SAT 2016




Images advocate (v) ad- for + vocare to call, to give voice

[AD vo kate] to provide public support for a person, cause, or policy : Gina is a tireless advocate for human rights and freedom.

Form: advocate (n) [AD voh kit] = one who advocates

Root family: [ad-] allude (to hint at indirectly), aspire (to strive for a lofty goal), adhere (stick fast (to)), acquiesce (to comply reluctantly), annul (to declare invalid)

Root family: [voc, vok] evocative (bringing strong images or feelings to mind), revoke (to take back), provocative (causing anger or annoyance), equivocate (to speak ambiguously and noncommittally)

Mnemonic: To advocate is to give voice to (vocare = to call) someone or something.

Don”t confuse with: abdicate = to step down from a position of power

Images apologist (n) apo- away + logos word, study

one who argues for a particular, often controversial, position : We were surprised to discover that a few of the history professors seemed to be apologists for fascism.

Forms: apology = an argument for a particular position, apologetics = the study or practice of arguing for a particular position

Synonym: polemicist

Root family: [apo-] apostasy (the renunciation of a religious belief), apocryphal (having doubtful authenticity)

Root family: [log] eulogy (a praising speech), epilogue (afterword), anthology (a collection of literary works)

Don”t confuse with: apologizer (one who expresses regret); apologizers regret their positions, but apologists do not.

Images appease (v) pais peace

to yield to demands in order to conciliate : We must not appease belligerent dictators.

Form: appeasement = the act of conciliating

Synonyms: propitiate, pacify, mollify, placate

Root family: [pac, peas] pacify (to calm), pact (a peace agreement)

Usage: See usage note at pacify in section 4.

Images bolster (v)

to strengthen or support : The case was bolstered by the testimony of three eyewitnesses.

Synonyms: fortify, augment, buttress

Don”t confuse with: booster (one who promotes something), holster (a handgun holder)

Images buttress (n) or (v)

[1] (n) a projecting support for a building, usually of stone or brick; any strong support : Each buttress on the cathedral was over forty feet long.

Synonym: bulwark

[2] (v) to provide with support or justification : The prince”s claim to the throne was buttressed by papal decree.

Synonyms: fortify, augment, bolster

Images cajole (v)

to persuade through flattery or coaxing : Theo could not be cajoled into accepting the position.

Form: cajolery = flattery designed to persuade

Synonyms: wheedle, coax, inveigle

Images circumlocutory (adj) circum around + loqui to talk

inclined to speak evasively; speaking as if to avoid the subject : We expected the candidate to give a circumlocutory and politically correct answer to the question, but were surprised to hear her give a direct and candid response.

Form: circumlocution = evasive speech

Synonym: periphrastic (peri- around + phrasis speech)

Root family: [circum] circumspect (cautious), circuitous (roundabout)

Root family: [loqu, locu] loquacious (talkative), colloquial (conversational), eloquent (well-spoken), obloquy (verbal abuse)

Images circumscribe (v) circum around + scribere to write or draw

to define the limits of something, often an issue or problem : Although the Reimann Hypothesis has yet to be proven, many mathematicians believe that the problem is so well circumscribed that it soon will be.

Synonym: encompass

Root family: [circum] circumspect (wary, cautious)

Root family: [scrib, script] inscribe (to write on or carve into something indelibly), description (a spoken or written representation of a person, event, or object)

Don”t confuse with: circumstance (general situation or condition), circumspect (cautious)

Images cohesive (adj) co- together + haerere to stick

forming a united whole : A good jazz band must be cohesive, because its members must communicate instantaneously with subtle musical and gestural cues.

Form: cohesion = the act of forming a united whole

Synonym: coherent

Root family: [con-, co-, com-, col-] consensus (general agreement), conspire (to plot together), coalesce (to come together), compliant (willing to obey), confluence (a place at which two things merge)

Root family: [her, hes] adhesive (glue-like substance), coherent (clear and rational), inherent (existing as an inseparable attribute), adherent (a faithful believer in a particular practice or philosophy)

Don”t confuse with: adhesive (a glue-like substance)

Usage: See usage note at coherent in section 5.

Images conjecture (n) con- together + ject thrown

a guess based on incomplete information : Our controversial conjecture on the nature of the newly discovered planet turned out to be correct.

