Confusable words | Sunday Observer

Confusable words

12 September, 2021

Some English words appear to be similar but they have different meanings. Here are some of them.
Flare / flair
A flare is a sudden bright flame.
There was a brief flare as the match was lit.
‘Flair’ means a natural ability to do something very well.
Jane has a flair for languages.
Flotsam / jetsam
‘Flotsam’ means broken pieces of wood and other things from a wrecked ship, floating in the sea or scattered on the beach. ‘Jetsam’ means things that are thrown from a ship and float on the sea towards the shore.
I saw Sam walking along the beach collecting the flotsam and jetsam that had been washed ashore.
Flout / flaunt
‘Flout’ means to deliberately disobey a law without trying to hide what you are doing.
Some people flout the rules by employing children as young as eight.
‘Flaunt’ means to show your money, success, or beauty so that other people notice it.
The rich flaunt their wealth while the poor starve on the streets.
Flu / flue
‘Flu’ is a common illness that makes you feel very tired and weak. It gives you a sore throat, and makes you cough and clear your nose a lot.
‘Flue’ is a metal pipe or tube that lets smoke or heat from a fire out of a building.
Fob / foist
‘Fob’ means to put off by evasion.
You won’t be able to fob me off with that weak excuse.
‘Foist’ means to force someone to accept or have to deal with something that they do not want.
I keep getting work foisted on me.
Forbear / forebear
‘Forbear’ means not to do something you could or would like to do because you think it wiser not to do so.
A forebear is someone who was a member of your family a long time ago.
Forceful / forcible
‘Forceful’ means having a powerful effect that is likely to change a situation
The Chairman has not been forceful enough in changing the circular.
‘Forcible’ means done using force.
There were signs of forcible entry into the building.
Forego / forgo
‘Forego’ means to precede or to go before.
‘Forgo’ means to do without or to give up something.
Sam thought twice about forgoing his breakfast.
Forensic / forensic medicine
‘Forensic’ means relating to the scientific methods used for finding out about a crime. Forensic medicine means medical science applied to the purposes of law.
Forever/ for ever
‘Forever’ or ‘for ever’ means for all future time.
Many valuable works of art were lost forever.
Foreword / forward
A foreword is a short piece of writing at the beginning of a book that introduces the book or its writer.
‘Forward’ means closer to a person, place or position that is in front of you.
Army roadblocks prevented any further forward movement of the rebels.
Formally / formerly
‘Formally’ means officially.
Sri Lanka announced a decision formally recognizing the new government of Myanmar.
‘Formerly’ means in earlier times.
Kiribati was formerly known as the Gilbert Islands.
Former / latter
The former is the first of two people or things that you have just mentioned. The latter is the second of two people or things that you have just mentioned.
Fortuitous / fortunate
‘Fortuitous’ means happening by chance, especially in a way that has a good result.
The meeting with the chairman was fortuitous.
Someone who is fortunate has something good happen to them, or is in a good situation.
I have been fortunate to find a career that I love.