Kaplan GRE & GMAT Exams Writing Workbook, 3rd Edition (2008)

GRE & GMAT Resources

Vocabulary Builder


Abandon (n): total lack of inhibition

Abase: to humble, disgrace

Abash: to embarrass

Abatement: decrease, reduction

Abdicate: to give up a position, right, or power

Aberrant: atypical, not normal

Aberration: something different from the usual or normal

Abet: to aid, act as accomplice

Abeyance: temporary suppression or suspension

Abhor: to loathe, detest

Abiding: enduring, continuing

Abject: miserable, pitiful

Abjure: to reject, abandon formally

Ablution: act of cleansing

Abnegate: to deny, renounce

Abolitionist: one who opposes the practice of slavery

Abominate: to hate

Abortive: interrupted while incomplete

Abridge: to condense, shorten

Abrogate: to abolish or invalidate by authority

Abscond: to depart secretly

Absolve: to forgive, free from blame

Abstain: to refrain deliberately from something

Abstemious: moderate in appetite

Abstruse: difficult to comprehend

Abut: to touch, to be in contact with

Abyss: an extremely great depth

Accede: to express approval; agree to

Accessory: attachment, ornament; accomplice, partner

Accolade: praise, distinction

Accommodating: helpful

Accord: to reconcile, come to an agreement

Accost: to approach and speak to someone

Accretion: growth in size or increase in amount

Accrue: to accumulate, grow by additions

Acerbic: bitter, sharp in taste or temper

Acidulous: sour in taste or manner

Acme: highest point, summit

Acquiesce: to agree, comply quietly

Acquittal: release from blame

Acrid: harsh, bitter

Acrimony: bitterness, animosity

Acuity: sharpness

Acumen: sharpness of insight

Adage: old saying or proverb

Adamant: uncompromising, unyielding

Adjacent: next to

Adjunct: something added, attached, or joined

Admonish: to caution or reprimand

Adroit: skillful, accomplished, highly competent

Adulation: high praise

Adulterate: to corrupt or make impure

Adumbrate: to sketch, outline in a shadowy way

Adventitious: accidental

Adversarial: antagonistic, competitive

Adverse: unfavorable, unlucky, harmful

Aerial: having to do with the air

Aerie: nook or nest built high in the air

Aesthetic: pertaining to beauty or art

Affable: friendly, easy to approach

Affected (adj): pretentious, phony

Affinity: fondness, liking; similarity

Affront (n): personal offense, insult

Agenda: plan, schedule

Aggrandize: to make larger or greater in power

Aggregate (n): collective mass or sum; total

Aggrieve: to afflict, distress

Agile: well coordinated, nimble

Agitation: commotion, excitement; uneasiness

Agnostic: one doubting that people can know God

Agrarian: relating to farming or rural matters

Alacrity: cheerful willingness, eagerness; speed

Alchemy: medieval chemical philosophy based on quest to change metal into gold

Algorithm: mechanical problem-solving procedure

Alias: assumed name

Alienated: distanced, estranged

Aligned: precisely adjusted; committed to one side or party

Allay: to lessen, ease, or soothe

Allegory: symbolic representation

Alliteration: repetition of the beginning sounds of words

Allocation: allowance, portion, share

Allure (v): to entice by charm; attract

Allusion: indirect reference

Allusiveness: quality of making many indirect references

Altercation: noisy dispute

Altruism: unselfish concern for others’ welfare

Amalgam: mixture, combination, alloy

Ambidextrous: able to use both hands equally well

Ambiguous: uncertain; subject to multiple interpretations

Ambivalence: attitude of uncertainty; conflicting emotions

Ambulatory: itinerant; related to walking around

Ameliorate: to make better, improve

Amenable: agreeable, cooperative

Amend: to improve or correct flaws in

Amenity: pleasantness; something increasing comfort

Amiable: friendly, pleasant, likable

Amicable: friendly, agreeable

Amity: friendship

Amoral: unprincipled, unethical

Amorous: strongly attracted to love; showing love

Amorphous: having no definite form

Amortize: to diminish by installment payments

Amphitheater: arena theater with rising tiers around a central open space

Ample: abundant, plentiful

Amplify: to increase, intensify

Amulet: ornament worn as a charm against evil spirits

Anachronism: something chronologically inappropriate

Anachronistic: outdated

Analgesia: a lessening of pain

Analogous: comparable, parallel

Anarchy: absence of government or law; chaos

Anathema: ban, curse; something shunned or disliked

Ancillary: accessory, subordinate, helping

Anecdote: short, usually funny account of an event

Angular: characterized by sharp angles; lean and gaunt

Animation: enthusiasm, excitement

Animosity: hatred, hostility

Annul: to cancel, nullify, declare void, or make legally invalid

Anodyne: something that calms or soothes pain

Anoint: to apply oil to, esp. as a sacred rite

Anomaly: irregularity or deviation from the norm

Anonymity: condition of having no name or an unknown name

Antagonist: foe, opponent, adversary

Antecedent (adj): coming before in place or time

Antedate: dated prior to the actual occurrence

Antediluvian: prehistoric, ancient beyond measure

Antepenultimate: third from last

Anterior: preceding, previous, before, prior (to)

Anthology: collection of literary works

Anthropomorphic: attributing human qualities to nonhumans

Antipathy: dislike, hostility; extreme opposition or aversion

Antiquated: outdated, obsolete

Antiquity: ancient times; the quality of being old or ancient

Antithesis: exact opposite or direct contrast

Apace: done quickly

Apathetic: indifferent, unconcerned

Apathy: lack of feeling or emotion

Aperture: an opening or hole

Aphasia: inability to speak or use words

Aphelion: point in a planet’s orbit that is farthest from the sun

Aphorism: old saying or short pithy statement

Aplomb: poise, confidence

Apocryphal: not genuine; fictional

Apostate (n): one who renounces a religious faith

Apostrophe: speech to the reader or someone not present; a superscript sign (‘)

