Vocabulary Quiz #15: Homonyms

By Mark Nichol

Homonyms are words that sound alike, but have different meanings and usually different spellings. In these sentences choose the word with the correct meaning for the sentence context.

1. Mrs. Reid has ______ the responsibility for her disabled son for twenty years.

a) borne
b) born

2. The gardener’s work will ______ my design as the landscape architect.

a) complement
b) compliment

3. Be sure to ______ if you see a child waiting to cross the street.

a) break
b) brake

4. The boys tried to avoid ______ language in front of Mrs. Pierce.

a) course
b) coarse

5. Is there anyone who can ______ Jonathan on the decision he faces?

a) counsel
b) council

Answers and Explanations

1. Mrs. Reid has borne the responsibility for her disabled son for twenty years.
a) borne

Borne means carried, sustained, or endured. Born means to have come into the world.

2. The gardener’s work will complement my design as the landscape architect.
a) complement

Complement means to complete or to harmonize with something. To compliment someone is to say something positive about the person. It may also be a noun and refer to the positive remark itself.

3. Be sure to brake if you see a child waiting to cross the street.
b) brake

Brake is a verb meaning to stop a machine, like a car. It may also be a noun, meaning the device for stopping a machine. Break means to fracture or to shatter.

4. The boys tried to avoid coarse language in front of Mrs. Pierce.
b) coarse

Coarse means crude, as it does in this sentence. It can also mean rough, as in I don’t care for the feel of the coarse texture of this coat. As a verb course means to move in a path from point to point or as a noun may refer to the path itself. It is used in the expression of course to mean certainly.

5. Is there anyone who can counsel Jonathan on the decision he faces?
a) counsel

Counsel means to advise. As a noun it means the advice given. One who gives advice is a counselor. A council is a group called together to accomplish a job. The member of such a group is a councilor.


9 Responses to “Vocabulary Quiz #15: Homonyms”

  • D.A.W.

    Venqax: concerning the words “weather”, etc.:
    “We are taking a brake. Please bare with us.”

  • venqax

    Whew! For a second there I was afraid that whether and weather were going to be used as examples of homonyms. That happened once, and dark tales of it still arise from time-to-time. There is a curse associated with the comparison, but I’ve probably said too much already.

  • D.A.W.

    Session and Cession and Secession.
    “Today’s session in our American History seminar will deal with the Mexican Cession to the U.S., its influence on the later Secession of Texas and Arkansas from the Union, and its failure to succeed.

  • D.A.W.

    Consultatory, consulary, counselory, conciliatory, consolatory.
    The Interagency Consultatory Bureau
    The Interagency Consulary Bureau
    The Interagency Counselory Bureau
    The Interagency Conciliatory Bureau
    The Interagency Consolatory Bureau
    Taken together, these are enough to make your head spin.
    Also, replace “bureau” with “commission”, “committee”, “council”, or “chancellery”. Then go watch “The Exorcist”!

  • D.A.W.

    Console, two words: The spaceship captain went to his communications console to console the crewwoman about the pain of her broken leg.
    His consolatory words were well received by her.

  • D.A.W.

    Furthermore “consultory” is supposed to be an obsolete word in English, having been replaced by “consultatory”.
    Examples: the International Border Consultatory Commission;
    the Joint Army-Navy Consultatory Board.
    Easily confused with “consolatory” and “consulary”.

  • D.A.W.

    Example #5 even worse (five words!):
    a) counsel
    b) council
    c) console
    d) consul
    e) cancel
    Also, these lead us to counselor, councilor, consoler, consular, and canceler, PLUS chancellor.
    Furthermore: conciliatory, consolatory, consulary (a synonym for consular), and chancellery.

  • Dale A. Wood

    #3 leads us to the note on the front door of a small shop:
    “We are taking a brake.
    Please bare with us.”

  • Dale A. Wood

    Example #5 really even worse:
    a) counsel
    b) council
    c) console
    d) cancel
    Also, these lead us tp counselor, councilor, consoler, and canceler, PLUS chancellor.

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