Cease, Seize, and Siege

Commonly Confused Words

Exhausted male marathon runner collapsing at finish line
"The race has ceased.". Hero Images / Getty Images

The verb cease (rhymes with peace) means to stop, discontinue, or bring to an end. The noun cease-fire means a temporary suspension of fighting.

The verb seize (rhymes with sneeze) means to confiscate, take hold of, or take by force. The compound verb seize up means to come to a sudden stop. The phrase seize on (or upon) means to take notice of something.

The noun siege ​(rhymes with liege) refers to a persistent attack or blockade or an encirclement of a town or fortress.

Examples

  • "Women are not powerless. We must cease to think of ourselves that way." - Alice Walker, The Cushion in the Road. The New Press, 2013
  • "The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us." - Attributed to Ashley Montagu
  • "[E]very week in that poisonous atmosphere was a year off a man's life. Robots were not allowed in there; they would seize up, and they were too expensive to risk."- Brian W. Aldiss, Earthworks. Faber & Faber, 1965
  • "The police crouched down behind the cruiser, trading shots. Chief Chad was huddled beside the corner of the Osbornes', shouting into his radio. The siege lasted an hour."​ - John Updike, "The Tarbox Police." The Early Stories: 1953-1975. Random House, 2003

Practice

(a) "He came not merely to detest his own brothers, and to _____ speaking with them for more than thirty years, but to take pleasure in wishing them ill."

(b) "When Roddie ventured out, it would often be to attend town meetings in a bid to make sure that the village wasn't going to be the site for a supermarket or six-lane superhighway. Despite his view that our community was under _____ from developers, as well as itinerant tinkers and professional burglars, I always did my best to be a good neighbor."

(c) "Sometimes in this life, only one or two real opportunities are put before us, and we must _____ them, no matter the risk."

Answers to Practice Exercises

(a) "He came not merely to detest his own brothers, and to cease speaking with them for more than thirty years, but to take pleasure in wishing them ill." - Nicholas Fox Weber, The Clarks of Cooperstown. Knopf, 2007

(b) "When Roddie ventured out, it would often be to attend town meetings in a bid to make sure that the village wasn't going to be the site for a supermarket or six-lane superhighway. Despite his view that our community was under siege from developers, as well as itinerant tinkers and professional burglars, I always did my best to be a good neighbor." - Matt Whyman, Oink: My Life With Mini-Pigs. Simon & Schuster, 2011

(c) "Sometimes in this life, only one or two real opportunities are put before us, and we must seize them, no matter the risk." - Andre Dubus III, House of Sand and Fog. W. W. Norton, 1999

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Nordquist, Richard. "Cease, Seize, and Siege." ThoughtCo, Dec. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/cease-seize-and-siege-1689630. Nordquist, Richard. (2017, December 3). Cease, Seize, and Siege. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/cease-seize-and-siege-1689630 Nordquist, Richard. "Cease, Seize, and Siege." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/cease-seize-and-siege-1689630 (accessed May 27, 2018).