By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated, November 14, 2013)
Faint: (verb) lose consciousness, (adjective) dizzy, weak
Nelson nearly fainted with excitement when he thought he saw Justin Bieber on his neighbour’s porch, but it turned out to be a stack of turtles with a wig on top.
Frodo felt faint after consuming Lizzie’s hamburger surprise with secret sauce.
Feign: Fake something (often to get out of something)
Martha feigned death so that she wouldn’t have to go to the square dancing contest.
Kip feigned interest in Walker’s collection of celebrity-shaped potatoes.
Feint: (verb) trick an opponent by pretending to begin one move (such as a punch) and then doing something else; (noun) the act of feinting
Garla feinted to the left to trick Mork into moving to the right so that she could grab the doomsday device.
Laurel was confused by Anastasia’s feint and follow-up punch because they were playing checkers at the time.
The primary difference between these two words is that farther is typically used to refer to physical distance (farther down the road), whereas further is usually reserved for figurative speech and means to a greater extent or degree.
Xerxes ran a little farther each day, determined to increase his fitness to the point where he could catch up with the ice cream truck.
Zeb was asked to provide further explanation of the purpose of his invention, a sound-activated dancing toast rack.
Faze: (verb) disconcert, disturb, or embarrass
Mary Jane was fazed by her roommate Rory’s naked yoga routine.
Phase: (noun) a stage in a process or stage of development; (verb) introduce something or eliminate something in gradual stages, as in the expressions, phase something in and phase something out
“She’s just going through an irritable phase,” said Della, referring to her daughter’s collection of machine guns.
The boss has decided to phase in the new dress code slowly, starting with the tap shoes and velvet rabbit ears; the tutus won’t become mandatory until December.
Fewer: (adjective) used for things that can be counted as individual units (e.g., people, trees, kilometers, minutes)
Wilmer had fewer scorpions on his porch than Martha had in her pantry.
Less: (adjective) used for things that cannot be counted as individual units (e.g., time, distance, sugar, water)
Rhonda had less applesauce in her hair than Gerald did after the company picnic food fight.
Both flammable and inflammable mean easily ignited and able to burn rapidly, but many people mistakenly assume that inflammable means not flammable (this is a logical assumption, given the prefix in).
Mistakenly believing that her inflammable suit was not flammable, Georgina jumped into the volcano.
Flaunt: (verb) exhibit shamelessly or ostentatiously
Belinda flaunted her wealth by wearing sixteen expensive hats stacked on top of one another and carrying nineteen designer handbags everywhere she went.
Flout: (verb) show scorn or contempt
Simba flouted convention by attending funerals in a badger costume.
Flounder: (verb) stumble awkwardly, stagger clumsily, thrash about, or struggle, often in mud or water, though it can also refer to a mental struggle characterized by confusion
Scotty floundered in the mud wrestling pit, searching for his lost shoe as two women in bikinis thrashed about nearby.
The professor floundered when asked to explain quantum dynamics because his specialization was anthropology.
Founder: (verb) get stuck, sink, or fail; (noun) someone who establishes an institution, business, or settlement
Webster’s snake leash business foundered due to the fact that snakes don’t have necks.
Although he was the founder of Craptown, Cornelius hated the place and everyone in it.
Forbear: (verb) refrain from, choose not to do something (this is a nearly obsolete word)
He decided that he could not forbear eating all the roses from the couple’s wedding cake, so he consumed them and replaced them with Yoda figurines.
Forebear: (noun) ancestor
Included among Silvan’s forbears was Cornelius Whackadoodle, the founder of Craptown, USA.
Forward: (adjective) ahead, toward the front, near the front, toward the future; (adverb) onward; (verb) to send an e-mail or letter received from one individual or organization on to another
Sam found his snakes in the forward section of the plane.
As a forward-thinking individual, Jessica felt that it was her duty to invent a cheese-seeking robot.
The marching band attempted to move forward, but the quicksand held them in place.
Marley was angry when Kimberly forwarded his private e-mails to members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Foreword: (noun) a book’s introduction
Willy was confused by the foreword’s references to the architecture of 20th century outhouses because the rest of the book was about fly fishing.
- Casagrande, J. (2006). Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language tor Fun and Spite. Penguin, New York.
- Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries. (2004). 100 Words Almost Everyone Confuses & Misuses. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin Company.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (2013). Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Merrriam-Webster.com.
- O’Conner, P. T. (1996). Woe Is I, the Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English. New York, G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
- Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. (2013). Oxford University Press. OALD8.OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com.