Barron's SAT, 26th edition (2012)
Part 3. TACTICS AND PRACTICE: CRITICAL READING
Chapter 3. Build Your Vocabulary
• The SAT High-Frequency Word List
• The SAT Hot Prospects Word List
• The 3,500 Basic Word List
• Basic Word Parts
The more you study actual SAT critical reading questions, the more you realize one thing: the key to doing well on the critical reading portions of SAT is a strong working vocabulary of college-level words. And the key to building that strong working vocabulary can be summed up in one word: READ.
Read widely, read deeply, read daily. If you do, your vocabulary will grow. If you don’t it won’t.
Reading widely, however, may not always help you remember the words you read. You may have the words in your passive vocabulary and be able to recognize them when you see them in a context and yet be unable to define them clearly or think of synonyms for them. In addition, unless you have already begun to upgrade your reading to the college level, reading widely also may not acquaint you most efficiently with college-level words.
What are college-level words? In going through the preceding two chapters, you have examined dozens of questions modeled on those in published SATs. Some of the words in these questions—inspiring and communicative—have been familiar to you; others—pundit and interlocutor—have not. Still others—economy and charge—have looked familiar, but have turned out to be defined in unexpected ways. All these words belong in your college-level vocabulary; any of them may turn up when you take the SAT.
Use the vocabulary and word parts lists in this chapter to upgrade your vocabulary to a college level. They are all excellent vocabulary building tools.
No matter how little time you have before you take the SAT, you can familiarize yourself with the sort of vocabulary you will be facing on the test. First, look over the words on our SAT High-Frequency Word List, which you’ll find on the following pages. Each of these words has appeared (as answer choices or as question words) from eight to forty times on SATs published in the past two decades.
Next, look over the words on our Hot Prospects List, which appears immediately after the High-Frequency List. Though these words don’t appear as often as the high-frequency words do, when they do appear, the odds are that they’re key words in questions. As such, they deserve your special attention.
Use the flash cards in the back of this book and create others for the words you want to master. Work up memory tricks to help yourself remember them. Try using them on your parents and friends. Not only will going over these high-frequency words reassure you that you do know some SAT-type words, but also it may well help you on the actual day of the test. These words have turned up on recent tests; some of them may well turn up on the test you take.
The SAT High-Frequency Word List
The SAT Hot Prospects Word List
The 3,500 Basic Word List
The 3,500 Basic Word List begins on the following page. Do not let this list overwhelm you. You do not need to memorize every word.
You can use this list as a sort of dictionary. When you come across an unfamiliar word in your reading and can’t figure out its meaning from the context, look it up in the word list. The illustrative sentence may help make the word’s meaning clear.
For each word, the following is provided:
1. The word (printed in heavy type).
2. Its part of speech (abbreviated).
3. A brief definition.
4. A sentence illustrating the word’s use.
5. Whenever appropriate, related words are provided, together with their parts of speech.
The word lists are arranged in strict alphabetical order. In each word list, High-Frequency words are marked with a square bullet , Hot Prospects with a round one .
You can also use this list as a study tool if you concentrate on the High-Frequency and Hot Prospects words.
Master the words on the High-Frequency and Hot Prospects Word Lists. First, check off those words you think you know. Then, look up all the words and their definitions in the Basic Word List. Pay particular attention to the words you thought you knew. See whether any of them are defined in an unexpected way. If they are, make a special note of them. As you know from the preceding chapters, the SAT often stumps students with questions based on unfamiliar meanings of familiar-looking words.
A PLAN FOR MASTERING THE ENTIRE LIST
1. Allot a definite time each day for the study of a list.
2. Devote at least one hour to each list.
3. First go through the list looking at the flagged High-Frequency and Hot Prospects words and the short, simple-looking words (7 letters at most). Mark those you don’t know. In studying, pay particular attention to them.
4. Go through the list again looking at the longer words. Pay particular attention to words with more than one meaning and familiar-looking words that have unusual definitions that come as a surprise to you. Study these secondary definitions.
5. List unusual words on index cards that you can shuffle and review from time to time, along with the flash cards in this book.
6. Use the illustrative sentences in the list as models and make up new sentences of your own.
Basic Word List
Word List 1 abase–adroit
abase V. Iower; humiliate. Defeated, Queen Zenobia was forced to abase herself before the conquering Romans, who made her march in chains before the emperor in the procession celebrating his triumph. abasement, N.
abash V. embarrass. He was not at all abashed by her open admiration.
abate V. subside; decrease, lessen. Rather than leaving immediately, they waited for the storm to abate. abatement, N.
abbreviate V. shorten. Because we were running out of time, the lecturer had to abbreviate her speech.
abdicate V. renounce; give up. When Edward VIII abdicated the British throne to marry the woman he loved, he surprised the entire world.
abduction N. kidnapping. The movie Ransom describes the attempts to rescue a multimillionaire’s son after the child’s abduction by kidnappers. abduct, V.
aberrant N. abnormal or deviant. Given the aberrant nature of the data, we doubted the validity of the entire experiment. also N.
abet V. aid, usually in doing something wrong; encourage. She was unwilling to abet him in the swindle he had planned.
abhor V. detest; hate. She abhorred all forms of bigotry. abhorrence, N.
abject ADJ. wretched; lacking pride. On the streets of New York the homeless live in abject poverty, huddling in doorways to find shelter from the wind.
abjure V. renounce upon oath. He abjured his allegiance to the king. abjuration, N.
abnegation N. repudiation; self-sacrifice. Though Rudolph and Duchess Flavia loved one another, their love was doomed, for she had to marry the king; their act of abnegation was necessary to preserve the kingdom.
abolish V. cancel; put an end to. The president of the college refused to abolish the physical education requirement. abolition, N.
abominable ADJ. detestable; extremely unpleasant; very bad. Mary liked John until she learned he was dating Susan; then she called him an abominable young man, with abominable taste in women.
aboriginal ADJ., N. being the first of its kind in a region; primitive; native. Her studies of the primitive art forms of the aboriginal Indians were widely reported in the scientific journals. aborigines, N.
abortive ADJ. unsuccessful; fruitless. Attacked by armed troops, the Chinese students had to abandon their abortive attempt to democratize Beijing peacefully. abort, V.
abrade V. wear away by friction; scrape; erode. Because the sharp rocks had abraded the skin on her legs, she dabbed iodine on the scrapes and abrasions
abrasive ADJ. rubbing away; tending to grind down. Just as abrasive cleaning powders can wear away a shiny finish, abrasive remarks can wear away a listener’s patience. abrade, V.
abridge V. condense or shorten. Because the publishers felt the public wanted a shorter version of War and Peace, they proceeded to abridge the novel.
abscond V. depart secretly and hide. The teller who absconded with the bonds went uncaptured until someone recognized him from his photograph on “America’s Most Wanted.”
absolute ADJ. complete; totally unlimited; certain. Although the King of Siam was an absolute monarch, he did not want to behead his unfaithful wife without absolute evidence of her infidelity.
absolve V. pardon (an offense). The father confessor absolved him of his sins. absolution, N.
absorb V. assimilate or incorporate; suck or drink up; wholly engage. During the nineteenth century, America absorbed hordes of immigrants, turning them into productive citizens. Can Huggies diapers absorb more liquid than Pampers can? This question does not absorb me; instead, it bores me. absorption, N.
abstain V. refrain; hold oneself back voluntarily from an action or practice. After considering the effect of alcohol on his athletic performance, he decided to abstain from drinking while he trained for the race. abstinence, N.
abstemious ADJ. sparing in eating and drinking; temperate. Concerned whether her vegetarian son’s abstemious diet provided him with sufficient protein, the worried mother pressed food on him.
abstinence N. restraint from eating or drinking. The doctor recommended total abstinence from salted foods. abstain, V.
abstract ADJ. theoretical; not concrete; non representational.To him, hunger was an abstract concept; he had never missed a meal.
abstruse ADJ. obscure; profound; difficult to understand. Baffled by the abstruse philosophical texts assigned in class, Dave asked Lexy to explain Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.
abundant ADJ. plentiful; possessing riches or resources. At his immigration interview, Ivan listed his abundant reasons for coming to America: the hope of religious freedom, the prospect of employment, the promise of a more abundant life.
abusive ADJ. coarsely insulting; physically harmful. An abusive parent damages a child both mentally and physically.
abut V. border upon; adjoin. Where our estates abut, we must build a fence.
abysmal ADJ. bottomless. His arrogance is exceeded only by his abysmal ignorance.
abyss N. enormous chasm; vast bottomless pit. Darth Vader seized the evil emperor and hurled him down into the abyss.
academic ADJ. related to a school; not practical or directly useful. The dean’s talk about reforming the college admissions system was only an academic discussion: we knew little, if anything, would change.
accede V. agree. If I accede to this demand for blackmail, I am afraid that I will be the victim of future demands.
accelerate V. move faster. In our science class, we learn how falling bodies accelerate.
accentuate V. emphasize; stress. If you accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, you may wind up with an overoptimistic view of the world.
accessible ADJ. easy to approach; obtainable. We asked our guide whether the ruins were accessible on foot.
accessory N. additional object; useful but not essential thing. She bought an attractive handbag as an accessory for her dress. also ADJ.
acclaim V. applaud; announce with great approval. The NBC sportscasters acclaimed every American victory in the Olympics and decried every American defeat. also N.
acclimate V. adjust to climate. One of the difficulties of our present air age is the need of travelers to acclimate themselves to their new and often strange environments.
acclivity N. sharp upslope of a hill. The car would not go up the acclivity in high gear.
accolade N. award of merit. In Hollywood, an “Oscar” is the highest accolade
accommodate V. oblige or help someone; adjust or bring into harmony; adapt. Mitch always did everything possible to accommodate his elderly relatives, from driving them to medical appointments to helping them with paperwork. (secondary meaning)
accomplice N. partner in crime. Because he had provided the criminal with the lethal weapon, he was arrested as an accomplice in the murder.
accord N. agreement. She was in complete accord with the verdict.
accost V. approach and speak first to a person. When the two young men accosted me, I was frightened because I thought they were going to attack me.
