cede her community garden plot to her friend who will seed it with several different kinds of plants.

-ceed, -sede, -cede
-ceed (SEED) (verb)
A suffix from Latin cedere, "to go": There are only three words that end with the suffix -ceed: exceed, proceed, and succeed.
-sede (SEED) (verb)
A suffix from Latin sedere "to sit": Just one word ends with -sede: supersede (never "supercede" nor "superceed").
-cede (SEED) (verb)
A suffix from Latin cedere, "to go": All of the following words end with -cede: accede, antecede, cede, concede, intercede, precede, recede, and secede.

Paul wasn't sure that he would succeed in writing a sentence for these three suffixes; however, he did concede that this presentation would supersede his original plan to ignore it.

ceil, seal, seal
ceil (SEEL) (verb)
1. To provide or to cover the upper interior surface of a room: The plasterer will ceil the upper surface of the dining room with a decorative pattern.
2. To line a ship's bottom and sides with planking: The ship’s carpenter used pine boards to ceil the bottom and sides of the ship.
seal (SEEL) (noun)
1. A hallmark, die, emblem that is distinct to an individual or corporation: Daryl had a special seal for his books which made an impression of his name on the pages of his books.
2. A marine mammal characterized by a sleek, streamlined body and flippers for swimming and maneuvering on land: It was noisy but interesting to hear and to see the colonies of seal near the beach.
seal (SEEL) (verb)
To close tightly or hermetically: The workers will seal the blacktop driveway with a new coating to make it more water proof.

The ship had a new ceil which meant we could sail out to the islands to enumerate the herd of seal.

Once the count was done, the captain would seal his report using a red wax seal before mailing it to the appropriate authorities.

ceiling, sealing
ceiling (SEEL ing) (noun)
1. The top of a room or any overhanging structural area: The painter applied green paint to the ceiling in the living room.
2. An upper limit, especially as set by a regulation: The government set a wage ceiling for the next year.
sealing (SEEL ing) (noun)
1. A design, initial, or other device which is placed on an official letter or document: The prince used a new sealing on the official envelope before giving it to the courier.
2. Something that closes or fastens tightly or securely: When packing to move, Kristy used tape as sealing for the boxes.

A sign in a munitions factory stated: "If you insist on smoking in this building, be prepared to leave this world through a hole in the ceiling."

—E.C. McKenzie

Once the ceiling was finished, the painters used a coat of sealing before starting to paint.

celery, salary
celery (SEL uh ree) (noun)
A plant (Apium graveolens) the stalks of which are typically ribbed and green and eaten either cooked or raw: For her daily lunch, Jan always included several sticks of celery because she liked the crunchy texture.
salary (SAL uh ree, SAL ree) (noun)
Compensation or wages paid for services: Madeline supplemented her small salary by getting a second job.

When Kent worked on a farm one summer, part of his salary was vegetables from the field. He especially liked the green celery.

cell, cells; sell, sells
cell, cells (SEL, SELZ) (noun)
1. A small room in a prison: The author provided a realistic description of the prison cell in which his protagonist had lived for many years.
2. Small, hollow places: Honeycombs are made up of connecting cells joined to each other.
3. A unit of living matter: With the fine new microscope, the scientist could study the cell matter of the plant.
4. The container which holds the material to produce electricity: The mechanic had to add water to each battery cell so the car would start again.
sell, sells (SEL, SELZ) (verb)
1. To exchange something for cash: When Angie was desperate for money, she decided to sell her mother’s jewelry.
2. To make things available to be purchased: This is one of the few stores that sells the type of materials Carol needed to repair sections of her work room.
3. To persuade someone to accept or to approve of something or someone: James told his brother that he would have to sell himself at the interview if he wanted to get the job that he was applying for.

The young guy was caught trying to sell stolen property for which he was sentenced to spend time in a small cell at the local jail.

While Ivan was there studying at the tech school, he invented a new solar cell for producing electricity which he now sells over the internet.

cellar, seller
cellar (SEL ur) (noun)
1. A room for storage, usually below ground or beneath a building: At the end of the summer, she had 1,000 containers of food stored in the cellar to feed her family through the winter.
2. The lowest level or standing; especially, in the relative standing of athletic teams: The new baseball player started in the cellar on the team; so, the only way to go was up.
seller (SEL ur) (noun)
1. Someone who exchanges a product or service for money; a vendor: The street seller pushed his cart along the beach, selling ice cream and sodas.
2. An item that is purchased in large numbers and in a specified manner: The store stocked 500 copies of the book based on the review which said it would be a best seller!

For a long time, he has been known as a "basement salesman" or a cellar seller.

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.