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.

cite, sight, sight, site, site
cite (SIGHT) (verb)
1. To quote as an authority or example: It is necessary that we cite our references for this information.
2. To mention or to bring forward as support, illustration, or proof: The supervisors were required to cite several instances of insubordinate behavior by the new employees.

The judge will cite Kelvin for contempt of court.

3. To publicly and to officially honor someone for an outstanding performance: The mayor is going to cite the neighbor for his bravery in saving the three children from the fire at their house.
sight (SIGHT) (noun)
1. The act or fact of seeing someone or something: The new house was a beautiful sight to see.

The police were ordered to shoot the killer on sight if he showed any sign of resistance.

Ramona caught sight of a rare bird during her trip to the island.

2. The process or function of using one's eyes to obtain information: Grant and Velma used their sight to read the inscription on the wall of the old building.
3. The foreseeable future or a prospect: Preston could see no solution in sight.
4. Mental perception or consideration: Marco lost sight of the purpose of his visit.
5. Something that is notable and worth being seen: The view was quite a sight and was worth all the effort of climbing the mountain to see it.
6. Disorderly, messy: Shelly's apartment was a sight and needed to be cleaned up before her mother came for a visit.
sight (SIGHT) (verb)
To see someone or something that is being looked for, which is rarely seen, or is difficult to see: Darnell and Gabriella were able to sight some bears while they were driving through the park.

Looking out of the window, Tosca could sight the thunderclouds that were approaching her neighborhood.

site (SIGHT) (noun)
The place or location for a structure: The site of the stadium is up there on the hill and it is also a good site for the new high school.

Now Ramona has a web site which can be of great value to anyone who wants to learn.

Hubert chose a site for his tent and set up camp for the night.

site (SIGHT) (verb)
To locate or to position in a specific location: Angelo will site the models for the new buildings in the diorama tomorrow.

Evan had to cite the reservation data that was sent to him from the recreation authorities indicating that he was authorized to use this site for his summer camp because he wanted to have a beautiful sight of the lake.

clack, clack, claque
clack (KLAK) (verb)
To make or to cause something to make a short sharp sound or series of sharp sounds: Janet asked Violet, “Why do your heels clack so loudly when you walk around in the office?”
clack (KLAK) (noun)
A series of loud slaps or hits on a surface: Malcolm could hear the clack of the shoes of the concert participants behind him as they were going down the stairs of the auditorium during the intermission.
claque (KLAK) (noun)
1. A group of people who are hired to applaud at a performance; such as, a musical, ballet, or other entertaining event: When the politician spoke there was always a claque responding with an applause of approval.
2. A group of sycophants or fawning admirers: A claque of apparent worshipers was always around the actress praising her for everything she said or did.

Leona may be cynical but whenever she sees a claque of people together, she always expects to hear a clack clack as if the claque were gossiping like a clutch of hens in the farmyard.

clamber, clamor, clamour
clamber (CLAM buhr, KLAM uhr) (verb)
To scramble, climb, or crawl in an awkward way: The children always clamber over the rocks.

We could only clamber up the steep hill.

clamor (KLAM uhr) (verb)
1. To cry loudly and insistently for something: An uninformed public will always clamor for an arrest in the case.
2. Acting in a loud and noisy way: The children obviously wanted to clamor around the musicians, and to sing songs and to laugh.
clamour (KLAM uhr [primarily British]) (verb)
To ask for or to demand something in a loud way: Fans were seen to clamour for autographs of the sports stars outside the stadium.

When the tourists tried to clamber down the hillside, they disrupted a flock of geese, the clamor of which could be heard for miles.

A British member of the group wrote a message in his e-mail: "It was almost as if the geese were trying to clamour for attention."

classic, classic, classical
classic (KLAS ik) (adjective)
Belonging to the highest rank or class: Erika bought classic clothing during her trip to Paris, France.
classic (KLAS ik) (noun)
A literary work of ancient Greece or Rome: Virgil was an ancient Roman author who wrote the classic, Aeneid, which many students read in schools.
classical (KLAS i kuhl) (adjective)
1. A reference to the ancient Greeks and Romans; especially, their art, architecture, and literature: The builder sought to imitate the classical architecture when building the garden for the count.
2. Relating to European music during the latter half of the 18th and the early 19th centuries: Velma's preferences run to classical music; especially, that written by Mozart.

When Blake's mother went to a classical music concert, she liked to dress in a suit with a very classic design.

clause, claws
clause (KLAWZ) (noun)
Part of a compound sentence which includes a subject and verb: Shelly set off the clause in her sentence with quotation marks to highlight its importance.
claws (KLAWZ) (noun)
Sharp nails at the end of the foot of an animal or at the end of a limb; such as, a crab: The banquet included Alaskan crab claws as a special treat.

The eagle was carrying a rabbit in its sharp claws.

The opera diva always had a clause in her contract that stipulated that she would be served crab claws on ice after each concert.

cleave, cleave
cleave (KLEEV) (verb)
1. To split something by hitting it with an object that is heavy and sharp: Using this ax, Pablo can cleave the log.
2. To pass easily and quickly through something: The bow of the ship can easily cleave through the water.
cleave (KLEEV) (verb)
1. To stay very close to someone: You could see Rickey cleave to his mother in the shopping center.
2. To stick closely to something; usually used in a figurative sense: Archie's wife continued to cleave to the beliefs of her family's religious teachings.

