Alphadictionary.com

250 Often Confused Words • N


Below are the words beginning on N, O, P and Q 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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• N •
WORDSDEFINITIONS & EXAMPLES
no

know
No means "the opposite of yes": They all said no in response to the latest referendum.
To know is to understand are realize: I don't want to know how you got up the tree.
noisome

noisy
Noisome means "disgusting, offensive, and potentially harmful": A noisome smell arose from the garbage can.
Noisy means "making a lot of sound or racket": With so many children, it became a noisy day care center.
nonplussed Nonplussed is often misused in the sense of "calm and unbothered". The actual meaning is "confused or bewildered": She was nonplussed by her husband's unusual behavior.
nowhere

nowheres
See anyway, anywhere, nowhere; anyways, anywheres, nowheres.
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• O •
WORDSDEFINITIONS & EXAMPLES
obeisance

obsequious
Obeisance is respect and homage paid someone: Farina greeted the queen with sincere obeisance.
Obsequiousness is submissiveness and an eagerness to obey: The obsequiousness of the waiter made them roll their eyes.
obtuse

abstruse
Obtuse means "lacking quickness of wit or sensitivity, dull, dense": Brandon is so obtuse he doesn't even know when he is being insulted.
Abstruse means "too difficult to understand for the average mind": The professor presented an abstruse metaphysical concept that went over our heads.
one another

each other
See each other, one another.
overdo

overdue
Overdo is to exaggerate something: Marcy overdoes her makeup every morning and she ends up looking like a clown.
Overdue indicates something that has missed its deadline: You must return these overdue books to the library immediately, or A visit to our grandparents is long overdue.
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• P •
WORDSDEFINITIONS & EXAMPLES
paean

peon
A paean is a poem or other artistic expression of praise and exultation: Ferdie's best poem was a paean to laziness, a subject he is intimately acquainted with.
A peon is a peasant, menial laborer, or drudge: Hugh Jeego stays in the president's office because he doesn't like mingling with the peons on the work floor.
pamper

pander
To pamper is to coddle, or treat with indulgence: The only time my mom pampers me is when I'm sick.
To pander is to cater to the base needs of others, to sell out: Senator Throckmorton got elected by pandering to special interest groups.
passed

past
Passed is the past tense of pass, to go by or move ahead of: The boys passed through town quickly.
Past is a place in time that was before now: You would be wise to reflect on the past and learn from it.
pasture

pastor
A pasture is a place where farm animals graze: Al Falfa puts his cows out into the pasture every morning.
A pastor is a member of the clergy, a minister of a church: Noah Sarque is the pastor of the local Baptist Church.
patent

latent
See latent, patent.
patience

patients
Patience is the ability to remain calm even when dealing with someone or something difficult: The teacher showed infinite patience for the students struggling with the reading material. (See also assistance and assistants.)
Patients are people who are sick in a hospital: The nurse had several new patients to get to know that week.
peace

piece
Peace is a sense of calm and absence of war or hostility: We all hope for peace throughout the world.
A piece is a part or segment of something: Helen Highwater lost a piece of her jewelry in church last Sunday.
peek

pique

peak
To peek is to look quickly without someone knowing: The child peeked inside the gift.
To pique is to arouse or provoke: Muriel's comment piqued Abner's curiosity. Pique can also be used as a noun meaning "resentment": Sedgewick felt a bit of pique at the association of his name with their real estate scheme.
A peak is the highest point of something: Chastity decided not to drive to the top of Pike's Peak during the peak summer vacation season.
peer

pier
To peer is to squint and gaze strongly at: Melvin had to peer through fog to keep the car on the highway.
a peer is an equal: Farnsworth didn't consider anyone his peer when it came to the game of tiddledy winks.
A pier is a walkway that juts into a body of water for docking: to he docked his boat at the end of the pier.
penultimate

ultimate
Penultimate means "the next to the last (the ultimate)": Little did Al Pacca know that the penultimate shrimp he ate was the one that gave him food poisoning.
Ultimate is the last or best: I found the ultimate gift for Gary this year.
peon

