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Words and their meanings; words that are easily confused and their correct meanings and spellings.


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WORDS AND THEIR MEANINGS

There are many words in the English language which, due
to their spelling or pronunciation, are easily confused with others – here are just a few,
with their meanings.

We would mention some of these words also have other
meanings but we have only covered those applicable to the confusion.

AFFECT/EFFECT

Effect (as a noun) means a result, consequence,
impression etc. 

As verbs they are used differently,
Affect means to produce
an effect upon, effect means to bring about.

AGGRAVATE and IRRITATE

Aggravate makes a situation worse. 
Irritate
means to annoy.

ALL RIGHT

Always two words, never “alright”.

ALL TOGETHER and ALTOGETHER

All together means all at the same time. 
Altogether
means entirely.

ALTERNATE/ALTERNATIVE

In British English alternate means “every
other” whereas alternative means “available as another choice”,
however in American usage alternate can be used to mean “available as another
choice”.

ANTISOCIAL/UNSOCIABLE/UNSOCIAL

There is some overlap in meaning but, in general,
antisocial
describes behaviour which harms society, unsociable refers to someone who dislikes
the company of others and unsocial is used in phrases such as “working
unsocial
hours” meaning outside normal working hours. Unsociable can also be used in
this phrase but unsocial is preferable.

ANYONE/ANY ONE

Anyone is only written as two words to emphasise
numerical aspects e.g. “any one of us could go”, at all other times it is
written as one word.

ASSUME and PRESUME

Assume means take or accept as being
true without proof.

Presume is to suppose to be true, take
for granted.

Contributed by an anonymous
visitor.

BETWEEN YOU AND ME or
BETWEEN YOU AND I

Always “between you and me” NEVER
“between you and I”.

CANVAS and CANVASS

Canvas is a heavy fabric.
           Canvass is to solicit
for votes.

CLIMACTIC and CLIMATIC

Climactic refers to a climax.
      Climatic refers to weather.

CONTINUAL/CONTINUOUS

Continual is when something happens very
frequently, whereas continuous refers to something happening without a break.

DIFFER FROM and DIFFER WITH

Something can differ from another.

People differ with each other.

DISINTERESTED and
UNINTERESTED

Disinterested mean to be unbiased, impartial.
  Uninterested is to be unconcerned or bored.

FARTHER and FURTHER

Although both can be used, farther is usually
used when referring to physical distance. e.g.

The hotel was farther down the road that we
thought.

Nothing was further from his thoughts.

FLAMMABLE, INFLAMMABLE

Both these words mean combustible or ignitable – can be
set alight. 

The correct word for items which
cannot be set alight
is non-flammable.

GIBE and GYBE (both can also
be spelt “Jibe”)

To gibe is to ridicule or make fun of whereas
gybe
is to move a sail or boom to the other side of a boat or to change the direction of a
boat.

INCREDIBLE and INCREDULOUS

Incredible means unbelievable.  
Incredulous
means disbelieving or sceptical.

INGENIOUS/INGENUOUS

Ingenious means clever, skilful or resourceful
whereas ingenuous means artless or frank.

LAY and LIE

Lay is to place something on a surface whereas
you lie down on the floor.

LOOSE and LOSE

Loose is something that is not
firmly or tightly fixed in place; detached or able to be detached or having
freedom of movement. 

Lose is to mislay
or cease to have, either physically or in an abstract sense.

Reshma Rao

LUXURIANT/LUXURIOUS

Luxuriant means lush, profuse or prolific and
luxurious
means extremely comfortable.

NOISOME and NOISY

Noisome means offensive, it has nothing to do
with sound. Noisy means loud.

PREVARICATE/PROCRASTINATE

Prevariacate means to act or speak evasively
whereas procrastinate means to postpone or put off an action.

PRONE and SUPINE

Prone is lying face down and
supine is
face up.

PROSTATE and PROSTRATE

The prostate is a reproductive gland in males.
   Prostrate means lying face downwards or, in botanical terms, growing
along the ground.

REGRETTABLY and REGRETFULLY

Regrettably means it was undesirable or
unwelcome e.g. “regrettably you have been unsuccessful”.  

Regretfully, is the showing of regret e.g.
  He admitted regretfully to the burglary.

SEASONABLE/SEASONAL

Seasonable means usual or suitable for the
season or opportune, seasonal means depending on, or varying with the season.

STATIONERY and STATIONARY

Stationery is writing paper, envelopes etc.
whereas Stationary is when something is not moving.

THEIR and THERE

Their means belonging to them e.g. They went to
pick up their tickets.

There generally refers to a place or position
e.g. Please put your coat over there.

I would like to point out there are other
meanings for this word!!!!

TORTUOUS and TORTUROUS

Tortuous means winding, full of twists and
turns.  Torturous means painful, like torture.

TROOP and TROUPE

Troop is a group or assembled company. 
Troupe
is a company usually actors.

 

OTHER WORDS
THAT ARE OFTEN MISUSED

DECIMATED
means cut BY a 10th, not to a 10th.

Patricia
Ellistone

This was
the original meaning, however, accordingly to some reputable dictionaries,
it is now widely used as meaning “to destroy a large proportion
of”.

The
following entry was found in

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/decimate?q=decimate
 

 

“The earliest sense of
decimate was ‘kill one in every ten of’, a reference to the
ancient Roman practice of killing one in every ten of a group of soldiers as
a collective punishment. This has been more or less totally superseded by
the sense ‘kill or destroy a large proportion of’, although some
traditionalists argue that this later sense is incorrect.”

 

MOMENTARILY
– means for a very short period of time, NOT in a moment
.

Patricia
Ellistone

QUANTUM
amounts are very small, not very large.


Patricia Ellistone

Quantum leap,
however, means a sudden large increase or advance.


Other
word related information and
here.

 

If you have any favourites you feel should be added
to this list, please send them to us at
june@hintsandthings.co.uk