Steve’s Homonyms, Homophones, and Other Confusingly Similar Words

abdominal  having to do with your belly abdominal pains
abominable  detestable; loathsome an abominable crime

abjure  to renounce
adjure  to command, as under oath

acclamation applause
acclimation used to climate

ad advertisement
add to increase; append

adverse  opposed; hostile
averse  having a feeling of repugnance or distaste; disinclined

advert to pay heed or attention to
avert to turn away
overt open to view; manifest

air atmosphere
ere before (poetic)
err be incorrect or mistaken
heir one who inherits

ale malted beverage darker and more bitter than beer
ail to trouble or afflict; to feel unwell, as from drinking too much ale

all ready completely prepared

allowed  permitted
aloud  in a spoken voice; not silently

altar  raised platform for worship or sacrifice
alter  to change

amend to set right
emend to correct

apposite being of striking appropriateness and relevance; very applicable; apt
opposite contrary or radically different in some respect common to both, as in nature, qualities, direction

arrant  extreme arrant nonsense
errand  mission; short trip
errant  traveling; straying

ascetic  severe self-discipline and abstention from pleasure
aesthetic  love of beauty; concerned with pure emotion and sensation

assure to give confidence to
ensure to make certain; to insure
insure to give, take or procure insurance on; to take necessary measures

aural relating to the ear or sense of hearing
oral spoken; having to do with the mouth

aye  yes
the organ of sight
not you, me

baited nagged or teased; set a trap
bated restrained, reduced

baloney  foolish or exaggerated talk
bologna  the lunch meat

band musical group
band something that constricts or binds
banned prohibited

bare  (adjective) naked; unconcealed; just sufficient, mere
bear (noun) big, furry mammal
bear  (verb) to tolerate

boor rude or insensitive person
bore one who causes boredom
bore to drill into or force an opening

bass low in pitch, a bass guitar
bass the fish

beach shore
beech a type of tree

beek to bask or warm in the sunshine or before a fire.
beak the bill of a bird

beer according to Homer Simpson, the cause of and the solution to all of life’s problems 
bier frame on which a coffin or corpse is placed before burial

biannual  twice a year
biennial  once every two years

blew past tense of blow
blue color

boarder lodger
one who rides a snowboard
the outer edge of something

bole  stem or trunk of a tree
bowl  deep, round dish or basin
bowl  participate in a game of bowling

bought  purchased
brought  past tense of bring: to carry, convey; to come with

bus large motor vehicle that carries passengers
buss a kiss

cache hiding place; something hidden
cash ready money

can’t  cannot
cant  hypocritical and sanctimonious talk

cannon artillery piece
canon regulation; rule; dogma
canyon deep ravine

canvas firmly woven cloth; a sail
canvass detailed examination; survey

capital  goods; an important city
capitol  building, usually found in a state or national capital

cell basic structural unit of all organisms
sell to persuade someone to buy something

censer (noun) covered incense burner
censor (verb) to inspect conduct, morals, documents
censure (verb) to criticize or reproach in a harsh or vehement manner

century a period of 100 years
sentry guard

cheap inexpensive; stingy
cheep to chirp

chord group of musical notes
cord length of rope or stack of wood

chute a channel, trough or shaft for conveying something to a lower level
chute short for parachute
shoot to discharge a missile from a weapon: to shoot a bullet
shoot euphemism for shit: oh, shoot! I forgot my chute!

close proximity to
close  shut, not open

closure  bring to an end; conclusion
cloture  a method of closing

colon a punctuation mark ( : ) used after a word introducing a series or an example or an explanation  
 poop chute

colonel  an officer
kernel  seed in a nut

compleat  highly skilled and accomplished in all aspects; complete
complete  having all parts or elements; lacking nothing; whole

complement something that completes
flattering remark

cousin  the child of your aunt or uncle
cozen  to cheat; to defraud

creak  harsh noise
creek  small stream

damage (noun) injury or harm that reduces value or usefulness
damages (Law) money paid as a result of lawsuit

delusion  misleading of the mind
illusion  misleading of the mind as well as a misleading of the senses

desperate  having an urgent need; leaving little or no hope
distinct in kind; essentially different

dew  moisture, especially in droplets
do  to act
due  owing

die  expire
die  engraved stamp for impressing a design
die  singular of dice
dye  to color

discreet   tactful, prudent, circumspect; keep something quiet
discrete   separate, detached, individually distinct

disillusion disenchantment
dissolution act or process of dissolving

doe female deer
dough flour mixed with water, milk, etc. for baking into bread; slang for money

dove the bird
dove plunge, submerge, descend; he dove into the deep end of the pool.