accoutre V. equip. The fisherman was accoutred with the best that the sporting goods store could supply. accoutrements, N.
acerbity N. bitterness of speech and temper. The meeting of the United Nations General Assembly was marked with such acerbity that informed sources held out little hope of reaching any useful settlement of the problem. acerbic, ADJ.
acetic ADJ. vinegary. The salad had an exceedingly acetic flavor.
acidulous ADJ. slightly sour; sharp, caustic. James was unpopular because of his sarcastic and acidulous remarks.
acknowledge V. recognize; admit. Although Iris acknowledged that the Beatles’ tunes sounded pretty dated nowadays, she still preferred them to the hip-hop songs her brothers played.
acme N. top; pinnacle. His success in this role marked the acme of his career as an actor.
acoustics N. science of sound; quality that makes a room easy or hard to hear in. Carnegie Hall is liked by music lovers because of its fine acoustics
acquiesce V. assent; agree without protesting. Although she appeared to acquiesceto her employer’s suggestions, I could tell she had reservations about the changes he wanted made. acquiescence, N.; acquiescent, ADJ.
acquire V. obtain; get. Frederick Douglass was determined to acquire an education despite his master’s efforts to prevent his doing so.
acquittal N. deliverance from a charge. His acquittal by the jury surprised those who had thought him guilty. acquit, V.
acrid ADJ. sharp; bitterly pungent. The acrid odor of burnt gunpowder filled the room after the pistol had been fired.
acrimonious ADJ. bitter in words or manner. The candidate attacked his opponent in highly acrimonious terms. acrimony, N.
acrophobia N. fear of heights. A born salesman, he could convince someone with a bad case of acrophobia to sign up for a life membership in a sky-diving club.
actuarial ADJ. calculating; pertaining to insurance statistics. According to recent actuarial tables, life expectancy is greater today than it was a century ago.
acuity N. sharpness. In time his youthful acuity of vision failed him, and he needed glasses.
acumen N. mental keenness. His business acumen helped him to succeed where others had failed.
acute ADJ. quickly perceptive; keen; brief and severe. The acute young doctor realized immediately that the gradual deterioration of her patient’s once acute hearing was due to a chronic illness, not an acute one.
adage N. wise saying; proverb. There is much truth in the old adage about fools and their money.
adamant ADJ. hard; inflexible. Bronson played the part of a revenge-driven man, adamant in his determination to punish the criminals who destroyed his family. adamancy, N.
adapt V. alter; modify. Some species of animals have become extinct because they could not adapt to a changing environment.
addiction N. compulsive, habitual need. His addiction to drugs caused his friends much grief.
addle V. muddle; drive crazy; become rotten. This idiotic plan is confusing enough to addle anyone. addled, ADJ.
address V. direct a speech to; deal with or discuss. Due to address the convention in July, Brown planned to address the issue of low-income housing in his speech.
adept ADJ. expert at. She was adept at the fine art of irritating people. also N.
adhere V. stick fast. I will adhere to this opinion until proof that I am wrong is presented. adhesion, N.
adherent N. supporter; follower. In the wake of the scandal, the senator’s one-time adherents quickly deserted him.
adjacent ADJ. adjoining; neighboring; close by. Philip’s best friend Jason lived only four houses down the block, close but not immediately adjacent
adjunct N. something added on or attached (generally nonessential or inferior). Although I don’t absolutely need a second computer, I plan to buy a laptop to serve as an adjunct to my desktop model.
admonition N. warning. After the student protesters repeatedly rejected the dean’s admonitions, the administration issued an ultimatum: either the students would end the demonstration at once or the campus police would arrest the demonstrators. admonish, V.
adorn V. decorate. Wall paintings and carved statues adorned the temple. adornment, N.
adroit ADJ. skillful. His adroit handling of the delicate situation pleased his employers.
Word List 2 adulation–amend
adulation N. flattery; admiration. The rock star thrived on the adulation of his groupies and yes men. adulate, V.
adulterate V. make impure by adding inferior or tainted substances. It is a crime to adulterate foods without informing the buyer; when consumers learned that Beech-Nut had adulterated their apple juice by mixing it with water, they protested vigorously.
advent N. arrival. Most Americans were unaware of the advent of the Nuclear Age until the news of Hiroshima reached them.
adversary N. opponent. The young wrestler struggled to defeat his adversary
adverse ADJ. unfavorable; hostile. The recession had a highly adverse effect on Father’s investment portfolio: he lost so much money that he could no longer afford the butler and the upstairs maid. adversity, N.
adversity N. unfavorable fortune; hardship; a calamitous event. According to the humorist Mark Twain, anyone can easily learn to endure adversity, as long as it is another man’s.
advocacy N. support; active pleading on something’s behalf. No threats could dissuade Bishop Desmond Tutu from his advocacy of the human rights of black South Africans.
advocate V. urge; plead for. The abolitionists advocated freedom for the slaves. also N.
aerie N. nest of a large bird of prey (eagle, hawk). The mother eagle swooped down on the unwitting rabbit and bore it off to her aerie high in the Rocky Mountains.
aesthetic ADJ. artistic; dealing with or capable of appreciation of the beautiful. The beauty of Tiffany’s stained glass appealed to Esther’s aesthetic sense. aesthete, N.
affable ADJ. easily approachable; warmly friendly. Accustomed to cold, aloof supervisors, Nicholas was amazed at how affable his new employer was.
affected ADJ. artificial; pretended; assumed in order to impress. His affected mannerisms—his “Harvard” accent, air of boredom, use of obscure foreign words—annoyed us: he acted as if he thought he was too good for his old high school friends. affectation, N.
affidavit N. written statement made under oath. The court refused to accept his statement unless he presented it in the form of an affidavit.
affinity N. kinship. She felt an affinity with all who suffered;their pains were her pains.
affirmation N. positive assertion; confirmation; solemn pledge by one who refuses to take an oath. Despite Tom’s affirmations of innocence, Aunt Polly still suspected he had eaten the pie.
affix V. fasten; attach; add on. First the registrar had to affix her signature to the license; then she had to affix her official seal.
affliction N. state of distress; cause of suffering. Even in the midst of her affliction, Elizabeth tried to keep up the spirits of those around her.
affluence N. abundance; wealth. Foreigners are amazed by the affluence and luxury of the American way of life.
affront N. insult; offense; intentional act of disrespect. When Mrs. Proudie was not seated beside the Archdeacon at the head table, she took it as a personal affront and refused to speak to her hosts for a week. also V.
aftermath N. consequences; outcome; upshot. People around the world wondered what the aftermath of China’s violent suppression of the student protests would be.
agenda N. items of business at a meeting. We had so much difficulty agreeing upon an agenda that there was very little time for the meeting.
agent N. means or instrument; personal representative;person acting in an official capacity. “I will be the agent of America’s destruction, ” proclaimed the beady-eyed villain, whose agent had gotten him the role. With his face, he could never have played the part of the hero, a heroic F.B.I. agent.
aggrandize V. increase or intensify. The history of the past quarter century illustrates how a President may aggrandize his power to act aggressively in international affairs without considering the wishes of Congress.
aggregate V. gather; accumulate. Before the Wall Street scandals, dealers in so-called junk bonds managed to aggregate great wealth in short periods of time. aggregation, N.
aggressor N. attacker. Before you punish both boys for fighting, see whether you can determine which one was the aggressor.
aghast ADJ. horrified. He was aghast at the nerve of the speaker who had insulted his host.
agility N. nimbleness. The agility of the acrobat amazed and thrilled the audience.
agitate V. stir up; disturb. Her fiery remarks agitated the already angry mob.
agnostic N. one who is skeptical of the existence or knowability of a god or any ultimate reality. Agnostics say we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of god; we simply just can’t know. also ADJ.
alacrity N. cheerful promptness. Eager to get away to the mountains, Phil and Dave packed up their ski gear and climbed into the van with alacrity.
alchemy N. medieval chemistry. The changing of baser metals into gold was the goal of the students of alchemy. alchemist, N.
alcove N. nook; small, recessed section of a room. Though their apartment lacked a full-scale dining room, an alcove adjacent to the living room made an adequate breakfast nook for the young couple.
alias N. an assumed name. John Smith’s alias was Bob Jones. also ADV.
alienate V. make hostile; separate. Her attempts to alienate the two friends failed because they had complete faith in each other.
alimentary ADJ. supplying nourishment. The alimentary canal in our bodies is so named because digestion of foods occurs there. When asked for the name of the digestive tract, Sherlock Holmes replied, “Alimentary, my dear Watson.”
alimony N. payments made to an ex-spouse after divorce. Because Tony had supported Tina through medical school, on their divorce he asked the court to award him $500 a month in alimony
allay V. calm; pacify. The crew tried to allay the fears of the passengers by announcing that the fire had been controlled.
allege V. state without proof. Although it is alleged that she has worked for the enemy, she denies the allegation and, legally, we can take no action against her without proof. allegation, N.
allegiance N. loyalty. Not even a term in prison could shake Lech Walesa’s allegiance to Solidarity, the Polish trade union he had helped to found.
allegory N. story in which characters are used as symbols; fable. Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory of the temptations and victories of man’s soul. allegorical, ADJ.
alleviate V. relieve. This should alleviate the pain; if it does not, we shall have to use stronger drugs.
alliteration N. repetition of beginning sound in poetry. “The furrow followed free” is an example of alliteration.
allocate V. assign. Even though the Red Cross had allocated a large sum for the relief of the sufferers of the disaster, many people perished.
alloy N. a mixture as of metals. Alloys of gold are used more frequently than the pure metal.
alloy V. mix; make less pure; lessen or moderate. Our delight at the Yankees’ victory was alloyed by our concern for Dwight Gooden, who injured his pitching arm in the game.
allude V. refer indirectly. Try not to mention divorce in Jack’s presence because he will think you are alluding to his marital problems with Jill.
allure V. entice; attract. Allured by the song of the sirens, the helmsman steered the ship toward the reef. also N.
allusion N. indirect reference. When Amanda said to the ticket scalper, “One hundred bucks? What do you want, a pound of flesh?, ” she was making an allusion to Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.