Form: conjectural = based on conjecture

Synonyms: speculation, postulation

Root family: [con-, co-, com-, col-] conformist (one who conscientiously complies with the standards of a group), conventional (according to common practice), consensus (general agreement), conspire (to plot together), coalesce (to come together), coherent (forming a united whole),confluence (a place at which two things merge)

Root family: [ject] objective (based on fact), subjective (based on opinion), reject (to throw back), eject (to throw outward)

Mnemonic: A conjecture is an idea that is “thrown together” (con (together) + ject (throw)) from incomplete evidence, rather than determined definitively.

Images consensus (n) con- together + sentire to feel

[1] general agreement : The senators were happy to finally reach consensus on the bill.

Synonyms: concord, unanimity

[2] the generally held opinion on a matter : The consensus was that David was the better player.

Root family: [sens, sent] sentient (having the ability to feel), sensation (the experience of feeling), dissent (disagreement with conventional views)

Don”t confuse with: census (an official survey of a population), concession (something granted due to a demand)

Images contentious (adj)

causing or likely to provoke an argument : Carl”s accusation was as contentious as it was false.

Forms: contend (with) = struggle to surmount, contend (for) = struggle to win (something), contention = disagreement; an assertion made in an argument, contentiousness = argumentativeness

Synonyms: belligerent, bellicose, pugnacious, truculent

Don”t confuse with: content (adj) (satisfied)

Images credulous (adj) credere to believe

willing to believe : None of Dave”s friends were credulous when he said he was going to start his own business.

Forms: incredulous = unwilling to believe, credulity = willingness to believe, incredulity = skepticism

Synonyms: gullible, ingenuous

Root family: [cred] credence (acceptance as true; believability), credit (good faith, particularly with regard to financial loans), credible (believable)

Images criteria (n, pl) kritikos judge

principles or standards by which something is judged or decided : The candidate did not meet our criteria for a management position.

Form: criterion (n, sing) = a single standard or principle by which something is judged or decided

Root family: [crit] critic (one who judges the merit of something; one who expresses a negative opinion), critique (a detailed evaluation), diacritic (a symbol above or below a letter indicating its pronunciation)

Usage: Remember that criteria is the plural of criterion.

Images cursory (adj) currere to run

hasty and superficial : Marco was only able to take a cursory glance at the report before making his presentation.

Synonyms: perfunctory, desultory

Root family: [cur] cursive (written so that adjacent characters are connected), courier (messenger), curriculum (a course of study), incur (to become subject to something because of one”s own actions), precursor (a forerunner; a substance from which something else is formed)

Don”t confuse with: cursive (written such that letters run together), curse (a solemn utterance intended to bring harm; a swear)

Mnemonic: If you perform a cursory reading, you just run through it quickly and hastily (currere = to run).

Images debunk (v)

to expose the falseness of a belief : Harry Houdini debunked all of the mediums who claimed to be able to talk to his dead mother.

Form: debunker = one who debunks; bunk = nonsense

Synonyms: refute, invalidate

Don”t confuse debunker with bunker (reinforced underground shelter; sand hazard on a golf course).

Images delineate (v) de- completely + lineare to create with lines

to describe or portray precisely : The committee delineated the rules by which future officers would be chosen.

Forms: delineation = the process or act of describing something precisely

Root family: [line] collinear (on the same line), alignment (the process of arranging in a line), lineage (family tree)

Don”t confuse with: lineage (family tree)

Usage: Because of their common root lineare (to create with lines), delineate is often confused with outline. But while outline means to sketch briefly, delineate means nearly the opposite: to describe precisely and in detail.

Images dispel (v) dis- away + pellere to force

to drive away; to eliminate a rumor, misconception, or bad feeling : Even the trip to the fair did not dispel Jerome”s sadness.

Synonyms: banish, allay, quell

Root family: [dis-] disconcerting (unsettling), disdain (feeling that something is unworthy), discredit (harm the reputation of something or someone), disparate (very different; variegated), discrepancy (a lack of compatibility between facts or claims), disseminate (to cast widely),disperse (to spread or scatter)

Root family: [pul, pel] expel (to force out), repel (to drive back), propel (to exert a forward push), compel (to force someone to do something)

Don”t confuse with: disperse (to scatter)

Images disputatious (adj) dis- apart + putare to reckon

[1] (of a person) fond of having heated arguments : Ron was ostracized from the group because of his disputatious attitude.

