Those who study languages live in fear of false friends: words whose meanings are radically different than what they seem. English speakers learning Spanish are humiliated to find that embarazada means “pregnant.” Their German-studying counterparts will turn red-faced in the restaurant when they learn that die Pickel means “pimples.”
But false friends are not found only in foreign tongues. English has plenty of them, due to a variety of factors. Not least among this is its history as an amalgamation of different European languages, which has led to an abundance of homophones and homonyms that aren’t even close to being synonyms. Here, I’ve compiled a list of 25 misunderstood and misused words; become real friends with them, would you?