dual twofold
duel combat between two persons

elegy a sorrowful song or poem
eulogy a speech of praise

elicit  to bring out
illicit  unlawful

eminent  high in station or rank; prominent; distinguished
internal or inherent
imminent  likely to occur at any moment

endemic  belonging exclusively or confined to a particular place
epidemic  extremely prevalent; widespread

epigram any witty, ingenious, or pointed saying tersely expressed
epitaph a phrase or statement written in memory of a person who has died, as on a tombstone
epithet any word or phrase expressing a quality or characteristic of the person or thing mentioned; such a word or phrase as a term of abuse

eruption  sudden violent discharge; outbreak
irruption  sudden violent entrance; invasion

ewe  female sheep
yew  tree
you  pronoun

exercise  to use; to exert oneself physically or mentally
exorcise   to expel, as an evil spirit

faces  have a difficult event or situation in prospect: the defendant faces a maximum sentence of ten years
feces  waste matter eliminated from the bowels; excrement

feat notable act or achievement
feet plural of foot

filter a porous device for removing impurities
philter a magic potion or charm

flair  knack for doing something well
flare  a burst of flame or other phenomenon involving light

flea  insect
flee  to run away

flew  did fly
flue  chimney
flu  influenza

floe large mass of floating ice
flow uninterrupted movement

flour  powder made by grinding cereal grains
flower  the pretty part of a plant that houses reproductive structures

forgo  do without
forego  to go before, precede

foul offensive
fowl bird, especially domestic cock or hen

gait manner of walking
gate opening in a wall or fence

gest notable deed or exploit; pronounced JEST
jest to joke

gibe  to utter taunting words
jibe  to be in accord; (nautical) to shift suddenly

gilt  gold leaf or paint applied to a thin layer of a surface
gilt  young female pig
guilt  culpability for an offence,  crime, or wrong

gin  a type of booze
gin   a trap or snare. Verb to set up a snare; exaggerate

gnome legendary dwarfish creature supposed to guard the earth’s treasures underground
 a short statement encapsulating a general truth; a maxim

gnu  animal
new  not old
knew  understood

golf you know, game with balls and clubs; “a good walk spoiled,” according to Mark Twain
gulf a portion of an ocean or sea partly enclosed by land; wide separation

gouache a technique of painting with opaque watercolors prepared with gum
gauche  lacking social grace or sensitivity; awkward; crude

gristle cartilage: tough elastic tissue
grizzle To make or become gray

groan deep sigh
grown  increased in size

gull  to deceive or trick
gull  seabird

hail  ice
hale  salute, greet; summon
hale  healthy

hair of the head
a rabbit

hangar  shelter for an airplane
hanger  one who hangs; loop or device for hanging

hear  give heed or attention to what is said; listen
here  in this place

holey  containing holes
holy  sacred
wholly  completely; entirely

homogeneous  of the same or a similar kind of nature
homogenous  relating to mating like with like; corresponding in structure because of a common origin

idle not occupied; unemployed
idol symbol of worship; false god
idyll narrative poem; romantic interlude

inequity  injustice, unfairness
iniquity  gross injustice or wickedness

insight seeing deeply into something
incite  pick a fight

insolate  exposure to the sun’s rays
insulate  using various materials to prevent the leakage of heat

knight  Sir Lancelot is one
night  the darkness between sunset and sunrise

lade to load
laid past tense of lay (he laid down)
layed no such word!

lean lacking in fat
lean to incline or bend from a vertical position
lien legal right to a debtor’s property

lickerish (adjective) greedy, lascivious
licorice (noun) a candy flavored with licorice root

lighted, lit 
According to Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors, either is correct. Lighted, however, is more usual when the word is being used as an adjective (“a lighted torch”).