[2] (of a situation) likely to cause an argument : The meetings became more disputatious over time, forcing the group to disband.

Images elucidate (v) lux light

to make clear; to shed light on : The mysterious disappearance was elucidated by the discovery of the ransom note.

Root family [luc, lum] lucid (clear), illuminate (to shed light on), luminary (a person who inspires others), translucent (allowing light through, but not transparently)

Synonym: explicate

Don”t confuse with: elusive (hard to catch)

Mnemonic: When you elucidate something you make it more lucid.

Images enticement (n)

something that attracts or tempts, particularly because it offers pleasure or advantage : The school offered an iPod as an enticement to the student who sells the most candy bars.

Form: entice = to attract or tempt

Synonyms: lure, bait

Images enumerate (v) e- out + numerus number

to list one by one : We calmly enumerated our complaints to the committee.

Form: enumeration = the process of listing one by one

Synonym: itemize

Root family: [numer] denumerable (countable), innumerable (uncountably infinite), numerous (plentiful)

Don”t confuse with: remunerate (to pay for services rendered)

Images equivocate (v) equi- same + vocare to call

to speak ambiguously so as to avoid commitment : Sheila complained about her boyfriend”s tendency to equivocate when the conversation turned to marriage.

Forms: equivocation = the use of noncommittal language, equivocal = noncommittal, unequivocal = clear and unambiguous

Synonyms: dither, waver, waffle

Root family: [voc, vok] advocate (to provide vocal support (for)), provoke (to cause a strong negative response), revoke (to officially take back), evocative (having the effect of drawing out emotions or ideas), invoke (to bring to bear)

Mnemonic: Politicians frequently equivocate about issues, that is, give “equal voice” (equi-vocare) to both sides so as not to offend any potential voters.

Images exhortation (n) ex- out + hortari to encourage

a strong plea, usually through an urgent speech : The mayor”s exhortation that we conserve water seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

Forms: exhort = to encourage vehemently

Root family: [ex-] extol (to praise highly), extemporaneous (without planning), exuberant (filled with liveliness and energy)

Don”t confuse with: extortion (the practice of obtaining something by threat), excitation (application of energy or stimulation), exertion (great effort)

Mnemonic: In Horton Hears a Who, the tiny Whos living on a speck of dust ask Horton to save them. They are exhortin” when they ask Horton.

Images exonerate (v) ex- out, from + onus burden

to absolve someone of blame or fault : The testimony of the eyewitnesses exonerated the defendant.

Synonyms: absolve, acquit, exculpate, vindicate

Root family: [onus, oner]: onus (burden), onerous (burdensome)

Don”t confuse with: exaggerate (to overstate), exasperate (to irritate (someone))

Mnemonic: To exonerate is to take the burden (of guilt) from someone (ex- = from + onus = burden).

Images fallacious (adj) fallere to deceive, to be untrue

based on a mistaken belief or unsound reasoning : The argument presented by the defense is fallacious because it is founded on an invalid assumption.

Form: fallacy = a mistaken belief or example of unsound reasoning

Synonyms: specious, spurious

Root family: [fall, fals] fallible (capable of making errors), fault (an unsatisfactory feature), fail (to be unsuccessful)

Don”t confuse with: ferocious (savagely cruel), felicitous (well-chosen for the circumstances)

Images harangue (n)

a lengthy and bombastic speech : The dictator”s harangues were designed to inspire fear as much as patriotism.

Synonyms: tirade, rant, diatribe

Don”t confuse with: harass (to intimidate; to bother in an aggressive and annoying way), heresy (an anti-orthodox act or belief)

Usage: See usage note at tirade in this section.

Mnemonic: Imagine a vivid scene, from your own experience, when one person was really chewing someone else out. Then imagine that the person yelling is also throwing meringue pies at him (or her), to add injury to insult.

Images incongruous (adj) in- not + con together + ruere to fall

not consistent with expectations or surroundings : An incongruous football-shaped telephone sat amid the otherwise tasteful and expensive auction items.

Form: incongruity = something out of place or out of keeping

Synonyms: dissonant, jarring, anomalous, discordant, anachronistic

Root family: [in-, im-] insipid (flavorless), insuperable (impossible to overcome), inert (lacking vigor), interminable (unending), innocuous (harmless), indefatigable (untiring)

Don”t confuse with: not congruent (not having the same shape and size)

Images induce (v) in- in + ducere to lead

[1] to bring about : The doctor had to induce vomiting after Helen accidentally swallowed drain cleaner.

