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.

confirm, conform
confirm (kuhn FURM) (verb)
To establish something doubtful or uncertain as being true; to verify: The employer was finally able to confirm the rumor about the loss of jobs.
conform (kuhn FORM) (verb)
To behave in a conventional way; especially, in accepting customs, traditions, or prevailing opinions: When Horace and Tricia moved to a new country, they had to conform to new ways of doing things.

The teacher was sure that she must confirm the rules of the playground which expect the children to conform to the policy of not throwing baseballs when they are not in the park.

confirmer, conformer
confirmer (kuhn FURM uhr) (noun)
An individual or authority who can, by statement, remove doubts or questions about a situation: Lorene's position of authority at the university made her the perfect confirmer to dispute the rumors circulating on campus.
conformer (kuhn FORM uhr) (noun)
Someone who adapts to the current customs or standards; or who acts in harmony or agreement with others: Although Wilbur was seen as a conformer, he never lost sight of his integrity.

The student who appeared to be from a foreign country worked hard to be seen as a conformer to campus life.

The head of the dormitory where he lived acted as a confirmer to this impression.

congregation, conjugation
congregation (kong" gri GAY shuhn) (noun)
A body of assembled people or things; a gathering: The priest spoke to the congregation.
conjugation (kon" juh GAY shuhn) (noun)
The presentation of an inflected verb form: Part of the conjugation of the verb "to be" (in the singular, present tense) is: I am, you are, he/she/it is.

The final task for the congregation of English language specialists was to complete the conjugation of several verbs in Modern and Old English.

connotation, denotation
connotation (kon" uh TAY shuhn) (noun)
1. An idea or meaning suggested by or associated with a word or thing: For some people, the word "fat" has a negative connotation.
2. The set of associations implied by a word in addition to its literal meaning: The word "childlike" has a connotation of innocence or of being a pest.
denotation (dee" noh TAY shuhn) (noun)
Something signified or referred to; a particular meaning of a symbol, word, or phrase: The word has one literal denotation but several different connotations.

The meaning of the denotation on the chart appeared to be unequivocal; however, the connotations were apparently unlimited.

connote, denote
connote (kuh NOHT) (verb)
To make people think about something in addition to the word's meaning: For me, the word "family" will connote love and comfort.
denote (di NOHT) (verb)
To mean something: The word "derby" can denote a horse race or a kind of hat.

When I see the photograph of the soldiers, it will always connote my ancestors. To them, serving in the military was a way to denote heroism and valor.

conscience, conscientious, conscious
conscience (KAHN shuhns) (noun)
A knowledge or awareness of right and wrong; with a compulsion to do the right thing: The teacher emphasized that each student should let his or her conscience be her or his guide when deciding what to do.
conscientious (kahn" shee EN shuhs) (adjective)
Referring to what one knows is right and showing care and precision with painstaking efforts to do something properly: Lana was a conscientious reporter, always checking her facts before writing the story.
conscious (KAHN shuhs) (adjective)
Having a feeling or knowledge of one's own sensations, feelings, etc.; or being aware of one's external environment: Standing on the edge of the canyon, Madeline was conscious of the vast beauty of the place.

Arnold was still fully conscious after the local anesthetic was administered.

Conscience is the voice some people never hear until they are caught doing something wrong; while truly conscientious people are those whose consciences tell them to do the right thing even when they are conscious that they won't get caught.

consecutive, successive
consecutive (kuhn SEK yuh tiv) (adjective)
Characterized by an orderly arrangement of words, objects, etc., one after another: The young student surprised everyone by remembering the long list of consecutive words.
successive (suhk SES iv) (adjective)
Following in an uninterrupted order: Successive generations will be grateful for the conservation practices of today.

The successive position of the monarchy was orderly and uninterrupted.

The heraldry of each monarch in the Great Hall was arranged in consecutive order.

consequence, consequents
consequence (KAHN si kwens", KAHN si kwuhns) (noun)
A result, sequel, outcome, or effect: The decrease in sales was a consequence of some bad publicity about the company.

Some say many jobs will be lost as a consequence of the trade agreement.

consequents (KAHN si kwens", KAHN si kwuhns) (noun)
That which follows as a natural effect, result, or conclusion: They tried to prevent an oil spill and the damaging consequents it would have on wildlife.