paean
See paean, peon.
perspective

prospective
A perspective is a view from a certain place or position or a mental outlook: The perspective from this building is spectacular, or Lydia Potts has a wonderful perspective on life considering the fact that she has 12 kids.
Prospective is an adjective that means "possible, likely to happen": We have several prospective opportunities before us.
perspicacious

perspicuous
Perspicacious means "mentally astute, acutely perceptive": I'm too perspicacious to be taken in by such a ruse.
A perspicuous Means "clearly and lucidly presented, easily grasped", as a perspicuous article on toads. Also be careful not to confuse this word with conspicuous "standing out, easily perceived".
persuade

convince
See convince, persuade.
phase

faze
See faze, phase.
physical

fiscal
See fiscal, physical.
piquant

pique
Piquant means "pleasantly tart or spicy": This restaurant serves a piquant salsa that is absolutely delicious.
To pique is to arouse or provoke: Grunella piqued Vern's curiosity with her question. (See also peek.)
plain

plane
Plain means "simple not showy" or "a large level region": It was plain to see that Vanessa loved Conway, or Bowser's farm was on a great plain where wheat grew well.
A plane is a flat and level surface, a new level, or an airplane: To understand the equation of a plane surface in mathematics you have to to reach a new plane of consciousness. Franklin landed the plane successfully.
portent

potent
A portent is a noun meaning "an omen or prophetic sign of the future": Ivan Oder took falling out of bed that morning as a portent of a greater disaster in the future.
Potent is an adjective meaning "strong and powerful": Arnold was a potent man, even at seventy, but could not handle the potent martinis Bella Donna made.
pour

pore

pore
To pour is to dispense liquid from one container into another: She poured some milk into the glass.
A pore is to study or read intensely: Hilda pored over the materials nightly.
Pore also means "a small opening in skin through which moisture or air moves": Pores are all over our bodies.
practical

practicable
Practical refers to being easily used and put into practice: A Swiss Army knife has many practical uses.
Practicable means "feasible or possible": It is not always practicable for a busy person to use this tool.
precede

proceed
The verb precede means "to come or go before, in front of": The flower girl preceded the bride in the procession down the aisle.
Proceed means "to move forward": Both the flower girl and the bride proceeded down the aisle at the same time.
premise

premises
A premise usually means "assumption": Since the basic premise was wrong, all the conclusions based on it were wrong, too.
Premises are a house or building and the grounds around it: Smoking is not allowed on the premises.
presence

presents
Presence means "the state of being near": April's presence was comforting in Rod's time of sorrow.
Presents are gifts: The greatest gift is to let someone give you a present.
principal

principle
A principal is the head of a professional business or school: The principal of the middle school is a woman of principles.
A principle is a belief: I avoid school principals as a matter of principle.
profit

prophet
Profit is the money earned above the expense it took to complete the project: Ghislaine and Pierre made a $100,000 profit when they remodeled and sold their house.
A prophet is a person who can foretell the future and through which a divine presence speaks: Atheism is a non-prophet religion.
profligate

prolific
Profligate is to be wasteful and extravagant: Esmeralda is so profligate that she spent the entire million dollars she won in the lottery in one year.
Prolific means "abundant, fruitful, producing much": John Grisham is a prolific writer.
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• Q •
WORDSDEFINITIONS & EXAMPLES
quiet

quite
Quiet means "without sound or mention of": You are supposed to be quiet in hospitals and libraries.
Quite can mean either "completely or somewhat, rather", depending on what you mean: I was quite alone that Saturday afternoon (completely) but the hours passed quite quickly (rather).
quote

quotation
Quote is a verb meaning "to state the exact words someone else said": The pastor quoted scripture from the Bible or Carmen quoted a famous psychologist in complaining to the boss.
A quotation is the actual statement being quoted: Gretchen read a quotation every day.
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Now test your knowledge of these words here.