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Commonly Confused Words: Adverse vs. Averse


WHAT DOES EACH WORD MEAN?
The word adverse is used to describe something that is contrary to your interests or welfare.  If something is adverse, it is unfavourable or harmful and it might prevent your chances of success.
Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.
Here is adverseused in some example sentences:

  • The new medication may have adverse side effects.
  • Despite the adverse weather conditions, they decided not to cancel the bike trip.

Click here to create a Spellzone vocabulary list featuring this word.

Averse (usually followed by ‘to’) is used to describe the feeling of strongly disliking or being strongly opposed to something. The word is normally used in the negative, i.e. when saying someone doesn’t feel strongly opposed to something.
Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.
Here is averseused in some example sentences:

  • She was not averse to telling lies.
  • Despite rumours that he was boring, he was not averse to having fun.

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists featuring the word averse.

WHERE DOES EACH WORD COME FROM?
Although both adverse and averse come from related Latin roots, the former is used to describe conditions while the latter is used to describe people.
Adverse dates back the late fourteenth century comes from the Latin ‘adversus’ meaning ‘against, opposite’. ‘Adversus’ is the past participle of ‘advertere’ which means ‘to turn’.
Averse dates back late sixteenth century and comes from the Latin ‘aversus’  meaning ‘turned away from’.

ARE THERE ANY TRICKS TO HELP REMEMBER THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THESE WORDS?
Think of the following sentences to help you remember that adverse relates to conditions and averse relates to people:

  • The drugs had adverse side effects.
  • The adverse weather conditions ruined our day.
  • Even though she had a terrible voice, she wasn’t averse to singing the verse.

WHERE CAN I FIND OTHER POSTS ABOUT EASY-TO-CONFUSE WORDS?

Which words do you constantly mix up? Let us know and we’ll cover them in our Commonly Confused Words series. Have a great week!

Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary and Oxford Dictionaries.


18 Aug 2016
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