aloft ADV. upward. The sailor climbed aloft into the rigging. To get into a loft bed, you have to climb aloft.
aloof ADJ. apart; reserved. Shy by nature, she remained aloof while all the rest conversed.
altercation N. noisy quarrel; heated dispute. In that hot tempered household, no meal ever came to a peaceful conclusion; the inevitable altercation might even end in blows.
altruistic ADJ. unselfishly generous; concerned for others. In providing tutorial assistance and college scholarships for hundreds of economically disadvantaged youths, Eugene Lang performed a truly altruistic deed. altruism, N.
amalgamate V. combine; unite in one body. The unions will attempt to amalgamate their groups into one national body.
amass V. collect. The miser’s aim is to amass and hoard as much gold as possible.
ambidextrous ADJ. capable of using either hand with equal ease. A switch-hitter in baseball should be naturally ambidextrous.
ambience N. environment; atmosphere. She went to the restaurant not for the food but for the ambience.
ambiguous ADJ. unclear or doubtful in meaning. His ambiguous instructions misled us; we did not know which road to take. ambiguity, N.
ambivalence N. the state of having contradictory or conflicting emotional attitudes. Torn between loving her parents one minute and hating them the next, she was confused by the ambivalence of her feelings. ambivalent, ADJ.
amble N. moving at an easy pace. When she first mounted the horse, she was afraid to urge the animal to go faster than a gentle amble. also V.
ambulatory ADJ. able to walk; not bedridden. Juan was a highly ambulatory patient; not only did he refuse to be confined to bed, but he insisted on riding his skateboard up and down the halls.
ameliorate V. improve. Many social workers have attempted to ameliorate the conditions of people living in the slums.
amenable ADJ. readily managed; willing to be led. Although the ambassador was usually amenable to friendly suggestions, he balked when we hinted that he should waive his diplomatic immunity and pay his parking tickets.
amend V. correct; change, generally for the better. Hoping to amend his condition, he left Vietnam for the United States.
Word List 3 amenities–apostate
amenities N. convenient features; courtesies. In addition to the customary amenities for the business traveler—fax machines, modems, a health club—the hotel offers the services of a butler versed in the social amenities.
amiable ADJ. agreeable; lovable; warmly friendly. In Little Women, Beth is the amiable daughter whose loving disposition endears her to all who know her.
amicable ADJ. politely friendly; not quarrelsome. Beth’s sister Jo is the hot-tempered tomboy who has a hard time maintaining amicable relations with those around her. Jo’s quarrel with her friend Laurie finally reaches an amicable settlement, but not because Jo turns amiable overnight.
amiss ADJ. wrong; faulty. Seeing her frown, he wondered if anything were amiss. also ADV.
amity N. friendship. Student exchange programs such as the Experiment in International Living were established to promote international amity.
amnesia N. loss of memory. Because she was suffering from amnesia, the police could not get the young girl to identify herself.
amnesty N. pardon. When his first child was born, the king granted amnesty to all in prison.
amoral ADJ. non moral. The amoral individual lacks a code of ethics; he cannot tell right from wrong. The immoral person can tell right from wrong; he chooses to do something he knows is wrong.
amorous ADJ. moved by sexual love; loving. “Love them and leave them” was the motto of the amorous Don Juan.
amorphous ADJ. formless; lacking shape or definition. As soon as we have decided on our itinerary, we shall send you a copy; right now, our plans are still amorphous.
amphibian ADJ. able to live both on land and in water. Frogs are classified as amphibian. also N.
amphitheater N. oval building with tiers of seats. The spectators in the amphitheater cheered the gladiators.
ample ADJ. abundant. Bond had ample opportunity to escape. Why did he let us catch him?
amplify V. broaden or clarify by expanding; intensify; make stronger. Charlie Brown tried to amplify his remarks, but he was drowned out by jeers from the audience. Lucy was smarter: she used a loudspeaker to amplify her voice.
amputate V. cut off part of body; prune. Though the doctors had to amputate his leg to prevent the spread of cancer, the young athlete refused to let the loss of a limb keep him from participating in sports.
anachronistic ADJ. having an error involving time in a story. The reference to clocks in Julius Caesar is anachronistic: clocks did not exist in Caesar’s time. anachronism, N.
analogous ADJ. comparable. She called our attention to the things that had been done in an analogous situation and recommended that we do the same.
analogy N. similarity; parallelism. A well-known analogy compares the body’s immune system with an army whose defending troops are the lymphocytes or white blood cells.
anarchist N. person who seeks to overturn the established government; advocate of abolishing authority. Denying she was an anarchist, Katya maintained she wished only to make changes in our government, not to destroy it entirely. anarchy, N.
anathema N. solemn curse; someone or something regarded as a curse. The Ayatolla Khomeini heaped anathema upon “the Great Satan, ” that is, the United States. To the Ayatolla, America and the West were anathema; he loathed the democratic nations, cursing them in his dying words. anathematize, V.
ancestry N. family descent. David can trace his ancestry as far back as the seventeenth century, when one of his ancestors was a court trumpeter somewhere in Germany. ancestral, ADJ.
anchor V. secure or fasten firmly; be fixed in place. We set the post in concrete to anchor it in place. anchorage, N.
anecdote N. short account of an amusing or interesting event. Rather than make concrete proposals for welfare reform, President Reagan told anecdotes about poor people who became wealthy despite their impoverished backgrounds.
anemia N. condition in which blood lacks red corpuscles. The doctor ascribes her tiredness to anemia. anemic, ADJ.
anesthetic N. substance that removes sensation with or without loss of consciousness. His monotonous voice acted like an anesthetic; his audience was soon asleep. anesthesia, N.
anguish N. acute pain; extreme suffering. Visiting the site of the explosion, the governor wept to see the anguish of the victims and their families.
angular ADJ. sharp-cornered; stiff in manner. Mr. Spock’s features, though angular, were curiously attractive, in a Vulcan way.
animated ADJ. lively; spirited. Jim Carrey’s facial expressions are highly animated: when he played Ace Ventura, he looked practically rubber-faced.
animosity N. active enmity. He incurred the animosity of the ruling class because he advocated limitations of their power.
animus N. hostile feeling or intent. The speaker’s sarcastic comments about liberal do-gooders and elitist snobs revealed his deep-seated animus against his opponent.
annals N. records; history. “In this year our good King Richard died, ” wrote the chronicler in the kingdom’s annals.
annex V. attach; take possession of. Mexico objected to the United States’ attempts to annex the territory that later became the state of Texas.
annihilate V. destroy. The enemy in its revenge tried to annihilate the entire population.
annotate V. comment; make explanatory notes. In explanatory notes following each poem, the editor carefully annotated the poet’s more esoteric references.
annul V. make void. The parents of the eloped couple tried to annul the marriage.
anoint V. consecrate. The prophet Samuel anointed David with oil, crowning him king of Israel.
anomalous ADJ. abnormal; irregular. He was placed in the anomalous position of seeming to approve procedures which he despised.
anomaly N. irregularity. A bird that cannot fly is an anomaly.
anonymity N. state of being nameless; anonymousness. The donor of the gift asked the college not to mention him by name; the dean readily agreed to respect his anonymity.
anonymous ADJ. having no name. She tried to ascertain the identity of the writer of the anonymous letter.
antagonism N. hostility; active resistance. Barry showed his antagonism toward his new stepmother by ignoring her whenever she tried talking to him. antagonistic, ADJ.
antecede V. precede. The invention of the radiotelegraph anteceded the development of television by a quarter of a century.
antecedents N. preceding events or circumstances that influence what comes later; ancestors or early background. Susi Bechhofer’s ignorance of her Jewish background had its antecedents in the chaos of World War II. Smuggled out of Germany and adopted by a Christian family, she knew nothing of her birth and antecedents until she was reunited with her family in 1989.
antediluvian ADJ. antiquated; extremely ancient. Looking at his great-aunt’s antique furniture, which must have been cluttering up her attic since the time of Noah’s flood, the young heir exclaimed, “Heavens! How positively antediluvian!”
anthem N. song of praise or patriotism. Let us now all join in singing the national anthem.
anthology N. book of literary selections by various authors. This anthology of science fiction was compiled by the late Isaac Asimov. anthologize, V.
anthropocentric ADJ. regarding human beings as the center of the universe. Without considering any evidence that might challenge his anthropocentric viewpoint, Hector categorically maintained that dolphins could not be as intelligent as men. anthropocentrism, N.
anthropoid ADJ. manlike. The gorilla is the strongest of the anthropoid animals. also N.
anthropologist N. a student of the history and science of mankind. Anthropologists have discovered several relics of prehistoric man in this area.
anticlimax N. letdown in thought or emotion. After the fine performance in the first act, the rest of the play was an anticlimax. anticlimactic, ADJ.
antidote N. medicine to counteract a poison or disease. When Marge’s child accidentally swallowed some cleaning fluid, the local poison control hot line instructed Marge how to administer the antidote.
antipathy N. aversion; dislike. Tom’s extreme antipathy for disputes keeps him from getting into arguments with his temperamental wife. Noise in any form is antipathetic to him. Among his other antipathies are honking cars, boom boxes, and heavy metal rock.
antiquated ADJ. old-fashioned; obsolete. Philip had grown so accustomed to editing his papers on word processors that he thought typewriters were too antiquated for him to use.
antiseptic N. substance that prevents infection. It is advisable to apply an antiseptic to any wound, no matter how slight or insignificant. also ADJ.
antithesis N. contrast; direct opposite of or to. This tyranny was the antithesis of all that he had hoped for, and he fought it with all his strength.
apathy N. lack of caring; indifference. A firm believer in democratic government, she could not understand the apathy of people who never bothered to vote. apathetic, ADJ.
ape V. imitate or mimic. He was suspended for a week because he had aped the principal in front of the whole school.
apex N. tip; summit; climax. At the apex of his career, the star was deluged with offers of leading roles; two years later, he was reduced to acting in mouthwash ads.
aphorism N. pithy maxim. An aphorism differs from an adage in that it is more philosophical or scientific. “The proper study of mankind is man” is an aphorism. “There’s no smoke without a fire” is an adage. aphoristic, ADJ.
aplomb N. poise; assurance. Gwen’s aplomb in handling potentially embarrassing moments was legendary around the office; when one of her clients broke a piece of her best crystal, she coolly picked up her own goblet and hurled it into the fireplace.
apocalyptic ADJ. prophetic; pertaining to revelations. The crowd jeered at the street preacher’s apocalyptic predictions of doom. The Apocalypse or Book of Revelations of Saint John prophesies the end of the world as we know it and foretells marvels and prodigies that signal the coming doom.
apocryphal ADJ. untrue; made up. To impress his friends, Tom invented apocryphal tales of his adventures in the big city.
apolitical ADJ. having an aversion or lack of concern for political affairs. It was hard to remain apolitical during the Vietnam War; even people who generally ignored public issues felt they had to take political stands.
apologist N. one who writes in defense of a cause or institution. Rather than act as an apologist for the current regime in Beijing and defend its brutal actions, the young diplomat decided to defect to the West.
apostate N. one who abandons his religious faith or political beliefs. Because he switched from one party to another, his former friends shunned him as an apostate. apostasy, N.