Apothegm: a short, instructive saying

Apotheosis: glorification; glorified ideal

Appease: to satisfy, placate, calm, pacify

Append: to attach

Appraise: to evaluate the value of something

Apprehension: the act of comprehending; fear, foreboding

Apprise: to give notice of; inform

Approbation: praise; official approval

Appropriate (v): to take possession of

Arable: suitable for cultivation

Arbitrary: depending solely on individual will; inconsistent

Arbitrator: mediator, negotiator

Arboreal: relating to trees; living in trees

Arboretum: place where trees are displayed and studied

Arcane: secret, obscure, known only to a few

Archaic: antiquated, from an earlier time; outdated

Archipelago: large group of islands

Ardent: passionate, enthusiastic, fervent

Ardor: great emotion or passion

Arduous: extremely difficult, laborious

Arraign: to call to court to answer a charge

Arrogate: to demand, claim arrogantly

Arsenal: ammunition storehouse

Articulate (adj): well-spoken, expressing oneself clearly

Artifact: historical relic, item made by human craft

Artisan: craftsperson; expert

Artless: open and honest

Ascend: to rise or climb

Ascendancy: state of rising, ascending; power or control

Ascertain: to determine, discover, make certain of

Ascetic (adj): self-denying, abstinent, austere

Ascribe: to attribute to, assign

Ashen: resembling ashes; deathly pale

Asinine: lacking intelligence or sound judgment

Askance: scornfully

Askew: crooked, tilted

Asocial: unable or unwilling to interact socially

Asperity: harshness, roughness

Aspersion: false rumor, damaging report, slander

Aspire: to have great hopes; to aim at a goal

Assail: to attack, assault

Assay: to analyze or estimate

Assent (v): to express agreement

Assiduous: diligent, persistent, hardworking

Assignation: appointment for lovers’ meeting; assignment

Assimilation: act of blending in, becoming similar

Assonance: resemblance in sound, especially in vowel sounds; partial rhyme

Assuage: to make less severe, ease, relieve

Astral: exalted, elevated in position; relating to the stars

Astringent: harsh, severe, stern

Astute: having good judgment

Asunder (adv): into different parts

Asymmetrical: not corresponding in size, shape, position, etcetera

Atone: to make amends for a wrong

Atrocious: monstrous, shockingly bad, wicked

Atrophy (v): to waste away, wither from disuse

Attenuate: to make thin or slender; weaken

Attest: to testify, stand as proof of, bear witness

Audacious: bold, daring, fearless

Audible: capable of being heard

Audit (n): formal examination of financial records

Auditory: having to do with hearing

Augment: to expand, extend

Augury (adj): prophecy, prediction of events

August: dignified, awe-inspiring, venerable

Auspicious: having favorable prospects, promising

Austere: stern, strict, unadorned

Authoritarian: extremely strict, bossy

Autocrat: dictator

Autonomous: separate, independent

Auxiliary: supplementary, reserve

Avarice: greed

Avenge: to retaliate, take revenge for an injury or crime

Aver: to declare to be true, affirm

Averse: being disinclined toward something

Aversion: intense dislike

Avert: to turn (something) away; prevent

Aviary: large enclosure housing birds

Avow: to state openly or declare

Awry: crooked, askew, amiss

Axiom: premise, postulate, self-evident truth


Bacchanalian: drunkenly festive

Baleful: harmful, with evil intentions

Balk (v): to refuse, shirk; prevent

Ballad: folk song, narrative poem

Balm: soothing, healing influence

Ban (v): to forbid, outlaw

Banal: trite and overly common

Bane: something causing ruin, death, or destruction

Banter: playful conversation

Base: being of low value or position

Bastion: fortification, stronghold

Bay (v): to bark, especially in a deep, prolonged way

Beatific: appearing to be saintly, angelic

Becalm: to make calm or still; keep motionless by lack of wind

Becloud: to confuse; darken with clouds

Beguile: to deceive, mislead; charm

Behemoth: huge creature

Belabor: to insist repeatedly or harp on

Beleaguer: to harass, plague

Belfry: bell tower, room in which a bell is hung

Belie: to misrepresent; expose as false

Belittle: to represent as unimportant, make light of

Bellicose: warlike, aggressive

Belligerent: hostile, tending to fight

Bellow: to roar, shout

Bemuse: to confuse, stupefy; plunge deep into thought

Benchmark: standard of measure

Benefactor: someone giving aid or money

Beneficent: kindly, charitable; doing good deeds; producing good effects

Benighted: unenlightened

Benign: kindly, gentle or harmless

Benison: blessing

Bent: a natural inclination toward something

Bequeath: to give or leave through a will; to hand down

Bereaved: suffering the death of a loved one

Beseech: to beg, plead, implore

Besmear: to smear

Bespatter: to spatter

Bestial: beastly, animal-like

Bestow: to give as a gift

Betoken: to indicate, signify, give evidence of

Bevy: group

Bias: prejudice, slant

Bibliophile: book lover

Bicker: to have a petty argument

Bifurcate: divide into two parts

Bilateral: two-sided

Bilious: bad-natured

Bilk: to cheat, defraud

Billet: board and lodging for troops

Biped: two-footed animal

Bisect: to cut into two (usually equal) parts

Blanch: to pale; take the color out of

Blandish: to coax with flattery

Blasphemous: cursing, profane, irreverent

Blatant: glaring, obvious, showy

Blight (v): to afflict, destroy

Blithe: joyful, cheerful, or without appropriate thought

Bludgeon: to hit as with a short heavy club

Bluster: to boast or make threats loudly

Boisterous: rowdy, loud, unrestrained

Bolster: to support; reinforce

Bombastic: using high-sounding but meaningless language

Bonanza: extremely large amount; something profitable

Bonhomie: good-natured geniality; atmosphere of good cheer

Boon: blessing, something to be thankful for

Boor: crude person, one lacking manners or taste

Botanist: scientist who studies plants

Bountiful: plentiful

Bouquet: a bunch of cut flowers

Bourgeois: middle-class

Bovine: relating to cows

Brazen: bold, shameless, impudent; of or like brass

Breach: act of breaking, violation

Brevity: the quality of being brief in time

Brigand: bandit, outlaw

Broach: to mention or suggest for the first time

Bromide: a dull, commonplace person or idea

Brusque: rough and abrupt in manner

Buffet (v): to strike, hit

Buffoon: clown or fool

Bulwark: defense wall; anything serving as defense

Burgeon: to sprout or flourish

Burly: brawny, husky

Burnish: to polish, make smooth and bright

Bursar: treasurer

Bustle: commotion, energetic activity

Butt: person or thing that is object of ridicule

Buttress (v): to reinforce or support

Byway: back road


Cabal: a secret group seeking to overturn something

Cacophonous: jarring, unpleasantly noisy

Cadaver: dead body

Cadence: rhythmic flow of poetry; marching beat

Cajole: to flatter, coax, persuade

Calamitous: disastrous, catastrophic

Callous: thick-skinned, insensitive

Callow: immature, lacking sophistication

Calumny: false and malicious accusation, misrepresentation, slander

Canard: a lie

Candid: frank or fair

Candor: honesty of expression

Canny: smart; founded on common sense

Canonize: to declare a person a saint; raise to highest honors

Canvass: to examine thoroughly; conduct a poll

Capacious: large, roomy; extensive

Capitulate: to submit completely, surrender

Capricious: impulsive, whimsical, without much thought

Careen: to lean to one side

Carnal: of the flesh

Carom: to strike and rebound

Carp (v): to find fault, complain constantly

Cartography: science or art of making maps

Cast (n): copy, replica

Cast (v): to fling, to throw

Castigate: to punish, chastise, criticize severely

Cataclysmic: disastrous

Categorical: absolute, without exception

Catharsis: purification, cleansing

Catholic: universal; broad and comprehensive

Caucus: smaller group within an organization; a meeting of such a group

Caulk: to make watertight

Causality: cause-and-effect relationship

Caustic: biting, sarcastic; able to burn

Cavalcade: a procession

Cavalier(adj): carefree, happy; with lordly disdain

Cavil: to raise trivial objections

Cavort: to frolic, frisk

Cede: to surrender possession of something

Celerity: rapidity of motion or action

Censorious: severely critical

Censure: to criticize or find fault with

Centripetal: directed or moving toward the center

Certitude: assurance, certainty

Cessation: temporary or complete halt

Cession: act of surrendering something

Chagrin: shame, embarrassment, humiliation

Chalice: goblet, cup

Champ (v): chew noisily

Champion (v): to defend or support

Chaotic: extremely disorderly

Charlatan: quack, fake

Chary: watchful, cautious, extremely shy

Chastise: to punish, discipline, scold

Chattel: piece of personal property

Chauvinist: someone prejudiced in the belief of their kind’s superiority

Cheeky: lacking prudence or discretion

Cherubic: sweet, innocent, resembling a cherub angel

Chicanery: trickery, fraud, deception

Chide: to scold, express disapproval

Chimerical: fanciful, imaginary, visionary; impossible

Choice (adj): specially selected, preferred

Choleric: easily angered, short-tempered

Chortle: to chuckle

Chromatic: relating to color

Chronicler: one who keeps records of historical events

Churlish: rude

Circuitous: roundabout

Circumlocution: roundabout, lengthy way of saying something

Circumnavigate: to sail completely around

Circumscribe: to encircle; set limits on, confine

Circumspect: cautious, wary

Circumvent: to go around; avoid

Cistern: tank for rainwater

Citadel: fortress or stronghold

Civil: polite; relating to citizens

Civility: courtesy, politeness

Clairvoyant (adj): having ESP, psychic

Clamor (n): noisy outcry

Clamor (v): to make a noisy outcry

Clandestine: secretive, concealed for a darker purpose

Clarity: clearness; clear understanding

Cleave: to split or separate; to stick, cling, adhere

Clemency: merciful leniency

Clement: mild

Cloister (v): to confine, seclude

Cloying: indulging to excess

Coagulate: to clot or change from a liquid to a solid

Coalesce: to grow together or cause to unite as one

Coddle: to baby, treat indulgently

Coerce: to compel by force or intimidation

Coffer: strongbox, large chest for money

Cogent: logically forceful, compelling, convincing

Cognate: related, similar, akin

Cognition: mental process by which knowledge is acquired

Cognomen: family name; any name, especially a nickname

Cohabit: to live together

Coherent: intelligible, lucid, understandable

Collate: to arrange in an order

Collateral: accompanying

Collected: acting calm and composed

Colloquial: characteristic of informal speech

Colloquy: dialogue or conversation, conference

Collusion: collaboration, complicity, conspiracy

Comeliness: physical grace and beauty

Commend: to compliment, praise

Commensurate: proportional

Commission: fee payable to an agent; authorization

Commodious: roomy, spacious

Communicable: transmittable

Commute: to change a penalty to a less severe one

Compatriot: fellow countryman

Compendious: summarizing completely and briefly

Compensate: to repay or reimburse

Complacent: self-satisfied, smug, affable

Complaisant: agreeable, friendly

Complement: to complete, perfect

Compliant: submissive and yielding

Complicity: knowing partnership in wrongdoing

Composed: acting calm

Composure: a calm manner or appearance

Compound (adj): complex; composed of several parts

Compound (v): to combine, add to

Compress (v): to reduce, squeeze

Compulsive: obsessive, fanatic

Compunctious: feeling guilty or having misgivings

Compunction: feeling of uneasiness caused by guilt or regret

Concatenate: linked together

Concave: curving inward

Concede: to yield, admit

Conceptualize: to envision, imagine

Concerto: musical composition for orchestra and soloist(s)

Conciliatory: overcoming distrust or hostility

Concomitant: accompanying something

Concord: agreement

Concur: to agree

Condone: to pardon or forgive; overlook, justify, or excuse a fault

Conduit: tube, pipe, or similar passage

Confection: something sweet to eat

Confiscate: to appropriate, seize

Conflagration: big, destructive fire

Confluence: meeting place; meeting of two streams

Confound: to baffle, perplex

Congeal: to become thick or solid, as a liquid freezing

Congenial: similar in tastes and habits

Congenital: existing since birth

Conglomerate: collected group of varied things

Congress: formal meeting or assembly

Congruity: correspondence, harmony, agreement

Conjecture: speculation, prediction

Conjugal: pertaining to marriage

Conjure: to evoke a spirit, cast a spell

Connive: to conspire, scheme

Connoisseur: a person with refined taste

Consanguineous: of the same origin; related by blood

Conscientious: governed by conscience; careful and thorough

Consecrate: to declare sacred; dedicate to a goal

Consensus: unanimity, agreement of opinion or attitude

Consequential: important

Consign: to commit, entrust

Consistent: containing no contradictions, being harmonious

Consolation: something providing comfort or solace for a loss or hardship

Consolidate: to combine, incorporate

Consonant (adj): consistent with, in agreement with

Constituent: component, part; citizen, voter

Constrained: forced, compelled; confined, restrained

Constraint: something that forces or compels; something that restrains or confines

Constrict: to inhibit

Construe: to explain or interpret

Consummate (adj): accomplished, complete, perfect

Consummate (v): to complete, fulfill

Contend: to battle, clash; compete

Contentious: quarrelsome, disagreeable, belligerent

Continence: self-control, self-restraint

Contravene: to contradict, deny, act contrary to

Contrite: deeply sorrowful and repentant for a wrong

Contumacious: rebellious

Contusion: bruise

Conundrum: riddle, puzzle or problem with no solution

Convalescence: gradual recovery after an illness

Convene: to meet, come together, assemble

Conventional: typical, customary, commonplace

Convex: curved outward

Convivial: sociable; fond of eating, drinking, and people

Convoke: to call together, summon

Convoluted: twisted, complicated, involved

Copious: abundant, plentiful

Coquette: woman who flirts

Cornucopia: abundance

Corporeal: having to do with the body; tangible, material

Corpulence: obesity, fatness, bulkiness

Correlation: association, mutual relation of two or more things

Corroborate: to confirm, verify

Corrode: to weaken or destroy

Corrugate: to mold in a shape with parallel grooves and ridges

Cosmetic (adj): relating to beauty; affecting the surface of something

Cosmography: science that deals with the nature of the universe

Cosmopolitan: sophisticated, free from local prejudices

Cosset: to pamper, treat with great care

Coterie: group of people with a common interest or purpose

Countenance (n): facial expression; look of approval or support

Countenance (v): to favor, support

Countermand: to annul, cancel, make a contrary order

Countervail: to counteract, to exert force against

Coven: group of witches

Covert: hidden; secret

Covet: to strongly desire something possessed by another

Cower: to cringe in fear

Crass: crude, unrefined

Craven: cowardly

Credence: acceptance of something as true or real

Credible: plausible, believable

Credulous: gullible, trusting

Creed: statement of belief or principle

Crescendo: gradual increase in volume of sound

Criterion: standard for judging, rule for testing

Cryptic: puzzling

Cuisine: characteristic style of cooking

Culmination: climax, final stage

Culpable: guilty, responsible for wrong

Culprit: guilty person

Cumulative: resulting from gradual increase

Cupidity: greed

Curator: caretaker and overseer of an exhibition, esp. in a museum

Curmudgeon: cranky person

Cursory: hastily done, superficial

Curt: abrupt, blunt

Curtail: to shorten

Cutlery: cutting instruments; tableware

Cygnet: young swan

Cynic: person who distrusts the motives of others


Dally: to act playfully or waste time

Daunt: to discourage, intimidate

Dearth: lack, scarcity, insufficiency

Debase: to degrade or lower in quality or stature

Debauch: to corrupt, seduce from virtue or duty; indulge

Debilitate: to weaken, enfeeble

Debunk: to discredit, disprove

Debutante: young woman making debut in high society

Decadence: decline or decay, deterioration

Decamp: to leave suddenly

Decapitate: to behead

Decathlon: athletic contest with ten events

Deciduous: losing leaves in the fall; short-lived, temporary

Declivity: downward slope

Decorous: proper, tasteful, socially correct

Decorum: proper behavior, etiquette

Decry: to belittle, openly condemn

Defamatory: slanderous, injurious to the reputation

Defame: to disgrace or slander

Defer: to submit or yield

Deference: respect, honor

Deferential: respectful and polite in a submissive way

Deficient: defective, not meeting a normal standard

Defile: to make unclean or dishonor

Definitive: clear-cut, explicit or decisive

Deflation: decrease, depreciation

Deform: to disfigure, distort

Deft: skillful, dexterous

Defunct: no longer existing, dead, extinct

Delectable: appetizing, delicious

Delegate (v): to give powers to another

Deleterious: harmful, destructive, detrimental

Delineation: depiction, representation

Delta: tidal deposit at the mouth of a river

Deluge (n): flood

Deluge (v): to submerge, overwhelm

Demagogue: leader or rabble-rouser who usually uses appeals to emotion or prejudice

