Commonly Confused Words

Here is a list of commonly confused words, along with their more obscure definitions just for fun. Definitions  rephrased from the Oxford English Dictionary and

Abram Leyzorek

I.                   Bail

A.                 Noun

1.                  Jurisdiction, custody, power, or charge. Obs.

2.                  A giving, delivery, or handing-over. Obs.

3.                  The amicable custody or charge of someone who would otherwise be imprisoned and has given security to ensure that they will be forthcoming at an appointed place and time. Obs.

4.                  Temporary release or delivery from prison upon finding securities to appear for trial. Obs.

5.                  Pending the trial of a prisoner, security given for his release from prison.

6.                  A person or persons who secure the release of a prisoner from prison or officer custody by becoming surety for his attendance at court for his trial.

7.                  Comb. Bail-bond: the security or bond entered into by a bail.

B.                 Verb

1.                  To deliver goods in a trust, upon a contract that the trust will be executed faithfully by the bailee.

2.                  To release a person from prison or immediate arrest on security being given that the person shall be duly presented for trial.

3.                  To liberate from imprisonment.

4.                  To become bail or security in order to procure the release of a person from arrest or imprisonment.

5.                  To secure, guarantee, protect.


II.                Bail

A.                 Noun

1.                  A ring or hoop; a half-hoop for supporting the cover of a cradle or a wagon, the tilt of a ship, etc.

2.                  The hoop handle of a kettle or other similar vessel.

B.                 Verb

1.                  To hoop, gird.

III.              Bail

A.                 Noun

1.                  The first line of defense in fortifications made of palisades, barriers, or stakes.

2.                  Of the outer court a feudal castle, the outer wall; extended to each successive wall separating the courts, thus sometimes used for the courts themselves.

IV.             Bail

A.                 Noun

1.                  The bulwarks of a boat.

V.                Bail

A.                 Noun

1.                  Any small container used to bail water from a boat. Obs.

B.                 Verb

1.                  To throw water out of a boat.

VI.             Bail

A.                 Noun

1.                  A pole or bar used to separate horses in an open  stable.

2.                  (Australian) A framework for securing a cow while she is milked.

3.                  A cross bar. Obs.

4.                  The name for each the two pieces of wood laid across the three stumps to form the wicket in the game of cricket.

VII.           Bail

A.                 Noun

1.                  To confine.

B.                 Verb

1.                  In Australia, to secure the head of a cow in a ‘bail’ while she is milked.

VIII.        Bale.

A.                 Noun

1.                  A bonfire. Obs.

2.                  A funeral pyre. Obs.

3.                  A signal fire. Arch.

IX.              Bale.

A.                 Noun

1.                  A large package of merchandise tightly pressed, wrapped, tied up with cord or metal hoops, for transportation.

2.                  A measure of quantity, used with more or less precision.

3.                  Comb. Bale-goods: goods in a bale, as opposed to case-goods.

B.                 Verb

1.                  To make up into a bale or bales.

X.                Bale

A.                 Noun

1.                  A set of dice for any special game. Obs.

XI.              Bale.

A.                 Noun

1.                  A pill or bolus.

XII.           Climb.

A.                 Noun

1.                  An ascent.


B.                 Verb

1.                  To raise oneself up a steep or perpendicular surface by clinging or grasping with aide of the hands and feet; to ascend, come or go up.

2.                  To mount, scale.

3.                  Of the moon or the sun, to move towards the zenith.

4.                  Of plants, to creep up by the aid of tendrils or twining.

5.                  To slope upward.

6.                  To move upward in the intellectual, moral, or social scale.

XIII.        Clime.

A.                 Noun

1.                  Climate. Obs.

2.                  A region considered in relation to its distinctive climate.

3.                  Atmosphere.

XIV.        Pair.

A.                 Noun

1.                  Two corresponding, similar, or identical things matched for use together.

2.                  Something regarded as or consisting of two pieces joined together.

3.                  Two individuals who are similar or associated in some way.

4.                  A couple, married, engaged, or dating.

5.                  Two mated animals.

6.                  A team or span.

7.                  Two members on opposite sides of a deliberative body who arrange to forgo voting.

a)                  This arrangement.

8.                  Cards.

a)                  Two cards of the same denomination regardless of suit.

b)                  Two card players matched together against different contestants.

9.                  Two pieces or parts so joined that they mutually prevent motion relative to each other.

10.              Two postage stamps either horizontally or vertically joined together.

B.                 Verb

1.                  To designate or arrange in pairs.

2.                  To match, couple.

3.                  To be a member of a pair.

4.                  To resemble or match with another.

5.                  To unite in close association with another.

6.                  (of animals) To mate.