Word List 4 apotheosis–assurance
apotheosis N. elevation to godhood; an ideal example of something. The apotheosis of a Roman emperor was designed to insure his eternal greatness: people would worship at his altar forever. The hero of the musical How to Succeed in Business…was the apotheosis of yuppieness: he was the perfect upwardly-bound young man on the make.
appall V. dismay; shock. We were appalled by the horrifying conditions in the city’s jails.
apparatus N. equipment. Firefighters use specialized apparatus to fight fires.
apparition N. ghost; phantom. On the castle battlements, an apparition materialized and spoke to Hamlet, warning him of his uncle’s treachery. In Ghostbusters, hordes of apparitions materialized, only to be dematerialized by the specialized apparatus wielded by Bill Murray.
appease V. pacify or soothe; relieve. Tom and Jody tried to appease the crying baby by offering him one toy after another, but he would not calm down until they appeased his hunger by giving him a bottle.
appellation N. name; title. Macbeth was startled when the witches greeted him with an incorrect appellation. Why did they call him Thane of Cawdor, he wondered, when the holder of that title still lived?
append V. attach. When you append a bibliography to a text, you have just created an appendix.
application N. diligent attention. Pleased with how well Tom had whitewashed the fence, Aunt Polly praised him for his application to the task. apply, V. (secondary meaning)
apposite ADJ. appropriate; fitting. He was always able to find the apposite phrase, the correct expression for every occasion.
appraise V. estimate value of. It is difficult to appraise the value of old paintings; it is easier to call them priceless. appraisal, N.
appreciate V. be thankful for; increase in worth; be thoroughly conscious of. Little Orphan Annie truly appreciated the stocks Daddy Warbucks gave her, which appreciated in value considerably over the years.
apprehend V. arrest (a criminal); dread; perceive. The police will apprehend the culprit and convict him before long.
apprehension N. fear. His nervous glances at the passersby on the deserted street revealed his apprehension.
apprenticeship N. time spent as a novice learning a trade from a skilled worker. As a child, Pip had thought it would be wonderful to work as Joe’s apprentice; now he hated his apprenticeship and scorned the blacksmith’s trade.
apprise V. inform. When he was apprised of the dangerous weather conditions, he decided to postpone his trip.
approbation N. approval. She looked for some sign of approbation from her parents, hoping her good grades would please them.
appropriate V. acquire; take possession of for one’s own use. The ranch owners appropriated the lands that had originally been set aside for the Indians’ use.
apropos PREP. with reference to; regarding. I find your remarks apropos of the present situation timely and pertinent. also ADJ. and ADV.
aptitude N. fitness; talent. The counselor gave him an aptitude test before advising him about the career he should follow.
aquatic ADJ. pertaining to water. Paul enjoyed aquatic sports such as scuba diving and snorkeling.
aquiline ADJ. curved, hooked. Cartoonists exaggerated the senator’s aquiline nose, curving it until it looked like the beak of an eagle.
arable ADJ. fit for growing crops. The first settlers wrote home glowing reports of the New World, praising its vast acres of arable land ready for the plow.
arbiter N. a person with power to decide a dispute; judge. As an arbiter in labor disputes, she has won the confidence of the workers and the employers.
arbitrary ADJ. capricious; randomly chosen; tyrannical. Tom’s arbitrary dismissal angered him; his boss had no reason to fire him. He threw an arbitrary assortment of clothes into his suitcase and headed off, not caring where he went.
arbitrator N. judge. Because the negotiating teams had been unable to reach a contract settlement, an outside arbitrator was called upon to mediate the dispute between union and management. arbitration, N.
arcade N. a covered passageway, usually lined with shops. The arcade was popular with shoppers because it gave them protection from the summer sun and the winter rain.
arcane ADJ. secret; mysterious; known only to the initiated. Secret brotherhoods surround themselves with arcane rituals and trappings to mystify outsiders. So do doctors. Consider the arcane terminology they use and the impression they try to give that what is arcane to us is obvious to them.
archaeology N. study of artifacts and relics of early mankind. The professor of archaeology headed an expedition to the Gobi Desert in search of ancient ruins.
archaic ADJ. antiquated. “Methinks, ” “thee, ” and “thou” are archaic words that are no longer part of our normal vocabulary.
archetype N. prototype; primitive pattern. The Brooklyn Bridge was the archetype of the many spans that now connect Manhattan with Long Island and New Jersey.
archives N. public records; place where public records are kept. These documents should be part of the archives so that historians may be able to evaluate them in the future.
ardent ADJ. intense; passionate; zealous. Katya’s ardor was contagious; soon all her fellow demonstrators were busily making posters and handing out flyers, inspired by her ardent enthusiasm for the cause. ardor, N.
arduous ADJ. hard; strenuous. Her arduous efforts had sapped her energy.
aria N. operatic solo. At her Metropolitan Opera audition, Marian Anderson sang an aria from Norma.
arid ADJ. dry; barren. The cactus has adapted to survive in an arid environment.
aristocracy N. hereditary nobility; privileged class. Americans have mixed feelings about hereditary aristocracy: we say all men are created equal, but we describe particularly outstanding people as natural aristocrats.
aromatic ADJ. fragrant. Medieval sailing vessels brought aromatic herbs from China to Europe.
arousal N. awakening; provocation (of a response). On arousal, Papa was always grumpy as a bear. The children tiptoed around the house, fearing they would arouse his anger by waking him up.
arraign V. charge in court; indict. After his indictment by the Grand Jury, the accused man was arraigned in the County Criminal Court.
array V. marshal; draw up in order. His actions were bound to array public sentiment against him. also N.
array V. clothe; adorn. She liked to watch her mother array herself in her finest clothes before going out for the evening. also N.
arrears N. being in debt. He was in arrears with his payments on the car.
arrest V. stop or slow down; catch someone’s attention. Slipping, the trapeze artist plunged from the heights until a safety net luckily arrested his fall. This near-disaster arrested the crowd’s attention.
arrogance N. pride; haughtiness. Convinced that Emma thought she was better than anyone else in the class, Ed rebuked her for her arrogance
arsenal N. storage place for military equipment. People are forbidden to smoke in the arsenal for fear that a stray spark might set off the munitions stored there.
articulate ADJ. effective; distinct. Her articulate presentation of the advertising campaign impressed her employers. also V.
artifact N. object made by human beings, either hand-made or mass-produced. Archaeologists debated the significance of the artifacts discovered in the ruins of Asia Minor but came to no conclusion about the culture they represented.
artifice N. deception; trickery. The Trojan War proved to the Greeks that cunning and artifice were often more effective than military might.
artisan N. manually skilled worker; craftsman, as opposed to artist. A noted artisan, Arturo was known for the fine craftsmanship of his inlaid cabinets.
artless ADJ. without guile; open and honest. Sophisticated and cynical, Jack could not believe Jill was as artless and naive as she appeared to be.
ascendancy N. controlling influence; domination. Leaders of religious cults maintain ascendancy over their followers by methods that can verge on brainwashing.
ascertain V. find out for certain. Please ascertain her present address.
ascetic ADJ. practicing self-denial; austere. The wealthy, self-indulgent young man felt oddly drawn to the strict, ascetic life led by members of some monastic orders. also N.
ascribe V. refer; attribute; assign. I can ascribe no motive for her acts.
aseptic ADJ. preventing infection; having a cleansing effect. Hospitals succeeded in lowering the mortality rate as soon as they introduced aseptic conditions.
ashen ADJ. ash-colored. Her face was ashen with fear.
asinine ADJ. stupid. “What an asinine comment!” said Bob contemptuously. “I’ve never heard such a stupid remark.”
askance ADJ. with a sideways or indirect look. Looking askance at her questioner, she displayed her scorn.
askew ADJ. crookedly; slanted; at an angle. Judy constantly straightened the doilies on her furniture: she couldn’t stand seeing them askew.
asperity N. sharpness (of temper). These remarks, spoken with asperity, stung the boys to whom they had been directed.
aspersion N. slander; slur; derogatory remark. Unscrupulous politicians practice character assassination as a political tool, casting aspersions on their rivals.
aspirant N. seeker after position or status. Although I am an aspirant for public office, I am not willing to accept the dictates of the party bosses. also ADJ.
aspire V. seek to attain; long for. Because he aspired to a career in professional sports, Philip enrolled in a graduate program in sports management. aspiration, N.
assail V. assault. He was assailed with questions after his lecture.
assay V. analyze; evaluate. When they assayed the ore, they found that they had discovered a very rich vein. also N.
assent V. agree; accept. It gives me great pleasure to assent to your request.
assert V. declare or state with confidence; put oneself forward boldly. Malcolm asserted that if Reese quit acting like a wimp and asserted himself a bit more, he’d improve his chances of getting a date. assertion, N.
assessment N. evaluation; judgment. Your high school record plays an important part in the admission committee’s assessment of you as an applicant.
assiduous ADJ. diligent. He was assiduous, working at this task for weeks before he felt satisfied with his results. assiduity, N.
assimilate V. absorb; cause to become homogeneous. The manner in which the United States was able to assimilate the hordes of immigrants during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries will always be a source of pride to Americans. The immigrants eagerly assimilated new ideas and customs; they soaked them up, the way plants soak up water.
assuage V. ease or lessen (pain); satisfy (hunger); soothe (anger). Jilted by Jane, Dick tried to assuage his heartache by indulging in ice cream. One gallon later, he had assuaged his appetite but not his grief.
assumption N. something taken for granted; taking over or taking possession of. The young princess made the foolish assumption that the regent would not object to her assumption of power. assume, V.
assurance N. promise or pledge; certainty; self-confidence. When Guthrie gave Guinness his assurance that rehearsals were going well, he spoke with such assurance that Guinness felt relieved. assure, V.
