Confusing Words Clarified: Group P; Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs, Synonyms, Polysemes, etc. +

(lists of "P" sections that are organized into what for some people are confusing groups of words)

If you have any problems understanding the pronunciation symbols, go to this Pronunciation Chart for clarifications.

pariah, piranha
pariah (puh RIGH uh) (noun)
Someone who is disliked and rejected by other people: Mildred was a talented player, but her angry outbursts made her a pariah in the sport of tennis.
piranha (pi RAHN yuh, pi RAN yuh, pi RAH nuh, pi RAN yuh) (noun)
Any of several tropical South American freshwater fish that are voraciously carnivorous and often attack and destroy living animals: Fred and Eugenia could see the multitudes of piranha attacking the small deer in the river with their sharp teeth and strong jaws and quickly devouring the animal.

Bryan is considered a piranha in the insurance business because he "eats" up the competition.

Trudy had developed a reputation as a piranha in the construction business and so she was considered by some to be a pariah at the national convention of contractors.

parlay, parley, parley
parlay (PAHR lay, PAHR lee) (verb)
To bet successfully, to exploit, or to increase something into another item of greater value: With his skill, Monroe attempted to parlay his investment in the stock market into a great fortune.

The gambler decided to parlay his gold watch against the cards of his opponent.

parley (PAHR lee) (noun)
A meeting to talk about points or issues of disagreements: The company scheduled a parley with the union to discuss wage matters.
parley (PAHR lee) (verb)
To discuss something with whom there is a disagreement in order to end a conflict: The officials were not willing to parley with the rebels who demanded that a new head of government be elected.

Nell's uncle worked successfully to parlay his whole fortune into gold bonds; as a result, he was successful and because he became wealthy, he called a parley among the relatives to discuss how to fairly distribute his vast wealth.

partition, petition
partition (pahr TISH uhn) (verb)
To divide or to separate: Benjamin built a new fence to partition his fields from those of his neighbor.
petition (puh TISH uhn) (noun)
A formal request signed by several individuals that is given to an authoritative body, or an individual, requesting a specific action or decision: The governmental agency received a petition from the voters with a significant number of signatures.

Several thousand voters signed the petition to allow for the partition of a large county into two smaller counties.

passé, passe; posse
passé, passe (pah SAY) (adjective)
1. Concerning something which is no longer current or in fashion; out-of-date: That style of music is now considered passé or passe.
2. Regarding an item which is past its prime, faded, or aged: The clothes Ben wears these days are passé.
posse (PAH si) (noun)
Historically, a group of people who were gathered together by a sheriff to help search for a criminal: The sheriff and his posse rode out to look for the bank robbers.

The concept of a sheriff and an armed posse maintaining law-and-order is now considered passé and is no longer a popular TV theme.

passed, past, past, past
passed (PAST) (verb)
1. To have departed or to have died: Latonya's uncle passed away last night after a long illness.
2. To have achieved approval, often from a legislative body: The political organization passed a new resolution regarding membership.

The legislators passed a new law about speeding automobiles.
3. To have gone around or to have gone away from: The speeding red car passed the bus which was moving slowly up the hill.

The traveling circus passed through the town after their performance.
4. To have changed or replaced ownership from one person to another: The line of inheritance was passed from the father to the son.
5. To have achieved a successful completion of a task: When the test scores were posted, Jim noticed that he had passed the English grammar examination.
6. To have exceeded or surpassed: The new shopping mall passed all expectations in terms of variety of stores and shops.

past (PAST) (adjective)
1. Concerning something which took place prior to the present: It is interesting to study the past times of Roy's town and to learn about the early settlers.
2. Referring to an individual who has held a position of authority or ownership; former: Dina was the past president of the musical organization.

The past owner of the red sports car took very good care of it.

past (PAST) (adverb)
Regarding how something has gone beyond a specific point in life: Janine is at the age that should be past playing with the doll house.
past (PAST) (adjective)
Descriptive of a previous life, history, or action: Dorothea had a past secret which she did not want to talk about.

