Confusable words | Sunday Observer

Confusable words

30 May, 2021

Some words in English look similar, but they have different meanings. Be familiar with the following confusable words.
Chords / cords
A chord is a group of musical notes played simultaneously. Cords are various kinds of string.
The robe was held at the waist by a cord.
Chronic / acute
Acute means sharp and quick, but chronic means long lasting and recurring.
She couldn’t bear the acute pain in her knee.
He was suffering from chronic asthma.
City / town / village / hamlet
A city is a large important town.
London is a big city in England.
A town is smaller than a city.
He walked to the nearest town to buy food.
A village is a very small town in the countryside.
He was born in a little fishing village.
A hamlet is a very small village.
Claim / allege / assert / maintain
To claim is to demand or assert a right.
The prince came to England to claim the crown.
To allege is to assert without proof.
It was alleged that some policemen take bribes.
To assert is to declare something positively.
The scientist asserted that nuclear power is a safe energy source.
To maintain is to hold, preserve and sustain something.
Amanda steadfastly maintained her innocence.
Classic / classics / classical
Classic means a book, play or film that is important and has been admired for a long time.‘Crime and Punishment’ is one of the classics in Russian literature.
The word ‘classics’ means the language, literature, and history of ancient Rome and Greece.
Classical means belonging to a traditional style or set of ideas.
Some people like to listen to classical music.
Clean / cleanse
Both words mean ‘to clean.’ Cleanse has the additional meaning of cleaning something thoroughly and to purify.
He was elected on a promise to cleanse the government of corruption.
Climatic / climactic / climacteric
Climatic relates to weather conditions.
She couldn’t live in Canada due to climatic conditions.
Climactic means forming a very exciting or important part of an event or story, especially near the end of it.
Climacteric is a critical period of change in human life.
Climb / climb up / climb down / climb-down
To climb is to move up, down or across something using your feet and hands.
We used to climb the trees alongside the river bank.
He climbed the ladder of success in his chosen field.Climb up is a phrasal verb.
The children climbed up into the loft.
To climb down is to descend.
The boy climbed down the tree.
Climb-down is an occasion when you admit that you are wrong.
By withdrawing the defamation case he suffered a humiliating climb-down.
Collaborate / cooperate
To collaborate is to work jointly with someone, usually on some specific project.
The United States and Russia are collaborating on several satellite projects.
To cooperate is to work with someone. Two universities are to cooperate in the development of a new vaccine against Covid 19.
Collision / collusion
A collision is the impact of two moving objects.
The school bus was involved in a collision with a truck.
Collusion is a secret agreement to do something dishonest.
Colony / protectorate / dependency
A colony is a territory annexed by another power.
Algeria was formerly a French colony.
A protectorate is a territory administered by a stronger state.
A dependency is a country that is controlled by another country. Former British Crown Colonies are now termed dependencies.
Come / cum
Occasionally we see some incorrect sentences such as “She is a secretary-come-childminder.” The connecting preposition should be ‘cum’ (Latin) meaning ‘with.’ So you can say “She is a secretary-cum-childminder.”
Comet / meteor
A comet is a celestial body that moves round the sun such as Halley’s Comet. A meteor is a meteorite that enters the earth’s atmosphere with a display of luminosity. Astronomers track large meteors using radar.