Despite the storm, the cruise ship was able to cleave its way through the water; however, Angelo's wife was so frightened that he urged her to cleave to him and he would protect her.

cleaver, clever
cleaver (KLEEV ur) (noun)
A heavy cutting tool with a broad blade, used by butchers for cutting up large pieces of meat: Malcom used a cleaver to reduce the amount of meat on the large leg of beef that was delivered to his butcher shop.
clever (KLEV ur) (adjective)
1. Skillful, adroit, dexterous with the hands and fingers: Even as a little boy playing with blocks, Billy was clever with his hands.
2. Quick in thinking or learning; intelligent, quick-witted, etc.: Some clever students started a business recycling old computers.

The clever butcher was able to use the cleaver very skillfully when he was preparing the meat for his customers.

clench, clinch
clench (KLINCH) (verb)
To hold or to close tightly: Angelo started to clench his fists when he saw that the man was angry.

We could see Rudolph clench his teeth as he continued to look straight ahead.

clinch (KLINCH) (verb)
To finalize or to bring to an end: The judge’s comments appeared to clinch the argument between the lawyers.

Erika's superior work on this project should clinch her a promotion.

It's a cinch that when the debater is trying to clinch his arguments, he will clench his fists and pound on the table top.

clew, clue
clew (KLOO) (noun)
1. A ball of yarn or thread: In Greek Mythology, Theseus used a clew to find his way out of a labyrinth.
2. Primarily British, information that leads towards the solution of a situation or problem: The detective was able to use one final clew to solve the murder.
clue (KLOO) (noun)
Something that serves to guide or to direct someone in the solution of a problem or mystery: The spy provided a clue to the identity of the suspect.

In the mystery story, the inspector followed the clew of thread as a clue to finding the culprit.

click; cliché, cliche; clique
click (KLIK) (noun)
A slight, sharp sound: When the door shut, Lorenzo could hear the click of the lock.
cliché, cliche (klee SHAY) (noun)
An expression or idea that has become trite (worn out or overly used) and so is no longer original: The speech was littered with one cliché after another, all of which indicated the emphasis of the speaker.

The macho cop representations of Hollywood movies have become a cliché.

clique (KLEEK) (noun)
A small, exclusive circle or group of people: At the local high school, the girls formed a special clique which only included girls with red hair.

A cliche is a remark that's right, but quite trite.

—Evan Esar

The clique of newspaper writers often vied with each other to write articles using as many different clichés as possible, including the old knock-knock joke:

"Knock Knock. Who’s there?" "Click". "Click who?" "Click Clock, the mouse ran up the clock."

A humorous use of a golf cliché.
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climacteric, climactic, climatic
climacteric (kli MAK tuhr ik, kligh" mak TER ik) (noun)
A critical period or year in a person's life when major changes in health or fortune are thought to take place: Lindsey has always heard that when people turn 40, they are entering the climacteric of their lives.
climactic (kligh MAK tik) (adjective)
Relating to or constituting a climax: The music soared towards the climactic ending of the opera.
climatic (kligh MAT ik) (adjective)
Influenced by or resulting from the prevailing weather conditions: The climatic changes in global warming are affecting the polar bears in the Arctic areas.

The year Claire turned 60 seemed to be the climacteric of her life.

Ira had reached the climactic point in his career and there was nothing more to do but retire and pursue his hobby which was to study the climatic changes in the environment.

climb, clime
climb (KLIGHM) (verb)
To rise or to move upward; especially, by using the hands and feet: Mae wore heavy boots when she decided to climb the mountain.
clime (KLIGHM) (adjective)
A shorter term for "climate": The students said they were off to their clime class to study global warming.

Some people have noticed that as they climb in the mountains, the vegetation is obviously influenced by the clime and soil conditions.

cloister, closure, cloture,
cloister (KLOI stuhr) (noun)
A place, especially a monastery or convent, devoted to religious seclusion: After her husband was killed, Roxanna chose to live in a cloister with the nuns.
closure (KLOH zhuhr) (noun)
1. A feeling of finality or resolution; especially, after a traumatic experience: Geneva decided to visit the scene of the accident again in an attempt to bring closure to her grief.
2. A bringing to an end; a conclusion: The speaker announced that after one more question, he would bring closure to the meeting.
cloture (KLOH chuhr) (noun)
A parliamentary procedure by which debate is ended and an immediate vote is taken on the matter under discussion: The senator rose to present a motion of cloture, thus bringing the discussion to a vote.

The motion of cloture was approved and the next item of business for the council was the closure of a city landmark which was a former cloister built in the previous century.

close, close, close
close (CLOHZ) (noun)
The act of bringing to an end, stopping: After a detailed summary, Nina brought the discussion to a close.
close (CLOHS) (adverb)
1. Referring to fitting tightly, little space between: The box was packed in such a manner that everything was close and tightly fitted.
2. Descriptive of being near or at a short distance or time away: Myrtle was instructed not to drive her car so close to the one in front of her.

The time for a decision was drawing close.

close (CLOHS) (adjective)
1. Secretive, stingy: Scrooge in Dickens' story was very close with his money.
2. Referring to people who know each other very well and care about each other very much: Dixie and Ginger were very close friends, having gone to school together.

Wilbur thought he was getting close to a close, but he was too close to the door to close it.

clothes, cloths
clothes (KLOHZ) (noun)
Articles for personal apparel or household use: Lana's clothes were often made of cotton which meant that they could be used as cleaning rags when they were worn out.
cloths (KLAWTHS, KLAHTHS) (noun)
Soft pliable material made of woven or synthetic fabric often adapted for a particular purpose: The brightly colored cloths were used to decorate the pavilion for the fair.

Warren hung up the wash cloths on the line just before changing his clothes.

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.