Demarcation: borderline; act of defining or marking a boundary or distinction

Demean: to degrade, humiliate, humble

Demise: death

Demote: to reduce to a lower grade or rank

Demotion: lowering in rank or grade

Demur: to express doubts or objections

Denigrate: to slur or blacken someone’s reputation

Denounce: to accuse, blame

Denunciation: public condemnation

Deplete: to use up, exhaust

Deplore: to express or feel disapproval of; regret strongly

Deploy: to spread out strategically over an area

Depose: to remove from a high position, as from a throne

Depravity: sinfulness, moral corruption

Deprecate: to belittle, disparage

Depreciate: to lose value gradually

Deride: to mock, ridicule, make fun of

Derisive: expressing ridicule or scorn

Derivative: copied or adapted; not original

Derive: to originate; take from a certain source

Derogate: to belittle, disparage

Descry: to discover or reveal

Desecrate: to abuse something sacred

Desiccate: to dry completely, dehydrate

Desist: to stop doing something

Despondent: feeling discouraged and dejected

Despot: tyrannical ruler

Destitute: very poor, poverty-stricken

Desultory: at random, rambling, unmethodical

Detached: separate, unconnected

Determinate: having defined limits; conclusive

Detestation: extreme hatred

Detractor: one who takes something away

Detrimental: causing harm or injury

Deviate: to stray, wander

Deviation: departure, exception, anomaly

Devoid: totally lacking

Devout: deeply religious

Dexterous: skilled physically or mentally

Diabolical: fiendish; wicked

Dialect: regional style of speaking

Diaphanous: allowing light to show through; delicate

Diatribe: bitter verbal attack

Dichotomy: division into two parts

Dictum: authoritative statement; popular saying

Didactic: excessively instructive

Differentiate: to distinguish between two items

Diffidence: shyness, lack of confidence

Diffract: to cause to separate into parts, esp. light

Diffuse: widely spread out

Dilapidated: in disrepair, run-down, neglected

Dilate: to enlarge, swell, extend

Dilatory: slow, tending to delay

Dilettante: an amateur

Diluvial: relating to a flood

Diminutive: small

Diplomacy: discretion, tact

Dirge: funeral hymn

Disabuse: to free from a misconception

Disaffected: discontented and disloyal

Disarray: clutter, disorder

Disband: to break up

Disbar: to expel from legal profession

Disburse: to pay out

Discern: to perceive something obscure

Disclaim: to deny, disavow

Disclose: to confess, divulge

Discomfit: to cause perplexity and embarrassment

Discompose: to disturb the composure or serenity

Disconcerting: bewildering, perplexing, slightly disturbing

Disconsolate: unable to be consoled; extremely sad

Discordant: harsh-sounding, badly out of tune

Discredit: to dishonor or disgrace

Discredited: disbelieved, discounted; disgraced, dishonored

Discrepancy: difference between

Discrete: distinct, separate

Discretionary: subject to one’s own judgment

Discursive: wandering from topic to topic

Disdain: to regard with scorn and contempt

Disengaged: disconnected, disassociated

Disgorge: to vomit, discharge violently

Disheveled: untidy, disarranged, unkempt

Disinclined: averse, unwilling, lacking desire

Disingenuous: sly and crafty

Disinterest: lack of interest or a disadvantage

Disjointed: lacking coherence or order, being separated

Disparage: to belittle, speak disrespectfully about

Disparate: dissimilar, different in kind

Disparity: contrast, dissimilarity

Dispassionate: free from emotion; impartial, unbiased

Dispel: to drive out or scatter

Dispense: to distribute, administer

Dispense with: to suspend the operation of, do without

Disperse: to break up, scatter

Dispirit: to dishearten, make dejected

Dispute: to debate, to quarrel

Disquieted: feeling anxiety, being disturbed, lacking peace

Disregard: to neglect, pay no attention to

Disrepute: disgrace, dishonor

Dissemble: to pretend, disguise one’s motives

Disseminate: to spread far and wide

Dissension: difference of opinion

Dissimulate: to disguise or put on a false appearance

Dissipate: to scatter; to pursue pleasure to excess

Dissociate: to separate; remove from an association

Dissonant: harsh and unpleasant sounding

Dissuade: to persuade someone to alter original intentions

Distaff: the female branch of a family

Distend: to swell, inflate, bloat

Distraught: very worried and distressed

Distrust (n): disbelief and suspicion

Dither (v): to move or act confusedly or without clear purpose

Diurnal: daily

Diverge: to move in different directions, to deviate from a source

Divest: to get rid of

Divine (v): to foretell or know by inspiration

Divisive: creating disunity or conflict

Docile: tame, willing to be taught

Doctrinaire: rigidly devoted to theories

Dogged (adj): persistent, stubborn

Dogmatic: rigidly fixed in opinion, opinionated

Doldrums: a period of despondency

Doleful: sad, mournful

Dolor: sadness

Dolt: idiot, dimwit, foolish person

Domineer: to rule over something in a tyrannical way

Dormant: at rest, inactive, in suspended animation

Dotage: senile condition, mental decline

Dotard: senile old person

Doting: excessively fond, loving to excess

Doughty: courageous

Dour: sullen and gloomy; stern and severe

Dowry: money or property given by a bride to her husband

Draft (v): to plan, outline; to recruit, conscript

Draw: to attract, to pull toward

Drivel: stupid talk; slobber

Droll: amusing in a wry, subtle way

Dross: waste produced during metal smelting; garbage

Dudgeon: angry indignation

Dulcet: pleasant sounding, soothing to the ear

Dumb: unable to speak

Dupe (n): fool, pawn

Dupe (v): to deceive, trick

Duplicity: deception, dishonesty, double-dealing

Durability: strength, sturdiness

Duress: threat of force or intimidation; imprisonment

Dwindle: to shrink or decrease

Dyspeptic: suffering from indigestion; gloomy and irritable


Earthy: crude

Ebb (v): to fade away, recede

Ebullient: exhilarated, full of enthusiasm and high spirits

Eclectic: selecting from various sources

Ecstatic: joyful

Eddy: air or wind current

Edict: law, command, official public order

Edifice: building

Edify: to instruct morally and spiritually

Editorialize: to express an opinion on an issue

Efface: to erase or make illegible

Effervescent: bubbly, lively

Efficacious: effective, efficient

Effigy: stuffed doll; likeness of a person

Effluvia: outpouring of gases or vapors

Effrontery: impudent boldness; audacity

Effulgent: brilliantly shining

Effusive: expressing emotion without restraint

Egregious: conspicuously bad

Egress: exit

Elation: exhilaration, joy

Elegy: mournful poem, usually about the dead

Elevated: high in status, exalted

Elicit: to draw out, provoke

Eloquence: fluent and effective speech

Elucidate: to explain, clarify

Emaciated: skinny, scrawny, gaunt, esp. from hunger

Emancipate: to set free, liberate

Embellish: to ornament, make attractive with decoration or details; add details to a statement

Embezzle: to steal money in violation of a trust

Embroil: to involve in; cause to fall into disorder

Emend: to correct a text

Eminent: celebrated, distinguished; outstanding, towering

Emollient: having soothing qualities, esp. for skin

Emotive: appealing to or expressing emotion

Empathy: identification with another’s feelings

Emulate: to copy, imitate

Enchant: to charm or attract

Encipher: to translate a message into code

Encomium: warm praise

Encumber: to hinder, burden, restrict motion

Endemic: belonging to a particular area, inherent

Endogamous: marrying within a specific group due to law or custom

Enervate: to weaken, sap strength from

Engender: to produce, cause, bring about

Enigmatic: puzzling, inexplicable

Enjoin: to urge, order, command; forbid or prohibit, as by judicial order

Enmity: hostility, antagonism, ill-will

Ennui: boredom, lack of interest and energy

Enormity: state of being gigantic or terrible

Ensconce: to settle comfortably into a place

Enshroud: to cover, enclose with a dark cover

Entail: to involve as a necessary result, necessitate

Enthrall: to captivate, enchant, enslave

Entice: to lure or tempt

Entity: something with its own existence or form

Entomologist: scientist who studies insects

Entreat: to plead, beg

Entrenched: established solidly

Enumerate: to count, list, itemize

Enunciate: to pronounce clearly

Eon: indefinitely long period of time

Ephemeral: momentary, transient, fleeting

Epicure: person with refined taste in food and wine

Epigram: short, witty saying or poem

Epigraph: quotation at the beginning of a literary work

Epilogue: concluding section of a literary work

Epithet: an abusive word or phrase

Epitome: representative of an entire group; summary

Epochal: very significant or influential; defining an epoch or time period

Equanimity: calmness, composure

Equestrian (n): one who rides on horseback

Equine: relating to horses

Equitable: fair

Equity: justice, fairness

Equivocal: ambiguous, open to two interpretations

Equivocate: to use vague or ambiguous language intentionally

Eradicate: to erase or wipe out

Errant: straying, mistaken, roving

Erratic: wandering and unpredictable

Erroneous: in error; mistaken

Ersatz: fake

Erudite: learned, scholarly

Eschew: to abstain from, avoid

Esoteric: understood only by a learned few

Espouse: to support or advocate; to marry

Estimable: admirable

Esurient: hungry, greedy

Ethereal: not earthly, spiritual, delicate

Ethos: beliefs or character of a group

Etymology: origin and history of a word; study of words

Eulogy: high praise, often in a public speech

Euphemism: use of an inoffensive word or phrase in place of a more distasteful one

Euphony: pleasant, harmonious sound

Euphoria: feeling of well-being or happiness

Eurythmics: art of harmonious bodily movement

Euthanasia: mercy killing; intentional, easy and painless death

Evade: to avoid, dodge

Evanescent: momentary, transitory, short-lived

Evince: to show clearly, display, signify

Evoke: to inspire memories; to produce a reaction

Exacerbate: to aggravate, intensify the bad qualities of

Exalt: to glorify, to elevate

Excommunicate: to bar from membership in the church

Excoriate: to denounce

Exculpate: to clear of blame or fault

Execrable: utterly detestable

Exemplary: serving as an example, commendable

Exhort: to urge or incite by strong appeals

Exhume: to remove from a grave; uncover a secret

Exigent: urgent; excessively demanding

Exonerate: to clear of blame

Exorbitant: extravagant, greater than reasonable

Exorcise: to expel evil spirits

Expansive: sweeping, comprehensive; tending to expand

Expatiate: to wander; to discuss or describe at length

Expatriate (n): one who lives outside one’s native land

Expatriate (v): to drive someone from his/her native land

Expedient (adj): convenient, efficient, practical

Expiate: to atone for, make amends for

Explicable: capable of being explained

Explicit: clearly defined, specific; forthright in expression

Exponent: one who champions or advocates

Expound: to elaborate; to expand or increase

Expunge: to erase, eliminate completely

Expurgate: to censor

Extemporaneous: unrehearsed, on the spur of the moment

Extenuate: to lessen the seriousness, strength, or effect of

Extol: to praise

Extort: to obtain something by threats

Extraneous: irrelevant, unrelated, unnecessary

Extrapolate: to estimate

Extremity: outermost or farthest point

Extricate: to free from, disentangle, free

Extrinsic: not inherent or essential, coming from without

Extrovert: an outgoing person

Exuberant: lively, happy, and full of good spirits

Exude: to give off, ooze

Exult: to rejoice


Fabricate: to make or devise; construct

Fabricated: constructed, invented; faked, falsified

Facade: face, front; mask, superficial appearance

Facetious: witty in an inappropriate way

Facile: very easy

Facilitate: to aid, assist

Facility: aptitude, ease in doing something

Facsimile: an exact copy

Fallacious: wrong, unsound, illogical

Fallible: capable of failing

Fallow: uncultivated, unused

Fanaticism: extreme devotion to a cause

Farcical: absurd, ludicrous

Fastidious: careful with details

Fathom (v): to measure the depth of, gauge; to understand

Fatuous: stupid; foolishly self-satisfied

Fault: break in a rock formation; mistake or error

Fawn (v): to flatter excessively, seek the favor of

Faze: to bother, upset, or disconcert

Fealty: intense loyalty

Feasible: possible, capable of being done

Feckless: ineffective, careless, irresponsible

Fecund: fertile, fruitful, productive

Federation: union of organizations; union of several states, each of which retains local power

