Confusables – Often Confused Words 2

Many words are often mixed up by speakers and writers of English. These are called ‘false cognates’ because they sound and are written so similarly that they are often confused.

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Words Meanings
accept

 

except

to agree to receive or do

 

not including

adverse

 

averse

unfavourable, harmful

 

strongly disliking; opposed

advice

 

advise

recommendations about what to do

 

to recommend something

affect

 

effect

to change or make a difference to

 

a result; to bring about a result

aisle

 

isle

a passage between rows of seats

 

an island

all together

 

altogether

all in one place, all at once

 

completely; on the whole

along

 

a long

moving or extending horizontally on

 

referring to something of great length

aloud

 

allowed

out loud

 

permitted

altar

 

alter

a sacred table in a church

 

to change

amoral

 

immoral

not concerned with right or wrong

 

not following accepted moral standards

appraise

 

apprise

to assess

 

to inform someone

assent

 

ascent

agreement, approval

 

the action of rising or climbing up

aural

 

oral

relating to the ears or hearing

 

relating to the mouth; spoken

balmy

 

barmy

pleasantly warm

 

foolish, crazy

bare

 

bear

naked; to uncover

 

to carry; to put up with

bated

 

baited

in phrase ‘with bated breath’, i.e. in great suspense

 

with bait attached or inserted

bazaar

 

bizarre

a Middle Eastern market

 

strange

berth

 

birth

a bunk in a ship, train, etc.

 

the emergence of a baby from the womb

born

 

borne

having started life

 

carried

bough

 

bow

a branch of a tree

 

to bend the head; the front of a ship

brake

 

break

a device for stopping a vehicle; to stop a vehicle

 

to separate into pieces; a pause

breach

 

breech

to break through, or break a rule; a gap

 

the back part of a gun barrel

broach

 

brooch

to raise a subject for discussion

 

a piece of jewellery

canvas

 

canvass

a type of strong cloth

 

to seek people’s votes

censure

 

censor

to criticize strongly

 

to ban parts of a book or film; a person who does this

cereal

 

serial

a grass producing an edible grain; a breakfast food made from grains

 

happening in a series

chord

 

cord

a group of musical notes

 

a length of string; a cord-like body part

climactic

 

climatic

forming a climax

 

relating to climate

coarse

 

course

rough

 

a direction; a school subject; part of a meal

complacent

 

complaisant

smug and self-satisfied

 

willing to please

complement

 

compliment

to add to so as to improve; an addition that improves something

 

to praise or express approval; an admiring remark

council

 

counsel

a group of people who manage or advise

 

advice; to advise

cue

 

queue

a signal for action; a wooden rod

 

a line of people or vehicles

curb

 

kerb

to keep something in check; a control or limit

 

(in British English) the stone edge of a pavement

currant

 

current

a dried grape

 

happening now; a flow of water, air, or electricity

defuse

 

diffuse

to make a situation less tense

 

to spread over a wide area

desert

 

dessert

a waterless, empty area; to abandon someone

 

the sweet course of a meal

discreet

 

discrete

careful not to attract attention

 

separate and distinct

disinterested

 

uninterested

impartial

 

not interested

draught

 

draft

a current of air

 

a first version of a piece of writing

draw

 

drawer

an even score at the end of a game

 

a sliding storage compartment

dual

 

duel

having two parts

 

a fight or contest between two people

elicit

 

illicit

to draw out a reply or reaction

 

not allowed by law or rules

ensure

 

insure

to make certain that something will happen

 

to provide compensation if a person dies or property is damaged

envelop

 

envelope

to cover or surround

 

a paper container for a letter

exercise

 

exorcise

physical activity; to do physical activity

 

to drive out an evil spirit

fawn

 

faun

a young deer; light brown

 

a mythical being, part man, part goat

flaunt

 

flout

to display ostentatiously

 

to disregard a rule

flounder

 

founder

to move clumsily; to have difficulty doing something

 

to fail

forbear

 

forebear

to refrain

 

an ancestor

foreword

 

forward

an introduction to a book

 

onwards, ahead

freeze

 

frieze

to turn to ice

 

a decoration along a wall

grisly

 

grizzly

gruesome, revolting

 

a type of bear

hoard

 

horde

a store

 

a large crowd of people

imply

 

infer

to suggest indirectly

 

to draw a conclusion

loath

 

loathe

reluctant, unwilling

 

to hate

loose

 

lose

to unfasten; to set free

 

to be deprived of; to be unable to find

meter

 

metre

a measuring device

 

a metric unit; rhythm in verse

militate

 

mitigate

to be a powerful factor against

 

to make less severe

palate

 

palette

the roof of the mouth

 

a board for mixing colours

pedal

 

peddle

a foot-operated lever

 

to sell goods

pole

 

poll

a long, slender piece of wood

 

voting in an election

pour

 

pore

to flow or cause to flow

 

a tiny opening; to study something closely

practice

 

practise

the use of an idea or method; the work or business of a doctor, dentist, etc.

 

to do something repeatedly to gain skill; to do something regularly

prescribe

 

proscribe

to authorize use of medicine; to order authoritatively

 

to officially forbid something

principal

 

principle

most important; the head of a school

 

a fundamental rule or belief

sceptic

 

septic

a person inclined to doubt

 

infected with bacteria

sight

 

site

the ability to see

 

a location

stationary

 

stationery

not moving

 

writing materials

storey

 

story

a level of a building

 

a tale or account

titillate

 

titivate

to arouse interest

 

to make more attractive

tortuous

 

torturous

full of twists; complex

 

full of pain or suffering

wreath

 

wreathe

a ring-shaped arrangement of flowers etc.

 

to surround or encircle

yoke

 

yolk

a wooden crosspiece for harnessing a pair of oxen

 

the yellow center of an egg

If you know any more pairs, you may write them in the comments below!

Published on Aug. 8, 2016 by EnglishMate
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