Synonyms: instigate

[2] to persuade to do something : The clever advertisements induced many customers to come see what the store had to offer.

Synonyms: wheedle, cajole, coax

[3] to derive by inductive (from specific instances to general principles) reasoning : From my experiences in the hotel, I have induced that the people of Jamaica are unusually friendly.

Form: induction = the process of drawing general conclusions from specific instances

Root family: [in-] inundate (to flood), infer (to conclude from evidence), incisive (showing keen judgment), ingratiate (to curry favor), inherent (existing as an inseparable element), invoke (to bring to bear), indoctrinate (to teach doctrine), infiltrate (to gain access secretly)

Don”t confuse with: induct (to admit someone into an organization in a formal ceremony)

Images inexorable (adj)

[1] (of an eventuality) unpreventable : We cannot stop the inexorable march of time.

Synonyms: relentless, inevitable, irrevocable, unremitting

[2] (of a person) impossible to persuade : She was inexorable in her belief in the defendant”s innocence.

Form: inexorability = inevitability

Synonyms: obdurate, staunch, obstinate, recalcitrant, intransigent

Images infer (v) in- into + ferre to bring, to bear

to conclude from evidence : The fossil record allows us to infer the existence of reptiles during this era.

Form: inference = a conclusion drawn by reasoning from evidence; the process of reaching such a conclusion

Root family: [in-] inundate (to flood), incisive (showing keen judgment), ingratiate (to curry favor), inherent (existing as an inseparable element), invoke (to bring to bear), indoctrinate (to teach doctrine), induce (to bring about), infiltrate (to gain access secretly)

Root family: [fer] fertile (productive), defer (to put off until later; to submit to the authority of another), coniferous (cone-bearing), aquifer (rock formation that carries groundwater)

Usage: Don”t use infer when you mean imply (suggest). Although a fingerprint at a crime scene might imply guilt, only a person can infer that guilt.

Images insinuate (v)

to suggest or hint at something, usually something morally dubious : The lawyers released the racy photographs in order to insinuate that the defendant was not as morally upright as he claimed to be.

Form: insinuation = a sly hint

Don”t confuse with: instigate (to initiate an event or action)

Images intransigent (adj)

stubbornly unwilling to compromise or agree with someone : The peace talks reached an impasse when the rebels became intransigent with their demands.

Form: intransigence = reluctance to compromise or agree

Synonyms: obdurate, staunch, obstinate, recalcitrant

Don”t confuse with: intransitive ((of a verb) not taking a direct grammatical object)

Usage: See usage note at tenacious in section 4.

Images irresolute (adj) ir- not + re- (intensive) + solvere to loosen

hesitant; showing a lack of certainty or determination : This irresolute and inept congress seems unable to put aside its petty bickering and do what is best for the country.

Form: resolute = determined and unwavering; resolve = determination to do something; resolution = determination

Synonyms: wavering, equivocating, dithering, ambivalent

Root family: [solv, solu] absolve (to free from blame), dissolve

Don”t confuse with: low resolution

Mnemonic: The words solve, solution, resolve, and resolution derive from the Latin solvere (to loosen, to break into parts). To solve a problem almost always involves analyzing it first, that is, breaking it into parts. Similarly, it”s easier to make a saltwater solution if you break the salt into smaller pieces, and the resolution of your television or computer screen depends on how many pieces, or pixels, it is broken into. Because people have historically liked to institutionalize solutions to big problems, the term resolution came to mean not just the action of solving a problem (the pact provided a temporary resolution to the conflict), but also the formal decision that resulted from it (the legislature passed a resolution declaring its commitment to balancing the budget), and then the commitment required to stick to that decision (she maintained her resolution to abstain from chocolate).

Images litigious (adj)

unreasonably prone to suing as a means of settling disputes : I try to appease my customers whenever they are angry, because I know how litigious our society is.

Forms: litigiousness = tendency to settle dispute with lawsuits, litigate = to settle a dispute with a lawsuit, litigant = someone involved in a lawsuit

Don”t confuse litigate with mitigate (to make a situation less severe).

Mnemonic: After someone lit my gate on fire, I decided to litigate.

