260 THE FACTS ON FILE GUIDE TO GOOD WRITING dispassionate/impassioned These two words are sometimes confused but are opposite in meaning. Dispassionate means “objective” or “emotionally uninvolved” (a dispassionate approach to the task), whereas impassioned means “passionate” or “full of passion” (an impassioned account of the affair). dispel/disperse The verbs dispel and disperse have slightly different meanings. Dispel means “drive away” or “dissipate” (dispel a rumor, dispel doubt), whereas disperse means “break up” or “scatter about” (disperse the mob; dispersed far and wide). disperse/dispel
dissension/dissent The nouns dissension and dissent vary slightly in meaning. Dissension means “state of disagreement” or “discord” (dissension over the issue), while dissent means “difference of opinion” (sound a note of dissent). dissent/dissension
distinct/distinctive These two adjectives are easily confused. Distinct means “clear” or “definite” (a distinct view, a distinct difference), whereas distinctive means “characteristic” or “distinguishing” (a distinctive feature). distinctive/distinct distract/detract
distrust/mistrust The words distrust and mistrust are virtually identical in meaning but convey slightly different impressions. Though both words suggest a lack of trust, distrust is the more emphatic term: He distrusted his brother’s intentions after this betrayal. She mistrusted her own abilities. disturb/perturb The meanings of the verbs disturb and perturb overlap to some extent. Both disturb and perturb can mean “upset” or “cause disquiet to” (disturbed by this development; perturbed by her manner), but disturb can also mean “interrupt” or “throw into disorder” (disturb the concentration; disturb the arrangements). dominate/domineer The verbs dominate and domineer have slightly different meanings. Dominate means “exert control over”: He dominated the meeting with his powerful expressions of anger.