English is one of the hardest languages to learn if you did not grow up speaking it. In fact, even many native English speakers struggle with the correct pronunciations of words and the proper spellings and meanings of other words throughout their lives.
Many experts believe that English has the largest vocabulary of any living language spoken today. While this is impossible to prove or disprove because of how complex languages are, English's unique roots certainly give it a staggering modern vocabulary.
English has roots in both the Germanic and Romance languages of Europe. Many of its words come from the Latin and Greek vocabulary, and it shares ancestors with German, Spanish, and French. It is related to almost all of Europe's major languages, and easily adapts to and absorbs new words from other languages all the time.
Unlike other languages, which follow rough rules or use accents to let you know how they are pronounced when it comes to English, you just have to know. After all, the words "naked" and "baked" don't rhyme. And you just have to know it with no indication at all.
Put yourself to the test and see if you can guess the other meanings of tricky English words with this quiz!
Bark is a word with several meanings. Dogs bark and it can also be used as a synonym for yelling. Trees have bark. Also, peppermint bark is a popular kind of candy during the holiday season.
Blue is a color between green and violet. It is commonly associated with the sky and the seas. If someone is feeling blue, they are feeling sad and depressed. In literature, the blue can also refer to the unknown.
A bit of chocolate is a very small amount of chocolate, but you can also get bit by a dog. The bit is also short for "binary digit." This is the smallest unit of data in a computer.
Jam is a tasty spread often made of fruit. When musicians play instruments together in a loose way, it is also called jamming. You can also be in a jam, or a problematic situation.
You can write a check to pay someone, but you can also ask for the check in restaurant after you finish a meal. You can also check something, which means to examine it, or put someone's king in check when you play chess.
A club is an association or organization that you can join. A club can also be a weapon, and when you club someone you can hurt them. Also, when you go clubbing you go out to night clubs.
To shake is a verb that means to tremble or vibrate. It can also refer to the act of shaking itself, or mean to jerkily move an object. Shakes are also often used as the shortened form of "milkshakes," or you can get a cocktail "shaken."
Pounds are the common measurement for weight used in the United States only. Most of the rest of the world uses kilograms. It is also a monetary unit in the UK and a verb which means to strike or hit.
Light has several meanings in English. It can refer to a state of non-darkness or a color that is not dark. It can also mean to illuminate or ignite something. It can also refer to a source of illumination, like christmas lights, lamps, or flashlights.
A kind can refer to a group of people or things that all share similar traits. It can also refer to the character or nature of someone or something. To be kind, however, means to have a good and helpful nature specifically.
A stable is a home for horses on a farm. However, stable can also refer to a person's mental state and numerous other aspects of life. As an adjective, stable means that something is steady and unlikely to change.
You can fix something that is broken, and after you do that, it will be fixed. However, if a competition of some kind is fixed, that means that it was an unfair competition with predetermined results.
Squash is a noun and a verb with multiple meanings. It means to crush, suppress, or squeeze someone or something. It also refers to a sweet British drink, a sport, or an edible gourd.
The current date is the day of the year it is right now. However, you can also date a person, and scientists often date objects to figure out how old they are. Dates are also a popular fruit. If something is dated, it is old-fashioned in an unflattering way.
A charge is the price asked for goods and services. It can also refer to a legal accusation of an offense. To charge is to rush forward in attack. It can also refer to the electrical energy stored in a battery, or the act of replenishing that energy.
A cobbler is a classic American dessert that involves baked fruit with a thick crust on top. A cobbler is also a person who professinally mends shoes for a living.
Columns refer to multiple things that have upright cylindrical shapes. These can be pillars, smoke, or fire. Columns also refer to vertical divisions of words on pages, like those found in newspapers.
Strike has many uses in the English language. Lightning, inclement weather, or other disasters can strike. One person can also strike another, or hit them. People can be struck with fear. Also, when employees undertake an organized protest of their employer, it is called a strike.
To lash someone means to strike them or forcefully drive them to a particular state or condition. You can also lash something down, which means to tie it down. People also have eyelashes.
Sex refers to the biological makeup of a being, which has traditionally been split up into male and female based on their reproductive functions. Animals can also have sex, and informally to sex something up means to present it in a more attention-grabbing way.
Mint is an aromatic plant known for its fresh flavor. Gum and candies often have a minty flavor. The mint is also where money is coined. If an object is in a pristine or new condition, it can also be described as being in mint condition.
A novel is a fictional book-length work. The novel is also used to refer to the literary genre made up of novels. If a something is novel, it is new and unusual. This word comes from the Latin word "novus" which meant "new."
A doctor is a person who is qualified practice medicine, or a person who holds a doctorate degree in any academic field. To doctor pictures or documents, however, means to change their content in order to deceive others.
A coach is a person who guides, trains, and/or teaches others in a specific subject. This is often related to sports, but does not have to be. To coach is the act of guiding, training, or teaching someone. It can also be to prompt or urge someone. Coach is also a luxury brand known for its bags.
As a noun, riot can refer to a violent crowd disturbance, an uproar, or an outburst of emotions. It can also refer to someone or something that is very amusing. To riot is to go on a rampage.
When you make reservations at a restaurant, you reserve your seats or table. However, when you have reservations about a person or thing, you are unsure about it. A reservation is also an area of land that the government has apportioned to Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians, often due to colonialist land grabs and unclear "treaties."
Graves are where the dead are buried. The grave is also used as a term which alludes to death. Something grave can also be serious or of great importance. It can also refer to a person's demeanor if they are solemn, severe, or gloomy.
The four seasons are Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. It can also refer to the time of year during which a specific thing occurs, such as football season is when football is played. When you season food, you add spices and herbs to it. If a person is seasoned, they are experienced.
Sink has many meanings. As a noun, it is commonly found in homes, kitchens, and bathrooms. As a verb, it means to become submerged, to disappear, to drop, to descend, to conceal, or to ignore. If someone is trying to sink a business, they are trying to cause it to fail on purpose.
Pupil is a synonym for student. The pupil is also the dark circular opening in the center of the iris of the eye. It changes in size to control how much light can reach the retina.
Green is a color between blue and yellow. It can also refer to grassy and lush spaces, or products, policies, and actions which do not harm the environment. If a person is green they are inexperienced, naive, or easily tricked.
When animals mate, they produce offspring. Your mate can also be your romantic partner. In much of the English-speaking world, a person's mate can also be their friend.
Channel can refer to a length of water that joins two large bodies of water. It is also a band of frequencies used in radio and TV transmission. To channel means to transmit, transfer, or relay information or other things through someone or something else.
Dawn is the first appearance of light in the sky at sunrise. It can also refer to the beginning of a phenomenon or time period. As a verb, to dawn means to come into existence or become known or understood.
Stars are luminous balls of gas in space that we can see in the night sky from the ground on earth. They can also refer to the white patches which can be found on the heads of horses and other animals. Celebrities are also called stars.