Words Misused – Part 1: Confusion Between Words

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Has the use of the wrong word ever embarrassed you? I used clench when I meant clinch. Here’s a list of words that writers often confuse.

Words Often Confused

I won’t give full definitions but the differentiating sense between the words. Look up the words for precise and additional meanings.

1. Accept is to receive; except excludes.

2. Adverse describes something as bad; averse is being against something.

3. Affect is usually to influence; and effect is usually a result. (Look these up.)

4. Allusion is an indirect reference; illusion is a misconception.

5. Bimonthly means every two months; semimonthly means something happens twice a month.

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6. Capital is the seat of government, accumulation of wealth, or a capital letter; capitol is the government building.

7. Cite is to reference something; Site is a place; Sight is about seeing.

8. Clinch is to seal the deal; clench is making fingers into a fist.

9. Compelled is forced; motivated is help to want to do something.

10. Complement completes or brings to perfection; compliment praises.

11. Comprise tells what something includes; compose tells things that make up a whole.

12. Concurrent refers to simultaneous; consecutive refers to successive or following.

13. Connote implies; denote indicates.

14. Convince makes someone believe something is true; persuade wins over someone to do something.

15. Council is an assembly; counsel is advice or guidance.

16. Credible means believable; credulous means inclined to believe.

17. Cue is a pool stick or help with an actor’s lines; queue is a lineup of things.

18. Discreet is showing good judgment; discrete means separate or distinct.

19. Disinterested is unbiased; uninterested is not interested.

20. Elicit draws out; illicit is unlawful.

21. Emigrants leave one’s country to settle in another; immigrantscome to settle in a new country.

22. Farther refers to physical distance; further refers to the degree or extent of an action or situation.

23. Fewer is for number of things; Less is for volume.

24. Figuratively is metaphorically or symbolically; literally is actually.

25. Flaunt is for showing off; flout is for showing contempt.

26. Foreword is an introductory note; forward is to send on a “note.”

27. Founder is to sink; flounder is to act clumsily.

28. Gibe is to taunt; jibe is being in accord (alternate to gibe); jive concerns music.

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29. Hanged puts a rope around a neck in the past; hung is suspending something in the past.

30. Imply is to suggest; infer is to draw a conclusion.

31. Ironic is the reverse of what’s expected or meant; coincidentalis something happening without reason.

32. Lightening illuminates; lightning is an electrical bolt.

33. Passed passes in the past; past refers to time gone by or going beyond.

34. Precede means come before; proceed means to go forward.

35. Principal is the head of a school or adjective for main; principleis a rule or doctrine.

36. Reign is to rule; Rein is a strap on a horse.

37. Stationary is fixed or unmoving; stationery is writing materials.

38. Tortuous is twisty; torturous is anguish of body or mind.

39. Venal is corruptible; venial says a sin is pardonable.

Which word above, if any, have you confused with another word?

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Suddenly unemployed, Allie Masterson returns home to Cary, North Carolina where she caddies for her father on the PGA Seniors Tour. There, she encounters a man who possesses an alluring gift of reading the contours of the green. Fascinated with his uncanny ability, Allie is excited to meet the Green Whisperer—until she discovers that the easygoing caddy is actually Shoo Leonard, the boy who teased her relentlessly when they were kids. Despite Allie’s reservations, when Shoo is faced with having to overcome a hand injury, she agrees to use her sport science degree to become his trainer…and then she falls for him.

 Shoo Leonard is grateful to Allie for her singular determination to get him ready for the PGA tour, but he isn’t ready for anything more. Still raw from a broken engagement and focused on his career, he’s content to be her fist-bumping buddy…but then he falls for her.

What seems like a happily-ever-after on the horizon takes a turn when Allie decides she’s become a distraction to Shoo’s career. Is it time for her to step away or can The Putting Green Whisperer find the right words to make her stay?

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  1. Melissa Henderson

    Great information and great reminders. 🙂 Thank you.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Thanks, Melissa, I saw three of the words in what I read today. Two were used right and one was used wrong.

  2. Tracy Orchard

    Nice blog, very useful.

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