Similar looking words that are actually dissimilar in meaning – Part 1

This month, I would like to share a set of words that may look alike but are actually not related.  Many students who misunderstood them to be somewhat similar had been penalised as a result.

  1.  Oblivious and Oblivion

The word oblivious is to describe someone who is not aware or concerned about what’s happening around him whereas, the word oblivion can be used to describe the state of being completely destroyed.  

For instance, if man continues to be oblivious to environmental damage, a lot more species on earth will be sent into oblivion.

2. Sanction

Interestingly, this word has opposite meanings when used in different contexts.  On one hand, it is used to indicate a penalty / punishment for disobeying.  On the other hand, it is also used to indicate approval / permission to do something.

For instance,  North Korea faces sanction (punishment) for firing missiles and nuclear testing.  Japan is seeking international sanction (approval) for its intention to release treated radioactive water into the sea.

3. Fatal and Fatalistic

As we already know, the word fatal is used to describe something deadly.  The word fatalistic however, has nothing to do with being deadly.  Instead, it is used to describe a belief that nothing can be done to change an event or situation.   

For instance, if we adopt a fatalistic attitude in the fight against Covid, the consequences will be fatal.

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