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Confusing Words Notes | Study General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical Engineering

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What are Confusing Words?
List of Confusing Words 
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What are Confusing Words?

Words that sound alike or nearly alike but have different meanings often cause writers and readers trouble.

Confusing Words Notes | Study General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical EngineeringThe words you use are going to play a big role in the way your future shapes up. This is why you should be particularly careful about the words you use. 

  • There are various words that continue to confuse us due to their similarities either in terms of appearance or phonetics. 
  • While these words may look or sound similar to each other, the difference in their meanings often sets them poles apart.
  • A little practice and alertness can help avoid mistakes of in the usage of such words.  Let us now take a look at a list of commonly confused words and attempt to rectify the errors we tend to make. 

List of Confusing Words 

  • Expect: regard (something) as likely to happen
    Except: not including; other than
    Accept: consent to receive or undertake/ believe or come to recognize as valid or correct
  • Rain: the condensed moisture of the atmosphere falling visibly in separate drops
    Reign: hold royal office/ the period of rule of a monarch
  • Hair: any of the fine thread-like strands growing from the skin of humans, mammals, and some other animals
    Heir:  a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person’s death
    Air: the invisible gaseous substance surrounding the earth, a mixture mainly of oxygen and nitrogen
  • Auricle: a structure resembling an ear or ear lobe.
    Oracle: a priest or priestess acting as a medium through whom advice or prophecy was sought from the gods in classical antiquity
  • Ball: a solid or hollow spherical or egg-shaped object that is kicked, thrown, or hit in a game
    Bawl: shout or call out noisily and unrestrainedly/ weep or cry noisily
  • Barren: too poor to produce much or any vegetation
    Baron: a member of the lowest order of the British nobility
  • Credible vs.Credulous: 
    Credible: Something that is credible is capable of being believed. If your friend tells you about this report that eating cupcakes make you taller, you know that the source is not credible. ‘Credible’ can apply to both things and people. Credulous means having or showing too great a readiness to believe things.
    Credulous: Someone who is credulous is too willing to believe and hence easily tricked or taken advantage of.
  • Tortuous vs.Torturous: 
    Tortuous: Tortuous means ‘full of twists and turns’, as in The travellers took a tortuous route.
    Torturous: Torturous means ‘involving or causing torture’, as in: They had a torturous five days of fitness training.
  • Disinterested vs. Uninterested: 
    Disinterested: If you’re disinterested, you’re unbiased. A judge in the courtroom must be unbiased so she can be disinterested.
    Uninterested: But if you’re uninterested, you’re bored. So the next time you want to tell someone you are bored, let them know you’re uninterested (and not disinterested)
  • Appraise vs. Apprise: 
    Appraise:To appraise is to estimate the value of something, for e.g. “the interviewer’s job is to appraise and evaluate.”
    Apprise: On the other hand, apprise means to tell or letting people know about things.
    Remember that in companies you have an appraisal meeting with your manager where she evaluates your performance and gives you feedback.But if you are late for this meeting, you are supposed to apprise her of the same.
  • Enervate vs. Energize: 
    Enervate: Enervate means to sap off energy or strength. It is the opposite of energize.
    Energize: So long lectures can enervate you, while a glucose drink will energize you.
  • Fortuitous vs. Fortunate: 
    Fortunate: Fortunate is lucky, but fortuitous means by chance or accident.
    Fortuitous: Fortuitous is closer to serendipity which also means by chance.
    A news report said, “More fortunate refugees have been taken in by local families.” However, meeting a friend from school at the movie theatre is a fortuitous event.
  • Invoke vs. Evoke: 
    Evoke: The word evoke means to bring something forth or to recall something to the conscious mind. It typically implies some type of emotion, imagery, or memory. For e.g. The comic strip will evoke laughter from its audience or This painting evokes childhood memories.
    Invoke: The definition of invoke has a number of meanings, including to assert (something) as authority, to appeal (to someone or a higher power) for help, or to conjure up (to invoke spirits of the past). For e.g. The president invoked martial law to stop the protests or He invoked the law to win the case.
    Invoke is more direct and active than evoke in that all of these examples have an action that is being actively or intentionally performed.
  • Ambiguous vs. Ambivalent: 
    Ambiguous: Even though the prefix “ambi-” means both, ambiguous has come to mean unclear or undefined. For e.g. The election law is written in an ill-defined, ambiguous way.
     Ambivalent: If you are ambivalent about something, your feelings about it are contradictory or mixed: you feel two (or more) ways about it. For e.g. She’s deeply ambivalent about the issue and can argue both sides very effectively.
    When choosing between ambiguous and ambivalent, consider whether you are describing something that is unclear or vague: that’s ambiguous. If it’s a fluctuation in attitude or feeling, that’s ambivalent.
  • Abhorrent: inspiring disgust and loathing; repugnant.
    Aberrant: departing from an accepted standard.
    Example: The abhorrent individual was spurned by his fellow citizens because of his aberrant behavior.
  • Ability: possession of the means or skill to do something.
    Capacity: the maximum amount that something can contain.
    Example: With her speaking skills, she has the ability to fill the auditorium to its capacity.
  • Adjured: urge or request (someone) solemnly or earnestly to do something.
    Abjure: solemnly renounce (a belief, cause, or claim).
    Example: The minister adjured his wayward congregation to abjure the sins of the flesh.
  • Accept: consent to receive or undertake (something offered).
    Except: not including; other than.
    Example: I would accept your excuse, except for the part about losing the watch.
  • Access: the means or opportunity to approach or enter a place. 
    Excess: An amount of something that is more than necessary, permitted, or desirable.
    Example: The number of students who wanted access to the computer labs was in excess of two hundred.
  • Adopt: legally take (another's child) and bring it up as one's own.
    Adapt: make (something) suitable for a new use or purpose; modify.
    Example: The government would often adopt policies that required people to adapt to a harsh regime.
  • Adolescents: an adolescent boy or girl.
    Adolescence: the period following the onset of puberty during which a young person develops from a child into an adult.
    Example: The trouble with many adolescents is that they never seem to grow out of adolescence.
  • Advice: guidance or recommendations offered with regard to prudent future action.
    Advise: offer suggestions about the best course of action to someone.
    Example: I need your advice.
    Please advise me on this.
  • Ambivalent: having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.
    Ambiguous: open to more than one interpretation; not having one obvious meaning.
    Example: She was confused, displaying ambivalent feelings about the ambiguous situation they'd gotten into.
  • Amoral: lacking a moral sense; unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something.
    Immoral: not conforming to accepted standards of morality.
    Example: Sometimes, it seems more shocking to be amoral than to be immoral.
  • Appraise: assess the value or quality of.
    Apprise: inform or tell (someone).
    Example: After we have the jeweler appraise the diamond, we will apprise you of its value.
  • Assent: the expression of approval or agreement.
    Ascent: a climb or walk to the summit of a mountain or hill.
    Example: When they got the assent of the weather bureau, they allowed the enormous balloon to begin its ascent.

