The English language is an evolving and complex language. It's impossible to keep up with the many definitions and nuances of all the words in the dictionary. And sometimes, we fall into the easy habit of using certain sets of words interchangeably.
After all, as long as you communicate effectively, does it really matter if you call it jam or jelly, or vice versa?
If you want to get technical, however, check out these 12 sets of words most commonly thought to mean the same thing.
Graveyards refer to smaller burial sites attached to a church, whereas a cemetery is just a large burial ground. Also, despite the word cemetery being older — originating in Roman times — it has remained the more popular term between the two. This is probably because there are far more cemeteries across the world than graveyards.
While both are sourced from fruit, jelly is smoother, translucent and is made from the juice of a fruit. Jams are less stiff in comparison and are made of crushed fruit, or its pulp. Bonus: preserves are another spread that's basically chunky fruit in a gel-like consistency — think marmalade.
This one can be a bit confusing as universities are generally made up of colleges and colleges themselves are further categorized into community colleges, vocational schools, etc. However, the main difference between the two is that universities offer undergraduate and graduate programs while colleges often only offer undergraduate degrees.
Everyone from students to recruiters are guilty of mixing up these two. A resume refers to a one-page summary of your skills and experience. A CV — common when applying for academic or scientific positions — is often longer as it requires in-depth listings of one’s academic background as well as specific accomplishments. CV stands for curriculum vitae, meaning "course of life" so it makes sense that this one would be a more comprehensive document.
For something to be poisonous, it has to be ingested, inhaled, or touched before being damaging. Something that is venomous, on the other hand, has to be injected through a bite or sting.
Bartering typically involves a trade of equal value without money being exchanged. This can be done with commodities or skills. Haggling involves negotiating to a new cash price.
An autobiography is a self-written story of a subject’s life, including detailed chronological events. Autobiographies are rooted heavily in facts. Memoirs, however, are less formal. They take on an emotional truth and understanding of one's life, and often pick and choose which aspects the writer will focus on, rather than presenting a clear history.
Emojis are the updated versions of emoticons. They’re the image icons most smartphone keyboards equipped with. An emoticon throws it back to early online chats when keyboard characters were heavily used to build facial expressions — for example, :), :(, :P, :D.
When you’re disinterested in something, it means you don’t have an interest — you're impartial or uninvolved. Uninterested, however, means you are bored by something. For two words with only a difference in prefixes, it makes sense that their definitions hold just as subtle a difference.
The difference here lies more on a technicality. While both refer to problems, a quandary is a general state of uncertainty in a difficult situation while a dilemma is specific to being torn between two undesirable choices. Bonus: if it’s between three options — a trilemma!
Sick is the more informal term of the two. Besides that, the word “sick” is also used when describing short-term health issues such as the common cold. Ill is used to describe short- and long-term issues.
“Oh, it was an absolute travesty!” is a line we’ve all heard uttered in a dramatic plot line at one point or another. Disaster — an event that causes great damage — would be the more apt term as travesty refers to an extreme distortion, perversion even, of a thing.