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

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

Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their meanings and timelessness.

—Khalil Gibran, mystic, poet, and artist (1883-1931)

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

wheal, wheel, wheel
wheal (HWEEL, WEEL) (noun)
A ridge or mark raised on the skin by or as if by a stroke of a whip: "Lucy could see that the poor horse had suffered too much by the wheal that was inflicted on it by its dreadful owner."
wheel (HWEEL, WEEL) (noun)
One of the round parts underneath a car, wagon, etc., that rolls and allows something to move: "James couldn't go by bike to the store because the front wheel of his bicycle had to be repaired."
wheel (HWEEL, WEEL) (verb)
To move someone or something on a vehicle that moves by means of rolling: "The medical attendant had to wheel the patient into the operating room using a gurney."

The nurse started to wheel the patient with an ugly wheal on her arm into the examination room.

which, witch
which (HWICH, WICH) (pronoun)
1. Used to indicate what is being shown, pointed to, or mentioned: "Adam was trying to decide which one of those two cars he should buy?"
2. Used to introduce an additional statement about something that has already been mentioned: "The old car, which Rita and Shawn bought ten years ago, is still going strong!"
witch (WICH) (noun)
1. A woman who is thought to have magical powers: "In the story Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a witch tried to poison Snow White."
2. A very unpleasant woman: "Travis said that his mother-in-law was an old witch who was always criticizing."

Which witch do you think spoke to Macbeth in the Scottish play that was written by William Shakespeare?

while, while, wile, wile
while (HWIGHL, WIGHL) (conjunction)
During the time that something was going on: "Clarence washed the dishes for Edna while she was out shopping."
while (HWIGHL, WIGHL) (noun)
A period of time: "It took Bruce quite a while to find out what was wrong with the computer."
wile (WIGHL) (verb)
To pass (time) agreeably: "Julia used to wile away her time before she started her job."
wile (WIGHL) (noun)
A deceitful stratagem or trick: "The wile that Lois played on Nick ruined their friendship."

While Emily will wile her time sitting in the park, Victor will do the shopping and meet her for coffee later.

whine, whine, wine
whine (HWIGHN, WIGHN) (verb)
1. To complain in an annoying way: "Kim and Edith always whine about having too much work to do."
2. To make a high, crying sound: "The cat will always whine when it wants something to eat!"
whine (HWIGHN, WIGHN) (noun)
A high and unpleasant sound that continues for a long time: "The whine of the jet passing overhead stopped the classroom lesson because it was just too loud."
wine (WIGHN) (noun)
An alcoholic drink made from the juice of grapes: "Annie and Todd had a glass of red wine to celebrate the special occasion."

When grape alcohol turns out to be bad, people will hear a lot of wine whine from those who grew the grapes and produced the drink.

whirl, whirl, whorl
whirl (HWURL, WURL) (verb)
1. To move or to go in a circle or curve, especially with force or speed: "The electric cars would whirl around in the toy track."
2. To turn rapidly in circles: "This new washing machine can whirl clothes at a terrific speed!"
whirl (HWURL, WURL) (noun)
Something that is turning quickly in circles: "A whirl of dust was caught in the draft coming in from outside."
whorl (HWORL, WORL) (noun)
1. Something that turns or goes around in a circle: "There was a whorl of water going down the drain in the bathtub."
2. A pattern that is made by a series of circles that turn around a central point: "The whorl of the suspect's finger print identified him as the criminal."

The social season seemed to whirl past the family like a gay and lively whorl.

whit, wit
whit (HWIT, WIT) (noun)
The smallest imaginable degree or amount: "Danny didn't care a whit whether Craig's book succeeded or failed."

"Curtis is not a whit smarter."

"Crystal didn't care a whit about the money."

wit (WIT) (noun)
1. Intellectual brilliance: "Antonio's book is a collection of his wit and wisdom."
2. Astuteness of perception: "Peggy had the wit to leave before the situation became any worse."

It matters not a whit to Tiffany whether Nathan is described as a wit or not. She still thinks he has horrible manners.

whither, wither, withers
whither (HWITH uhr, WITH uhr) (adverb)
To which specified place or position: "Whither are you going today, my lovely princess?."
wither (WITH uhr, WITH uhr) (verb)
1. When plants become dry and weak from a loss of moisture: "These tomato plants will wither and die if they don't get enough water."
2. Used figuratively to indicate a loss of hope or opportunity: "Wanda's hopes of going to Ireland this summer seem to wither with the passing of each week."
withers (WITH uhrz) (noun)
The ridge between the shoulder bones of a horse: "This horse seems to be very high, standing sixteen hands and measuring eighteen hands at the withers."

Kim asked Jim, whither shall we go before our hopes wither and we forget completely that we were going to go to the races? Well, Kim, let's go now because I want to see my favorite race horse which measures seven hands at the withers.

who's, whose
who's (HOOZ) (pronoun/verb)
A contraction of who is or who has: "Who's [who is] in charge of this business?"

"Cindy is a student who's [who has] always been interested in learning more words."

whose (HOOZ) (pronoun)
1. Used in questions to ask who owns something, has something, etc.: "Whose suitcase is this?"

"I wonder whose story was chosen in the literary contest?"

2. Used to show which person or thing a person is talking about: "The literary prize will go to the writer whose story shows the most imagination."
3. Applied to give more information about a person or thing that has already been mentioned: "Ralph's friend, whose brother is an author, had many suggestions as to how he can get his book published."