Feign: to pretend, give a false impression; to invent falsely

Feisty: excitable, easily drawn into quarrels

Felicitous: suitable, appropriate; well-spoken

Felicity: feeling great happiness

Fell (v): to chop, cut down

Fell: cruel

Fervid: passionate, intense zealous

Fetid: foul-smelling, putrid

Fetter: to bind, chain, confine

Fey: otherworldly; doomed

Fickle: unreliable

Fictive: fictional, imaginary

Fidelity: loyalty

Fiendish: excessively bad or cruel

Filch: to steal

Filial: appropriate for a child

Filibuster: use of obstructive tactics in a legislative assembly to prevent adoption of a measure

Finesse: refinement or skill at a task or in a situation

Finicky: fussy, difficult to please

Fission: process of splitting into two parts

Fissure: a crack or break

Fitful: intermittent, irregular

Fixity: being fixed or stable

Flaccid: limp, flabby, weak

Flag: to lose energy and strength

Flagrant: outrageous, shameless

Flamboyant: flashy, garish; exciting, dazzling

Flammable: combustible, being easily burned

Fledgling: young bird just learning to fly; beginner, novice

Flippant: disrespectful, casual

Flora: plants

Florid: gaudy, extremely ornate; ruddy, flushed

Flounder: to falter, waver; to muddle, struggle

Flout: to treat contemptuously, scorn

Fluctuate: to alternate, waver

Flurried: to become agitated and confused

Fluster: to agitate or confuse

Fodder: raw material; feed for animals

Foible: minor weakness or character flaw

Foil (v): to defeat, frustrate

Foist: to pass off as genuine

Foliate: to grow, sprout leaves

Foment: to arouse or incite

Forage: to wander in search of food

Forbearance: patience, restraint, leniency

Ford (v): to cross a body of water at a shallow place

Foreboding: dark sense of evil to come

Foreclose: to rule out; to seize debtor’s property for lack of payments

Forensic: relating to legal proceedings; relating to debates

Forensics: study of argumentation and debate

Forestall: to prevent, delay; anticipate

Forethought: anticipation, foresight

Forfend: to prevent

Forgo: to go without, refrain from

Formulate: to conceive, devise; to draft, plan; to express, state

Forsake: to abandon, withdraw from

Forswear: to repudiate, renounce, disclaim, reject

Forte (n): strong point, something a person does well

Fortnight: two weeks

Fortuitous: happening by luck, fortunate

Foster (v): to nourish, cultivate, promote

Foundation: groundwork, support; institution established by donation to aid a certain cause

Founder (v) to fall helplessly; sink

Fracas: noisy dispute

Fractious: unruly, rebellious

Fragmentation: division, separation into parts, disorganization

Fratricide: the killing of a brother or sister

Fraudulent: deceitful, dishonest, unethical

Fraught: full of, accompanied by

Frenetic: wildly frantic, frenzied, hectic

Frenzied: feverishly fast, hectic, and confused

Frivolous: petty, trivial; flippant, silly

Frugal: thrifty; cheap

Fulminate: to explode with anger

Fulsome: excessive, overdone, sickeningly abundant

Funereal: mournful, appropriate to a funeral

Furor: rage, fury

Furtive: secret, stealthy

Fusion: process of merging things into one


Gainsay: to deny

Gall (n): bitterness; careless nerve

Gall (v): to exasperate and irritate

Gallant: a very fashionable young man

Gambol: to dance or skip around playfully

Game (adj): courageous

Gargantuan: giant, tremendous

Garner: to gather and store

Garrulous: very talkative

Gauche: crude, socially awkward

Gaucherie: a tactless or awkward act

Gaunt: thin and bony

Gavel: mallet used for commanding attention

Genre: type, class, category

Genteel: stylish, elegant in manner or appearance

Geriatric: relating to old age or the process of aging

Germinate: to begin to grow (as in a seed or idea)

Gestation: growth process from conception to birth

Gibe (v): to make heckling, taunting remarks

Girth: distance around something

Glib: fluent in an insincere manner; offhand, casual

Glower: to glare, stare angrily and intensely

Gluttony: eating and drinking to excess

Gnostic: having to do with knowledge

Goad: to prod or urge

Gossamer: something light, delicate, or tenuous

Gouge: scoop out; extort

Gradation: process occurring by regular degrees or stages; variation in color

Grandiloquence: pompous talk, fancy but meaningless language

Grandiose: magnificent and imposing; exaggerated and pretentious

Granular: having a grainy texture

Grasp (v): to perceive and understand; to hold securely

Gratis: free, costing nothing

Gratuitous: free, voluntary; unnecessary and unjustified

Gratuity: something given voluntarily, tip

Gregarious: outgoing, sociable

Grievous: causing grief or sorrow; serious and distressing

Grimace: facial expression showing pain or disgust

Grimy: dirty, filthy

Gross (adj): obscene; blatant, flagrant

Gross (n): total before deductions

Grovel: to humble oneself in a demeaning way

Grubby: dirty, sloppy

Guile: trickery, deception

Gullible: easily deceived

Gustatory: relating to sense of taste

Gyrate: to move in a circular motion


Habitat: dwelling place

Hackneyed: worn out by over-use

Hail: to greet with praise

Hallow: to make holy; treat as sacred

Hamlet: small village

Hapless: unfortunate, having bad luck

Harangue: a pompous speech

Harbinger: precursor, sign of something to come

Hardy: robust, vigorous

Harmony: accord, tranquility, agreement

Harrowing: extremely distressing, terrifying

Hasten: to hurry, to speed up

Haughty: arrogant and condescending

Headlong: recklessly

Heathen: pagan; uncivilized and irreligious

Hectic: hasty, hurried, confused

Hector: a bully, braggart

Hedonism: pursuit of pleasure as a goal

Hegemony: leadership, domination, usually by a country

Heinous: shocking, wicked, terrible

Hemicycle: semicircular form or structure

Heretical: opposed to an established religious orthodoxy

Hermetic: tightly sealed

Heterodox: unorthodox, not widely accepted

Heterogeneous: composed of unlike parts, different, diverse

Hew: to cut with an ax

Hiatus: a gap or a break

Hidebound: excessively rigid; dry and stiff

Hinder: to hamper

Hindsight: perception of events after they happen

Hinterland: wilderness

Hoary: very old; whitish or gray from age

Holistic: emphasizing importance of the whole and interdependence of its parts

Holocaust: widespread destruction, usually by fire

Homage: public honor and respect

Homogenous: composed of identical parts

Homonym: word identical in pronunciation but different in meaning

Hone: to sharpen

Honor (v): to praise, glorify, pay tribute to

Humane: merciful, kindly

Husband (v): to farm; manage carefully and thriftily

Hutch: pen or coop for animals; shack, shanty

Hydrate: to add water to

Hyperbole: purposeful exaggeration for effect

Hyperventilate: to breathe abnormally fast

Hypochondria: unfounded belief that one is often ill

Hypocrite: person claiming beliefs or virtues he or she doesn’t really possess

Hypothermia: abnormally low body temperature

Hypothesis: assumption subject to proof

Hypothetical: theoretical, speculative


Iconoclast: one who attacks traditional beliefs

Idealism: pursuit of noble goals

Idiosyncrasy: peculiarity of temperament, eccentricity

Ignoble: dishonorable, not noble in character

Ignominious: disgraceful and dishonorable

Ignoramus: an ignorant person

Ilk: type or kind

Illicit: illegal, improper

Illimitable: limitless

Illusory: unreal, deceptive

Illustrious: famous, renowned

Imbue: to infuse; dye, wet, moisten

Immaculate: spotless; free from error

Immaterial: extraneous, inconsequential, nonessential; not consisting of matter

Immense: enormous, huge

Immerse: to bathe, dip; to engross, preoccupy

Immobile: not moveable; still

Immunological: relating to immune system

Immure: to imprison

Immutable: unchangeable, invariable

Impair: to damage, injure

Impasse: blocked path, dilemma with no solution

Impassioned: with passion

Impassive: showing no emotion

Impeach: to charge with misdeeds in public office; accuse

Impeccable: flawless, without fault

Impecunious: poor, having no money

Impediment: barrier, obstacle; speech disorder

Imperative: essential; mandatory

Imperious: arrogantly self-assured, domineering, overbearing

Impertinent: rude

Imperturbable: not capable of being disturbed

Impervious: impossible to penetrate; incapable of being affected

Impetuous: quick to act without thinking

Impious: not devout in religion

Implacable: inflexible, incapable of being pleased

Implant: to set securely or deeply; to instill

Implausible: improbable, inconceivable

Implicate: to involve in a crime, incriminate

Implicit: implied, not directly expressed

Impolitic: unwise

Importune: to ask repeatedly, beg

Impose: to inflict, force upon

Imposing: dignified, grand

Impotent: powerless, ineffective, lacking strength

Impound: to seize and confine

Impoverish: to make poor or bankrupt

Imprecation: curse

Impregnable: totally safe from attack, able to resist defeat

Impressionable: easily influenced or affected

Impromptu: spontaneous, without rehearsal

Improvident: without planning or foresight, negligent

Imprudent: unwise

Impudent: arrogant and rude

Impugn: to call into question, attack verbally

Inane: foolish, silly, lacking significance

Incandescent: shining brightly

Incarnadine: blood-red in color

Incarnate: having bodily form

Incendiary: combustible, flammable, burning easily

Incense (v): to infuriate, enrage

Inception: beginning

Incessant: continuous, never ceasing

Inchoate: just begun; disorganized

Incipient: beginning to exist or appear; in an initial stage

Incisive: perceptive, penetrating

Incognito: in disguise, concealing one’s identity

Incommunicado: lacking a means to communicate

Incongruous: incompatible, not harmonious

Incontrovertible: unquestionable, beyond dispute

Incorrigible: incapable of being corrected

Incredulous: skeptical, doubtful

Inculcate: to teach, impress in the mind

Inculpate: to blame, charge with a crime

Incumbent (adj): holding a specified office, often political; required, obligatory

Incursion: sudden invasion

Indefatigable: never tired

Indefensible: inexcusable, unforgivable

Indelible: permanent, not erasable

Indenture: bound to another by contract

Indicative: showing or pointing out, suggestive of

Indict: to accuse formally, charge with a crime

Indigenous: native, occurring naturally in an area

Indigent: very poor

Indignant: angry, incensed, offended

Indisputable: not disputed, unquestioned

Indolent: habitually lazy, idle

Indomitable: fearless, unconquerable

Indubitable: unquestionable

Induce: to persuade; bring about

Induct: to place ceremoniously in office

Inebriated: drunk, intoxicated

Inept: clumsy, awkward

Inert: unable to move, tending to inactivity

Inestimable: too great to be estimated

Inevitable: certain, unavoidable

Inexorable: inflexible, unyielding

Inextricable: incapable of being disentangled

Infallible: incapable of making a mistake

Infamy: reputation for bad deeds

Infatuated: strongly or foolishly attached to, inspired with foolish passion, overly in love

