Confused Words Exercise (403)

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.)

  • My mother, who is a retired English teacher in her 70s, took a course in _____ because she wanted to know more about ladybugs and dragonflies.

  • When they shook hands before the meeting began, they were _____ agreeing to remain quiet about the misappropriation of the coffee money.

  • In some ways, the ____ in Mexico corresponded to the medieval serfs, in that they had little control of their conditions of employment.

  • The two old friends loved to sit on the park bench in the sun reminiscing; those times have ____ and the bench is empty.

  • I’m finding it difficult not to take a ___ in the closet where she keeps the Christmas gifts.

Answers and Explanations

1. My mother, who is a retired English teacher in her 70s, took a course in entomology because she wanted to know more about ladybugs and dragonflies.

entomology (noun): the study of insects.
etymology (noun): the study of the history and origin of words.

2. When they shook hands before the meeting began, they were implicitly agreeing to remain quiet about the misappropriation of the coffee money.

explicitly (adverb): clearly and directly.
implicitly (adverb): indirectly, with something understood but not stated.

3. In some ways, the peons in Mexico corresponded to the medieval serfs, in that they had little control of their conditions of employment.

peon (noun): historically, a laborer who existed in unfree conditions during the Spanish colonization of South America. In modern usage, the word refers to a person treated as an underling.
paean (noun): a song of praise.

4. The two old friends loved to sit on the park bench in the sun reminiscing; those times have passed and the bench is empty.

passed: past form of the verb "to pass": I pass his house every day. He passed my house yesterday. They have passed their exams.
past: this word functions as different parts of speech but never as a verb.

5. I’m finding it difficult not to take a peek in the closet where she keeps the Christmas gifts.

peek (noun): a quick glance.
peak (noun): the highest point of something. Example: "The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a peak shopping season."

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