7 more confusing word pairs

Know the difference between ‘flout’ and ‘flaunt’ or ‘home’ and ‘hone’? Here’s a handy guide—with examples—to ensure (not insure) that you never mix up these and other tricky words again.

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In a previous PR Daily story, I discussed the distinctions between word pairs such as comprise and compose and imply and infer. The English language is full of problematic word pairs; here are seven more to note.

Oral and verbal

“Oral” means by mouth and should be used when referring to spoken language. It is more precise than verbal.

“Verbal” means with words, either written or spoken.

Complement and compliment

“Complement” means to add to or complete. It can also mean the quantity, number, or assortment required to make a thing complete.

A “compliment” is an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration. “Complimentary” means favorable or free.

Cord and chord

A “cord” refers to a rope or a bond, an insulated electrical cable, or an anatomical structure.

A “chord” is a musical term for a combination of three or more musical notes played together. Chord can also refer to an emotional feeling or response.

Flaunt and flout

To flaunt is to show off or display ostentatiously.

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