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Commonly Confused Words: Ascent vs. Assent


What does each word mean?

The Spellzone dictionary defines ascent as ‘an upward slope or grade’or ‘the act of changing location in an upward direction’.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is ascent used in some example sentences:

  • At first it was a steep ascent, but then the incline grew shallower.
  • My essay is on the President’s ascent to power.
  • The ascent takes three days.

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

Assent, as a noun, means ‘agreement with or approval of a statement or proposal to do something’. As a verb, it means ‘to agree to do something’.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is assent used in some example sentences:

  • She nodded assent.
  • There was a murmur of assent.
  • ‘I agree,’ she assented.
  • We can’t take the children on a school trip unless their parents assent.

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

Where does each word come from?

The word ascent has been used since around 1610, and was modelled on descent/descend. Ascend, which ascent derives from, comes from the Latin ascendere. Ascendere means ‘to climb up, mount, ascent, to rise, reach’.

Assent was first used in English in the early fourteenth century. It comes from the Old French assentire which means ‘agree; get used to’.

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between these words?

  • An ascent is a climb. Both words are spelled with the letter C.
  • Someone who agrees to do something might say, ‘Sure!’ Both sure and assent are spelled with the letter S.
  • Say to yourself, ‘The two Ss must agree to stand next to each other in order to spell assent.’
  • Think of the C in ascent as a slope to help you remember what the word means.

Where can I find other posts about easy-to-confuse words?

What 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


24 May 2016
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