Question for Confusing Words
Try yourself:Eric and Kane put _________ phones on the teacher's desk.
View Solution

  • Averse: having a strong dislike of or opposition to something.
    Adverse: preventing success or development; harmful; unfavorable.
    Example: I am averse to traveling in such adverse weather conditions.
  • Lot: a large number or amount; a great deal.
    Allot: give or apportion (something) to someone.
    Example: We need a lot of money. She will allot funds according to need.
  • All ready: completely prepared.
    Already: something that has happened before a certain time.
    Example: As soon as I put my coat on, I'll be all ready.
    What do you mean you'd rather stay home? I've already got my coat on.
  • Allude: suggest or call attention to indirectly; hint at.
    Elude: escape from or avoid (a danger, enemy, or pursuer), typically in a skillful or cunning way.
    Example: She would often allude to her childhood when she would elude her brothers in a game of hide-and-seek.
  • Alternate: every other; every second.
    Alternative: (of one or more things) available as another possibility or choice.
    Example: In mock debates, we used alternate sides, taking alternative positions.
  • Alleviate: make (suffering, deficiency, or a problem) less severe.
    Ameliorate: make (something bad or unsatisfactory) better.
    Example: Government agencies tried to alleviate the effects of depression. They attempted to ameliorate the job-seeking process.
  • Amiable: having or displaying a friendly and pleasant manner.
    Amicable: characterized by friendliness and absence of discord.
    Example: With amiable people like the Duritz, it's not unusual to have an amicable divorce.
  • Amount: a quantity of something, especially the total of a thing or things in number, size, value, or extent.
    Number: an arithmetical value, expressed by a word, symbol, or figure, representing a particular quantity and used in counting and making calculations.
    Example: The amount of money you make in a year depends on the number of deals you close.
  • Annoyed: slightly angry; irritated.
    Aggravated: (of an offense) made more serious by attendant circumstances.
    Example: I am annoyed that my bad back seems to be aggravated by tension.
  • Anticipate: regard as probable; expect or predict.
    Expect: regard (something) as likely to happen.
    Example: It's difficult to anticipate things that one doesn't expect.
  • Lawyer: a person who practices or studies law
    Attorney: a person, typically a lawyer, appointed to act for another in business or legal matters.
    Example: She wanted a good lawyer, so I told her about my attorney.
  • while: a period of time.
    awhile: adverb that means "for a while"
    Example: I'll be back in a while. Can you wait awhile?

