Skip To Content

    21 Things You Thought Were The Same But Are Actually Totally Different

    I've been living a lie.

    1. Possum and opossum:

    Peleanor / Getty Images, Galinast / Getty Images

    Possums (left) are native to Australia, and opossums (right) are native to North America. They aren't even from the same animal groups.

    2. Emoji and emoticon:

    Cougarsan / Getty Images, Audrey Worboys / BuzzFeed

    An emoticon uses characters that you can type, while an emoji is a graphic image.

    3. Poison and venom:

    Snowleopard1 / Getty Images, Weisschr / Getty Images

    Put simply by the Smithsonian, "Venomous creatures bite, sting or stab you to do their damage, while you have bite or touch poisonous critters to feel their effects."

    4. Cement and concrete:

    Chaiyaporn1144 / Getty Images

    Concrete is comprised of two ingredients: aggregates and paste. The aggregates are sand, gravel, or stones and the paste is cement and water. Cement is a component of concrete.

    5. Jam and jelly:

    Olgakr / Getty Images, Bhofack2 / Getty Images

    Jelly is made by crushing fruit and removing all of its bits and pieces, leaving a spread with a smooth consistency. Jam crushes the fruit too, but leaves the small fruit pieces and fibers in the mix.

    6. Great Britain and the United Kingdom


    If you say "Great Britain", you're including England, Scotland, and Wales. If you say "United Kingdom", you're including England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

    7. Seltzer water and tonic water:

    Nneirda / Getty Images

    Seltzer water is carbonated water. Tonic water is carbonated as well, but it's also sweetened with sugar or high fructose corn syrup and contains other ingredients like citric acid.

    8. Boat and ship:

    Andreamuscatello / Getty Images, Tryaging / Getty Images

    Easy: A ship can carry a boat, but a boat can't carry a ship.

    9. Ale and lager:

    Berezka_klo / Getty Images

    Aside from using different kinds of yeast, ale brews at warm temperatures while lager brews at cool temperatures.

    10. Straw and hay:

    Kirkikis / Getty Images

    According to the USFEC, "Straw is a byproduct of seed (or grain) production. Hay is grown specifically, and it’s cut before the plant goes to seed." So straw is just left over from harvesting, whereas hay seeds are planted to become hay.

    11. Apartment and condominium:

    Deberarr / Getty Images

    Apartments are typically owned by one organization or company, and condos are usually split to have different owners for each unit, but are managed by a condo association.

    12. Graveyard and cemetery:

    Retroimages / Getty Images, Ed-ni-photo / Getty Images

    A graveyard is attached to a church, and a cemetery isn't attached to anything.

    13. Memoir and autobiography:

    Svitlana Unuchko / Getty Images

    An autobiography covers a writer's entire life, while a memoir only covers a specific portion.

    14. Yam and sweet potato:

    Chengyuzheng / Getty Images, Pixinoo / Getty Images

    Yams (left) are native to Africa (95% of yams are still grown there today), and they are more starchy and dry. Sweet potatoes (right) and yams aren't even in the same botanical family. Yams are related to lilies, while sweet potatoes are part of the morning glory family.

    15. Weather and climate:

    Leolintang / Getty Images

    Weather tracks changes in the atmosphere constantly. Climate is "the average of weather over time and space." In short, weather is the measurement of atmospheric conditions over a short period of time. Climate is the measurement of these conditions over a long period of time.

    16. Highway and freeway:

    Komjomo / Getty Images

    Freeways are highways with fully controlled access. They're made for you to go at high speeds without stopping, traffic signals, or crossroads. You usually have to take a ramp to access these roads. A highway is just a "main direct road," which means all freeways are highways, but not all highways are freeways.

    17. Affect and effect:

    Ismailciydem / Getty Images

    "Affect" is usually a verb meaning "to influence" whereas "effect" is a noun usually meaning "the result of an influence." So you could say, "What were the effects of touching the cactus?" And I would reply, "The cactus affected me by poking my hand." There are more complicated usage rules between them, but this is the biggest difference.

    18. Sphynx and sphinx:

    Jesusvivas / Getty Images, Pius99 / Getty Images

    A sphynx is a hairless cat. A sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion.

    19. Manners and etiquette:

    Ridofranz / Getty Images

    Etiquette means the rules you're following based on what society or a higher authority has taught you. Manners are the attitudes you're using to execute these rules. It's described in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington: “I don’t care at all about all your rules if they don’t have any kindness behind them.”

    20. College and university:

    Hsinjuhsu / Getty Images

    The difference here is that a university offers full undergraduate and graduate programs. The state of New Jersey created specific requirements to label schools as universities.

    21. Hotel and motel:

    Razyph / Getty Images, Bill_vorasate / Getty Images

    Hotels have internal corridors to get to your rooms. With motels, you can access your rooms from the parking lot. Motels are also usually only one or two floors and more utilitarian in style.

    Did you know have any idea that these sets of words had different meanings?! If you did, feel free to roast me in the comments (just not too hard because I'm sensitive).


    BuzzFeed Daily

    Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form