Word distinctions for the season

1. Is fall inferred or hinted at by a change in leaf color?

2. Are the squirrels restive or restless in the weeks before winter?

3. By October, would you expect or suspect a change in season?

4. In November, does the sun seem further or farther away?

5. Are the hillsides in fall an incredible or incredulous sight?

6. If it was windy, off and on, over the course of a weekend, were the winds continual or continuous?

7. Is the planting and enjoyment of spring bulbs a biannual or biennial event?


1. To infer means to arrive at a conclusion by reasoning from evidence; one infers that fall is here from the fact that the leaves are changing color. To hint implies a slightly more remote suggestion, like a light frost on a pumpkin.

2. They are restless, meaning constantly moving about, gathering their winter food supply. Restive means resisting control and suggests an unwillingness to follow orders. Squirrels aren't restive.

3. You'd expect or look forward to a change in season, knowing it was coming based on the calendar. Expect implies a high degree of certainty. To suspect means to mistrust and is commonly used erroneously as a synonym for expect.

4. The sun seems farther away. The key word is 'far.' Further is often substituted for farther, but further means 'extending beyond a point that does not involve space'; it refers to time, quantity, or degree.

5. Most 'leaf peepers' would agree that the foliage is incredibly or unbelievably beautiful. Perhaps even an incredulous (skeptical) observer would concur!

6. They are continual or recurrent, meaning that the winds are repeated, happening over and over again in a close, prolonged succession. Continuous means that those windy days are without interruption; the wind just doesn't stop.

7. Flowers that grow from bulbs are enjoyed for their beauty in the spring. In the fall, however, gardeners dig the bulbs up, divide them for the next growing season, and replant them. Therefore, raising flowers from bulbs is a biannual event (occurring twice a year) and not biennial (occurring every other year).

SOURCES: 'Merriam-Webster's Pocket Guide to Synonyms'; 'The Reading Teacher's Book of Lists'; 'The World Book Dictionary.'

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