Friday, February 7

Posted by Laurel Garver on Friday, February 07, 2014 3 comments
It's phonics Friday, and because I'm currently down with an ice-slipping injury, I'm keeping it short today. Instead of doing my usual homophone clarity session, I thought I'd give a shout out for a book series I recently discovered, Homonyms and Confusing Words by Lisa Binion.

I know, I know, Binion is using the wrong word to describe this book. A homonym is a same name, like "beat," meaning whip and also territory. She really should have used homophone, meaning same sound, like "beat" and "beet." Well, don't hold it against her too much, because this is a very thorough collection. So much so that book one in the series covers only letters A-C.

What makes it uniquely helpful is the "and confusing words" approach. She bundles together not only words that sound alike, but also near cousins that are sometimes mistakenly swapped, like amity and enmity (which are actually antonyms; the first means friendship, the second, conflict or hatred).

The entries spell out meanings and give examples. She tends to give only one of each, so if you might need to cross reference with an online dictionary like Merriam-Webster at times. It's generally when one uses the less common meanings that real confusion sets in.

What are some terms you tend to confuse? 


  1. This book looks fun. I confess that when I read the title I wondered if use of the word homonym was showing her age. I didn't hear the term "homophone" till I was an adult. I remember being taught that what we now call a homophone was a homonym, and wiktionary does give "same sound" as one of the definitions of homonym. My memory vindicated. :D

    1. I think the emergence of ESL as a distinct discipline that tries to best explain the quirks of English to language learners has led to the rising use of homophone as a distinct word from homonym. In my memory, I first started encountering the term in the 1980s. So you might be right in calling homonym the old school term.

  2. What a great resource! I tend to be pretty good with most, but there's always a few I need to check. :)