THE LANGUAGE OF IDEAS: VOCABULARY FOR SAT EVIDENCE-BASED READING
16 THE LANGUAGE OF HARM, DEFICIT, AND DECLINE
adverse (adj) ad- to + vertere to turn
harmful to success or progress : The short holiday season has had an adverse effect on sales.
Form: adversity = misfortune or difficulties, usually over an extended period
Synonyms: inauspicious, detrimental, deleterious
Root family: [ad-] adhere (stick fast (to)), advocate (to provide vocal support for), annul (to declare invalid)
Root family: [vers, vert] adversary (enemy), diverse (various), diversion (entertainment), subvert (undermine), averse (opposed), versatile (adaptable to different functions)
Don’t confuse with: averse (opposed)
archaic (adj) archaios old
old and outdated : My cell phone, which didn’t even have Internet access, seemed archaic compared to Kris’s tiny smartphone.
Synonyms: outmoded, outdated, anachronistic, obsolete
Root family: [arch] archaeology (the study of ancient civilizations and their artifacts), archetype (a very typical example)
Don’t confuse with: anarchic (having no hierarchical government)
a cause of great and persistent distress : The bane of the traveling salesman is the time spent away from family and friends.
Form: baneful = causing great distress
Synonyms: scourge, blight, affliction
Mnemonic: For farmers, banning the rain would be a great bane for their livelihood.
an utter lack of something : I am disappointed by the dearth of good jazz clubs in this city.
Don’t confuse with: death, dirge (a funereal song), mirth (good-natured amusement)
Mnemonic: The words dearth and dear (expensive) derive from the same root. If there is a dearth of something desired, then it is likely to be very dear.
causing someone or something to become weak : What seemed like a slight ankle sprain soon turned into a debilitating injury.
Forms: debilitate = to make weak or infirm, debility = a weakness or infirmity
Synonyms: incapacitating, enervating
Don’t confuse with: rehabilitate (to restore to health)
deleterious (adj) delere to destroy, to eliminate
very harmful : Prolonged and hopeless poverty has a very deleterious effect on children.
Synonyms: detrimental, injurious, adverse
Root family: [delet] delete (to remove completely), indelible (forming an enduring impression)
Mnemonic: Imagine how deleterious it would be to your grade if you accidentally deleted the research paper that you had spent over a month researching and writing.
enervate (v) e- out of + nervus sinew, strength
to drain of energy or strength : The arduous hike enervated the boys, who decided to rest for the night.
Forms: enervation = the process of draining something of strength; weakness, enervated = weakened
Synonyms: debilitate, enfeeble
Don’t confuse with: energize (to fill with energy), enumerate (to list numerically), innervate (to supply an organ or body part with nerves)
Mnemonic: To avoid confusing enervate with energize, focus on the roots e- (out) and nervus (sinew, strength or muscle): to enervate is to weaken, as if by removing the muscle fibers from one’s body. Gross? Yes, but vivid enough to remember.
exacerbate (v) ex- (making) + acerbus bitter
to make a situation worse : The lawsuit only exacerbated the animosity between the neighbors.
Synonyms: aggravate, compound, inflame
Root family: [acer, acu] acrid (pungent), acerbic (having a bitter taste), acrimonious (defined by bitter feelings), acute (keen, as pain or ability)
Don’t confuse with: exaggerate (to overstate)
insidious (v) in- on + sedere to sit
having a harmful effect, but in a subtle way : Many viral diseases are insidious, remaining dormant for months or even years before symptoms are expressed.
Synonyms: stealthy, surreptitious, treacherous
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), induce (to bring about), infiltrate (to gain access secretly)
Root family: [sed, sid] sedentary (inactive), dissident (one who opposes official policy), assiduous (hard working), sedate (calm), preside (to sit in a position of authority), reside (to live in a particular location), sediment (material that settles to the bottom of a liquid or body of water, particularly a river)
Don’t confuse with: invidious (causing resentment)
Mnemonic: An insidious disease lurks inside us until it decides to pounce.
malevolence (n) male evil + volent wishing
evil intent : The villain eyed his victim with malevolence.
Form: malevolent = with evil intent
Synonyms: maliciousness, rancor
Root family: [mal] malignant (disposed to causing harm or suffering), malicious (full of spite), malign (to speak about someone in a spiteful manner)
Root family: [vole] benevolent (kindly), volition (free will), voluntary (performed by choice)
outdated; no longer in production : Mr. King still types all of his manuscripts on an obsolete Corona typewriter.
Forms: obsolesce = to become obsolete, obsolescence = the state of being obsolete
Synonyms: outmoded, outdated, anachronistic, archaic
regress (v) re- back + gressus walking
to return to a less developed state : As he got angrier, Gary seemed to regress into childhood, and began kicking his feet and pouting like a toddler.
Form: regression = the process of moving toward a less developed state, regressive = moving backward or toward a less developed state
Root family: [re-] reprehensible (deserving of condemnation), refute (to prove something false), revoke (to take back), renounce (to give up or put aside publicly), relegate (to place in a lower rank)
Root family: [grad, gress] progress (forward movement), egress (exit), digress (to stray from the topic)
[VEST idge] a trace of something that no longer exists : The archaeologists wondered whether this small clay shard was a vestige of a once-great civilization.
Form: vestigial = remaining as a trace of something long since gone
Synonyms: remnant, relic, residue
Don’t confuse with: vestment (clothing), prestige [press TEEGE] (widespread respect)
virulent (adj) virus poison
bitterly hostile; extremely harmful : The speech was an incoherent and virulent diatribe against the dangers of socialism.
Form: virulence = ability to cause extreme harm; poisonousness
Synonyms: toxic, pernicious
Root family: [viru] virus (a nucleic acid molecule that acts as an infective agent)
Don’t confuse with: violent (involving physical force to hurt or damage)