Word List 5 astral–barb
astral ADJ. relating to the stars. She was amazed at the number of astral bodies the new telescope revealed.
astringent ADJ. binding; causing contraction. The astringent quality of the unsweetened lemon juice made swallowing difficult. also N.
astronomical ADJ. enormously large or extensive. The government seems willing to spend astronomical sums on weapons development.
astute ADJ. wise; shrewd; keen. John Jacob Astor made astute investments in land, shrewdly purchasing valuable plots throughout New York City.
asunder ADV. into parts; apart. A fierce quarrel split the partnership asunder: the two partners finally sundered their connections because their points of view were poles asunder.
asylum N. place of refuge or shelter; protection. The refugees sought asylum from religious persecution in a new land.
asymmetric ADJ. not identical on both sides of a dividing central line. Because one eyebrow was set markedly higher than the other, William’s face had a particularly asymmetric appearance.
atavism N. reversion to an earlier type; throwback. In his love for gardening, Martin seemed an atavism to his Tuscan forebears, who lavished great care on their small plots of soil.
atheistic ADJ. denying the existence of God. His atheistic remarks shocked the religious worshippers.
atlas N. a bound volume of maps, charts, or tables. Embarrassed at being unable to distinguish Slovenia from Slovakia, George W. finally consulted an atlas.
atone V. make amends for; pay for. He knew no way in which he could atone for his brutal crime.
atrocity N. brutal deed. In time of war, many atrocities are committed by invading armies.
atrophy V. waste away. After three months in a cast, your calf muscles are bound to atrophy; you’ll need physical therapy to get back in shape. also N.
attain V. achieve or accomplish; gain. The scarecrow sought to attain one goal: he wished to obtain a brain.
attentive ADJ. alert and watchful; considerate; thoughtful. Spellbound, the attentive audience watched the final game of the tennis match, never taking their eyes from the ball. A cold wind sprang up; Stan’s attentive daughter slipped a sweater over his shoulders without distracting his attention from the game.
attenuate V. make thin; weaken. By withdrawing their forces, the generals hoped to attenuate the enemy lines.
attest V. testify, bear witness. Having served as a member of the Grand Jury, I can attest that our system of indicting individuals is in need of improvement.
attribute N. essential quality. His outstanding attribute was his kindness.
attribute V. ascribe; explain. I attribute her success in science to the encouragement she received from her parents.
attrition N. gradual decrease in numbers; reduction in the work force without firing employees; wearing away of opposition by means of harassment. In the 1960s urban churches suffered from attrition as members moved from the cities to the suburbs. Rather than fire staff members, church leaders followed a policy of attrition, allowing elderly workers to retire without replacing them.
atypical ADJ. not normal. The child psychiatrist reassured Mrs. Keaton that playing doctor was not atypical behavior for a child of young Alex’s age. “Yes, ” she replied, “but not charging for house calls!”
audacious ADJ. daring; bold. Audiences cheered as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia made their audacious, death defying leap to freedom, escaping Darth Vader’s troops. audacity, N.
audit N. examination of accounts. When the bank examiners arrived to hold their annual audit, they discovered the embezzlements of the chief cashier. also V.
auditory ADJ. pertaining to the sense of hearing. Audrey suffered from auditory hallucinations: she thought Elvis was speaking to her from the Great Beyond.
augment V. increase; add to. Armies augment their forces by calling up reinforcements; teachers augment their salaries by taking odd jobs.
august ADJ. impressive; majestic. Visiting the palace at Versailles, she was impressed by the august surroundings in which she found herself.
auspicious ADJ. favoring success. With favorable weather conditions, it was an auspicious moment to set sail. Thomas, however, had doubts about sailing: a paranoid, he became suspicious whenever conditions seemed auspicious.
austere ADJ. forbiddingly stern; severely simple and unornamented. The headmaster’s austere demeanor tended to scare off the more timid students, who never visited his study willingly. The room reflected the man, austere and bare, like a monk’s cell, with no touches of luxury to moderate its austerity.
authenticate V. confirm as genuine. After a thorough chemical analysis of the pigments and canvas, the experts were prepared to authenticate the painting as an original Rembrandt.
authoritarian ADJ. subordinating the individual to the state; completely dominating another’s will. The leaders of the authoritarian regime ordered the suppression of the democratic protest movement. After years of submitting to the will of her authoritarian father, Elizabeth Barrett ran away from home with the poet Robert Browning.
authoritative ADJ. having the weight of authority; peremptory and dictatorial. Impressed by the young researcher’s well-documented presentation, we accepted her analysis of the experiment as authoritative.
autocratic ADJ. having absolute, unchecked power; dictatorial. Someone accustomed to exercising authority may become autocratic if his or her power is unchecked. Dictators by definition are autocrats. Bosses who dictate behavior as well as letters can be autocrats too.
automaton N. robot; person performing a task mechanically. The assembly line job called for no initiative or intelligence on Homer’s part; on automatic pilot, he pushed button after button like an automaton.
autonomous ADJ. self-governing. Although the University of California at Berkeley is just one part of the state university system, in many ways Cal Berkeley is autonomous, for it runs several programs that are not subject to outside control. autonomy, N.
autopsy N. examination of a dead body; post-mortem. The medical examiner ordered an autopsy to determine the cause of death. also V.
auxiliary ADJ. helper, additional or subsidiary. To prepare for the emergency, they built an auxiliary power station. also N.
avalanche N. great mass of falling snow and ice. The park ranger warned the skiers to stay on the main trails, where they would be in no danger of being buried beneath a sudden avalanche.
avarice N. greediness for wealth. King Midas is a perfect example of avarice, for he was so greedy that he wished everything he touched would turn to gold.
avenge V. take vengeance for something (or on behalf of someone). Hamlet vowed he would avenge his father’s murder and punish Claudius for his horrible crime.
aver V. assert confidently; affirm. Despite overwhelming popular skepticism about his voyage, Columbus averred he would succeed in finding a direct sea route to the Far East.
averse ADJ. reluctant; disinclined. The reporter was averse to revealing the sources of his information.
aversion N. firm dislike. Bert had an aversion to yuppies; Alex had an aversion to punks. Their mutual aversion was so great that they refused to speak to one another.
avert V. prevent; turn away. She averted her eyes from the dead cat on the highway.
avid ADJ. greedy; eager for. Avid for pleasure, Abner partied with great avidity. avidity, N.
avocation N. secondary or minor occupation. His hobby proved to be so fascinating and profitable that gradually he abandoned his regular occupation and concentrated on his avocation.
avow V. declare openly. Lana avowed that she never meant to steal Debbie’s boyfriend, but no one believed her avowal of innocence.
awe N. solemn wonder. The tourists gazed with awe at the tremendous expanse of the Grand Canyon.
awry ADV. crooked; wrong; amiss. Noticing that the groom’s tie was slightly awry, the bride reached over to set it straight. A careful organizer, she hated to have anything go awry with her plans.
axiom N. self-evident truth requiring no proof. Before a student can begin to think along the lines of Euclidean geometry, he must accept certain principles or axioms.
azure ADJ. sky blue. Azure skies are indicative of good weather.
babble V. chatter idly. The little girl babbled about her doll. also N.
badger V. pester; annoy. She was forced to change her telephone number because she was badgered by obscene phone calls.
badinage N. teasing conversation. Her friends at work greeted the news of her engagement with cheerful badinage.
baffle V. frustrate; perplex. The new code baffled the enemy agents.
bait V. harass; tease. The school bully baited the smaller children, terrorizing them.
baleful ADJ. deadly; having a malign influence; ominous. The fortune teller made baleful predictions of terrible things to come.
balk V. foil or thwart; stop short; refuse to go on. When the warden learned that several inmates were planning to escape, he took steps to balk their attempt. However, he balked at punishing them by shackling them to the walls of their cells.
ballast N. heavy substance used to add stability or weight. The ship was listing badly to one side; it was necessary to shift the ballast in the hold to get her back on an even keel. also V.
balm N. something that relieves pain. Friendship is the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.
balmy ADJ. mild; fragrant. A balmy breeze refreshed us after the sultry blast.
banal ADJ. hackneyed; commonplace; trite; lacking originality. The hack writer’s worn-out clichés made his comic sketch seem banal. He even resorted to the banality of having someone slip on a banana peel!
bandy V. discuss lightly or glibly; exchange (words) heatedly. While the president was happy to bandy patriotic generalizations with anyone who would listen to him, he refused to bandy words with unfriendly reporters at the press conference.
bane N. cause of ruin; curse. Lucy’s little brother was the bane of her existence: his attempts to make her life miserable worked so well that she could have poisoned him with rats bane for having such a baneful effect.
bantering ADJ. good-natured ridiculing. They resented his bantering remarks because they thought he was being sarcastic.
barb N. sharp projection from fishhook, etc.; openly cutting remark. If you were a politician, which would you prefer, being caught on the barb of a fishhook or being subjected to malicious verbal barbs? Who can blame the president if he’s happier fishing than back in the capitol listening to his critics’ barbed remarks?