liter   a unit of volume equal to 1000 cubic centimeters or 1 cubic decimeter (1.0567 quarts)
leader   a guiding or directing head, as of an army, movement, or political group

literal  true to fact; not exaggerated
littoral of or pertaining to the shore of a lake, sea, or ocean

lo look, see
low not high, mean

log  trunk or large limb of a felled tree
detailed record of a trip made by a ship or aircraft
long, solid mass of feces; a stool; big piece of shit

mall  area set aside for shopping
to beat; to handle roughly

meretricious whorish, superficially appealing, pretentious
 deserving reward or praise

mignon small & pretty
minion servile follower

mind  I lost mine years ago
belongs to me
tunnel into the earth or buried explosive device
tunneled under or laid with land mines

miner one who works in a mine
minor one who has not attained majority

misogamy hatred of marriage
misogyny hatred of women

morning before noon, the a.m., where’s my coffee?
mourning the act of sorrowing

moue a pouting grimace; pronounced MOO
moo deep vocal sound of a cow

oar  long pole for propelling a boat
o’er  over (poetic)
or  conjunction suggesting an alternative
ore  mineral containing valuable metal

pail bucket
pale deficient in color

palate  (anatomy) roof of mouth
palate  the sense of taste: a dinner to delight the palate
palate  intellectual or aesthetic taste; mental appreciation
palette  thin board on which a painter mixes pigment
pallet  small temporary bed; portable platform

palpate to examine by touch
palpitate to beat rapidly; to throb

pare whittle down
pair  two of something
pear fruit shaped like that nice woman who lives across the street

patient  a person under medical care
patient  quietly & steadily persevering

peak  the pointed top of a mountain – or tip-top of anything, really
peek   to look furtively; to peer through a crack or hole or from a place of concealment

pedal (noun) foot lever; (verb) to ride a bicycle
peddle to sell or offer to sell from place to place
petal portion of a flower

penal pertaining to punishment
penile relating to or affecting the penis

picnic  an outing where a packed meal is eaten outdoors
pyknic  having a rounded build or body structure; noun: a person of the pyknic type

plain  ordinary & uncomplicated
plane  flat
plane  airplane

poor  indigent
pore  to gaze at intently
pore  small opening, as in the pores of your skin
pour  to cause to flow in a stream

precisian  a person who is rigidly precise or punctilious, especially as regards religious rules
precision  accuracy; exactness

premier first in rank; chief; leading
premiere to present publicly for the first time

principal  adj main, foremost; noun person who has controlling authority
principle  fundamental law, rule, doctrine, or code of conduct

profit gain
prophet one who predicts the future

prophecy (noun) foretelling or prediction of what is to come
prophesy (verb) to foretell or predict

prostate the gland
prostrate lying face down

pussy  cat
pussy  vulgar, slang: female genitalia
pussy  medical: containing or resembling  pus

quail  lose heart or courage in difficulty or danger
quail  bird

quash to annul; to reject (by legal authority) as not valid
squash to crush; to squeeze

queen king’s wife
quean impudent woman; shrew; hussy

quiver  carrying case for arrows
quiver  shake or tremble

rain  wet stuff that falls from sky
rein  to check or stop
reign  to rule

raise to elevate; to build
rays beams of light
raze to destroy to the ground

rap sharp blow or knock
rap a negative, often undeserved reputation, as in bum rap
rap to speak frankly
 to cover
wrap an outer garment
wrap complete filming

read  past tense of read I read it in a magazine
red  the color

read  to peruse
reed  tall grass

real  actual; genuine
reel  revolving device on which something flexible is wound

reek give off a strong, unpleasant smell
wreak to inflict, as in wreak havoc

refuse no! I don’t want it!
refuse trash, garbage

rest to repose
wrest to gain by force or violence

resume to get, take, or occupy again
résumé a fruitless document associated with frustrated jobseekers

retch to try to vomit
wretch miserable and unhappy person; a vile person

right entitlement; privilege
rite ceremony
wright workman, as in millwright or playwright
write what I despair of ever doing to my satisfaction

roes  eggs, deer
rows  things arranged in adjacent lines
rows  uses oars
rose  flower
rose  get up

sail a piece of fabric by means of which the wind is used to propel a ship
 selling of goods at bargain prices

shear to cut, as hair or wool
sheer to deviate from a course; swerve

shoe-in  common misspelling of word below
shoo-in  a candidate, competitor, etc., regarded as certain to win

sleight stratagem; dexterity (sleight of hand)
slight slim; frail; meager

soar  to fly aloft or about; to rise to heights
sore  painful

sow to scatter seed; implant, introduce or promulgate
sow adult female swine

spiritual pertaining to the spirit or soul
spirituel having a refined and graceful mind or wit

