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Richard Nordquist

Autumn Quiz on Commonly Confused Words

By September 28, 2009

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You know the routine: ten questions, two minutes, correct answers at the bottom of the post. (For explanations, examples, and exercises, visit our Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words.)

  1. Affect or Effect
    New studies suggest that our daily ups and downs _____ us less than things out of our control, like genes and age.

  2. Appraise or Apprise
    This fall's new food guides _____ the best of the best in international cuisine, celebrating superior chefs in six top culinary cities.

  3. Eminent or Imminent
    If so _____ an establishment as a three-star Michelin restaurant can serve toxic shellfish, what hope is there for anyone else?

  4. Flaunt or Flout
    Our first priority is to identify employers who knowingly _____ public-health laws, often on a large scale.

  5. Grisly or Grizzly
    Mexico's famous Day of the Dead festival, with its _____ yet comic cavortings of the dead, recalls the skull motifs and sacrifices of the lost world of Moctezuma.

  6. Homed or Honed
    Last year scientists re-engineered E coli bacteria so that instead of swimming toward food they _____ in on substances released by dangerous pathogens.

  7. Miner or Minor
    The Arctic survey expedition was delayed as a result of a _____ problem with survival equipment.

  8. Prescribed or Proscribed
    British officials made contact with Hezbollah in Lebanon, which remains on the government's list of _____ terror groups.

  9. Regretful or Regrettable
    The film is beautiful, luscious, and elegiac, but it has the _____ drawback of being staggeringly tedious.

  10. Troop or Troupe
    In the end, the plucky singing Scot lost out to a dance _____.


  1. affect
  2. appraise
  3. eminent
  4. flout
  5. grisly
  6. homed
  7. minor
  8. proscribed
  9. regrettable
  10. troupe

More Quizzes on Commonly Confused Words


October 5, 2009 at 2:52 pm
(1) pisatel6 says:

I know the difference between metaphor and simile. I’m unhappy with the common definition of the latter term:

A figure of speech in which two fundamentally unlike things are explicitly compared, usually in a phrase introduced by “like” or “as.”

What about “than”?

Are the following not similes? Or do you have a separate term for such comparisons?

This martini is drier than a popcorn fart.
Back then I was so skinny I had to jump around in the shower to get wet.
Times were so hard that even people with no intention of paying weren’t buying stuff.

Note that there is no “like” or “as” in any example

October 5, 2009 at 10:13 pm
(2) Marilyn says:

I’m unhappy with pisatel6′s odd notion that the word “usually” (as in ” . . . usually in a phrase introduced by ‘like’ or ‘as’”) means “always” or “exclusively.”

The martini sentence contains a simile. The skinny sentence, hyperbole. And the hard times sentence, not much of anything.

February 15, 2010 at 4:08 pm
(3) kerry says:

Is there anything wrong with defining a simile as a comparison of fundamentally unlike things using “like,” “as,” or “than”?

October 22, 2010 at 12:08 pm
(4) summer says:

thanks for the tips)

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