Vocabulary Quiz # 6: Commonly Confused Words

By Mark Nichol

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.)

1. She likes to __________ his facial tics.
a) imitate
b) emulate

2. He __________ a talent for music when he was very young.
a) evoked
b) evinced

3. The floral print __________ her green blouse.
a) complimented
b) complemented

4. They __________ the tension by beginning with an apology.
a) diffused
b) defused

5. The __________ look on her face told him that his excuse had not satisfied her.
a) incredulous
b) incredible

Answers and Explanations

1. She likes to imitate his facial tics.
a) imitate

To emulate is to try to be like someone or something admired; to imitate is to copy behavior or another quality.

2. He evinced a talent for music when he was very young.
b) evinced

To evince is to reveal or to demonstrate evidence of; to evoke is to bring to mind or call forth.

3. The floral print complemented her green blouse.
b) complemented

To compliment is to express one’s admiration or approval; to complement is to add so as to complete or enhance.

4. They defused the tension by beginning with an apology.
b) defused

To defuse is to reduce the impact of an unpleasant quality; diffuse means to spread out over a wide area.

5. The incredulous look on her face told him that his excuse had not satisfied her.
a) incredulous

Incredible means “unbelievable” or “extremely good or large”; incredulous means “disbelieving.” (His excuse may have been unbelievable, but her expression was one of disbelief.)

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4 Responses to “Vocabulary Quiz # 6: Commonly Confused Words”

  • venqax

    My current cause is, “They recruits were overwhelmed by the sheer enormousness/enormity of the pile of sand they had to move.”

  • Dale A. Wood

    Three words that can be easily confused:
    “asymptomatic”, “asymptotic”, and “asymmetric”.

  • Dale A. Wood

    “Words” that can be confused!
    “Regardless”, “irrespective”, “irrelevant”, and “irregardless”, where the latter one is extremely questionable as a “word”.
    ——————————————————————————-
    These two can be very much confused: unreal and nonreal.
    “Nonreal” is a perfectly respectable word in mathematics.
    Mr. Spock said it very well in STAR TREK III: “Nothing unreal exists.”
    I can speak of the nonreal roots of a polynomial, so I guess that these do exist. They are not real numbers, though.
    “areal” is a completely different word, and it is not like “asymptomatic”, “amoral”, “apolitical”, “aperiodic”, and “atonic”.
    D.A.W.

  • Dale A. Wood

    3. The floral print __________ her green blouse.
    a) complimented
    b) complemented
    We people who know Euclidean geometry know how to answer this one because we know what complementary angles are!

    What do you know about complementary and supplementary angles?
    Notice the spellings. These both end in “plementary”, and they both rhyme with “elementary”.
    “Rudimentary” is a little bit different, like “complimentary” and “alimentary”.
    Do these have Latin or Greek roots? It beats me!
    “Telemetry” might or might not be related.

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