Amazing 900 GRE word with Test and Sentence
Address (v.) (uh-DRES)
To address is to:
A. Deal with
B. Put clothes on
D. Attach significance to
E. Delve into
A) To address something is to deal with it, or to draw attention to it.
Upon being elected chairman, he immediately addressed the group’s financial problems.
To address also is to give a speech or formal talk:
“Whenever Bob has to address the whole student body, he gets very nervous,” the dean’s wife confided.
To address also is to direct speech toward:
He addressed the king directly
Abysmal (adj.) (uh-BIZ-mul)
A. Beyond reach
D. Infinitely deep
E. Full of ups and downs
D) Abysmal means infinitely or immeasurably deep, limitless.
Her abysmal sadness sapped her energy for many months.
Abysmal also means hopelessly bad, wretched.
“It’s an abysmal day and I’m not going to cheer up,” declared Aunt Ida defiantly
Complement (n.) (KAHM-pluh-munt)
A complement is:
A. Something that flatters
B. Something that organizes
C. Something that completes
D. Something that doesn’t cost anything
E. Something that enfolds
C) A complement is something that completes, perfects, or goes really well with something else; Garlic bread is a complement to spaghetti, popcorn is a complement to a good movie; A good book may be the perfect complement to a rainy Sunday afternoon, a DVD player complements a stereo system.
“Does red wine or white wine best complement fish?” asked Sheila
Clique (n.) (kleek)
A clique is:
A. A nautical design
B. A distinctive pin
C. An exclusive group
D. A harem
E. A hair style
C) A clique is a tight group from which others are excluded.
“Who wants to belong to that clique of snooty girls anyway?” exclaimed Naomi
Ascendancy (n.) (uh-SEN-dun-see)
Ascendancy refers to:
A. A period of dominance
B. A great height
C. A phase of popularity
D. An increase
E. A Hierarchy
A) Ascendancy is a controlling influence, a time of dominance.
Thankfully, the fascism that had risen to ascendancy in Europe in the 1930s faded after World War II
Bourgeois (adj.) (boor-ZHWAH)
Bourgeois would describe:
A. Wealthy people
C. Poor people
D. The Parisian working class
E. The middle class
E) Bourgeois means middle class. Bourgeois is a term first used in France to describe a city dweller who was neither a farmer nor a noble. Today it is used to describe anyone with middle class values of materialism and respectability. The person who uses the term “bourgeois” usually feels that he is more “hip” than the person he is describing.
Philip’s brother has a cell phone and season tickets to the opera. He is just so bourgeois.
Bourgeois is pronounced boor-ZHWAH
Ambivalent (adj.) (am-BIV-uh-lunt)
If you are ambivalent you:
A. Are hesitant
B. Have mixed feelings
C. Are passionately involved
D. Can do things with either hand
E. Are judgmental
B) Ambivalent means having mixed feelings, holding attitudes that contradict one another leading to uncertainty. If you sometimes love the city where you live and sometimes hate it, you can be said to be ambivalent. If you think Jacob is extremely good looking, but also is selfish and conceited, you might be ambivalent about dating him.
When he brought up going to the shore on Robin’s birthday, I felt ambivalent, but Robin assured me we could celebrate another time
Austere (adj.) (aw-STEER)
E. Poverty stricken
D) Austere means stark, without frills, stripped down, extremely simple
The monk’s room was austere, without so much as a picture or a book, other than the Bible.
Austere also has the meaning of stern, cold, solemn and unemotional.
His austere personality made people both respect and fear him.
As a noun, austerity refers to stark simplicity, self-denial. Times of austerity are lean times:
In the course of his life, the Buddha experienced both opulence and austerity
Capricious (adj.) (kuh-PRISH-us)
E) Capricious means unpredictable, impulsive, erratic, arbitrary, subject to whims, prone to change without warning.
The Bill of Rights is a guarantee that the government will never act capriciously against any American citizen just because of appearance, ideas or beliefs
Ameliorate (v.) (uh-MEEL-yuh-rayt)
To ameliorate is to:
C. Wish for
E. Release from
A) Ameliorate is to improve, to make better, to make tolerable.
Dr. Burns hoped that allowing young patients to watch M-TV would ameliorate their attitudes about visiting the dentist
Appreciate (v.) (uh-PREE-shee-ayt)
A. To smile
B. To embrace
C. To value
D. To uplift
E. To love
C) To appreciate something means to be conscious that it is valuable, to feel gratitude for it, to not take it for granted.
“I so much appreciate the help she gives me with algebra,” said Ian with a meaningful smile.
To appreciate also means to increase in value.
Her stock portfolio has appreciated substantially over the years.
To appreciate also means to have an understanding of, or to acknowledge:
“I certainly can appreciate your dilemma,” said Emily, “but I am not willing to lie for you.”
Ardent (adj.) (AHR-dent)
B) Ardent means impassioned, fervent, strongly enthusiastic.
He is an ardent Grateful Dead fan and has traveled all over the country to attend their concerts
Concise (adj.) (kun-CYSE)
D. To the point
D) Concise means to the point. Something that is concise is both brief and precise.
Her concise explanation told us all we needed to know within ten minutes
Arcane (adj.) (ahr-KAYN)
C) Arcane means secret in the sense of known to or understood by only an enlightened few. The secret teachings of a cult would be said to be arcane knowledge. The ability to create fire by rubbing sticks together could be called an arcane skill
Catalyst (n.) (KAT-uh-list)
A catalyst is:
A. A harsh chemical
B. An incentive
C. A cat doctor
D. An activator
E. A symbol
D) A catalyst is an activator, something that causes something else to happen.
“Add the right catalyst to this mixture and it will blow sky high,” said Nick as he held up the test tube
Benevolent (adj.) (buh-NEV-uh-lunt)
A) Benevolent means kindly, generous, prone to good deeds, having good intentions.
His benevolent nature made it really hard for him to turn away anyone in need
Augment (v.) (awg-MENT)
To augment means:
A. To debate
B. To repair
C. To substitute for
D. To argue against
E. To add to
E) Augment means to add to, to make bigger or more intense.
He augmented the information he found in the encyclopedia with interviews of people who had fought in the war
Castigate (v.) (KAS-tuh-gayt)
A. To remove
B. To harshly criticize
C. To put down
D. To order around
E. To question
B) To castigate is to reprimand, to harshly criticize for a perceived wrong.
When Jake showed up fifteen minutes late and without a tie, Marla castigated him mercilessly. She really chewed him out
Burgeon (v.) (BUR-jun)
To burgeon means:
A. To grow
B. To plant
C. To explode
D. To club
E. To carry
A) To burgeon is to grow, to flourish, to blossom forth.
“There has been a burgeoning interest in physics since he came to the department,” admitted Mr. Manning
Cajole (v.) ( kuh-JOHL)
To cajole means:
A. To enliven
B. To coax
C. To spice up
D. To wear out
E. To massage
B) To cajole means to coax, wheedle, attempt to persuade with a persistent emotional appeal.
“I didn’t want to come,” said Ashley, “but Joshua cajoled me until just to shut him up, I agreed.”
Appropriate (v.) (uh-PROH-pree-ayt)
To appropriate is to:
A. Make acceptable
E. Dole out
C) To appropriate means to confiscate, to seize, to claim or set aside for oneself.
“I’m going to appropriate four chairs from the library,” said Mrs. Carmody.
To appropriate also can mean to earmark or set aside for a specific purpose:
I have appropriated 10 dollars a day for spending money.
As an adjective “appropriate” is pronounced as uh-PROH-pree-it and means apt, fitting, suitable.
It is always appropriate to bring a small token when you are invited to someone’s house
Blasphemy (n.) (BLAS-fuh-mee)
D. Extreme criticism
B) Blasphemy is sacrilege, profanity, holding or stating opinions that a religion would find to be shockingly disrespectful of its beliefs.
“To say that about Jesus is blasphemy,” said Alexis.
In a less formal way, more “tongue in cheek” way the term blasphemy, or its adjective form blasphemous, can be applied to anyone who defies convention:
“Oh, the board of directors finds her quite blasphemous,” smiled Brandon, “but the workers love her.”
catholic (adj.) (KATH-lik)
catholic (small c) means:
D) catholic (small c) means universal, broad, or all embracing.
Joey has very catholic tastes in music. His collection includes everything from opera to alternative
Agnostic (n.) (ag-NAHS-tic)
An agnostic is:
A. One who believes in God
B. One who disbelieves in God
C. One who doesn’t know whether God exists
D. One who knows with certainty that God exists
E. One who does not care one way or the other
C) An agnostic is one who doesn’t know if God exists. An agnostic is a doubter who neither believes or disbelieves.
Since claims about God cannot be proved by science, atheists reject them, and agnostics point out that we cannot know if they are true
Chastise (v.) (chas-TYZE)
To chastise is to:
A. Strip naked
B) To chastise is to punish, to severely criticize or reprimand.
“If he pulls the cat’s tail again,” said Zach, “he must be immediately chastised.”
Sometimes chastise is used in a less formal sense to mean a chiding from someone who thinks you blew it.
When he referred to women as “girls”, we got about 10,000 chastising letters from our readers
Coerce (v.) (koh-URS)
To coerce means:
A. To yell
B. To meet
C. To mend
D. To tear
E. To force
E) To force, usually through pressuring with threats, irresistible temptations, promises, or intimidation, etc.
“She didn’t want to go in the first place,” said Michelle. “She was coerced.”
You might hear it said that someone’s testimony was coerced, in which case it implies they were pressured, and the testimony might not be true
Archaic (adj.) (ahr-KAY-ik)
B. Awkwardly large
E. Relating to spiders
C) Archaic means ancient, and most of the time also carries the implication of outmoded and obsolete. An archaic word is one that was once commonly used, but no longer is. Mesopotamia is an archaic culture.
“Isn’t it a bit archaic to refer to him as your beau?” asked Madison
Circumscribe (v.) (SUR-cum-skrybe)
To circumscribe means:
A. To outline
B. To describe
C. To write about
D. To give attributes to
E. To shape
A) To circumscribe means to outline in the sense of to literally draw a line around.
She carefully circumscribed on the map the area we would cover the following day.
To circumscribe also means to define by setting boundaries:
“Liberty is circumscribed by law,” Professor Howard was fond of saying.
To circumscribe also means to restrict or limit by setting boundaries:
Armed guards circumscribed the prisoner’s movements
Avarice (n.) (AV-ur-is)
Avarice refers to:
A. The love of birds
D) Avarice means greed, the excessive craving to accumulate more. Note: It’s one of the seven deadly sins. (The others are Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, and Sloth.)
“No matter how much he gets, his avarice will keep him wanting more,” said Rachel
Alleviate (v.) (uh-LEE-vee-ayt)
A. To cause
B. To repair
C. To relieve
D. To reap
E. To worsen
C) Alleviate means to relieve, to make bearable, to improve by lessening, to soothe.
Watching the school bus drive away seemed to alleviate his symptoms
Civil (adj.) (SIV-ul)
E. By the book
C) Civil means polite, courteous, observant of social standards, but with the implication of unexpectedly, just barely, or because of pressure. You might say someone was quite civil when there was an expectation they might not be. You might say that they were just barely civil or not civil at all. But you couldn’t compliment a mother on how nice and civil her little. In that instance, you would have to say polite.
Dave and Samantha were fighting. She hardly said a civil word to him all evening
Cadence (n.) ( KAYD-uns)
B) A cadence is a rhythmic pattern.
“Your language has such a beautiful cadence” he whispered to Maria
Apocalypse (n.) (uh-PAHK-uh-lips)
Apocalypse refers to a:
C. Punctuation mark
D. Healing herb
E. Gaping hole
A) An apocalypse is a term applied to a cataclysmic disaster so huge as to threaten planetary existence.
“The Cuban Missile Crisis is as close to an apocalypse as I ever want to get,” said Uncle Sid.
The word apocalypse also refers to specific Judeo-Christian writings regarding the ultimate battle between good and evil.
The last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, is sometimes called the Book of the Apocalypse
Alacrity (n.) (uh-LAK-ri-tee)
E) Alacrity is eagerness or cheerful willingness expressed in briskness of response. Alacrity describes responding with a sense of vigor.
He did not fail to notice the alacrity with which Fred raised his hand when a volunteer was needed
Bureaucracy (n.) (byoo-RAHK-ruh-see)
Bureaucracy refers to:
A. Dresser drawers
B. Administration of government
C. Relations with foreign powers
D. The need to control
E. A sovereign state
B) Bureaucracy refers to the often complicated, wasteful, and inefficient administration of the government or other large organizations; red tape.
“The bureaucracy is ridiculous,” stormed Daniel. ” I went to four rooms, talked to six people, filled out three pieces of paper, and I still have to go back on Wednesday.”
One who administers a bureaucracy is a bureaucrat
Bane (n.) BAYN
Bane refers to:
A. A bath tub
B. A herbal remedy
C. A smell
D. A poison
E. A wolf pack
D) A bane is a poison — often referring to someone who poisons enjoyment. Technically, a bane is a scourge, an affliction, that which torments and causes misery and death, but the word is often used tongue in cheek as in the phrase “He is the bane of my existence,” meaning he is a real annoyance.
She was the bane of the entire English Department. We were all glad when she retired
Cerebral (adj.) suh-REE-brul
Cerebral refers to:
D) Cerebral is that which is characterized by intellect. Someone who is cerebral is all head and no heart. He uses big words, thinks things through, and is rational.
“Let’s stop being so cerebral and go rent a trashy movie,” said Nancy after six hours of studying
Choleric (adj.) (KAHL-ur-ik)
B. Quick to anger
D. Sour faced
B) Choleric means quick to anger, hot tempered, volatile. As a noun it means someone who is quick to anger, hot tempered, volatile.
The violent criminal was subject to choleric outbursts of temper
Assuage (v.) (uh-SWAYJ)
To assuage means to:
E) To assuage is to soothe, to relieve, to alleviate, to calm.
At first I didn’t want to go, but he assuaged my concerns by assuring me that there was indoor plumbing.
Avow (v.) (uh-VOW)
To avow is to:
A) To avow is to openly and categorically declare, assert, admit, or state something forcefully and in no uncertain terms.
Ralph avowed he was no where near the scene of the crime
Absolute (adj.) (AB-suh-loot)
B. Without exception
D. Made with good vodka
B) Absolute means total, complete, entire, exact, beyond question, without exception. When you answer a question with the word “absolutely” you are saying yes in a way that is complete and unequivocal. The absolute last day for registration means that it will be impossible to register after that.
“He’s an absolute idiot,” said Bethany as Carlos sped past them at twice the speed limit
Conjecture (n.) (kun-JEK-chur)
A. Absolute knowledge
D. Something read
E. Long and boring
C) Conjecture is supposition, speculation, assumption, guesswork, inference.
“That’s pure conjecture,” stormed Monica. “Don’t you dare pass it along as if it were truth.”
As a verb, conjecture means to speculate, assume, make an educated guess, etc.
“He conjectured about what the defendant knew and didn’t know.”
Assimilate (v.) (usSIM-uh-layt)
Assimilate means to:
A. Lap up
C. Shy away
E) Assimilate means to absorb, to take in; to swallow up; to make part of oneself.
When a big company takes over a little company, the smaller company loses its separate identity and is assimilated into the bigger one. When you take in what you read and make it part of yourself, you are said to have assimilated the material.
“He’s read it all,” admitted Stanley, “but how much of it has he really assimilated?”
Amnesty (n.) (AM nuh-stee)
Amnesty refers to:
C. A pardon
E. Lack of memory
C) Amnesty refers to a pardon, usually given to a whole group of people, particularly for political offenses. It is technically a “forgetting”. Amnesty International is a group that seeks to get pardons for political prisoners and others whose human rights are being violated with imprisonment. If your local library calls an amnesty it means that on that day you can return overdue books without penalty
Brevity (n.) (BREV-i-tee)
C) Brevity means briefness.
He spoke clearly and with brevity. We were out of there within an hour
Compendium (n.) (kum-PEN-dee-um)
A compendium is:
A. A collection
B. An allowance
C. A recommendation
D. A revision
E. A dictionary
A) A compendium is a collection, a compilation, a summary, an anthology, a digest, a summary.
Luis gave her a beautifully bound compendium of Shakespeare’s sonnets
Celibacy (n.) (SEL-uh-buh-see)
A. Level of education
B. Degree of acceptance
C. State of mind
D. Refraining from sex
D) Celibacy is the practice of refraining from sex, also referred to as abstinence, chastity.
“Monks and nuns now often wear street clothes, but they still practice celibacy,” explained Sister Mary Joseph
Acerbic (adj.) (uh-SUR-bik)
B) Acerbic means sharp and stinging, bitter or pungent, harsh. It is most often used figuratively to describe harsh speech rather than to describe an actual taste or smell.
His acerbic comments left her in tears
Consecrate (v.) (KAHN-suh-krayt)
To consecrate is to:
A. Make earthy
B. Make sacred
D. Make clean
E. Visualize intensely
B) To consecrate is to make or declare sacred, to bless, to sanctify, to ordain.
Abraham Lincoln said that the brave men who died at Gettysburg consecrated the ground of that battlefield
Beleaguer (v.) (bi-LEE-gur)
To be beleaguered means to be:
E. Called together
D) Beleaguered means besieged, surrounded, overwhelmed, swamped, harassed big time.
The beleaguered crew was out-manned, outgunned, and outranked, but they valiantly refused to surrender
Agenda (n.) (uh-JEN-da)
Your agenda refers to:
A. Your time
B. Your money
C. Your family
D. Your education
E. Your youth
A) Your agenda refers to your time and how you will manage it. An agenda is a to-do list, a docket, a schedule.
“Tell Ted he is on Mr. Allison’s agenda, but I can’t tell him what time,” said Carol
Blatant (adj.) (BLAY-tunt)
A. Absolutely correct
B. Loudly offensive
C. Quietly fuming
B) Blatant means loudly offensive, brazenly obvious. You will often hear the phrase “blatant disregard” meaning glaring and shameless disregard.
He acted with blatant disregard for the facts
Concurrent (adj.) (kun-KUR-unt)
C. Over top of
D. Regarding the present time
E. Just before
B) Concurrent means simultaneous, happening at the same time.
“I think the two concerts are happening concurrently on separate stages,” said Margo, “so we can’t go to both.”
Concurrent also means being in accord or harmony. When two people concur they agree, think the same way at the same time
Aesthetic (adj.) (es-THET-ik)
Aesthetic refers to:
E. Good breeding
B) Aesthetic as an adjective or adverb means related to beauty in the form of art, literature, music, dance, etc.
“Your food should not only taste good,” explained Ms. Morgan on the first day of cooking school, “it should also be aesthetically pleasing
Belittle (v.) (bi-LIT-ul)
To belittle means:
A. To shrink
B. To ignore
C. To put down
D. To fold up
E. To call by a pet name
C) Belittle means to put down or find fault with, to diminish, literally to make small.
“She belittles him so constantly,” said Marianne, “I wonder why he stays married.”
Belligerent (adj.) (buh-LIJ-ur-unt)
A) Belligerent means hostile, quarrelsome, warlike.
“He continued to be belligerent, so I sent him to the office,” said Ms. Green.
As a noun, belligerent refers to the parties in a war.
The belligerents lined up on either side of the battlefield
Commensurate (adj.) (kuh-MEN-sur-it)
C. Of higher rank
D. Of lower rank
E) Commensurate means equal or equivalent.
“The two girls were commensurate in their ability, so I hired both of them,” said Elaine.
Commensurate also means fitting, appropriate to.
“In six months, I will give you a raise commensurate with your performance,” said Mr. Ludlow
Conciliatory (Adj.) (kun-SIL-ee-uh-tor-ee)
B. Unwilling to quit
C. Willing to make concessions
C) Conciliatory describes an attitude that is apologetic and expresses willingness to make concessions or to meet another half way. It implies a desire to make up after a fight.
“He apologized with his words,” said Hazel, “but there was nothing conciliatory about his attitude.
Conciliatory can also describe an attitude that expresses flexibility, willingness to compromise, and agreeableness.
“His conciliatory words were a soothing balm after their fierce disagreement.”
Acrid (adj.) (AK-rid)
C. Having a burnt reddish tone
E) Acrid means pungently bitter in taste or smell;
The acrid smell of smoke was overwhelming.
Acrid can also be used figuratively to refer to caustic, cutting expression.
She could not get his acrid comments out of her mind
Broach (v.) (brohch)
To broach is to:
A. Join up
B. Pin down
C) To broach is to initiate, suggest or bring up for the first time. Subjects, topics of conversation, ideas, and issues are all open to being broached.
“I wanted to tell Donald about Jim,” said Kim, “but I didn’t know how to broach the subject
Tout (v.) (tout)
To tout is to:
C. Put up with
E. Look down upon
D) To tout is to promote, sing the praises of, to brag publicly about in an attempt to sell or influence.
“Is he still touting Amway?” asked Rick when I told him Michael was coming to the party
Exemplify (v.) (ig-ZEM-pluh-fye)
To exemplify is to:
A. Admire no matter what
B. Imitate aspects of
C. Serve as a model of
D. Make easier
E. Crave attention
C) Exemplify means to serve as a model or be a very good example of.
“Jonathan exemplifies what it means to be a pacifist,” said Mr. McSorley. “He even captures wasps and releases them outside rather than killing them.”
Strife (n.) (stryfe)
B) Strife is bitter conflict, discord, enmity, antagonism.
My grandmother is very upset at the strife in Northern Ireland,” said Kathleen. “Her brothers are still living there.”
Eclectic (adj.) (i-KLEK-tik)
D) Eclectic means varied, composed of elements from many different sources, implying an unusual or interesting mix.
“Nathaniel has wonderfully eclectic taste in music,” said Katie. “In the past month we’ve gone to the opera, to a fiddle contest, and to a reggae concert.”
Proficient (adj.) (pruh-FISH-unt)
Someone described as proficient would be:
B) Proficient means skilled, competent, adept, good at.
“She’s taken music lessons for eight years and is still not as proficient as she wants to be,” said Marty
Indigenous (adj.) (in-DIJ-uh-nus)
B. Opposed to
C. Native to
C) Indigenous means native to. Something that originates in a place is indigenous to that place.
Drive-in movies are indigenous to America.
The term indigenous person generally refers to tribal peoples. Native American Indians, Australian Aborigines, and African Pigmies, are examples of indigenous peoples.
She spent the summer exploring indigenous cultures
Verbose (adj.) (vur-BHOS)
D) Someone who is verbose uses lots of words to say something that could be said in many fewer words. Verbose means long winded and implies boring.
“She is so verbose that once when she called, my mom put the phone down and went to the bathroom without her ever realizing it.”
The noun form is verbosity and means the quality of being verbose or using too many words.
“The kids make fun of his verbosity and call him a wind bag,” laughed Connie
Spurious (adj.) (SPYOOR-ee-us)
A) Spurious means false, counterfeit, not what it is cracked up to be.
When his wife died, he became the victim of spurious rumors, and it took him years to clear his name.
Spurious can also mean misbegotten, born out of wedlock.
The nobles rebelled when the king’s spurious offspring tried to ascend to the throne
Malinger (v.) muh-LING-ger
To malinger means:
A. To hang on
B. To waste away
C. To fake illness
D. To spread rumors
E. To yearn for
C) To malinger means to fake illness with the intent of avoiding work or responsibility.
“Mr. Jamison thinks I was malingering,” said Joey. “I need you to write him a note and tell him I really was sick.”
Mendicant (n.) MEN-di-cant
A mendicant is:
A. A minstrel
B. A beggar
C. A tailor
D. A jester
E. A monk
B) A mendicant is a beggar.
“I spent the most incredible afternoon talking to a mendicant about literature,” said Carla. “He lives in a doorway, eats out of garbage cans, and knows more about Shakespeare than anyone I’ve ever met.”
Adroit (adj.) (uh-DROYT)
B) Adroit means skillful, deft, dexterous, nimble; someone who is adroit is quick, graceful, and well coordinated. It comes from the French word “droit”, which means right (the opposite of left) and gets its meaning from the fact that the right hand is usually the more skillful hand.
The chef adroitly fashioned the cakes into works of art.
Adroit also means skillful as in clever, quick-witted.
The politician was adroit in making his weaknesses seem like strengths
Utopia (n.) (yoo-TOH-pee-uh)
A. An ideal society
B. A perfect relationship
C. A wish come true
D. Past glory
E. A futuristic world
A) Utopia is a perfect society, an ideal place, a perfect political system. The word came from a work of fiction that a man named Sir Thomas Moore wrote way back in 1516, which described a perfect society on an island called Utopia.
“His idea of utopia includes no taxes and lots of Chinese food,” joked Jasmine
Defame (v.) (di-FAYM)
Defame means to:
A. Slip into oblivion
B. Stay in the background
C. Give someone else the credit
D. Overcome a bad reputation
E. Ruin someone’s reputation
E) To defame means to ruin someone’s good name, to slander or libel, to publicly cast doubt on their character. You will often hear the term “defamation of character” meaning an untrue attack on someone’s morals, ethics or reputation.
“I will not defame his memory by exposing the letters,” said Alyssa. “I am going to burn them.”
Encroach (v.) (en-KROHCH)
To encroach means:
A. To trespass
B. To make smaller
C. To claim
D. To dominate
E. To throw up
A) Encroach means to trespass, especially in the sense of making gradual inroads into.
“His garden is encroaching on my land,” complained Uncle Henry. “I should start charging him rent.”
Encroach also means to trespass on or interfere with the rights or domain of another.
“Now, Grandma, please don’t encroach on our duty to discipline when the
little fella needs it.”
Impotent (adj.) (IM-puh-tunt)
D. Like a beggar
B) Impotent means powerless. In a technical sense, it describes a man who cannot perform sexually, but its meaning extends to cover any lack of power, strength, or ability. Impotence implies an inability to affect a situation, an inability to make an impact.
Carl had never felt so impotent as he did standing there watching the flames engulf his home
Adulterate (v.) (uh-DUHL-tuh-rayt)
A. To have sex with someone else’s partner
B. To act like an adult
C. To read pornographic material
D. To contaminate
E. To act young
D) To adulterate means to contaminate, to make impure.
In some countries people have become ill from using adulterated cooking oil.
Adulterate is most often expressed in its negative form unadulterated, meaning pure, but often applied to something that is not pure.
“That is unadulterated nonsense!” said Barbara angrily
Vindicate (v.) (VIN-di-kayt)
To vindicate means to:
A. Prove innocent
B. Take revenge upon
C. Swear at
D. Stand up for
E. Hold a grudge
A) To vindicate means to prove innocent, to clear one’s name, to disprove an accusation.
We thought Josh took the money, but Harry’s confession vindicated him
Dearth (n.) (durth)
A dearth is:
A. An abundance
B. A hollow place
C. A secret stash
D. A scarcity
E. An appalling truth
D) A dearth is a scarcity, a lack.
“There is a surprising dearth of information on my chosen topic,” complained Roberta. “My report might not be long enough.”
Decorous (adj.) (DEK-ur-us)
E. Arranged in an interesting pattern
D) Decorous means proper, polite, well-mannered, in good taste.
The usually decorous group erupted in violence at the announcement of O.J. Simpson’s acquittal
Litigate (v.) (LIT-uh-gayt)
To litigate is to:
A. Conduct a lawsuit
C. Find guilty
D. Find innocent
E. Press charges against
A) To litigate is to bring suit, to try a case in court.
“I was so moved by Ralph’s apology that I decided not to litigate,” said Virginia.
People involved in a civil court case are called litigants.
The litigants finally agreed to settle the dispute out of court
Covenant (n.) (KUV-uh-nunt)
A covenant is:
A. A carrying case
B. A small cave
C. A formal agreement
D. A feeling of envy
E. A hidden harbor
C) A covenant is a formal agreement, a solemn promise.
The Book of Genesis relates that God made a covenant that promised the land of Palestine to the descendants of Abraham
Definitive (adj.) (di-FIN-uh-tiv)
To be definitive is to be:
D. Highly educated
A) To be definitive is to be authoritative, conclusive, the most reliable or complete.
“Jimmy claims to have written the definitive guide to dining out in Philadelphia,” laughed Rachel. He gained twenty pounds while writing it
Abhor (v.) (ab-HOR)
To abhor means:
A. To run from
B. To crave
C. To feel sad
D. To loathe
E. To envy
D) To abhor means to loathe, to detest, to hate very, very much.
“I abhor raw chicken livers,” said Lauren, “You couldn’t force me to eat them.”
Facetious (adj.) (fuh-SEE-shus)
A. Not original
B. Not serious
C. Not well-intentioned
D. Not trustworthy
E. Not whole
B) Facetious means not serious, not really meant, tongue-in-cheek, when you put someone on, you are being facetious.
“When I told her Dylan was going into the priesthood, I was being facetious,” said Brittany, “but she took me seriously and told everyone.”
Martyr (n.) (MAHR-tur)
A martyr is known for:
A. Being holy
B. Being good
C. Being generous
D. Helping others
E. Giving his or her life for a belief
E) A martyr is a person who sacrifices his or her life for a cause or a belief.
St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death around 36 a.d.
A martyr is also a person who is self-sacrificing in general, who is long-suffering, and who often creates feelings of guilt in others.
When Victoria said, “That’s all right, if there’s not enough room, I’ll stay home,” Ed got mad and told her to stop being such a martyr
Despondent (adj.) (di-SPHAN-dunt)
To be despondent is to be:
B. Behind on letter writing
E) To be despondent is to be depressed, in a state of despair, feeling hopeless.
Alexander was despondent for months after Abigail broke off their engagement
Respite (n.) (RES-pit)
A respite is:
A. A harsh retort
B. A second draft
C. A note
D. A bridge
E. A rest
E) A respite is a period of rest, of relief, especially from something difficult or uncomfortable.
The rains kept coming, offering no respite to the weary flood workers
Zealous (adj.) (ZEL-us)
To be zealous is to be:
D. Especially beautiful
C) To be zealous is to be fanatical, gung-ho, aggressively enthusiastic, passionately involved with.
“He is so zealous about saving the whales that he cannot talk of anything else,” said Kyle
Flout (v.) (flowt)
To flout means:
A. To scorn
B. To display
C. To ignore
D. To humor
E. To let down
A) To flout is to scorn, to disregard in a way that is disrespectful, to be mocking or contemptuous of.
The girl laughed as she flouted the school’s new rule about not smoking on the premises
Amorous (adj.) (AM-ur-us)
To be amorous is to feel:
D) The word amorous is related to the word love. An amorous nature is one that is inclined to love; to feel amorous toward someone is to be in love with them, to be sexually or romantically attracted to them.
His amorous feelings led him to send Janis fresh flowers every day for a week
Manifesto (n.) (man-uh-FES-toh)
A manifesto is:
A. A log
B. A statement of principles
C. A wish list
D. A pact with the devil
E. A table of contents
B) A manifesto is a statement of principles, a declaration of political beliefs, a document that spells out a doctrine.
We studied the Communist Manifesto in history last term
Explicit (adj.) (ik-SPLIS-it)
To be explicit means to be:
C. Scantily clad
D) To be explicit is to be definite, to be direct, clear, and detailed.
My father thought that the movie was too sexually explicit for a thirteen-year old
Confluence (n.) (KAHN-floo-uns)
A. A flowing together
B. An imitating of
C. A movement
D. A teacher-student relationship
E. An intruding idea
A) Confluence is a flowing together of several rivers or streams or the point where they join. Used in a more general sense, confluence is the flowing together of schedules, thoughts, ideas, objectives, passions, beliefs, etc.
There was a confluence of cultures in my neighborhood. I’d be hearing Latin music, eating barbecued ribs, and smelling Chinese food all at the same time
Vicarious (adj.) (vye-KAR-ee-us)
B. Second handily
C. By the book
E. Pertaining to flight
B) Vicarious means second handily. When instead of focusing on our own experience, we live our lives through other people, taking pride in their accomplishments, being thrilled at their risks, etc. we are said to be living vicariously. Some people, for example, live vicariously through the characters on their soap operas.
Jennifer relived her youth vicariously through her teenage daughter
Guile (n.) (gyle)
E) Guile is deceitfulness, cunningness, manipulativeness, insincerity. Someone with guile is not what they seem; they are pretending to be something they are not in order to get some result. To be without guile is to be genuine, sincere.
She was shameless in her use of guile. Before the marriage, she’d played the part of a rich girl
Impartial (adj.) (im-PAHR-shul)
D. Not sorry
E. Not emotional
A) Impartial means unbiased, fair, without prejudice, not showing favoritism.
