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.

compact, compact, impact, impact
compact (kuhm PAKT, KAHM pakt") (adjective)
1. Closely or solidly packed with little or no extra space: The cabin was compact but it was still adequate.
2. Smaller than other things of the same kind: The camera is compact and it is still very versatile.
compact (kuhm PAKT, KAHM pakt") (noun)
1. A small case in which to carry cosmetics; such as, face powder: The movie star got out her compact so she could look in the small mirror and touch up her face.
2. An automobile which is smaller than a medium sized car: In order to save gas, the couple decided to purchase a compact, replacing their larger model.
3. An agreement or a covenant: The knight swore a compact with his king to protect the kingdom.
impact (IM pakt") (noun)
1. The act or force of one thing hitting something else: No one could have survived such an impact of the large stone that came tumbling down that mountain onto the highway.
2. The impression of something which may be compelling or significant: The impact of the discoveries of Madam Curie revolutionized science.
impact (IM pakt") (verb)
To make forceful contact with: The terrible collision between the man’s car and the truck will impact significantly on his car insurance rates.

The compact between the automobile companies resulted in the development of several compact models which had a significant impact on the economy.

compellation, compilation
compellation (kahm" puh LAY shuhn) (noun)
The use of a name or title to address an individual: John Smith was the compellation of the author of the book.
compilation (kahm" puh LAY shuhn) (noun)
Something, such as a set of data, a report, or an anthology, that is gathered into a collection: Neal had an extensive compilation of research data for his report to the government.

Lorene's aunt, Mrs. Jones by compellation, gained academic recognition through her compilation of Folk Legends from the Far North.

complacent, complaisant
complacent (kuhm PLAY suhnt) (adjective)
Self-satisfied and unconcerned: The expression on Doug's face was complacent, reflecting his lack of concern for the situation.
complaisant (kuh PLAY suhnt, kum PLAY zuhnt) (adjective)
Exhibiting a desire or willingness to please; cheerfully obliging: The butler, as represented in the movies, was always complaisant, speaking cheerfully to the guests.

Josefina, the complaisant neighbor, had a complacent look on her face when she described the renovations of her house.

complement, compliment, compliment
complement (KOM pluh muhnt) (noun)
1. Something that completes or perfects something else: The new hat is a great complement to her outfit.
2. The usual number or quantity of something that is needed or used: Hank had a full complement of animals on his farm.
compliment (KOM pluh muhnt) (noun)
1. A remark that says something good about someone or something: Neal told Lorena that he admired her paintings and she returned the compliment by saying that she was a fan of his sculptures.
2. An action that expresses admiration or approval: When people recommend Shaun's book to friends and family members, he considers that to be the best compliment he can receive.
compliment (KOM pluh muhnt) (verb)
To speak in a positive, admiring manner: Lora wanted to compliment the musician for his performance during the evening.

I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel that they have not said enough. In fact, nobody has ever been bored by someone paying him a compliment.

—Mark Twain

The milliner's compliment to the customer that the new hat was the perfect complement to her suit was much appreciated.

The customer said she now had a full complement of hats to match all of her outfits whereupon the milliner complimented her for making such an investment.

complementary, complimentary
complementary (kom" pluh MEN tuh ree, kom" pluh MEN tree) (adjective)
Going well together or working well together: Luther's wife and Patti have complementary objectives for the next years.
complimentary (kom" pluh MEN tuh ree, kom" pluh MEN tree) (adjective)
1. Expressive of praise or admiration for someone or something: The group made complimentary remarks about Alton's singing.
2. Something which is given free of any charges: The restaurant offers valet parking as a complimentary service.

The restaurant and the parking lot ownership had a complementary relationship because the parking lot attendant would offer complimentary parking to the restaurant customers in exchange for the restaurant patrons completing a survey form for the parking company.

complete, complete, finished
complete (kuhm PLEET) (adjective)
Consisting of the total number of the necessary elements or items: The kit was complete, having all the parts to build the model railroad car.

The department manager stated that when the report is complete, he wanted to see it ASAP.

complete (kuhm PLEET) (verb)
To finish, to provide the required information, to make whole: Jim will complete the forms to apply for a credit card.
finished (FIN ish't)
1. Having been terminated or brought to an end: The speaker finished the speech with an amusing story.
2. Having reached the end of an activity, job, etc.: Cameron started his homework two hours ago and he still isn't finished.

After the apprentice workers finished each toy kit, the senior craftsman checked to be sure the kits were complete before they were put in their designated boxes.

complex, complex, compound, compound
complex (kuhm PLEKS, KOM pleks") (noun)
A group of related items, the nature of which is not completely understood: The scientist studied the complex of atoms, trying to understand what they represented.
complex (kuhm PLEKS, KOM pleks") (adjective)
Having many parts: The teacher asked her students to write an example of a complex sentence.
compound (kom POUND, kuhm POUND) (verb)
To combine in such a manner as to create a whole or a mixture: The druggist will compound a new medication to treat the rash on the patient's arm.
compound (kom POUND, kuhm POUND) (adjective)
Interest paid by a bank on the actual amount in the bank account and accrued interest: The banks' policy stated that compound interest would be paid three times a year.

The bank clerk provided a very complex explanation about the compound interest regarding the account of Elsa's husband.