Question for Confusing Words
Try yourself:Can you ask Nick and Lyle if ____________ coming on the trip tomorrow?
View Solution

  • Anecdote: a short amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person.
    Antidote: a medicine taken or given to counteract a particular poison.
    Example: He told a funny anecdote about mixing up his soda with the snake-bite antidote.
  • Eager: strongly wanting to do or have something.
    Anxious: feeling or showing worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.
    Example: The eager audience awaited the anxious, sweating performer.
  • Bad: of poor quality or a low standard.
    Badly: in an unsatisfactory, inadequate, or unsuccessful way.
    Example: She felt bad about his behaving badly at the conference.
  • Bizarre: very strange or unusual.
    Bazaar: a market in a Middle Eastern country.
    Example: She was afraid of him after seeing his bizarre behaviour at the county's annual bazaar.
  • Besides: in addition to; apart from.
    Beside: at the side of; next to.
    Example: Besides my unphotogenic aunt and uncle, there were fourteen other people standing beside the train station.
  • Between: at, into, or across the space separating (two objects or regions).
    Among: situated more or less centrally in relation to (several other things). 
    Example: He has divided the money between Carlos and his daughter. He has divided the rest of his property among his three brothers.
  • Backwards: (of a movement) in the direction of one's back.
    Backward: directed behind or to the rear.
    Example: The economy seemed to slide backward thanks to the backward government policies.
  • Brought: take or go with (someone or something) to a place.
    Bought: obtain in exchange for payment.
    Example: She brought with her all the Diwali gifts she had recently bought.
  • Break: separate or cause to separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain.
    Brake: a device for slowing or stopping a moving vehicle, typically by applying pressure to the wheels.
    Example: He will break the car brake if he keeps pushing on it like that.
  • Breech: the part of a cannon behind the bore.
    Breach: an act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct.
    Example: The breech of the gun slammed into his shoulder as he fired into the breach of the wall.
  • Breath: the air taken into or expelled from the lungs.
    Breathe: take air into the lungs and then expel it, especially as a regular physiological process.
    Example: Every breath counts, so breathe deeply now.
  • Bridal: of or concerning a bride or a newly married couple.
    Bridle: the headgear used to control a horse, consisting of buckled straps to which a bit and reins are attached.
    Example: The entire bridal party took a long and pleasant walk along the bridle path.

Question for Confusing Words
Try yourself:It looks like ________________________ going to rain outside.
View Solution

  • Canvas: a strong, coarse unbleached cloth made from hemp, flax, or similar yarn, used to make items such as sails and tents and as a surface for oil painting.
    Canvass: solicit votes from (electors or members).
    Example: We wore canvas shoes while we tried to canvass the entire neighborhood.
  • Capitol: a building that houses a government's legislative branch
    Capital: A state's capital is the primary city and usually the seat of the state government. Capital is also a financial word referring to the money a person or business has, not including debts.
    Example: We went over to the capitol to see the legislators. The capital of India is New Delhi. The state is running out of capital.
  • Carat: a unit of weight for precious stones and pearls, equivalent to 200 milligrams.
    Carrot: a tapering orange-coloured root eaten as a vegetable.
    Example: If a bride wants a diamond that weighs a carat, it will cost more than a carrot.
  • Censured: express severe disapproval of (someone or something), especially in a formal statement.
    Censor: an official who examines books, films, news, etc. that are about to be published and suppresses any parts that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.
    Example: The Board of Education has censured the high-school principal because he tried to censor the student newspaper.
  • Certitude: absolute certainty or conviction that something is the case.
    Certainty: firm conviction that something is the case.
    Example: The Pilgrims acted with certitude on matters of faith; others required more certainty.
  • Childlike: (of an adult) having the good qualities, such as innocence, associated with a child.
    Childish: of, like, or appropriate to a child.
    Example: Some people thought he was sweet and childlike in his innocence, but I always thought he was boorish and childish.
  • Choose: pick out (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives.
     Chose: Past tense of choose.
    Example: I chose the red balloon. Now you choose a balloon of another color.
  • Climactic: acting as a culmination or resolution to a series of events; forming an exciting climax.
    Climatic: relating to climate.
    Example: The climactic moment of a lightning storm, nature's most dramatic climatic event is a deafening roll of thunder.
  • Clothes: items worn to cover the body.
    Cloths: woven or felted fabric made from wool, cotton, or a similar fiber.
    Example: His clothes were made of cloths of many different colors.
  • Coarse: rough or harsh in texture.
    Course: route or path which a ship or aircraft follows. It denotes the way in which something evolves gradually.
    Example: In this project, the students have to make something unique out of coarse material.
    The strategy is the best course of action, to reach the desired end.
  • Complimented: politely congratulate or praise (someone) for something.
    Complemented: contribute extra features to (someone or something) in such a way as to improve or emphasize their qualities.
    Example: She complimented her sister on the way her scarf complemented her blouse.
  • Comprises: consist of; be made up of.
    Constituted: be (a part) of a whole.
    Example: Connecticut comprises eight counties. The system is constituted of twelve separate campuses.