There was so much pre-trial publicity, it was hard to find enough impartial people to make up a jury
Affable (adj.) (AF-uh-bul)
To be affable means:
A. To enjoy life
B. To be gullible
C. To have a pleasant nature
D. To be financially well-off
E. To be extroverted
C) To be affable means to have a pleasant nature, to be easy going, friendly, amiable, easily pleased.
His affable manner drew people to him at any social event
Pervade (v.) (pur-VAYD)
To pervade means:
A. To win out
B. To hold out
C. To dodge
D. To work at
E. To spread throughout
E) To pervade means to spread throughout, to infuse, to permeate. A scent that fills the air is said to pervade the room.
The fear that pervaded the group made them give up their search
Predilection (n.) (pred-uh-LEK-shun)
A predilection is:
A. A forecast
B. A tendency
C. An impulse
D. A phobia
E. A pre-determined outcome
B) A predilection is a tendency, an inclination towards, a fondness for.
His predilection for the sea drew him to a voyage around the Cape of Good Hope
Histrionic (adj.) (his-tree-AHN-ik)
A. Overly dramatic
B. Overly long
C. Overly dull
A) Histrionic means overly dramatic, melodramatic, with excessive and somewhat contrived emotion.
Her histrionic reaction to the mere prospect of giving blood was embarrassing
Dubious (adj.) (DOO-bee-us)
C) Dubious means uncertain, skeptical, doubtful, questionable.
When he predicted that we would be out of debt in six months, we were dubious.
In that sentence, dubious means skeptical, but you could also say: He got into trouble for selling art works of dubious origin.
In that case dubious means questionable
Singular (adj.) (SING-gyuh-lur)
E) Singular means unique, special, remarkable, exceptional.
She had a singular beauty that had captivated him from the first moment they met.
Singular also means the opposite of plural. “I” is the first person singular; “we” is the first person plural
Sanctimonious (adj.) (sangk-tuh-MOH-nee-us)
B. Phony holy
C. Sincerely pious
B) Sanctimonious means phony holy, exaggerated religious feeling, hypocritical devotion or piousness, often “holier than thou.”
His sanctimonious attitude was called into question when he was caught with someone else’s wife. He’d been so unwilling to forgive others for the same offense
Preempt (v.) (pree-EMPT)
To preempt is:
A. To do better than
B. To struggle against
C. To look down on
D. To supersede
E. To deny
D) To preempt is to supersede, to replace by prior arrangement.
A speech by the President always preempts normal programming.
During the Cold War people used to talk about a “preemptive strike” meaning a first strike that would supersede any attack on the part of the enemy. The word “preemptive” carries the flavor of “preventive” that is not present in the word “preempt”.
Preempt may also be spelled pre-empt
Frenetic (adj.) (fruh-NET-ik)
A) Frenetic means frantic or frenzied, it describes how one acts when both desperately rushed and disorganized. Intense nervous activity is described as frenetic.
Her frenetic efforts to get Stevie out of the closet did little more than keep her busy till the fire department arrived
Immutable (adj.) (i-MYOO-tuh-bul)
B) Immutable means unchangeable, permanent, steadfast.
“That Kevin will be home for dinner is an immutable law of nature,” laughed Aunt Anna. “He hasn’t missed a meal in years.”
Affinity (n.) (uh-FIN-uh-tee)
An affinity is:
A. An attraction
B. A weakness
C. A traditional attitude
D. An understanding
E. A habit
A) An affinity is a natural attraction or proclivity, a sense of kinship with something or someone, a strong sense of liking. In its most technical sense affinity means a mutual attraction, but that usage is no longer strictly followed.
“Men have such affinity for their vehicles,” laughed Emma. “I think a fellow would be hard-pressed if asked to choose between his wife and his car.”
Transient (adj.) (TRAN-shunt)
If something is transient it:
A. Applies across the board
B. Will be moving on soon
C. Is uncertain of its origin
D. Is not fussy
E. Has a broad spectrum of knowledge
B) Transient means on the move, just passing through, not staying long.
Many of the transient workers returned to Mexico after the harvest.
As a noun, a transient is a person who is on the move, just passing through, and not expected to stay long.
“The transient they found almost frozen to death in the subway went to school with my father,” said Noah
Vindictive (adj.) (vin-DIK-tiv)
To be vindictive means:
A. To have a long memory
B. To be hungry
C. To be accusatory
D. To be spiteful
E. To have all the answers
D) To be vindictive means to be spiteful, vengeful, malicious, wanting to take revenge.
Ever since Thomas left Olivia, she has been extremely vindictive, once even letting the air out of his tires
Exigent (adj.) (EK-si-jent)
B. Outside of
C. Dying out
E. Not enough
A) Exigent means urgent, pressing, requiring immediate action.
When exigent circumstances exist, police may enter your home without a warrant
Facile (adj.) (FAS-il)
C. Easily done
C) Facile means easily done, glib, lacking depth.
Lazy John always preferred facile tasks
Precedent (n.) (PRES-uh-dunt)
A precedent is:
A. A requirement
B. A component
C. A strongly held opinion
D. A prior case
E. A piece of evidence
D) A precedent is a something that comes before something else and serves as an example of or justification for it. Something, upon which later things are patterned, modeled, or authorized is a precedent. When an attorney sites a precedent, he or she refers to a past ruling that is similar to the one they are seeking.
My older brother is a real scholar, and his high grades set a precedent for the rest of us
Concord (n.) (KAHN-kord)
E. Extreme speed
B) Concord means harmony, agreement, a peaceful similarity of attitudes.
“We have achieved concord at last in these difficult peace negotiations,” said the President.
Concord is also the name of towns in New Hampshire (the capital is concord), Massachusetts, California, and central South Carolina. Concord is also the name of an especially sweet and succulent grape
Willful (adj.) (WIL-ful)
To be willful means to be:
E. Bad tempered
B) Willful means headstrong, stubborn determined to have one’s own way.
“Nathan is quite willful and turns a deaf ear to good advice,” lamented Aunt Martha.
Willful also means intentional or deliberate.
“The slight was not willful,” said Destiny. “I certainly didn’t mean to hurt her feelings.”
Precipitate (v.) (pri-SIP-uh-tayt)
To precipitate is:
A. To bring about
B. To cry
C. To increase
D. To keep hush-hush
E. To stop
A) To precipitate is to bring about, to set off, to cause to happen.
Her accusations precipitated an investigation into the finances of all school organizations.
Precipitate also means to fall to earth as rain, snow, sleet, or hail. As a noun any form of moisture that falls from the sky is called precipitation.
There is a one in four chance of precipitation, according to the Weather Channel
Fauna (n.) (FAW-nuh)
Fauna refers to:
A) Fauna refers to animals. You often hear it together with the word “flora”, which means plants.
We saw abundant flora, but few fauna as we walked through the woods
Rigorous (adj.) (RIG-ur-us)
B) Rigorous means exacting, strict, harsh, demanding of precision.
Sean found the rigorous demands of law school exhilarating
Illicit (adj.) (I-LIS-it)
If something is illicit it is:
D) Illicit means forbidden, illegal, improper, taboo.
Her illicit affair with a married man went on undetected for years
Reprove (v.) (ri-PROOVE)
A. To praise
B. To re-evaluate
C. To permit
D. To criticize
E. To appreciate
D) To reprove means to criticize or correct.
His mother seldom needed to reprove him, but one word stopped Hunter in his tracks.
The noun form of reprove is reproof, and means a mild criticism or correction.
His reproof damaged her pride
Capitulate (v.) (kuh-PICH-uh-layt)
To capitulate means:
A. To reconsider
B. To take advantage
C. To surrender
D. To make money
E. To initiate
C) To capitulate is to surrender, cave in to pressure, to collapse.
His defense capitulated when the new evidence was presented
Robust (adj.) (ROH-bust)
C) Robust means strong, hardy, vigorous. A robust cup of coffee is one that is strong and full-bodied.
Theodore Roosevelt was a sickly child, but grew up to be a robust adult
Coalesce (v.) (koh-uh-LES)
To coalesce means:
A. To redecorate
B. To cooperate
C. To recover
D. To put in order
E. To merge
E) To coalesce means to merge, to fuse, to blend together, to combine.
His separate ideas finally coalesced into a cohesive whole.
When organizations coalesce for a specific purpose the new group is called a coalition.
They are forming a campus-wide coalition to fight the proposed curfew
Superficial (adj.) (soo-pur-FISH-ul)
To be superficial is to be:
E) To be superficial is to be shallow, concerned with only the obvious, not deep or probing.
Jordana is the most superficial girl I know. All she can talk about is make-up, movies, and the latest gossip.
Superficial also refers to something that is literally at, near, or pertaining to the surface of something.
His wound was only superficial. It healed within days
Scrutinize (v.) (SKROOT-uh-nyze)
To scrutinize means:
A. To create doubts
B. To take control
C. To find flaws
D. To carefully examine
E. To make appealing
D) To scrutinize means to examine carefully, to study in detail.
“I scrutinized her report and could find no misplaced commas or misused words,” said Alexandra
Aptitude (n.) (AP-tuh-tood)
B. Natural ability
C. Strong interest
D. A studious nature
B) An aptitude is a natural ability, a talent, an inclination towards something that has not yet been mastered.
Connor’s aptitude for math landed him an after school job tutoring other kids
Obfuscate (v.) (AHB-fuh-skayt)
To obfuscate something is to:
A. Blow it up
B. Make it unclear
C. Bring it out
D. Bend it
E. Take it away
B) To obfuscate means to make unclear, to darken or confuse, to muddle.
All his talking about how good it was to be home again only served to obfuscate his real motive, which was to borrow money
Mundane (adj.) (mun-DAYN)
C) Mundane means ordinary, routine, commonplace, not special, of this world, not of heaven; earthly.
In the old man’s cabinet beside mundane teacups and flowerpots, they found priceless antiques
Harbinger (n.) (HAR-bin-jur)
A harbinger is:
A. A forerunner
B. A rare bird
C. A tattletale
D. A widow
E. A trace
A) A harbinger is a forerunner, something that precedes something else and let’s us know it is coming.
The robin is a harbinger of spring
Circumspect (adj.) (SUR-kum-spekt)
D) Circumspect means cautious, guarded, vigilant.
Ethan was quite circumspect in discussing his summer plans. His friends didn’t realize he was waiting to see if he got a job in LA
Approbation (n.) (AP-RUH-bay-shun)
B) Approbation is praise, approval, admiration.
Approbation for his discoveries from the scientific community came years too late
Static (adj.) (STAT-ik)
C. Not moving
D. Not large
E. Not lazy
C) Static means not moving, stationary, lacking movement or growth.
Book sales have been fairly static for the last three months, but perhaps they will pick up again during the Christmas season.
Static is also a low-level electrical charge caused by friction. When you rub against a rug and then touch something else, the resulting spark is called static electricity – static for short.
“There is so much static in the air today,” said Natalie, “I’ve had three little shocks in a row.”
Anarchy (n.) (AN-ur-kee)
D) Anarchy means lawlessness, the absence of government or authority; a state of chaos.
It can be used in the formal sense:
The anarchy following revolution subsided only when a new government was firmly established.
It can also be used informally:
When the sweet young substitute teacher replaced Ms. Henderson, the class seemed to revert to anarchy
Colloquial (adj.) (kul-OH-kwee-ul)
A) Colloquial means informal, conversational, common.
Although his colloquial style is fun and easy to read, his content is quite profound.
Also means local or regional dialect expression.
Outsiders laugh at our region’s colloquialisms
Hermetic (adj.) (hur-MET-ik)
E) Hermetic means airtight or tightly sealed, unaffected by anything outside itself.
The time capsule was hermetically sealed and buried in the Town Square.
Hermetic also means pertaining to the occult. This meaning comes from Hermes Trismegistus, the mythical author of an influential ancient collection of magical writings.
The Order of the Golden Dawn is a hermetic group that Aleister Crowley belonged to
Expedite (v.) (EK-spi-dyte)
D. Open up
E. Pay for
B) Expedite means to facilitate, to help along, to speed the progress of, to make easier.
If everyone will pitch in, it will expedite matters
Impervious (adj.) (im-PUR-vee-us)
D. Holier than thou
E. Unable to be penetrated
E) Impervious means unable to be penetrated, and thus protected from being influenced or touched by an outside force.
The rickety roof was impervious to the elements after we sealed it with tar
Apartheid (n.) (uh-PAHRT-hayt)
Apartheid refers to:
C) Apartheid is a rigid policy of racial segregation.
Until recently South Africa had an official policy of apartheid
Edify (v.) (ED-uh-fye)
To edify means:
A. To uplift
B. To harden
C. To shock
D. To prove
E. To winterize
A) To edify means to uplift, to benefit or instruct, especially morally.
We were edified by reading George Washington’s rules for conduct
Fetter (v.) (FET-ur)
A. To upset
B. To fuss over
C. To change
D. To restrain
E. To exclude
D) To fetter literally means to restrain, to shackle.
No matter how he was fettered, Harry Houdini escaped.
Fetter is often used to refer to something that shackles in the sense of holding one back or hampering progression.
Jared was fettered by his inability to speak Spanish fluently. He missed a lot of what was being discussed
Connoisseur (n.) (kahn-uh-SUR)
A connoisseur is:
A. A French chef
B. An expert
C. A know-it-all
D. A manipulator
E. A consultant
B) A connoisseur is someone who has refined taste in a given area, someone whose experience with something has made him or her expert. A connoisseur is an expert in the sense of having acquired a great knowledge about, appreciation or understanding of some subject. A connoisseur of art, for example, knows and loves good art, can tell good art from not so good art, but does not necessarily know how to paint or draw
Compelling (adj.) (kum-PEL-ing)
D) Compelling means forceful, having a powerful pull.
The argument Jason put forth was so compelling that the board voted unanimously in his favor
Paradox (n.) (PAR-uh-dahks)
A paradox is:
A. A self-contradiction
B. A minority opinion
C. An object with five sides
D. A story with a twist at the end
E. A lover
A) A paradox is a self-contradiction. An example of a paradox is the statement “I always lie.”
“More haste, less speed,” is an example of a paradox
Despot (n.) (DES-puht)
A despot is:
A. A spoiled child
B. A tyrant
C. An ancient ruin
D. A slop bucket
E. A poet
B) A despot is a tyrant, a king or dictator with absolute power who uses it oppressively.
Idi Amin was a bloody despot who left Uganda in turmoil
Erudite (adj.) (ER-yoo-dyte)
B) Erudite means scholarly, extremely learned, intellectual.
I met him at a party and had no idea he was so erudite until I went to his lecture and had no idea what he was talking about
Deprecate (v.) (DEP-ruh-kayt )
To deprecate is:
A. To go to the bathroom
B. To take apart
C. To deplore
D. To lose value
E. To feel small
C) To deprecate is to deplore, to express strong disapproval of.
Peace lovers deprecate war
Vocation (n.) (voh-KAY-shun)
Vocation refers to one’s:
E) A vocation is a calling, a profession or business that one has a strong inclination toward. The difference between someone with a vocation and someone with merely a job is the person with the vocation loves what he or she does and can’t imagine doing anything else. When someone feels pulled to go into the priesthood or to become a monk or nun, they are said to have a vocation.
His hobby of stamp collecting became a vocation when he opened a small hobby shop
Auspicious (adj.) (aw-SPISH-us)
D) Auspicious means promising, boding well, heartening, encouraging. An auspicious beginning is one that promises a good outcome. An auspicious omen is one that points to a positive result.
That a rainbow appeared in the sky just as we broke ground for the new center was seen as an auspicious omen by everyone
Languish (v.) (LANG-gwish)
To languish means:
A. To luxuriate
B. To proceed extremely cautiously
C. To writhe in pain
D. To give abundantly
E. To experience prolonged inactivity
E) To languish means to experience prolonged inactivity in a way that weakens or depresses.
She languished in a dead end job for years before finding the courage to strike out on her own
Credulous (adj.) (KREJ-uh-lus)
A) Credulous means gullible, eager to believe, na?ve.
Telemarketing depends on finding credulous people to listen to sales pitches.
Credulous also means believable.
He gained admission to the club with a series of very credulous lies
Decorous (adj.) (DEK-ur-us)
B. In good taste
D. Above average
B) Decorous means proper, dignified, in good taste, well-behaved, not offensive.
“What a decorous group of teenagers,” remarked Aunt Sadie. “I’ve never met such polite well-behaved kids.”
Consummate (adj.) (kun-SUM-it)
C. Extremely skillful
E. Well dressed
C) Consummate means extremely skillful, complete, perfect.
Isaac Stern is a consummate violinist whose mastery is recognized all over the world.
As a verb “to consummate” (pronounced KAHN-suh-mate) means to bring to completion. An agreement is consummated with the signing of a contract. A marriage is consummated with the first sexual union.
We consummated the deal with a handshake
Categorical (adj.) (kat-uh-GOR-uh-kul)
B) Categorical means unconditional, absolute, without exception.
His denial of the charges was categorical. He claimed to have been out of town on the evening in question
Malaise (n.) (ma-LAYZ)
B) Malaise is a sense of lethargy and unease, a feeling of being run down, a feeling of being depressed.
Malaise usually is the first warning that I’m coming down with flu
Awry (adj.) (uh-RYE)
A) Awry means off course, not right. When plans go awry, they get all screwed up.
Things did not start to go awry until the fourth quarter when two of the best player fouled out of the game.
Awry also means skewed in the literal sense.
Her makeup was a mess and her hair was awry
Platitude (n.) (PLAT-uh-tood)
A platitude is:
A. An insincere compliment
B. An interesting anecdote
C. A meaningless gesture
D. A half-hearted effort
E. A trite saying
E) A platitude is a trite, overused saying, a clich? usually offered as advice or wisdom. “All’s well that ends well” is a platitude.
“I went to him for help and all I got were meaningless platitudes,” complained Brooke
Destitute (adj.) (DES-tuh-toot)
A. Morally corrupt
C. Very messy
D. Extremely poor
D) Destitute means extremely poor, impoverished, lacking in what is required for basic sustenance.
During the Great Depression there were many destitute people willing to do anything for the money to buy a meal
Extrovert (n.) (EKS-truh-vurt)
An extrovert is:
A. A right-handed person
B. A left-handed person
C. An athletic person
D. An outgoing person
E. A shallow person
D) An extrovert is an outgoing, gregarious person. A person whose reference point is more the outside world than his own inner world. The opposite is an introvert, who is quieter and more self-contained and who takes his cues more from what is happening inside of him than from the outside world.
“My brother, Nathaniel, is such an extrovert,” said Gabrielle. “He has many more friends than I do, and he loves to party, whereas I prefer a quiet evening at home.”
Ephemeral (adj.) (i-FEM-ur-al)
B) Ephemeral means short lived, fleeting.
All life is ephemeral when seen from the perspective of eternity
Callow (adj.) (KAL-oh)
A) Callow means immature, unsophisticated due to youthfulness, inexperienced.
“As a callow youth of nineteen I did not realize how wise my father was,” said Alex
Malleable (adj.) (MAL-ee-uh-bul)
A. Easy to know
B. Easy to put off
C. Easy to describe
D. Easy to forget
E. Easy to shape
E) Malleable means easy to shape or mold. It can be applied to a substance like clay or to more abstract things like attitudes or personalities.
The old pickpocket aimed to train his young cohorts while they were malleable and followed his every instruction
Legacy (n.) (LEG-uh-see)
A legacy refers to:
A. An article of clothing
B. A biographical story
C. An fantasy
D. An inheritance
E. A futuristic society
D) Legacy refers to something inherited or passed down.
This stamp collection was my legacy from my great uncle, who began it as a boy and left it to me in his will.
Legacy is also a term used to designate an applicant to or member of a school, fraternity, or sorority that a parent or older sibling also attended or belonged to.
He’s a legacy. His dad and brother were both Phi Sigma Kappa
Discriminate (v.) (di-SKRIM-uh-nate)
To discriminate means:
A. To hate
B. To fear
C. To make a distinction
D. To condemn
E. To pardon
C) To discriminate means to make a distinction.
My uncle with Alzheimer’s disease cannot discriminate between the present and the past.
To discriminate also means to show partiality. If someone has discriminating tastes, it means they make careful choices and select only the best. To discriminate against means to make a distinction on the basis of race, religion, or some other broad characteristic. In this sense, discrimination has come to have the meaning of being prejudiced
Monolithic (adj.) (mah-nuh-LITH-ik)
To be monolithic means to be:
A. Large and unbroken
B. Tall and pointed
C. Short and squat
D. Smart and single-minded
E. Blown all out of proportion
A) To be monolithic means to be large and unbroken.
Monolithic expresses both the idea of massiveness and the idea of being all of one piece. A large pillar of stone would be monolithic. Opposition that was both great and single-minded could also be called monolithic. So could a huge corporation that had a singular purpose.
“Seeing the Soviet Union as monolithic generated a lot of fear,” said Isaiah
Abject (adj.) (AB-jekt)
B. To the point
A) Abject means hopeless, wretched, miserable.
They lived in abject poverty with cockroaches and rats
Vitriolic (adj.) (vi-tree-AHL-ik)
If something is vitriolic it is:
D. Off course
B) Vitriolic means caustic, full of bitterness, extremely nasty. It stems from the word vitriol, which is another name for sulfuric acid, which is caustic and burns.
His vitriolic tirade stunned his listeners. No one realized he was so full of hatred
Beset (v.) (bi-SET)
B. Set back
C) To be beset means to be besieged, surrounded on all sides, attacked by.
From the very beginning, the program was beset with problems. The office was broken into, the organizer was forced to resign in disgrace, and the funding did not come through when expected.
Beset also means encrusted or studded with:
The crown was beset with diamonds and rubies
Renounce (v.) (ri-NOWNCE)
To renounce means:
A. To inform
B. To say differently
C. To redo
D. To ignore
E. To give up
E) To renounce something means to give it up, to deny or forsake it.
When a king abdicates, he renounces all claims to the throne
Matriculate (v.) (muh-TRIK-yuh-layt)
To matriculate means:
A. To enroll
B. To organize
C. To analyze
D. To explain
E. To take after one’s mother
A) To matriculate means to enroll, especially in a college or university.
“Where are you matriculated?” asked Michelle
Convivial (adj.) (kun-VIV-ee-ul)
D) Convivial means festive, friendly, good-natured, jovial.
We wanted to stay because we enjoyed the good music, the good food, the good wine, and the convivial company
Venerate (v.) (VEN-uh-rayt)
To venerate means:
A. To shun
B. To honor
C. To emulate
D. To charge
E. To encourage
B) To venerate means to honor, to deeply respect, to treat with reverence, as though sacred.
The old man was venerated by everyone in the village, and his opinion carried a lot of weight
Contiguous (adj.) (kun-TIG-yoo-us)
B. In agreement
D. Dependent upon
C) Contiguous means adjoining, touching.
Alaska and Hawaii are not part of the contiguous United States
Arbitrary (adj.) (AHR-buh-trer-ee)
B) Arbitrary means unfair, determined by impulse or individual will, having no particular rhyme or reason.
The judging of figure skating often seems arbitrary. People who skate very well often get lower scores than those who do not skate as well
Pristine (adj.) (PRIS-teen)
D) Pristine means pure, unspoiled, uncorrupted, immaculately clean.
From the air we looked down on mountains covered with a blanket of pristine snow, trampled by neither man nor beast
Succinct (adj.) (suk-SINGKT)
E) Succinct means concise, short, and to the point, brief.
He gave the reporter a succinct explanation of the situation and promised to answer further questions at a press conference later in the day
Farcical (adj.) (FARS-I-kul)
D) Farcical means absurd, ridiculous, having the characteristics of a farce.
Devin’s farcical rendition of the President’s speech had us rolling in the aisles
Nepotism (n.) (NEP-uh-tiz-um)
B) Nepotism is the practice of showing favoritism to relatives or close friends in business or politics. When someone gets a job or a promotion because a relative is an officer of the company, that’s nepotism.
“It was not nepotism, but his own talent that got Julian where he is. I know for a fact his dad did not help him at all,” said Erin
Cogent (adj.) (KOH-junt)
B) Cogent means persuasive, convincing, pertinent.
His cogent explanation put an end to the whole matter. Everyone’s questions were answered
Rustic (adj.) (RUS-tik)
B. Red-gold in color
A) Rustic means rural, countrified, lacking the comforts or the sophistication of a city.
The rustic setting where Cheyenne spent her summers was totally different from the city where she wintered
C. Medically sound
E) To be doctrinaire is to be dogmatic, to espouse a theory, doctrine, or belief system whether or not it is practical, to be inflexible.
The more doctrinaire members of the congregation were offended by the neo-orthodox views of the new minister
Vitiate (v.) (VISH-ee-ayt)
To vitiate means:
A. To salivate
B. To pardon
C. To regale
D. To pollute
E. To certify
D) To vitiate means to pollute, to spoil, to impair, corrupt, or pervert.
“Media violence is vitiating the morals of our young people,” ranted Mr. Coleman. “They think turning the other cheek is for wimps.”
Uniform (adj.) (YOO-nuh-form)
A. By the book
E. Stripped down
B) Uniform means consistent, standard, without variation.
“Our goal this year is to standardize the requirements,” said Mr. Hull. “They are not uniform from school to school
Coherent (adj.) (koh-HEER-unt)
If you are coherent you are:
E. Not telling everything you know
C) To be coherent is to be understandable, to make sense. Something that is coherent is logical and hangs together. When speech is rambling and makes no sense, it is said to be incoherent.
“My uncle is senile,” said Melissa, “but today he was absolutely coherent. Everything he said made perfect sense.”
Transgress (v.) (trans-GRES)
To transgress is:
A. To violate a law
B. To forgive
C. To move backwards
D. To cross
E. To cover
A) To transgress means to violate a law, to offend, to sin.
“When you go to confession you own up to your sins and promise to transgress no more,” explained Andrea.
Transgress also is used to mean going beyond in an inappropriate manner.
“His comedy routine transgressed the bounds of good taste,” said Aunt Penny, “but I have to admit, he was very funny.”
Stagnation (n.) (stag-NAY-shun)
Stagnation refers to:
A. Lack of joy
B. Lack of harmony
C. Lack of movement
D. Lack of confidence
E. Lack of money
C) Stagnation refers to lack of movement that also implies staleness, a lack of progress or growth.
To avoid stagnation, Alicia took one class every semester until she was eighty-five years old
Onerous (adj.) (AHN-ur-us)
B. Most important
D. Bad tempered
A) Onerous means burdensome, oppressive, distasteful.
To Jeremy fell the onerous task of firing his teammates
Covert (adj.) (KUV-urt)
To be covert is to be:
D) Covert means secret, hidden, concealed, disguised.
The CIA is known for its covert operations
Adulation (n.) (aj-uh-LAY-shun)
Adulation refers to:
D. Sexual attraction
E. Excessive praise
E) Adulation is excessive praise, adoration, hero worship.
Some rock stars live for the adulation of their fans. For others adulation is a burden
Discern (v.) (di-SURN)
To discern means:
A. To criticize
B. To analyze
C. To recommend
D. To long for
E. To distinguish
E) To discern means to distinguish, to differentiate from something else, to perceive.
“I can discern very little difference between Sue Ann and Jo Ann,” said Vivian
Genteel (adj.) (jen-TEEL)
C) Genteel means refined, polite, aristocratic, well bred, cultivated.
“My aunt Catherine was a genteel old lady with a huge heart,” said Angel. “Every day at four o’clock she served tea and finger sandwiches.”
Demagogue (n.) (dem-UH-GAWG)
A demagogue is:
A. A bigot
B. A rabble-rouser
C. A fanatical follower
D. A heretic
E. A promoter of evil
B) A demagogue is a rabble-rouser, a leader who tries to stir up others by playing on their emotions, rather than appealing to their reason, someone who uses people’s prejudices and fears to move them to action.
Mussolini was a demagogue who could rant on for hours and whip the crowd into a frenzy
Comprehensive (adj.) (kahm-pruh-HEN-siv)
When something is comprehensive it is:
D) To be comprehensive is to be complete, to be inclusive, to cover a large scope, to leave nothing out.
“The ‘comprehensive coverage’ in your policy insures against falling aircraft,” said Jeffrey.
Do not confuse with comprehendible, which means understandable, intelligible, articulate
Integral (adj.) (IN-tuh-grul)
E. Closely watched
A) Integral means essential, in the sense of being inseparable from. When something is integral to something else, it is part of its nature, necessary to the whole.
Steel is an integral part of a skyscraper.
You can relate the word integral to the word integrate, which means to combine, or to incorporate. When you integrate something, it becomes an integral part of who you are
Obtuse (adj.) (ahb-TOOS)
If someone is obtuse they:
A. Are overweight
B. Are snobbish
C. Are dense
D. Are rude
E. Are humorous
C) To be obtuse is to be dense, slow to catch on, unobservant, not tuned in.
The finer points of his presentation were not appreciated by several obtuse board members.
To learn this word, spend the day making note of all the obtuse people who cross your path. By tonight you will be amazed at how “with it” you are
Decimate (v.) (DES-uh-mayt)
To decimate is:
A. To destroy most of
B. To decide against
C. To punctuate
D. To reduce
E. To count by tens
A) To decimate means to destroy most of, to annihilate.
“Measles decimated the Indian population because the native people had no natural immunity to it,” explained Mr. Simon
Lethargy (n.) (LETH-ur-jee)
B) Lethargy means sluggishness, laziness, drowsiness, indifference.
“Lethargy was the overriding tone of those sultry summer days,” reminisced Grandma. “We did nothing but sit on the porch, sip lemonade, and complain about the heat.”
The sailors didn’t realize their increasing lethargy was from the onset of a tropical disease
Provincial (adj.) (pruh-VIN-shul)
Someone who is provincial is:
D) Provincial means simple and unsophisticated. Its meaning comes from the assumption that people from the provinces – rural people – are less sophisticated than city people.
“New Yorkers look on everyone who isn’t a New Yorker as being provincial,” laughed Marcus
Relinquish (v.) (ri-LING-kwish)
To relinquish means:
A. To resent
B. To weep
C. To cavitate
D To open
E. To release
E) To relinquish is to release, to let go of, to surrender, to stop doing.
“If they find out you took steroids, they will make you relinquish your title,” said Kylie
Noxious (adj.) (NAHK-shus)
B) Although the word noxious is often used to describe odors and something that is noxious may make you sick to your stomach, the actual meaning of the word is poisonous or very harmful. While most really smelly things are noxious, there are a lot of truly noxious things that have no odor at all.
“We walked through patches of noxious little weeds, and all came home with rashes,” complained Miranda
Desiccate (v.) (DES-uh-kayt)
To desiccate means:
A. To cut apart
B. To demolish
C. To deny
D. To evince
E. To dry out
E) To desiccate means to dry out, to remove the moisture from.
Desiccated by years of hot winds, the once lush land became desert
Peccadillo (n.) (pek-uh-DIL oh)
A peccadillo is:
A. An Australian animal
B A shameful secret
C. A Southern dessert
D. A minor offense
E. A subtle hint
D) A peccadillo is a minor offense, a meaningless fault, a petty violation.
“You may call this a boyhood peccadillo,” screamed Mr. Davis, “but I call it stealing!”
Beware. What does and does not qualify as a peccadillo is a matter of opinion. One man’s peccadillo is another man’s prison sentence. Men and their wives especially seem at odds over this question a good deal of the time
Pertinent (adj.) (PUR-tuh-nunt)
D) Pertinent means relevant, to the point, appropriate or meaningful to the subject at hand.
The assignment was to write a paragraph that included all the pertinent information about our proposed projects, including the topic, a time-table, and a budget.
Remember: The pertinent information about you relates to your character, not your measurements!
Orthodox (adj.) (OR-thuh-dahks)
To be orthodox is to:
A. Have straight teeth
B. Be conventional
C. Be righteous
D. Be religious
E. Be forthright
B) To be orthodox is to be conventional, to follow established ways, to be traditional.
“Garret’s methods are all so orthodox,” complained Sabrina. “He is afraid to try anything new.”
Orthodox Christians and orthodox Jews adhere to early forms of their respective religions, as opposed to more modern expressions.
If you are unorthodox, you are unconventional.
The “Curative Atomic Water” salesman was run out of town for his unorthodox healing methods
Anguish (n.) (ANG-gwish)
A. Extreme pain
B. Dramatized emotion
D. Deep resentment
E. Strong feelings
A) Anguish is extreme pain, either physical or emotional.
