Children's, Intermediate and Advanced Online English Dictionary & Thesaurus

Tag: easily confused words


ELL Q&A: Contrasting Animals

Posted in ELL Q&A, Wordsmyth Blog by Olivia Smialek

Welcome to ELL Q&A, where Wordsmyth answers questions submitted by English Language Learners. Today, let’s compare and contrast animals that look similar.



averse vs. adverse

Posted in Wordsmyth Blog by admin

It’s not a shocker that these two adjectives are frequently confused. They differ in spelling only by a letter, and they both mean, broadly speaking, “opposed to.” Digging deeper into their etymology only reveals more similarity: the same Latin verb, versare, meaning “to turn,” is at the root of both.

To keep the memorizing simple, here’s a tip:

The word “averse” always applies to a person. It describes a person’s feeling or attitude of being against or opposed to something. Examples: She was averse to violent movies. Are you averse to attending this costume party?

The word “adverse” applies to outside forces and conditions that affect people, usually in a way opposed to or harmful to people’s needs or interests. Examples: A blizzard creates adverse driving conditions. This study concludes that violent movies have an adverse effect on children.

You’ll notice, too, that “averse” is almost always used with the preposition “to.” Examples: I am not averse to change; it just takes me a while to adjust to new things. 

By contrast, “adverse” usually precedes a noun that it modifies: adverse side-effects, adverse winds

Get this distinction down,  and then learn the more precise meanings of these two words by looking up the dictionary entries. And, finally, if you are familiar with “aversion” and “adversity,” which are the nouns formed from “averse” and “adverse,” knowing this quartet of words will strengthen your command of all of them.

P.S.  If you come up with a mnemonic device based on the extra “d” in “adverse,” let us know.







Posted in Word of the Day by admin


uhn ihk sep shə nə bəl


without flaw or fault; beyond objection or criticism.
example: She believed her fiancé was a man of unexceptionable character.
example: Though the student seemed bored and undisciplined in class, the work he handed in was unexceptionable.



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stanch (staunch)1


transitive verb

1. to cause (a liquid, especially blood) to stop flowing.
example: The doctor asked for a clamp to stanch the blood.
2. to cause (a cut, wound, drip, or the like) to stop giving off liquid.
example: “Blood trickles from his nose, and from an awful wound on his torso which he has tried to stanch by knotting his shirt around his ribs.” (“Cyberfate, Felicity Savage, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Vol. 89 Issue 3, 1995) (more…)



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dih sem b@l
transitive verb
definition 1: to disguise or hide behind a false semblance; conceal the true nature or state of.
example: She dissembled her real motives for visiting her dying uncle.
definition 2: to pretend of make a false show of; feign.
example: She dissembled madness to escape punishment.

intransitive verb
definition: to conceal one’s true motives, opinions, or feelings by a pretense.
example: The spy must dissemble, must pretend to embrace a different opinion, laugh about a forbidden joke, must tell one himself.”