250 Often Confused Words • F

Below are the words beginning on F 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.

• F •
A fair is an exhibition of farm produce usually with a collection of rides and attractions: Every year our family goes to the state fair.
A fare is the fee you pay to ride public transportation: The fare to ride the bus is affordable in our town.
Farther has to do with distance: How much farther is it to Poughkeepsie?
Further means "additional" or "more": Please give me further information about the best route to Poughkeepsie.
Faze is to distress or disturb: The scrutiny of the media didn't faze Sharon.
A phase is a period of development or a period of time in a cycle of events: Stuart went through a phase when all he did was eat hot dogs.
Fewer should be used when talking about things that can be counted: Lureen has fewer ideas than you; also a few keys, few clouds, few values, few diseases.
Less is used when talking about things that can't be counted: Lureen shows less perseverance than we expected; also less distance, less pollution, less rain.
Figuratively refers to metaphoric speech, not realistic or exact: To say, "Horace died laughing," is to speak figuratively.
Literally refers to realistic or exact speech: If Horace literally died laughing, he must be buried (but it was not such a bad way to go).
Fiscal refers to budgetary finances, income and expenditures, and is used in such phrases as fiscal responsibility and the fiscal year.
Physical refers either to bodily exercise or to concrete things in the world, as in physical exercise or the physical world.
These two words both mean "easily set on fire": a highly flammable/inflammable substance. However, flammable is now used as a warning to avoid misinterpreting the prefix in- as negation.
Flare is to increase greatly, burn brightly, or something that provides a bright flame: The fire in the grill flared up when Eva tossed gasoline on it.
Flair refers to a sense of style or a talent: Dutch Masters has a flair for lighting a cigar.
To flaunt means "to show off": Maud Lynn Dresser likes to flaunt her jewels at parties.
To flout means "to show scorn or contempt for": Larry flouts the speed limit in every state when it suits his schedule.
Forbear means "to refrain from": The children simply could not forbear laughing in the library.
A forebear is an ancestor or forefather: Our forebears who founded this country centuries ago.
A foreword is a short introduction at the beginning of a book usually written by someone other than the author: The foreword of the book explains how its thesis fits in with current thinking.
Forward is an adverb indicating movement ahead or toward the front: Priscilla moves forward slowly in the line at the grocery store.
Forth means "forward, from this point": Barry moved forth without looking back.
Fourth indicates an object that comes between No. 3 and No. 5: Dustin Moppet just finished cleaning the fourth floor.
Foul can means "offensive, rotten, or unfavorable": Foul language, foul meat, and foul weather are unacceptable at a picnic.
Fowl refers to birds, especially domestic ones: Chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys are considered fowl.
Found is the past tense of find: I found my glasses only after I had stepped on them!
Founded is past tense of the verb found, meaning "to set up or establish": My ancestors were the ones who founded this country.
Founder means "to run aground": The boat foundered on a shoal in the storm.
Flounder means "to move clumsily, with difficulty" or "to blunder": Gladys Friday is floundering in college.
Now test your knowledge of these words here.