9 misunderstood words—and how to use them

If you confuse ‘compliment’ for ‘complement’ or don’t know how to use ‘flout’ in a sentence, you’re not alone. Here’s a guide to help you out.

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How often do you spot words that are used improperly?

Maybe it’s “home” instead of “hone” or “less” when “fewer” would be correct. Usage mistakes are common and can damage the credibility of your message and your organization. That’s why it’s important to know your definitions.

Below are nine words with misunderstood and misused meanings.

How many have you been using correctly? (Definitions and usage guidance came from Oxford Dictionaries, Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster.)

1. Complement

Complement means to add to or complete. It can also mean the quantity, number or assortment required to make something complete. Complement is not the same as compliment, which is an expression of esteem or respect. Don’t confuse it with complimentary, which means favorable or free.

The information on this website is meant to complement class lectures.
I have the full complement of travel guides for Scotland.

Let me compliment you on your stunning ensemble.

2. Facetious

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