Weather forecasters predict heavy rains and the flooding consequents that will result.

The consequence of the conference on global warming was the recommendation that the weather forecasters play closer attention to the consequents of heavy rainfall and melting glaciers

consequent, subsequent
consequent (KAHN si kwent", KAHN si kwuhnt) (adjective)
Characterizing a circumstance that succeeds a natural effect, achievement, or event: The company made every effort possible to prevent an oil spill and the consequent damage to wildlife; however, they were unsuccessful.
subsequent SUB si kwent", SUB si kwuhnt) (adjective)
Following in time or order; succeeding: Gretchen's work had a great influence on subsequent generations.

Subsequent to the announcement of the resignation of the president, the consequent action of the elected representatives was to elect someone to replace him on a temporary basis.

conservation, conservative, Conservative, conserve
conservation (kahn" sur VAY shuhn) (noun)
Preservation or restoration from loss, damage, or neglect: The old manuscripts were saved from deterioration by the program of library conservation.
conservative (kuhn SUR vuh tiv) (adjective)
Descriptive of favoring traditional views and values; characterizing the belief in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society: Roderick had some rather conservative ideas about the way life should be.
Conservative (kuhn SUR vuh tiv) (noun)
A member or supporter of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom: Jeremy was a well-known Conservative in the U.K.
conserve (kuhn SURV) (verb)
To keep something safe from being damaged, lost, or destroyed: With so little rain, everyone had to conserve water so there would be enough for the essentials of life."

As a Conservative among the conservative members of the city, Preston voted to support the conservation measures before the parliament which would help to conserve the wild life in the parks.

console, console
console (kuhn SOHL) (verb)
To make someone feel less sad or disappointed; to comfort: The prayers of the congregation helped to console her when her parents died.
console (KAHN sohl) (noun)
An instrument panel or unit, containing controls for operating aircraft, computers, and other electrical or electronic systems: The pilot sat before the console in the airplane, studying each light and button carefully.

The console for Elvira's home entertainment system had been personally designed for her by a cabinet maker.

To console herself for the loss of her favorite cat, Caroline bought a home console which included a TV, a DVD, and a CD player which included built in speakers and a remote control for changing the various functions.

consonance, consonants
consonance (KAHN suh nuhns) (noun)
Harmonious agreement among the components or parts, for example, of sounds: The consonance of the syllables in the song was pleasing to listen to.
consonants (KAHN suh nuhnts) (noun)
A speech sound characterized by the constriction of one or more points along the breath channel during pronunciation: The professor said that there are more consonants in the English alphabet than vowel sounds.

The chairperson of the meeting announced that given the consonance among the members present regarding the diacritical markings for consonants, he recommended that they adjourn for some refreshments.

construction, destruction
construction (kuhn STRUK shuhn) (noun)
The product of the building or creating process, using building materials, words, etc.: The construction of the sentence consisted of both individual words and phrases.

The construction of the skyscraper started with much ceremony and many speeches.

destruction (di STRUK shuhn) (noun)
Ruin, the process or act of tearing something down, literally or figuratively: The whispered scandal of Lila's illness proved to be the destruction of her career.

The company had a contract authorizing the complete destruction of the old building, to make way for the new skyscraper.

English is an interesting language; for example, the word raise means the construction of something; however the word raze means the destruction of something.

content, content
content (kuhn TENT) (adjective)
Happy, satisfied, basic needs or desires having been met: As a senior citizen, Mable was content, having worked hard for many years and she was happy to relax.
content (KAHN tent) (noun)
Information dealt with in a field of study which is typically outlined in the beginning of a publication: The information described in the Course Syllabus outlined the content for the lecture course.

Virgil is content that the content of this dictionary is as complete as it can be.

contentious, controversial
contentious (kuhn TEN shuhs) (adjective)
Descriptive of a tendency to cause quarrels or worrisome disputes: The content of Mildred's new book proved to be contentious among academic scholars.
controversial (kahn" truh VUR shuhl, kahn" truh VUR see uhl) (adjective)
Information or discussion characterized by a differing of opinions among readers, participants, etc.: The controversial topic of Round Earth or Flat Earth is the subject of the annual meetings of the Flat Earth Society.

The controversial subject of the public forum proved to be contentious among both the academics and the lay people who attended.

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.