Those who cannot remember what has passed into the past are condemned to repeat it.

—Based on a quote by George Santayana
pastor, pastor, pasture
pastor (PAS tuhr) (noun)
A spiritual leader or member of the clergy: Mr. Smith is the new pastor for the church in the neighborhood.
pastor (PAS tuhr) (verb)
To serve or to act in the role of a spiritual leader: Ralph's friend wanted to pastor the youth of his church.
pasture (PAS chuhr) (noun)
A field or space of land devoted to raising grass and in which grazing livestock feed: The green pasture was dotted with white sheep and their lambs.

The cattle enjoyed being in the fresh green pasture after a long winter in the barns.

The new pastor was innovative in his thinking in that during the summer, he planned to have open air church services in the pasture down by the river.

pathetic, prophetic
pathetic (puh THET ik) (adjective)
1. Descriptive of something which arouses, or is capable of arousing, sympathetic feelings of sadness and compassion: The blind and elderly dog was in a pathetic condition and it was easy to hear its pathetic whining.
2. Pertaining to the arousal of scornful pity: The basketball team played badly last year, but this year they're absolutely pathetic.
prophetic (pruh FET ik) (adjective)
Pertaining to the prediction of events as if by unique insight: Luisa spoke casual words that proved to be prophetic because she actually did win in the lottery!

Shanna's warnings proved to be prophetic because the dangers that she warned Adam and Evelyn about regarding their trip to Africa came true.

The pathetic response of the crowd to the headlines predicting changes seemed prophetic when the official announcements were actually made.

patience, patients
patience (PAY shuhns) (noun)
The condition of being calm without complaining; steadfastness: Patricia's mother had a lot of patience when she was practicing the piano.

Her mother's patience paid off when Patricia actually became a famous concert pianist.

patients (PAY shuhns) (noun)
Several individuals who receive medical care and supervision: Doctor Bergman's patients were waiting for her when she arrived at the clinic.

Dr. Berman said she was also going out to the Street Clinic to see the patients who were living on the street.

Sometimes people have to wait so long just to see a doctor that some of the patients lose their patience.

Patience is power; with time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes silk.

—Chinese Proverb
pause, pause, paws, paws
pause (PAWZ) (noun)
A temporary interruption, hesitation, or break from doing something: The judges announced that there would be a pause in their deliberations and they would resume after lunch.

After Marjory presented her speech, there was a slight pause before the audience started to applaud.

pause (PAWZ) (verb)
To stop or to linger: Harry wants to pause at the top of the hill and admire the view before driving on.
paws (PAWZ) (noun)
The feet of an animal, typically one with claws: Susana had to wipe the mud off the paws of her dog after their walk in the rain.
paws (PAWZ) (verb)
Used in the third person singular, to touch in a clumsy manner, to scratch with a foot or hoof: Willie sees that the horse paws the ground as if it is anxious to start the race.

Trudy's kitten paws her shoe with its paw when it wants her attention.

Very often animals have to stop and rest or they just pause their paws for awhile.

paw, pa
paw (PAW) (noun)
The foot of an animal, especially a quadruped that has claws or nails: The dog injured its paw when it dug in the field where there was a piece of broken glass.
pa (PAW) (noun)
An informal or slang term for one's father: Jillian's pa was always there to help her whenever she needed him.

The dog was trained to lift its front paw to "shake hands" with Mildred's pa whenever he came home from work.

pawing, pawning
pawing (PAW ing) (verb)
Touching or grabbing in an excited or wild manner: A crowd of customers was pawing over the remaining sales items on the tables.

The puppies were playing as if they were fighting, pawing each other and rolling on the grass.

pawning (PAWN ing) (verb)
Giving someone an object as security for a loan: Goldie is in a such a bad financial situation that she was pawning her silver rings in order to buy groceries.