Paul’s drinking caused Rhonda deep anguish
Subordinate (adj.) (suh-BOR-duh-nit)
A) Subordinate means less than, secondary to, not as important as.
“My needs are not subordinate to your needs,” Alexandra told Art angrily
Exhort (v.) (ig-ZORT)
To exhort is:
A. To weakly criticize
B. To loudly report
C. To strongly urge
D. To harshly mock
E. To force to pay money
C) To exhort is to strongly urge, to seriously warn, to seriously advise.
In what many thought was a controversial move, the health teacher exhorted her students to practice safe sex. Her persuasiveness may have saved lives
Culpable (adj.) (KUL-puh-bul)
A. Easily influenced
B. Sorely tempted
E) To be culpable means to be guilty, to be to blame for something, to have it be your fault.
Tanner’s boss was found to be culpable in several minor infractions and was given a formal warning by the union
Nihilism (adj.) (NYE-uh-liz-um)
Nihilism is a belief that:
A. Heaven and hell exist
B. Fate determines all
C. Love conquers all
D. There is no such thing as right and wrong
E. There is life after death
D) Nihilism includes the belief that morality is relative and there is no such thing as right and wrong. Nihilism also implies rejection of established laws and values. It is defined more by what it rejects rather than what it believes in. It is more common to hear people called nihilists by their opponents than to hear them refer to themselves that way. In mid-19th century Russia there was a group who were actually called Nihilists, but today the term is applied to anyone with a negative, destructive outlook.
“Mr. Jordan used to say that punk rock was the most nihilistic music ever performed.,” said Adriana
Synthesis (n.) (SIN-thuh-sis)
A synthesis is:
A. An imitation
B. A attraction
C. A fiction
D. A sugar-coating
E. A blending
E) A synthesis is a blending, a combining of parts into a whole, an integration of two or more elements.
“People on the mailing list are discussing a political system that is a synthesis of capitalism and communism,” said Laura
Abstinent (adj.) (AB-stuh-nunt)
To be abstinent is:
A. To refrain from indulging
B. To be stubborn
C. To be chronically late
D. To be awkward
E. To be judgmental
A) To be abstinent means to refrain from indulging, to abstain. Alcoholics are abstinent when they do not drink liquor. People who practice celibacy remain abstinent from sex.
The monks took vows to be abstinent from worldly wealth and pleasures
Squalor (n.) (SKWAHL-ur)
B) Squalor refers to filth, wretchedness, repulsive conditions.
The refugees had to overlook the squalor of their living conditions
Delude (v.) (di-LOOD)
To delude means:
A. To detail
B. To undress
C. To deceive
D. To hide
E. To drive insane
C) To delude means to deceive, to mislead, to cause to hold a false belief. Someone who is deluded is laboring under a false impression.
The deluded cult members signed a pact to protect their leader from government infiltrators
Maverick (n.) (MAV-ur-ik)
A maverick is:
A. A nonconformist
B. A troublemaker
C. A hero
D. An optimist
E. An entrepreneur
A) A maverick is a nonconformist, a rebel, a freethinker, a groundbreaker.
He came into the company as a young maverick and within two years his “off the wall” ideas were policy.
A maverick is also an unbranded calf. This was the word’s initial meaning. Now the word refers to anyone who is not easily branded with a traditional label
Copious (adj.) (KOH-pee-us)
D. Able to cope
A) Copious means plentiful, abundant. When there are copious amounts of something there is a lot of it.
It took me all afternoon to copy his copious notes on the French Revolution
Inept (adj.) (in-EPT)
To be inept is to be:
D) To be inept is to be clumsy, unskilled, and ineffective.
“Nothing assaults the senses quite the way an inept bagpipe players’ piping can,” said Spencer
Myopia (n.) (mye-OH-pee-uh)
A. A lack of ambition
C. An ability to see the future
D. A habitual way of being
E) Myopia refers to shortsightedness. Technically, myopia is a medical term for near-sightedness. In the broader sense, it refers to lacking foresight, to being blinded to the larger implications of something, to seeing only what is right in front of one’s nose.
His myopia prevented him from seeing that his son lacked the skills to run the company
Infer (v.) (in-FUR)
To infer means:
A. To cogitate
B. To detain
C. To deceive
D. To deduce
E. To discuss
D) To infer is to deduce, to find out by reasoning.
Those attending the meeting inferred from the senator’s remarks that he intended to run for the presidency
Ostentatious (adj.) (ahs-ten-TAY-shus)
A) Ostentatious means showy, overblown, pretentious.
“My mother told me it was rude to make an ostentatious show of wealth, so we’ve always lived quite simply,” smiled the heiress
Cursory (adj.) (KUR-suh-ree)
E. Having a tendency to swear
B) Cursory means superficial, hasty, brief and haphazard.
Jackson was not serious about acing the exam. He gave his notes a cursory glance, then went out to play basketball
Epigram (n.) (EP-uh-gram)
An epigram is:
A. A statement on a tomb
B. An introduction
C. An enigma
D. A coded instruction
E. A witty statement
E) An epigram is a witty statement, short, polished, pithy saying, usually in verse, and often having a satiric or paradoxical twist at the end.
“One of my favorite epigrams is Oscar Wilde’s “I can resist everything except temptation,” said Katie
Ascetic (adj.) (uh-SET-ik)
Ascetics are involved with:
A. Art and beauty
C. Sensual pleasures
D. Primitive music
B) The word ascetic refers to the relinquishment of normal comforts, to self-denial, and renunciation of worldly pleasures. An ascetic room would be one without frills, with perhaps only a mat on the floor and definitely no TV.
The monk lived an ascetic life. Two robes, three books, and a begging bowl were all he owned.
As a noun, an ascetic is a person who lives a life of self-denial.
The monk in the previous statement is an ascetic
Cynic (n.) (SIN-ik)
A cynic is someone who:
A. Rates movies and books
B. Mistrusts people’s motives
C. Offers unwanted advice
D. Is untrustworthy
E. Is grumpy
B) A cynic mistrusts people’s motives, thinks everything is motivated by selfishness, is suspicious of appearances, and tends to see the potential problems, rather than the potential joys in a situation. A cynic takes nothing on faith.
“I have always been a cynic,” said Cassidy. “In spite of what is said, I cannot believe the government really cares about poor people.”
Genre (n.) (ZHAHN-ruh)
A) A genre is a category, a type. Reggae is one genre of music, rhythm and blues is another. Romantic novels are one genre of fiction, mysteries are another.
Bruce’s compact disc collection included many genres of music, including ragtime, bluegrass, and classical
Chicanery (n.) (shi-KAY-nuh-ree)
E. Wishful thinking
D) Chicanery means trickery, deceitfulness, underhanded sneakiness, deception by clever means.
When the extent of his chicanery came to light, we were all shocked. He’d had all of his credentials faked
Disseminate (v.) (di-SEM-uh-nayt)
To disseminate means:
A. To make disappear
B. To expose
C. To integrate
D. To destroy
E. To scatter
E) To disseminate is to scatter, to spread around, to distribute.
The organization disseminated information about AIDS to elementary school teachers across the nation
Venal (adj.) (VEEN-ul)
B. Pertaining to veins
D) Venal means corrupt, open to bribery.
“Washington is full of venal politicians,” the lobbyist told me. “You will not have any trouble finding someone to take your money in exchange for a vote.”
Congenial (adj.) (kun-JEEN-yul)
To be congenial is to be:
A. A blood relative of
C) To be congenial is to be friendly, pleasant, agreeable. In Beauty pageants “Miss Congeniality” is the woman voted the most friendly.
Her congenial nature made her the least likely person to be a murder suspect
Banal (adj.) (buh-NAL)
D) Banal means ordinary, unoriginal, lacking freshness, trite.
“The drinks were watered and the conversation was banal,” said Leonie. “It was a perfectly horrid evening.”
Countenance (n.) (KOWN-tuh-nuns)
Your countenance refers to your:
C. Inherited qualities
D. Acquired qualities
B) Your countenance refers to your face, especially as regards its expression.
Her countenance did not support the lie that she was happy.
As a verb, countenance has a totally different meaning. As a verb to countenance is to condone or tolerate or approve of.
“I will countenance your presence so long as you keep your mouth shut,” declared the queen
Distend (v.) (di-STEND)
To distend is to:
A) To distend means to swell, to bloat, to extend outward, to expand.
Before surgery for an obstruction, Jonah’s abdomen was hard and distended.
Distended can also be used as an adjective. You can say “Look at Jonah’s distended stomach!”
Magnate (n.) (MAG-nayt)
A magnate is a person who is:
C) A magnate is someone who is influential, who is rich, powerful and controls something. John D. Rockefeller was an oil magnate. Cecil B. DeMille was a film magnate. William Randolph Hearst was a newspaper magnate.
Many people were upset when Jackie Kennedy married Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis
Substantive (adj.) (SUB-stan-tiv)
If something is substantive it is:
D. Universally true
C) Substantive means solid, real, having substance, substantial, meaty.
There is no substantive evidence to justify his arrest
Libel (v.) (LYE-bul)
To libel someone is:
A. To define him
B. To defame him
C. To count him
D. To acknowledge him
E. To imitate him
B) To libel is to defame, to write or publish things about another that are both damaging and of questionable truth. The term libel is applied to written, drawn, or published attacks on someone’s character. When the attacks are spoken, it is called slander.
Slander is spoken libel and libel is written slander.
When the newspaper reported that Nancy was driving drunk, she insisted they were libeling her and sued.
Libel can also be a noun. Nancy is suing the paper for libel
Bovine (adj.) (BOH-vyne)
A) Bovine means ox-like or cow-like or related to cows in the same way that canine means dog-like or related to dogs and feline means cat-like or related to cats.
Babe the blue ox was Paul Bunyan’s bovine friend
Disdain (n.) (dis-DAYN)
A) Disdain is contempt or scorn. When you look down your nose at something, you are expressing disdain.
Harriet looked with disdain on anyone who was not a vegetarian
Expedient (adj.) (ik-SPEE-dee-unt)
C) Expedient means practical or efficient, advantageous. Something that is expedient supports one’s goal. The philosophy that says the ends justify the means is a philosophy of expediency.
If my goal is to get home in time to watch the news, it may be expedient for me to skip the grocery shopping
Axiom (n.) (AK-see-um)
An axiom is a statement that is:
E. Widely accepted as true
E) An axiom is a statement that is widely accepted as true.
“What goes up must come down,” is an axiom.
In mathematics, a statement often one regarded as obvious, that is accepted without proof as a basis for proving other statements, is called an axiom.
“Do you remember the axioms you learned in geometry?” asked Don.
Remember: An axiom can be cute, and it can be wise, but a statement can be cute and wise and still not be an axiom
Nuance (n.) (NOO-ahns)
Nuance refers to:
B) The word nuance refers to subtleties, slight shades of variation, fine points, shadings.
The Joy Luck Club explored the nuances of mother-daughter relationships.
Nuances absolutely contribute to atmosphere; they are, however, not atmosphere, but the subtle distinctions that go into creating atmosphere. Slight variations in rhythm are also nuances, but the rhythm itself is not
Pedestrian (adj.) puh-DES-tree-un
A. Not mechanized
D. Having cobblestones
E. Relating to horses
B) Pedestrian means unimaginative, commonplace, dull.
The restaurant had a pedestrian menu and the service was slow.
As a noun, pedestrian has the totally different meaning of someone who is on foot, rather than riding in a vehicle of some sort.
“Look out for those pedestrians!” my mother yelled, as three older women stepped off the curb into the traffic
Largess (n.) (lahr-JES)
D) Largess is generosity or philanthropy. Largess can mean the generosity of giving or the gifts themselves.
Sam and I were able to come to the family reunion, thanks to my older brother’s largess. He paid our plane fares
Squander (v.) SKWAHN-dur
To squander is:
A. To spend
B. To gossip
C. To waste
D. To believe
E. To gain
C) To squander is to waste. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend; if it is for things you truly want and need, you are not squandering it. However, in many instances spending a lot of money WILL qualify as squandering. There is that one moment in the store when we foolishly believe we actually have to have this thing.
Pearl got a small inheritance from her father, but squandered it within two years on vacations and expensive clothes
Theology (n.) (thee-AHL-uh-jee)
A. The study of religion
B. The study of stars
C. The study of emotions
D. The study of civilization
E. The study of language
A) Theology is the study of religion, the study of the relationship between God and what exists as creation. A person’s theology is his or her belief structure about such matters. Theology is the intellectual pursuit of God, whereas the emotional and experiential pursuit is called mysticism.
He was a theology student at a southern Bible college before he became a rock star
Chronicle (n.) (KRAHN-uh-kul)
A chronicle is:
A. A lingering illness
B. A history
C. A fear
D. A fictionalized account
E. A mission statement
B) A chronicle is a history, a record of events in order of time.
Josh wrote the class chronicle for the yearbook.
Chronicle can also be used as a verb, meaning to write a history:
Josh chronicled the journey of our class from kindergarten through twelfth grade
Covet (v.) (KUV-it)
To covet is:
A. To keep a secret
B. To mislead
C. To uncover
D. To desire
E. To dislike
D) To covet something is to desire it intensely, to yearn for it. Often the word is used when what you desire belongs to another:
The tenth commandment has to do with not coveting what belongs to your neighbor.
However, covet can be used in the sense of simply wanting what is not easily obtainable — and it is usually used in this sense when it is an adjective.
He won the coveted Heisman trophy
Epitome (n.) (i-PIT-uh-mee)
Epitome refers to:
A. A rejected idea
B. A brilliant idea
C. An outdated idea
D. An unpopular idea
E. A perfect example
E) An epitome is a perfect example that embodies the very essence of something.
She was the epitome of grace as she spun across the floor
Veracity (n.) (vuh-RAS-uh-tee)
C) Veracity refers to the quality of truthfulness.
Politicians are not generally known for their veracity.
Be careful not to confuse veracity with voracity, which means gluttony
Contentious (adj.) (kun-TEN-shush)
B) To be contentious is to be argumentative, quarrelsome.
You can’t discuss anything with Robbie. He is so contentious every conversation turns into an argument
Staunch (adj.) (stawnch)
A) Staunch means firmly committed, dedicated, steadfast.
She was a staunch Catholic until she married a Buddhist; then she stopped going to church and began meditating
Admonish (v.) (ad-MON-ish)
To admonish means:
A. To replenish
B. To polish
C. To scold
D. To increase
E. To embarrass
C) To admonish is to scold, to warn, to caution, to remind of a duty.
You might admonish someone to be sure and lock the door; and then you might admonish them when they forget to do it.
Admonish means both to warn and to scold.
The police were admonished to only use force if absolutely necessary.
The Captain admonished several officers for an excessive use of force
Munificent (adj.) (myoo-NIF-uh-sunt)
A. Very mundane
B. Very stupid
C. Very proud
D. Very generous
E. Very violent
D) Munificent means lavishly generous.
The inventor’s munificent widow endowed our community arts program
Stoic (n.) (STOH-ic)
B) To be stoic is to be unemotional, to appear indifferent to pleasure or pain, to maintain a “stiff upper lip.”
He was stoic as the judge pronounced a life sentence
Subtle (adj.) (SUT-ul)
If something is subtle, it is:
B. Not obvious
C. Pastel colored
B) Subtle means not obvious. A subtle difference is a slight difference that requires careful attention or special expertise to perceive.
As a practitioner of Oriental medicine, Ho was able to feel subtle variations in the pulse that American doctors were not aware of
Domestic (adj.) (duh-MES-tik)
Domestic refers to:
B) Domestic refers to the home or household. If you have domestic tranquillity, you have a happy home. If you are domestic, you enjoy cooking and homemaking. If you are a domestic, you are a paid to do cooking, cleaning or child care in the home of another.
My sister is much more domestic than I am.
In another context domestic relates to having to do with this country as opposed to a foreign country.
The president had more support for his foreign policy than his domestic program
Sublime (adj.) (suh-BLIME)
C) Sublime means exalted, lofty, supreme.
The painting of the Resurrection adorning the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel forcefully illustrates a sublime message
Corroborate (v.) (kuh-ROB-uh-rayt)
To corroborate is:
A. To confirm
B. To consult
C. To lacerate
D. To investigate
E. To prove wrong
A) To corroborate is to confirm, to back up with evidence, to validate, to authenticate.
Current research often corroborates the effectiveness of folk remedies
Lament (v.) (luh-MENT)
To lament means:
A. To complain
B. To rub
C. To ache
D. To mourn
E. To conspire
D) To lament is to mourn, to feel or express sorrow over, to grieve.
The wails of lamenting women haunted the battlefield.
Lament is also used in a less literal way to mean regret.
The extreme heat and the fighting children made Sandra lament their decision to take a road trip.
As a noun, a lament is an expression of sorrow or grief.
His lament echoed through the hills
Tantamount (adj.) (TAN-tuh-mownt)
C. More important
A) Tantamount means equivalent or equal.
His offering to do the dishes was tantamount to an apology
Profess (v.) (pruh-FES)
To profess means:
A. To ad-lib
B. To teach
C. To declare
D. To advise
E. To change one’s view
C) To profess is to declare, to claim.
Ms. Tyler professed her satisfaction with our work.
Tim professed to have a Harvard degree, but my brother went to State College with him
Recondite (adj.) (REK-un-dyte)
A. Stubborn as a mule
B. Hard to understand
B) Recondite means hard to understand, over one’s head, esoteric.
When Professor Gage explained his theory that philosophy arose to replace mythology, I had to fight to stay awake through his recondite lecture
Incipient (adj.) (in-SIP-ee-unt)
E) Incipient means emerging, budding, beginning, in the early stages.
The king strengthened his palace guard and doubled his army because he feared incipient revolution.
Be careful to not confuse incipient with insipid, which means bland, without distinction
Sacrosanct (adj.) (SAK-roh-sangkt)
C) Sacrosanct means sacred.
Once the water is blessed, it becomes sacrosanct and must be treated with respect.
Sacrosanct is also used casually to mean not open to alteration.
“Jim’s Saturday morning golf game is sacrosanct, said Martha. I can never make other plans for us
Revere (v.) (re-VEER)
To revere is to:
D) To revere is to honor, to highly respect, to venerate, to regard with awe.
Mother Teresa was highly revered for her loving care of those who were poor and neglected
Empirical (adj.) (em-PIR-uh-kul)
A. Verified by experience
B. Completely theoretical
C. Scientifically valid
E. Having broad control
A) Empirical means verified by experience or observation, not merely theoretical.
Many of our medical treatments are empirical; no one has proved how or why they are effective
Fervor (n.) (FUR-vur)
A) Fervor refers to zeal, ardor, impassioned enthusiasm, intensity of feeling.
A convert often embraces his new religion with great fervor
Paltry (adj.) (PAWL-tree)
A. Poverty stricken
E. Relating to chickens
C) Paltry means insignificant, ridiculously or insultingly small.
“His contribution made mine look absolutely paltry,” said Edna
Vilify (v.) (VIL-uh-fye)
To vilify is:
A. To decline
B. To slander
C. To worship
D. To take pride in
E. To deny
B) To vilify is to slander, to speak badly of, to put down, to say vile things about.
I can’t believe how ruthlessly Sharla vilifies anyone who does not agree with her
Intrinsic (adj.) (in-TRIN-sik)
A. Supportive of
B. Similar to
C. Secondary to
D. Valuable to
E. An essential part of
E) Intrinsic means an essential part of. Heat is intrinsic to fire.
“Seeing children get well is an intrinsic benefit of this job,” said Julie
Discreet (adj.) (di-SKREET)
D) Discreet means reserved, cautious as to what is spoken or shared, unobtrusive, not blatant. When you ask a discreet question, you are asking in a way that is not blunt and does not attract attention. When you speak of another person as being discreet, you mean they will respect confidentiality and good taste.
“Marge is absolutely discreet,” said Lorna. “I have never known her to spread gossip.”
Grandiose (adj.) (GRAN-dee-ohs)
B. Very fine
C. Very bulky
A) Grandiose means absurdly exaggerated, over-blown, pretentious, or referring to an unrealistic sense of grandeur.
“Don’t you think that assuming your first book will get you on Oprah is a bit grandiose?” asked Belle.
Grandiose can also mean exaggerated in the sense of majestic or excessively grand: Louis XIV provided diversions for aristocrats at his grandiose palace at Versailles
Foment (v.) (foh-MENT)
To foment is:
A. To torment
B. To fasten
C. To instigate
D. To bubble
E. To vilify
C) To foment is to instigate, to stir up, to promote.
The guerrillas are fomenting revolution all over Latin America
Supercilious (adj.) (soo-pur-SIL-ee-us)
A) Supercilious means haughty, patronizing, contemptuous.
“When Pam won, she gave me a supercilious smile and told me that perhaps I needed a little more practice,” said Olga
Nostalgia (n.) (nahs-TAL-juh)
B. Longing for the past
D. Holding a grudge
E. By the book
B) Nostalgia is longing for the past, a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period.
Smelling the mincemeat pie, Wanda became nostalgic. She pictured Thanksgivings of her childhood with a warm glow.
Absolve (v.) ab-ZOLVE
To absolve is:
A. To settle
B. To free from blame
C. To tie up loose ends
D. To melt
E. To sop up
B) To absolve is to free from blame or obligation, to forgive.
“In order to be absolved of sin, you must be truly sorry and intend to sin no more,” Mrs. Palmer explained to the Sunday School class
Comprise (v.) (kum-PRYZE)
To comprise is:
A. To cave in
B. To applaud
C. To insult
D. To sacrifice
E. To be made up of
E) To comprise is to be made up of or contain.
Her collection comprises over one hundred paintings.
Do not make the mistake of reversing this. To state the reverse, you would use the word compose. Her collection is composed of over one hundred paintings.
A whole comprises or contains parts. Parts compose a whole.
Also: Comprise implies totality. If there are also sculptures in the collection, then you would say her collection includes over one hundred paintings
Bastion (n.) (BAS-chun)
A bastion is:
A. A peephole
B. A fatherless child
C. A storage place
D. A great lie
E. A stronghold
E) A bastion is a fortress, a stronghold, a fortified place. Sometimes it means an actual fort:
The soldiers stormed the enemy bastion and released the prisoners.
It is also used more loosely, as in:
Ralph saw his men’s group as the last bastion of rugged individualism
Idyllic (adj.) (eye-DIL-ik)
A. Charmingly simple
D. Related to angels
A) Idyllic means charmingly simple, naturally peaceful, having rustic charm.
They spent an idyllic month in the beautiful Smoky mountains away from traffic noise, air pollution, and pressure
Docile (adj.) (DAHS-ul)
C. Soft and mushy
D. Easily manageable
E. Pleasingly plump
D) To be docile is to be easily manageable, to be passive and compliant, to be malleable.
“I have never had such a docile class,” said Ms. Greene. “There is not one trouble-maker in the group.”
Do not confuse the word docile with the word dorsal, which means pertaining to the back, as in a whale’s dorsal fin
Parochial (adj.) (puh-ROH-kee-ul)
C) Parochial means narrow, provincial, or having a confined point of view.
Jason thought the people in his hometown were hopelessly parochial, and he couldn’t wait to start school in New York.
Because schools run by the Roman Catholic Church are often referred to as parochial schools, people sometimes assume that parochial means “Catholic” or “religious”. In this context its definition of “narrow” means “pertaining to a parish or neighborhood” (instead of a wider area)
Temerity (n.) (tuh-MER-uh-tee)
Temerity refers to:
B) Temerity refers to boldness.
Fay had the temerity to tell him to his face that he was not welcome.
Temerity also means recklessness, a rash disregard of danger:
“Riding without a helmet shows temerity, but not maturity,” my father said sternly
Gesticulate (v.) (jes-TIK-yuh-layt)
To gesticulate is:
A. To wave one’s arms
B. To chew on
C. To throw up
D. To purposely confuse
E. To hibernate
A) To gesticulate is to wave one’s arms or hands, to make gestures.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Eli gesticulating madly in an attempt to get our attention
Sequester (v.) (si-KWES-tur)
To sequester is:
A. To set apart
B. To misinform
C. To protect from harm
D. To divide up
E. To sneak in
A) To sequester is to set apart, to seclude or isolate.
The jury will be sequestered in the Holiday Inn for the duration of the trial
Slander (v.) (SLAN-dur)
To slander is:
A. To say malicious things about someone
B. To offer unwanted advice
C. To cause to appear foolish
D. To cruelly ignore
E. To speak unclearly
A) To slander someone is to say malicious things about them, to defame, to spread malicious rumors about. When you slander someone in writing it is called libel.
Ronnie slandered Joe by announcing to the class that Joe never brushed his teeth.
Slander is also a noun with the same meaning.
“If you tell people I am a communist, I will sue you for slander,” said Rose
Debacle (n.) (di-BAHK-ul)
A debacle is:
A. A loud confusing noise
B. A sudden downfall or collapse
C. An excited flurry of activity
D. An unexpected outcome
E. A hurtful accusation
B) A debacle is a sudden downfall or collapse.
The party turned into a debacle when a food fight broke out.
Debacle is also used to mean an overwhelming defeat.
The football game against Mt. Pleasant was a debacle. They beat us by twenty-eight points
Sedition (n.) (si-DISH-un)
E) Sedition refers to treason or to actions or speech designed to create rebellion against a government.
During the 1960′s student protesters frequently engaged in sedition
Abridge (v.) (uh-BRIJ)
To abridge is:
A. To shorten
B. To connect
C. To merge
D. To replace
E. To explain
A) To abridge is to shorten or condense.
Readers Digest is famous for abridging popular works of fiction.
Abridge is also used in the sense of to reduce, diminish, or curtail.
The First Amendment guarantees that the freedom of speech will not be abridged.
Abridged can also be used as an adjective.
I read an abridged version of War and Peace
Requisite (adj.) (REK-wuh-zit)
D) Requisite means required or necessary, indispensable.
You must submit the requisite forms by Monday in order to be considered for the position
Virtuoso (n.) (vur-choo-WOH-soh)
A virtuoso is:
A. Someone with a dramatic personality
B. A realist
C. Someone with mastery
D. A braggart
E. Someone who is truthful
C) A virtuoso is someone with mastery, who excels or has special knowledge of a field.
Most often, but not always, you will see this word used to describe musical talent.
If you want to hear the sitar played by a virtuoso, listen to Ravi Shankar.
Virtuoso can also be used as an adjective as in:
His virtuoso performance made headlines in the school newspaper
Injunction (n.) (in-JUNGK-shun)
An injunction is:
A. A warning
B. An order
C. A connection
D. An intersection
E. An opportunity
B) An injunction is an order, especially a court order to refrain from doing something.
Alex sought an injunction to prevent his ex wife from moving to Canada with their children.
You could also say:
Ignoring her doctor’s injunction to lose thirty pounds, Judy ate almost a whole box of cookies
Wistful (adj.) (WIST-ful)
B) To be wistful is to be feel yearning, to express longing.
She spoke wistfully of her past as a dancer in New York
Acrimonious (adj.) (ak-ruh-MOH-nee-us)
C. Bad tasting
A) Acrimonious means spiteful, nasty, caustic.
Their divorce was so acrimonious that they each spent all their savings on attorneys
Surfeit (n.) (SUR-fit)
A surfeit is:
A. A limitation
B. An addition
C. An excess
D. An irrelevance
E. A passion
C) A surfeit is an excess, an over-indulgence.
Surfeited with violent movies and mindless TV, Meg turned over a new leaf and decided to go to the library
Deduce (v.) (di-DOOS)
To deduce means:
A. To watch
B. To impress
C. To conclude
D. To bring
E. To subtract
C) Deduce means to conclude without being directly told.
From the crumbs on the floor and the dishes in the sink, I deduced the refrigerator had been raided
Emulate (v.) (EM yuh-layt)
To emulate is:
A. To analyze carefully
B. To strive to equal
C. To move slowly
D. To congeal
E. To leave home
B) To emulate is to strive to equal or surpass, usually through imitation.
Sharon spent the whole summer locked in her bedroom writing poetry in an attempt to emulate her literary heroine, Emily Dickinson.
In computer jargon, to emulate is to replace or do the same thing as.
A company called Connectix has released The Virtual Game Station, which emulates Sony’s PlayStation game-console on a Macintosh personal computer
Amenity (n.) (uh-MEN-I-tee)
An amenity is:
A. A library
B. A brief encounter
C. A comfortable feature
D. A flower
E. A marine animal
C) An amenity is a feature that brings comfort or convenience. When you go to a hotel, the little chocolates they leave on your pillow and the complimentary breakfast are amenities. When you are buying a house, you might look for amenities such as a hot tub, swimming pool, or fireplace.
The hotel we stayed in was very inexpensive, but had no amenities
Dormant (adj.) (DOR munt)
A. Near death
E. Hollowed out
C) Dormant means inactive, as though asleep or actually asleep; in a state of hibernation.
Because the volcano had lain dormant for two centuries, no one expected it to erupt
Instigate (v.) (IN-stuh-gayt)
To instigate is:
A. To incite
B. To investigate
C. To hint
D. To continue
E. To instill
A) To instigate is to incite, to provoke, to stir up, to initiate, to provide the catalyst that begins something.
Warren instigated the protest by publishing inflammatory remarks in the school newspaper
Sycophant (n.) (SIK-uh-funt)
A sycophant is:
A. One who siphons
B. One who takes care of the details
C. One who is overly attached to his mother
D. One who flatters and fawns
E. One who seeks to win at any expense
D) A sycophant is one who flatters and fawns, a “yes man”.
All the emperor’s sycophants declared that his non-existent new clothes were exquisite
Agrarian (adj.) (uh-GRAR-ee-un)
A. Relating to animals
B. Relating to color
C. Relating to the land
D. Relating to aging
E. Relating to adages
C) Agrarian means relating to the land, to agriculture, to farming in particular.
The government of Brazil announced that agrarian reform had been a success
Rapacious (adj.) (ruh-PAY-shus)
A) Rapacious means plundering, voracious, having predatory hunger.
We watched the rapacious enemy soldiers stew our chickens over an open fire while our stomachs were aching with hunger
Evanescent (adj.) (ev-uh-NES-unt)
D) Evanescent means fleeting, happening for only the briefest period of time.
In a burst of evanescent glory, the meteor flashed across the sky
Taciturn (adj.) (TAS-I-turn)
A. Indifferent to pain
B. Stubborn as a mule
E. Habitually silent
E) Taciturn refers to being habitually silent, to having a quiet nature, to being uncommunicative.
The most taciturn U.S. president was Calvin Coolidge, known as “Silent Cal”
Coup (n.) (koo)
A coup is:
A. A sedan
B. A tease
C. A brilliant victory
D. A surprise party
E. A flu
C) A coup is a brilliant, often unexpected victory.
Winning the state championship was a real coup for the small town school.
Coup is also used to mean coup d’etat (KOO-day-TAH), which means the take over of a government.
The Venezuelan government denied reports of an attempted coup last April.
You will also hear the phrase coup de grace (koo-duh-GRAHS), which means a final blow.
Kevin Miller delivered the coup de grace with a grand slam home run
Abstract (adj.) (AB-strakt)
If something is abstract, it is:
A. Not concrete
B. Not detailed
C. Highly intellectual
D. Based on falsehood
E. Missing information
A) Abstract means not concrete, theoretical.
“From each according to his ability to each according to his need” sounds good in the abstract, but doesn’t usually work in practice.
Words like poverty, justice, and equality are abstract words, because unlike words such as table, computer, or sunset, they do not refer to concrete physical realities.
In art, an abstract painting is one that focuses on color and form, in which objects are not clearly represented
Machination (n.) (mak-uh-NAY-shun)
A machination is:
A. A bribe
B. A scheming activity
C. An extreme machine
D. An automatic response
E. An engineering feat
B) Machination refers to a scheming activity, a devious plotting, a manipulation.
It is almost always used in the plural.
Penny’s machinations were aimed at getting her younger sisters to do Penny’s share of the work
Eccentric (adj.) (ek-SEN-trik)
A. Not acceptable
B. Not conventional
C. Cutting edge
B) Eccentric means not conventional, quirky, peculiar in comparison to what is considered normal.
The old man next door is quite eccentric. He wears long, flowing robes and claims that life is poetry.
In geometry, eccentric means not having the same center.
An eccentric orbit is one that is not circular
Oblique (adj.) (oh-BLEEK)
D. Painfully thin
E. Not transparent
A) Oblique means indirect or vague. It comes from geometry, where it refers to a line that is neither perpendicular nor parallel, but at an angle. When you make an oblique reference, you are coming at something “from an angle” rather than head on.
