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Abhorrent describes something truly horrible like finding a dead rat in your soup, but something aberrant is just abnormal, like a cat in a pink fedora. Continue reading To accept is to receive, and except is to exclude, usually. Both are busy little words skipping around to different meanings, but they never run into each other. An ado is a fuss, and adieu is French for farewell.
They sound similar but aren't exactly twins. Ado sounds like "uh-doo" and adieu is like "a-dyoo," you know, in a cool French accent. Adopt is to take something over, and to adapt is to change something to suit your needs. Adverse and averse are both turn-offs, but adverse is something harmful, and averse is a strong feeling of dislike. Rainstorms can cause adverse conditions, and many people are averse to rain. Choosing between affect and effect can be scary. You can't affect the creepy poem by reading it, but you can enjoy the effect of a talking bird. Both afflict and inflict cause pain, but afflict means to cause suffering or unhappiness, something a disease does, but inflict means to force pain or suffering, like if you smack someone upside the head.
Aggravate means to make something worse, and irritate is to annoy. That battle has been lost in all but the most formal writing. Allude is coy, to allude is to refer to something in an indirect manner.
Novelists, magicians, and other tricksters keep these words busy. Novelists love an allusionan indirect reference to something like a secret treasure for the reader to find; magicians heart illusionsor fanciful fake-outs; but tricksters suffer from delusions, ideas that have no basis in reality.
To alternate is to take turns; an alternative is an option. When you wear your checkered blazer, the black and white squares alternate. Something ambiguous is unclear or vague, like the end of a short story that leaves you scratching your head. But if you're ambivalent about something, you can take it or leave it. Amicable refers to a friendliness or goodwill between people or groups. A group might have an amicable meeting, because the people there are amiable. People often use the word bemuse when they mean amusebut to amuse is to entertain, and to bemuse is to confuse.
In Alice in Wonderlandthe White Rabbit amuses Alice as he frolics, but then the Cheshire Cat bemuses her when he tells her to go two directions at once. An anecdote is a funny little story; an antidote counteracts poison. Tell someone an anecdote about your close encounter with a rattlesnake and how the cute park ranger had to get you the antidote for snake venom right away. Assent refers to agreement, while an ascent is a climb. Before we make our way to the top of Mount Everest, we need to make sure our guides assent to our ascent. Assume and p both mean to believe something before it happens, but when you assume you're not really sure.
If someone bangs on your door in the middle of the night, you might assume it's your crazy neighbor. If your neighbor knocks on your door every night atat you can p she's coming over in a minute. Have it straight now? Are you sure? Aural refers to the ear or hearing, and oral to the mouth or speaking. Something verbal is expressed in words, either spoken or written. To aver is to affirm and to avow is to openly declare.
There's some overlap with these words because when people want to aver something — state a truth — they probably also want to avow it — say it publicly. Bare means naked, but to bear is to carry something.
A bear is also a brown furry animal, but most people keep that one straight. Bazaar and bizarre might sound alike but a bazaar is a market and bizarre describes something kooky. There could be a bizarre bazaar run by monkeys selling people feet. If you break a contract, it's a breach. If you're talking about pantaloons, guns, or feet-first babies, use breech with a double "e. These words sound the same, but they're not. A callus is a rough patch of skin. Add an o for "offensive" and you get callousan adjective meaning "insensitive to the feelings of others.
A capital is a stash of money or the government headquarters of a state. Oh, a capitol is a building. A censor hides information. A censure is harsh criticism. All are good for research papers: cite is short for citation, site is a place, and sight is what your eyeballs are for. The Web has a lot to answer for, good and bad. One item in the minus column is the increased popularity of site and people throwing these sound-alikes all over the place!
Climactic describes the high point, the most intense part of a movie, play, song, or, well, anything. Both are awesome on a first date — complement means to complete something, and a compliment is flattering. Compose is to make up a whole, and comprise is to contain parts. Poodles compose the dog class because the class comprises poodles. The parts compose the whole, and the whole comprises the parts.
Everybody else is! Con artists would rather serve concurrent terms and get them over with, instead of consecutive ones. It's no wonder that these words are so easily confused: they were once both confident. A connotation is the feeling a word invokes. But take note! A denotation is what the word literally says. If these words were on a trip, connotation would be the baggage, and denotation would be the traveler.
Connote is like giving a hint, but to denote is to refer to something outright. The words continual and continuous are like twins: they both come from continuebut they get mad if you get them confused. Continual means start and stop, while continuous means never-ending. A correlation is exactly what it sounds like: a co-relation, or relationship — like the correlation between early birds waking up and the sun rising.
But corollary is more like a consequence, like the corollary of the rooster crowing because you smacked it in the beak. Both words love the math lab but can hang with the rest of us, too. A council is meeting for discussion or advice, but to counsel is a verb meaning to give advice. They sound exactly the same, but the language council met and decided to counsel you on how to keep them straight. Decent is all buttoned up. Descent has all the fun because it gets to climb down a mountain.
Dissent is what you do when the glee club wants to get matching red outfits but you like purple. Use definitely and definitively when there's no doubt, but save definitely for emphasis and definitively for the final say. If you definitely want to go to a party, but your mom definitively says no, then you aren't going. Quit asking.
To demur is to show reluctance or to hesitate, like not quite getting in the car when someone opens the door, but demure isalways an adjective describing a modest, reserved, or shy person, and sounds like the mew of a tiny kitten. A desert is a hot and dry place like the Sahara, but add an s and some whipped cream and you have a desserta sweet treat to eat.
Dessert has two s 's because you always want two. If you prefer two arid ecosystems, that's on you.Wanting something on the side
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