Infer: to conclude, deduce

Infernal: hellish, diabolical

Infiltrate: to pass secretly into enemy territory

Infinitesimal: extremely tiny

Infirmity: disease, ailment

Infringe: to encroach, trespass; to transgress, violate

Infuriate: to anger, provoke, outrage

Infuriating: provoking anger or outrage

Ingenious: original, clever, inventive

Ingenuous: straightforward, open; naive and unsophisticated

Inglorious: lacking fame or honor, shameful

Ingrained: an innate quality, deep-seated

Ingrate: ungrateful person

Ingratiate: to bring oneself purposely into another’s good graces

Ingress: entrance

Inhibit: to hold back, prevent, restrain

Inimical: hostile, unfriendly

Iniquity: sin, evil act

Initiate: to begin, introduce; to enlist, induct

Inject: to force into; to introduce into conversation

Injunction: command, order

Injurious: causing injury

Inkling: hint; vague idea

Innate: natural, inborn

Innateness: state of being natural or inborn

Innocuous: harmless; inoffensive

Innovate: to invent, modernize, revolutionize

Innuendo: indirect and subtle criticism, insinuation

Innumerable: too many to be counted

Inquest: investigation; court or legal proceeding

Insatiable: never satisfied

Inscrutable: impossible to understand fully

Insentient: unfeeling, unconscious

Insidious: sly, treacherous, devious

Insinuate: to suggest, say indirectly, imply

Insipid: bland, lacking flavor; lacking excitement

Insolent: insulting and arrogant

Insoluble: not able to be solved or explained

Insolvent: bankrupt, unable to pay one’s debts

Instigate: to incite, urge, agitate

Insubstantial: modest, insignificant

Insufficiency: lacking in something

Insular: isolated, detached

Insuperable: insurmountable, unconquerable

Insurgent (adj): rebellious, insubordinate

Insurrection: rebellion

Integral: central, indispensable

Integrity: decency, honest; wholeness

Intemperate: not moderate

Inter: to bury

Interdict: to forbid, prohibit

Interject: to interpose, insert

Interlocutor: someone taking part in a dialogue

Interloper: trespasser; meddler in others’ affairs

Interminable: endless

Internecine: deadly to both sides

Interpolate: to insert; change by adding new words or material

Interpose: to insert; to intervene

Interregnum: interval between reigns

Intersect: to divide by passing through or across

Intersperse: to distribute among, mix with

Interstice: a space between things

Intimation: clue, suggestion

Intractable: not easily managed

Intramural: within an institution like a school

Intransigent: uncompromising, refusing to be reconciled

Intrepid: fearless

Intrigued: interested, curious

Intrinsic: inherent, internal

Introspective: contemplating one’s own thoughts and feelings

Introvert: someone given to self-analysis

Intuitive: instinctive, untaught

Inundate: to cover with water; overwhelm

Inure: to harden; accustom; become used to

Invective: verbal abuse

Inveigh: protest strongly

Investiture: ceremony conferring authority

Inveterate: confirmed, long-standing, deeply rooted

Invidious: likely to provoke ill will, offensive

Inviolable: safe from violation or assault

Invoke: to call upon, request help

Irascible: easily angered

Iridescent: showing many colors

Irreverent: disrespectful

Irrevocable: conclusive, irreversible

Itinerant: wandering from place to place, unsettled


Jaded: tired by excess or overuse; slightly cynical

Jangling: clashing, jarring; harshly unpleasant (in sound)

Jargon: nonsensical talk; specialized language

Jaundice: yellowish discoloration of skin

Jaundiced: affected by jaundice; prejudiced or embittered

Jettison: to cast off, throw cargo overboard

Jibe: to shift suddenly from one side to the other

Jingoism: belligerent support of one’s country

Jocular: jovial, playful, humorous

Jubilee: special anniversary

Judicious: sensible, showing good judgment

Juggernaut: huge force destroying everything in its path

Juncture: point where two things are joined

Jurisprudence: philosophy of law

Juxtaposition: side-by-side placement


Keen: having a sharp edge; intellectually sharp, perceptive

Kernel: innermost, essential part; seed grain, often in a shell

Keynote: note or tone on which a musical key is founded; main idea of a speech, program, etcetera

Kindle: to set fire to or ignite; excite or inspire

Kinetic: relating to motion; characterized by movement

Kismet: fate

Knell: sound of a funeral bell; omen of death or failure

Kudos: fame, glory, honor


Laceration: cut or wound

Lachrymose: tearful

Lackadaisical: idle, lazy; apathetic, indifferent

Lackluster: dull

Laconic: using few words

Laggard: dawdler, loafer, lazy person

Lambaste: disapprove angrily

Lament (v): to deplore, grieve

Lampoon (v): to attack with satire, mock harshly

Languid: lacking energy, indifferent, slow

Languor: listlessness

Lap (v): to drink using the tongue; to wash against

Lapidary: relating to precious stones

Larceny: theft of property

Larder: place where food is stored

Largess: generosity; gift

Larynx: organ containing vocal cords

Lascivious: lewd, lustful

Lassitude: lethargy, sluggishness

Latent: present but hidden; potential

Latitude: freedom of action or choice

Laudable: deserving of praise

Lavish: to give plentiful amounts of

Laxity: carelessness

Legerdemain: trickery

Legible: readable

Legislate: to decree, mandate, make laws

Lenient: easygoing, permissive

Lethargy: indifferent inactivity

Levitate: to rise in the air or cause to rise

Levity: humor, frivolity, gaiety

Lexicon: dictionary, list of words

Liberal (adj): tolerant, broad-minded; generous, lavish

Liberation: freedom, emancipation

Libertarian: one who believes in unrestricted freedom

Libertine: one without moral restraint

Libidinous: lustful

License: freedom to act

Licentious: immoral; unrestrained by society

Lien: right to possess and sell the property of a debtor

Limpid: clear and simple; serene; transparent

Lineage: ancestry

Liniment: medicinal liquid used externally to ease pain

Lionize: to treat as a celebrity

Lissome: easily flexed, limber, agile

Listless: lacking energy and enthusiasm

Literal: word for word; upholding the exact meaning of word

Literate: able to read and write; well-read and educated

Lithe: moving and bending with ease; graceful

Litigation: lawsuit

Livid: discolored from a bruise; reddened with anger

Loathe: to abhor, despise, hate

Locomotion: movement from place to place

Lodged: fixed in one position

Lofty: noble, elevated in position

Logo: corporate symbol

Loiter: to stand around idly

Loquacious: talkative

Low (v): to make a sound like a cow, moo

Lucid: clear and easily understood

Ludicrous: laughable, ridiculous

Lugubrious: sorrowful, mournful

Lull: to soothe

Lumber (v): to move slowly and awkwardly

Luminary: bright object; celebrity; source of inspiration

Luminous: bright, brilliant, glowing

Lunar: relating to the moon

Lurid: harshly shocking, sensational; glowing

Luxuriance: elegance, lavishness

Lyrical: suitable for poetry and song; expressing feeling


Macabre: gruesome, producing horror

Machination: plot or scheme

Macrobiotics: art of prolonging life by special diet of organic, nonmeat substances