When Marcie was asked what she thought of Gilda’s performance, her response, that Gilda certainly was typecast well as a villainess, was an oblique put down of Gilda’s acting ability
Pious (adj.) (PYE-us)
A. Having a round face
E) Pious means sincerely religious, reverent, devout.
Quinton is a pious Catholic who would never dream of missing church.
Pious is tricky because it is often used to mean almost the opposite – to mean phony holy and hypocritically religious.
He gave pious lectures on Sunday mornings, but cruised the bars on Saturday night
Accolade (n.) (AK-uh-layd)
An accolade is:
A. An award
C. A shiny surface
D. A chocolate
E. An altar boy
A) An accolade is an award, honor, or expression of praise. It is generally used in the plural.
The accolades that Mimi received for her first book made the sacrifices she made to write it worthwhile.
An accolade is also the term for the light touch to the shoulder with a sword that is used to confer knighthood.
Do not get accolade confused with acolyte, which is an altar boy
Precept (n.) (PREE-sept)
A precept is:
A. An initial stage
B. A rule to live by
C. An inexperienced person
D. A church dignitary
E. A ground-breaking idea
B) A precept is a rule to live by, a principle that guides behavior, a point in one’s moral code of conduct.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a precept worth embracing
Equivocal (adj.) (i-KWIV-uh-kul)
To be equivocal is to be:
B. Intentionally unclear
B) Equivocal means ambiguous, intentionally confusing or unclear, capable of being interpreted in more than one way.
Deanna’s equivocal response to my invitation made me uncertain whether I should expect her or not
Succumb (v.) (suh-KUM)
To succumb means:
A. To melt
B. To offer sustenance
C. To battle
D. To give in
E. To contract
D) Succumb means to give in to a superior force.
After receiving four phone calls, a dozen roses, and a box of fine chocolates, Gina succumbed and agreed to go out with Melvin.
Succumb is often used to mean to give in to death after a struggle with disease or injury.
In spite of three surgeries and a lot of chemotherapy, my neighbor finally succumbed to cancer
Condone (v.) (kun-DOHN)
To condone is:
A. To encourage
B. To judge
C. To support
D. To deter
E. To overlook
E) To condone is to overlook something that is seen as being in some way objectionable; to justify or allow, though not to whole-heartedly support; or give tacit approval to or to forgive or excuse after the fact.
Allison’s mother condoned pre-marital sex
Belabor (v.) (bi-LAY-bur)
To belabor is:
A. To go over repeatedly
B. To work very hard at
C. To make difficult
D. To find painful
E. To pick apart
A) To belabor is to go over repeatedly, to persist beyond the point of reason.
“Will you stop belaboring the point,” snapped Elyse. “I agreed with you ten minutes ago.”
Contingent (adj.) (kun-TIN-junt)
C) Contingent means dependent, hinging upon:
Our leaving for the beach tonight is contingent upon Stephen’s getting home from work early enough.
Contingent also means possible, but not certain. (You will hear the term “a contingency plan” meaning a plan you create if you think it’s possible your primary plan might fall through.)
Not planning for contingent expenses was her downfall
Incisive (adj.) (in-SYE-siv)
A. Cutting to the heart of a matter
D. Highly intelligent
E. Quick to make up one’s mind
A) Incisive means cutting to the heart of a matter; very clear and direct.
After hours of bickering, Donna’s incisive remarks cut through the confusion, and people were able to agree quickly on a course of action
Dilettante (n.) (DILuh-tahnt)
A dilettante is:
A. A phony
B. A dabbler
C. A dieter
D. A prot?g?
E. A lover
B) A dilettante is a dabbler, someone with superficial knowledge, or who embraces the trappings of a discipline more than the essence.
Rene rented a garret, wore a beret, and talked a lot about art, but he was a dilettante who spent very little time actually painting
Adage (n.) AD-ij)
An adage is:
A. A warning
B. An honor
C. A traditional saying
D. A little known truth
E. A mission statement
C) An adage is a traditional saying.
“A woman’s work is never done,” seems to be my mother’s favorite adage.”
Digress (v.) (dye-GRES)
To digress is:
A. To revise
B. To make up
C. To reprimand harshly
D. To offer advice
E. To stray from the subject
E) To digress is to stray from the main topic, intent, or plan.
“We have very little time,” said Alvin, “so please do not digress from the printed agenda.”
Philistine (n.) (FIL-I-steen)
A philistine is a person who:
A. Is a heretic
B. Is a martyr
C. Is a lover
D. Is smugly ignorant
E. Believes in a strange god
D) A philistine is a person who is smugly ignorant, who has no appreciation of intellectual or artistic matters, who is contentedly commonplace in his tastes and ideas, who is smugly conventional.
My brother, Lewis, is such a philistine. He loves Budweiser, Wonder Bread, and pro wrestling
Enormity (n.) (I-NOR-muh-tee)
An enormity is:
A. Extreme influence
B. Extreme lie
C. Extreme vision
D. Extreme evil
E. Extreme wonder
D) An enormity is extreme wickedness; outrageousness.
Kenyon does not seem to comprehend the enormity of his crime.
This is not to be confused with enormous, which indicates size
Prepossess (v.) (pree-puh-ZES)
To prepossess means:
A. To buy used
B. To own previously
C. To influence beforehand
D. To drive crazy
E. To ponder intensely
C) To prepossess means to influence beforehand; to prejudice, usually in a positive way; to preoccupy.
Candace was so prepossessed with the notion that she would win the lottery that she almost lost her job
Poignant (adj.) (POYN-yunt)
A. Deeply touching
A) Poignant means deeply touching; so emotionally moving as to be almost painful; bittersweet.
My mother’s reunion with her sister after twenty years of estrangement was one of the most poignant things I have ever witnessed
Allege (v.) (uh-LEJ)
To allege is:
A. To conspire against
B. To prove wrong
C. To assert without proof
D. To conclude without facts
E. To fabricate
C) To allege is to assert without proof.
It is alleged that Michael not only was present during the robbery, but was its mastermind.
Something that you allege is called an allegation.
To allege also means to state with certainty.
Michael alleged that he was no where near the scene of the crime
Elicit (adj.) (i-LIS-it)
To elicit is:
A. To sin
B. To deny
C. To plead
D. To draw forth
E. To point out
D) To elicit is to draw forth, to bring out, to evoke.
Sheila’s limp was exaggerated to elicit sympathy from her friends.
Do not confuse elicit with illicit, which is pronounced the same, but which means not legally permitted
Daunt (v.) (dawnt)
To daunt is to:
A. To blackmail
B. To overpower
C. To reconsider
D. To remind
E. To intimidate
E) To daunt is to intimidate, to make fearful, to discourage.
The thought of getting the house packed up in three days was overwhelming to Chris, but Becky was undaunted
Proscribe (v.) (proh-SKRYBE)
To proscribe is:
A. To write
B. To prohibit
C. To define
D. To embrace
E. To support
B) To proscribe is to prohibit, to outlaw, to forbid, to condemn as harmful or dangerous.
The new dean proscribed the hazing of freshmen
Recant (v.) (ri-KANT)
To recant is:
A. To publicly take back
B. To gently pour
C. To offer evidence
D. To try again
E. To reaffirm
A) To recant is to publicly take back, to deny something previously affirmed.
Mario admitted to masterminding the prank, but the following day, he recanted
Chimera (n.) (kye-MEER-uh)
A chimera is:
A. A lie
B. A quilt
C. An illusion
D. A joke
E. An allegation
C) A chimera means an illusion, a fleeting foolish fancy.
My mother saw my brother’s dream of becoming a rock star as a chimera, but he persisted and made the dream come true.
What chimera actually refers to is a mythical fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a snake’s tail.
So a second definition is a fantastic, often horrible, idea or image produced by the mind.
The chimera, which haunted him while awake, turned even his dreams into nightmares
Myriad (adj.) (MIR-ee-ud)
A myriad is:
A. A huge number
B. A heart-felt wish
C. A confusing message
D. A clear choice
E. A sentimental notion
A) A myriad is a huge number.
A myriad of riders on camels appeared on the horizon.
Myriad is also used as an adjective.
Myriad stars made the night sky sparkle with magic
Parsimonious (adj.) (pahr-suh-MOH-nee-us)
E) Parsimonious means stingy, extremely frugal, miserly.
The parsimonious old man refused to help his grandchild with her education, but died with over a million dollars in the bank
Precipitous (adj.) (pre-SIP-uh-tus)
C) Precipitous means steep.
When the stock market took a precipitous drop, Myron panicked.
Precipitous is also often used to mean hasty, abrupt
Premise (n.) (PREM-is)
A premise is:
A. A plan
B. A conclusion
C. An assumption
D. A goal
E. An explanation
C) A premise is an assumption, a basis for conclusion, an idea upon which other ideas rest.
If you do not have a valid premise, your conclusion will be incorrect
Novel (adj.) (NAHV-ul)
A. Found in a book
B) Novel means original, fresh, new.
Eddy was looking for a novel way to approach the assignment so his project would be different from everyone else’s.
As a noun, novel means a work of fiction.
All Janis wanted to do was sit on the beach and read trashy novels
Dissolution (n.) (dis-uh-LOO-shun)
Dissolution refers to:
C. Mixing with water
D. Bad feelings
A) Dissolution means the breaking up or dissolving of something into parts; disintegration.
After the founder died, and his sons disagreed, the company fell into dissolution
Indigent (adj.) (IN-di-junt)
C) Indigent means poor, needy, barely scraping by.
At Christmas we collect gifts for the indigent people in our community.
As a noun, an indigent is a person who is poor.
Susan was fearful of the indigents who panhandled on the corner of her street
Vapid (adj.) (VAP-id)
To be vapid means to be:
A) Vapid means lacking liveliness, dull, spiritless, insipid.
As valedictorian of her class, Hillary Clinton attacked the keynote speaker at her graduation ceremony for giving a vapid keynote address
Obdurate (adj.) (AHB-dyoo-rit)
D) Obdurate means stubborn, insensitive, unyielding, not moved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings, inflexible.
Her pleadings were met with obdurate silence
Subjugate (v.) (SUB-juh-gayt)
To subjugate is to:
E) To subjugate is to enslave, to subdue and dominate, to bring under control, to conquer.
“In this company, subordinates do not feel they have to subjugate themselves to a superior’s ego trip in order to keep their jobs, explained Hazel
Dissipate (v.) (DIS-uh-payt)
To dissipate means:
A. To cheat
B. To thin out
C. To argue
D. To distance
E. To defy
B) To dissipate means to thin out, to drift away or dissolve.
Sometimes when passion dissipates, there is nothing left.
Dissipate also means to waste one’s health, money, or talent in the indulgent pursuit of pleasure.
After Louis dissipated his windfall, his new friends disappeared
E) Inexorable means unavoidable, inevitable, relentless, unyielding.
The inexorable flow of time that separates us will one day bring us back together
Forbear (v.) (for-BAYR)
To forbear is:
A. To pretend
B. To carry on
C. To refrain from
D. To indulge
E. To honor
C) To forbear is to refrain from, to abstain, to hold oneself back.
Whereas most of the contestants let go of hard feelings and congratulated Francis, his own brother forbore and walked silently away.
Forbear also means to show patience or tolerance in spite of provocation.
As his nurse, I learned to be forbearing with his crotchety temperament
Hapless (adj.) (HAP-lis)
To be hapless is to be:
A) Hapless means unlucky, unfortunate, not favored by chance.
The hapless hoboes rode the boxcar hoping they were traveling to a better life
Propensity (adj.) (pruh-PEN-suh-tee)
Propensity refers to:
A. Excess weight
B. Natural inclination
B) A propensity is a natural inclination, a tendency, a leaning or aptitude.
Hubert’s propensity for getting into mischief was the major factor in his not being invited to the birthday party
Relentless (adj.) (ri-LENT-lis)
If something is relentless it is:
A. Endlessly long
B. Adamantly resistant
C. Surprisingly strong
D. Mercilessly persistent
E. Hopelessly vague
D) To be relentless is to be mercilessly persistent, unyielding, unstoppable.
The relentless crashing of the tide against the beach eroded the area so badly the city closed it until more sand could be trucked in.
Relentless also means severe, unmerciful.
Laura pleaded to be allowed to go with her friends, even offering to do extra chores, but her father was relentless and told her not to mention it again
Placate (v.) (PLAY-kayt)
To placate is:
A. To elate
B. To soothe
C. To place
D. To chide
E. To ignore
B) To placate is to soothe, to appease, to pacify, to calm down.
Patricia was so furious that all efforts to placate her just seemed to make her more angry
Narcissism (n.) (NAHR-si-siz-um)
Narcissism refers to:
A) Narcissism refers to excessive self-love, self-absorption, egocentricity.
Wilfred’s new home was a shrine to his narcissism. There were mirrors everywhere and he had at least one picture of himself in every room.
In Greek mythology Narcissus was a boy who fell in love with his own reflection and who, after staring at it for a long time, turned into a flower
Accost (v.) (uh-KAWST)
To accost is:
A. To acclaim
B. To run from
C. To physically attack
D. To boldly confront
E. To torment
D) To accost is to boldly confront, to approach, often aggressively and speak to first.
Joe accosted me in the elevator and tried to nail me down about my plans for the weekend
Proximity (n.) (prok-SIM-uh-tee)
E) Proximity refers to nearness in place, time, occurrence, or relation.
The defense counsel focused on the witness’s proximity to the accident, stating that a bystander at that distance could not be mistaken
Anomaly (n.) (uh-NAHM-uh-lee)
An anomaly is:
A. A mistake
B. An irregularity
C. An apparition
D. A truth
E. A pathway
B) An anomaly is an aberration, an irregularity, a deviation, something not in accordance with how things usually are.
It was such an anomaly to find Uncle Arthur at the door grinning from ear to ear. He’d never before come to our house, and, when we visited him, always seemed in a bad mood
Verisimilitude (n.) (ver-uh-si-MIL-uh-tood)
Verisimilitude refers to:
A. The appearance to truth
B. The establishment of truth
C. The yearning for truth
D. The denial of truth
E. The act of being scrupulously honest
A) Verisimilitude refers to the appearance of or similarity to truth or reality.
Her painting bore such verisimilitude to the actual flowers that it looked like a photograph
Scrupulous (adj.) (SKROO-pyuh-lus)
D) Scrupulous means conscientious, strictly careful, exacting.
Ever since being audited ten years ago, my father has been scrupulous in his bookkeeping. He can prove where he spent every dime.
Scrupulous also means strictly principled.
Todd has always been scrupulous in his dealings with this company. I can’t believe he cheated someone else
Construe (v.) (kun-STROO)
To construe means:
A. To interpret
B. To clean
C. To construct
D. To implicate
E. To hint
A) To construe is to interpret, to assign meaning.
It is not always wise to construe silence as agreement; some people just have a hard time saying no
Heresy (n.) (HER-uh-see)
Heresy refers to:
D) Heresy means unorthodoxy. A belief that is not in line with established dogma – especially religious dogma — is considered heresy.
Finland’s dominant Lutheran Church is facing what looks like an epidemic of heresy in its ranks after one of its priests denied the existence of hell and another claimed Jesus was married
Juxtapose (v.) (JUK-stuh-pohz)
To juxtapose is:
A. To compare side-by-side
B. To put on top of
C. To vanquish completely
D. To expose
E. To complete
A) To juxtapose means to bring together for the purpose of side-by-side comparison or contrast.
When you juxtapose the two pictures, it becomes clear that, though the women in them look alike, they are not of the same person
Stringent (adj.) (STRIN-junt)
B) Stringent means strict, demanding, rigorous.
Over the years, the U.S. has adopted ever more stringent labeling requirements. Thirty years ago, a consumer never knew for sure what was in a can of beans
Panacea (n.) (an-uh-SEE-uh)
A. Old wives tale
B. Inert substance
D. New approach
C) A panacea is a cure-all, something that cures anything.
Betsy believed positive thinking to be a panacea for the world’s illnesses
Terse (adj.) (turs)
D) To be terse is to be abrupt, to use no unnecessary words, to be succinct.
In a terse memo, Mr. French announced that all vacations had been canceled until further notice
Fidelity (n.) (fuh-DEL-uh-tee)
Fidelity refers to:
E. Political correctness
D) Fidelity means faithfulness, loyalty.
His fidelity to his wife distinguished Doug from many of the other sailors who took shore leave in Manilla.
Fidelity also means faithfulness to fact or detail. High fidelity is sound that is faithful to the original
Deference (n.) (DEF-ur-uns)
Deference refers to:
A. Contempt for all
B. Respectful submission
C. Mixed feelings
E. False affection
B) Deference is the considerate honoring of or respectful submission to another’s wishes or will, an attitude or motivation of consideration.
We will all wear dresses out of deference to Grandma, who strongly believes that it is inappropriate for a woman to wear slacks in church
Pensive (adj.) (PEN-siv)
To be pensive is to:
A. Be contemplative
B. Be sick
C. Be forthcoming
D. Be scheming
E. Be unresponsive
A) To be pensive is to be in a state of dreamy or melancholy thoughtfulness; to be reflective, contemplative, meditative, preoccupied and deeply reflective or sad.
Though her engagement was broken months before, Rosemary at times still drifted into pensive withdrawal from her friends’ lively conversations
Stratum (n.) (STRAT-um)
A stratum refers to:
A. A method
B. A route
C. A layer
D. A plan
E. A variety
C) A stratum is a layer, a level.
Welfare was created to protect the lower stratum of society from destitution.
The plural of stratum is strata
Distinguish (v.) (di-STING-gwish)
To distinguish is:
A. To elevate
B. To decline
C. To grow old
D. To express vividly
E. To tell apart
E) To distinguish is to tell apart, mark off or recognize as different or separate.
My senile uncle cannot distinguish day from night.
To distinguish also means to set apart in an exemplary way, as in:
Patrick distinguished himself in battle and was awarded the Medal of Honor
Prevail (v.) (pri-VAYL)
To prevail is:
A. To love
B. To beat
C. To triumph
D. To change
E. To beg
C) To prevail is to triumph.
Patty believes that good will always prevail over evil.
Prevail also means to persuade:
My mother prevailed upon me to hang out the clothes.
To prevail also means to be widespread.
Joy prevailed among the settlers as their journey reached an end
Reprehensible (adj.) (re-pri-HEN-suh-bul)
A) Reprehensible means blameworthy, disgraceful, condemnable.
“I think the way you walked in here like you owned the place and put everyone down was absolutely reprehensible,” said Lillian
Luminous (adj.) (LOO-muh-nus)
A. Exceptionally intelligent
B. Giving off light
C. In love with
B) Luminous means bright, radiant, clear, giving off light.
When Karin described her life with Joel, her face became luminous and she looked like a girl again
Heyday (n.) (HAY-day)
Heyday refers to:
A. One’s formative years
B. A sick day
C. A day of triumph
D. One’s prime
E. The first day of Spring
D) Heyday refers to one’s prime, or to a golden age.
“It is said that in his heyday, grandpa was a world class wrestler
Painstaking (adj.) (PAYN-stay-king)
D. By the rules
A) Painstaking means extremely careful, meticulous.
His painstaking effort paid off when Scientific American bought his article
Elliptical (adj.) (i-LIP-ti-kil)
Elliptical refers to:
A. A motive to mislead
C. Hard to understand
D. Having many layers of meaning
E. Open to debate
C) While most commonly, the word elliptical means oval, it also refers to an economy of words, and often implies that because of what is missing, there is ambiguity or the writing is hard to understand. Elliptical writing is often obscure.
The critic praised her beautiful use of language, but noted her writing was often elliptical and caused the reader to work at understanding her message.
Ellipse is the name of the punctuation mark … that is used to indicate words are missing from quoted material
Ethereal (adj.) (i-THIR-ee-ul)
B. Light and airy
B) Ethereal means light and airy; heavenly; extremely delicate or refined. A pastel – colored painting can be ethereal, but ethereal does not mean pastel-colored.
As I stood at the mouth of the cave the most ethereal sounds I have ever heard seemed to be coming from deep inside. It was as if angels were playing harps at the center of the Earth
Sagacious (adj.) (suh-GAY-shus)
E) Sagacious means wise, discerning, keen in judgment.
The old monk’s intention was to write a book that provided sagacious observations about love, forgiveness, and death
Effusion (n.) (I-FYOO-zhun)
Effusion refers to:
A. An afterthought
B. Something with hidden meaning
C. An intense emotion
D. An eclectic mix
E. A pouring forth
E) An effusion refers to a pouring forth, an unrestrained expression.
The effusion of birthday greetings from the people who loved her moved Evelyn to tears
Inane (adj.) (i-NAYN)
D) Inane means silly, nonsensical, devoid of significance.
They concocted an inane plan to save money by keeping chickens in the basement and selling the eggs
Notorious (adj.) (noh-TOR-ee-us)
A. Widely imitated
B. Negatively famous
C. Commonly known
B) Notorious means to be famous for something negative. You would be notorious for stealing lots of money, but not for giving away lots of money. For that you would be famous.
The President has been exposed as a notorious womanizer
Patriarch (n.) (PAY-tree-ahrk)
A patriarch is:
A. A dictator
B. A first-born son
C. The male head of a family
D. A recognized patriot
E. A church elder
C) A patriarch is the male head of a tribe or family, the male who is responsible for establishing a lineage, a venerable elder in the community.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are patriarchs of the Old Testament.
A patriarchal society is one where lineage is traced through the father and masculine values predominate
Incessant (adj.) (in-SES-unt)
E) Incessant means constant, unending, continual, ceaseless.
Marge’s incessant chatter drove Herman crazy. She never ran out of things to talk about
Pathology (n.) (puh-THAHL-uh-jee)
Pathology refers to:
E) Pathology refers to disease. Pathology is the study of disease.
The pathology lab is where they test tissues, body fluids, and the like for disease.
Pathology also refers in a general way to disease itself.
They did fifteen tests and found no pathology
Amiable (adj.) (AY-mee-uh-bul)
A. Without destination
B) To be amiable is to be friendly, agreeable, congenial.
Chad was amiable enough, but he just did not fit in
Collusion (n.) (kuh-LOO-zhun)
Collusion refers to:
A) Collusion means conspiracy, secret cooperation.
The collusion between the brothers was undiscovered, and the birthday party was a complete surprise
Pragmatic (adj.) (prag-MAT-ik)
C) Pragmatic means practical, down to earth, based on experience rather than theory.
Jose was a dreamer, but he became surprisingly pragmatic as soon as money came into the picture
Malfeasance (n.) (mal-FEE-zuns)
Malfeasance refers to:
A. A misdeed
B. Crossed signals
C. Emotional neglect
D. Incorrect assumptions
E. An obnoxious smell
A) Malfeasance refers to a misdeed or illegal act, especially on the part of a public official.
The widespread malfeasance in his administration did not become publicly known until after President Harding’s death
Provident (n.) (PRAHV-uh-dunt)
Provident refers to:
A. Being well off
B. Having psychic powers
C. Preparing for the future
D. Being lucky
E. Being decreed by fate
C) Provident means looking ahead, preparing for the future, being frugal today in order to have something tomorrow.
If we are provident with our supplies, they should easily get us through the next two weeks
Mandate (n.) (MAN-dayt)
A mandate is:
A. A critique
B. An expense
C. An authorization
D. A guess
E. A blessing
C) A mandate is an authorization or command.
The Democrats felt their overwhelming win gave them a mandate to do whatever they wanted.
Something that is mandatory is commanded or required
Adverse (adj.) (ad-VURS)
A) Adverse means unfavorable, in opposition to one’s interests or desires.
We had planned a picnic, but because of adverse weather conditions, we went to the movies instead
Palpable (adj.) (PAL-puh-bul)
C) To be palpable is to be obvious, evident, tangible, capable of being touched or felt.
A palpable tumor is one that can be felt with the hand. Palpable is also used metaphorically:
As they stood in hushed silence outside the burning church, the crowd’s tension was palpable
Disinterested (adj.) (dis-IN-truh-stid)
To be disinterested is to be:
E) To be disinterested is to be unbiased, objective, without a vested interest one way or the other.
When Evan made the team, his father was replaced as a referee by a more disinterested official
Complacent (adj.) (kum-PLAY-sunt)
B) Complacent means self-satisfied, overly pleased with oneself, contented to a fault.
After having been at the head of his class for three years, Ivan grew complacent, neglected his homework, and his grades began to slip.
Be careful not to confuse this with complaisant, which means agreeable, eager to please
Infatuated (adj.) (in-FACH-oo-ay-tid)
B. Blindly emotional
E. Foolishly passionate
E) To be infatuated is to be foolishly passionate, hopelessly in love, attracted to the point where one loses judgment.
Franklin was infatuated with his physics teacher. He couldn’t stop thinking about her and almost flunked the course, despite being one of the brightest students in the class
Dialectical (adj.) (dye-uh-LEK-ti-kul)
Dialectical refers to:
A. A complicated problem
B. A method of reasoning
C. A political system
D. A complex relationship
E. Something that doubles back on itself
B) Dialectical refers to a method of reasoning. The dialectical method was proposed by a German philosopher named Hegel and involves the notion that movement, especially the progression of history, is the result of the conflict of opposites. The classic dialectic suggests that a theses (or premise) gives rise to an antithesis (or opposite premise) that is ultimately resolved in a synthesis (or combining of the two)
Pernicious (adj.) (PUR-NISH-us)
B) Pernicious means deadly, extremely evil, having a harmful or fatal effect.
William had a particularly pernicious form of cancer and only lived two months after his diagnosis.
Pernicious anemia is a severe anemia in which red blood cells decrease in number and increase in size that is caused largely by a deficiency of vitamin B12
Wanton (adj.) (WAHN-tun)
A) Wanton means reckless, malicious, unjustifiable, without regard for what is right, without provocation or reason.
The PLO is known for wanton acts of terrorism.
Wanton also is used to mean a lack of sexual restraint, to express lewdness or lasciviousness.
Try as she might, Rebecca could not live down her reputation for being a wanton woman, gained from the riotous lifestyle she lived as a young girl
Vacillate (v.) (VAS-uh-layt)
To vacillate is:
A. To waver
B. To tempt
C. To tease
D. To push up and down
E. To cogitate
A) To vacillate is to be indecisive, to waver.
By the time Jon had finished vacillating about which bus to take, he had missed them both.
Vacillate can also be used to mean literally swaying back and forth.
She fell asleep to the sound of palm trees vacillating in the breeze
Martial (adj.) (MAHR-shul)
A. Grouped together
B. From Mars
D. Related to marriage
C) Martial means warlike, relating to combat or to war.
Eric had studied martial arts for years and had black belts in Karate, Aikido, and Kung Fu
Analogy (n.) (uh-NAL-uh-jee)
An analogy is:
A. A poem
B. A comparison
C. A directive
D. An alloy
E. A puzzle
B) An analogy is a comparison that focuses upon similarities. “Falling in love is like being bitten by a poisonous snake.” is an analogy.
Bob made an analogy between Kosova and Vietnam, but Ed thought the better analogy was between Kosova and Nazi Germany
Plaintive (adj.) (PLAYN-tiv)
A. Without frills
C. Expressing sadness
C) Plaintive means expressing of sadness or sorrow.
The plaintive melody of her lullaby brought back bittersweet memories of childhood.
Do not confuse plaintive with plaintiff, which means the person bringing a lawsuit
Nebulous (adj.) (NEB-yuh-lu)
A) Nebulous means vague, hazy, indistinct, or confused.
The federal guidelines were so nebulous as to be of little help to the committee
Affluent (adj.) (AF-loo-unt)
E) Affluent means prosperous, wealthy, rich.
New York is a wonderful place to live if you are affluent. It is not so much fun if you are poor
Reiterate (v.) (ree-IT-uh-rayt)
To reiterate is:
A. To emphasize
B. To reprove
C. To repeal
D. To repeat
E. To request
D) To reiterate is to repeat, often excessively and with the intention to emphasize.
Wendell rolled his eyes as Peter reiterated for the eighth time that we absolutely had to finish the project by Friday
Relegate (v.) (REL-uh-gayt)
To relegate is:
A. To authorize
B. To banish
C. To represent
D. To celebrate
E. To designate
B) To relegate is to banish or consign to an inferior condition or position.
On Superbowl Sunday, the guys took over the living room, while the women were relegated to the kitchen
Curtail (v.) (kur-TAYL)
To curtail is:
A. To add on
B. To subvert
C. To cut short
D. To control
E. To make up
C) To curtail is to cut short, to reduce, diminish, or abridge.
Congress’ first attempt to regulate material on the Internet was the Communications Decency Act, the purpose of which was to curtail smut
Grandiloquent (adj.) (gran-DIL-uh-kwunt)
B) To be grandiloquent is to be pretentious, pompous, to speak in a bombastic or extremely flowery style.
The politicians took turns giving grandiloquent speeches that impressed no one but themselves
Reticent (adj.) (RET-uh-cent)
B. Old fashioned
E) To be reticent is to be reserved in speech, restrained, disposed to silence.
Jo was reticent to discuss her love life with her mother
Salient (adj.) (SAYL-yunt)
A) Salient means prominent, conspicuous, obvious, striking.
The salient features of the new benefits package are an improved health plan, flex time, and an extra vacation day for every six months of perfect attendance
Abortive (adj.) (uh-BOR-tiv)
C) Abortive means unsuccessful, ended before completion.
Tammy laughed at Jon’s abortive effort to bake a birthday cake. He mistakenly used salt instead of sugar.
The noun abortion refers to the termination of a pregnancy
Stipulate (v.) (STIP-yuh-layt)
To stipulate is:
A. To explain
B. To defend
C. To authorize
D. To question
E. To specify
E) To stipulate is to specify a condition or conditions that must be satisfied before a contract or other agreement can be made or signed.
The agreement clearly stipulated that a late fee would be charged when payment was received after September 15
Patronize (v.) (PAY-truh-nyze)
To patronize is:
A. To offer advice to
B. To imitate
C. To be a customer of
D. To scold
E. To make fun of
C) To patronize means to be a customer or client of.
Whenever possible, I patronize small businesses rather than national conglomerates.
To patronize also means to treat in a condescending manner, to talk down to.
“I can’t stand the way you patronize me,” Paula told Kyle. “Will you please talk to me like an adult, rather than like a stupid ten year old.”
Penchant (n.) (PEN-chunt)
A penchant is:
A. An aversion
B. An inclination
C. A charm
D. A benefit
E. A token
B) A penchant is a strong inclination towards, a liking for something, a predilection.
Josh has such a penchant for strong coffee and cigars that he can’t understand how some people can go through life without them
Expatriate (v.) (eks-PAY-tree-ayt)
To expatriate refers to:
A. Stripping down to basics
B. Leaving someone in the lurch
C. Removing someone from office
D. Leaving one’s country
E. Turning away from previously held ideas
D) To expatriate has a double meaning. It means both to banish (a person) from his or her native country and to withdraw from one’s country.
Herman was expatriated by the king for his part in the rebellion.
Or, Herman expatriated to France to escape prosecution for his part in the rebellion. Both are correct.
As a noun expatriate means one who is living abroad. After living as an expatriate in France for eighteen years, Kay returned to America
Nefarious (adj.) (ni-FAR-ee-us)
A) Nefarious means villainous, wicked, evil.
The rebel’s nefarious plots against the government included delivering poison pizzas to the pentagon and sending hate mail on what appeared to be official stationery
Circumvent (v.) (sur-kum-VENT)
To circumvent is:
A. To conceal
B. To imitate
C. To go around
D. To limit
E. To allow
C) To circumvent means to go around, to bypass.
The principal talked for twenty minutes, but managed to circumvent the main issues. He pointedly avoided discussing the things the students were really upset about.
To circumvent also means to avoid (defeat, failure, unpleasantness, etc.) by artfulness or deception; avoid by anticipating or outwitting.
By anticipating the troop’s movements, the rebels circumvented capture
Plebeian (adj.) (pluh-BEE-un)
B) Plebeian means belonging to the common class, vulgar, non-aristocratic. One who is considered plebeian has tastes and manners that are course and unsophisticated.
Frank thought eating pizza was too plebeian. He wanted to dine on caviar
Vicissitude (n.) (vi-SIS-uh-tood)
Vicissitude refers to:
C. A wrong turn
D. Unwanted advice
E. Ups and downs
E) Vicissitudes are changes in fortune or circumstances, uncertainties, ups and downs.
Carol thought she could make a fortune from investments, but the vicissitudes of the stock market almost gave her a nervous breakdown. One day she made ten thousand dollars, the next day she lost twice that much
Vex (v.) (veks)
To vex is:
A. To threaten
B. To stimulate
C. To exclude
D. To annoy
E. To deny
D) To vex is to annoy, to irritate, to provoke.
