The Most Difficult Word in the English Language

… well, for me anyway. By the way, what I mean by difficult is that it is difficult to remember the meaning.

When learning Spanish, the student is warned about words termed “false cognates”; that is, Spanish words that look like English words you know, but don’t mean the same thing. The most famous of these is “embarazar”, which means to be pregnant. The typical embaraz-ing usage is to use this verb when claiming to be embarrassed (instead of “avergonzar a”).

Anyway, the verb “obviate” is an English-English false cognate. I always think it means “to make obvious”. It’s a transitive verb which means (thanks to Merriam-Webster):

: to anticipate and prevent (something, such as a situation) or make (an action) unnecessary
For example: The new medical treatment obviates the need for surgery.

Synonyms are “avert, forestall, head off, help, preclude, prevent, stave off”.

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