By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated, November 14, 2013)
Palate: (noun) the roof of the mouth, (noun) the sense of taste
He held the pill between his tongue and his palate until he was sure that Nurse Ratchett was gone.
Candy did not have a refined palate; she was happy with anything that contained some combination of hot dog slices and noodles.
Palette: (noun) a board on which a painter mixes colours, (noun) a range of colours
He spent hours mixing the colours on his palette to produce the right shade of brown for his masterwork,” Cats Playing Go Fish.”
Pallet: (noun) a primitive or makeshift bed (often stuffed with straw or other old-fashioned materials), (noun) a platform on which warehouse materials are stacked
He preferred his pallet stuffed with old potatoes to Delia’s waterbed with its pink velvet sheets and array of stuffed animals staring at him with their cold, judgmental eyes.
Stacking case after case of automatic banana peelers on a pallet, Ferdinand thought about how lazy people had become.
Peaceable: (adjective) inclined to avoid conflict and to be peaceful in general
Because he had a peaceable nature, Orin did not participate in the violent brawl over the last office doughnut.
Peaceful: (adjective) the state of being peaceful, tranquil, and free from conflict
The office was once again peaceful after all of Marguerite’s enemies had been slain and she held the last doughnut in her hand.
Peak: (noun) top, typically used to refer to mountains and other tall, pointy things, though it can also refer to the top of one’s field; (adjective) maximum, at the highest level of
Renaldo, an accomplished climber who had survived many dangerous ascents to the peaks of the world’s tallest mountains, died in a tragic broccoli-related accident on his own front lawn.
Jondolar was at the peak of his career as a professional bog snorkeler.
The hideous statue was restored to peak condition so that people would have the opportunity to be repelled by it for many years to come.
Peek: (verb) look quickly or furtively; (noun) a quick, furtive look
Louis peeked into the kitchen to check for witnesses before stealing the cupcakes.
Erin sneaked a peak into the kitchen to check if Louis was stealing the cupcakes that she had spiked with hot sauce.
Pique: (verb) arouse curiosity or interest; (adjective – piqued) irritated or resentful; (noun) resentment, irritation
Ronald’s curiosity was piqued when he saw Wanda sneaking off with four rolls of duct tape, a pink frilly umbrella, a bucket of skittles, and a pygmy goat covered in silly string.
Ronald was piqued by the fact that Wanda gave the goat a more expensive Christmas present than she had given him.
Ronald stormed out in a fit of pique when he realized that Wanda had replaced the picture of him she kept in her locket with a photo of the goat.
Pedal: (noun) a lever, often (though not always) operated by foot, that causes a machine to stop, go, or work; (verb) to push pedals in order to cause a machine to start, stop, or work
Rutger hit the brake pedal hard to avoid crashing into the sausage delivery van.
Velma pedaled her bicycle into a lake so that she wouldn’t have to attend the birthday party Aunt Gladiola was hosting for her twin poodles.
Peddle: (verb) sell goods, usually by traveling from place to place; can also refer to promoting ideas or beliefs
He peddled useless appliances such as the Apple Decorator 5000, the Kumquat Rotater Pro, and the Salami Agitator Deluxe.
He peddled his idea for a documentary about banana safety awareness after a spate of accidental banana pokings had left many people in the neighbourhood irritated.
Petal: (noun) a soft, colourful part of a flower’s corolla
Norman left a trail of flower petals from the front door to the bedroom as a romantic gesture for his wife, but their pet goat Odie had eaten them all by the time she arrived home from work.
Penultimate: (adjective) second to last
Morton took the penultimate spot in the joggling competition. (Yes, this is actually a sport.)
Ultimate: (adjective) final, farthest, happening at the end of some process; (adjective) most extreme or greatest
Her ultimate goal was to win back all the gerbils she had lost to Magda during their last poker game.
Wilford’s ultimate destination was Floyds Knobs, Indiana.