I was vexed by Christine’s constant whining about the heat. We were all hot, and her complaining just made matters worse.
To vex also means to worry, trouble, or upset.
I was vexed by the ugly rash that appeared out of nowhere and didn’t respond to any treatment
Oblivion (n.) (uh-BLIV-ee-un)
Oblivion refers to a state of:
A. Being sad
B. Being confused
C. Being forgotten
D. Being overpowered
E. Being happy
C) Oblivion refers to a state of being forgotten or unknown.
Rosie and the Originals had one minor hit record, then returned to oblivion, never to be heard from again.
Oblivion also refers to a state of being forgetful or unconsciousness.
“Eight shots of whiskey is enough to send anyone into oblivion,” Drake commented as he viewed his brother passed out on the floor
Pedantic (adj.) (puh-DAN-tik)
A. Boringly academic
B. Excitingly complex
C. Rigidly formal
A) Pedantic means boringly academic, scholarly, overly formal, pompous and dry.
The guest lecturer was so pedantic you needed a dictionary to know what he was talking about. He meant to impress us with his knowledge, but twenty minutes into his lecture, half the room was dozing
Petulant (adj.) PECH-uh-lunt)
To be petulant is to be:
D) To be petulant is to be cranky, peevishly rude, irritated over something trivial.
When we complained that the soup was cold, the petulant waiter told us if we didn’t like it we could eat somewhere else. When he brought the rest of our dinner he slammed the plates down on the table and acted as though we had personally offended him
Reciprocal (adj.) (ri-SIP-ruh-kul)
B) Reciprocal means mutual, shared, interchangeable, given in return.
My health spa has a reciprocal arrangement with spas all over the country. Wherever I travel, there is a gym that will honor my local membership
Adamant (adj.) (AD-uh-munt)
To be adamant is to be:
B) To be adamant is to be stubborn, unyielding in your attitudes or opinions.
Mark was adamant that we would not go on vacation with his family. He turned a deaf ear to his mother’s pleas that he reconsider, not even relenting when she started to cry
Labyrinth (n.) (LAB-uh-rinth)
A labyrinth is:
A. A mess
B. A riddle
C. A mystery
D. A myth
E. A maze
E) A labyrinth is a maze or anything that is intricate and complex like a maze.
In the movie The Shining, the little boy hid in a labyrinth in which his murderous father got hopelessly lost
Mollify (v.) (MAHL-uh-fye)
To mollify is:
A. To ambush
B. To embarrass
C. To soothe
D. To startle
E. To amuse
C) To mollify is to soothe, soften, pacify, appease.
After Sam forgot their anniversary, roses were not enough to mollify Sadie, who was clear that nothing less than diamonds would get him back in her good graces
Profuse (adj.) (pruh-FYOOS)
A. Abundantly flowing
B. Loudly insistent
C. Overly dramatic
A) Profuse means abundantly flowing, numerous, plentiful, extravagant.
When Naomi saw all the cards and letters of support, her profuse gratitude brought tears to her eyes
Obsequious (adj.) (ub-SEE-kwee-us)
D) Obsequious means fawning, showing servile deference, polite or obedient from hope of gain or from fear.
Sarah was not used to having servants, and the butler’s obsequious manner made her uncomfortable. He bowed and scraped, referred to her as “madam”, and acted as if serving her was all that mattered in life
Opaque (adj.) (oh-PAYK)
A. Not friendly
B. Not happy
C. Not vague
D. Not colored
E. Not transparent
E) Opaque means not transparent, impossible to see through.
“The doors have clear-glass panels to show off the contents, and the highest cabinets have opaque green glass, for items that I don’t want to display,” Martha Stewart explained.
Opaque also is used to indicate something that is unclear, murky, not easily understood.
Gray Eagle’s references were deliberately opaque to those who were not familiar with Native American ceremony
Usurp (v.) (yoo-SURP)
To usurp means:
A. To wrongfully seize
B. To drink noisily
C. To oversee
D. To override
E. To shrink
A) To usurp is to wrongfully seize, to take and hold by force, illegal, or underhanded means.
Kevin’s mother’s new boyfriend easily usurped Kevin’s position as the man of the family. He was soon making the decisions without so much as asking Kevin what he thought
Discrete (adj.) (di-SKREET)
B) Discrete means separate and distinct or composed of separate and distinct parts.
Mario insisted that the issues involved were not discrete and that in order to solve one problem we would have to tackle them all.
Be careful not to confuse discrete with discreet, which is pronounced the same, but which means reserved about discussing confidential matters
Amoral (adj.) ay-MOR-ul)
D. Neither moral nor immoral
E. Out for self alone
D) Amoral means neither moral nor immoral, not involving questions of right or wrong. A moral person does right, an immoral person does wrong, an amoral person simply does.
Elise went on and on about how the neighbor’s evil dog tore up her garden. The dog wasn’t evil, but amoral. He was just being a dog
Nominal (adj.) (NOM-uh-nul)
A. Appointed, not elected
B. In rank order
C. In name only
D. Openly declared
E. Using an alias
C) Nominal means in name only.
The king was the nominal head of the country, but the actual power was in the hands of a parliament.
Nominal also means insignificant.
For the nominal fee of one dollar, you can attend the concert
Elusive (adj.) (I-LOO-siv)
B) Elusive means evasive, hard to express, define or pin down.
I spent an hour trying to kill one elusive fly. No matter where it landed, by the time I got there it was somewhere else
Dogmatic (adj.) (dawg-MAT-ik)
B. Blindly committed to a belief system
C. Needing to be right
B) Dogmatic means blindly committed to a belief system or doctrine and usually asserting that belief in an arrogant, opinionated manner that refuses to consider other points of view.
Kimberly liked her new church because it was less dogmatic than her previous one. People were free to follow their hearts instead of having to believe what they were told
Perturb (v.) (pur-TURB)
To perturb is:
A. To appease
B. To massage
C. To greatly disturb
D. To pressure
E. To encourage
C) To perturb is to greatly disturb or agitate.
Deborah was perturbed to learn the relatives were an hour away and expected her to put all five of them up for the night
Impetuous (adj.) (im-PACH-oo-wus)
E) Impetuous means impulsive, given to sudden or rash action or emotion.
In her typically impetuous way, Constance invited fifteen people to dinner without thinking that she only had ten chairs
Fatalist (n.) (FAYT-uh-list)
A fatalist believes:
A. Things are inevitable
B. Things will ultimately work out
C. Things are bound to go wrong
D. Things are a matter of choice
E. Life is meaningless
A) A fatalist believes that what happens is inevitable, predestined, determined by fate.
Lorraine was a fatalist who refused to wear a seat belt because she believed when your number was up, it was up, no matter what you did
Obscure (adj.) (ub-SKYOOR)
D. Easy to fool
E. Hard to understand
E) Obscure means hard to understand.
He wrote obscure dissertations that few read and fewer still truly understood.
Obscure also means inconspicuous, not widely known.
He was an obscure writer from a small town who dreamed of fame and fortune.
Obscure also means not easily perceived.
In the dark, the details of her face were obscure, so I can’t be one hundred percent sure which sister I saw enter the cabin
Conventional (adj.) (kun-VEN-shun-nul)
B. By cooperative effort
C. Taking place in a large hall
D. Conforming to accepted standards
E. Having a large following
D) Conventional means conforming to accepted standards, customary, unexceptional.
Unlike her rebellious sister, Prudence was very conventional. She followed the rules, did what was expected, and didn’t stand out in any way
Acquiesce (v.) (ak-wee-ES)
To acquiesce is:
A. To give in
B. To understand
C. To explain
D. To complain
E. To embrace
A) To acquiesce is to agree or submit quietly but without enthusiasm or with reluctance, to give in.
After hours of being badgered by all three of her children, Mary finally acquiesced and agreed to let them keep the stray puppy
Rebuke (v.) (ri-BYOOK)
To rebuke means:
A. To redo
B. To reconsider
C. To criticize
D. To mollify
E. To ignore
C) To rebuke is to sharply criticize.
What Charles did was wrong, but I don’t think Martha should have rebuked him in public.
Rebuke can also be used as a noun meaning a sharp criticism.
Martha’s public rebuke was deeply humiliating to Charles, who was only trying to be funny and had not meant to be rude
Profane (adj.) (proh-FAYN)
B) Profane means irreverent, blasphemous, unholy.
The movie depicted profane rites that involved drugs and human sacrifice.
Profane also means worldly, not sacred, not having to do with religion.
Profane art depicts non-religious subject matter.
As a verb, profane means to desecrate, to treat with disrespect and contempt something that should be honored.
Lisa thought her brother-in-law’s hasty marriage profaned her dead sister’s memory
Vehement (adj.) (VEE-uh-munt)
B) Vehement means intense, forceful, impassioned.
Jack was so vehement in his denial that I thought he was going to have a stroke. He was furious that anyone would even think he might have stolen the money
Trepidation (n.) (trep-uh-DAY-shun)
Trepidation refers to:
A) Trepidation refers to apprehension, nervous trembling, uncertainty.
Eleanor entered the room with trepidation, fully expecting her brothers to make merciless fun of her newly red hair
Vociferous (adj.) (voh-SIF-ur-us)
A. Intellectually stimulated
B. Willfully disobedient
C. Eager to please
D. Loud and unrestrained
E. Contemptuous of authority
D) Vociferous means loud and unrestrained, in a way that is blatant and often vulgar or offensive.
His vociferous criticism of her work reduced Gail to tears. She could not understand why he seemed to relish pointing out her mistakes while ignoring what she did right
Exult (v.) (ig-ZULT)
To exult is:
A. To raise
B. To croon
C. To flatter
D. To exit
E. To rejoice
E) To exult is to rejoice, to celebrate, to be jubilant, elated.
Carrie exulted in beating her brother at pool. He always won and always rubbed it in. Now it was her turn to feel the elation of victory
Insurgent (n.) (in-SUR-junt)
An insurgent is:
A. A helper
B. A teacher
C. A rebel
D. A worker
E. A healer
C) An insurgent is a rebel, someone who revolts against established authority.
The general hoped to find the insurgent’s camp and capture them before they blew up the oil refinery
Ironic (adj.) (eye-RAHN-ik)
If something is ironic it is:
B. Hard to grasp
C) Ironic means contradictory, not as you would expect.
It is ironic that the doctor who operated on my brother for lung cancer is, himself, a smoker.
Ironic also is sometimes used to mean coincidental.
It was ironic that out of a thousand people I found myself seated next to a woman I went to college with
Criterion (n.) (krye-TEER-ee-un)
Criterion refers to:
A. A theory
B. A judgment
C. A schedule
D. A standard
E. A method
D) A criterion is a standard, a basis for judgment or criticism, a principle for testing or evaluating something.
When it comes to men, the size of their wallets is the criterion on which Shelly bases her choices. Nothing else is important to her.
Note: The plural of criterion is criteria
Existential (adj.) (eg-zis-TEN-shul)
B. Relating to existence
C. Deeply buried
D. Relating to truth
B) Existential means relating to existence, concerning or based on objective experience.
“I do have a sense of smallness,” said Fred. “I could call it existential angst but I prefer loneliness.”
Existential angst is a feeling of anguish, not stemming from some tragedy in one’s personal life, but anguish over the human predicament, anguish stemming from the nature of existence.
Existentialism is a philosophical movement, emphasizing individual existence and freedom
Clandestine (adj.) (klan-DES-tin)
A) Clandestine means secret, concealed, done covertly in order to avoid detection.
Most of the gang’s activities were clandestine and took place under cover of darkness, far away from prying eyes
Vernacular (n.) (vur-NAK-yuh-lur)
Vernacular refers to:
A. Latin used in the Mass
B. Swear words
C. The use of foreign phrases
D. Everyday language
E. Formal language
D) When you speak in the vernacular, you are using the speech common to where you live. The vernacular includes things like contractions, slang, and idioms that you would not use in formal writing.
The vernacular of American Blacks is called ebonics
Polarize (v.) (POH-luh-ryze)
To polarize is to:
A. Split into opposing factions
B. Cause to cool
E. Cause a free-for-all
A) To polarize is to split into opposing factions.
The board became polarized as to whether to spend the bequest on equipment for the athletic department or refurbishing the library. Half the member’s wanted one, half the other.
To polarize is also to focus rays of light so that all the vibration takes place in one plane, which in the vernacular means it is what your sun glasses do
Esoteric (adj.) (es-uh-TER-ik)
B. Common sense
C. Deeply spiritual
E. Understood by only a select few
E) Esoteric means understood by only a select few with special knowledge, hidden from the masses, secret.
On the surface it was just a nice story, but it’s esoteric meaning provided instructions for reaching Nirvana to yoga masters who knew how to interpret it
Aggregate (n.) (AG-ruh-gut)
Aggregate refers to:
A. An offshoot
C. A splattering
D. An overview
E. The combined sum
E) Aggregate means the combined sum, a collection of things considered as a whole.
The aggregate income of the three divisions totaled three hundred thousand dollars, but only one of them surpassed the projected goal
Perfunctory (adj.) (pur-FUNGK-tuh-ree)
A. Done frantically
B. Done with grace
C. Done with great care
D. Done with secrecy
E. Done with indifference
E) Perfunctory means done routinely with indifference, hasty and superficial.
After a few perfunctory attempts to get online, Larry gave up and read a book instead. He really didn’t want to surf the net anyway
Infinitesimal (adj.) (in-fin-uh-TES-uh-mul)
C) Infinitesimal means minute, inconceivably small, microscopic.
The universe began to expand from an inconceivably infinitesimal beginning, a point in space so small it cannot even be adequately described by metaphor
Insidious (adj.) (in-SID-ee-us)
C) Insidious means treacherous, sneaky, intended to entrap or beguile.
The stress of working two jobs was an insidious pressure that undermined Clifford’s marriage
Manifest (adj.) (MAN-uh-fest)
A) Manifest means evident, visible, apparent.
The flaws in his thinking became increasingly manifest as we put his ideas into practice and they didn’t work.
As a verb to manifest means to bring forth into visibility, to make evident, to prove.
As time went on, Jason manifested great leadership ability and soon everyone turned to him when a problem arose
Milieu (n.) (mil-YOO)
Milieu refers to:
D) Milieu refers to surroundings, situation, atmosphere, environment.
Marcy felt most comfortable in an academic milieu, surrounded by other intellectuals and established formalities
Glut (n.) (glut)
A glut is:
A. A greed
B. A surplus
C. A lack
D. An error
E. A longing
B) A glut is a surplus, an excess, an overabundance.
There was a glut of desserts, but only one main dish and no salads at the potluck.
As a verb to glut means to fill to satiation or satisfaction.
After three plates of pasta his appetite was finally glutted
Incongruous (adj.) (in-KAHN-groo-us)
C) Incongruous means inconsistent, not fitting in, unsuitable to.
Karen’s smile was incongruous with her feeling. She was actually enraged at what was going on
Extricate (v.) (EK-struh-kayt)
To extricate is:
A. To deceive
B. To leaven
C. To assist
D. To ignore
E. To disengage
E) To extricate is to free from difficulty, to get out of, to disengage or release from entanglement.
Randy was unable to extricate himself from the burdensome lease and had to stay in the over-priced apartment until December
Finesse (n.) (fi-NES)
Finesse refers to:
A. Skillful maneuvering
B. Good looks
C. Good luck
D. Deep thought
E. Proper etiquette
A) Finesse means skillful maneuvering, extreme delicacy or subtlety in action, performance, skill, discrimination, taste, etc.
Amy was amazed at the finesse with which Hugh moved from group to group making everyone from the president of the corporation to the janitor feel special and welcome. He had remarkable people skills.
As a verb, the flavor of the word finesse changes a slight bit to mean bring about by skillful artifice or cunning.
Gary asked Melissa out, then finessed her into picking up the check
Alloy (n.) (AL-oy)
An alloy is:
A. A friend
B. An affinity
C. A battle
D. A goal
E. A combination
E) An alloy is a combination of two or more things, often used in reference to a combination of metals.
The American nickel is really a nickel-copper alloy. It is only about twenty-five percent nickel
Tenable (adj.) (TEN-uh-bul)
D) Tenable means viable, defensible, valid, capable of being successfully argued, reasonable workable.
The idea that we can pay for a trip to Bali by buying a lottery ticket is just not tenable
Irascible (adj.) (I-RAS-uh-bul)
A. Impossible to understand
B. Itching for action
C. Easily angered
C) Irascible means easily angered or provoked, irritable.
Wayne was a good friend to me, but his employees saw him as an irascible old man who was always critical and frequently lost his temper
Parody (n.) PAR-uh-dee)
A parody is:
A. An argument
B. A practical joke
C. A humorous imitation
D. An anecdote
E. A denial
C) A parody is a humorous satirical imitation of something.
Saturday Night Live is famous for it’s parodies of famous people, the news, and other things we often take very seriously. The show makes fun of almost everything
Partisan (n.) (PAHR-tuh-zun)
A partisan is one who:
A. Likes to party
B. Freely offers advice
C. Is a free thinker
D. Supports a particular position
E. Is warlike
D) A partisan is a person who supports a particular position, is an adherent or supporter of a person, group, party, or cause, especially an adherent who shows a biased, emotional allegiance.
Many people think the impeachment of President Clinton was partisan, that people voted long party lines, with Republicans being in favor of it and Democrats opposing it
Touchstone (n.) (TUCH-stohn)
A touchstone is:
A. A standard
B. A large rock
C. A nest egg
D. A goal
E. An assumption
A) A touchstone is a standard by which to evaluate the worth of something.
Performance on the SAT is the touchstone upon which eligibility for college is determined
Superfluous (adj.) (soo-PUR-floo-us)
B) Superfluous means unnecessary, extra, redundant.
Her attempts to sway the crowd were superfluous. Everyone already was in agreement with her
Consensus (n.) (kun-SEN-sus)
C. Traditional values
D. General agreement
E. Logical thinking
D) Consensus means general agreement. When a large majority of people believe the same thing, there is consensus. A vote of 49 to 50 would not express a consensus, but a vote of 98 to 2 would
Periphery (n.) (puh-RIF-uh-ree)
Periphery refers to:
A. The heavens
B. A due date
C. An oddball idea
D. A fantasy
E. An outside edge
E) A periphery is an external boundary, the outside edge of something.
Mollie walks around the periphery of the field twice each day for exercise.
Peripheral vision refers to seeing out of the outside edge of your eye what is on the side, rather than in front to you
Permeate (v.) (PUR-mee-ayt)
To permeate is:
A. To cover
B. To convince
C. To penetrate
D. To release
E. To conceal
C) To permeate is to penetrate, to pervade, to pass or seep through or into every part of.
The smoke permeated the apartment making it necessary to wash the drapes, clean the rugs, and scrub down the walls to get rid of the smell
Egalitarian (adj.) (I-gal-uh-TAYR-ee-un)
Egalitarian refers to:
B) Egalitarian refers to equality. It describes a belief in the equality of all people.
Many people hold egalitarian beliefs until those beliefs interfere with their own self-interest
Morose (adj.) (muh-ROHS)
C) Morose means gloomy, sullenly ill humored.
Joel’s morose outlook was beginning to make all of us feel pessimistic and depressed
Diffident (adj.) DIF-I-dunt
To be diffident is:
A. To be uninvolved
B. To be noticed
C. To be timid
D. To be philosophical
E. To be convinced
C) To be diffident is to be timid or lacking in confidence.
Many people thought Penelope was unfriendly, but in truth she was diffident and, therefore, didn’t say too much
Lampoon (v.) (lam-POON)
To lampoon is:
A. To encircle
B. To exclude
C. To laugh
D. To knife
E. To ridicule
E) To lampoon means to ridicule or mock.
The Harvard Lampoon is a humor magazine put out by Harvard students that lampoons just about everyone. If you want to read serious commentary, do not read the Harvard Lampoon, but it is great if you want a good laugh
Artifice (n.) AHRT-uh-fus)
Artifice refers to:
C. An impulse
D. A building
E. A delicacy
A) Artifice means cunning, craftiness, the using of trickery or subterfuge to get one’s way.
Frances used all the artifice she could muster to get Jim to marry her. He never knew until much later that she did not come from a wealthy background as she had led him to believe
Patent (adj.) (PAYT-unt)
C) Patent means obvious, noticeable.
The idea that someone could buy the moon is a patent absurdity.
As a noun patent is pronounced PAT-unt and means a government grant to an inventor giving, for a specified period, the exclusive right to make, use, or sell an invented device, process, or the like. This sense of the word can also be used as a verb meaning to obtain a patent.
My uncle hoped to get a patent on his new invention
Cognizant (adj.) CAHG-nu-zunt)
D. Bogged down
B) Cognizant means aware, conscious of, informed.
We were cognizant of the risks involved in the new venture, but decided to go forward in spite of them
Kinetic (adj.) (ki-NET-ik)
D) Kinetic means having to do with motion, lively, active.
The trainer was a kinetic man, who stressed his points by jumping up on tables and waving his arms. I would think by day’s end, he would be exhausted
Promulgate (v.) (PRAHM-ul-gayt)
To promulgate is:
A. To look for
B. To fertilize
C. To collect
D. To provide for
E. To publicly declare
E) To promulgate is to proclaim, to publicly or formally declare something, to make known.
Before we promulgate the new agenda, we must discuss it thoroughly amongst ourselves. Only when we are sure everyone on the board is in agreement should be announce it to the membership
Equanimity (adj.) (ek-wuh-NIM-uh-tee)
Equanimity refers to:
A) Equanimity means serenity, calm, composure.
Marge was able to maintain a state of equanimity while others rushed around in panic
Proselytize (v.) (PHAHS-uh-luh-tyze)
To proselytize means:
A. To be overbearing
B. To investigate
C. To attempt to convert
D. To talk non-stop
E. To brag
C) To proselytize means to attempt to convert, to actively recruit.
The cult members spent every weekend outside the mall proselytizing anyone who would listen in an attempt to get others to join their group
Turpitude (n.) (TUR-puh-tood)
B) Turpitude means depravity, moral baseness.
The teacher was fired for moral turpitude when he was caught making out with a student
Prosaic (adj.) (proh-ZAY-ik)
B) Prosaic means commonplace, dull, unimaginative, ordinary, humdrum.
Andy lived in the fast lane and had nothing but contempt for the prosaic suburban life his brother led
Prodigy (n.) (PRAHD-ug-jee)
Prodigy refers to:
A. A talented child
B. A little known fact
C. A challenge
D. An act of defiance
E. An obscure reference
A) A prodigy is a person, especially a child or young person, having extraordinary talent or ability.
Lewis was a child prodigy, who played a violin solo in Carnegie Hall at the age of nine
Refute (v.) (ri-FYOOT)
To refute means:
A. To dislike
B. To wonder
C. To question
D. To insult
E. To disprove
E) To refute is to disprove, to show to be wrong.
Sonja refuted the testimony of her neighbor with pictures that showed the hedge did, in fact, extend onto her property
Exhaustive (adj.) (ig-ZAWS-tiv)
D) Exhaustive means painstakingly thorough, complete.
After an exhaustive search for the missing necklace, we gave it up for lost. There was simply no place else to look
Chagrin (n.) (shuh-GRIN)
Chagrin refers to:
C) Chagrin is embarrassment, humiliation, often combined with disappointment.
Much to her chagrin, Betty realized that the man she had just brushed aside was the world-famous journalist she had invited to give the keynote address at the club’s annual banquet
Tangential (adj.) (tan-JEN-schul)
A. Not especially relevant
B. Extending from
C. One in the same
D. Alienated from
E. Similar to
A) Tangential means superficially connected, not especially relevant.
His speech was tangential to the announced topic. We came to hear a talk on pollution, but he focused mostly on crime
Stigmatize (v.) (STIG-muh-tyze)
To stigmatize is:
A. To avoid completely
B. To brand with disgrace
C. To return unused
D. To charm
E. To cripple
B) To stigmatize is to brand with disgrace, to label as shameful.
Lucy was fearful that being seen buying clothes at the thrift shop would stigmatize her in the eyes of her wealthy classmates
Condescend (v.) (KAHN-duh-send)
To condescend means:
A. To go backwards
B. To go up
C. To go down
D. To talk down to
E. To go against the grain
D) To condescend means to talk down to, to patronize, to treat people in a way that implies you are superior to them.
Norman thinks the circus is for little kids, and it took a lot of coaxing before he finally condescended to come along
Emigrate (v.) (EM-uh-grayt)
To emigrate means:
A. To cross the length of
B. To arrive in a new country
C. To leave one’s country
D. To wander around
E. To go on vacation
C) To emigrate means to leave one’s country to take up residence in another. Do not confuse it with immigrate, which means to arrive in a new country from another.
Boris emigrated from Russia and came as an immigrant to the United States
Enfranchise (v.) (en-FRAN-chyze)
To enfranchise means:
A. To own a chain store
B. To grant the rights of citizenship
C. To imitate French culture
D. To give permission
E. To invite
B) To enfranchise means to grant the rights of citizenship, especially the right to vote.
Women in the U.S. were enfranchised by the Nineteenth Amendment.
Before its passage in 1920, they were not allowed to vote
Torpor (n.) TOR-pur)
E) Torpor means sluggishness, apathy, inertia.
His boring lecture did nothing to alter the torpor of the students, most of whom were dozing or doodling, none of whom cared what was being discussed
Increment (n.) (IN-cruh-munt)
A. An increase
B. An error
C. A crack
D. A bad break
E. A peak
A) An increment is an increase, especially one in a series of increases.
“The increment in salary I receive each year only serves to push me into a higher tax bracket,” Kevin complained
Viable (adj.) (VYE-uh-bul)
B. Able to pulse
C. Capable of living
C) Viable means capable of living.
A fetus is viable when it is able to live outside of its mother’s womb.
The meaning of viable also is also extended to mean workable.
After weeks of haggling, the committee finally agreed on a viable plan
Duplicity (n.) (doo-PLIS-uh-tee)
E. Double vision
D) Duplicity means deception, double-dealing, the act of being two-faced.
Jeanette had three men each believing he was the love of her life until her duplicity was discovered, and then she was alone
Fraternal (adj.) (fru-TUR-nul)
E) Fraternal means brotherly, like, of, or befitting brothers.
There was not much fraternal feeling between the boys, in fact, they hated one another.
The meaning of fraternal is extended to include a men’s organization.
My uncle belonged to a fraternal organization, but I can’t remember if it was the Lion’ Club or the Elk’s Club.
In the case of twins, fraternal means not identical
Ineffable (adj.) (in-EF-uh-bul)
B) Ineffable means inexpressible, beyond the ability of words to convey.
Saul did not believe his poems did Rebecca’s ineffable beauty justice
Homogeneous (adj.) (hoh-muh-JEE-nee-us)
Homogeneous refers to:
A. Loving those of the same sex
B. Things having a similar nature
C. Boring things
D. Being interested in only one thing
E. Having clarity
B) Homogeneous means having a similar nature, essentially alike.
The students at my prep school were a homogeneous group. They all came from upper class backgrounds, all spent summers abroad, and all drove very nice cars
Pivotal (adj.) (PIV-uh-tul)
C) Pivotal means crucial, critically important, that upon which something is contingent, that upon which it turns.
Maggie’s running into the cute boy from Boston was pivotal in her decision to choose Harvard over Princeton
Mercenary (adj.) (MUR-suh-ner-ee)
A. Motivated by money
E. Without sympathy
A) Mercenary means to be motivated by money alone.
Rupert soon lost his youthful ideals and became blatantly mercenary, caring about nothing but the bottom line.
As a noun, mercenary refers to a person who does something strictly for money, usually a soldier for hire, someone who fights for causes, not out of belief in their rightness, but for the pay
Moribund (adj.) (MOR-uh-bund)
E) Moribund means near death, dying.
As Kathy walked through the moribund downtown area with its empty stores and “going out of business” signs, she realized the true effect so many malls had on the heart of a city
Fortuitous (adj.) (for-TOO-uh-tus)
C) Fortuitous means accidental, happening by chance. It often carries a secondary implication of lucky.
Yolanda had a fortuitous accident. The man whose car she backed into ended up marrying her
Hypothetical (adj.) (hye-puh-THET-uh-kul)
C) Hypothetical means theoretical, supposed, presumed, unproven. A hypothetical example is something made up that illustrates a situation. A hypothetical statement or question often begins with the word “if”.
Our economics assignment was to create a business plan for a hypothetical company
Inherent (adj.) (in-HAYR-unt)
A. Passed down
C. Common to many
D) Inherent means intrinsic, part of the essential nature of something.
Heat and humidity are inherent to the tropics. They are an unavoidable part of living in South America
Paternal (adj.) (puh-TER-nul)
A) Paternal means fatherly or father-like.
Marven had very paternal feelings toward his nephew, and often took him to ball games and gave him fatherly advice
Espouse (v.) (e-SPOWZ)
To espouse is:
A. To consider
B. To obligate
C. To desire
D. To protect
E. To advocate
E) To espouse is to advocate, to support.
Celeste espoused equality for women long before it became popular to do so
Foible (n.) (FOY-bul)
A. A humorous situation
B. A slight flaw
C. An incorrect word usage
D. A weak position
E. A funny story
B) A foible is a slight flaw, a minor weakness or character defect.
Among Dick’s foibles was a tendency to leave the toilet seat up and leave his dirty underwear in the middle of the floor
Volition (n.) (voh-LISH-un)
Volition refers to:
B) Volition refers to the exercise of will or choice.
Sue complained a lot, but lacked the volition to change her situation
Sloth (n.) (slawth)
C) Sloth means laziness, sluggishness, listlessness, dislike of work or exercise.
Pete could not tolerate Pam’s sloth. All she wanted to do was sit around and watch soap operas.
As a noun, a sloth refers to any of several tropical American mammals that have long-clawed toes, move very slowly, and live in trees
Sobriety (n.) (suh-BRYE-uh-tee)
Sobriety refers to:
B. The tendency to judge
D. Abstinence from alcohol
D) Sobriety refers to abstinence from alcohol.
Marvin had eight years of sobriety under his belt, and he gave all the credit to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Sobriety also refers to seriousness.
It was with great sobriety that he announced he would not run for office again
Repercussion (n.) (ree-pur-KUSH-un)
A repercussion is:
A. A vibration
B. A consequence
C. A drumbeat
D. A long-awaited event
E. A duplication
B) A repercussion is a consequence; an effect that is often indirect.
Walter had no idea that the repercussions of his decision to drop out of college would be so devastating
Unremitting (adj.) (un-ree-MIT-ing)
B. Failing to pay
C) Unremitting means persistent, ceaseless, relentless.
The unremitting noise from her neighbors stereo kept Shawna awake all night
Autonomous (adj.) (aw-TAHN-uh-mus)
D) Autonomous means self-directed, not controlled by another, independent.
The investigation proved that the gunman was autonomous; he had acted alone and was not connected with any group
Rudimentary (adj.) (roo-duh-MEN-tuh-ree)
E) Rudimentary means basic, elementary, relating to the earliest stages of development.
Warren had only a rudimentary understanding of French. He could ask for directions, but could not carry on a conversation
Faction (n.) (FAK-shun)
A faction refers to:
A. A disagreement
B. A part of a whole number
C. A group within a group
D. A section of a text
E. A filtering device
C) A faction is a smaller group or clique within a larger group formed around a viewpoint that is not shared by the whole group.
Within the Republican Party, there is a faction that supports Bob Dole and another that supports Dan Quail
Debilitate (v.) (di-BIL-uh-tayt)
To debilitate means:
A. To weaken
B. To put down
C. To undo
D. To refresh
E. To ruin
A) To debilitate is to weaken, to cripple.
Franklin Roosevelt was debilitated by polio, but went on to become a great president in spite of it
Extol (v.) (IK-STOHL)
A. To delete
B. To praise
C. To scold
D. To wander
E. To point
B) Extol means to praise.
After hearing the guest speaker extol the virtues of classical music, we all went out and bought compact discs with the music of Bach and Beethoven
Complicity (n.) (kum-PLIS-uh-tee)
B. Participation in wrong-doing
C. Self-satisfied involvement
D. Half-hearted support
E. A cover-up
B) Complicity means participation in wrongdoing; it refers to the act of being an accomplice.
It was the guard’s complicity that made the jail-break possible
Serendipity (n.) (ser-un-DIP-uh-tee)
Serendipity refers to:
C. Good luck
D. Being carefree
C) Serendipity means the faculty of attracting good fortune, the good fortune itself.