Who's going to ask the audience about the gloves that were found on the table in the foyer? It is important to know whose they are so the gloves can be returned to the owner.

who, whom
who (HOO) (pronoun)
1. Used when you do not know the name or identity of a person or group of people that you are talking about or asking about: "Who is the man that Marta is talking to?"
2. Used after a noun or pronoun to show which group of people someone is talking about: "Children who are interested in joining the play group should come tomorrow."
3. Used to introduce an additional statement about someone who has already been mentioned: "Brandon, the neighbor who lives next door, takes care of the house that belongs to Pamela and her family when they are on vacation."
whom (HOOM) (pronoun)
The objective case of who, used in formal writing or speech: "To whom am I speaking?"

"Heather, Roy's sister, with whom he is very close, works for another business."

Whom is a more formal word than who and is not commonly used in ordinary speech and writing, where it can seem awkward and unnatural."

Who do you think is pretending to be an owl and whispering WOOO, WOOO, WOOO in the garden? To whom are you directing your question?

whoa (s); woe (s), woes (pl)
whoa (HWOH, WOH) (exclamations)
1. Used to command a horse to stop moving: "Harry yelled, 'Whoa, Debbie! I need to get down!' "

"People could hear the wagon driver yelling whoa to his horses because they were running in a panic as they pulled the four-wheeler across the field."

2. Used to tell someone to slow down or stop and think about something: "Whoa, Cheryl. Now which way should we continue?"
3. Used to show that someone is surprised or impressed: "Whoa, that is really a neat cell phone!"
woe, woes (WOH; WOHZ) (nouns)
1. A feeling of great pain or sadness: "The mother listened to her child's tale of woe, or sad story."
2. Problems or troubles: "Susan's financial woes are well known at the bank."
3. Used as a warning that there will be trouble if someone does something specified [old-fashioned]: "Woe to any student who comes late to that language lesson because he or she will really be in trouble."

Sam, all of my woes will be over if you will only whoa a minute and tell me what you want for your birthday. Woe is me if I give you something you don't like.

widow, widower
widow (WID oh) (noun)
A woman whose husband has died: "As a widow, Maria had to wear black since it was the custom of the country."
widower (WID oh uhr) (noun)
A man whose wife has died: "In the beginning, living alone as a widower without his wife was very difficult for Oscar."

The social club wanted to introduce Kyle's aunt, who is a widow, to the widower who recently joined the group.

wiggle, wriggle
wiggle (WIG uhl) (verb)
To move up and down or from side to side with short quick motions: "The little puppy could wiggle its tail with glee."
wriggle (RIG uhl) (verb)
To twist from side to side with small quick movements like a worm: "The children used to wriggle in their seats at school when the lesson became boring."

When Jan's kitten was very young, it would just wiggle with excitement. If she picked the kitten up, it tended to wriggle in her arms until she put it down again.

will, will, will
will (WIL) (verb)
Applied to say that something is expected to happen in the future: "Victor will definitely leave tomorrow morning."

"Martin and Ernest will continue with the project, and they will complete it!"

will (WIL) (verb)
To cause or to try to cause something to happen by using the power of one's mind: "Stephanie was trying to will herself to fall asleep."
will (WIL) (noun)
A legal testament, or document, in which a person states who should receive his or her possessions after his or her death: "In his will, Todd stated that he wanted all of his property to go to his sister, Elaine."

Steve's father promised his son that he will complete writing the draft of his will today because he is afraid that he will put it off again. He really must will himself to concentrate on the task.

wind, wind, wined
wind (WIND) (noun)
1. Moving air; especially, a natural and perceptible movement of air parallel to or along the ground: "There was so much wind that it blew our hats away!."
2. A movement of air generated artificially, as by a bellows or a fan: "Lori and Edna had the fan on to make some wind in their very hot and humid room."
wind (WIND) (verb)
1. To proceed on one's way with a curving or twisting course: "It was necessary for Phillip and James to quickly wind their way down the mountain before it got too dark."
2. To coil the spring of a mechanism by turning a stem or cord: "Wanda had to wind her old-fashioned watch every day or it would not keep time."
wined (WIGHN'd) (verb)
To celebrate an occasion that was provided with or entertained with wine: "For his special birthday, Brian wined and dined his guests."

While sailing on the weekend, there was a strong wind and Kevin and his crew had a problem trying to wind the sail; however, later they all wined and dined when the situation was much calmer.

wishful, wistful
wishful (WISH fuhl) (adjective)
Having or expressing a wish or longing for something to happen or to succeed even though it is not likely to happen or to succeed: "Sylvia often had wishful hopes that she could change her husband's bad habits."

"The idea that the enemy will immediately surrender is nothing more than wishful thinking."

wistful (WIST fuhl) (adjective)
Having or showing sad thoughts and feelings about something that someone wants to have or to do and especially about something that made that person happy in the past: "Lillian had a wistful look on her face and then she asked Lois, 'Do you remember when we used to go to the old playground at our elementary school?'."
A Fishy Tale

They always say the fish they caught
Last year were twice the size,
And make a big production of
Their rods and lures and flies.
They tell the tallest tales, it seems,
Straight-faced and without blinking:
It's not exactly lies, you know,
But rather fishful thinking.

—Harriet Cooper

The wishful thinker often ends up being in a wistful condition.

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