Confused Words Exercise (117)
In each sentence, choose the correct word from the pair of similar terms. (If both words possibly can be correct, choose the more plausible one.)
Answers and Explanations
1. Mozart was a musical prodigy who gave his first concert at the age of four.
A prodigy is something out of the ordinary. It’s often used to refer to a child with gifts beyond his age. A prodigal is a wastrel, a person who spends his wealth foolishly, with no thought for the future.
2. None of the freshmen wanted to room with Felix because of his barbarous manners; he piled wet towels on the floor, used anyone’s toothbrush, and left food scraps to moulder in the wastepaper basket.
Barbarous and barbaric are similar in meaning; many speakers use them interchangeably to mean "uncivilized." Barbaric always refers to extreme, gruesome cruelty; barbarous can refer to behavior that is merely coarse.
3. Your design would probably work, but building it is not practicable because of the expense and rarity of the materials.
A practical idea is sensible and reasonable. A practicable idea, on the other hand, is one that can be done or put into practice.
4. His friends’ plan to vandalize the school went against the boy’s conscience , so he refused to take part.
Conscience is a noun. It is a person’s moral guide. Conscious is an adjective meaning "alert, aware."
5. Some have called this earthly life "a vale of tears."
Earthly is an adjective referring to things on or of the earth. Earthy is also an adjective. Earthy is a pleasant word for vulgar. "An earthy remark," for example, is one that would not be spoken in polite company.