Banner image
TOP / browse / EFL / advanced / confusing-synonyms .. show-detailed-view Print View
<< previous         next >>
1 YouTube

Odd One Out

2 Decide which word in each of these groups is significantly different from the others. What does it mean? (Use your dictionary where necessary.)
a custom, a habit, an anomaly, a tradition
an anomaly = a strange or unusual feature of a situation
  1. to celebrate , to commiserate, to commemorate, to honour
  2. to inflame, to douse, to extinguish (to put out) , to smother
  3. a spirit, a phantom, a ghost , a premonition
  4. to originate, to terminate, to initiate, to conceive
  5. to soothe, to startle, to alarm, to frighten
  6. a rebellion, an insurrection , a mutiny , an assembly
  7. to ban, to sanction, to outlaw , to prohibit
  8. a symbol, a sign , a password , a logo

In each of the groups of words in 1-8 above three of the words have a similar meaning. Make distinctions about when you use each of the three words which are similar.
a custom, a habit, an anomaly, a tradition
A custom is usually something which has been done for a long time by a group. 'It's our custom to have a party at the end of every school year.'
A habit is something someone does again and again, perhaps without realising it. 'He has an annoying habit of biting his nails.'
A tradition is similar to a custom, but may be older and passed down from parents to their children. 'We have a tradition in our family to go for a long walk after Christmas lunch.'

4 Use the most appropriate word from Exercise I (in the correct form) in each of the following sentences.
  1. Smoking is strictly.....................inside the factory.
  2. Scientists first.....................the idea of the atomic bomb in the 1930s.
  3. That cake looks fantastic. It' chocolate. Just how I like it!
  4. After several days of reduced rations, there was serious talk of.....................amongst the crew.
  5. The dove is universally known as a.....................of peace.
  6. As children we used to terrify one another by telling .....................stories at night.
  7. I see Andrea sitting in the corner of the room. I had thought the flat was empty.
  8. I be chosen to play for the national team.

Dictionary Definitions

  1. commiserate /kЙ™mЙЄz.Й™.reЙЄt/ to express sympathy to someone about some bad luck
    I began by commiserating with her over the defeat. Ahh never mind, it's not so bad.
    Don't worry about a thing, because every little thing, is going to be alright
  2. commemorate verb /kЙ™mem.Й™.reЙЄt/ v [T]
    to remember officially and give respect to a great person or event, especially by a public ceremony or by making a statue or special building
    Gathered all together in this church, we commemorate those who lost their lives in the great war.
    A statue has been built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the poet's birthday.
  3. premonition noun
    a feeling that something, especially something unpleasant, is going to happen
    [+ that] He had a premonition that his plane would crash, so he took the train.
    She had a sudden premonition of what the future might bring.
  4. phantom noun
    a spirit of a dead person believed by some to visit the living as a pale, almost transparent form of a person, animal or other object; a ghost A phantom coach is said to pass through the grounds of this house when there's a full moon.
    humorous - The phantom wine-drinker has been around - this was almost a full bottle when I
    put it in the fridge (= an unknown person has been drinking the wine)!
  5. douse verb (also dowse ) v [T]
    to make something or someone wet by throwing a lot of liquid over them
    to stop a fire or light from burning or shining, especially by putting water on it or by covering it with something
    We watched as demonstrators doused a car in/with petrol and set it alight.
  6. smother verb (COVER) /smКЊГ°.Й™ r/US pronunciation symbol //-Йљ/ v [T] to kill someone by covering their face so that they cannot breathe
    To kill something by covering it and preventing it from receiving the substances and conditions it needs for life
    They threatened to smother the animals with plastic bags.
    Snow soon smothered the last of the blooms.
    figurative - I tried desperately to smother a sneeze (= I tried not to sneeze) during his speech.
    to stop a fire from burning by covering it with something which prevents air from reaching it
    I threw a blanket over the cooker to smother the flames.
  7. inflame verb /ЙЄnfleЙЄm / v [T]
    to cause or increase very strong feelings such as anger or excitement
    Reducing the number of staff is certain to inflame the already angry medical profession.
    Pictures of the bombed and burning city inflamed feelings/passions further.
  8. insurrection noun n [C or u]
    an organized attempt by a group of people to defeat their government and take control of their country, usually by violence
    armed insurrection
  9. revolution noun (CHANGE) /rev.Й™lu.Кѓ Й™ n / n [C]
    a very important change in the way that people do things
    a technological revolution
    Penicillin produced a revolution in medicine.
  10. rebellion noun n [C or U]
    violent action organized by a group of people who are trying to change the political system in their country The government has brutally crushed the rebellion.
    action against those in authority or against the rules or against normal and accepted ways of behaving
    a backbench rebellion against the new foreign policy
    her teenage rebellion

Vocabulary: synonyms

Look at the words in the left hand column of the table below and tick the column which contains an approximate synonym (a word with the same meaning).
Now listen to the words used in context and check your ideas.

  1. Each group should take one group of synonyms and find out what differences, if any, exist between the meaning of the words in each group.
  2. Explain your findings to students from other groups.
7 Complete each sentence with an appropriate word in the correct form from the table in Exercise I.
  1. In order to.....................available power, solar panels are placed on the highest part of the building.
  2. She stared up at the great glaring moon and the.....................stars.
  3. It is.....................British behaviour to suffer in silence rather than complain.
  4. It's.....................that the missing children could have survived so long without food.
  5. Many of the factory workers signed up for overtime to.....................their meagre wages.
  6. There's no skill in a game like roulette. It's all ......................
  7. The cars are.....................tested for safety and reliability before leaving the factory.
  8. .....................scholars before Copernicus had suggested that the earth went round the sun.
  9. The idea of travelling to other solar systems may sound.....................but scientists now see it as a real possibility.
  10. You're going to Bermuda? What an amazing......................So am I!
8 Now find one approximate synonym for each of the following words. (Refer to a thesaurus or a dictionary such as the Longman Language Activator.) Make a note of any differences in meaning with the original word. Then compare your synonyms with other students. 9 Record in your vocabulary notebook all the new words you have learnt. Take care to note the exact meaning and context when particular words can be used.
iBiscuits LOGO