Choose Your English (v)


demur / demure
To demur is to show reluctance or to hesitate, like not quite getting in the car when someone opens the door, but demure is always an adjective describing a modest, reserved, or shy person, and sounds like the mew of a tiny kitten.

disassemble / dissemble
Disassemble is to take something apart, like an old car motor, but dissemble is sneaky — it means to hide your true self, like the guy who said he was a mechanic but had never actually seen a motor, much less put one back together.

discreet / discrete
Discreet means on the down low, under the radar, careful, but discrete means individual or detached. They come from the same ultimate source, the Latin discrētus, for separated or distinct, but discreet has taken its own advice and quietly gone its separate way.

disinterested / uninterested
If you’re disinterested, you’re unbiased; you’re out of the loop. But if you’re uninterested, you don’t give a hoot; you’re bored. These two words have been duking it out, but the battle may be over for uninterested. Heavyweight disinterested has featherweight uninterested on the ropes.

economic / economical
Economic is all about how money works, but something economical is a good deal. You might take an economic studiesclass to understand the ebb and flow of cash in the world, but if you buy a used textbook for it, you’re being economical.

See other: Choose Your English

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