Friday, April 23, 2010

No You're Homonyms

Quiz: Which sentence uses the homonym incorrectly? (No cheating now!)

A) Getting fired from his job severely jolted his complacency.

B) They surrounded themselves with a bunch of complaisant assistants.

C) After winning eight games in a row, it was natural for us to grow complaisant.

D) The voters are too complacent to try to change the government.

Until today I did not realize that complacent has a homonym. I've taught the lists in this vocabulary book that includes these words and sentences at least four times now. Maybe more.

I'm kinda slow.

That's what keeps homeschooling interesting-- I learn stuff. I think I'm supposed to be teaching stuff but really I'm learning stuff. Everyday. Stuff I probably should have known before.

So without looking at a dictionary or some other vocabulary help, can you choose the sentence with the word used incorrectly?

If you can, do you know if there is some word trick for remembering which spelling goes with which definition?

It would really help me a lot.


P.S. After some contemplation, I am thinking that since complacent is used most commonly, most people know what it means and complaisant is not often used. I think that is why I didn't know the word complaisant existed nor did I understand its use and definition. Or maybe it is used more than I thought and I make the mistake of assigning it the definition of complacent.


  1. Come on you guys! This is eleventh grade here! Help me out.

  2. I think C is wrong...

    "complacent" = self-satisfied
    "complaisant" = pleasing others

    Trying to think of a way to remember that... Ummm... think French... "Sil vous PLAIS -- If YOU please?" It's a stretch... But that's what would (and now, always will) go on in my head when I think of it.

  3. Definitely "C," as they are trying to say "after winning blah blah blah, they grew satisfied or comfortable blah blah blah. The homonym used in "C" is for inclined to please others, which makes no sense in that sentence.

    As far as committing it to memory- just remember the differences between "s" and "c" spellings and how they're used. Boom. Done.

  4. Yeah, but Kris, the point is to have a memory trick so that you can remember which definition goes with which spelling.

  5. Kristin- I'm impressed. Did you remember that complaisant means "inclined to please others" and if so is it because I taught you this very same book and you remember it? (Please say yes!)

    Like Katie said, it's not the spelling that needs a memory trick but which goes with which. And Katie- I think that is an excellent one!

  6. For the record, I don't think I've ever wanted to use the word "complaisant" with that meaning. The definition and connotation of "complacent" is what I think of when I hear that word.

  7. By the way, this is completely unrelated to this post, but that picture in your sidebar, "The Seven"? I think I hate that picture. Actually, it's just plain hilarious. Notice how Neal and Seth have little mini Katie and Kristin heads growing out of their shoulders... It's just plain creepy.

  8. @mom-
    I'm a genius and I speak a second latin based language, so my vocab is massive. Also, in high school I had the awesomest spelling/vocabulary teacher ever.

    High five on 3 comments: the memory method from French makes sense, as "complaisant" has middle French origin/spelling, the connotation does tend towards a negative thing for me (complacent is for sure an ugly put down in my mind, only reserved for the most useless robots), and that picture is super strange, though I never noticed until now. Doesn't mean you should take it down, ma, as there are few creative photos of The Kids all together.

  9. Aahhhh.....laughing!
    Yes, the photo is strange with its weird perspective- little heads and big heads featuring Seth and Peter. But now your comments are even funnier.

    @Kristin- only you and the Oregon State Board of (Government controlled)Education thinks you are a genius.

  10. [wiping tears] ahhh! Now I'm laughing!


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