Chorale vs. corral

Chorale 是個名詞,意為「合唱的歌曲;(尤指唱詩班演唱的) 讚美詩;聖歌」,與 hymn 的意思相近,如 This chorale has been sung numerous times. (這首讚美詩已被唱了很多次)。在美國,這個字也指唱詩班、合唱團 (choir)。Chorale 的形容詞為 choral,意為「合唱的;合唱團的」,如 choral song (合唱的歌曲);choral singing (合唱)。

Corral 可當名詞和 (及物) 動詞用,前者意為「(尤指北美用來關馬和牛的) 畜欄,圍欄」。當動詞時,corral 意為「把 (馬、牛) 趕進或關進畜欄;把 (一群人) 集中起來 (尤指控制起來)」,其時態變化為 corral corralled corralled corralling corrals,如 After John corrals the horses, we’ll go out to lunch together. (在約翰把馬關進圍欄後,我們就一起出去吃午餐);Police corralled most of the demonstrators in a small area near the Presidential Palace. (警方把大多數示威者都控制在總統府附近的一小塊區域)。

Cereal vs. serial

Cereal 主要用作名詞,意為「穀物,穀類植物;穀類食品,麥片」,如 I’ve just bought a box of cereal. (我剛買了一盒麥片)。這個字亦可當形容詞用,意為「穀類的;穀類製成的」,如 cereal crops (穀類作物)。大多數字典都僅將它列為名詞,複數為 cereals,如 breakfast cereals (早餐穀類食品;早餐麥片);形容詞用法僅能在少數字典中找到。Cereal 源自意為 grain (穀物,穀粒) 的拉丁字 cerealis。

Serial 同樣可當形容詞和名詞用,但形容詞用法比較常見。Serial 當形容詞時意為「(重大罪犯或重大犯罪) 連環的,連續的;一系列的;一連串的;序列的」。這個字僅能用在名詞前面來修飾名詞,不可用在 BE 動詞之後當補語,如 This is a thriller about a brutal serial killer/murderer. (這是一部有關一名殘忍冷血的連環殺手/連續殺人犯的驚悚小說);serial killings/murders (連環謀殺/連續殺人 (案));a serial sex offender (連續性侵犯);a serial complaint (一連串的抱怨);a serial number (序號,編號);serial files (按順序整理的文件)。

Cent vs. scent vs. sent

Cent 僅當名詞用,意為「分」,是美國、加拿大及其他一些國家面額最小的貨幣單位,等於 dollar (元) 的 1%,亦即 100 cents = 1 dollar。Cent 源自拉丁文的 centum,意為「一百」。Cent- 迄今仍被用作表示一百的字首,如 centenarian (百歲人瑞)、centenary/centennial (美) (一百週年;一百週年紀念)。

Scent 用作名詞時意為「氣味,通常指香味;香水;(人或動物的) 氣味;線索,蹤跡;跡象」,其中除了「香水」為不可數名詞外,其餘意思皆為可數名詞,如 The sweet fresh scent of newly baked bread filled the shop. (剛出爐的麵包香味瀰漫著整間店);People like the food with a rich flavor and scent. (人們都喜歡味道甘美、香氣濃郁的食物);The girl wore/put on too much scent. (那女孩擦太多香水了);Police dogs easily picked up the murderer’s scent in the forest. (警犬在森林裡輕易就嗅出殺人犯的氣味);He’s got a strong scent of anxiety. (他出現了焦慮的強烈跡象);We were soon on the scent of the enemy. (我們很快就追蹤到/掌握了敵人的蹤跡);The enemy managed to throw us off the scent. (敵人成功地使我們失去了追蹤的方向/線索)。

Cell vs. sell

Cell 是個名詞,且僅當名詞用,意為「細胞;電池;(監獄的) 小牢房;(修道院或寺廟的) 小房間;(蜂巢的) 巢室;(電腦) 儲存格;(政黨或政治團體的) 基層組織,小組」,如 Human brains have more than 100 million cells per cubic centimeter. (人腦每立方公分有一億多個細胞);blood/brain/nerve/cancer cells (血球/腦細胞/神經細胞/癌細胞);Samsung Electronics is recalling its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone and said that battery cell problems were behind phones catching fire and exploding. (AFP) (三星電子將回收該公司的 Galaxy Note 7 旗艦機,並表示電池問題是手機起火和爆炸的主因);The sinister and dangerous prisoner was locked in a cell. (那個兇惡危險的囚犯被關在單人牢房裡)。

根據《牛津英語大辭典》(The Oxford English Dictionary, OED),cell 是英文最常用的 1,000 個單字之一。除了上述意思外,cell 在美國亦被用作 cellphone (手機) 的簡稱,常用於口語,如 I just bought a new cell yesterday, Samsung Galaxy Note 7, but it exploded during charging. (我昨天剛買了一支新手機,三星 Galaxy Note 7,但在充電時爆炸了)。

Cede vs. seed

Cede 是個及物動詞,意為「(尤指不情願地或被迫) 割讓,讓與,放棄」,其時態變化為 cede ceded ceded ceding cedes,如 Taiwan was ceded to Japan after First Sino-Japanese War. (中日甲午戰爭後台灣被割讓給日本);The military government has agreed to cede power to the country’s newly inaugurated leader. (軍政府已同意把政權交給新就任的領導人)。

Seed 可當名詞和動詞用,前者意為「種子,籽;(網球等運動的) 種子選手、球員」及比喻用法的「原因;根源」,如 Sow/Plant the seeds in the fields. (在田裡播種);the top/first/number one seed (頭號種子選手/球員);Jack was punished for sowing seeds of discord in his class. (傑克因在班上挑撥離間而受到處罰)。

