By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated, November 14, 2013)
Lead: (verb) bring a person or an animal along to a destination; (verb) direct or guide, command, be in charge of; (verb) be used as a means to access something; (noun) the first; (noun) the example that indicates a way of doing things; (noun) the starring role in a play or a movie; (noun) a type of metal
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him perform in a water ballet show.
Zelda realized that Max was leading the marching band toward the lake of spilled Krazy Glue, but there was nothing she could do to stop the disaster.
The corridor on the left leads to a room where a lone monkey sits smoking a cigar
Selma planned to lead the way in showing others how to create macramé toilet cozies.
Geraldine Muckley landed the lead in Montague’s play, A New Rooster for Sally, after the original star, Brandine Ugby, was run over by a zamboni.
In a fit of rage, Spencer attacked Lydia’s marshmallow Peeps with a lead pipe.
Led: (verb) the past tense of the verb lead
She led Rory down to the basement to show him her newest cheese sculpture.
Liable: (adjective) legally responsible; likely to do or be something when combined with to
He is liable for the damages caused by his pet rhinoceros.
For some reason, houses on this block are liable to spontaneous combustion.
Libel: (noun) a malicious, false written statement; (verb) to publish libel
Evan Mackleroy accused the magazine of libel, arguing that as a vegetarian, he would never engage in cannibalism.
After the magazine had libeled Mackleroy with the cannibalism charges, it printed an apology on page 102 in a 6-point font.
Literally refers to something accurate, factual, and exact, but it is often misused in figurative expressions. For example, He literally ate his body weight in cheese, after which he literally had to roll home, is wrong.
Confusing literally and figuratively is one of those things that will get you into big trouble with the grammar police, so it’s best avoided.
Livid: (adjective) bluish gray (as in a livid bruise), (adjective) furious
The drunk man had a livid bruise on his forehead after head-butting his reflection in the mirror.
The drunk became livid with his own reflection because he thought the man in the mirror had stolen his beer.
Florid: (adjective) having a flushed or red complexion
Wilfred had a florid face due to his heavy drinking and his tendency to become enraged at the slightest provocation.
Loath: (adjective) unwilling or reluctant, typically followed by to
Belinda was loath to tell Jebediah that his pants were on backward.
Loathe: (verb) feel intense disgust or dislike
Melvin loathed conflict, so he just sat there and let the thieves take all his cheese.
Lob: (verb) throw
Lobbing pork dumplings at those who displease you is socially inappropriate.
Lop: (verb) cut off
They lopped off branches until the tree was shaped like a giant dancing hamster.
Lose: (verb) misplace, be deprived of, be unable to find; (verb) shed (as in pounds during weight loss); (verb) fail to win
Not wanting to lose her children in the crowd, Martina wrapped them in solar-powered flashing Christmas lights before heading out to the festival.
Edmond lost the race because he kept stopping to pick flowers along the way.
Loose: (adjective) unfastened or not tightly fastened, not held or clustered tightly together, not pulled tight; (adjective) free; (adjective) inexact; (verb) unfasten, release, make less tight; (verb) set free; (verb) shoot a weapon
A loose latch on the hamster cage led to disaster as Fuzzmaster III escaped and made his way into the pantry.
Frankie painted himself gray and hid among the pile of loose rocks until the angry horde of Girl Scouts had passed.
Barnaby broke free from the milling crowd and charged toward the giant toilet paper sculpture, scissors in hand.
Marek had a loose definition of a single slice of pie, cutting out a small wedge and then taking the remainder.
Filmore loosened his belt, pulled down his pants, and mooned the angry mime.
The children loosed a volley of meatloaf chunks at their principal to protest the cancellation of Pizza Day.
They loosed their arrows upon the enemy who, armed only with water balloons, retreated hastily.
- 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