When Kim was pawing through the jumble sale at the store, she watched a man who was pawning off his watch to get a loan.

pawn, pawn
pawn (PAWN) (noun)
1. One of the eight small pieces that have the least value in the game of chess: Henry's opponent in the game of chess took more than one pawn in the last move.
2. A person or group that does not have much power and who is controlled by a more powerful person or group: Kimberly became a pawn in the political power struggle.
pawn (PAWN) (verb)
To give something to an individual whose occupation is to accept personal property as security in exchange for the loan of money: Lorna's friend was forced to pawn his coin set to pay for his rent and some food.

Matt felt like a pawn of misfortune when he had to go to leave his chess set as a deposit with the pawnbroker, including the pewter pawn which was engraved with the date when he won the championship.

peace, peace, piece
peace (PEES) (noun)
1. Tranquility, security, lack of disruption, harmoniousness: After school, Tamika enjoyed the peace of doing her homework without disruption.

There was a sense of peace in town after the hectic pace of the recent festival.
2. An agreement to end hostilities: The ambassador attempted to establish peace between the two countries.

peace (PEES) (interjection)
An exclamation used to request calm and silence: The leader shouted "PEACE!" and the crowd became very quiet and listened to him.
piece (PEES) (noun)
1. A part of something, a fragment: Ralph decided that he wanted a piece of pie for lunch.

The child picked up a piece of glass that was on the playground and put it into a trash can so no one could fall on it and get hurt.

2. A short distance: The mail box is just a short piece down the road and around the corner.
3. A work of art, music, drama, or literature: The composer wrote a piece for the violin and piano, accompanied by a singer.

Antonio read his piece which had won the prize for poetry.

4. Another term for a gun: The hunter carried his piece carefully and it was unloaded.
5. A coin or an item used as a coin: Nathan has a piece which he thinks is very old and valuable.

Eugene's sister told Fay to take the gold piece and to see what the currency dealer would pay for it.

Fred's nephew exclaimed that he wanted a piece of the activities for peace that were happening this weekend in town.

Peace, the thing we are all fighting for or going to war to achieve; or the brief lull before the storm.

peaceable, peaceful
peaceable (PEE suh buhl) (adjective)
1. Characteristic of a situation without conflict or disorder: The peaceable and nonaggressive protest march on the university campus was well attended.
2. Not quarrelsome; amiable; inoffensive: Marvin has a peaceable relationship with his cousins and their families.
peaceful (PEES fuhl) (adjective)
Of or relating to a time without violence or turbulence: The years that Jerry lived in the country were peaceful and productive because he was able to concentrate on his new novel and to enjoy life.

The valley was so peaceful that it is difficult to imagine a peaceable time that didn't exist there.

peak, peek, pique, pique, piqué
peak (PEEK) (noun)
1. A tapering, projecting point; a pointed extremity: The peak of the roof had a weather vane on it.
2. The pointed summit of a mountain: Shawn hiked to the top of the peak in the Alps.
3. The point of greatest development, value, or intensity: Mildred could feel a peak of excitement in the audience when the symphony came to a conclusion.
peek (PEEK) (verb)
To glance or to look quickly; especially, through an opening or from behind something: Please peek at this picture before Cleo mails it to her aunt.

While playing hide and seek, Nancy's little boy would peek between the curtains at her.

pique (PEEK) (noun)
A state of vexation caused by a perceived slight or indignity; a feeling of wounded pride or a resentment at being disdained, a fit of displeasure: Marilyn went into a pique when she didn't get her way.
pique (PEEK) (verb)
To excite, to arouse, or to cause curiosity or interest: It seems that brightly colored things often pique a young child's interest.
piqué (pi KAY, pee KAY) (noun)
Fabric, typically cotton, that is tightly woven and features a ribbed or raised pattern, produced especially by a double warp: Janine's new skirt is made of a blue piqué that matches the scarf she bought while she was on her vacation.

Mary said that she will experience a pique if she is unable to get a peek at the new piqué fabric in the store. Her interest was intensified when she found out that one piqué had an image of a famous peak that is located in the nearby mountains.

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