Words sometimes confused: faint and feint by Angela Caldin

Faint and feint are homophones, but they have different meanings. Faint can be a noun, a verb, and an adjective. As a noun and verb it refers to a brief loss of consciousness. As an adjective, it means lacking in strength, conviction, clarity, or brightness. She turned her ankle so badly on the uneven path that she fell down in a faint. Noun. The shock was so great when the guilty verdict was announced that he fainted. Verb. They were hanging on to the faint hope that there were still people alive… Read More

Angela’s ABCs flout and flaunt words sometimes confused

It seemed to me that flout and flaunt were sufficiently different for it to be difficult to confuse them. I thought their meanings were clear. If you don’t comply with a rule, you are flouting it. If you make a big display of your success, you are flaunting it It seems that I was wrong. I was tut-tutting to myself the other day because I noticed that one of The Guardian’s coronavirus update writers had used flaunt to mean flout. Nobody seemed particularly bothered. When I did some research, I realised this… Read More

Words sometimes confused: continuous and continual by Angela Caldin

I know that there is a difference between continuous and continual and I remember being taught about it at school. But sometimes I forget what the difference is. So I’m explaining it for my benefit and for the benefit of anyone else who might like to know that they are not synonyms. Continuous indicates that something goes on without interruption, whereas continual indicates that something goes on over a period of time, but with intervals of interruption. The continuous noise of machinery from the next door factory began to affect her health…. Read More

Angela’s ABCs: words sometimes confused – discrete and discreet by Angela Caldin

The adjectives discrete and discreet are homophones which share the same Latin origin: discretus, meaning separate. They are pronounced the same way, but have different meanings. Discrete has stayed close in meaning to its Latin origins and means individually separate and distinct: We can no longer view extreme incidents such as flood, drought and high temperatures as discrete happenings, but must study them in the context of climate change as a whole. The golf club has three discrete membership categories. The mechanical device consists of several discrete parts which all work together… Read More

Angela’s ABCs: words sometimes confused – loose and lose by Angela Caldin

  I often hesitate over which of these two words is right in the particular context and it’s only when I say them out loud that I can get it clear. Loose, which rhymes with goose, is usually an adjective meaning not firmly or tightly held in place; not compact or dense; and free from restraint or confinement. The farmer realised that all the cows were loose and were trampling the vegetable patch. Matilda had a loose tooth which she hoped would soon come out and earn her some money from the… Read More