Macrocosm: system regarded as an entity with subsystems

Maelstrom: whirlpool; turmoil; agitated state of mind

Magnanimous: generous, noble in spirit

Magnate: powerful or influential person

Magnitude: extent, greatness of size

Mainstay: chief support

Maladroit: clumsy, tactless

Malady: illness

Malapropism: humorous misuse of a word

Malcontent: discontented person, one who holds a grudge

Malediction: curse

Malefactor: evil-doer; culprit

Malevolent: ill-willed; causing evil or harm to others

Malfunction (n): breakdown, failure

Malfunction (v): to fail to work

Malice: animosity, spite, hatred

Malinger: to evade responsibility by pretending to be ill

Malleable: capable of being shaped

Malodorous: foul-smelling

Manifest (adj): obvious

Manifold: diverse, varied, comprised of many parts

Mannered: artificial or stilted in character

Manual (adj): hand-operated; physical

Manumission: release from slavery

Mar: to damage, deface; spoil

Marginal: barely sufficient

Maritime: relating to the sea or sailing

Martial: warlike, pertaining to the military

Martinet: strict disciplinarian, one who rigidly follows rules

Martyr: person dying for his/her beliefs

Masochist: one who enjoys pain or humiliation

Materialism: preoccupation with material things

Matriculate: to enroll as a member of a college or university

Matrilineal: tracing ancestry through mother’s line rather than father’s

Maudlin: overly sentimental

Maverick: a person who resists adherence to a group

Mawkish: sickeningly sentimental

Meager: scanty, sparse

Meander: to wander aimlessly without direction

Meaningful: significant

Meddler: person interfering in others’ affairs

Medieval: relating to the Middle Ages

Megalith: huge stone used in prehistoric structures

Megalomania: mental state with delusions of wealth and power

Melancholy: sadness, depression

Melodious: having a pleasing melody

Menagerie: various animals kept together for exhibition

Mendacious: dishonest

Mendacity: a lie, falsehood

Mendicant: beggar

Mercenary (adj): motivated only by greed

Mercenary (n): soldier for hire in foreign countries

Mercurial: quick, shrewd, and unpredictable

Meretricious: gaudy, falsely attractive

Meridian: circle passing through the two poles of the earth

Meritorious: deserving reward or praise

Metamorphosis: change, transformation

Metaphor: figure of speech comparing two different things

Meticulous: extremely careful, fastidious, painstaking

Metronome: time-keeping device used in music

Mettle: courageousness; endurance

Microbe: microorganism

Microcosm: tiny system used as analogy for larger system

Migratory: wandering from place to place with the seasons

Militate: to operate against, work against

Minatory: menacing, threatening

Minimal: smallest in amount, least possible

Miniscule: very small

Mirth: frivolity, gaiety, laughter

Misanthrope: person who hates human beings

Misapprehend: to misunderstand, fail to know

Misconstrue: to misunderstand, fail to discover

Miscreant: one who behaves criminally

Miserliness: extreme stinginess

Misgiving: apprehension, doubt, sense of foreboding

Mishap: accident; misfortune

Misnomer: an incorrect name or designation

Missive: note or letter

Mitigate: to soften, or make milder

Mnemonic: relating to memory; designed to assist memory

Mobility: ease of movement

Mock (v): to deride, ridicule

Moderate (adj): reasonable, not extreme

Moderate (v): to make less excessive, restrain; regulate

Modicum: a small amount

Mollify: to calm or make less severe

Mollusk: sea animal with a soft body

Molt (v): to shed hair, skin, or an outer layer periodically

Momentous: important

Monastic: extremely plain or secluded, as in a monastery

Monochromatic: having one color

Monogamy: custom of marriage to one person at a time

Monolith: large block of stone

Monologue: dramatic speech performed by one actor

Monotony: lack of variation; wearisome sameness

Montage: composite picture

Moot: debatable; previously decided

Morbid: gruesome; relating to disease; abnormally gloomy

Mordacious: caustic, biting

Mordant: sarcastic

Mores: customs or manners

Moribund: dying, decaying

Morose: gloomy, sullen, or surly

Mote: small particle, speck

Motley: many-colored; composed of diverse parts

Mottle: to mark with spots

Multifaceted: having many parts, many-sided

Multifarious: diverse

Mundane: worldly; commonplace

Munificent: generous

Munitions: ammunition

Mutability: changeability

Myopic: near-sighted

Myriad: immense number, multitude


Nadir: lowest point

Naiveté: a lack of worldly wisdom

Narrative: account, story

Nascent: starting to develop, coming into existence

Nebulous: vague, cloudy

Necromancy: black magic

Nefarious: vicious, evil

Negligent: careless, inattentive

Negligible: not worth considering

Nemesis: a formidable, often victorious opponent

Neologism: new word or expression

Neonate: newborn child

Neophyte: novice, beginner

Nether: located under or below

Nettle (v): to irritate

Neutrality: disinterest, impartiality

Neutralize: to balance, offset

Nicety: elegant or delicate feature; minute distinction

Niche: recess in a wall; best position for something

Niggardly: stingy

Niggling: trifle, petty

Nihilism: belief that existence and all traditional values are meaningless

Noisome: stinking, putrid

Nomenclature: terms used in a particular science or discipline

Nominal: existing in name only; negligible

Non sequitur: conclusion not following from apparent evidence

Nonentity: an insignificant person

Novitiate: period of being a beginner or novice

Noxious: harmful, unwholesome

Nullify: to make legally invalid; to counteract the effect of

Numismatics: coin collecting

Nutritive: relating to nutrition or health


Obdurate: stubborn

Obeisance: a show of respect or submission

Obfuscate: to confuse, obscure

Objurgate: scold

Obliging: accommodating, agreeable

Oblique: indirect, evasive; misleading, devious

Obliterate: demolish completely, wipe out

Obloquy: abusive language; ill repute

Obscure (adj): dim, unclear; not well known

Obscurity: place or thing that’s hard to perceive

Obsequious: overly submissive, brownnosing

Obsequy: funeral ceremony

Obsolete: no longer in use

Obstinate: stubborn

Obstreperous: troublesome, boisterous, unruly

Obtrusive: pushy, too conspicuous

Obtuse: insensitive, stupid, dull

Obviate: to make unnecessary; to anticipate and prevent

Occlude: to shut, block

Odious: hateful, contemptible

Officious: too helpful, meddlesome

Offshoot: branch

Ominous: menacing, threatening, indicating misfortune

Omnipotent: having unlimited power

Omniscient: having infinite knowledge

Omnivorous: eating everything; absorbing everything

Onerous: burdensome

Ontology: theory about the nature of existence

Opalescent: iridescent, displaying colors

Opaque: impervious to light; difficult to understand

Opine: to express an opinion

Opportune: appropriate, fitting

Opportunist: one who takes advantage of circumstances

Opprobrious: disgraceful, contemptuous

Optimum: the most favorable degree

Opulence: wealth

Oracle: person who foresees the future and gives advice

Oration: lecture, formal speech

Orator: lecturer, speaker

Orchestrate: to arrange music for performance; to coordinate, organize

Ordain: to make someone a priest or minister; to order

Orifice: an opening

Ornithologist: scientist who studies birds

Orotund: pompous

Oscillate: to move back and forth

Ossify: to turn to bone; to become rigid

Ostensible: apparent

Ostentatious: showy

Ostracism: exclusion, temporary banishment

Ouster: expulsion, ejection

Overabundance: excess, surfeit

Overstate: to embellish, exaggerate

Overt: in the open, obvious

Overture: musical introduction; proposal, offer

Overweening: arrogant

Overwrought: agitated, overdone


Pacific: calm, peaceful

Pacifist: one opposed to war

Pacify: to restore calm, bring peace

Paean: a song of praise or thanksgiving

Palatial: like a palace, magnificent

Palaver: idle talk

Paleontology: study of past geological eras through fossil remains

Palette: board for mixing paints; range of colors

Palisade: fence made up of stakes

Pall (n): covering that darkens or obscures; coffin

Pall (v): to lose strength or interest

Palliate: to make less serious, ease

Pallid: lacking color or liveliness

Palpable: obvious, real, tangible

Palpitation: trembling, shaking, irregular beating

Paltry: pitifully small or worthless

Panacea: cure-all

Panache: flamboyance, verve

Pandemic: spread over a whole area or country

Panegyric: elaborate praise; formal hymn of praise

Panoply: impressive array

Panorama: broad view; comprehensive picture

Paradigm: ideal example, model

Paradox: contradiction, incongruity; dilemma, puzzle

Paradoxical: self-contradictory but true

Paragon: model of excellence or perfection

Paramount: supreme, dominant, primary

Paraphrase: to reword, usually in simpler terms

Parch: to dry or shrivel

Pare: to trim

Pariah: outcast

Parity: equality

Parley: discussion, usually between enemies

Parochial: of limited scope or outlook, provincial

Parody: humorous imitation

Parry: to ward off or deflect

Parsimony: stinginess

Partisan (adj): biased in favor of

Partisan (n): strong supporter

Pastiche: piece of literature or music imitating other works

Patent (adj): obvious, unconcealed

Patent (n): official document giving exclusive right to sell an invention

Pathogenic: causing disease

Pathos: pity, compassion

Patrician: aristocrat

Patricide: murder of one’s father

Patrimony: inheritance or heritage derived from one’s father

Patronize: to condescend to, disparage; to buy from

Paucity: scarcity, lack

Pauper: very poor person

Pavilion: tent or light building used for shelter or exhibitions

Peccadillo: minor sin or offense

Peculation: theft of money or goods

Pedagogue: teacher

Pedant: one who pays undue attention to book learning and rules; one that displays learning ostentatiously

Pedestrian (adj): commonplace

Pediment: triangular gable on a roof or facade

Peerless: unequaled

Pejorative: having bad connotations; disparaging

Pellucid: transparent; translucent; easily understood

Penance: voluntary suffering to repent for a wrong

Penchant: inclination

Pending (prep): during, while awaiting

Penitent: expressing sorrow for sins or offenses, repentant

Pensive: thoughtful

Penultimate: next to last

Penumbra: partial shadow

Penury: extreme poverty

Perambulate: walk about

Percipient: discerning, able to perceive

Perdition: complete and utter loss; damnation

Peregrinate: to wander from place to place

Peremptory: imperative; dictatorial

Perennial: present throughout the years; persistent

Perfidious: faithless, disloyal, untrustworthy

Perfunctory: done in a routine way; indifferent

Perihelion: point in orbit nearest to the sun

Peripatetic: moving from place to place

Periphrastic: containing too many words

Perjure: to tell a lie under oath

Permeable: penetrable

Pernicious: very harmful

Perpetuity: continuing forever

Perplexing: puzzling, bewildering

Personification: act of attributing human qualities to objects or abstract qualities

Perspicacious: shrewd, astute, keen-witted

Pert: lively and bold

Pertinacious: persistent, stubborn

Pertinent: applicable, appropriate

Perturbation: disturbance

Perusal: close examination

Pervasive: present throughout

Pervert (v): to cause to change in immoral way; to misuse

Pestilence: epidemic, plague

Pettish: fretful

Petulance: rudeness, peevishness

Phalanx: massed group of soldiers, people, or things

Philanderer: pursuer of casual love affairs

Philanthropy: love of humanity; generosity to worthy causes

Philistine: narrow-minded person, someone lacking appreciation for art or culture

Philology: study of words

Phlegm: coldness or indifference

Phlegmatic: calm in temperament; sluggish

Phoenix: mythical, immortal bird that lives for 500 years, burns itself to death, and rises from its ashes