Word List 6 bard–bluff
bard N. poet. The ancient bard Homer sang of the fall of Troy.
baroque ADJ. highly ornate. Accustomed to the severe lines of contemporary buildings, the architecture students found the flamboyance of baroque architecture amusing. They simply didn’t go for baroque.
barrage N. barrier laid down by artillery fire. The company was forced to retreat through the barrage of heavy cannons.
barren ADJ. desolate; fruitless and unproductive; lacking. Looking out at the trackless, barren desert, Indiana Jones feared that his search for the missing expedition would prove barren.
barricade N. hastily put together defensive barrier; obstacle. Marius and his fellow students hurriedly improvised a rough barricade to block police access to the students’ quarter. Malcolm and his brothers barricadedthemselves in their bedroom to keep their mother from seeing the hole in the bedroom floor. also V.
barterer N. trader. The barterer exchanged trinkets for the natives’ furs. It seemed smarter to barter than to pay cash.
bask V. luxuriate; take pleasure in warmth. Basking on the beach, she relaxed so completely that she fell asleep.
bastion N. fortress; defense. The villagers fortified the town hall, hoping this improvised bastion could protect them from the guerillas’ raids.
bate V. let down; restrain. Until it was time to open the presents, the children had to bate their curiosity. bated, ADJ.
bauble N. trinket; trifle. The child was delighted with the bauble she had won in the grab bag.
bawdy ADJ. indecent; obscene. Jack took offense at Jill’s bawdy remarks. What kind of young man did she think he was?
beam N. ray of light; long piece of metal or wood; course of a radio signal. V. smile radiantly. If a beam of light falls on you, it illuminates you; if a beam of iron falls on you, it eliminates you. (No one feels like beaming when crushed by an iron beam.)
beatific ADJ. giving bliss; blissful. The beatific smile on the child’s face made us very happy.
beatitude N. blessedness; state of bliss. Growing closer to God each day, the mystic achieved a state of indescribable beatitude.
bedraggle V. wet thoroughly; stain with mud. We were so bedraggled by the severe storm that we had to change into dry clothing. bedraggled, ADJ.
beeline N. direct, quick route. As soon as the movie was over, Jim made a beeline for the exit.
befuddle V. confuse thoroughly. His attempts to clarify the situation succeeded only in befuddling her further.
beget V. father; produce; give rise to. One good turn may deserve another; it does not necessarily beget another.
begrudge V. resent. I begrudge every minute I have to spend attending meetings; they’re a complete waste of time.
beguile V. mislead or delude; pass time. With flattery and big talk of easy money, the con men beguiled Kyle into betting his allowance on the shell game. Broke, he beguiled himself during the long hours by playing solitaire.
behemoth N. huge creature; monstrous animal. Sportscasters nicknamed the linebacker “The Behemoth.”
belabor V. explain or go over excessively or to a ridiculous degree; attack verbally. The debate coach warned her student not to bore the audience by belaboring her point.
belated ADJ. delayed. He apologized for his belated note of condolence to the widow of his friend and explained that he had just learned of her husband’s untimely death.
beleaguer V. besiege or attack; harass. The baby sitter was surrounded by a crowd of unmanageable brats who relentlessly beleaguered her.
belie V. contradict; give a false impression. His coarse, hard-bitten exterior belied his inner sensitivity.
belittle V. disparage or depreciate; put down. Parents should not belittle their children’s early attempts at drawing, but should encourage their efforts. Barry was a put-down artist: he was a genius at belittling people and making them feel small.
bellicose ADJ. warlike. His bellicose disposition alienated his friends.
belligerent ADJ. quarrelsome. Whenever he had too much to drink, he became belligerent and tried to pick fights with strangers. belligerence, N.
bemoan V. lament; express disapproval of. The widow bemoaned the death of her beloved husband. Although critics bemoaned the serious flaws in the author’s novels, each year his latest book topped the best-seller list.
bemused ADJ. confused; lost in thought; preoccupied. Jill studied the garbled instructions with a bemused look on her face.
benediction N. blessing. The appearance of the sun after the many rainy days was like a benediction.
benefactor N. gift giver; patron. Scrooge later became Tiny Tim’s benefactor and gave him gifts.
beneficial ADJ. helpful; useful. Tiny Tim’s cheerful good nature had a beneficial influence on Scrooge’s once uncharitable disposition.
beneficiary N. person entitled to benefits or proceeds of an insurance policy or will. In Scrooge’s will, he made Tiny Tim his beneficiary: everything he left would go to young Tim.
benevolent ADJ. generous; charitable. Mr. Fezziwig was a benevolent employer, who wished to make Christmas merrier for young Scrooge and his other employees.
benign ADJ. kindly; favorable; not malignant. Though her benign smile and gentle bearing made Miss Marple seem a sweet little old lady, in reality she was a tough-minded, shrewd observer of human nature. benignity, N.
bent ADJ; N. determined; natural talent or inclination. Bent on advancing in the business world, the secretary-heroine of Working Girl has a true bent for high finance.
bequeath V. leave to someone by a will; hand down. Though Maud had intended to bequeath the family home to her nephew, she died before changing her will. bequest, N.
berate V. scold strongly. He feared she would berate him for his forgetfulness.
bereavement N. state of being deprived of something valuable or beloved. His friends gathered to console him upon his sudden bereavement.
bereft ADJ. deprived of; lacking; desolate because of a loss. The foolish gambler soon found himself bereft of funds.
berserk ADV. frenzied. Angered, he went berserk and began to wreck the room.
beseech V. beg; plead with. The workaholic executive’s wife beseeched him to spend more time with their son.
beset V. harass or trouble; hem in. Many vexing problems beset the American public school system. Sleeping Beauty’s castle was beset on all sides by dense thickets that hid it from view.
besiege V. surround with armed forces; harass (with requests). When the bandits besieged the village, the villagers holed up in the town hall and prepared to withstand a long siege. Members of the new administration were besieged with job applications from people who had worked on the campaign.
besmirch V. soil, defile. The scandalous remarks in the newspaper besmirch the reputations of every member of the society.
bestial ADJ. beastlike; brutal. According to legend, the werewolf was able to abandon its human shape and take on a bestial form.
bestow V. give. He wished to bestow great honors upon the hero.
betoken V. signify; indicate. The well-equipped docks, tall piles of cargo containers, and numerous vessels being loaded all betoken Oakland’s importance as a port.
betray V. be unfaithful; reveal (unconsciously or unwillingly). The spy betrayed his country by selling military secrets to the enemy. When he was taken in for questioning, the tightness of his lips betrayed his fear of being caught.
betroth V. become engaged to marry. The announcement that they had become betrothed surprised their friends who had not suspected any romance. betrothal, N.
bevy N. large group. The movie actor was surrounded by a bevy of starlets.
biased ADJ. slanted; prejudiced. Because the judge played golf regularly with the district attorney’s father, we feared he might be biased in the prosecution’s favor. bias, N.
bicameral ADJ. two-chambered, as a legislative body. The United States Congress is a bicameral body.
bicker V. quarrel. The children bickered morning, noon, and night, exasperating their parents.
biennial ADJ. every two years. Seeing no need to meet more frequently, the group held biennial meetings instead of annual ones. Plants that bear flowers biennially are known as biennials
bigotry N. stubborn intolerance. Brought up in a democratic atmosphere, the student was shocked by the bigotry and narrowness expressed by several of his classmates.
bilious ADJ. suffering from indigestion; irritable. His bilious temperament was apparent to all who heard him rant about his difficulties.
bilk V. swindle; cheat. The con man specialized in bilking insurance companies.
billowing ADJ. swelling out in waves; surging. Standing over the air vent, Marilyn Monroe tried vainly to control her billowing skirts.
bizarre ADJ. fantastic; violently contrasting. The plot of the novel was too bizarre to be believed.
blanch V. bleach; whiten. Although age had blanched his hair, he was still vigorous and energetic.
bland ADJ. soothing or mild; agreeable. Jill tried a bland ointment for her sunburn. However, when Jack absent- mindedly patted her on the sunburned shoulder, she couldn’t maintain a bland disposition.
blandishment N. flattery. Despite the sales person’s blandishments, the customer did not buy the outfit.
blare N. loud, harsh roar or screech; dazzling blaze of light. I don’t know which is worse: the steady blare of a boom box deafening your ears or a sudden blare of flashbulbs dazzling your eyes.
blasé ADJ. bored with pleasure or dissipation. Although Beth was as thrilled with the idea of a trip to Paris as her classmates were, she tried to act super cool and blasé, as if she’d been abroad hundreds of times.
blasphemy N. irreverence; sacrilege; cursing. In my father’s house, the Dodgers were the holiest of holies; to cheer for another team was to utter words of blasphemy. blasphemous, ADJ.
blatant ADJ. flagrant; conspicuously obvious; loudly offensive. To the unemployed youth from Dublin, the “No Irish Need Apply” placard in the shop window was a blatant mark of prejudice.
bleak ADJ. cold or cheerless; unlikely to be favorable. The frigid, inhospitable Aleutian Islands are bleak military outposts. It’s no wonder that soldiers assigned there have a bleak attitude toward their posting.
blighted ADJ. suffering from a disease; destroyed. The extent of the blighted areas could be seen only when viewed from the air.
blithe ADJ. gay; joyous; carefree. Without a care in the world, Beth went her blithe, lighthearted way.
bloated ADJ. swollen or puffed as with water or air. Her bloated stomach came from drinking so much water.
bludgeon N. club; heavy-headed weapon. Attacked by Dr. Moriarty, Holmes used his walking stick as a bludgeon to defend himself. “Watson, ” he said, “I fear I may have bludgeoned Moriarty to death.”
bluff ADJ. rough but good-natured. Jack had a bluff and hearty manner that belied his actual sensitivity; he never let people know how thin-skinned he really was.
bluff N. pretense (of strength); deception; high cliff. Claire thought Lord Byron’s boast that he would swim the Hellespont was just a bluff; she was astounded when he dove from the high bluff into the waters below. also V.
