neglect , negligence : The meanings of these words are sometimes confused. Neglect is the act of failing to perform something, as a duty or task, to leave undone; negligence is the habitual omission of that which should be done. Negligence is a trait of character while neglect may result from preoccupation. Fernald in “Synonyms, Antonyms, and Prepositions,” says: “Neglect is transitive, negligence is intransitive; we speak of neglect of his books, friends, or duties, in which case we could not use negligence.”