Commonly Confused Sets

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  1. Miserly vs. Frugal
    Frugal has a positive connotation, i.e. you spend money wisely, and miserly has a negative connotation, i.e. you pinch every penny.
  2. Prevaricate vs. Variance
    To prevaricate is to speak in an evasive way. Variance means the quality of varying.
  3. Histrionic vs. History
    To be histrionic is to be overly theatrical
  4. Demur vs. Demure
    To demur is a verb meaning to object or show reluctance.

    To be demure is to be modest and shy. This word refers to a woman, so don’t call a man demure
  5. Beatific vs. Beautiful
    A beatific person is one who radiates bliss. This person is so happy, they almost seem blessed and holy(think of a saint, of the Buddha).
  6. Perfunctory vs. Preemptive vs. Peremptory
    Perfunctory - merely going through the motion of doing something; carries a connotation of carelessness. you are probably not doing your best 

    Preemptively - to act before someone else does 

    Peremptory - bossy and domineering.
  7. Indigent vs. Indigenous vs. Indignant
    Indigent word means poor, having very little means.

    Indigenous means relating to a certain area. Plants and animals are often indigenous, as are people.

    Indignant means to feel anger over a perceived injustice.
  8. Errant vs. Arrant vs. Errand vs. Err
    Errant (adverb): To be errant is to be wandering, not sticking to a circumscribed path.

    Arrant (adj): complete and utter.

    Errand (noun) - a small chore.

    Err (verb) - to make an error.
  9. Artless vs. Artful vs. Artifice
    To be artful means to be cunning and wily.

    To have artifice is to be artful.

    If somebody is artless, on the other hand, that person is innocent, guileless.
  10. Expurgate vs. Expunge
    They both mean to remove, but in different ways.

    To expurgate means to remove objectionable material.

    To expunge simply means to wipe out or remove any trace off.
  11. Censure vs. Censor
    Censor:  removing objectionable words and/or material 

    Censure: to express strong disapproval of that person.
  12. Ponderous vs. Imponderable
    Ponderous is derived from ‘pondus’, which means weight (think of a pound). So, to be ponderous meansto be weighed-down, and to move slowly and in a labored fashion.

    Imponderable is not the opposite of ponderous. It actually relates to thinking. An imponderable is something that is impossible to estimate, fathom or figure out.
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Commonly Confused Sets
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