Confused Words Exercise (332)

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.)

  • The doctoral candidate ____ over ancient tomes in the special collections section of the library.

  • The region’s ____ crops include wheat, oats, and rye.

  • It’s strange to watch Hugh Laurie, currently known for playing the irascible Dr. House, portraying the ______ Bertie Wooster in the "Jeeves and Wooster" episodes from the 1990s.

  • One of the jobs of the Secretary of State is to endeavor to ____ volatile confrontations between nations.

  • As late at the 1860s, it was not uncommon to hear of one man challenging another to a ___.

Answers and Explanations

1. The doctoral candidate pored over ancient tomes in the special collections section of the library.

pour (verb): to flow or cause to flow.
pore (noun): a tiny opening; (verb): to study something closely.

2. The region’s cereal crops include wheat, oats, and rye.

cereal (noun): a grass producing an edible grain. The word cereal is also used with the meaning, "a breakfast food made from grains."
serial (adjective): happening in a series.

3. It’s strange to watch Hugh Laurie, currently known for playing the irascible Dr. House, portraying the complaisant Bertie Wooster in the "Jeeves and Wooster" episodes from the 1990s.

complacent (adjective): smug and self-satisfied.
complaisant (adjective): willing to please.

4. One of the jobs of the Secretary of State is to endeavor to defuse volatile confrontations between nations.

defuse (verb): to make a situation less tense.
diffuse (verb): to spread over a wide area.

5. As late at the 1860s, it was not uncommon to hear of one man challenging another to a duel.

duel (noun): a fight between two combatants, usually with swords or pistols. The word can also be used as a verb.
dual (adjective): consisting of two parts. For example, the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is about one man’s dual personality.

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