spruce  a type of tree
spruce  to make neat or dapper (often followed by up)

stanch to restrain the flow (as of blood)
staunch firm in attitude, opinion or loyalty

stationary  immobile; fixed
stationery  writing paper

steal  take without permission
steel  iron treated with intense heat and mixed with carbon to make it hard and tough

straight  having no bends, turns, or twists
strait  narrow channel connecting two bodies of water

tare the weight of a container that is deducted from the gross weight to obtain net weight
tear to pull apart or in pieces by force

tern type of sea gull
turn rotation

throes pangs; spasms
throws tosses

timber growing trees or their wood
timbre quality given to a sound by its overtones

tire  to become weary.
tire  ring of rubber, usually inflated with air, placed around the rim of a wheel to provide traction and cushion the ride.

toad tailless, leaping amphibian 
toed having toes
towed past tense of tow

tort wrongful act
torte kind of rich, round layer cake

tough strong and durable
tuft a bunch or cluster of fluffy thingies, like feathers, hair or threads

track (noun) a course or route followed
tract  an expanse or area of land, water, etc.; region; stretch

undo  unfasten; nullify
undue  exceeding or violating propriety or fitness

unequivocably  no such word!
unequivocally  leaving no doubt; unambiguous

unstated  unsaid
understated  stated in restrained terms

unwanted  not wanted
unwonted  rare; unusual

urban  of, relating to, or constituting a city
urbane  suave; sophisticated

vain conceited
vane device showing wind direction
vein narrow channel; lode; blood vessel

vice  moral fault or failing
vise  tool with tight-holding jaws

waist the narrowed part of the body between the chest and hips
waste useless consumption or expenditure

wait delay
weight heaviness

waiver  relinquishment of a right or obligation
waver  someone who vacillates or is unsteady

walk  stroll; sidewalk
cooking utensil

ware  goods
wear  to bear or have on the person
where  at, in, or to what place

way  thoroughfare
weigh  to ascertain the heaviness of
whey  thin part of milk

weak  lacking strength
week  seven days

weal  well-being, prosperity or happiness
weal  raised mark on the surface of the body produced by a blow
wheel  a circular frame or disk arranged to revolve on an axis

weald  wooded or uncultivated country
wield  to exercise power; to use effectively

weather state of atmosphere as to heat, cold, and so forth
whether if it be the case that

which a question word
witch a woman who does magic

wine  fermented grape juice
whine  to cry in distress, or in a high-pitched, complaining manner

wound  past tense of wind – to coil about something; bend; turn; meander
wound  injury

The Homonym Name Game

an indefinite article:  the form of a before an initial vowel sound

bob make a quick, short movement up and down

brandy strong alcoholic spirit distilled from wine.

drew past tense of draw

flow to move along in a stream

frank open, honest, and direct in speech or writing

gale  a very strong wind

grace  simple elegance or refinement of movement; courteous goodwill

hairy  covered with hair

hew  to uphold, follow closely, or conform
hew  to make, shape, smooth, etc., with cutting blows 

john a toilet or bathroom

joy emotion of great delight or happiness

loo water closet — a toilet

may  the verb may expresses possibility — It may rain, and also denotes opportunity or permission:  You may enter.

mic microphone

nick  make a notch in, indent; just catch in time

pat  touch quickly and gently with the palm of the hand

patty a thin, round piece of ground or minced food: a hamburger patty.

fill  to put into as much as can be held: to fill a jar with water

fillip  something that adds stimulation or enjoyment

randy sexually aroused; lustful; lecherous.

sally to rush out suddenly

sandy containing or covered with sand

stew a dish of meat and vegetables cooked slowly in their own juices

sue bring a civil action against

tony fashionable among wealthy or stylish people.


Homograph Homophone Venn Diagram – Wikimedia Commons. Author: Will Heltsley


2 thoughts on “Steve’s Homonyms, Homophones, and Other Confusingly Similar Words

  1. Renee Price says:

    Are phylogeny and philogyny pronounced the same way?

    • sblazak says:

      No, Renee, the first syllable of each word is slightly different from the other:
      phy·log·e·ny [fahy-loj-uh-nee]
      phi·log·y·ny [fi-loj-uh-nee]
      You can hear the pronunciation when you look up phylogeny and philogyny at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s