Confused Words Exercise (381)

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 man was curiously ______: he fought government corruption on behalf of the working classes, but threw away the lives of enlisted men in wartime without compunction.

  • They say that the secret to _____ harmony is for husband and wife to settle a quarrel before going to bed.

  • This vacuum does not work as advertised, so I’m going to request a ______.

  • The prizes for second and third place went to Shelah Abba and Colin Firth, _______, of Reagan High School in Barlow.

  • There’s something about the perspective of the Japanese that allows them to ______ in on the essential elements of foreign cultures and then perfectly recreate them.

Answers and Explanations

1. The man was curiously amoral: he fought government corruption on behalf of the working classes, but threw away the lives of enlisted men in wartime without compunction.

amoral: neither moral nor immoral, without any apparent feelings either way.
immoral: bad by choice.

2. They say that the secret to marital harmony is for husband and wife to settle a quarrel before going to bed.

marital: having to do with marriage.
martial: having to do with war or the military.

3. This vacuum does not work as advertised, so I’m going to request a refund.

refund: a full repayment of a purchase price.
rebate: a manufacturer’s discount on the retail price of a product. For example, "I paid $600 at Office Depot, but after the rebate, the notebook cost me only $200."

4. The prizes for second and third place went to Shelah Abba and Colin Firth, respectively, of Reagan High School in Barlow.

respectively: adverb referring to the order in which things are given. Shela was awarded second place and Colin was awarded third place.
respectfully: adverb meaning in "with respect or deference."

5. There’s something about the perspective of the Japanese that allows them to home in on the essential elements of foreign cultures and then perfectly recreate them.

home: to move toward a target. Something or someone getting closer to a goal or target is said to "home in" on whatever it is.
hone: to sharpen. Hone is used figuratively in the sense of "improve" or "practice." Example: "The Karate Kid honed his fighting skills by polishing his teacher’s car."

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