7.                  (In a deliberative body) To form or arrange a pair.

XV.          Pare.

A.                 Verb

1.                  To remove the outer part, layer, or coating of something by cutting.

2.                  To gradually diminish or decrease.

XVI.        Pear.

A.                 Noun

1.                  The edible fruit of the Pyus communis tree.

2.                  The tree itself.

XVII.     Tare.

A.                 Noun

1.                  Any of various vetches, especially Vicia sativa.

2.                  The vetch seed.

3.                  In the bible, a noxious weed, possibly the darnel.

XVIII.   Tare.

A.                 Noun

1.                  The weight of the packaging, conveyance, or receptacle containing goods which is subtracted from the gross weight to ascertain the net weight.

2.                  Such a deduction.

3.                  The weight of a motor vehicle without fuel or accompanying equipment.

B.                 Verb

1.                  To calculate, make allowance for, or indicate the tare of.

XIX.        Tear.

A.                 Noun

1.                  A drop of saline liquid secreted by the lacrimal glands.

2.                  This liquid flowing from or appearing in the eye in response to emotion, particularly sadness.

3.                  Something resembling a tear, especially in shape.

4.                  A decorative air bubble trapped in a glass vessel.

B.                 Verb

1.                  To fill up or overflow with tears, regarding the eyes.

XX.           Tear.

A.                 Noun

1.                  The act of tearing.

2.                  A fissure or rent.

3.                  A rage, passion, violent flurry, or outburst.

4.                  Informal. A spree.

B.                 Verb

1.                  To pull into pieces by force, especially so as to leave ragged edges.

2.                  To violently pull or snatch away.

3.                  To put into great distress.

4.                  To disrupt or divide.

5.                  To lacerate.

6.                  To effect or produce by rending.

7.                  To forcefully remove.

8.                  To become torn.

9.                  To make a tear.

10.              To behave in a violently hasty, forceful, or energetic manner.

XXI.        Wail.

A.                 Noun

1.                  A prolonged vocal sound expressing pain or grief.

2.                  The action of wailing.

3.                  A sound resembling a cry of grief or pain.

B.                 Verb

1.                  To bitterly grieve.

2.                  To lament, deplore, bewail:

a)                  Misfortune, sin, suffering; of others or one’s own.

b)                  The dead or the loss of something.

XXII.      Wail.

A.                 Noun

1.                  Veil.

2.                  Vail.

XXIII.   Wail.

A.                 Noun

1.                  Wale.

XXIV.  Waile.

A.                 Noun

1.                  A Willow.

XXV.     Waile.

A.                 Noun

1.                  Obs. Var. Quail.

XXVI.  Wale.

A.                 Noun

1.                  A ridge of earth or stone.

2.                  The ridge raised on the flesh by a blow.

3.                  A raised line or ridge of thread or string in a fabric.

a)                  A stripe of color.

4.                  Naut. The gunwale of a ship.

5.                  The individual timbers bracing the piles of a dam.

6.                  The individual horizontal bands around the body of a basket comprised of intertwined rods meant as a finishing-off course.

7.                  A ridge on a horse’s collar.

8.                  Comb. Wale-piece.

a)                  A piece of timber to be used for a gunwale on a ship.

b)                  A timber bracing the piles of a dam.

B.                 Verb

1.                  To raise a wale on the flesh.

2.                  To secure, fasten, or protect with a wale or wale-piece.

3.                  Weaving.

a)                  Mil. To wattle or weave a hurdle or gabion.

b)                  Basketmaking. To create a wale by intertwining rods, or to install a wale on a basket.


XXVII.                        Wale.

A.                 Noun

1.                  A choice, or the group of things one of which is to be chosen.

2.                  Something chosen because it is the best out of a group.

B.                 Verb

1.                  To choose.

XXVIII.                     Wale.

A.                 Noun

1.                  Obs. Rare. A current or wave.

XXIX.   Wale.

A.                 Noun

1.                  A general expression of praise, e.g. select, choice, noble, excellent, etc.

a)                  Ascribed to a person, his qualities, actions, etc.

b)                  Ascribed to a thing.

XXX.      Wale.

A.                 Noun

1.                  Obs. Alas!

XXXI.   Whale.

A.                 Noun

1.                  Any of the big, fish-like marine mammals in the order Cetacea.

2.                  Applied to the “great fish” which swallowed Jonah in the Bible.

3.                  Silurus Glanis, a large freshwater fish. Obs.

4.                  Something resembling a whale; in astronomy, the constellation Cetus.

B.                 Verb

1.                  To fish for whales.


A.                 Verb

1.                  To flog, thrash, beat.

2.                  To do something vehemently or continuously.


Oxford English Dictionary, compact edition.