Images obstinate (adj)

stubbornly refusing to change one”s position : He obstinately refused to accept the plea bargain.

Form: obstinacy = strong reluctance to change

Synonyms: obdurate, staunch, intransigent, recalcitrant

Don”t confuse with: obstreperous (noisy and difficult to control)

Usage: See usage note at tenacious in section 4.

Mnemonic: Imagine Nate the obstetrician stubbornly refusing to deliver a baby.

Images partisan (adj)

prejudiced in favor of a particular party, typically a political one : I don”t watch cable news because it is so partisan.

Forms: nonpartisan = unbiased, bipartisan = (of a legislative action) partaken by members of two different parties

Don”t confuse with: partition (a process of dividing into parts; a physical barrier between areas)

Usage: See usage note at objective in section 18.

Images placate (v) placare to please

to pacify with conciliatory gestures : The angry customer could only be placated by the offer of a full refund and a sincere apology.

Forms: implacable = unable to be appeased

Synonyms: propitiate, conciliate, appease, mollify

Root family: [plac, plais] complacent (self-satisfied), implacable (unable to be pleased), placid (peaceful), placebo (a sugar pill used as a control in a medical experiment), pleasant

Don”t confuse with: placid (peaceful)

Usage: See usage note at pacify in section 4.

Images precedent (n) pre- before + cedere to go

a previous occurrence that is used as an example, particularly in a legal context : There are few precedents for truly interactive textbooks.

Form: precedence = the condition of being more important, unprecedented = unheard of before a recent or hypothetical occurrence

Root family: [pre-] premeditated (planned in advance), precocious (having exceptional ability at an early age)

Root family: [ced, ces] concession (something surrendered), recede (move back from a previous position), secede (withdraw from a formal union or alliance), proceed (go forth)

Don”t confuse with: president (head of a republican state; head of an organization)

Images prevalent (adj) pre- before + valere to have power

abundant and widespread in a particular area : Be careful—poison ivy is prevalent in this forest.

Form: prevail = to be victorious; to be the most powerful, prevalence = widespread abundance

Synonyms: prolific, profuse, copious

Root family: [pre-] precedent (a previous example), premeditated (planned in advance), precocious (having exceptional ability at an early age)

Root family: [val] ambivalent (having mixed feelings), valence (the power of an atom to make bonds with other atoms), valor (courage and nobility in the face of danger)

Don”t confuse with: relevant (connected and appropriate to the matter at hand)

Images propensity (n) pro- forward + pendere to hang

a natural inclination to behave a certain way : Warner has a propensity for needless exaggeration.

Root family: [pro-] protracted (lasting longer than expected), prophecy (prediction), promote (further the progress of something; raise in rank), progeny (offspring), reciprocate (to respond in kind)

Root family: [pond, pend, pens] pendant (a piece of jewelry hanging from a necklace), impending (about to happen; imminent), dependent (requiring something or someone for support), appendix (a table or other supporting matter at the end of a book; a vestigial sac on the large intestine), ponderous (heavy)

Don”t confuse with: preposterousness (absurdity)

Mnemonic: If you have a propensity for something, you are propelled toward it with great intensity.

Images provocative (adj) pro- forward + vocare to call

[1] intended to cause a strong negative emotional response : Daniel”s protest was designed to be provocative, rather than informative.

Form: provocation = action intended to annoy or anger

Synonyms: vexing, galling, incendiary, inflammatory

[2] intended to arouse sexual desire : The school dress code imposes severe restrictions on provocative clothing.

Synonyms: alluring, seductive

Root family: [pro-] protracted (lasting longer than expected), prophecy (prediction), promote (further the progress of something; raise in rank), progeny (offspring), reciprocate (to respond in kind)

Root family: [voc, vok] revoke (to take back), evocative (bringing strong images or emotions to mind), advocate (to give public support), avocation (hobby), equivocate (to speak ambiguously), vocation (calling; chosen career)

Don”t confuse with: evocative (bringing strong images or emotions to mind)

Usage: Provocative and evocative have very similar meanings, but provocative is usually reserved to describe something that elicits emotions that are not desired or appropriate, while evocative describes something that elicits emotions to enrich an experience.

Images pugnacious (adj) pugnare to fight

quarrelsome; prone to fighting : Senator McGinley was a pugnacious defender of his causes, but a sweet and gentle man outside of chambers.

