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Alphadictionary.com

250 Often Confused Words • B


Below are the words beginning on B of a list of more than 250 words that speakers and writers of English often confuse. They are called false cognates because they sound or are written so similarly that they are often confused. Even if you are an excellent writer, you should read through this list; otherwise, how will you know if you are confusing any words? We will soon have a quiz that will help you check your knowledge of the most common false English cognates.


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• B •
WORDS DEFINITIONS & EXAMPLES
bad
badly
Bad is used after some verbs like am to indicate the condition of the subject: They felt bad. (Using badly here would mean that their skill at feeling is poor).
Badly is used to indicate the manner in which the action of the verb is carried out: They played badly. (Badly can also mean "greatly": They needed food badly.)
baited
bated
Baited usually refers to traps: Baiting deer in order to hunt them is illegal in most states.
Bated is seldom used but means "reduced, abated": Jessica waited with bated breath for news of her success.
bare
bear
Bare means "naked": Walking in grass with bare feet is refreshing.
Bear is the animal, and also means "to carry": Sherman must bear the burden of flunking math twice.
bazaar
bizarre
Bazaar is an exhibition, market, or fair: The Saturday morning bazaar is worth seeing even if you buy nothing.
Bizarre means "weird and unworldly": Barry told us a bizarre story last night.
belief
believe
Belief is a noun: He had strong beliefs.
Believe is a verb: She believes she can do anything.
beside
besides
Beside means "next to": Place the dishes beside the sink.
Besides is an adverb or preposition that means "also, additionally": I would enjoy going on a vacation besides working all the time.
better
had better
Had better is the correct form, used when giving advice that hints at an undesirable consequence if not followed: You had better go to the doctor. Don't leave out have.
between
among
See among, between.
biannual
biennial
Biannual is twice in one year: My trip to the dentist is a biannual event.
Biennial means "every two years": These flowers are biennial; they bloom every two years.
bimonthly
semimonthly
Bimonthly means "every two months": We order from the co-op bimonthly.
Semimonthly means "twice a month (biweekly)": We have our house cleaned semimonthly.
blithe
lithe
Blithe, an adjective, means "lighthearted and carefree": A blithe mood overcomes us in the spring.
Lithe is also an adjective but it means "flexible, graceful, and supple": The lithe movements of the yoga instructor impressed us all.
blonde
blond
Blonde describes women: Brunettes have just as much fun as blondes (blonde women).
Blond describes men: Sean was not a natural blond. This distinction is not necessary though: blond is now generally accepted for both men and women.
board
bored
Board means a few things. One is "a long sheet of wood": Hiram had to cut the board to make the shelves. It also means "a management committee": The board of directors met to decide the fate of the school. Lastly, it can mean "to get onto": She boarded the ship.
Bored means "not interested": She is bored by the dry lecture.
bore
boar
boor
A bore is a boring or tiresome person: Jasper is such a bore when he talks about his cats!
A boar is a male pig: Wild boars abound in this forest.
A boor is an unrefined, vulgar person: What a boor Guy was to get drunk at the wedding and embarrass everyone.
born
borne
Born is newly coming into life: A child was born at 12:01 New Year's day.
Borne means "carried": All gossip is borne by an ill wind.
borrow
lend
loan
Borrow is to receive something from someone temporarily: to borrow a book and then return it.
Lend is a verb that mean "to temporarily give something to someone": Henry will lend (or loan) Francine a book.
Loan is a noun: a bank loan. Loan is often used in American English as a verb meaning "to lend": Loan me a book, please.
braise
braze
Braise means "to cook (usually meat) slowly in liquid": Braised meat is usually tender.
To braze is to solder or create with metals such as bronze: Shirley brazed a statue of a famous Civil War leader.
brake
break
Brake means "to stop": You should brake slowly on ice.
Break means "to smash": To break a mirror brings seven years of worse luck than you are having now.
breath
breathe
Breath is a noun meaning "the air pulled into the lungs": Take a deep breath and relax.
Breathe, with an E on the end, is a verb: Just breathe deeply and calm down.
bridal
bridle
Bridal has to do a bride and her wedding: June May threw her bridal bouquet to the screaming crowd of single women.
A bridle is a halter or restraint, such as a horse bridle: Old Frosty didn't like the bridle over her head.
brunet
brunette
A brunet is an unspecific person or man with brown hair.
A brunette is specifically a brown-haired female.
by
buy
bye
By is a preposition meaning "next to": Park the car by the house.
Buy means "purchase": Grandpa buys an ice cream cone every Sunday afternoon.
Bye means "farewell or good-bye": Bye, now; I'll see you later.
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Now test your knowledge of these words here.