Question for Confusing Words
Try yourself:Is this ___ book or is it my book?
View Solution

  • Confident: feeling or showing confidence in oneself or one's abilities or qualities.
    Confidant: a person with whom one shares a secret or private matter, trusting them not to repeat it to others.
    Example: She was confident that her confidant had given her good information.
  • Confounded: used for emphasis, especially to express anger or annoyance.
    Compounded: makeup (a composite whole); constitute.
    Example: Confounded by the instructor's ambiguous instructions, the students' problems were compounded by a lack of time to do the exam.
  • Denotes: be a sign of; indicate.
    Connotes: (of a word) imply or suggest (an idea or feeling) in addition to the literal or primary meaning.
    Example: The word guts denotes one's viscera, one's intestines, but it also connotes determination, fortitude, persistence, and courage.
  • Dinning: (of a word) imply or suggest (an idea or feeling) in addition to the literal or primary meaning.
    Dining: the activity of eating a meal.
    Example: There was a terrible dinning noise coming from the dining room.
  • Dissent: the holding or expression of opinions at variance with those commonly or officially held.
    Decent: conforming with generally accepted standards of respectable or moral behaviour.
    Descent: an act of moving downwards, dropping, or falling.
    Example: Since no one offered any dissent, we waited for a decent interval and then began our descent to the lower floors.
  • Conscious: aware of and responding to one's surroundings.
    Conscience: a person's moral sense of right and wrong, viewed as acting as a guide to one's behaviour.
    Example: She didn't seem conscious of the fact that her husband has no conscience.
  • Contemptuous: showing contempt; scornful.
    Contemptible: deserving contempt; despicable.
    Example: Her family grew contemptuous of her contemptible behavior.
  • Continual: forming a sequence in which the same action or event is repeated frequently.
    Continuous: forming an unbroken whole; without interruption.
    Example: These continual changes in our weather seem to be related to our continuous emissions of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere.
  • Convince: cause (someone) to believe firmly in the truth of something.
    Persuade: induce (someone) to do something through reasoning or argument.
    Example: My mother will convince him that she is right. She will persuade him to keep working.
  • Counsel: advice, especially that given formally.
    Council: an advisory, deliberative, or administrative body of people formally constituted and meeting regularly.
    Example: She decided to seek the counsel of the Dorm Council.
  • Credible: able to be believed; convincing.
    Creditable: (of performance, effort, or action) deserving public acknowledgment and praise but not necessarily outstanding or successful.
    Example: It didn't seem credible that such a creditable person would say such a horrible thing.
  • Criterion: a principle or standard by which something may be judged or decided.
    Criteria: plural form of criterion.
    Example: At first, there was only one criterion for becoming Chairperson, but then, suddenly, the Party imposed several other criteria.

Question for Confusing Words
Try yourself: I do not like it when Mrs. Lahari gives us _______ of homework.
View Solution

  • Paramount means best, Something that is paramount is of chief concern or supreme in rank. The word is often used in somewhat redundant phrases such as of paramount importance.
    Example: The best interests of the client are paramount.
    Tantamount means equivalent. It describes the relationship between two things rather than the status of a single thing.
    Example: Breaking off negotiations at this point is tantamount to a declaration of war.
  • A critic is someone who forms and expresses judgments of the merits, faults, value, or truth of a matter: “He is his own worst critic when it comes to analyzing his writing.”

    Example: He found that there wasn’t enough meat on the bones for this critic.

    critique is an evaluation by using a review or commentary, especially one dealing with works of art or literature: “The critique of the new film in Times of India was very positive.”

    Example: He was trained efficiently to evaluate and critique texts.

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