Tag Archives: interest-confusables

  1. “Contagious” vs. “Infectious”: The Difference Can Be Important

    by John Kelly, Senior Research Editor at Dictionary.com Whether it’s flu season, chickenpox at your kid’s school, concerns about measles in your town, or the coronavirus pandemic, the words contagious and infectious often come around in news and social media, in casual conversations and government communications. While these two terms get used interchangeably, knowing the difference between them can, in some cases, be life-saving. To …

  2. “Gnarly,” “Nasty,” And “Sick”: Are These Synonyms?

    If you hang out around surfers long enough, chances are you’ll overhear them talking about a gnarly wave or a sick run. But what if they’re chatting about their housekeeping woes, and a gnarly living room or nasty kitchen? (Not cool, dude!) Does that make the words gnarly, sick, and nasty synonyms? This gets tricky because in addition to having various definitions, each word can be used …

  3. “Bare” vs. “Bear”: What Is The Difference?

    Most people know the word bear as a fuzzy noun: a massive mammal that makes for a beloved and cuddly toy. But what about the pain that some people know (all too well) when bearing down if they have a hemorrhoid? Or is it baring down that causes the unbearable burning? What if I take my shoes off when I enter someone’s home—am I walking …

  4. “Hero” vs. “Protagonist”: What Is The Difference?

    Many stories have one thing in common: a brave main character who ends up saving the day. But does slaying the dragon or defusing the bomb make this person a hero or a protagonist? And can the two words be used interchangeably? The correct answer to both is yes, with the caveat that the words are not always synonymous. Both nouns have multiple definitions and …

  5. “Epidemic” vs. “Pandemic” vs. “Endemic”: What Do These Terms Mean?

    Edited by John Kelly, Senior Research Editor at Dictionary.com If you recall the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s or are taking preparations against COVID-19 right now, then you’ve definitely heard the words epidemic and pandemic. With every biological outbreak, we encounter these words being used more and more frequently—and often, inaccurately. Why is it so easy for people to confuse these words? Well, both …

  6. “Pragmatic” vs. “Dogmatic”: What Are The Differences?

    Some people have the incredible ability to set their emotions aside and make clear, calm decisions in a crisis. Instead of getting caught up in big-picture ideals or feeling overwhelmed by the scale of a situation, they manage to face the problem head on and address it practically one step at a time. For those who don’t crumble under pressure, does this practical nature make …

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    “Psychopath” vs. “Sociopath”

    Think of your classic con artist: they lie, they’re manipulative, they don’t care about anyone else, and they lack remorse. Are these criminals psychopaths? Sociopaths? Both? People tend to think that a sociopath is a psychopath who doesn’t go around doing criminal things. Likewise, psycho remains shorthand for all kinds of deviant antisocial behavior, from stalking to murder. We’ve got some news for you. Despite …

  8. “Macaroon” vs. “Macaron”: What’s The Difference Between These Sweet Treats?

    If you’re a dessert lover, there’s a good chance that you enjoy both a rich coconut cluster cookie as well as a delicate almond cookie with a buttercream center. But which of these treats is a macaroon and which is a macaron? And did you know they were two different, albeit delicious, things? Although most foodies know the difference between these beloved cookies, many people …

  9. “Misinformation” vs. “Disinformation”: Get Informed On The Difference

    Amid the coronavirus pandemic, we are all desperate for information. Where did the virus come from? Is there a cure? How can we keep staying safe? Will life get back to normal? In the case of COVID-19, information can be a literal life-saver—when it’s true. Wrong information doesn’t help anyone and can even make things worse. And like a virus, wrong information can spread, causing …

  10. “Psychic” vs. “Medium”: Are These Synonyms?

    Some people seem to be born with a special intuition to always know things before they happen. Others have a special gift allowing them to see ghosts or talk to the dead. But are people with these unique talents psychics or mediums? And can the words psychic and medium be interchanged? The answer is sometimes; psychic and medium aren’t always synonyms, and despite both having a …