malaprop: the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect, as in, for example, “dance a flamingo ” (instead of flamenco).
homophone: two or more words that sound alike, but have different meanings or spellings.
I encountered this word in Luisa’s post here. I’ve made mistakes like a malaprop and used homophones incorrectly, often unintentionally but usually not with any amusing effect, at least not to me. I am not talking about “lose and loose”, “lie and lay”, “hang and hung and hanged”, which are usual confusion of the choice in language tests. Instead, I am talking about words that really confuse me when I use and misuse them.
Prerogative And Pejorative: I don’t know how these two can be confused since they are not very similar. Only the beginning letter and the last five letters are the same. However for some unknown reasons, I’ve had a hard time telling them apart.
prerogative: a right or privilege exclusive to a particular individual or class.
pejorative: a word expressing contempt or disapproval.
Disassemble And Dissemble: This pair is easy but still I actually made mistakes more than once. I like the word “dissemble” since it is such a necessity for politeness sake.
disassemble: take (something) apart. It is the opposite of assemble.
dissemble: conceal one’s true motives, feelings, or beliefs.
Disprove And Disapprove: This is another easy pair to understand, but I still made mistakes. It is very easy to say “I disprove something” while what you actually means is “I disapprove something.”
disprove: prove that (something) is false.
disapprove: have or express an unfavorable opinion about something.
The Confusing Quad: Extant, Extent, Extend, And Distend
extant: (especially of a document) still in existence; surviving.
extent: the degree to which something has spread; the size or scale of something.
extend: cause to cover a larger area; make longer or wider.
distend: swell or cause to swell by pressure from inside.
The Confusing Group. This is the most confusing of all since it is a large group and many of the words in this group are commonly used. It took me a while to get used to the jarring opposition between affection and affectation, and the different usage between effect and affect and afford. Thankfully effete is not often mentioned and we don’t need to consider it much. Be careful with “affected” since it can be the past perfect of “affect” or it can be a negative word about somebody being pretentious.
affect: have an effect on; make a difference to.
affection: a gentle feeling of fondness or liking.
affectionate: readily feeling or showing fondness or tenderness.
affectation: behavior, speech, or writing that is artificial and designed to impress.
affected: artificial, pretentious, and designed to impress.
effect: a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.
affective: relating to, arising from, or influencing feelings or emotions
effective: successful in producing a desired or intended result.
effort: a vigorous or determined attempt.
afford: have enough money to pay for.
effete: (of a person) affected, overrefined, and ineffectual.
More groups: There are more groups like the above. Just taking a glimpse at my notebook, I can see groups like “draw, drew, drawn, drown, drowsy”, “pert, perk, perm, perv”, “snort, snore, snout, snoot, snooty”, “skitter, skittle, skit, skid, skirt”, but my head starts to spin and I have to stop here today.
Let me know if you’ve ever encountered such a pair or such a group of words.