Form: pugnacity = belligerence; tendency to pick fights

Synonyms: belligerent, bellicose, contentious, truculent

Root family: [pug] impugn (to attack as invalid or dishonest), pugilist (prize fighter), repugnant (extremely distasteful)

Mnemonic: Imagine a combative little pug dog.

Images qualify (v) qualis of what kind

[1] to moderate a statement to make it less extreme : I should qualify my statement so that I don”t seem to be advocating total anarchy.

[2] to meet a necessary condition (for) : Carlos qualified for the state tennis tournament.

Form: qualification = a moderation of a previous statement; an accomplishment or quality that makes a person suitable for a position or activity

Synonyms: temper, moderate

Don”t confuse qualify (a statement) with qualify (for a position or privilege).

Images rebut (v)

to respond to an accusation by asserting or proving it false; refute : The candidate spent as much time rebutting her opponent”s accusations as she did describing her own positions.

Form: rebuttal = an act of refutation

Synonyms: repudiate, discredit

Don”t confuse with: rebuff (to reject ungraciously)

Images recalcitrant (adj) re- back + calcitrare to kick with the heel

stubbornly uncooperative : The entire kindergarten class was finger-painting, save for one recalcitrant toddler.

Synonyms: obdurate, staunch, obstinate, intransigent, steadfast

Root family: [re-] reprehensible (deserving of condemnation), recluse (a person who lives a solitary lifestyle), refute (to prove something false), revoke (to take back), renounce (to give up or put aside publicly), reciprocate (to respond in kind), resigned (accepting of an undesirable situation), regress (to return to a less developed state)

Don”t confuse with: calcified ((as of a fossil) hardened into stone, particularly one consisting of calcium compounds)

Usage: See usage note at tenacious in section 4.

Mnemonic: What do the words calcium, calculator, chalk, and recalcitrant have in common? They all derive from the Latin root calx, which means “limestone,” a mineral composed primarily of calcium carbonate, or “heel,” perhaps because the heel is likewise very hard. From this root came calculus, which means “small pebble,” and calcitrare, which means “to kick back with the heel.” Calculate derives from the practice of accounting with pebbles, and recalcitrant derives from the tendency of mules to kick back with their heels rather than obey.

Images refute (v) re- back + futare to beat

to prove something false : Just because a claim has yet be refuted does not mean that it is true.

Forms: refutation = the process of proving something wrong, irrefutable = proven beyond a shadow of a doubt

Synonyms: debunk, invalidate

Root family: [re-] revoke (to take back), renounce (to give up or put aside publicly), reciprocate (to respond in kind), resigned (accepting of an undesirable situation), regress (to return to a less developed state), relegate (to place in a lower rank)

Don”t confuse with: refuse (to decline (something))

Images resolute (adj)

unwaveringly purposeful and dutiful : Despite the threat of violence, the marchers were resolute about making their voices heard.

Form: resolve (n) = unwavering commitment to a principle, resolution = statement of determination, irresolute = hesitant

Synonym: steadfast

Don”t confuse with: high-resolution ((of an optical device or image) exceedingly clear down to very fine details)

Usage: See usage note at tenacious in section 4.

Images rhetoric (n)

[1] the art of persuasion through language : He was an expert orator, skilled in rhetoric.

Forms: rhetorical = intended for persuasive effect, rhetorician = one who is adept at the language of persuasion

Synonyms: argumentation, forensics, oratory, disputation

Usage: A rhetorical question (such as Who would ever buy such a lousy car?) is not merely a question that is not answered, but one whose answer is assumed by the speaker or writer, because that question is being used to persuade and not to inquire. That is, the question is being used for rhetorical effect.

[2] language that is persuasive but insincere or meaningless : His speech was dismissed as mere rhetoric.

Synonyms: bombast, grandiloquence

Images specious (adj)

seemingly plausible, but actually incorrect : Beck”s specious theories are informed more by hysteria than by reason.

Synonyms: spurious, fallacious

Don”t confuse with: species (a classification of similar organisms that can interbreed)

Mnemonic: A specious claim is one that should make you su-spicious.

Images speculation (n) specere to look

a guess based on meager evidence : The theory was based more on speculation than on fact.