Phonetics: study of speech sounds

Phonic: relating to sound

Picayune: petty, of little value

Piddling: trivial

Piety: devoutness

Pilfer: to steal

Pillage: to loot, especially during a war

Pillory: ridicule and abuse

Pinnacle: peak, highest point of development

Pious: dedicated, devout, extremely religious

Pique: fleeting feeling of hurt pride

Pithy: profound, substantial; concise, succinct, to the point

Pittance: meager amount or wage

Placate: to soothe or pacify

Placid: calm

Plaintiff: injured person in a lawsuit

Plaintive: expressing sorrow

Plait: to braid

Plangent: loud sound; wailing sound

Plastic: flexible; pliable

Platitude: stale, overused expression

Plaudit: applause

Plebeian: crude, vulgar; low-class

Plenitude: abundance, plenty

Plethora: excess, overabundance

Pliant: pliable, yielding

Pluck: to pull strings on musical instrument

Plucky: courageous, spunky

Plummet: to fall, plunge

Pluralistic: including a variety of groups

Ply (v): to use diligently; to engage; to join together

Pneumatic: relating to air; worked by compressed air

Poach: to steal game or fish; cook in boiling liquid

Podium: platform or lectern for orchestra conductors or speakers

Poignant: emotionally moving

Polar: relating to a geographic pole; exhibiting contrast

Polarize: to tend towards opposite extremes

Polemic: controversy, argument; verbal attack

Politic: shrewd and practical; diplomatic

Polyglot: speaker of many languages

Pompous: self-important

Ponderous: weighty, heavy, large

Pontificate: to speak in a pretentious manner

Pore (v): to study closely or meditatively

Porous: full of holes, permeable to liquids

Portent: omen

Portly: stout, dignified

Posit: to put in position; to suggest an idea

Posterior: bottom, rear

Posterity: future generations; all of a person’s descendants

Potable: drinkable

Potentate: monarch or ruler with great power

Poverty: lacking money or possessions

Pragmatic: practical; moved by facts rather than abstract ideals

Prattle: meaningless, foolish talk

Precarious: uncertain

Precept: principle; law

Precipice: edge, steep overhang

Precipitate (adj): sudden and unexpected

Precipitate (v): to throw down from a height; to cause to happen

Precipitous: hasty, quickly, with too little caution

Précis: short summary of facts

Preclude: to rule out

Precocious: unusually advanced at an early age

Precursor: forerunner, predecessor

Predestine: to decide in advance

Predicament: difficult situation

Predicate (v): to found or base on

Predictive: relating to prediction, indicative of the future

Predilection: preference, liking

Predisposition: tendency, inclination

Preeminent: celebrated, distinguished

Premeditate: to consider, plan beforehand

Premonition: forewarning; presentiment

Preponderance: majority in number; dominance

Prepossessing: attractive, engaging, appealing

Preposterous: absurd, illogical

Presage: to foretell, indicate in advance

Prescient: having foresight

Presentiment: premonition, sense of foreboding

Prestidigitation: sleight of hand

Presumptuous: rude, improperly bold

Pretext: excuse, pretended reason

Prevalent: widespread

Prevaricate: to lie, evade the truth

Primeval: ancient, primitive

Primordial: original, existing from the beginning

Pristine: untouched, uncorrupted

Privation: lack of usual necessities or comforts

Probity: honesty, high-mindedness

Proclivity: tendency, inclination

Procure: to obtain

Prodigal: wasteful, extravagant, lavish

Prodigious: vast, enormous, extraordinary

Proficient: expert, skilled in a certain subject

Profligate: corrupt, degenerate

Profundity: great depth

Profuse: lavish, extravagant

Progenitor: originator, forefather, ancestor in a direct line

Progeny: offspring, children

Prognosticate: to predict

Progressive: favoring progress or change; moving forward

Proliferation: propagation, reproduction; enlargement, expansion

Prolific: productive, fertile

Prolix: tedious; wordy

Prologue: introductory section of a literary work or play

Promontory: piece of land or rock higher than its surroundings

Promulgate: to make known publicly

Propagate: to breed

Propensity: inclination, tendency

Propinquity: nearness

Propitiate: to win over, appease

Propitious: favorable, advantageous

Proponent: advocate, defender, supporter

Propriety: appropriateness

Prosaic: relating to prose; dull, commonplace

Proscribe: to condemn; to forbid, outlaw

Prose: ordinary language used in everyday speech

Prosecutor: person who initiates a legal action or suit

Proselytize: to convert to a particular belief or religion

Prostrate: lying face downward, lying flat on the ground

Protagonist: main character in a play or story, hero

Protean: readily assuming different forms or characters

Protestation: declaration

Protocol: ceremony and manners observed by diplomats

Protract: to prolong, draw out, extend

Protrusion: something that sticks out

Provident: prudent, frugal

Providential: prudent, lucky

Provincial: rustic, unsophisticated, limited in scope

Provocation: cause, incitement to act or respond

Prowess: bravery, skill

Proximity: nearness

Proxy: power to act as substitute for another

Prudent: careful, cautious

Prurient: lustful, exhibiting lewd desires

Pseudonym: pen name; fictitious or borrowed name

Puerile: childish, immature, silly

Pugilism: boxing

Pugnacious: quarrelsome, eager and ready to fight

Pulchritude: beauty

Pulverize: to pound, crush, or grind into powder; destroy

Pummel: to pound, beat

Punctilious: careful in observing rules of behavior or ceremony

Pundit: an authority or critic

Pungent: strong or sharp in smell or taste

Punitive: having to do with punishment

Purgation: process of cleansing, purification

Purge (v): to cleanse or free from impurities

Puritanical: adhering to a rigid moral code

Purport: to profess, suppose, claim

Pusillanimous: cowardly

Putrid: rotten


Quack (n): faker; one who falsely claims to have medical skill

Quadrilateral: four-sided polygon

Quadruped: animal having four feet

Quaff: to drink heartily

Quagmire: marsh; difficult situation

Quandary: dilemma, difficulty

Quarantine: isolation period, originally 40 days, to prevent spread of disease

Quaternary: consisting of or relating to four units or members

Quell: to crush or subdue

Querulous: inclined to complain, irritable

Query (n): question

Quibble: to argue about insignificant and irrelevant details

Quicken: to hasten, arouse, excite

Quiescence: inactivity, stillness

Quiescent: inactive, at rest

Quintessence: most typical example; concentrated essence

Quiver (v): to shake slightly, tremble, vibrate

Quixotic: overly idealistic, impractical

Quotidian: occurring daily; commonplace


Raconteur: witty, skillful storyteller

Radical (adj): fundamental; drastic

Raging: violent, wild

Rail (v): to scold with bitter or abusive language

Raillery: lighthearted jesting

Rally (v): to assemble; recover, recuperate

Ramble (v): to roam, wander; to babble, digress

Ramification: implication, outgrowth, or consequence

Rampant: unrestrained

Rancor: bitter hatred

Rapacious: greedy; predatory

Rapport: relationship of trust and respect

Rapprochement: having a cordial relationship

Rapt: deeply absorbed

Rarefy: to make thinner, purer, or more refined

Ratify: to approve formally, confirm

Ratiocination: methodical, logical reasoning

Ration (n): portion, share

Ration (v): to supply; to restrict consumption of

Rationale: line of reasoning

Raucous: harsh-sounding; boisterous

Ravenous: extremely hungry

Ravine: deep, narrow gorge

Raze: to tear down, demolish

Reactionary (adj): marked by extreme conservatism, esp. in politics

Rebarbative: irritating; repellent

Rebuff (n): blunt rejection

Rebuke (v): to reprimand, scold

Rebut: to refute by evidence or argument

Recalcitrant: resisting authority or control

Recant: to retract a statement, opinion, etcetera

Recapitulate: to review with a brief summary

Receptive: open to others’ ideas; congenial

Recidivism: tendency to repeat previous behavior

Reciprocate: to show or feel in return

Reclusive: shut off from the world

Recondite: relating to obscure learning; known to only a few

Recount (v): to describe facts or events

Recreant: disloyal; cowardly

Recruit (v): to draft, enlist; to seek to enroll

Rectify: to correct

Rectitude: moral uprightness

Recurrence: repetition

Redress (n): relief from wrong or injury

Redundancy: unnecessary repetition

Refectory: room where meals are served

Reform (v): to change, correct

Refract: to deflect sound or light

Refractory: obstinately resistant

Refuge: escape, shelter

Refurbish: to renovate

Refute: to contradict, discredit

Regal: magnificent, splendid, fit for royalty

Regard: high esteem

Regimen: government rule; systematic plan

Regress: to move backward; revert to an earlier form or state

Rehabilitate: to restore to good health or condition; reestablish a person’s good reputation

Reiterate: to say again, repeat

Rejoinder: response

Rejuvenate: to make young again; renew

Relegate: to assign to a class, especially to an inferior one

Relent: to become gentler in attitude

Relinquish: to renounce or surrender something

Relish (v): to enjoy greatly

Remediable: capable of being corrected

Reminiscence: remembrance of past events

Remission: lessening, relaxation

Remit: to send (usually money) as payment

Remonstrate: to protest or object

Remote: distant, isolated

Remuneration: pay or reward for work, trouble, etcetera

Renascent: reborn, coming into being again

Renegade: traitor, person abandoning a cause

Renege: to go back on one’s word

Renitent: resisting pressure, obstinate

Renounce: to give up or reject a right, title, person, etcetera

Renown: fame, widespread acclaim

Rent (adj): torn apart

Repast: meal or mealtime

Repeal: to revoke or formally withdraw (often a law)

Repent: to regret a past action

Repentant: apologetic, guilty, remorseful

Replete: abundantly supplied

Replicate: to duplicate, repeat

Repose: relaxation, leisure

Reprehend: to criticize

Reprehensible: blameworthy, disreputable

Repress: to restrain or hold in

Repression: act of restraining or holding in

Reprise: repetition, esp. of a piece of music

Reproach (v): to find fault with; blame

Reprobate: morally unprincipled person

Reprove: to criticize or correct

Repudiate: to reject as having no authority

Requiem: hymns or religious service for the dead

Requite: to return or repay

Rescind: to repeal, cancel

Residue: remainder, leftover, remnant

Resilient: able to recover quickly after illness or bad luck; able to bounce back into shape

Resolute: determined; with a clear purpose

Resolve (n): determination, firmness of purpose

Resolve (v): to conclude, determine

Resonate: to echo

Respire: to breathe

Respite: interval of relief

Resplendent: splendid, brilliant

Restitution: act of compensating for loss or damage

Restive: impatient, uneasy, restless

Restorative: having the power to renew or revitalize

Restrained: controlled, repressed, restricted

Resuscitate: to revive, bring back to life

Retard (v): to slow, hold back

Reticent: not speaking freely; reserved

Retinue: group of attendants with an important person

Retiring: shy, modest, reserved

Retort: cutting response

Retract: to draw in or take back

Retrench: to regroup, reorganize

Retroactive: applying to an earlier time

Retrograde: having a backward motion or direction

Retrospective: looking back to the past

Revelry: boisterous festivity

Revere: to worship, regard with awe

Revert: to backslide, regress

Revile: to criticize with harsh language, verbally abuse

Revitalize: to renew; give new energy to

Revoke: to annul, cancel, call back

Revulsion: strong feeling of repugnance or dislike

Rhapsody: emotional literary or musical work

Rhetoric: persuasive use of language

Ribald: humorous in a vulgar way

Riddle (v): to make many holes in; permeate

Rife: widespread, prevalent; abundant

Rift: an open space; to divide

Righteous: morally right

Riposte: a retort

Risqué: bordering on being inappropriate or indecent

Robust: strong and healthy; hardy

Rococo: very highly ornamented

Roil: to disturb or cause disorder

Root (v): to dig with a snout (like a pig)