Roberta, the ultimate pineapple rolling champion of her era, was also a talented beer pong player.
Pole: (noun) a long slender object, usually made of wood or metal
Zef used a pole to retrieve his underwear from the statue’s head and contemplated cutting back on his drinking.
Poll: (noun) a survey designed to gather people’s opinions, beliefs, or preferences; (noun) the record of votes cast during an election; (verb) to record votes or opinions
Fud, a local xenophobe, polled his neighbours to determine their receptiveness to the idea of surrounding the town with a piranha-infested moat.
Pour: (verb) flow, cause something to flow (usually by tipping a container to dispense a substance such as milk or cereal); (verb) rain hard
He poured his gazpacho soup over Lillian’s head and stormed off in disgust, taking his foul-mouthed parrot with him.
It was pouring with rain when the aliens showed up at Nettie’s door to ask for directions to Pluto.
Pore: (noun) a tiny opening in skin or on a plant, rock, etc.; (verb) study attentively
With his tiny pores, Errol’s skin appeared flawless, but he spoiled his beauty by selling advertising space on his forehead.
Nermal pored over the books for hours but found no instructions for breeding unicorns.
Precipitate: (verb) hurl downward (usually from great height), (verb) cause to happen prematurely or suddenly (typically bad things), (verb) condense and fall from the sky (rain), (verb) be separated as a solid from a solution
Narlene’s habit of whacking people over the head with baguettes precipitated a feud with the neighbours.
Precipitous: (adjective) steep, sheer, resembling a precipice, having several precipices
Despite the danger posed by the precipitous drop, Nettie scrambled down the slope to hang decorative garlands of Christmas tinsel around the necks of the bewildered mountain goats.
Premier: (adjective) first, most important, foremost
They were the world’s premier death metal band until their lead singer left to join a barber shop quartet.
Premiere: (noun) the first showing of something, typically a play or movie; (verb) to show something for the first time
His play, “A New Squid for Brenda,” premiered at the Spuzzum Community Theatre.
Prescribe: (verb) impose or direct, set down as a guide or rule, order to be used (e.g., prescribe antibiotics), establish laws or rules
He prescribed fresh air and bed rest for everything from parasitic alien infestation to exploding head syndrome.
Proscribe: (verb) prohibit, forbid, denounce, condemn, banish, outlaw
King Leonard IV proscribed the use of pineapples in sport after a series of tragic pineapple-related accidents.
Pretense: (noun) an attempt to deceive by faking something
Her pretense of clog dancing expertise led to many foot injuries that evening.
Pretext: (noun) a false reason given for doing something, used to keep the real reason secret
Skeletor called his ex-girlfriend on the pretext of asking about her potbellied pig, but he really wanted to find out if she was still dating He-Man.
Both words mean something that prevents something else (often disease). Either can be used, but the majority of grammarians prefer preventive.
He took a number of preventive measures to avoid catching colds, including getting plenty of sleep, eating lots of citrus fruits, and sealing himself in plastic wrap whenever he had to leave the house.
Principal: (adjective) first or highest in rank, degree, worth, or importance; (noun) a person who holds the highest rank (e.g., school principal); (noun) financial holding that does not include revenue or interest; (noun) sum of money that is owed, on which interest must be calculated
Velda was the principal spoon examiner at Spoon Examiners Inc.
As the school’s principal, Melinda felt that it was her duty to inform the parents after the tragic pudding vat explosion.
Principle: (noun) basic truth, standard, or rule
His approach to relationships was based on the principle that giving others lots of chocolate will keep them happy.
The basic principles of physics indicate that it is a bad idea to run headfirst into a brick wall.
Prophecy: (noun) a prediction regarding future events
Layla’s prophesy about the magical chicken came true one dark and stormy night.
Prophesy (verb): make a prediction
Because everything Layla prophesied involved magical chickens, people tended to be skeptical of her predictions.
- 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