It was pure serendipity that led us to the lost girl. We just happened to see a bird fly by with her mitten in his mouth
Replenish (v.) (ri-PLEN-ish)
To replenish means:
A. To offer advice
B. To revisit
C. To do over
D. To over-do
E. To fill again
E) To replenish means to fill again, to re-supply, to restore
“If we don’t replenish our supplies,” said Marcus, “we will soon be going to bed hungry
Stricture (n.) (STRIK-chur)
A stricture is:
A. A stitch
B. A limitation
C. A passage from the Bible
D. A rule
E. A flaw
B) A stricture is a limitation, a criticism, a constriction
In spite of the strictures of working two jobs, Kyle was able to coach the team
Desultory (adj.) (DES-ul-tor-ee)
A) Desultory means aimless, without plan or purpose, random, disconnected.
After a few desultory attempts at painting, Bart gave up on being an artist and took up carpentry
Infamous (adj.) (IN-fuh-mus)
B. Obscure and forgotten
C. Having a bad reputation
D. Being a legend
C) Infamous means having a bad reputation, famous in a negative way.
Adolph Hitler was the infamous dictator who was responsible for the holocaust
Acute (adj.) (uh-KYOOT)
B) Acute means intense, sharp, penetrating. An acute illness is one that becomes intense very quickly. An acute mind is one that is sharp and penetrating.
His acute vision showed him things that others failed to notice or simply could not see
A) Cryptic means mystifying, mysterious, ambiguous, abrupt and puzzling.
Her cryptic comments hinted that something special was about to happen, but she refused to elaborate on what it might be
Antithesis (n.) (an-TITH-uh-sus)
An antithesis is:
A. An argument
B. A dislike
C. A choice
D. An example
E. An opposite
E) An antithesis is a direct opposite, a contrast.
She was the antithesis of beauty with a big nose, bugged eyes, and a great brown wart on her chin
Contrite (adj.) (kun-TRYTE)
B) Contrite means remorseful, admitting of guilt, penitent.
Roseanne was truly contrite about the harsh words she had spoken in anger
Peruse (v.) (puh-ROOZ)
To peruse means:
A. To express clearly
B. To read carefully
C. To skim over
D. To use again
E. To prepare
B) To peruse means to read carefully, to survey or examine in detail.
Every Sunday she perused the paper looking for the perfect job
Indignant (adj.) (in-DIG-nunt)
A) Indignant means displeased, angry, provoked.
Marty was highly indignant at the suggestion that he might not finish the term at the top of his class
Volatile (adj.) VAHL-uh-tul)
A) Volatile means explosive, highly unstable.
Be careful what you say to Frank. He has a bad temper and is known to be volatile.
Volatile also means quick to evaporate.
Gasoline is a very volatile liquid.
Sometime volatile is also used to mean fleeting or transient.
Thinking back on her volatile youth, Savannah marveled at how quickly time passed
Ingenuous (adj.) (in-JEN-yoo-us)
D) Ingenuous means candid, sincere, forthright, without deception, charmingly na?ve.
We were hesitant to approach her because we had heard she was a witch, but her ingenuous manner put us instantly at ease
Ponderous (adj.) (PAHN-dur-us)
B) Ponderous means heavy, massive, weighted down.
It costs us millions of dollars to crank up our ponderous military machine to attack.
Sometimes ponderous also carries the implication of dull.
Holiday meals should not be ponderous affairs
Altruism (n.) (AL-troo-iz-um)
Altruism refers to:
A. Constantly stating the obvious
C. Devotion to the welfare of others
D. Telling more than one wants to hear
E. Maintaining fair business practices
C) Altruism means a devotion to the welfare of others, selfless generosity.
Mother Theresa was known for her altruism. She devoted her life to selfless service
Secular (adj.) SEK-yuh-lur)
B) Secular means worldly, having nothing to do with religion or with spiritual concerns.
The monk had many secular interests, including gardening, playing the flute, and studying ancient history
Fatuous (adj.) (FACH-oo-us)
A) Fatuous means foolish, silly, idiotic.
His poetry was filled with fatuous images of flying cows and green sunflowers
Tenuous (adj.) (TEN-yoo-us)
E) Tenuous means flimsy, thin or slender in form, like a thread.
He survived the accident, but his hold on life was tenuous, and we could only pray that the ambulance would arrive in time
Degenerate (v.) (di-JEN-uh-rayt)
A. To move backwards
B. To deteriorate
C. To slow down
D. To specify
E. To explain
B) To degenerate means to deteriorate, to break down.
As the hours passed and help did not arrive, the trapped student’s morale began to degenerate.
As an adjective, degenerate means a state of deterioration.
He lived in such a degenerate neighborhood that his friends were afraid to visit.
As a noun degenerate means a person who has declined to a state that is morally below the norm.
My mother claimed my sister’s boyfriend was nothing but a degenerate who refused to work and had no morals
A. Having good posture
B. Having good manners
D. Of noble birth
D) Aristocratic means of noble birth.
Elizabeth came from an aristocratic family that disowned her when she ran off with the butler
Marshal (v.) (MAHR-shul)
To marshal is:
A. To dominate
B. To search for
C. To arrange
D. To mark
E. To hold back
C) To marshal is to arrange in order.
He marshaled his facts so that when he made his presentation no one could question the validity of his position.
To marshal also means to gather together for the purpose of doing something.
Mrs. Jones marshaled her brood of nine children into the living room, where she informed them that they had been evicted.
As a noun, marshal can refer to a military officer of high rank, as in a French field marshal
Impugn (v.) (im-PYOON)
To impugn is:
A. To slap
B. To cast doubt upon
C. To ignore completely
D. To incite to riot
E. To call attention to
B) To impugn is to cast doubt upon, to challenge the truth or integrity of someone or something.
People might question Fred’s judgment, but no one could impugn his integrity. I have never known him to tell a lie
Iconoclast (n.) (eye-KAHN-uh-klast)
An iconoclast is someone who:
A. Attacks popular beliefs
B. Is old fashioned
C. Puts on airs
D. Refuses to change
E. Has a wide variety of interests
A) An iconoclast is someone who attacks popular beliefs. Originally it meant someone who opposed the use of icons or sacred images and destroyed them.
Stephen was an iconoclast who was always pushing people’s buttons by challenging what they believed
Enervate (v.) EN-ur-vayt)
To enervate is:
A. To calm
B. To fluster
C. To excite
D. To strengthen
E. To weaken
E) To enervate is to weaken, to reduce the strength or energy of, especially in a gradual way.
Enervated by the extreme heat, the garden club spent the afternoon sipping lemonade instead of weeding
Futile (adj.) (FYOOT-ul)
C) Futile means hopeless, useless, ineffective, incapable of producing a result.
When Sarah realized that it was futile to try and change Peter’s mind, she stopped asking him not to go
Spawn (v.) (spawn)
To spawn is:
A. To bring forth
B. To reject
C. To hold back
D. To ignore
E. To criticize
A) To spawn is to bring forth, to produce in large number.
The police were concerned that the bizarre murder might spawn copycat killings
Disparate (adj.) (DIS-pur-it)
A) Disparate means different, dissimilar, distinct in kind.
Wendy and Ted had such disparate interests, outlooks, and backgrounds that no one was surprised when their marriage broke up after only a year
Preclude (v.) (pri-KLOOD)
To preclude means:
A. To consider
B. To forget entirely
C. To decide in advance
D. To make impossible
E. To invite
D) To preclude means to make impossible.
Joan’s disability precluded her ever being an Olympic athlete
Efface (v.) (I-FAYS)
To efface means:
A. To erase
B. To mar
C. To confront
D. To stand up to
E. To look away
A) To efface means to erase, to rub away, to wipe out, to do away with.
Try as she might, Carla was unable to efface the painful memories of her childhood.
Do not confuse efface with deface, which means to mar.
Efface also means to make (usually oneself) inconspicuous, to modestly withdraw.
Because of her self-effacing remarks, people did not realize the important contributions she made
Tenacious (adj.) (tuh-NAY-shus)
B) Tenacious means persistent, stubborn, not letting go.
“It is because of one man’s tenacious efforts that we are all still here,” said the president of the tenant’s association. Clifford refused to give up, and didn’t let us give up either
Sanguine (adj.) (SANG-gwin)
A. Cheerfully optimistic
A) Sanguine means cheerful, optimistic, hopeful.
Darlene remained sanguine even in defeat. Nothing ever seemed to get her down.
Sanguine also means reddish or ruddy.
Brigit had a sanguine complexion, as do many folks who share her Irish heritage
Tirade (n.) (TYE-rayd)
A tirade is:
A. A dictator
B. A rant
C. A belief
D. A cornerstone
E. An explosion
B) A tirade is a rant, a prolonged bitter speech, an outspoken denunciation.
Judy’s tirade against television talk shows surprised us. We had no idea she felt so strongly about the matter
Salutary (adj.) (SAL-yuh-ter-ee)
B) Salutary means beneficial, healthful, curative, wholesome.
Gerry is always promoting the salutary effects of vitamins
Perfidy (n.) (PUR-fuh-dee)
D) Perfidy means treachery, a deliberate breach of faith.
James Madison stated impeachment was a necessary precaution against “the incapacity, negligence or perfidy of the chief Magistrate.”
Rogue (n.) (rohg)
A rogue is:
A. A wanderer
B. A gentleman
C. A comic
D. A runaway
E. A scoundrel
E) A rogue is a scoundrel.
A rogue is someone who can’t be trusted, but the word is often used to describe someone who is playfully mischievous.
Robin Hood and his band of merry rogues roamed the British countryside robbing the rich and giving to the poor
Hierarchy (n.) (HYE-uh-rahr-kee)
A hierarchy is:
A. A habitual pattern
B. An angel
C. A ruling elite
D. A decree
E. A pecking order
E) A hierarchy is a pecking order, a system of ranking.
When we started the group, our goal was to avoid creating a hierarchy and to function as a circle of equals
Pejorative (adj.) (pi-JOR-uh-tiv)
D) Pejorative means negative, disparaging, derogatory, having a belittling effect.
He constantly described his wife in pejorative terms such as blubbery, stupid, and lazy
Eminent (adj.) (EM-uh-nunt)
B. About to happen
D) Eminent means well known and respected, distinguished, noteworthy, prominent.
The eminent scientist had won a Nobel Prize and had his books published in thirty-two languages
Contrived (adj.) kun-TRYVED
A. Hastily thrown together
B) Contrived means artificial, calculated, forced, strained.
I was very angry, but could not show it until my husband’s boss left. I hoped my smile did not seem too contrived
Caricature (n.) (KAR-uh-kuh-chur)
A caricature is:
A. A miniature picture
B. A distorted portrait
C. A keepsake
D. A personality profile
E. A kook
B) A caricature is a distorted portrait that exaggerates certain features.
Caricatures of Jay Leno invariably have huge chins
Engender (v.) (en-JEN-dur)
To engender means:
A. To offer
B. To surround
C. To exemplify
D. To create
E. To stir up
D) To engender means to bring into existence, to create, to cause.
The announcement that Michael Jordon would speak at graduation engendered much excitement in the senior class
Hiatus (n.) (hye-AY-tus)
A hiatus is:
A. A mission
B. A fight
C. A break
D. A lump
E. A whirlwind
C) A hiatus is a break or interruption, often from work.
We will take a short hiatus from folding the brochures, after which we will work all night
Furtive (adj.) (FUR-tiv)
A) Furtive means secretive, sly, clandestine.
Jamie flashed his wife a furtive look indicating that he really wanted to leave the dinner party, but she ignored him, and he didn’t want to make a scene
Inundate (v.) (IN-un-dayt)
To inundate means:
A. To please
B. To frustrate
C. To drain
D. To strike
E. To flood
E) To inundate means to flood or to overwhelm.
When the volcano exploded, the river changed course, and the basin was inundated with water.
Every summer Cape Cod is inundated with tourists
Ideology (n.) (eye-dee-AHL-uh-jee)
Ideology refers to:
A. Political doctrine
B. Religious ritual
C. Inherited tradition
D. Information processing
E. Sexual orientation
A) Ideology refers to a set of doctrines or beliefs, especially as relates to the political or social realm. If you believe in progress and reforms, you might be said to have a liberal ideology. If you believe in tradition and keeping things as they were in the past, you might be said to have a conservative ideology.
Communism is an ideology that few people still take seriously, since most see the collapse of the Soviet Union as proof of its failure
Redundant (adj.) (ri-DUN-dunt)
If something is redundant, it is:
C. An unnecessarily duplication
E. Stupidly stubborn
C) Redundant means an unnecessary duplication, using too many words to express the same idea. “Early every morning, we get up at dawn,” is redundant, because dawn only happens early.
The teacher marked Sam down a grade for being redundant. He repeated himself so often; even the title of his paper was “Tendencies Found In Men of the Male Gender.”
A redundant purchase would be one that duplicates something you already have
Unwitting (adj.) (un-WIT-ing)
E) Unwitting means unintentional, unaware, without knowing.
By leaving the door unlocked, Seth became the robbers unwitting accomplice
Frugal (adj.) (FROO-gul)
B) Frugal means thrifty, economical, not wasteful. People who are frugal are very careful with their available resources, but frugal does not have the negative connotation that “cheap” does.
While unemployed, Marcia lived in a frugal manner, eating mostly rice and beans, never running air conditioning, and only turning on those lights that were absolutely necessary
Congenital (adj.) (kun-JEN-UH-TUL)
A. With gentleness
B. Flowing easily
C. Not simple
D. From birth
D) Congenital means from birth, inborn, inherent. Anything you are born with is considered congenital.
Robbie’s blindness was congenital, so he knew nothing else. He could not imagine what color was
Incense (v.) (in-SENS)
To incense means:
A. To erase
B. To interest
C. To inhale smoke
D. To enrage
E. To blur
D) To incense means to enrage, to make very angry.
Irina was incensed to learn that her sister had gone out on a date with her ex-husband.
As a noun, incense means a substance burned for its fragrant smoke.
The new age store carries many kinds of incense in both sticks and cones
Ruminate (v.) (ROO-muh-nayt)
To ruminate means:
A. To ponder
B. To idle
C. To hold back
D. To resent
E. To wander
A) Ruminate means to ponder, to contemplate. It comes from a Latin word meaning “chew”, and when you ruminate, you mentally chew on something. Cows and other animals that chew their cud are called ruminants.
Kevin spent four days ruminating on the pros and cons of the situation before finally coming to a decision
Sporadic (adj.) (spuh-RAD-ik)
A. In seed form
B. Nervous all the time
C. Appearing now and then
D. Having jerky movements
E. In a continuous flow
C) Sporadic means appearing now and then or appearing in bursts every once in a while. If something is sporadic it is not constant.
After listening to the weather report we feared a downpour, but there were only sporadic sprinkles of rain throughout an otherwise nice day
Reparation (n.) (rep-uh-RAY-shun)
Reparation refers to:
A. Compensation for past wrongs
B. Guilt over wrong-doing
C. The making of threats
D. A glossing over of truth
E. Something given out of obligation
A) Reparation refers to compensation for a wrong or an injury. To make amends for something you did that was hurtful in order to repair the damage is to make reparations. This word is often used in the plural.
Larry spent the whole summer tending Mrs. Aiken’s garden and mowing her lawn as reparations for the damage his dog did to her plants in the spring
Tenable (adj.) (TEN-uh-bul)
D) Tenable means defensible. A tenable position is one that makes sense, that can be backed up.
Jeremy’s notion that he could get an A by merely visualizing himself receiving that grade was not tenable because he did not back it up by studying
Imperial (adj.) (im-PEER-ee-ul)
A. Of high quality
B. Like an emperor
B) Imperial means like an emperor or an empire.
The Japanese Imperial Family does not have private wealth like Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, but does enjoy the nation’s respect.
Figuratively, imperial is used to express majesty, magnificence, opulence, and the like.
Joan Rivers gave her daughter a wedding of imperial splendor
Adherent (n.) (ad-HEER-unt)
An adherent is:
A. A sticky situation
B. A faithful supporter
C. Something added later
D. A well-wisher
E. An explanation
B) An adherent is a faithful supporter, follower, or believer.
Jim Jones was a cult leader who enticed his adherents to Guyana where he inspired 900 of them to commit suicide
Utilitarian (adj.) (yoo-til-uh-TAR-ee-un)
C. Stressing usefulness
D. Stressing beauty
C) Utilitarian means functional, stressing usefulness above beauty or other qualities.
Carl was only interested in the vehicle’s utilitarian aspects – did it have four wheel drive, how large a trailer could it pull, and what kind of gas mileage did it get? He did not care at all what color it was or if it had a CD player
Denizen (n.) (DEN-I-zun)
A denizen is:
A. An inhabitant
B. A cave
C. A hiding place
D. An elite group
E. A forerunner
A) A denizen is an inhabitant, and occupant. A poetic clich? refers to fish as “denizens of the deep.”
When we develop woodlands, we are showing no respect for the rabbits, deer, chipmunks and other denizens who make the forest their home.
When you hear someone spoken of as the denizen of a restaurant, bar, or caf?, it means they are there so much, it is to them a home away from home
Flaunt (v.) (flawnt)
To flaunt is to:
A. To ridicule
B. To wave
C. To seduce
D. To hide
E. To show off
E) To flaunt is to show off, to try and impress others with a display.
Elaine flaunted her new financial status by constantly complaining about difficulties with her servants and by making sure we all knew how much she paid for her clothes
Incantation (n.) (in-kan-TAY-shun)
An incantation is:
A. A potion
B. A spell book
C. A chant
D. A sacred stone
E. A sacrament
C) An incantation is a chant or words repeated as a chant, with the intention of creating an effect, often with the intention to do magic
The suburban witches met at the full moon to dance and drum and mumble incantations intended to make them more powerful
Exasperate (v.) (ig-ZAS-puh-rayt)
To exasperate is:
A. To let the air out
B. To inhale deeply
C. To annoy greatly
D. To question
E. To exhaust
C) To exasperate is to thoroughly annoy, to irritate to the point of total frustration. To be exasperated is to be at the end of one’s rope.
Carole was so exasperated by her husband’s constant flirting with other women that she considered getting a divorce
Invective (n.) in-VEK-tiv)
Invective refers to:
A. Abusive speech
B. Complete order
E. Hidden meaning
A) Invective means abusive speech, a violent attack in words.
When Sylvia referred to the president as a fear-slurping demon, Janis took the opportunity to try and explain how her constant use of invective made people write her off as an lunatic
Inveterate (adj.) in-VET-ur-it)
D) Inveterate means habitual, deeply rooted, firmly established.
Lou was an inveterate smoker who went through two packs a day and had no intention of quitting
Tautological (adj.) (tawt-uh-LAH-juh-kul)
A. Uselessly repetitive
C. Hard to understand
D. Following strict rules
A) Tautological means uselessly repetitive, redundant, displaying circular reasoning.
“She went to school every day and maintained perfect attendance” is a tautological statement.
In logic, a tautological statement leaves no possibility out. “We will either go or we will stay” is an example of such a statement.
Also considered tautological is stating a fact to be its own reason. “Our company tests for intelligence by giving intelligence tests” is an example
Conducive (adj.) (kun-DOO-siv)
B) Conducive means favorable or helpful, promoting.
The caf? is no longer conducive to studying since they began featuring live music there
Founder (v.) (FOWN-dur)
To founder means:
A. To sink
B. To instigate
C. To plan
D. To reach for
E. To strengthen
A) To founder means to fill with water and sink.
As the storm intensified, I became fearful that the ship would founder.
In a more general sense, founder is used to mean collapse, or fail.
In spite of Lonnie’s hard work, his business foundered after only six months.
As a noun, a founder is one who establishes something.
Every year on July 23, we celebrate Founder’s Day to commemorate the man who established our small town back in 1789
Idiosyncrasy (n.) (id-ee-oh-SINK-ruh-see)
An idiosyncrasy is:
A. A peculiarity
B. A lie
C. A joke
D. A habit
E. A talent
A) An idiosyncrasy is a peculiarity, and eccentricity.
Setting a place for the cat at the dinner table is just one of Reggie’s idiosyncrasies
Inert (adj.) (in-URT)
E) Inert means inactive, sluggish, not reacting chemically.
According to many environmental groups, the inert ingredients in pesticides can be more toxic than the active ingredient
Ebullient (adj.) (i-BUL-yunt)
E) Ebullient means bubbling with enthusiasm, exuberant.
Mark was ebullient at the thought of a week in the Yucatan with Jackie
Ramification (n.) (ram-uh-fuh-KAY-shun)
A ramification is:
A. A barricade
B. An explosion
C. An instruction
D. A supporting beam
E. A consequence
E) A ramification is a consequence, an offshoot, a result.
It is clear that Dennis did not consider the ramifications of getting drunk the night before final exams and was horrified to wake up two hours late with dry mouth and a pounding headache
Prolific (adj.) (proh-LIF-ik)
C. Supportive of
D. In favor of
B) Prolific means fruitful. fertile, producing many offspring.
A 1960s icon often considered a spokesperson for his generation, Bob Dylan remains one of the most popular and prolific American songwriters, having written hundreds of songs and put out over 45 albums
Purported (adj.) (pur-PORT-id)
E. Hoped for
C) Purported means claimed, alleged, put forth.
The robbers were purported to have gotten away with over a million dollars in gold
Redolent (adj.) (RED-uh-lunt)
D. Left over
A) Redolent means fragrant, aromatic, having a pleasant smell.
Mrs. Carson has a particularly redolent gardenia bush that you can smell from half a block away
Palliate (v.) PAL-ee-ayt)
To palliate means:
A. To puncture
B. To relieve
C. To advise
D. To keep busy
E. To calm down
B) To palliate means to relieve, to lessen without curing.
Sue was in hopes that the new drug would palliate her symptoms until surgery could correct the problem
Profound (adj.) (pruh-FOUND)
C. Very deep
C) Profound means very deep, penetrating. A book that causes one to think or feel deeply is said to be profound. A profound respect is a deep respect.
The princess fell into a profound slumber and did not awaken until the prince kissed her
Maxim (n.) (MAK-sim)
A maxim is:
A. A proverb
B. A demand
C. An excuse
D. A clue
E. A premise
A) A maxim is a proverb or short rule of conduct.
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” is my mother’s favorite maxim
Introspective (adj.) (in-truh-SPEC-tiv)
A. Similar to
D) Introspective means inward, inclined to examine one’s thoughts and feelings.
Eileen spent an introspective summer, writing in her journal and thinking about how her childhood experiences influenced her present situation
Servile (adj.) (SUR-vyle)
B) Servile means submissive, like a servant or slave.
When Martha said she had to get off the phone to draw her husband’s bath, Jeanne was appalled at how servile she had become since getting married
Culminate (v.) (KUL-muh-nayt)
To culminate means:
A. To punish
B. To climax
C. To waste
D. To praise
E. To ponder
B) To culminate means to climax or reach the highest point.
The prom culminated with the crowning of the queen. It was the high point of the evening
Astute (adj.) (uh-STOOT)
B. Hard to understand
C) Astute means shrewd, especially with regard to one’s interests, clever, crafty.
Jed was an astute businessman, who always managed to outfox his competition
Hedonism (n.) (HEED-uh-niz-um)
Hedonism refers to:
A. Modern art
E. The pursuit of pleasure
E) Hedonism means the pursuit of pleasure as a way of life.
Glenn fondly remembered his years of hedonism when all that mattered was good food, fine wine, and beautiful women
Tacit (adj.) (TAS-it)
E) Tacit means unspoken, implied, understood without being expressed.
When Yuri announced his plans at dinner, he took his parent’s silence as tacit agreement
Penitent (adj.) (PEN-uh-tunt)
B) Penitent means sorry, especially for sinning; contrite, repentant.
As a noun, a penitent is a person who is sorry for wrongdoing.
Each Friday evening, the penitents stopped by the church to confess their sins
Resolute (adj.) (REZ-uh-loot)
D. Having good intentions
B) Resolute means determined, firm, unwavering.
Most of us are not extremely resolute regarding our New Year’s resolutions. We often forget them by January 2
Imminent (adj.) (IM-uh-nunt)
C. About to happen
D. Inherently safe
C) Imminent means about to happen, almost certain to occur.
When an agreement could not be reached, war seemed imminent.
Do not confuse imminent with immanent, which means inherent or with eminent, which means prominent
Renaissance (n.) (REN-uh-sahns)
A. A rebirth
B. A dark age
C. A literary age
D. A call to arms
E. A retrospective
A) Renaissance means a rebirth, a revival. The Renaissance was a period in the 1300′s, 1400′s, and 1500′s when Europe experienced a great revival of art and literature.
When I returned to my hometown, I found the old neighborhood had undergone a renaissance. Caf?s and trendy shops filled the once dilapidated downtown area
Proletariat (n.) (porh-luh-TER-ee-ut)
Proletariat refers to:
A. Oppressed people
C. People with a left-wing philosophy
D. Artisans and craftspeople
E. The industrial working class
E) Proletariat refers to the industrial working class, including unskilled laborers, casual laborers, and tramps.
The Communists claimed the proletariat has nothing to lose but its chains. Their battle cry was “Workers of the World unite!”
Rancor (n.) (RANG-kur)
Rancor refers to:
A. Bad taste
B. Loud rattling
C. Verbal aggression
D. Bitter resentment
D) Rancor means bitter resentment, long-lasting ill will, extreme hatred or strife.
Marlin’s rancor over his failed business not only drove away his friends, but gave him an ulcer
Prudent (adj.) (PROO-dunt)
A) Prudent means careful, having foresight, sensible, planning ahead.
“I think it would be prudent to bring an umbrella,” said Danielle. “I heard on the radio that there is a 70 percent chance of rain later on.”
Deride (v.) (di-RYDE)
A. To get off of
B. To ridicule
C. To leave
D. To ignore
E. To punish
B) To deride is to ridicule, to laugh at contemptuously, to mock.
The other boys derided Gregg mercilessly for his clumsiness on the basketball court.
The noun form of deride is derision (di-RISZ-un)
Gregg stood tall in the face of their derision
Vestige (n.) (VES-tij)
A. An introduction
B. An example
C. A reminder
D. A forerunner
E. A trace
E) Vestige means a trace, a slight remnant.
The refugee searched through the rubble for some vestige of his old life
Plethora (n.) (PLETH-ur-uh)
A. A mess
B. A confusion
C. An excess
D. An excuse
E. A lack
C) Plethora means an excess, a super abundance, too much.
There was a plethora of desserts at the buffet, but very little healthy food
Peremptory (adj.) (puh-REMP-tuh-ree)
A. Leaving no choice
D. Without warning
A) Peremptory means leaving no choice, final, categorical, absolute, dictatorial.
The peremptory firings left Jack in a state of shock.
Do not confuse peremptory with preemptive or preemptory, which mean preventive, taken as a measure against some anticipated action
Solicitous (adj.) (suh-LIS-uh-tus)
B. Anxiously concerned
C. Trying to sell
E. Holding back
B) Solicitous means anxiously concerned; eager and attentive, almost to the point of hovering.
The solicitous waitress seemed to anticipate our needs before we spoke them
Implement (v.) (IM-pluh-munt)
To implement means:
A. To hold back
B. To maneuver
C. To work
D. To initiate
E. To carry out
E) To implement means to carry out, to provide with the means of carrying out.
This meeting will be about obtaining the skills and materials needed to implement the plans we made at the last meeting
Solvent (adj.) (SAHL-vunt)
A. Absent minded
B. Financially sound
C. Wildly profitable
B) Solvent means financially sound, not broke or bankrupt, able to pay one’s bills.
After three years of hard work, Kimberly’s gift shop finally became solvent, and she was thrilled not to have to rob Peter to pay Paul every month when the bills came in.
Solvent also means an agent that is able to dissolve.
The most universal solvent is water, but sometimes you need a stronger solvent, such as turpentine, to dissolve grease
Depravity (n.) di-PRAV-uh-tee)
A. Sexual openness
B. Love of pleasure
C. Extreme wickedness
C) Depravity refers to extreme wickedness, viciousness, or corruption.
To exhibit depravity is to be depraved.
It is horrifying how war can bring out depravity in otherwise kind and considerate human beings
Visionary (n.) (VIZH-uh-ner-ee)
A visionary is:
A. One who inspires
B. Someone with good eyesight
C. A psychic advisor
D. A dreamer
E. A saint
D) Generally visionary is used to refer to a dreamer, someone with impractical ideas about the future, someone who is very idealistic.
Meryl is a visionary who believes world peace could be achieved by giving children more of a say in how the government runs.
Visionary is also sometimes used to mean someone who is ahead of his or her times.
Leonardo da Vinci was a visionary who designed submarines, helicopters and parachutes back in the fifteenth century
Innate (adj.) (i-NAYT)
A. Freely given
E. Taken for granted
D) Innate means inborn, inherent, naturally a part of.
Joe had an innate ability for math. It always came easy for him, and by the time he was eight, he was doing algebra
Judicious (adj.) (joo-DISH-us)
B) Judicious means sensible; wise; having, using, or showing good judgment.
Helen was always very judicious in her food choices because, as a model, she could not afford to gain even one extra pound
Unconscionable (adj.) (un-KAHN-shuh-nuh-bul)
C) Unconscionable means unscrupulous, not controlled by conscience.
The way Willis conducted business was unconscionable. He used fear tactics and false advertising to sell his products, charged outlandish prices for poorly made goods, and did not pay his bills on time
Corollary (n.) (KOR-uh-ler-ee)
A corollary is:
A. An initial finding
B. A separate issue
C. An explanation
D. A heart attack
E. A natural consequence
E) A corollary is a natural consequence, something that follows, a logical extension.
The study showed that dull skin and frequent colds were corollaries of smoking cigarettes
Maudlin (adj.) (MAWD-lin)
E. Full of longing
A) Maudlin means overly sentimental, sentimental in a weak and silly way.
With every drink the man at the bar became more maudlin, going on and on about how much he missed his childhood, until he was literally crying in his beer
Laconic (adj.) (luh-KAHN-ik)
B) Laconic means concise, using few words. Someone who is laconic is quiet.
The laconic Calvin Coolidge was nicknamed Silent Cal. He only spoke when it was necessary
Mentor (n.) (MEN-tur)
A mentor is:
A. A competitor
B. A special counselor
C. A bully
D. A helper
E. A best friend
B) A mentor is a special counselor or teacher, a more experienced person who helps and/or sponsors a less experienced person. A mentor isn’t just any teacher or counselor, but one who takes a special interest and guides one over time.
Dulaney says that she owes much of her success to the fact that she had a wonderful mentor who showed her the ropes, guided her over the rough spots, and was always there to listen and give advice
Ambiguous (adj.) (am-BIG-yoo-us)
D. Able to use either hand
E. Having more than one meaning
E) Ambiguous means having more than one meaning, or open to several interpretations, and therefore confusing, not clearly defined.
Deirdre learned that when someone asked if they should take a left turn, to say “right” was ambiguous, and that “correct” was a much better response.
Do not confuse ambiguous with ambivalent, which means uncertain
Exalt (v.) (ig-ZAWLT)
To exalt means:
A. To commemorate
B. To depend upon
C. To celebrate
D. To mimic
E. To glorify
E) To exalt means to glorify or praise highly, to honor or elevate.
The preacher told his congregation that the lowly would be exalted and the high and mighty would fall from grace.
Do not confuse exalt with exult, which means to celebrate or be jubilant
Figurative (adj.) (FIG-yur-uh-tiv)
E. Not literal
E) Figurative means not literal; based on figures of speech; metaphorical.
When you speak of a burning desire or a heart that takes flight, you are being figurative.
When Barbara said that her car guzzled gas, she was using “guzzle” in the figurative sense
Husbandry (n.) (HUZ-bun-dree)
Husbandry relates to:
A) Husbandry relates to farming and agriculture. It means the cultivation and production of edible crops or the breeding of animals for food; agriculture; farming.
The young farmer’s group was dedicated to the practice of sound husbandry, and the protection of the animals’ welfare.
Husbandry is also used to mean the thrifty management of resources.
Urban husbandry requires finding solutions to problems that are unique to each neighborhood
Exacting (adj.) (ig-ZAK-ting)
C. Demanding of perfection
D. Precise in one’s speech
E. Always on time
C) Exacting means demanding of perfection, difficult, requiring great skill or precision, hard to please.
After dealing all day with the exacting task of brain surgery, Dr. Morris spent his evenings in front of the television.
To exact means to demand.
