In researching confusables, I have yet to come across a term that describes the type of confusable that is created by two words of similar meaning but different spelling and pronunciation. The term synonyms is defined as being words of the same meaning, but do they also apply to words of similar or related meaning? For example, less/fewer or imply/infer.
PS – Confusables is often referred to as an informal term. Does a form term exist for the concept?
Words which learners (and also native speakers) get confused by are simply called "confusing verbs". There may be a linguistic, more technical term that describes this aspect but I’m not aware of one.
Confusing words–or verbs–are notorious for even tripping up native speakers
advise (verb) vs advice (noun)
"Advise" vs. "advice"
effect vs affect
"Effect" vs. "Affect"
bring vs take
"Bring" versus "take"
borrow vs lend
Word to describes the money that you lend to somebody?
do vs make vs take
admittedly in this instance knowing which verb to use is more confusing for non-native than native speakers.
i) What is the difference between the verbs "make and "do"?
ii) What is the difference between 'make an experiment' and 'do an experiment'?
iii) What is the difference between 'make decision' and 'take decision'?
iv) Make/take a photograph?
practice vs practise
i) "Practise" vs. "practice"
ii) Can Practice (verb) and Practise (verb) indicate two different meanings?
rise vs raise
i) What is the difference between "raise" and "rise"?
ii) "Pay rise" vs "pay raise"
say vs tell
"Told" vs. "said to" somebody
Other types of confusing words are homophones which are two or more words whose meanings and spellings are different but are pronounced in the same way. Examples:
- ate vs eight
- led vs lead (the metal)
- site vs sight
- flower vs flour
- they’re vs their vs there
- to vs too vs two
Words that have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings are called homonyms
the tree’s bark (outer layer) vs most dogs bark (sound)
The stalk of a plant (part of a plant) vs to stalk someone (verb)
Waiter there’s a fly in my soup (the insect) vs Come fly away with me (verb)