New Word #68: Confusing Pairs

deliver vs. deliverance

For the longest time, I thought deliverance is the noun form for deliver until one day I realized that it’s a mistake. Deliver’s noun form is delivery, not deliverance. The two words share similar bodies, but with different tails. Deliverance is not used very often thankfully, which explains why I didn’t realize my mistake for so long.

deliverance: the action of being rescued or set free. “prayers for deliverance”

deliver: bring and hand over (a letter or ordered goods) to the proper recipient or address.

savor and savior

No matter how many times I remind myself, my brain still tends to think savor is somebody who saves people. Fortunately, these two commonly used words are often used in different contexts. When one talks about savoring a meal, it is hard to mistake the phrase as a heroic person saving people from a dire situation. And vice versa.

savor: taste (good food or drink) and enjoy it completely.

savior: a person who saves someone or something (especially a country or cause) from danger, and who is regarded with the veneration of a religious figure.

liberty vs. libertine

This is a typical pair of words, in which one word is very positive while the other, with a little bit change on the tail, is quite negative. And the third word libertarian is used very often in American politics. An American libertarian is defined as an advocate or supporter of a political philosophy that advocates only minimal state intervention in the free market and the private lives of citizens. This is different from its original meaning in Europe, which refers to a person who advocates civil liberty.

liberty: the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.

libertine: a person, especially a man, who behaves without moral principles or a sense of responsibility, especially in sexual matters.

covet vs. covert

These words are commonly used. I wouldn’t confuse them in spoken English since the two sound very different even to my dumb non-native ears. However in written forms, it gives me a pause from time to time.

covet: yearn to possess or have (something).

covert: not openly shown, engaged in, or avowed

sentiment vs. sentimental

Sentiment is a neutral word, but the word sentimental has a negative connotation. However in my own life experiences, I’ve rarely seen sentimental display of emotions unless it is in a very bad movie or TV show. Most often, I’ve seen reserved manners and deliberate withholding of emotional communications in real life.

sentiment: a view of or attitude toward a situation or event; an opinion.

sentimental: (of a work of literature, music, or art) dealing with feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia, typically in an exaggerated and self-indulgent way.

discipline vs. disciplinarian

Discipline is not a seriously negative word, but disciplinarian is. The word disciplinarian is not as bad as the word tyrant but it is getting there.

discipline: the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

disciplinarian: a person who believes in or practices firm discipline.

apology vs. apologetics

I thought that apologetics is about apologies, but then I read G. K. Chesterton’s essays and understand he’s not offering apologies at all. Wish G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis could write more on topics other than religion.

apology: a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure.

apologetics: reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine.

adventure vs. inadvertent

For a long time, I mistook inadvertent as a word that means unadventurous.

adventure: an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.

inadvertent: not resulting from or achieved through deliberate planning.

obsequious vs. obsequies

obsequious: obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree.

obsequies: funeral rites.

30 thoughts on “New Word #68: Confusing Pairs

    1. Yes, these words have “tortured” me for ages. LOL. Some are permanently confusing since no matter how many times I think I have learned and mastered them, I am still going to get confused in the next encounter.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Hahaha, me too. Thanks to autocorrect and google, I can pretend to be somebody with English proficiency, but deep down, I have this insecurity that cannot be driven away.

          Liked by 1 person

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