Meanings of words change, but…


Choose the correct word:

  1. Cecil’s spiritual adviser urged Cecil to avoid the porn shop by taking an (alternative/alternate) route to work
  2. Colbart was not (adverse/averse) to cheating at solitaire.
  3. Abigail was (loath/loathe) to try the fried grasshoppers Mort was raving about.
  4. Even the whiskey barbecue sauce didn’t (titillate/titivate) her appetite.
  5. (Your/You’re) more than welcome.
  6. Bert’s uncle was an (eminent/imminent) authority on the sexual habits of water beetles.
  7. By the time Garth managed to raise his hand, Samantha had (all ready/already) answered the question.
  8. Gloria’s late husband thought that mixing pipe tobacco and gun powder for easy lighting was an (ingenious/ingenuous) idea.
  9. Try not to (lose/loose) your temper when pedestrians push the walk button.
  10. Ernie’s excuses for never being on time were entirely (fictitious/fictional).
  11. Jadwiga got so engrossed in the crossword puzzle that she (burned/burnt) the roast.
  12. Dante describes the torments of the (damned/dammed) in great detail.
  13. The prospect of ending up in Hell never (fazed/phased) Uncle Gurland.
  14. Marion’s aunt, a lifelong kleptomaniac, managed to (allude/elude) store detectives for  forty years.
  15. Bart suspected that the rags soaked in gasoline were (flammable/inflammable).


  1. Alternative—Actually, in North American usage, alternate and alternative are used synonymously as adjectives meaning “a substitute.” In the UK alternative is preferred. In the sense of “every other” only alternate is acceptable: Grammar Gaffes appears on alternate Fridays.
  2. Averse—To be averse to something is to have a strong aversion toward it. Adverse means “difficult” as in “adverse circumstances.”
  3. Loath—The adjective loath means “reluctant”; the verb loathe means to dislike intensely.
  4. 4. TitillateTitillate means “to stimulate”; titivate means “to decorate or spruce up” as in the dashboard of the car was titivated with red and yellow pinstripes.”
  5. 5. You’re—You’re = You are
  6. EminentEminent means “prominent or famous”; imminent means “threatening” as in “imminent death.”
  7. 7. Already—The two-word all ready means “completely prepared.”
  8. Ingenious—Ingenuous means “innocent or childlike.”
  9. Lose—The verb to lose has a z sound. The adjective loose has an s sound: The ferret runs loose.
  10. 10. FictitiousFictional refers to fiction in the sense of creative writing. Fictitious means false in the sense of dishonest.
  11. Burned—Burnt is only an adjective: The roast was burnt.
  12. DamnedDammed means “restrained by a dam, blocked.”
  13. 13. Faze—If something fazes you, it bothers you. You can phase in better habits.
  14. Elude—One eludes (avoids) danger (or the police); one alludes (refers indirectly) to something.
  15. Flammable or inflammable—Oddly, these seeming opposites are synonymous and mean “capable of being easily ignited.” Something that isn’t capable of being easily ignited is non-flammable.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s