You cannot exact payment for work you have not done
Philanthropy (n.) (fi-LAN-thruh-pee)
Philanthropy refers to:
A. Deep thinking
E. Love of travel
B) Philanthropy refers to charity, to a love of mankind expressed through good deeds and helpfulness.
A philanthropist is one who gives large sums of money to charitable causes.
It was the philanthropy of the Adams family that made it possible to maintain the orphanage
Tentative (adj.) (TEN-tuh-tiv)
D) Tentative means uncertain or experimental.
Ronnie was tentative about his weekend plans, because he thought he might have to work.
You could also say: He took a few tentative steps onto the ice, but backtracked when he heard loud cracks
Peripatetic (adj.) (per-uh-peh-TET-ik)
B) Peripatetic means wandering, moving about, traveling from place to place, nomadic. When capitalized, it refers to the philosophy of Aristotle, who taught while walking.
Willis was a peripatetic musician, who traveled the country playing on street corners for handouts
Lugubrious (adj.) loo-GOO-bree-us)
C. Overly sad
C) Lugubrious means overly sad, sorrowful, exaggeratedly mournful, melancholy.
At the end of Saul’s lugubrious speech, the entire audience was in tears
Proprietary (adj.) (pruh-PRYE-uh-ter-ee)
A. Pertaining to ownership
B. Having good manners
C. Overly formal
A) Proprietary refers to ownership, especially of property. If you are proprietary about something, you are possessive and act as if you own it.
Although it was a community garden, Rusty took a proprietary interest in it, tending it as if it were her own.
Proprietary is also used to mean literal ownership. A proprietary drug is one that is patented so that only the owner of the patent may sell it
Advocate (v.) (ad-voh-KAYT)
To advocate means:
A. To dabble in
B. To interpret
C. To advise
D. To protect
E. To support
E) To advocate means to support, to speak or write in favor of, to recommend.
The professor advocated teaching foreign languages to children while they were still in grammar school.
As a noun, advocate is pronounced ad-voh-kit and means a supporter.
Gerry is an advocate of the four-day workweek
Latent (adj.) (LAYT-unt)
A. Disinterested, but open to reason
B. Present, but concealed
C. Unintended results
B) Latent means present, but inactive or concealed.
The AIDs virus can remain latent for up to ten years before any symptoms appear, but it can be transmitted during its latent stage
Mitigate (v.) (MIT-uh-gayt)
To mitigate means:
A. To excuse
B. To explain fully
C. To compromise
D. To make less severe
E. To hamper
D) To mitigate means to make less severe, make more bearable. When harshness is mitigated, it is made less forceful.
Angie’s disappointment at not making the cheerleading squad was mitigated by the fact that trying out had resulted in a date with the captain of the football team.
Unmitigated means not softened. If someone has unmitigated gall, it means they are boldly impudent
Sordid (adj.) (SOR-did)
C) Sordid means filthy or dirty.
He lived in a sordid little hut, strewn with newspapers and beer bottles.
Sordid also refers to moral baseness.
Mandy found the movie about the lives of prostitutes and drug pushers too sordid for her liking
Sensory (adj.) (SEN-suh-ree)
B. Able to predict the future
D. Pertaining to the senses
D) Sensory means pertaining the senses or sensation.
Babies require sensory stimulation in order to develop properly.
Extrasensory means beyond the senses. Clairvoyance is an extrasensory perception
Euphemism (n.) (YOO-fuh-miz-um)
A euphemism is:
A. A gentler way of saying something
B. A trite saying
C. An insincere flattery
D. A slang word
E. A self-serving statement
A) A euphemism is a gentler way of saying something. Sanitation engineer is a euphemism for janitor; pass away is a euphemism for dying.
Although the press used the euphemism “police action”, everyone knew they were really talking about a war
Polemic (n.) (pul-LEM-ik)
A polemic is:
A. An explanation
B. A controversial argument
C. An intellectual discussion
D. A false premise
E. An assumption
B) A polemic is a controversial argument.
Margo wished they could simply explore the issue without getting caught up in a polemic
Indolent (adj.) IN-duh-lunt)
E) Indolent means lazy, disliking of work, idle.
After winning the lottery, Keith was able to indulge his indolent nature and spend his days watching television and puttering in his backyard
Ignominy (n.) IG-nuh-min-ee)
Ignominy refers to:
C. Lack of prestige
D. Deep disgrace
D) Ignominy means deep disgrace, public shame or the loss of one’s good name.
The ignominy of having his affair exposed in the press made the young evangelist’s suicidal
Chaff (n.) (CHAF)
Chaff refers to:
A. That which rubs
B. That which itches
C. That which is worthless
D. That which remains
E. That which heals
C) Chaff refers to that which is worthless. Technically, it is the husks of grain that are separated during threshing.
“You need to separate the wheat from the chaff,” is good advice. Whether cleaning a closet or deciding if you should stay in a marriage, the first step is to decide what is valuable and what isn’t.
Do not confuse chaff with chafe, which means to make sore by rubbing or scraping
Overt (adj.) (oh-VURT)
B. Open to view
B) Overt means open to view, not hidden, apparent.
Myron’s overt dislike of Donny made the rest of us very uncomfortable. When he bothered to speak to him at all, he was openly rude
Impeccable (adj.) (im-PEK-uh-bul)
A) Impeccable means flawless, precise, perfectly executed.
The critics said Wanda was impeccable in her role as Queen Elizabeth, that she not only looked the part, but captured the monarch’s essence perfectly
Anachronism (n.) (uh-NAK-ruh-miz-um)
An anachronism is something that is:
C. Like a snake
D. Out of place in time
D) An anachronism is something that is out of place in time, often referring to a throwback to an earlier time.
Seeing she was the only woman in the church who wore a hat and white gloves made Maude feel like an anachronism. She longed for the good old days when ladies were ladies and wouldn’t dream of wearing pants to church
Cosmopolitan (adj.) (kahs-mo-PAHL-uh-tun)
C. Beautiful and sexy
D) Cosmopolitan means international, belonging to all parts of the world, comfortable anyplace, not limited to just one place, and, therefore, when referring to a person, sophisticated.
Melody wanted to live in a cosmopolitan city like New York, where she would be exposed to many different cultures and social classes instead of in a small town where everyone was just like her
Reprisal (n.) (ri-PRYE-zul)
A reprisal is:
A. A rebuttal
B. A rumor
C. A suggestion
D. A second opinion
E. A retaliation
E) A reprisal is a retaliation, an injury done in return for an injury, especially a military action taken in retaliation.
The American president warned the Iranians that there would be swift reprisals if they did not immediately release the hostages
Innocuous (adj.) (i-NAHK-yoo-us)
A. Foul smelling
B) Innocuous means harmless, not hurtful or injurious.
Bill thought his comment about Cynthia’s weight gain was an innocuous statement of fact, but she took it as a personal attack and refused to speak to him for three days
Precursor (n.) (pri-KUR-sur)
A precursor is:
A. A forerunner
B. A thrill
C. An evil spell
D. A plan
E. An intention
A) A precursor is a forerunner; an early stage, which gives rise to a more important stage.
Jose didn’t realize his cough was the precursor of a serious bout of pneumonia
Garrulous (adj.) GAR-uh-lus)
D) Garrulous means talkative, often about insignificant things; chatty, using too many words.
Alan’s garrulous nature made it difficult for him to stop talking long enough to really listen to what other’s were saying
Mellifluous (adj.) (muh-LIF-loo-us)
A. Sweetly flowing
B. Foul smelling
A) Mellifluous means sweetly or smoothly flowing; melodic; sweetened, as if with honey. Mellifluous is almost always used to describe sound.
Abe discovered that the mellifluous sound carried by the evening breeze was Corrine playing her cello on the porch of her cabin
Balm (n.) (BAHLM)
C. Something that heals
D. An outer coating
E. A fantasy
C) Balm refers to something that heals. Literally, a balm is a fragrant, oily, sticky substance obtained from certain kinds of trees, used to heal or to relieve pain; figuratively it refers to anything that has a healing or soothing influence. A balmy breeze is one that is mild, warm, and soothing.
At the end of a stressful day as a New York City social worker, Erin found music to be a balm that eased the sense of futility she felt at the pain and poverty she could do so little about
Loll (v.) (LAHL)
To loll means:
A. To swagger about
B. To lounge around
C. To drool a lot
D. To nap
E. To soothe
B) To loll is to lounge around, to recline or lean in a lazy manner.
“I will not tolerate you lolling around in your bathrobe all day,” Robbie’s mother declared on the first day of summer vacation. “There are chores to be done.”
To loll also means to dangle or hang loosely.
In her arms was a baby whose head lolled, unsupported
Magnanimous (adj.) (mag-NAN-uh-mous)
A. Forgiving and generous
B. Rich and powerful
C. Laid back and easygoing
D. Understanding and attentive
E. Soft and warm
A) Magnanimous means forgiving and generous, having a noble spirit, being free from pettiness.
When Henry apologized for being disrespectful, Mr. Lewis was magnanimous and told him there were no hard feelings
Protagonist (n.) (proh-TAG-uh-nist)
A protagonist is:
A. A leading character
B. A worthy opponent
C. A false friend
D. Someone who is irritating
E. Someone who goads
A) A protagonist is a leading character in a play, story, or movie; a champion, or hero.
As the play opens, the protagonist has just been released from prison and is heading home for the first time in twenty years
Rebut (v.) (ri-BUT)
To rebut is:
A. To retry
B. To ignore
C. To support
D. To refute
E. To react
D) To rebut means to refute, to disprove, to argue against, to contradict with evidence.
It is the job of a defense attorney to rebut the claims of the prosecuting attorney
Deleterious (adj.) (del-uh-tir-ee-us)
C) Deleterious means harmful, injurious.
Cigarette smoking is deleterious to your health
Sacrilege (n.) (SAK-ruh-lij)
A. Clinging to odd beliefs
B. Curiosity about mystical things
C. Religious awe
D. Disrespect of the sacred
E. Lacking a belief in god
D) Sacrilege means disrespect of the sacred, an intentional insult or injury to that which is sacred.
Charlotte thought Virginia’s stealing holy water from the church to water her plants was sacrilege
Inaugurate (v.) (in-AW-gyuh-rayt)
To inaugurate means:
A. To step forward
B. To create
C. To stop suddenly
D. To formally begin
E. To promise
D) To inaugurate means to formally begin, especially to install into office with a ceremony.
The first thing the new president did after being inaugurated was to inaugurate a no-smoking policy in the White House
Loquacious (adj.) (loh-KWAY-shus)
A) Loquacious means talkative.
The valedictorian was so loquacious that his speech extended the ceremony by a full half-hour. We thought he would never stop talking
Mercurial (adj.) (mur-KYOOR-ee-ul)
B) Mercurial usually means changeable, especially with regard to mood, fickle.
However mercurial derives its meaning from the god, Mercury, so is sometimes used to encompass other qualities of that god, such as liveliness, quick-wittedness, and shrewdness. Mercurial can also mean relating to the god Mercury or to the planet Mercury.
He was a mercurial young man who could go from smiles to rage and back again in the space of a conversation
Portly (adj.) (PORT-lee)
C) Portly means stout, usually in a manner that is stately and dignified. It means having a large body, but does not have such a negative implication as does “fat”.
He was a portly gentleman, who wore a carnation in his lapel and carried a cane
Recant (v.) (ree-CANT)
To recant means:
A. To take back what was previously said
B. To tell a story over and over
C. To move to a different container
D. To emphatically insist
E. To repair
A) To recant means to take back what was previously said.
When the police caught Norman, he immediately confessed, but after meeting with his lawyer, he recanted and said he would plead “not guilty”
Microcosm (n.) (MYE-kruh-kahz-um)
Microcosm refers to:
A. The essence of something
B. A totality
C. An offshoot of something bigger
D. A prime example
E. A world in miniature
E) Microcosm refers to a world in miniature.
In his term paper Damon showed how the world of atoms was a microcosm of the world of galaxies
Exacerbate (v.) (ig-ZAS-ur-bayt)
To exacerbate means:
A. To focus
B. To shrink
C. To embrace
D. To improve
E. To worsen
E) To exacerbate means to worsen, to increase in severity.
The cream the doctor gave him only served to exacerbate Brian’s skin condition. After using it, in addition to itching, his arm began to burn
Reproach (v.) (ri-PROHCH)
To reproach means:
A. To sneak
B. To scold
C. To avoid
D. To change one’s mind
E. To try again
B) To reproach means to scold, usually in disappointment or blame.
Veronica reproached her brother for forgetting their mother’s birthday.
Reproach can also be used as a noun meaning a criticism.
Lewis took her reproach to heart and never again forgot a family member’s birthday
Exonerate (v.) (ig-ZAHN-uh-rayt)
To exonerate means:
A. To make an example of
B. To relieve
C. To empty
D. To acknowledge superiority
E. To free from blame
E) To exonerate means to free from blame, to prove innocent.
I know Eli did not commit the robbery, and I expect the court to exonerate him
Audacity (n.) (aw-DAS-uh-tee)
C) Audacity means boldness, impudence, reckless daring.
The professor gasped when his young student had the audacity to tell the visiting physicist that she thought his theory did not hold water
Proliferate (v.) (proh-LIF-uh-rayt)
To proliferate means:
A. To blaze
B. To spread rapidly
C. To believe in
D. To lead the way
E. To ponder
B) To proliferate means to spread or grow rapidly, to multiply.
The Consumer Affairs Department warned that multi-level marketing schemes have proliferated in recent years and that many of them are scams
Reclusive (adj.) (ri-KLOOS-iv)
D) Reclusive means hermit-like, characterized by seclusion.
None of the neighborhood children had ever seen the reclusive neighbor, so they imagined her to be a witch.
A recluse is someone who lives in solitude, shut away from society.
Our next door neighbor was a recluse, who never left her house
Incorrigible (adj.) (in-KOR-uh-juh-bul)
A. Beyond correction
B. Incapable of rusting
C. Having no ridges
D. Hard to understand
A) Incorrigible means beyond correction, so entrenched, usually in badness, that there is no hope of change or improvement.
The judge determined that Millard was an incorrigible criminal who should spend his life in prison
Pungent (adj.) (pun-JINT)
D) Pungent means sharp, biting, especially in taste or smell.
Pungent humor is biting, caustic humor; a pungent wit is sharp and mentally stimulating.
The pungent aroma of curry filled the kitchen, reminding Radha of her home in India
Furtive (adj.) (Fur-TIV)
C) Furtive means secretive, stealthy, done in a way one hopes will not be noticed.
Jeremy glanced furtively around the room in hopes of spotting Samantha
Indulgent (adj.) (in-DUL-junt)
A) Indulgent means lenient; permissive; overly kind or agreeable; giving in to another’s wishes.
Becky was indulgent of Roberto’s sloppiness, believing that it was a normal male trait
Recalcitrant (adj.) (ri-KAL-suh-trunt)
A) Recalcitrant means stubbornly defiant of authority; disobedient, resistant. A recalcitrant virus is one that is resistant to a cure. A recalcitrant stain is one that will not come out.
In spite of being offered leniency if he provided the names of his accomplices in the robbery, Ralph remained recalcitrant, stating he would spend his life in prison before he ratted on his friends
Portent (n.) (POR-tent)
A portent is:
A. An opportunity
B. An omen
C. A doorway
D. An explanation
E. A confirmation
B) A portent is an omen of something coming in the future, a warning.
The wise men saw the star of Bethlehem as a portent that the savior’s birth was at hand
Derogatory (adj.) (di-RAHG-uh-tor-ee)
C) Derogatory means belittling, disapproving, disparaging, showing an unfavorable opinion of the person or thing in question. A derogatory remark is a negative remark that puts someone or something down.
After hearing derogatory remarks that Kay was a slob and a back-stabber, I fully expected not to like her
Qualitative (adj.) (KWAL-uh-tay-tiv)
B. The careful weighing of one’s words
D. Very fine
E. Concerned with quality
E) Qualitative means concerned with quality, not quantity. A qualitative analysis of war would have to do with how people are effected, while a quantitative analysis would have to do with how many people are effected.
There is a qualitative difference in the two restaurants, although the prices and portions are about the same
Prerogative (n.) (pri-RAHG-uh-tiv)
A. A final decision
B. A cherished opinion
C. A primary choice
D. An exclusive right
E. The means to an end
D) A prerogative is an exclusive right or privilege that others do not have.
It is the prerogative of the chairman to decide where and when the meetings will be held
Sardonic (adj.) (sahr-DAHN-ik)
A) Sardonic means mocking, scornful, bitterly contemptuous.
Carla did not find Anthony’s sardonic humor funny. His caustic remarks irritated her, although some of her classmates did laugh at what they considered his wit
Misanthropic (adj.) mis-un-THRAHP-ik)
B. Hatred of mankind
B) Misanthropic means hatred of mankind.
Craig’s abusive childhood left him with a misanthropic view of the world that caused him to shut everyone out and live in seclusion, away from what he called “universal stupidity.”
Solace (n.) (sahl-US)
A) Solace means comfort, consolation, relief from emotional pain.
Cathy received much solace from the cards and phone calls received from friends in the weeks after her husband died
Supple (adj.) (SUP-ul)
C) Supple means flexible, pliant, bending or folding easily without breaking or cracking, able to move with ease.
Barbara was so supple that she could put her leg behind her head with ease
Provisional (adj.) (pruh-VIZH-uh-nul)
C. In charge
E) Provisional means temporary, for the time being, interim.
After the revolution, a provisional government was set up until elections could be held to choose a permanent one.
Provisional can also mean conditional. A provisional member would be one whose continued participation is conditional upon some aspect of his performance.
The old man’s gift to the girl’s club was provisional. He required everyone in the club maintain passing grades for the entire semester
Extol (v.) (ik-STOHL)
To extol is:
A. To hide from
B. To guard against
C. To wipe out
D. To highly praise
E. To probe deeply
D) To extol means to highly praise, to laud.
Sal extolled the fire department for their quick action in saving his house
Sentient (adj.) SEN-shunt
B. Easily hurt
D. Having feeling
E. Intensely moving
D) Sentient means having feeling, able to perceive with the senses, conscious.
St. Francis was filled with a love of all sentient creatures
Extraneous (adj.) (ik-STRAY-nee-us)
D. Requiring effort
E. Having a sharp wit
A) Extraneous means unnecessary, extra, not belonging, coming from outside.
When someone uses a lot of extraneous words, they are said to be verbose
Postulate (v.) (PAHS-chuh-layt)
To postulate means:
A. To make up
B. To analyze
C. To assume
D. To offer
E. To deny
C) To postulate means to assume, to set forth without proof.
The doctors postulated that a new and little-known virus was the cause of Ricardo’s problems.
As a noun, a postulate is a premise or assumption. As a noun, postulate is pronounced PAHS-chuh-lut.
She maintained that the postulates of the anti-gun control people were based upon fear
Hackneyed (adj.) (HAK-need)
A. Pertaining to slang
B. Old fashioned
C) Hackneyed means trite, over-used, commonplace.
“Easy as pie” is a hackneyed expression
Perquisite (n.) (PUR-kwuh-zit)
A perquisite is:
A. A requirement
B. A privilege that goes with a job
C. A declaration
D. A foundation
E. An experiment
B) A perquisite is a privilege that goes along with a job, a perk.
Of the many perquisites offered to senior staff, Rudolph considered the use of a company car the most valuable.
Do not confuse perquisite with prerequisite, which means a requirement
Scintillate (v.) (SIN-tuh-layt)
To scintillate means:
A. To seethe
B. To bubble
C. To skim
D. To sparkle
E. To hint at
D) To scintillate means to sparkle, to glitter, to twinkle. Stars, diamonds, witty remarks and charming personalities can all be said to scintillate
Quibble (v.) (KWI-bul)
To quibble is:
A. To waver
B. To argue
C. To court
D. To divide
E. To smooth
B) To quibble is to argue in a petty manner, to evade truth by twisting the meaning of words, to argue a meaningless technicality.
They wasted a beautiful day at the beach quibbling about whether the color of the ocean was greenish-blue or bluish-green
Divest (v.) (dye-VEST)
To divest means:
A. To change
B. To tell all
C. To rid of
D. To undress
E. To engage
C) To divest is to rid of, to deprive or strip.
After the scandal broke, the board divested Alex of his power in the organization and asked him to step down as chairperson.
To divest oneself is to let go of.
He divested himself of all his worldly wealth and went off to live in a cabin in the woods
Fabrication (n.) (FAB-ruh-kay-shun)
A fabrication is:
A. Something made up
B. Something sewn
C. Something made of steel
D. Something that imitates
E. Something very solid
A) A fabrication is something made up, a falsehood.
The account Paul gave us of his date was a total fabrication. The truth was she walked out in the middle of dinner.
Fabrication also refers to the act of manufacturing.
The fabrication of aluminum siding has been my family’s business for three generations
Prodigal (adj.) PRAHD-uh-gul)
E) Prodigal means wastefully extravagant, spending too much.
The Bible story of the prodigal son was about a young man who wasted his inheritance
Stymie (v.) (STYE-mee)
To stymie means:
A. To mock
B. To thwart
C. To embarrass
D. To stutter
E. To offset
B) To stymie means to thwart, hinder, or block. Stymie is actually a golfing term that refers to a situation where one player’s ball blocks another player’s path to the cup.
We made great time all morning, then were stymied by an accident on the Bay Bridge
Animosity (n.) (an-uh-MAHS-uh-tee)
E. Love of animals
D) Animosity means hostility, active dislike, enmity.
The animosity between the two brothers finally erupted in a fist fight
Subversive (adj.) (sub-VUR-siv)
A) Subversive means undermining; tending to overthrow or cause destruction, especially as regards an established government.
Joseph McCarthy claimed that subversive elements were infiltrating the State Department with the goal of overthrowing the government
Tenet (n.) (TEN-it)
A tenet is:
A. A portion
B. An apartment dweller
C. A shared principle
D. A point of fact
E. A proposal
C) A tenet is a shared doctrine, principle, belief, or opinion held as true by a school, sect, party, or person.
Equality is the main tenet of a democracy
Officious (adj.) (uh-FISH-us)
A. In charge
C. Duly elected
B) Officious means meddlesome, annoyingly eager to please, to the point of meddling.
The officious salesperson was so overbearing and intrusive, refusing to leave us alone for even a moment, that we finally walked out of the store without buying anything
Recrimination (n.) (ri-krim-uh-NAY-shun)
A recrimination is:
A. An undeserved attack
B. A counter accusation
C. A regret
D. A refusal
E. A negative attitude
B) A recrimination is a counter accusation, the act of accusing in return. It is often used in the plural.
The classroom echoed with recriminations as students angrily blamed one another for the cancellation of the field trip
Subsequent (adj.) (SUB-suh-kwent)
B. Coming after
C. Resulting from
D. Intended for
B) Subsequent means coming after, following, later.
The first chapter of the book explains Howard’s theories. In subsequent chapters he tells how he arrived at them
Curtail (v.) (cur-TAYL)
To curtail means:
A. To modify
B. To moderate
C. To extend
D. To cut short
E. To change plans
D) To curtail means to cut short, to reduce, to lessen.
News of the hurricane curtailed our vacation plans, and we headed for home a week early
Proponent (n.) (pruh-POH-nunt)
A proponent is:
A. A detractor
B. A supporter
C. A teacher
D. An instigator
E. An inventor
B) A proponent is a supporter, an advocate.
Jerry is a proponent of gun control. He thinks that guns should be registered in the same way cars are
Levity (n.) (LEV-uh-tee)
D) Levity means frivolity, a lack of seriousness, lightness of mind, character, or behavior.
I thought the new minister’s levity was out of place in church. His sermon was so humorous, he could have given it at a comedy club
Putative (adj.) (PYOO-tuh-tiv)
A. In response
B) Putative means supposed, reputed, commonly accepted. With putative the emphasis is on the fact that there is no proof.
The putative author of the book was strangely unable to remember some of the character’s names
Arduous (adj.) (AHR-joo-us)
D) Arduous means difficult, strenuous, requiring much effort.
After the arduous hike, we were exhausted and grateful for the opportunity to sit under a tree and rest
Surrogate (adj.) SUR-uh-gayt)
A) Surrogate means substitute, something that takes the place of something else.
A surrogate mother is someone who bears a child for someone else.
Surrogate is often used as a noun.
Janet was willing to be a surrogate so the young couple could have a baby
Tangible (adj.) (TAN-juh-bul)
C) Tangible means touchable, physical, material, that which can be detected by touching.
The dirty dishes in the sink and empty beer cans in the trash were tangible signs that Luther had been there
Querulous (adj.) KEWR-uh-lus)
C. Hard to understand
B) Querulous means complaining, fretful, peevish, fault-finding.
The querulous old man had few friends, because no one wanted to listen to his constant complaints
Itinerant (adj.) (eye-TIN-ur-unt)
C. Homely looking
D. Moving from place to place
E. Having eclectic tastes
D) Itinerant means moving from placed to place.
Wiley was an itinerant contract worker, usually spending about ten weeks in one place before moving on
Dank (adj.) (DANK)
C) Dank means damp, humid, usually in an unpleasant way.
If Charles was bad, his sister would threaten to send him into the dank basement with its cold earthen floor and penetrating odor
In lieu of (LEW)
In lieu of means:
A. In agreement with
B. In addition to
C. On the heels of
D. In place of
E. In gratitude for
D) In lieu of means in place of, instead of.
You can always use honey in lieu of sugar. Both sweeten equally well, and honey is actually better for you
Inordinate (adj.) (in-OR-duh-nit)
A) Inordinate means excessive, too much, not kept within proper limits.
Leon requested two extensions and, even after spending such an inordinate amount of time on this paper, he still only got a C
Mediate (v.) (MEE-dee-ayt)
To mediate is:
A. To help settle a difference
B. To be indecisive
C. To be decisive
D. To take over
E. To contemplate
A) To mediate is to help settle a difference, to act as a go-between.
Mr. Jackson mediated the dispute between the students who supported the new dress code and those who did not
Insipid (adj.) (in-SIP-id)
A. Without flavor
B. Without courage
C. Without definition
D. Without manners
E. Without luck
A) Insipid means without flavor, dull, uninspiring, bland. Insipid can be applied literally to flavorless food or drink or figuratively.
Weak tea with milk is an insipid drink that Gilda believes is generally consumed by insipid people who have little energy or imagination
Apocryphal (adj.) (uh-POK-ruh-ful)
A. Bigger than life
B. Added on
D. Of lesser importance
E. Of dubious authenticity
E) Apocryphal means of dubious authenticity or authorship, fictitious.
The biography was fascinating, but experts said much of it was apocryphal, more legend than fact.
The Apocrypha is a term applied to fourteen books or portions of books of the Old Testament that are included in the Roman Catholic Bible but not generally found in Jewish or Protestant Bibles. Thus, Apocryphal (with a capital “A”) refers to these books
Metamorphosis (n.) (met-uh-MOR-fuh-sis)
A metamorphosis is:
A. A blank stare
B. A wild act
C. A new philosophy
D. A change in form
E. A block
D) A metamorphosis is a change in form, structure, character, circumstance, substance, etc., a transformation.
When Laura met Gerald, she underwent a metamorphosis, took out her nose ring, gave up rock and roll, and began going to the opera
Artful (adj.) (AHRT-ful)
C) Artful means crafty, clever, wily, sly.
If you want to get a good bargain at the flea market, you only need to do a little artful negotiating
Propitious (adj.) (pruh-PISH-us.)
E) Propitious means marked by favorable signs or conditions, auspicious.
Hazel took the rainbow that appeared in the sky as she left for the job interview to be a propitious omen, and she became certain she would be hired
Remonstrate (v.) (ri-MAHN-strayt)
To remonstrate is:
A. To show again
B. To protest
C. To put back together
D. To prove false
E. To plead
B) To remonstrate is to protest, object, argue against.
Remonstrating with an umpire is usually an exercise in futility. The protest of a player rarely results in a change of call
Inkling (n.) (INK-ling)
An inkling is:
A. A doubt
B. A beginning
C. A plan
D. A hint
E. An inspiration
D) An inkling is a hint, a vague notion, a slight suspicion.
We did not have so much as an inkling that Jay Leno would be at Lydia’s birthday party
Peon (n.) (PEE-ohn)
A peon is:
A. A relative of a royal
B. An unskilled worker
C. A merchant
D. A conspirator
E. A helper
B) A peon is an unskilled worker.
The word is commonly used to mean anyone with a lowly status.
“Oh, that’s Mr. Morton,” explained Sue. “He’s the Chairman of the Board and doesn’t have time to acknowledge the presence of us peons.”
Appease (v.) (uh-PEEZ)
To appease means:
A. To satisfy
B. To tempt
C. To manipulate
D. To distract
E. To ignore
A) To appease means to soothe or pacify by giving in to or satisfying a demand.
Spoiled little Kevin wants a pony, but his father hopes he will be appeased with a fancy bike
Gratuitous (adj.) (gruh-TOO-uh-tus)
B. Accidentally stumbled upon
C. Freely given
E. Giving the appearance of wealth
C) Gratuitous means freely given.
I love the gratuitous chocolates they put on your pillow in fine hotels.
Gratuitous also has the meaning of uncalled for, unnecessary, without reason.
I do not enjoy movies with gratuitous violence. I think filmmakers should use violence only when absolutely necessary
Insolent (adj.) (IN-suh-lunt)
D) Insolent means insulting, boldly rude or disrespectful.
In the old movies, when a man is insolent, the woman often slaps his face in righteous indignation
Autocratic (adj.) (aw-tuh-KRAT-ik)
C. Without much thought
D. All alone
E. Having absolute authority
E) Autocratic means having absolute authority, without checks or limitations. Someone said to be autocratic would be extremely bossy.
Everyone on the team resented Dick’s autocratic manner. He had no qualms about making decisions without consulting anyone else
Incandescent (adj.) (in-kun-DES-unt)
E) Incandescent means glowing with heat. Heated to a point where it gives off light. Incandescent light is distinguished from fluorescent light, which is produced by exposing a specific substance to certain rays. Figuratively, incandescent means intensely bright.
Last week, John Major was reported to be “incandescent with rage” at Margaret Thatcher
Arbiter (n.) AHR-buh-tur)
An arbiter is:
A. One with the power to decide
B. One who cannot decide
C. One who sees both sides
D. One who is biased
E. One who allows chance to decide
A) An arbiter is one with the power to decide, such as a judge or umpire or a disinterested third party brought in and empowered to settle a dispute. An arbiter of taste is someone with the social power to decide what is “in” and what isn’t.
Max suggested that a good therapist might be the best arbiter for our marital disputes
Profligate (adj.) (PRAHF-luh-git)
D. Having a tendency to multiply
E. Having a tendency to push one’s point of view
B) Profligate means wasteful and immoral, very wicked, shamelessly bad.
The profligate young heir embarked on a life of depravity and riotous spending that soon eroded both his health and his fortune
Intransigent (adj.) (in-TRAN-suh-junt)
C) Intransigent means uncompromising and stubborn.
All it took was one intransigent member to hang the jury, and Wilbur refused to compromise in his view that the State of Iowa failed to prove its case
Inhibit (v.) (in-HIH-but)
To inhibit means:
A. To hate
B. To withstand
C. To hurt
D. To change
E. To restrain
E) To inhibit means to restrain, to hinder, to hold back or prohibit.
Being in the presence of someone who acts as though he knows everything can inhibit others from putting forth their ideas.
An inhibition is something that restrains or holds one back.
Alcohol weakens one’s inhibitions, and one does and says things they would never dream of doing while sober
Rectify (v.) (rec-ti-FYE)
To rectify means:
A. To correct
B. To judge
C. To opine
D. To complete
E. To repeat
A) To rectify means to put right, to remedy, to adjust, to correct.
She hoped to be able to retrieve her paper and rectify the error before it was too late
Irrevocable (adj.) (I-REV-uh-kuh-bul)
B) Irrevocable means irreversible, unalterable, final.
It does not make sense to brood over past mistakes, since the past is irrevocable, and nothing we do can change it
Apprehensive (adj.) (ap-ree-HEN-siv)
A) Apprehensive means worried, concerned, alarmed.
Dodi was apprehensive about the upcoming exams, because she did not feel prepared
Quirk (n.) (kwerk)
A quirk is:
A. A peculiar mannerism
B. A bad joke
C. A wrong turn
D. A snippy remark
E. A small reward
A) A quirk is a peculiar mannerism.
The insistence on wearing socks that don’t match is one of Walter’s many quirks.
A quirk is also a sudden, unexpected, startling twist.