Word List 7 blunder–canter
blunder N. error. The criminal’s fatal blunder led to his capture. also V.
blurt V. utter impulsively. Before she could stop him, he blurted out the news.
bluster V. blow in heavy gusts; threaten emptily; bully. “Let the stormy winds bluster, ” cried Jack, “we’ll set sail tonight.” Jill let Jack bluster: she wasn’t going anywhere, no matter what he said.
bode V. foreshadow; portend. The gloomy skies and the sulphurous odors from the mineral springs seemed to bode evil to those who settled in the area.
bogus ADJ. counterfeit; not authentic. The police quickly found the distributors of the bogus twenty-dollar bills.
bohemian ADJ. unconventional (in an artistic way). Gertrude Stein ran off to Paris to live an eccentric, bohemian life with her writer friends. Oakland was not bohemian: it was too bourgeois, too middle-class.
boisterous ADJ. violent; rough; noisy. The unruly crowd became even more boisterous when he tried to quiet them.
bolster V. support; reinforce. The debaters amassed file boxes full of evidence to bolster their arguments.
bolt N. door bar; fastening pin or screw; length of fabric. The carpenter shut the workshop door, sliding the heavy metal bolt into place. He sorted through his toolbox for the nuts and bolts and nails he would need. Before he cut into the bolt of canvas, he measured how much fabric he would need.
bolt V. dash or dart off; fasten (a door); gobble down. Jack was set to bolt out the front door, but Jill bolted the door. “Eat your breakfast, ” she said, “don’t bolt your food.”
bombardment N. attack with missiles. The enemy bombardment demolished the town. Members of the opposition party bombarded the prime minister with questions about the enemy attack.
bombastic ADJ. pompous; using inflated language. Puffed up with conceit, the orator spoke in such a bombastic manner that we longed to deflate him. bombast, N.
booming ADJ. deep and resonant; flourishing, thriving. “Who needs a microphone?” cried the mayor in his booming voice. Cheerfully he boomed out that, thanks to him, the city’s economy was booming. boom, V.
boon N. blessing; benefit. The recent rains that filled our empty reservoirs were a boon to the whole community.
boorish ADJ. rude; insensitive. Though Mr. Collins constantly interrupted his wife, she ignored his boorish behavior, for she had lost hope of teaching him courtesy.
boundless ADJ. unlimited; vast. Mike’s energy was boundless: the greater the challenge, the more vigorously he tackled the job.
bountiful ADJ. abundant; graciously generous. Thanks to the good harvest, we had a bountiful supply of food and we could be as bountiful as we liked in distributing food to the needy.
bourgeois ADJ. middle class; selfishly materialistic; dully conventional. Technically, anyone who belongs to the middle class is bourgeois, but, given the word’s connotations, most people resent it if you call them that.
bovine ADJ. cowlike; placid and dull. Nothing excites Esther; even when she won the state lottery, she still preserved her air of bovine calm.
bowdlerize V. expurgate. After the film editors had bowdlerized the language in the script, the motion picture’s rating was changed from “R” to “PG.”
boycott V. refrain from buying or using. To put pressure on grape growers to stop using pesticides that harmed the farm workers’ health, Cesar Chavez called for consumers to boycott grapes.
braggart N. boaster. Modest by nature, she was no braggart, preferring to let her accomplishments speak for themselves.
brandish V. wave around; flourish. Alarmed, Doctor Watson wildly brandished his gun until Holmes told him to put the thing away before he shot himself.
bravado N. swagger; assumed air of defiance. The bravado of the young criminal disappeared when he was confronted by the victims of his brutal attack.
brawn N. muscular strength; sturdiness. It takes brawn to become a champion weightlifter. brawny, ADJ.
brazen ADJ. insolent. Her brazen contempt for authority angered the officials.
breach N. breaking of contract or duty; fissure or gap. Jill sued Jack for breach of promise, claiming he had broken his promise to marry her. They found a breach in the enemy’s fortifications and penetrated their lines. also V.
breadth N. width; extent. We were impressed by the breadth of her knowledge.
brevity N. conciseness. Brevity is essential when you send a telegram or cablegram; you are charged for every word.
bristling ADJ. rising like bristles; showing irritation. The dog stood there, bristling with anger.
brittle ADJ. easily broken; difficult. My employer’s self-control was as brittle as an eggshell. Her brittle personality made it difficult for me to get along with her.
broach V. introduce; open up. Jack did not even try to broach the subject of religion with his in-laws. If you broach a touchy subject, it may cause a breach.
brochure N. pamphlet. This brochure on farming was issued by the Department of Agriculture.
browbeat V. bully; intimidate. Billy resisted Ted’s attempts to browbeat him into handing over his lunch money.
browse V. graze; skim or glance at casually. “How now, brown cow, browsing in the green, green grass.” I remember lines of verse that I came across while browsing through the poetry section of the local bookstore.
brunt N. main impact or shock. Tom Sawyer claimed credit for painting the fence, but the brunt of the work fell on others. However, he bore the brunt of Aunt Polly’s complaints when the paint began to peel.
brusque ADJ. blunt; abrupt. Was Bruce too brusque when he brushed off Bob’s request with a curt “Not now!”?
buccaneer N. pirate. At Disneyland the Pirates of the Caribbean sing a song about their lives as bloody buccaneers.
bucolic ADJ. rustic; pastoral. Filled with browsing cows and bleating sheep, the meadow was a charmingly bucolic sight.
buffet N. table with food set out for people to serve themselves; meal at which people help themselves to food that’s been set out. Please convey the soufflé on the tray to the buffet. (Buffet rhymes with tray.)
buffet V. slap; batter; knock about. To buffet something is to rough it up. (Buffet rhymes with Muffett.) Was Miss Muffett buffeted by the crowd on the way to the buffet tray?
buffoonery N. clowning. In the Ace Ventura movies, Jim Carrey’s buffoonery was hilarious: like Bozo the Clown, he’s a natural buffoon.
bulwark N. earthwork or other strong defense; person who defends. The navy is our principal bulwark against invasion.
bumptious ADJ. self-assertive. His classmates called him a show-off because of his bumptious airs.
bungle V. mismanage; blunder. Don’t botch this assignment, Bumstead; if you bungle the job, you’re fired!
buoyant ADJ. able to float; cheerful and optimistic. When the boat capsized, her buoyant life jacket kept Jody afloat. Scrambling back on board, she was still in a buoyant mood, certain that despite the delay she’d win the race.
bureaucracy N. over-regulated administrative system marked by red tape. The Internal Revenue Service is the ultimate bureaucracy: taxpayers wasted so much paper filling out IRS forms that the IRS bureaucrats printed up a new set of rules requiring taxpayers to comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act.
burgeon V. grow forth; send out buds. In the spring, the plants that burgeon are a promise of the beauty that is to come.
burlesque V. give an imitation that ridicules. In Spaceballs Rick Moranis burlesques Darth Vader of Star Wars, outrageously parodying Vader’s stiff walk and hollow voice.
burly ADJ. husky; muscular. The burly mover lifted the packing crate with ease.
burnish V. make shiny by rubbing; polish. The maid burnished the brass fixtures until they reflected the lamplight.
bustle V. move about energetically; teem. David and the children bustled about the house getting in each other’sway as they tried to pack for the camping trip. The whole house bustled with activity.
buttress V. support; prop up. The attorney came up with several far-fetched arguments in a vain attempt to buttress his weak case. also N.
buxom ADJ. plump; full-bosomed. Fashion models are usually slim and willowy rather than buxom.
cabal N. small group of persons secretly united to promote their own interests. The cabal was defeated when their scheme was discovered.
cache N. hiding place. The detectives followed the suspect until he led them to the cache where he had stored his loot. He had cached the cash in a bag for trash: it was a hefty sum.
cacophonous ADJ. discordant; inharmonious. Do the students in the orchestra enjoy the cacophonous sounds they make when they’re tuning up? I don’t know how they can stand the racket. cacophony, N.
cadaver N. corpse. In some states, it is illegal to dissect cadavers.
cadence N. rhythmic rise and fall (of words or sounds); beat. Marching down the road, the troops sang out, following the cadence set by the sergeant.
cajole V. coax; wheedle. Diane tried to cajole her father into letting her drive the family car. cajolery, N.
calamity N. disaster; misery. As news of the calamity spread, offers of relief poured in to the stricken community.
calculated ADJ. deliberately planned; likely. Lexy’s choice of clothes to wear to the debate tournament was carefully calculated. Her conventional suit was one calculated to appeal to the conservative judges.
caldron N. large kettle. “Why, Mr. Crusoe, ” said the savage heating the giant caldron, “we’d love to have you for dinner!”
caliber N. ability; quality. The scholarship committee searched for students of high caliber, ones with the intelligence and ability to be a credit to the school.
calligraphy N. beautiful writing; excellent penmanship. As we examine ancient manuscripts, we become impressed with the calligraphy of the scribes.
callous ADJ. hardened; unfeeling. He had worked in the hospital for so many years that he was callous to the suffering in the wards. callus, N.
callow ADJ. youthful; immature; inexperienced. As a freshman, Jack was sure he was a man of the world; as a sophomore, he made fun of freshmen as callow youths. In both cases, his judgment showed just how callow he was.
calorific ADJ. heat-producing. Coal is much more calorific than green wood.
calumny N. malicious misrepresentation; slander. He could endure his financial failure, but he could not bear the calumny that his foes heaped upon him.
camaraderie N. good-fellowship. What he loved best about his job was the sense of camaraderie he and his co-workers shared.
cameo N. shell or jewel carved in relief; star’s special appearance in a minor role in a film. Don’t buy cameos from the street peddlers in Rome: the workmanship is wretched. Did you catch Bill Murray’s cameo in Little Shop of Horrors? He was on-screen so briefly that if you blinked you missed him.
camouflage V. disguise; conceal. In order to rescue Han Solo, Princess Leia camouflaged herself in the helmet and cloak of a space bandit.
candor N. frankness; open honesty. Jack can carry candor too far: when he told Jill his honest opinion of her, she nearly slapped his face. candid, ADJ.
canine ADJ. related to dogs; dog-like. Some days the canine population of Berkeley seems almost to outnumber the human population.
canny ADJ. shrewd; thrifty. The canny Scotsman was more than a match for the swindlers.
cant N. insincere expressions of piety; jargon of thieves. Shocked by news of the minister’s extramarital love affairs, the worshippers dismissed his talk about the sacredness of marriage as mere cant. Cant is a form of hypocrisy: those who can, pray; those who cant, pretend.
cantankerous ADJ. ill humored; irritable. Constantly complaining about his treatment and refusing to cooperate with the hospital staff, he was a cantankerous patient.
canter N. slow gallop. Because the racehorse had outdistanced its competition so easily, the reporter wrote that the race was won in a canter. also V.