Rooted: to have an origin or base

Rostrum: stage for public speaking

Rotund: round in shape; fat

Rue: to regret

Ruffled: irritated

Ruminate: to contemplate, reflect upon

Rustic: rural


Saccharine: excessively sweet or sentimental

Sacrosanct: extremely sacred; beyond criticism

Sagacious: shrewd, wise

Salacious: lustful

Salient: prominent or conspicuous

Sallow: sickly yellow in color

Salubrious: healthful

Salutation: greeting

Sanction: permission, support; law; penalty

Sanctuary: haven, retreat

Sanguine: ruddy; cheerfully optimistic

Sap (v): to weaken gradually

Sapient: wise

Sardonic: cynical, scornfully mocking

Satiate: to satisfy

Saunter: to amble; walk in a leisurely manner

Savant: learned person

Scabbard: sheath for sword or dagger

Scabrous: dealing with indecent things; blemished

Scale (v): to climb to the top of

Scantiness: barely enough, meager

Scarcity: not enough, insufficient

Scenario: plot outline; possible situation

Schism: a division or separation; disharmony

Scintilla: very small amount

Scintillate: to sparkle, flash

Scion: descendent, child

Score (n): notation for a musical composition

Score (v): to make a notch or scratch

Scrivener: professional copyist

Scrupulous: restrained; careful and precise

Scurrilous: vulgar, low, indecent

Secant: straight line intersecting a curve at two points

Secede: to withdraw formally from an organization

Sectarian: narrow-minded; relating to a group or sect

Secular: not specifically pertaining to religion

Sedentary: inactive, stationary; sluggish

Sedition: behavior promoting rebellion

Seismology: science of earthquakes

Seminal: relating to the beginning or seeds of something

Senescent: aging, growing old

Sententious: having a moralizing tone

Sentient: aware, conscious, able to perceive

Sepulchral: typical of a place of burial

Sequester: to remove or set apart; put into seclusion

Seraphic: angelic, pure, sublime

Serendipity: habit of making fortunate discoveries by chance

Serrated: saw-toothed, notched

Servile: submissive, obedient

Shard: piece of broken glass or pottery

Shirk: to avoid a task due to laziness or fear

Sidle: to cause to turn sideways; to move along one side

Simian: apelike; relating to apes

Simper: to smirk, smile foolishly

Simulated: fake, made to look real

Sinecure: well-paying job or office that requires little or no work

Singe: to burn slightly, scorch

Sinuous: winding; intricate, complex

Skulk: to move in a stealthy or cautious manner; sneak

Slake: to calm down or moderate

Slight: to treat as unimportant; insult

Slipshod: careless, hasty

Slough: to discard or shed

Sluggard: lazy, inactive person

Smelt (v): to melt metal in order to refine it

Smutty: obscene, indecent

Snippet: tiny part, tidbit

Sobriety: seriousness

Sobriquet: nickname

Sodden: thoroughly soaked; saturated

Sojourn: visit, stay

Solace: comfort in distress; consolation

Solarium: room or glassed-in area exposed to the sun

Solecism: grammatical mistake

Solicitous: concerned, attentive; eager

Solidarity: unity based on common aims or interests

Soliloquy: literary or dramatic speech by one character, not addressed to others

Solipsism: belief that the self is the only reality

Solstice: shortest or longest day of the year

Soluble: capable of being solved or dissolved

Somber: dark and gloomy; melancholy, dismal

Somnambulist: sleepwalker

Somnolent: drowsy, sleepy; inducing sleep

Sonic: relating to sound

Sonorous: producing a full, rich sound

Sophist: person good at arguing deviously

Sophistry: deceptive reasoning or argumentation

Sophomoric: immature and overconfident

Soporific: sleepy or tending to cause sleep

Sordid: filthy; contemptible and corrupt

Sovereign: having supreme power

Spartan: austere, severe, grave; simple, bare

Specious: deceptively attractive

Speculation: contemplation; act of taking business risks for financial gain

Speculative: involving assumption; uncertain; theoretical

Sporadic: infrequent, irregular

Sportive: frolicsome, playful

Sprightly: lively, animated, energetic

Spur (v): to prod

Spurious: lacking authenticity; counterfeit, false

Spurn: to reject or refuse contemptuously; scorn

Squabble: quarrel

Squalid: filthy; morally repulsive

Squander: to waste

Staccato: marked by abrupt, clear-cut sounds

Stagnant: immobile, stale

Staid: self-restrained to the point of dullness

Stalwart: strong, unwavering

Stand (n): group of trees

Stasis: motionless state; standstill

Stately: grand, unapproachable

Steadfast: immovable

Stentorian: extremely loud

Stigma: mark of disgrace or inferiority

Stilted: stiff, unnatural

Stint (n): period of time spent doing something

Stint (v): to be sparing or frugal

Stipend: allowance; fixed amount of money paid regularly

Stockade: enclosed area forming defensive wall

Stoic: indifferent to or unaffected by emotions

Stolid: having or showing little emotion

Stratagem: trick designed to deceive an enemy

Stratify: to arrange into layers

Striate: striped, grooved

Stricture: something that restrains; negative criticism

Strident: loud, harsh, unpleasantly noisy

Stringent: imposing severe, rigorous standards

Stripling: an adolescent boy

Stultify: to impair or reduce to uselessness

Stupefy: to dull the senses of; stun, astonish

Stymie: to block or thwart

Subdued: suppressed, stifled

Subjection: dependence, obedience, submission

Subjugate: to conquer, subdue; enslave

Sublimate: to repress impulses

Sublime: awe-inspiring; of high spiritual or moral value

Subliminal: subconscious; imperceptible

Submissive: tending to be meek and submit

Subpoena: notice ordering someone to appear in court

Subterfuge: trick or tactic used to avoid something

Subterranean: hidden, secret; underground

Subvert: to undermine or corrupt

Succinct: terse, brief, concise

Succulent: juicy; full of vitality or freshness

Sufferable: bearable

Suffragist: one who advocates extended voting rights

Sully: to soil, stain, tarnish; taint

Sumptuous: lavish, splendid

Superabundance: excessive

Superannuated: too old, obsolete, outdated

Supercilious: arrogant, haughty, overbearing, condescending

Supererogatory: nonessential

Superfluous: extra, more than necessary

Supersede: to take the place of; replace

Supervise: to direct or oversee the work of others

Supplant: to replace, substitute

Supple: flexible, pliant

Supplicant: one who asks humbly and earnestly

Supposition: assumption

Surfeit: excessive amount

Surly: rude and bad-tempered

Surmise: to make an educated guess

Surmount: to conquer, overcome

Surreptitious: characterized by secrecy

Susceptible: vulnerable, unprotected

Sustenance: supplying the necessities of life

Sybarite: person devoted to pleasure and luxury

Sycophant: self-serving flatterer, yes-man

Symbiosis: cooperation, mutual helpfulness

Symposium: meeting with short presentations on related topics

Synchronous: happening at the same time

Syncopation: temporary irregularity in musical rhythm

Synthesis: blend, combination

Synthetic: artificial, imitation


Tableau: vivid description, striking incident or scene

Tacit: silently understood or implied

Taciturn: uncommunicative, not inclined to speak much

Tactful: skillful in dealing with others

Tactile: relating to the sense of touch

Talisman: something producing a magical effect

Tandem: acting as a group or in partnership

Tangential: digressing, diverting

Tangible: able to be sensed; perceptible, measurable

Tantamount: equivalent in value or significance; amounting to

Tarnished: corroded, discolored; discredited, disgraced

Tawdry: gaudy, cheap, showy

Taxonomy: science of classification

Technocrat: strong believer in technology; technical expert

Teeter: to waver or move unsteadily

Temerity: recklessness

Temperance: restraint, self-control, moderation

Tempered: moderated, restrained

Tempestuous: stormy, raging, furious

Temporal: relating to time; chronological

Tenable: defensible, reasonable

Tenacious: stubborn, holding firm

Tendentious: biased

Tenet: belief, doctrine

Tensile: capable of withstanding physical stress

Tenuous: weak, insubstantial

Tepid: lukewarm; showing little enthusiasm

Terminal (adj): concluding, final; fatal

Terminal (n): depot, station

Terrestrial: earthly; down-to-earth, commonplace

Terse: concise, brief, free of extra words

Testament: statement of belief; will

Testimonial: statement testifying to a truth; something given in tribute to a person’s achievement

Tether (v): to bind, tie

Theocracy: government by priests representing a god

Theology: study of God and religion

Theoretical: abstract

Thrall: a person in servitude, enslaved

Threnody: a sad poem or song

Thwart: to block or prevent from happening; frustrate

Tidings: news

Timorous: timid, shy, full of apprehension

Tinge: to color slightly

Tirade: long violent speech; verbal assault

Titan: person of colossal stature or achievement

Toady: flatterer, hanger-on, yes-man

Tome: book, usually large and academic

Tonal: relating to pitch or sound

Topography: art of making maps or charts

Torpid: lethargic; unable to move; dormant

Torrid: burning hot; passionate

Torsion: act of twisting and turning

Tortuous: having many twists and turns; highly complex

Tottering: barely standing

Tractable: obedient, yielding

Trammel: to impede or hamper

Transcend: to rise above, go beyond

Transcendent: rising above, going beyond

Transcription: copy, reproduction; record

Transfiguration: a change; an exalting change

Transgress: to trespass, violate a law

Transient (adj): temporary, short-lived, fleeting

Transitory: short-lived, existing only briefly

Translucent: partially transparent

Transmute: to change in appearance or shape

Transpire: to happen, occur; become known

Travesty: parody, exaggerated imitation, caricature

Tremulous: trembling, quivering; fearful, timid

Trenchant: acute, sharp, incisive; forceful, effective

Trepidation: fear and anxiety

Trifling: of slight worth, trivial, insignificant

Trite: shallow, superficial

Trounce: to beat severely, defeat

Troupe: group of actors

Truculent: savage and cruel; fierce; ready to fight

Truism: something that is obviously true

Truncate: to cut off, shorten by cutting

Trying: difficult to deal with

Tryst: agreement between lovers to meet; rendezvous

Tumult: state of confusion; agitation

Tundra: treeless plain found in Arctic or subarctic regions

Turbid: muddled; unclear

Turbulence: commotion, disorder

Turgid: swollen, bloated

Turpitude: inherent vileness, foulness, depravity

Tyrannical: oppressive; dictatorial

Tyro: beginner, novice


Ubiquitous: being everywhere simultaneously

Umbrage: offense, resentment

Unadulterated: absolutely pure

Unanimity: state of total agreement or unity

Unavailing: hopeless, useless

Unbending: inflexible, unyielding

Unbridled: unrestrained

Unconscionable: unscrupulous; shockingly unfair or unjust

Unctuous: greasy, oily; smug and falsely earnest

Undaunted: resolute even in adversity

Undermine: to sabotage, thwart

Undocumented: not certified, unsubstantiated

Undulating: moving in waves

Unequivocal: absolute, certain

Unfailing: not likely to fail, constant, infallible

Unfettered: free, unrestrained

Unfrock: to strip of priestly duties

Ungracious: rude, disagreeable

Unheralded: unannounced, unexpected

Unidimensional: having one size or dimension

Uniform (adj): consistent and unchanging; identical

Unimpeachable: beyond question

Uninitiated: not familiar with an area of study

Unobtrusive: modest, unassuming

Unpolished: lacking sophistication

Unruffled: poised, calm

Unscrupulous: dishonest

Unsoiled: clean, pure

Unsolicited: unrequested

Unstinting: generous

Unsullied: clean

Unswayable: unable to change

Untoward: not favorable; unruly

Untrammeled: unhampered

Unwarranted: groundless, unjustified

Unwitting: unconscious; unintentional

Unyielding: firm, resolute

Upbraid: to scold sharply

Uproarious: loud and forceful

Upsurge: sudden rise

Urbane: courteous, refined, suave

Usurp: to seize by force

Usury: practice of lending money at exorbitant rates

Utilitarian: efficient, functional, useful

Utopia: perfect place


Vacillate: to waver, show indecision

Vacuous: empty, void; lacking intelligence, purposeless

Valiant: brave, courageous

Validate: to authorize, certify, confirm

Valorous: brave, valiant

Vanquish: to conquer, defeat

Vapid: tasteless, dull

Variable: changeable, inconstant

Variegated: varied; marked with different colors

Vaunted: boasted about, bragged about

Vehemently: strongly, urgently

Venal: willing to do wrong for money

Vendetta: prolonged feud marked by bitter hostility

Venerable: respected because of age

Veneration: adoration, honor, respect

Vent (v): to express, say out loud

Veracious: truthful, accurate

Veracity: accuracy, truth

Verbatim: word for word

Verbose: wordy

Verdant: green with vegetation; inexperienced

Verdure: fresh, rich vegetation

Verified: proven true

Verisimilitude: quality of appearing true or real

Verity: truthfulness; belief viewed as true and enduring

Vermin: small creatures offensive to humans

Vernacular: everyday language used by ordinary people; specialized language of a profession

Vernal: related to spring

Versatile: adaptable, all-purpose

Verve: energy, vitality

Vestige: trace, remnant

Vex: to irritate, annoy; confuse, puzzle

Viable: workable, able to succeed or grow

Viaduct: series of elevated arches used to cross a valley

Vicarious: substitute, surrogate; enjoyed through imagined participation in another’s experience

Vicissitude: change or variation; ups and downs

Vie: to compete, contend

Vigilant: attentive, watchful

Vignette: decorative design; short literary composition

Vilify: to slander, defame

Vim: energy, enthusiasm

Vindicate: to clear of blame; support a claim

Vindication: clearance from blame or suspicion

Vindictive: spiteful, vengeful, unforgiving

Virile: manly, having qualities of an adult male

Virtuoso: someone with masterly skill; expert musician

Virulent: extremely poisonous; malignant; hateful

Viscous: thick, syrupy and sticky

Vitiate: reduce in value or effectiveness

Vitriolic: burning, caustic; sharp, bitter

Vituperate: to abuse verbally

Vociferous: loud, vocal and noisy

Void (adj): not legally enforceable; empty

Void (n): emptiness, vacuum

Void (v): to cancel, invalidate

Volition: free choice, free will; act of choosing

Volley (n): flight of missiles, round of gunshots

Voluble: speaking much and easily, talkative; glib

Voluminous: large; of great quantity; writing or speaking at great length

Voracious: having a great appetite

Vortex: swirling, resembling a whirlpool


Waive: to refrain from enforcing a rule; to give up a legal right

Wallow: to indulge oneself excessively, luxuriate

Wan: sickly pale

Wane: to dwindle, to decrease

Wanton: undisciplined, unrestrained, reckless

Waspish: rude, behaving badly

Wax: to increase

Weather (v): to endure, undergo

Welter (n): a confused mass; a jumble

Whet: to sharpen, stimulate

Whimsy: playful or fanciful idea

Wily: clever, deceptive

Windfall: sudden, unexpected good fortune

Winsome: charming, happily engaging

Withdrawn: unsociable, aloof; shy, timid

Wizened: withered, shriveled, wrinkled

Wraith: a ghost

Wrangle: loud quarrel

Writ: written document, usually in law


Xenophobia: fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers


Yoke (v): to join together


Zealot: someone passionately devoted to a cause

Zenith: highest point, summit

Zephyr: gentle breeze