It was by a quirk of fate that Bryan found himself face to face with the famous star
Lectern (n.) (LEK-turn)
A lectern is:
A. A lamp
B. A shelf
C. A portable chair
D. A reading stand
E. A dictionary
D) A lectern is a reading stand or desk, especially the stand in a church on which the Bible sits and from which the lesson is read.
He approached the lectern and waited for the crowd to quiet down before he began to read
Subterfuge (n.) (sub-ter-FYOOJ)
A subterfuge is:
A. A delay
B. A riddle
C. A passageway
D. A secret
E. A trick
E) A subterfuge is a trick, an evasive pretense, or an excuse used to escape something unpleasant or to hide something.
Back in the days when women were not supposed to be writers, female authors often adopted male names or used initials as a subterfuge to hide their true identities
Untoward (adj.) (un-Tord)
C) Untoward means unfortunate, unfavorable, contrary to what was desired.
Untoward circumstances prevented our guest speaker from being with us this evening. He drove his car into a ditch when a deer ran across the road in front of him.
Untoward also means improper or inappropriate.
His untoward remarks about his opponent’s physical characteristics did him more harm than good
Mortify (v.) (MOR-tuh-fye)
To mortify means:
A. To harden
B. To humiliate
C. To waste
D. To withhold
E. To burden
B) To mortify means to humiliate, to shame, to injure one’s pride.
When Timothy took off all his clothes and jumped in the pool in front of the dinner guests, my mother was mortified.
To mortify also means to practice strict discipline or austerities to overcome bodily desires.
The monk lived in a cave where he spend many years mortifying his body in an attempt to overcome his passion
Paucity (n.) (PAW-suh-tee)
A paucity is:
A. A scarcity
B. A timidity
C. A poor person
D. An abundance
E. A misunderstanding
A) A paucity is a scarcity, a lack, a small amount.
“We are suffering from a paucity of good-will, and had better learn to respect one another if we want to solve our problems,” the minister declared
Paraphrase (v.) (PAR-uh-frayz)
To paraphrase means:
A. To explain in detail
B. To make light of
C. To use exact words
D. To say in other words
E. To use the inverse of
D) To paraphrase means to say in other words, to restate in your own words, while retaining the meaning expressed in the original statement.
You only use quotation marks if you quote an author word for word. If you paraphrase what was said, you would not use quotes.
As a noun, a paraphrase is a restatement in one’s own words of something written or said by another.
His paraphrase was not quite accurate because he left out the most important point
Introvert (n.) (IN-troh-vurt)
An introvert is someone who:
A. Is untrustworthy
B. Is cautious
C. Is inner-directed
D. Is unworthy
E. Is rarely seen
C) An introvert is someone who is inner-directed, more interested in his own thoughts than in what is going on in the world around him, is introspective.
Norman was an introvert who wrote poetry and preferred philosophical discussions to parties.
The opposite of introvert is extrovert, which is someone who is outgoing and more interested in what is happening outside himself than in his own thought processes
Regale (v.) (ree-GAYL)
To regale means:
A. To entertain
B. To flatter
C. To mislead
D. To educate
E. To overindulge
A) To regale means to entertain, to delight.
He regaled us with fascinating stories of his journeys in the Far East
Emissary (n.) (EM-uh-sayr-ee)
An emissary is:
A. A messenger
B. A healer
C. A supporter
D. A famous person
E. An evangelist
A) An emissary is a messenger, a person sent on a mission for someone else.
Ferdinand went to the conference as an emissary of peace, hoping to bring the warring factions together
Burnish (v.) (BUHR-nish)
To burnish means:
A. To darken
B. To polish
C. To stain
D. To embellish
E. To tone down
B) To burnish means to polish, to make shiny. In a figurative sense one might burnish ones image.
The burnished copper reflected the soft candle light that bathed the room
Encumber (v.) (en-CUM-bur)
To encumber means:
A. To fill
B. To carry
C. To burden
D. To add to
E. To strip
C) To encumber means to burden, hinder, obstruct, or make difficult to use.
Encumbered by three suitcases and a purse, Lila was unable to climb the stairs
Tryst (n.) (trist)
A tryst is:
A. A treat
B. An appointed meeting
C. An agreement
D. A go-between
E. A signal
B) A tryst is an appointed meeting, especially between lovers.
The old lovers managed a tryst every two or three years when Bill would come back east on business
Libation (n.) (lye-BAY-shun)
A libation is:
A. A dinner
B. A lawsuit
C. A swear
D. A drink
E. A promise
D) A libation is a drink, or the act of pouring wine, water, or some other liquid, usually as an offering to a god.
“Can you spare a dollar for a wee libation on Christmas Eve,” the obviously drunk gentleman asked everyone who passed by
Ostensible (adj.) (ah-STEN-suh-bul)
A. Lacking honor
B. Without purpose
C. Strongly committed
D. Very stubborn
E. Outwardly appearing
E) Ostensible means outwardly appearing; apparent, but with an element of pretense.
Her ostensible reason for coming over was to help me pack, but I suspect her true motivation was to see my brother again
Patrician (adj.) (puh-TRISH-un)
B) Patrician means aristocratic, of noble birth.
The young man loved polo and fox hunting, as would be expected from his patrician background.
As a noun, patrician refers to an aristocrat.
FDR was a patrician by birth, but had a deep love of the common man
Protrude (v.) (pro-TROOD)
To protrude means:
A. To dominate over
B. To stick out
C. To burden a friend
D. To demand attention
E. To interfere with
B) To protrude means to stick out, to thrust forth.
His fingers protruded from the holes in his gloves
Brusque (adj.) (bruhsk)
B) Brusque means abrupt, blunt.
His brusque manner indicated he was a “no nonsense” kind of guy. He never engaged in small talk, and sometimes he stated his point so bluntly that he seemed rude
Abase (v.) (uh-BAYS)
To abase means:
A. To reconsider
B. To take apart
C. To degrade
D. To withstand
E. To neglect
C) To abase means to degrade, to lower, to bring down or lower in rank.
Clyde was so proud and so contemptuous of neediness that he would rather starve than abase himself by asking his family for help
Caliber (n.) (KAL-uh-bur)
C) When used figuratively, caliber means quality, ability, merit, capacity.
A man of his caliber should not be crunching numbers in the accounting pool. He could make a much more valuable contribution from the executive suite.
The literal sense of caliber refers to the diameter of a bullet or gun barrel
Venial (adj.) (VEE-nee-ul)
D) Venial means excusable, trivial, unimportant. A venial sin is a small, not so important sin, as compared to a mortal sin, which is more grave.
Do not confuse venial with venal, which means corrupt and open to bribery
Equine (adj.) (ee–kwyne)
A. Calm and peaceful
B. Having a prominent chin
C. Soft and ill-defined
D. Shallow and watery
E. Pertaining to horses
E) Equine means pertaining to horses.
Roberta loved all things related to horses, and had a wonderful collection of equine art
Swathe (v.) (swahthe)
To swathe means:
A. To strike
B. To mow
C. To rub
D. To wrap
E. To wet down
D) To swathe means to wrap, to bind. To bandage.
The doctor applied an anti-bacterial ointment and swathed Ben’s arm in gauze.
Do not confuse swathe with swath, which is a noun and means the space covered by a single cut of a scythe or by one cut of a mowing machine
Visceral (adj.) (VIS-ur-ul)
A. Of the gut
C. At a distance
A) Visceral means of the gut. The heart, stomach, liver, intestines, and kidneys are viscera, and in the literal sense visceral refers to them. In the figurative sense, visceral means, not rational, but rather from the feeling level. A visceral response is an emotional gut-level response.
He had a visceral reaction to the movie, Titanic, and it haunted him for days
Quixotic (adj.) (kwik-SAHT-ik)
B. Foolishly romantic
B) Quixotic means foolishly romantic, impractical.
The play “Man of La Mancha” was about Don Quixote, a quixotic man who was known for tilting at windmills with his sword and saving damsels in distress
Voluble (adj.) (VOHL-yuh-bul)
C) Voluble means talkative, fond of talking, having a smooth, rapid flow or words.
The voluble Cuban leader has been known to give speeches that went on for several hours
Larceny (n.) (LAR-sun-nee)
Larceny refers to:
B. Criminal negligence
D. Any felony
E. Any misdemeanor
C) Larceny means theft, the taking of something without consent.
Karl got sentenced to three years for larceny after he was arrested sneaking out of a window with a bag full of jewelry
Obligatory (adj.) (uh-BLIG-uh-taw-ree)
D. Hoped for
A) Obligatory means required, binding, compulsory.
If you want to join the club as a full member, the 500 dollar annual dues are obligatory
Paragon (n.) (PAYR-uh-gohn)
A paragon is:
A. An extinct dinosaur
B. A model of excellence
C. A division of the government
D. A five sided object
E. A Buddhist temple
B) A paragon is a model of excellence or perfection.
My mother always said her father was a paragon of virtue, so we were shocked to learn he’d been arrested as a boy
Inimitable (adj.) (ih-NIM-uh-tuh-bul)
A) Inimitable means matchless, impossible to copy, without peer.
In the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, the aging inmate, Red, is played by the inimitable Morgan Freeman.
Do not confuse inimitable with inimicable, which means adverse or hostile (and which is also spelled inimical)
Winsome (adj.) (WIN-sum)
C) Winsome means attractive, charming, pleasing, agreeable.
The picture in Rupert’s mind was of a winsome young girl of twenty, and he hardly recognized the seventy-year old lady she had become, though she was, he noted, still attractive
Leonine (adj.) (LEE-oh-nyne)
D) Leonine means like a lion.
Just as Claire got out of her cab, Michael Hutchence, the leonine lead singer of the band INXS, stepped out of a white stretch limo
Sublimate (v.) (SUB-luh-mayt)
To sublimate means:
A. To deny
B. To suppress
C. To cover up
D. To purify
E. To substitute
D) To sublimate means to purify, to refine, to change something undesirable into something better.
Pansy sublimated her desire to smoke with deep breathing exercises
Diva (n.) (DEE-vah)
A diva is:
A. A dancer
B. A proud unmarried woman
C. A princess
D. An older actress
E. An opera singer
E) Diva is Italian for goddess and technically is a term applied to an operatic prima donna. In usage, however, you will see it applied to any female singer of magnitude.
So while for some, the term “diva” immediately brings to mind Maria Callas, the latest wave of pop divas include Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Shania Twain, and Jewel
Diurnal (adj.) (dye-UHR-nahl)
B) Diurnal means daily, of or belonging to daytime, active only during the day, lasting or opening for only a day.
Butterflies are diurnal creatures. You never see them at night
Interdict (v.) (IN- tuhr-dikt)
A. To charge
B. To expose
C. To impede
D. To state
E. To select
C) To interdict means to impede or prohibit; to restrain from doing something.
A border guard recently interdicted a ramshackle red Nissan, which he stopped because the driver appeared nervous. The 43 pounds of heroin discovered under the floorboard had a street value of 20 million!
Ravage (v.) (RAV-uj)
To ravage means:
A. To scream
B. To eat
C. To destroy
D. To rip
E. To disregard
C) To ravage means to destroy, to plunder, to lay waste to.
Harriet came home to discover her home had been ravaged and all her jewelry was gone
Trite (adj.) (Tryte)
E. Mildly amusing
B) Trite means overused, hackneyed, uninteresting due to being so commonplace.
Mrs. Jones stressed that clich?s, such as “good as gold” or “sweet as sugar” were trite and did not make for good writing
Aspirant (n.) (AS-pehr-unt)
An aspirant is:
A. One who inspires others
B. A wanderer
C. A new-comer
D. One who seeks a position
E. One who is sorry for a misdeed
D) An aspirant is a seeker, one who aspires to an office, honor, or position
Potpourri (n.) (POH-pur-ee)
A. A large amount of something
B. A delight
C. Something unexpected
D. A sweet-smelling substance
E. A mixture
E) A potpourri is a mixture of miscellaneous items, a medley. Potpourri is often used to mean a mixture of dried flowers and spices, but the term can be applied to any miscellaneous grouping.
He offered a potpourri of folk music from many different lands
Gingerly (adv.) (JYN-jur-lee)
E) Gingerly means cautiously, warily, with extreme care.
She gingerly picked her way through the broken glass to where her baby was obliviously playing with his rattle
Exhume (v.) (eks-ZOOM)
To exhume means:
A. To dig up
B. To bury
C. To administer
D. To release
E. To scrutinize
A) Exhume means to dig up, to bring to light, to bring back from obscurity. Most commonly you will hear this word used in reference to digging up a body.
Tammy Wynette’s daughters have been trying to get the Nashville medical examiner to exhume her body and perform an autopsy.
But exhume can also be used in a more general way.
When Hilda realized Murray had exhumed their old love letters and was planning on sending them to her husband, she fainted
Sophomoric (adj.) (Sahf-uh-MOR-ik)
C) Sophomoric means over-confident, intellectually pretentious, but shallow.
The paper’s newsroom teemed with Sophomoric, cocky young people trying to act like seasoned reporters.
Sophomoric can also be used to relate to the second (or sophomore) year of high school or college
Hybrid (n.) (HYE-brehd)
To be a hybrid is:
A. To lack the power to reproduce
B. To be fast-growing
C. To be a clone
D. To be a mixed breed
E. To be the top of the line
D) A hybrid is a mixed breed, a mongrel. the offspring of two animals or plants of different races, varieties, or species.
Marion bought a wolf-dog as a pet, and was upset when the vet could not promise her that the rabies vaccination given to dogs would be effective on the hybrid
Phlegmatic (adj.) (fleg-mat-ik)
B) Phlegmatic means indifferent, apathetic, sluggish, not easily aroused to feelings or actions.
“It’s a good thing my mother is so phlegmatic,” said Renee, “because my father is very excitable. Her calm balances his tendency to be emotional.”
Denouement (n.) (dey-noo-MAU)
C) Denouement means outcome, result, especially the final resolution of the plot of a novel or play.
“That’s all for tonight,” said Jayne as she closed the book. “Tomorrow we will follow young Toby to London for the thrilling denouement of this wonderful novel.”
Gist (n.) (JIST)
Gist refers to something’s:
E) Gist means essence, main point or idea, the essential part.
“Don’t bother with the details,” said Ethel impatiently, “just give me the gist of what happened.”
Guffaw (n.) (guh-FAW)
A. A burst of coarse laughter
B. A pointless complaint
C. A loud snort
D. An embarrassing mistake
E. A practical joke
A) A guffaw is a burst of coarse laughter.
Lee could only imagine the guffaws when her brothers heard she’d entered a beauty contest.
Guffaw can also be used as a verb meaning to laugh loudly and coarsely.
She found the men guffawing around the water cooler quite intimidating, because she feared they were laughing at her
Deign (v.) (Dayne)
To deign means:
A. To decline
B. To offer
C. To condescend
D. To withdraw
E. To rule
C) To deign means to condescend, to lower oneself, to consider fit.
She considered his question so stupid she did not deign to grace it with a reply
Hapless (adj.) (HAP-lus)
B) Hapless means unlucky, unfortunate.
After her second hapless love affair in a year, Bethany decided she’d had her fill of romance
Redress (v.) (rih-DRESS)
To redress means:
A. To scold
B. To alert
C. To advise
D. To remedy
E. To investigate
D) To redress means to remedy, to give compensation, to repair or set right.
The new president promised to redress the wrongs of the old regime and restore to the people what had been taken from them.
Redress can also be used as a noun, meaning the act of setting something right or providing compensation.
I can’t believe the court will not give her some redress for her injuries
Lassitude (n.) (LASS-uh-tood)
A) Lassitude means weariness, weakness, lack of energy, listlessness.
Although Emily was back on her feet and even doing a little work, there remained about her an air of lassitude that had her family concerned
Spate (n.) (SPAYTE)
A spate is:
A. A struggle
B. A gap
C. An outpouring
D. A misunderstanding
E. A vacation
C) A spate is an outpouring, a torrent, a great quantity.
The recent spate of school shootings have the entire nation asking “What is happening to our youth?”
Ensconce (v.) (EN-scahns)
To ensconce means:
A. To surround
B. To settle in
C. To trap
D. To lure
E. To lead
B) To ensconce means to settle in, to shelter. Sometimes it carries the meaning of to hide.
I found her blissfully ensconced in the library with a cup of cocoa and a stack of books
Chary (adj.) (Chah-ree)
D) Chary means cautious, watchful, careful, wary.
He was chary of strangers and trusting of very few people, usually preferring to keep to himself
Inculcate (v.) (in-CUHL-cayte)
To inculcate means:
A. To guard against
B. To cancel
C. To fill
D. To prejudice
E. To impress upon
E) To inculcate means to impress upon by frequent repetition, to persistently teach.
From the time Alma was a child, her mother inculcated her with the idea that one must pinch pennies; so now Alma tries to impress that lesson on her own children
Proclivity (n.) (pro-kliv-uh-tee)
A proclivity is:
A. A yearning
B. A trait
C. A compulsion
D. A tendency
E. A secret desire
D) A proclivity is a tendency, an inclination, a leaning.
He had a proclivity for finding fault with everything and was rarely pleased with our efforts
Ingenue (n.) (AWHN-jin-oo)
An ingenue is:
A. A young model
B. An innocent young girl
C. A female student
D. A young actress
E. An effeminate man
B) An ingenue is an innocent young girl or an actress who plays an innocent young girl.
At thirty Sally thought she was getting a little to old for ingenue parts, but she landed the role of a college freshman
Prognosis (n.) (prog-NOH-sis)
A prognosis is:
A. A synthetic limb
B. A determination
C. A forecast
D. A course of treatment
E. A hypothesis
C) A prognosis is a forecast, especially of the course a disease will take. “You have cancer” is a diagnosis. “You have six months to live” is a prognosis.
The tests showed a malignancy, but they caught it early and the prognosis is excellent
Eloquence (n.) (EL-oh-quinz)
Eloquence refers to:
A. Graceful speech
B. A melodious voice
C. Scholarly discourse
D. Poetic Verses
E. Perfect grammar
A) Eloquence refers to speech that is graceful and forceful.
Martin Luther King spoke with great eloquence, getting his points across in ways that inspired people
Limpid (adj.) (LIM-pid)
D) Limpid means clear, transparent, able to be seen through or into.
Her eyes were like limpid pools sparkling in the firelight
Avatar (n.) (AV-uh-tahr)
An avatar is:
A. A philosopher
B. An alien leader
C. A wandering monk
D. A spiritual teacher
E. An incarnation of a god
E) An avatar is an incarnation of a god, a manifestation of the divine in bodily form. Avatar is also used to mean an embodiment or personification, as of a principle, attitude, or view of life.
The Indian holy man claimed to be an avatar of the god Vishnu
Gossamer (adj.) (GOHS-uh-mur)
B. Not real
A) Gossamer means sheer, filmy, gauzy.
When he said an angel with gossamer wings and peekaboo lingerie delivered a message directly from God we knew he was nuts
Aplomb (n.) (uh-PLUHM)
B) Aplomb means self-assurance, poise, imperturbable confidence.
It was a long time before I felt I had the nerve, the experience or the aplomb necessary to hold my own in the company of such accomplished journalists
Proviso (n.) (pro-VYE-zoh)
A proviso is:
A. An advertisement
b. A warning
C. A stipulation
D. A disclaimer
E. An escape clause
C) A proviso is a stipulation, a condition, a requirement or the sentence in a contract that expresses same.
I accepted his bid with the proviso that all work be done by union laborers
Manumit (v.) (MAN-yoo-mit)
To manumit means:
A. To enslave
B. To emancipate
C. To place under contract
D. To manipulate
E. To expose
B) To Manumit means to emancipate, to release from slavery or bondage.
It was not until 1760 that Maria, Boston, and their youngest son, Peter, were manumitted, “For and in consideration of the many good & faithful services…”
Propagate (v.) (PRAHP-uh-gayt)
To propagate means:
A. To initiate
B. To multiply
C. To introduce
D. To encourage
E. To nurture
B) To propagate means to multiply or spread, to increase in number or intensity, to reproduce or produce offspring.
“If you want to understand the verb ‘to propagate’, buy a pair of rabbits,” laughed Jacob. “Soon you will have more rabbits than you know what to do with.”
Phobia (n.) Foh-bee-uh)
A phobia is:
A. A fear
B. A dislike
C. A prejudice
D. A tendency
E. A judgment
A) A phobia is a morbid fear that is persistent and irrational.
Her bee phobia prevented her from enjoying the picnic
Enjoin (v.) (en-JOYN)
To enjoin means:
A. To plead
b. To suggest
C. To regroup
D. To order
E. To legalize
D) To enjoin means to order, to command, to forbid
The court has enjoined the workers from striking under penalty of imprisonment.
To enjoin also can mean to urge or direct.
My father enjoined us to be kind to our less fortunate relatives
Stanch (v.) (stahnch)
To stanch means:
A. To shore up
B. To stop
C. To puncture
D. To mend
E. To drink
B) To stanch means to stop or check a flow. Generally, you stanch the flow of blood or some other liquid, but the word can be used with any flow.
Unable to stanch the steady flow of sensitive leaks from his political campaign, the congressional hopeful fired his entire staff.
Do not confuse the verb stanch with the adjective staunch, which is pronounced almost the same, but which means steadfast
Acrophobia (n.) (ak-ruh-FOH-bee-uh)
A. A fear of open spaces
B. A fear of heights
C. A fear of leaving home
D. A fear of plants
E. A fear of spiders
B) Acrophobia is a fear of heights.
Pam’s acrophobia made her daily trip across the San Francisco Bay Bridge so tortuous that she quit her job and took something closer to home
Ad hoc (adj.) (ad-HAHK)
Ad hoc means:
B. Part of the whole
E. For a special purpose
E) Ad hoc means for a special purpose.
The local Red Cross instituted an ad hoc committee to deal with the victims of the flood
Continence (n.) (KAHN-tuh-nents)
Continence refers to:
A. Land mass
E) Continence refers to self-control, restraint. It is most often with reference to either sexual abstinence or bladder control.
When Molly’s ten year old was still having trouble with bedwetting, she took him to a doctor that specialized in continence problems
Incursion (n.) (in-CUHR-zhun)
An incursion is:
A. An invasion
B. A break
C. A gully
D. A turn of events
E. A boycott
A) An incursion is an invasion, a sudden attack or raid.
We had blamed the neighbor’s children, but later discovered it was the nightly incursions of a family of raccoons that was responsible for the damage to the garden
Melange (n.) (Meh-LAHNJ)
A melange is:
A. A mess
B. A garbled message
C. A mixture
D. A creamy dessert
E. A melancholy mood
C) A melange is a mixture, a medley, a hodgepodge.
The group’s new CD provides a melange of pop-rocking songs that explore the minefields of love, sex, and days gone by
Onomatopoeia (n.) (ahn-noh-mah-tuh-PEE-uh)
Onomatopoeia refers to:
A. A series of words that sound alike
b. A sudden break in the midst of a sentence
C. The placement of words in an unusual order
D. Words that sound like what they mean
E. Purposeful repetition of a word or phrase
D) Onomatopoeia is a term applied to words that sound similar to what they mean.
Pop, fizz, hiss, buzz, and gargle are examples of Onomatopoeia
Cleft (n.) (KLEFT)
A cleft is:
A. An argument
B. A blockage
C. A split
D. A flaw
E. A bend
C) A cleft is a split, a crack, a crevice.
He left love notes for her in a cleft in the rock
Orifice (n.) (Or-uh-FUS)
An orifice is:
A. A long speech
B. A life’s work
C. A dark place
D. An opening
E. An complex piece of music
D) An orifice is a small opening. The mouth, ears, nose, etc. are the orifices of the body.
Michael says things like “I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my orifice”, and then wonders why people think he is pretentious
Progenitor (n.) (pro-JEN-uh-tur)
A progenitor is:
A. An ancestor
B. A teacher
C. A mentor
D. An inspiration
E. A leader
A) A progenitor is an ancestor.
“Someone else was the progenitor of my adopted children,” he wrote, “but when I teach my oldest son to drive, help my daughter write a report, or throw a ball with my young son, I am their father.”
Savant (n.) (sah-VAHNT)
A savant is:
A. An extremely polite person
b. An upper-class person
C. A learned person
D. An ignorant person
E. A helpful person
C) A savant is a learned person, a scholar, a sage. You might hear the term “idiot savant”, which refers to a person who is seemingly retarded except for one exceptional skill
Incredulity (n.) (in-cruh-DOOL-uh-tee)
Incredulity refers to:
A. A lack of readiness
E. A lack of resources
B) Incredulity means lack of belief, doubt.
When I told him I’d seen Elvis at the supermarket, his incredulity was obvious from the look on his face
Avocation (n.) (A-voh-kay-shun)
An avocation refers to:
A. One’s dream job
B. How one makes a living
C. The field one was trained in
D. A hobby
E. A belief
D) An avocation is a hobby or a secondary job, something done besides what provides one’s primary income.
Dave was a surveyor by vocation, but his avocation was collecting model trains
Diffidence (n.) (DIF-uh-dunse)
C. A balanced view
E) Diffidence means shyness, lack of self-confidence.
Nicholas’s diffidence made it hard for him to meet girls. His fear of coming off like a jerk made him tongue-tied
Citadel (n.) (SIT-uh-duhl)
A citadel is:
A. A building
B. A lavish home
C. A temple
D. A fortress
E. A place of higher learning
D) A citadel is a fortress, a stronghold, a refuge.
The citadel sat atop the hill like a protective angel keeping watch over the city
Raiment (n.) (RAY-munt)
Raiment refers to:
C) Raiment means clothing or garments.
“Because of a recessive gene,” he explained, “these pigeons have no feathers. But they coo and strut and bow as if arrayed in the finest of raiment.”
Savoir-faire (n.) (SAV-wahr FAYR)
Savoir-faire describes one who:
A. Is skilled at the social graces
B. Has esoteric knowledge
C. Is skilled at business
D. Is highly intuitive
E. Is physically attractive
A) Savoir-faire is the knowledge of just what to do and when to do it; a person with this quality would be skilled at social graces, would have poise and tact.
When asked to define savoir-faire Melanie said, “It’s the difference between breezing into a room like a star and shuffling in like you’ve just eaten a jelly doughnut. Basically, it means you walk, talk, dress and act like a winner.”
Devoid (adj.) dee-VOYD
E) Devoid means lacking, wanting, entirely without.
Fred was absolutely devoid of humor that he didn’t crack a smile, even when the rest of us were rolling on the floor laughing
Bawdy (adj.) (BAW-dee)
D) Bawdy means lewd, obscene, indecent
We spent the night drinking beer and singing bawdy bar songs with lyrics I wouldn’t want my mother to hear
Oscillate (v.) (Os-uh-layt)
To oscillate means:
A. To dip
B. To waver
C. To tilt
D. To fill
E. To wander
B) To oscillate means to swing to and fro like a pendulum, to waver.
“Don’t pay Sam any mind,” said Martha. “His emotions oscillate like a fan these days. I think it’s hormones.”
Fallacious (adj.) (fuh-LAY-shush)
A) Fallacious means misleading, erroneous, illogical.
The jury voted not guilty, because they perceived the prosecutor’s reasoning as fallacious. His argument just didn’t hold water
Waggish (adj.) (WAG-ish)
A. Often deceitful
B. Sharp tongued
C. Prone to stealing
E. Fond of joking
E) Waggish means fond of joking, mischievous, prone to pranks.
Type the sentence “I’d like to see Bill Clinton resign” in a Word document, highlight it, and then run it through the program’s thesaurus. The waggish thesaurus retorts with the phrase “I’ll drink to that.”
Contusion (n.) (Kun-TOO-zhun)
A contusion is:
A. A cut
b. A lump
C. A break
D. A bruise
E. A sharp pain
D) A contusion is an injury that does not break the skin, a bruise.
He was lucky to walk away from the accident with only a few contusions and a loose tooth
Dross (n.) (DROHS)
Dross refers to:
D. Bad taste
B) Dross is technically the waste or scum that comes to the surface of melting metals, but in usage it refers to any kind of waste, rubbish, or worthless material.
“Don’t be afraid of life’s pressures,” my father was fond of saying. “The fires of living will burn off the dross, revealing your sterling character underneath. ”
Feign (v.) (FAYN)
To feign means:
A. To pretend
B. To hedge
C. To fall
D. To collapse
E. To smile
A) To feign means to pretend, to put on a false appearance.
Jackson feigned illness, but got caught when he went to school the next day with sunburn
Macerate (v.) (Mass-ur-ayt)
To macerate means:
A. To chew
B. To destroy
C. To soften
D. To mix
E. To stretch
C) To macerate means to soften or break down by soaking.
The leaves, macerated by the three days of rain, made a huge mess in the back yard
Commodious (adj.) (cum-OH-dee-us)
B) Commodious means spacious, having lots of room.
Polly was thrilled to move from her one-room apartment into a commodious house with a big back yard and a garden
Thwart (v.) (THWOHRT)
To thwart means:
A. To fix
B. To frustrate
C. To glance
D. To surprise
E. To regret
B) To thwart means to frustrate, to hinder or prevent from doing something, to oppose or defeat.
Each time we tried to get away for the weekend, our plans were thwarted. First Sarah got sick, then the car broke down, and there were torrential rains
Rotunda (n.) (row-TUHN-duh)
A rotunda is a room or building that:
A. Is circular
B. Is huge
C. Is famous
D. Is for the people
E. Is for government
A) A rotunda is a circular building or part of a building, usually with a dome.
Rusty said he would meet us in the Rotunda of the Capitol
Philander (v.) (fil-AN-dur)
To philander means:
A. To steal money
B. To give large sums of money
C. To make love without serious intention
D. To waste resources
E. To travel extensively
C) To philander means to make love without serious intention, to flirt. A philanderer is a man who romances many women without the intention to marry.
After four different women called wanting to speak to my brother, my father told him in no uncertain terms that he should stop his philandering and pay more attention to his course work
Titanic (adj.) (tye-TAN-ik)
D) Titanic means huge, enormous. It comes from the Titans (any of the sons of Uranus and Gaea, including Coeus, Crius, Cronus, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Oceanus) who were of enormous size, strength, and power.
The storm kicked up titanic waves that threatened to engulf the beach house
Akimbo (adv.) (Ah-KIM-bohw)
A. Off to the side
B. From the jungle
C. With arms crossed
D. With legs crossed
E. With hands on hips
E) Akimbo means with hands on hips. It can be used as an adverb: He stood akimbo in the doorway. It can also be used as an adjective: We laughed at the picture of the four akimbo sisters standing talking to one another in the yard
Beatific (adj.) (bee-uh-TIF-ik)
D) Beatific means blissful, showing very great happiness, exalted.
Jennie wore a beatific smile as she walked down the aisle in her long white dress
Hubris (n.) (HEW-brus)
E. Emotional pain
C) Hubris means arrogance, insolent pride.
He had the hubris to lecture people twice his age on the meaning of suffering
Lucre (n.) (LEW-kur)
Lucre refers to:
B) Lucre means money, but usually with negative implications, money considered as a bad or degrading influence; gain viewed as a low motive for action.
He sold out his country for lucre
Tyro (n.) (TYE-row)
A tyro is:
A. A beginner
B. A bully
C. One who is spoiled
D. Someone with energy
E. Someone who controls
A) A tyro is a beginner, a novice, someone just starting out and learning.
Harold and Jason laughed at the wobbly tyros on roller blades for the first time
Pulchritude (n.) (PUHL-krih-tood)
Pulchritude refers to:
C) Pulchritude means physical beauty, loveliness.
My brother called his college dorm room “the hall of pulchritude,” and on the walls he had pictures of fifty gorgeous models and three ex girlfriends
Devoid (adj.) dee-VOYD
E) Devoid means lacking, wanting, entirely without.
Fred was absolutely devoid of humor that he didn’t crack a smile, even when the rest of us were rolling on the floor laughing
Bawdy (adj.) (BAW-dee)
D) Bawdy means lewd, obscene, indecent
We spent the night drinking beer and singing bawdy bar songs with lyrics I wouldn’t want my mother to hear
Oscillate (v.) (Os-uh-layt)
To oscillate means:
A. To dip
B. To waver
C. To tilt
D. To fill
E. To wander
B) To oscillate means to swing to and fro like a pendulum, to waver.
“Don’t pay Sam any mind,” said Martha. “His emotions oscillate like a fan these days. I think it’s hormones.”
Fallacious (adj.) (fuh-LAY-shush)
A) Fallacious means misleading, erroneous, illogical.
The jury voted not guilty, because they perceived the prosecutor’s reasoning as fallacious. His argument just didn’t hold water