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January 1, 2019

We’re back with another set of similar sounding words with entirely different meanings.

Our illustrious former Henderson Writer’s Group el-presidente, Linda Webber, has been presenting grammar lessons each week on the back of our meeting agendas. The gist of them are the improper use of words.

As a reminder, I’ll add the standard intro below before I get into the word list.


I once wrote a screenplay with my bud, Doug Lubahn, a famous musician. During our correspondence, I once told him I was waiting with “baited” breath instead of “bated” breath. He’s never let me live that one down.

The proper use of words is something a lot of (especially) new writers don’t always get. So, for your reading pleasure, below is a list of words and how to use them properly.

The list is not near complete, so that’s why this is called Grammar Lesson Seven.

Once again, my many thanks to Linda Webber, who has gone through the trouble to compile these words all in one place for me to steal and present to you here at Fred Central.

These are common words that are often used out of context. They can be a quandary for a writer, and a quick trip to a dictionary, or on line.


Loath                          Reluctant, unwilling

She was loath to eat the burger.

Loathe                        To hate

I loathed getting a haircut.

Loose                          To unfasten: To set free

She let the squirrel loose and it scampered off

Lose                            To be deprived of, to be unable to find

If you don’t put your wallet back in your pocket, you’re going to lose it.

Meter                          A measuring device

The gas meter showed a large consumption the past month.

Metre                          A metric unit, rhythm in verse

Carl tried to get the metre of the chorus so he could keep up with the song.

Militate                       To be a powerful factor against

The two parties’ views militate against a common core of reference.

Mitigate                      To make less severe

Because he gave them the location of the loot, that mitigated his sentence to six months instead of a year.

Palate                          The roof of the mouth

The pudding slid smooth against his palate.

Palette                         A board for mixing colors

She dabbed three colored paints together on the palette and created ochre.

Pedal                           A foot-operated lever

Randy had never used a clutch pedal before and when he tried, he stalled the truck.

Peddle                         To sell goods

Oscar peddled dry goods at the fair.

Council                       A group of people who manage or advise

The city council voted on the measure three to one.

Counsel                      Advice, or to advise

I really appreciated my dad’s counsel when I was growing up, though I didn’t show it much.

Cue                             A signal for action or a wooden rod

Stephanie took her cue from the director and hit the stage.

Queue                         A line of people or vehicles

The queue to get in to see the Tut exhibit was over a mile long.

Curb                           To keep something in check or a control or limit

I’ve been told to curb my enthusiasm by my pessimistic friend.

Kerb                           In British English it’s the stone edge of pavement

Sally tripped over the kerb when she crossed the street.

Currant                      A dried grape

My best friend loves currant pie, but I can’t stand it.

Current                      Happening now, or a flow of water, air or electricity

Jack eased the dingy out into the river where the current pushed it further downstream.

Defuse                        To make a situation less tense

The cops came in to defuse the situation, but their uniforms only added to the tension.

Diffuse                                    To spread over a wide area

The dandelion spread in a diffuse pattern over the lawn.


Once again, thanks to Linda Webber for her hard work putting these original words together!

Happy writing!

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