Forms: speculate = to form a theory without firm evidence, speculative = based on flimsy evidence

Synonyms: conjecture, surmise, postulation

Root family: [spec] introspective (meditative), circumspect (cautious), inspect (to examine closely)

Don”t confuse with: inspection (close examination)

Images steadfast (adj)

dutifully firm and unwavering : The steadfast soldier held his post for days without sleeping.

Form: steadfastness = resolute refusal to waver

Synonym: resolute

Usage: See usage note at tenacious in section 4.

Images strident (adj)

annoyingly loud and harsh, particularly when presenting a point of view : The political operatives were instructed to take very strident tones at the town hall meeting, to make it seem as if their views were widely held.

Form: stridency = harshness in presenting one”s views

Synonyms: vociferous

Don”t confuse with: stride (to walk briskly), trident (a three-pronged pitchfork)

Mnemonic: Imagine a protester striding with a trident and shouting strident slogans during a protest march.

Images subjective (adj) sub under + ject thrown

based on personal feelings or opinions : Movie reviews are highly subjective.

Root family: [ject] objective (based on fact), conjecture (guess), reject (to throw back), eject (to throw outward)

Mnemonic: In late Middle English, subjective originally meant “submissive, as a royal subject to a king or queen,” but evolved to mean “pertaining to the points of view that were brought by the subjects to the monarch.”

Usage: In modern usage subjective is the opposite of objective (based on fact rather than opinion).

Images substantiate (v)

provide evidence for : The scientists could not substantiate their hypothesis, because they could not replicate the results of their experiment.

Form: substantive = significant because it is based in reality

Synonyms: vindicate, corroborate, authenticate

Don”t confuse with: substandard (less than the norm in quality)

Images tenuous (adj) tenuare to make thin, to stretch

flimsy; very weak or slight (esp. pertaining to a link, argument, or relationship) : The link between lowering taxes and stimulating business is more tenuous than most people think.

Root family: [ten] extend (to stretch forward), pretend (to act as if something is so when it is not), pretentious (affecting an exaggerated importance), contend (with) (to struggle to defeat), attenuate (to reduce the force or effectiveness of something)

Don”t confuse with: tense (taut)

Mnemonic: A tenuous connection is a real stretch (tendere = to stretch).

Images tirade (v)

a long, angry, and critical speech : His tirades against communism are well known.

Synonyms: harangue, rant, diatribe

Don”t confuse with: torrent (a strong and sudden stream)

Usage: Tirade, harangue, rant, and diatribe are similar, but offer different shades of meaning. Tirade is the most general of these, describing any long, critical speech; a harangue is particularly bombastic, usually inflaming the passions of listeners, and is the primary tool of the demagogue; a rant is primarily an instrument of catharsis, allowing the speaker to blow off steam, but not necessarily persuade or do harm; a diatribe is more tiresome—while a harangue can arouse passion, and a rant can be entertaining to watch, a diatribe is neither inspiring, informative, nor entertaining.

Images viable (adj) vivere to live

capable of working successfully : We did not want to invest in a company that had not yet shown that it was viable.

Synonyms: feasible

Root family: [viv, vita] convivial (lively and friendly), revive (bring back to life), vivid (inducing clear images in the mind), bon vivant (a person who enjoys a lively and social lifestyle), vivacious (full of lively energy)

Don”t confuse with: enviable (worthy of envy), verifiable (able to be proven true or accurate)

Images vindicate (v) vin force + dictum declaration

to clear of blame or suspicion : Victor was vindicated when another suspect confessed to the crime.

Form: vindication = the process of clearing someone of blame or suspicion

Synonyms: exonerate, exculpate

Root family: [dict] vindictive (vengeful), dictatorial (tyrannical), dictum (formal declaration), benediction (blessing), malediction (curse)

Don”t confuse with: vindictive (vengeful)

Mnemonic: The words vindictive and vindicate are easy to confuse because they both derive from the Latin vindex (from vin, “force” and dictum, “declaration”), which means “avenger.” But they describe different aspects of vengeance: to vindicate means “to avenge by proving innocent,” while vindictive means “consumed with vengeance.”

Images zealot (n)

a fanatic; one who is uncompromising and vehement in pursuing ideals : The party zealots had taken over the meeting, so compromise had become impossible.

Forms: zeal = feeling of deep passion for an ideal, zealous = passionate for one”s ideals

Don”t confuse zealous (passionate) with jealous (envious)