Confusing Words Clarified: Group D; Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs, Synonyms, Polysemes, etc. +
(lists of "D" sections that are organized into what for some people are confusing groups of words)
The day-to-day arena of spoken and written communication has always been a perilous place, fraught with endless possibilities for embarrassing blunders by even the most wary.
People may have a fine grasp of grammar, be proficient with spelling and syntax, and still occasionally find themselves in a quandary about which word to use. These days it seems that those of us who want to be precise are having a harder time than ever because there is so much which is working against us.
For one thing, there is the constant bombardment of sloppy English that we are subjected to from what we hear and read; and not just what's overheard on the bus or read on the walls of buildings.
We are also subjected to the many errors audible on TV or radio and published in every conceivable kind of printed matter; especially, in blogs and other presentations on some internet sites. These are strong influences, and if we hear and see a word misused often enough, it takes on a certain "correctness".
If you have any problems understanding the pronunciation symbols, go to this Pronunciation Chart for clarifications.
Once again, we want you to know that efforts have been made to help you grasp the meanings of the following and the other word groups 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@example.com, as the address in your e-mail heading.
2. A downward incline or passage; a slope: The mountain goats followed the steep descent leading to the meadow below.
The two members of government would often dissent with each other about legal matters; however, they continued to be friends.
Laura wore decent climbing clothes for the challenging descent of the mountain and she certainly didn't dissent with her friend's opinion that it was very scary at times.
2. A process that causes something to be no longer approved or accepted: The government had to use decertification of the agency because it was not performing its functions as intended.
2. The rapid depletion of plant life and the loss of topsoil at desert boundaries and in semiarid regions; usually, caused by a combination of drought and the overexploitation of grasses and other vegetation by people: The international organization was praised for its efforts to prevent further desertification in Africa.
The decertification of the land management company came about because of the desertification of the rich farm land as a result of mismanagement of water resources.
2. To severely damage or destroy a large part of something: The government's budget cuts will decimate public services in many small towns.
2. To break up into pieces or to tear down: The construction company used large equipment to demolish the abandoned building.
The contractors will demolish the old factory to make way for a new parking lot and a large quantity of explosives will be used to demolish it.
Olivia plans to demolish the old shed in the back. She knows it will destroy the home of a colony of raccoons; in fact, it will actually decimate their numbers in the neighborhood.
2. Pertaining to causing something to end in a particular way: The poverty of Noah's childhood played a decisive role in his adult life.
2. Characteristic of being able to explain difficult ideas clearly and confidently: Chloe is known for her incisive mind and quick wit.
Abigail's incisive mind was helpful in her new position when she had to establish leadership and to make decisive recommendations to her team of colleagues.
2. To cause something; such as, dead plants and the bodies of dead animals, to be slowly destroyed and broken down by natural processes, chemicals, etc.: Bacteria and fungi help to decompose organic matter.
A visitor observed Beethoven seated at the piano earnestly erasing the notes from a score in front of him. As the man approached, Beethoven exclaimed, "Please, don’t interrupt me because I’m trying to decompose."
When Emily went for a hike earlier today, she discovered a human body which had been left to decompose under a tree. Seeing these bodily remains caused her to discompose and so she went straight to the police to tell them what she found.
Proper decorum when attending a wedding is expected because there are certain social rules that must be observed and so we should act with propriety.
2. A unit of measure on a scale: The students could measure the degrees of heat generated during their experiment using the temperature scale.
3. An academic title given to students who complete a prescribed course of study at a college or university, etc.: Ernestine was very proud of her science degree from the famous university.
The decree from the university announced to the world that Darin had achieved his academic degree in science during which he discovered a new degree for measuring vapor.
2. To infer by logical reasoning: The medical student stated that he could deduce that the patient had a cold based on his temperature and fever.
3. To conclude from known facts or general principles: The police inspector was able to deduce who was responsible for the accident based on his inspection of the actual scene.
Dewey said, "I deduct from your statement that you are unable to deduce the cause of my friend's illness and I think that it is essential that another specialist must be able to deduce something."
Ethan noticed the defective valve in the engine. This is definitely deficient in terms of what he had expected from the manufacturer.
2. The act of speaking or writing in support of someone or something which is being attacked or criticized: We listened to a passionate defense of the governor's decision.
2. Something said in order to support a person who is being condemned or blamed for something: The student stood firmly in his defense against the teacher's accusation that he was copying from another student during the test.
For the spelling bee Percy was asked to spell defense and he spelled it d-e-f-e-n-c-e.
His U.S. teacher announced: WRONG!
Percy explained that he had just moved from Canada and that is the way they spell defence; however, his teacher said that she was sorry, but this is a U.S. spelling contest and so it should be spelled as defense.
When Toby was studying architecture, he had to design a courtroom and it was necessary that he consider the needs of the judge, of the defendant who would be responding to questioning; as well as, of the plaintiff, who would be worried about his rights and be there with his lawyer.
The debating team assumed a defensive position, arguing that freedom of speech is a defensible right of the students at the university.
2. To yield to an authority: The social worker agreed to defer to the experience of her supervisor.
Van and Dominick almost always seem to differ with each other on political issues.2. To be unlike: Even though Bethany and Sadie were twins, they tended to differ from each other in hobbies and sports.
The parents differ in their approach as to how their children should be disciplined.
Krystal said that she must differ with her tax preparer because she did submit her application to defer her taxes until the following year.
2. Courteous regard or respect for someone or something: Clay was taught to show deference to people who were as old as his grandparents.
There's a striking difference in the sisters' opinions on the subject.
The deference that Steve's cousins have shown his aunt highlighted the difference in the manners between them and the rude students at the school where she taught.
2. To take away or to ruin the purity, honor, or goodness of something or someone important: The vulgar talk of some talk-show hosts defiles the normal acceptability of public communication.
When the group of hikers were told to defile down the hill and across the defile at the bottom of the valley, it soon became apparent that they would defile their shoes with mud.