Confusable words | Sunday Observer

Confusable words

10 October, 2021

Some English words appear to be similar but they have different meanings. Here are some of them.
Homicide / murder / manslaughter
Homicide is the killing of one person by another. Murder is the crime of deliberately killing someone. Manslaughter is the crime of killing someone illegally but not deliberately.
The driver was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.
Honorary / honourable
An honorary title, rank, or university degree is given to someone as an honour. Brown received an honorary doctorate from Colombo University.
Honourable (abbreviated as Hon.) is used as a title for judges and Members of Parliament.
Human / humane
‘Human’ means belonging to or relating to people, especially as opposed to machines and animals
There are many cell types in the human body.
‘Humane’ means treating people or animals in a way that is not cruel and causes them as little suffering as possible.
There is a campaign for the humane treatment of criminals.
Humanist / humanitarian
A humanist believes in the superiority of human concept and ideals such as culture, philosophy, literature and religion. ‘Humanitarian’ means concerned with improving living conditions and preventing unfair treatment of people.
Hypocritical / hypercritical
‘Hypocritical’ means behaving in a way that is different from what you claim to believe.
It is hypocritical of universities to call their football players as student athletes.
‘Hypercritical’ means too eager to criticize other people and things, especially about small details.
Idea / opinion
An idea is a plan or suggestion for a possible course of action, especially one that you think of suddenly.
Some people are full of good ideas.
An opinion means your ideas or beliefs about a particular subject.
My friends had very different opinions about politics.
Illegible / unreadable
‘Illegible’ means difficult or impossible to read.
Some doctors’ handwriting is totally illegible.
An unreadable book or piece of writing is difficult to read because it is boring or complicated.
Illicit / illegal
‘Illicit’ means not allowed by laws or rules, or strongly disapproved by society.
Sam was charged with illicit trade in stolen cattle.
‘Illegal’ means not allowed by the law. The suspects were involved in illegal activities.
Illiterate / ignorant
An illiterate person does not know how to read or write. However, he is not necessarily ignorant.
‘Ignorant’ means not knowing facts or information that you ought to know.
Illusion / delusion
An illusion is a deception of the mind or eye. A delusion is a mistaken idea or false belief.
Credit creates the illusion that you can own things without paying for them.
Ron is under the delusion that I am going to cheat him.
Imaginative / imaginary
The word ‘imaginative’ means ‘containing new and interesting ideas.’
The minister came up with an imaginative solution to the gas shortage.
‘Imaginary’ means ‘not real, but produced from pictures or ideas in your mind.’
While I was explaining a difficult point, Celine was playing an imaginary piano on her knees.
Immunity / impunity
‘Immunity’ is the state or right of being protected from particular laws or from unpleasant things.
They were granted immunity from prosecution.
If someone does something bad with impunity, there is no risk that they will be punished for it.
It is astonishing to see lawmakers storming police stations with impunity.
Impassable / impasse
A road, path or area that is impassable is impossible to travel along or through.
These mountains are impassable.
An ‘impasse’ is a situation in which it is impossible to continue with a discussion or plan because the people involved cannot agree.