In the movie Birddman (2014), Sylvia blames Birdman,

"It's what you always do. You confuse love for admiration."

Shouldn't it be confuse love with admiration? Is the meaning the same as confuse with and is it common usage?


In American English, confuse for is sometimes used, but confuse with is much more common. In the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), I found the following result counts:

 be confused with    766 results
 be confused for     21 results

You can do similar searches for the active form confuse * with|for, and with is overwhelmingly more common in that case as well. Regardless, for is a well-established alternative in standard American English. Confuse with is more common in all registers, but especially in casual speech, confuse with is the usual choice.

In British English, confuse for is not commonly used. When I search the British National Corpus, I find the following results:

 be confused with    197 results
 be confused for     0 results

This seems to confirm that confuse for is not generally used in British English.

Most dictionaries only mention confuse with. One that mentions both confuse with and confuse for is the Oxford Collocations Dictionary for students of English, 2nd ed. (2009), which lists confuse for as American English:

for (esp. AmE)
 The condition can sometimes be confused for influenza.

 I sometimes confuse Jane with her sister.

As an English language learner, you might want to stick to confuse with in your own speech, especially if you're learning British English specifically, but you should be able to understand confuse for as well if you come across it.

  • Is the asterisk in the second sentence a typo? The corresponding footnote is missing otherwise. (Sorry if I'm asking for a potentially trivial edit.) – userr2684291 Apr 26 '18 at 22:25
  • 2
    @userr2684291 The link text was supposed to be italicized. I've added the other asterisk to fix it. – snailboat Apr 30 '18 at 2:55

An intuitive way of thinking about it: -con[fuse] with, like you would say fuse with -mis[take] for, as you would say take for granted, take for a fool, etc.

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