Common English Errors: Confused Words, Fs

English has many words that sound and are spelled similarly, but have quite different meanings. In this article, we look at easily confused words that start with F, and explain the differences between them.

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Many of the words below have multiple meanings, and subtle shades of meaning. I've not included absolutely every single definition, but have concentrated on the main uses of each word.


FAWN — a noun meaning "a young deer" or "a light brown colour". The fawn crept out of the forest in search of jelly snakes. Troy wore his fawn jacket to the café.

FAUN — a noun, a creature from Roman mythology, a man with goat's horns, ears, legs and tail. Ericka couldn't believe it when a real faun bumped into her on the train!


FLAUNT — a verb meaning "show off". The squirrels liked to flaunt their wealth of acorns in front of the ducks. Unfortunately, the ducks couldn't care less.

FLOUT — a verb meaning "openly disregard a rule". The ducks flouted the city's laws by holding rallies in the park.


FLOUNDER — a verb meaning "to struggle in water or mud " (and also a type of flatfish). Arthur was floundering on the mud flats, getting all dirty and wet.

FOUNDER — a noun meaning "one who establishes something for the first time" or "fail or come to nothing, sink from sight". Sasha was the founder of the Rabid Squirrel Alliance. The conference foundered because of the disagreements between all the parties.

FLOWER — a noun, "a blossom or bloom". Rebecca picked a flower from the Botanic Gardens, and got into trouble!

FLOUR — a noun, "finely ground wheat or other seeds". You have to have flour to bake a cake!

FORBEAR — a verb meaning "patiently restrain an impulse to do something". I was impressed that Troy could forbear from taunting Jim about his jelly snake allergy.

FOREBEAR — a noun, "an ancestor", usually found in plural form (one's forebears). Hamish's forebears were all petty crooks. It explains a lot.


FOREWORD — a noun meaning "a short introduction to a book". Denise and Sophie were very grateful that Mr Witt wrote the foreword for their book.

FORWARD — an adverb meaning "toward the front", "relating to the future" and other similar meanings. George leaned forward over Alice, which made her feel very uncomfortable. Some forward planning wouldn't go astray!


FREEZE — a verb, which is "to be turned into ice", "be so cold as to turn a liquid to a solid" and host of other similar meanings. If you leave your pet ant Anty outside on a wintery night, he might freeze to death. Frozen grapes are a nice summertime treat.

FRIEZE — a noun meaning "a broad horizontal band of painted or sculpted decoration, usually on a wall or near the ceiling". Dylan painted a frieze featuring giant insects and snakes for the dining room. His dinner guests were not well pleased.


 To learn these confusing words, you might like to use some software, such as the very popular vocabulary-improvement software Ultimate Vocabulary, to help get these words under your belt!

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Last modified on Sunday, 29 November 2015 00:31
English Language Skills (Denise)

English Language Skills (Denise)

I'm a syndicated puzzle writer, with 8 puzzle books to my name, including Word Searches for Dummies and Cracking Codes and Cryptograms for Dummies (with Mark Koltko-Rivera). I have a background in science and graphic design, and am a trained indexer. My favourite puzzles are cryptic crosswords. and my favourite books are murder mysteries and cookbooks. I am also a very keen knitter.

I write a blog all about puzzles, called Puzzling.

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