Independent Twins or Confusable Pairs

Independent twins or confusable pairs are words derived from the same base, sometimes with some morphological differences in the base (e.g., refuse vs refund), usually with slightly different prefixes or suffixes (e.g., fervid vs fervent), and almost always different meanings.

Identical twins sometimes accentuate individual differences by which they can be recognized. Words identical in origin may likewise develop distinguishing characteristics which enable them to serve separate needs. Differentiate between the twin words below, and show how the etymological meaning functions in each.
momentary: lasting only a brief time

momentous: of utmost importance or outstanding significance

Assignment: Choose ten (10) sets of independent twins from the attached list. Define each word and then use it in a complete sentence which illustrates the meaning of the word.

This material was placed on the web by Prof. Tom Sienkewicz for his students in CLAS224 Word Elements at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois. If you have any questions about this material, you may contact him at

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