Confused Words Exercise (496)

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.)

  • As a professor of _________, I get asked a lot of questions about definitions.

  • She attempted to ______ my interest by leaving clues around the house.

  • I sought to ______ as much information from the document as possible before he returned.

  • His heartless ____ was uncalled for.

  • We were all put off by his __________ dismissal of her musical abilities.

Answers and Explanations

1. As a professor of etymology, I get asked a lot of questions about definitions.

entomology: the study of insects. "She studies entomology, but people who don’t know the difference between arachnids and insects ask her whether it bothers her to be around spiders."
etymology: the study of word origins. "The study of etymology helps one understand the impact that various languages have had on the development of other tongues."

2. She attempted to pique my interest by leaving clues around the house.

peak: achieve the optimum. "We were concerned that she would peak too early if she kept up that pace."
pique: excite by way of a challenge or provocation. "Their goal was to pique him enough that he would reveal more information than he had intended."

3. I sought to glean as much information from the document as possible before he returned.

gleam: shine. "The gem appeared to gleam whenever I shifted my position."
glean: slowly or carefully gather or search. "Take care to glean all you can within the time limit."

4. His heartless gibe was uncalled for.

gibe (noun or verb): tease or taunt: "He continued to gibe until she turned around unexpectedly and struck him."
jibe (verb): shift forcibly or suddenly (plus a distinct meaning of "agree"). "She watched the small sailboat jibe suddenly as a gust of wind caught the sails."

5. We were all put off by his contemptuous dismissal of her musical abilities.

contemptible: not deserving of approval. "Their contemptible behavior resulted in their permanent banishment from the establishment."
contemptuous: expressing harsh disapproval. "He bristled as she bestowed on him a contemptuous sneer."

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