Seed 用作動詞 (及物和不及物) 時,及物動詞意為「播種;使成為種子選手 (由此衍生出形容詞 seeded,如 a seeded player 種子選手);去除水果等的籽」,通常用被動態,而不及物動詞主要意為「(植物) 結籽」,其時態變化為 seed seeded seeded seeding seeds,如 The fields have been seeded with corn. (田裡已種了玉米);Justin was seeded number two. (賈斯汀被排為第 2 號種子選手);Justin was seeded second/third/tenth/8/15. (賈斯汀被排為第 2/3/10/8/15 號種子選手)。This flower seeds in (the) autumn. (這花秋天結籽)。Wash, seed, and cut the bitter melons into small pieces. (把這些苦瓜洗一洗,去籽並切成小片) - 苦瓜的英文還可叫做 bitter gourd、bitter squash 或 balsam pear。

Lessen vs. lesson

Lessen 是個動詞 (及物與不及物),意為「(使) 減輕;(使) 降低;(使) 減少;(使) 變小」,如 The medicine will lessen the pain. (這藥會使疼痛減輕);His fever has lessened. (他的燒退了);The negotiations lessened the tension between Russia and Ukraine. (談判緩和了俄羅斯和烏克蘭的緊張局勢)。這個字的時態變化為 lessen, lessened, lessened, lessening, lessens。

Lesson 是個名詞,意為「課,一節課/一堂課,(教科書中的) 一課,課程;教訓」,如 These students study English, Spanish and other language lessons. (這些學生學英文、西班牙文及其他語言課程);Lesson Five is very boring. (第五課枯燥乏味);That guy needs to be taught a lesson. (那個傢伙得被教訓一頓);Many people have not learned their lesson and continue to drive under the influence. (許多人沒有記取/得到教訓,繼續酒後開車)。

Cache vs. cash

Cache 用作名詞時意為「貯藏物,隱藏物;貯藏所,隱藏處,藏匿處」,如 The police have seized a huge cache of drugs/explosives/weapons. (警方查獲了一大批藏匿的毒品/炸藥/武器);The gang of armed robbers has several caches for illegal guns and homemade bombs. (該武裝搶劫集團有數個窩藏非法槍枝和土製炸彈的場所)。Cache 也是重要的電腦名詞,可指存取速度比動態隨機存取記憶體 (DRAM) 快的「快取記憶體」或資料存取速度較快的「快取」。

Cache 亦可當 (及物) 動詞用,意為「貯藏,隱藏,藏匿」,其時態變化為 cache cached cached caching caches,如 The gangsters cached a large quantity of ammunition in a remote cabin. (那些黑幫份子在偏遠的一間小木屋窩藏了大量彈藥)。

Brake vs. break

Brake 可當名詞和動詞用,前者意為1.「(車輛的) 制動器,煞車」2.「抑制;阻礙」。Brake 的名詞第 1 義通常用複數,如 The brakes failed and the car crashed into the median strip/the central reservation. (煞車失靈,車子撞上安全島);I heard a screech/squeal of brakes as the taxi pulled up. (計程車停下來時我聽到一聲尖銳刺耳的煞車聲);We heard the brakes screeching/squealing and then a loud crash. (我們聽到一陣尖銳刺耳的煞車聲,然後是一聲巨大的撞擊聲);Mr. Huang saw a girl run out, so he hit the brakes/he slammed on the brakes. (黃先生看見一名女孩跑了出來,所以就緊急煞車)。Brake 的名詞第 2 義通常用單數,其後往往接介系詞 on 再接受詞,如 The government decided to put a brake on price rises. (政府決定控制物價上漲);The high level of debt acted as a brake on economic recovery. (高額的負債阻礙了經濟復甦)。

Bolder vs. boulder

Bolder 為形容詞 bold 的比較級 (最高級為 boldest),而 bold 主要意為「(人或行為) 勇敢的,大膽的,無畏的;(人或行為) 冒失的,無禮的,放肆的;顯眼的,醒目的,輪廓清晰的」。所以,在翻譯 bolder 時,只要在這些意思之前加上「更」或「比較」即可,如 The government should take bolder actions to stimulate economic growth. (政府應採取比較大膽的行動來刺激經濟成長);Mary’s remarks are a lot bolder than usual. (瑪麗的言論比平常來得放肆許多);Bright and bold colors will attract a lot of attention. (鮮豔和醒目的顏色會吸引很多人注意)。

Boulder 是個名詞,意為「巨石;大圓石」,如 Heavy rains were responsible for a huge boulder falling onto the mountain road and blocking traffic. (大雨是一塊巨石掉落在那條山路而阻礙交通的原因);The mountaineers heard the sounds of roaring water rushing past boulders in the river. (登山客聽到咆哮的河水奔騰流過大圓石的聲音)。美國科羅拉多州波德市 (Boulder,又稱圓石市) 的名稱源自波德溪 (Boulder Creek),該溪因擁有巨大的圓石而聞名。

Bite vs. byte vs. bight

Bite 可用作動詞 (及物與不及物) 和名詞 (可數與不可數)。Bite 當動詞時主要意為「咬,咬斷;(蛇等動物或昆蟲) 咬,叮,蜇;(魚) 吞餌,上鉤,(人) 上當;產生不良影響或後果」,如 My neighbor’s dog bit me the other day. (我鄰居的狗幾天前咬了我);Stop biting your nails. (別咬指甲);We’re usually bitten by mosquitoes in the night. (我們經常在夜裡被蚊子叮);The fish just aren’t biting today. (魚兒今天就是不上鉤);I tried to sell Allen my knock-off wallet but he wouldn’t bite. (我試圖把我的山寨版錢包賣給艾倫,但他不願上當);The new higher taxes are beginning to bite. (新的較高稅收開始產生不良的影響)。這個動詞的時態變化為 bite bit bitten biting bites。