Special Report

Words People Get Wrong All the Time

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6. Amused and Bemused

This is an interesting pair because bemused originally meant bewildered or confused — not in an amusing sense. Bemused, however, sounds so much like amused and has been used mistakenly as a synonym so often that some dictionaries have come to accept this additional meaning.

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7. Balmy and Barmy

Balmy means mild and refreshing, and is often used to describe weather or a climate. Barmy is British slang for crazy or foolish.

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8. Aural and Oral

These two have related meanings: aural refers to the ear or hearing, and oral to the mouth or speaking.

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9. Baited and Bated

“With bated breath” means nervously or anxiously; bated is hardly ever used in any other context, and people often wrongly spell it with an “i.” Baited is the past principle of bait, which means to tease or put a trap.

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10. Bear and Bare

People often confuse bear and bare. Although they are short and simple words, they mean very different things — and each has more than one meaning. Bear can mean carry or endure, bear with someone, or even give birth. It’s also a furry animal. As an adjective, bare can mean uncovered or simple; as a verb it means to expose.

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