Monday 23 October 2017

Confusibles 3

Some words and phrases sound so similar that they are often confused. It's dangerous to mix up your alkahest with your almagest, especially in the presence of Queen Elizabeth I.

almagest: A treatise on astronomy, geography and maths compiled by Ptolemy about AD 150.
alkahest: The universal solvent once sought by alchemists.

Magician John Dee (pictured) is wearing a goffered ruff.
A goffering iron
(short O)  is a device for putting pleats in a ruff or bonnet.
A gofer (long O) is someone you send to fetch (go for) things.
A gopher (long O) is an American rodent.

You bail out a leaky boat, and bail a friend out of prison, but you bale up a bale of straw with baling twine.

You can have a buttoned-down (Puritanical) personality. You may be buttoned-up and rarely reveal your feelings. When you apply yourself to a task you buckle to (or down). When you collapse from all that hard work you buckle up, or just buckle.

Censers burn incense, censors ban books, and sensors are robot eyes and ears.

A bad egg is addled, an over-rouged woman is raddled.

Discomforting: disconcerting, making someone uncomfortable.
Discomfiting: Beating someone in a fight or argument.
(They’ve been confused for centuries.)

A galley is a compact kitchen on a boat, a gallery is where you sell works of art. So a small kitchen in a house is a "galley kitchen".

A gambit is a move in a game, an ambit is a sphere of influence, an orbit is the path a planet takes round the sun, your remit is your area of responsibility.

Bears are grizzly, beards are grizzled (grey), ghouls are grisly (gruesome).

Hermitic individuals avoid the rest of humanity, hermetic knowledge is magical or obscure (it's been hermetically sealed).

The jive is an energetic teenage dance of the 50s, to jibe is to agree or fit, when you gybe in a sailing boat you go about, a gibe is a needling insult, and gyves are fetters.

Lightning is a bolt from the blue, lightening is a relief of pressure.

If you're livid you are purple like a bruise from anger, or pale with shock; a lurid light is a sinister glow, a lurid paperback contains a shocking tale.

Mettle is determination, metal is gold, silver, iron, steel, tin, brass...

Ordnance refers to weapons, ordinance to rules.

Populace is a noun: it means “the people”. Populous is an adjective meaning “crowded”.

A bum rap is a harsh sentence; a bad rep is a poor reputation.

Society may be riddled with corruption as a Gruyere cheese is with holes. It may also be crime-ridden, and riven with dissent and factions. Anything riven is likely to be full of rifts.

You build on a site, keep your small child in sight, and cite facts in support of your argument.

More here, and links to the rest.

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