In fact, he got a headache and had to go to the drugstore to ask for a compound to ease his discomfort.

The druggist used a complex of different ingredients when making the compound, assuring the man that the mixture would work.

comprehensible, comprehensive
comprehensible (kahm" pri HEN suh buhl) (adjective)
Understandable: The secretary's job was to translate the manager's directives into a comprehensible language for the workers in the factory.
comprehensive (kahm" pri HEN siv) (adjective)
Complete, inclusive; dealing with all or many of the relevant details: The director stated that the new report was the most comprehensive and comprehensible one she had ever read.

In response to the request from his supervisor, the social worker prepared a comprehensive manual for others to follow to prepare future comprehensible reports for the office.

concert, consort, consort
concert (KAHN surt) (noun)
A performance of music or dancing that is typically intended for the public: Lana decided to buy a balcony ticket in order to attend the concert on the weekend.
consort (KAHN sort") (verb)
To maintain an association with an individual or group: Kenny was pleased when he realized that his daughter liked to consort with the musicians who often put on concerts in the park.

Rudy has indicated that he wants to consort with other writers.

consort (KAHN sort") (noun)
1. A spouse, typically thought of as regal: The Prince Consort often accompanied the queen during her travels.
2. A ship accompanying another in travel: As the oil ship was traveling through the dangerous piracy area, there was a consort which was prepared to protect the bigger one.

The queen and her consort decided to attend a concert in a foreign country to which they would travel by ship accompanied by a consort which carried all of their luggage.

concession, confession
concession (kuhn SESH uhn) (noun)
1. The act of giving up something or doing something in order to reach an agreement: The company was willing to make this one concession to the strikers during negotiations.
2. Something that is done because a particular situation makes it necessary or desirable: Matt takes afternoon naps now as a concession to his working so late every day.
confession (kuhn FESH uhn) (noun)
1. A written or oral statement acknowledging guilt, made by someone who has been accused or charged with an offense: Tricia went to the police station and made a full confession.
2. The act of telling others about something that makes a person embarrassed, ashamed, etc.: Josefina has a confession to make about not being prepared to do the assignment.
3. An avowal of belief in the doctrines of a particular faith; a creed: Rudy expressed his confession of faith as a member of a group of worshipers who adhered to the same specific creed.

In his confession to the police, the fraudster made one concession to the truth when he admitted that he wrote the invalid checks.

This confession embarrassed him because he was not accustomed to making a concession in order to avoid further questioning.

concise, succinct
concise (kuhn SIGHS) (adjective)
A reference to expressing something in few words without elaboration or detail: The director asked for a concise statement of the company's financial situation.
succinct (suhk SINGKT) (adjective)
Precise, terse, expressions in a few words: Lorene's succinct summary at the end of the speech provided the most significant information.

Please write a succinct report that will provide a concise explanation of the plot of the story.

condemn, contemn
condemn (kuhn DEM) (verb)
1. To express strong disapproval of: Leo wanted to condemn the needless waste of government money.
2. To judge or to declare to be unfit for use or consumption, usually by an official order: The official said he had to condemn the old building because it was not safe.
contemn (kuhn TEM) (verb)
To view with scorn; to detest: When Gerard heard the speech, he could only contemn it as inappropriate and vulgar.

After listening to the evidence which the judge was inclined to contemn, the criminal and he agreed with the verdict from the jury which was to condemn the criminal to ten years in prison.

condemnation, commendation
condemnation (kon" dem NAY shuhn) (noun)
A statement or expression of very strong and definite criticism or disapproval: The government's statement was a condemnation of all acts of terrorism.
commendation (kom" uhn DAY shuhn) (noun)
1. The act of praising or approving someone or something: The hard work of the volunteers deserves commendation.
2. An official letter that praises someone publicly: The soldier was awarded a commendation for bravery.

During his commendation to the citizen for bravery in helping those who fell into the river, the mayor also issued a condemnation of the poor construction of the bridge which lead to the accident.

condom, condone, condominium
condom (KON duhm) (noun)
A flexible sheath, usually made of thin rubber or latex: A condom, to be worn by a man, is recommended by doctors as a way to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant or to prevent the spread of sexual diseases.
condone (kuhn DOHN) (verb)
To overlook, forgive, or disregard an offense or bad behavior without protest or censure: The dean at the university decided to condone the behavior of the students this time, refusing to call in the authorities.
condominium (kon" duh MIN ee uhm) (noun)
A building or complex in which units of property, such as apartments, are owned by individuals and common parts of the property; such as, the grounds and building structure, are owned jointly by the unit owners: Reed and Lorene were considering the purchase of a condominium in the same building where their aunt and uncle were living.

The president of the condominium owners association would not condone the existence of a condom in the elevator.

confidant, confidante, confident
confidant (KAHN fi dant", KAHN fi dahnt") (noun)
Someone with whom secret or confidential information may be shared: The king’s trusted confidant was his uncle.
confidante [feminine form] (KAHN fi dahnt") (noun)
Female form of "confidant": The queen’s confidante was a young woman she had known from childhood.
confident (KAHN fi duhnt) (adjective)
To be sure of oneself: Being confident is the feeling a person has before he, or she, knows better.

I am confident that a confidante is someone who never betrays a confidence without first imposing the strictest secrecy.

Confident is the feeling some people have before they know better.

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.