Word List 8 canto–chameleon
canto N. division of a long poem. Dante’s poetic masterpiece The Divine Comedy is divided into cantos.
canvass V. determine votes, etc. After canvassing the sentiments of his constituents, the congressman was confident that he represented the majority opinion of his district. also N.
capacious ADJ. spacious. In the capacious rotunda of the railroad terminal, thousands of travelers lingered while waiting for their train.
capacity N. mental or physical ability; role; ability to accommodate. Mike had the capacity to handle several jobs at once. In his capacity as president of Selec Tronics he marketed an electronic dictionary with a capacity of 200, 000 words.
capitulate V. surrender. The enemy was warned to capitulate or face annihilation.
capricious ADJ. unpredictable; fickle; fanciful. The storm was capricious: it changed course constantly. Jill was capricious too: she changed boyfriends almost as often as she changed clothes. caprice, N.
caption N. title; chapter heading; text under illustration. The captions that accompany The Far Side cartoons are almost as funny as the pictures. also V.
captivate V. charm or enthrall. Bart and Lisa were captivated by their new nanny’s winning manner.
cardinal ADJ. chief. If you want to increase your word power, the cardinal rule of vocabulary-building is to read.
careen V. lurch; sway from side to side. The taxicab careened wildly as it rounded the corner.
caricature N. exaggerated picture or description; distortion. The cartoonist’s caricature of President Bush grossly exaggerated the size of the president’s ears. also V.
carnage N. destruction of life. The film The Killing Fields vividly depicts the carnage wreaked by Pol Pot’s followers in Cambodia.
carnal ADJ. fleshly. Is the public more interested in carnal pleasures than in spiritual matters? Compare the number of people who read Playboy daily to the number of those who read the Bible or Koran every day.
carnivorous ADJ. meat-eating. The lion’s a carnivorous beast. A hunk of meat makes up his feast. A cow is not a carnivore. She likes the taste of grain, not gore.
carping ADJ. finding fault. A carping critic is a nit-picker: he loves to point out flaws. If you don’t like this definition, feel free to carp.
castigate V. criticize severely; punish. When the teacher threatened that she would castigate the mischievous boys if they didn’t behave, they shaped up in a hurry.
casualty N. serious or fatal accident. The number of automotive casualties on this holiday weekend was high.
cataclysm N. violent upheaval; deluge. The Russian Revolution was a political and social cataclysm that overturned czarist society. cataclysmic, ADJ.
catalyst N. agent which brings about a chemical change while it remains unaffected and unchanged. Many chemical reactions cannot take place without the presence of a catalyst.
catapult N. slingshot; a hurling machine. Airplanes are sometimes launched from battleships by catapults. also V.
cataract N. great waterfall; eye abnormality. She gazed with awe at the mighty cataract known as Niagara Falls.
catastrophe N. calamity; disaster. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake was a catastrophe that destroyed most of the city. A similar earthquake striking today could have even more catastrophic results.
catechism N. book for religious instruction; instruction by question and answer. He taught by engaging his pupils in a catechism until they gave him the correct answer.
categorical ADJ. without exceptions; unqualified; absolute. Though the captain claimed he was never, never sick at sea, he finally had to qualify his categorical denial: he was “hardly ever” sick at sea.
cater to V. supply something desired (whether good or bad). The chef was happy to cater to the tastes of his highly sophisticated clientele. Critics condemned the movie industry for catering to the public’s ever-increasing appetite for violence.
catharsis N. purging or cleansing of any passage of the body. Aristotle maintained that tragedy created a catharsis by purging the soul of base concepts.
catholic ADJ. broadly sympathetic; liberal. He was extremely catholic in his taste and read everything he could find in the library.
caucus N. private meeting of members of a party to select officers or determine policy. At the opening of Congress, the members of the Democratic Party held a caucus to elect the Majority Leader of the House and the Party Whip.
caulk V. make watertight by filling in cracks. Jack had to caulk the tiles in the shower stall to stop the leak into the basement below.
causal ADJ. implying a cause-and-effect relationship. The psychologist maintained there was a causal relationship between the nature of one’s early childhood experiences and one’s adult personality. causality, N.
caustic ADJ. burning; sarcastically biting. The critic’s caustic comments angered the actors, who resented his cutting remarks.
cavalcade N. procession; parade. As described by Chaucer, the cavalcade of Canterbury pilgrims was a motley group.
cavalier ADJ. offhand or casual; haughty. The disguised prince resented the cavalier way in which the palace guards treated him. How dared they handle a member of the royal family so unceremoniously!
cavil V. make frivolous objections. It’s fine when you make sensible criticisms, but it really bugs me when you cavil about unimportant details. also N.
cede V. yield (title, territory) to; surrender formally. Eventually the descendants of England’s Henry II were forced to cede their French territories to the King of France.
celebrated ADJ. famous; well-known. Thanks to their race to break Roger Maris’s home-run record, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire are two of America’s most celebrated baseball players. celebrity, N.
celerity N. speed; rapidity. Hamlet resented his mother’s celerity in remarrying within a month after his father’s death.
celestial ADJ. heavenly; relating to the sky. Pointing his primitive telescope at the heavens, Galileo explored the celestial mysteries.
celibate ADJ. unmarried; abstaining from sexual intercourse. Though Havelock Ellis wrote extensively about sexual practices, recent studies maintain he was celibate throughout his life. celibacy, N.
censor N. overseer of morals; person who reads to eliminate inappropriate remarks. Soldiers dislike having their mail read by a censor but understand the need for this precaution. also V.
censorious ADJ. critical. Censorious people delight in casting blame.
censure V. blame; criticize. The senator was censured for behavior inappropriate to a member of Congress. also N.
centrifugal ADJ. radiating; departing from the center. Many automatic drying machines remove excess moisture from clothing by centrifugal force.
centripetal ADJ. tending toward the center. Does centripetal force or the force of gravity bring orbiting bodies to the earth’s surface?
cerebral ADJ. pertaining to the brain or intellect. The heroes of Dumb and Dumber were poorly equipped for cerebral pursuits.
cerebration N. thought. Mathematics problems sometimes require much cerebration.
ceremonious ADJ. marked by formality. Ordinary dress would be inappropriate at so ceremonious an affair.
certitude N. certainty. Though there was no certitude of his getting the job, Lou thought he had a good chance of doing so.
cessation N. stoppage. The airline’s employees threatened a cessation of all work if management failed to meet their demands. cease, V.
cession N. yielding to another; ceding. The cession of Alaska to the United States is discussed in this chapter.
chafe V. warm by rubbing; make sore (by rubbing). Chilled, he chafed his hands before the fire. The collar of his school uniform chafed Tom’s neck, but not as much the school’s strict rules chafed his spirit. also N.
chaff N. worthless products of an endeavor. When you separate the wheat from the chaff, be sure you throw out the chaff.
chaffing ADJ. bantering; joking. Sometimes Chad’s flippant, chaffing remarks annoy us. Still, Chad’s chaffing keeps us laughing. also N.
chagrin N. vexation (caused by humiliation or injured pride); disappointment. Embarrassed by his parents’shabby, working-class appearance, Doug felt their visit to his school would bring him nothing but chagrin. Someone filled with chagrin doesn’t grin: he’s too mortified.
chameleon N. lizard that changes color in different situations. Like the chameleon, he assumed the political thinking of every group he met.
Word List 9 champion–coincidence
champion V. support militantly. Martin Luther King, Jr., won the Nobel Peace Prize because he championed the oppressed in their struggle for equality.
chaotic ADJ. in utter disorder. He tried to bring order into the chaotic state of affairs. chaos, N.
charisma N. divine gift; great popular charm or appeal of a political leader. Political commentators have deplored the importance of a candidate’s charisma in these days of television campaigning.
charlatan N. quack; pretender to knowledge. When they realized that the Wizard didn’t know how to get them back to Kansas, Dorothy and her companions were indignant that they’d been duped by a charlatan.
chary ADJ. cautious; sparing or restrained about giving. A prudent, thrifty, New Englander, DeWitt was as chary of investing money in junk bonds as he was chary of paying people unnecessary compliments.
chasm N. abyss. Looking down from the Cliffs of Doom, Frodo and his companions could not see the bottom of the chasm.
chaste ADJ. pure; virginal; modest. To ensure that his bride would stay chaste while he was off to the wars, the crusader had her fitted out with a chastity belt. chastity, N.
chasten V. discipline; punish in order to correct. Whom God loves, God chastens.
chastise V. punish. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” was Miss Watson’s motto: she relished whipping Huck with a birch rod to chastise him.
chauvinist N. blindly devoted patriot. A chauvinist cannot recognize any faults in his country, no matter how flagrant they may be. Likewise, a male chauvinist cannot recognize his bias in favor of his own sex, no matter how flagrant that may be. chauvinistic, ADJ.
check V. stop motion; curb or restrain. Thrusting out her arm, Grandma checked Bobby’s lunge at his sister. “Young man, ” she said, “you’d better check your temper.” (secondary meaning)
checkered ADJ. marked by changes in fortune. During his checkered career he had lived in palatial mansions and in dreary boarding houses.
cherubic ADJ. angelic; innocent-looking. With her cheerful smile and rosy cheeks, she was a particularly cherubic child.
chicanery N. trickery; deception. Those sneaky lawyers misrepresented what occurred, made up all sorts of implausible alternative scenarios to confuse the jurors, and in general depended on chicanery to win the case.
chide V. scold. Grandma began to chide Steven for his lying.
chimerical ADJ. fantastically improbable; highly unrealistic; imaginative. As everyone expected, Ted’s chimerical scheme to make a fortune by raising ermines in his back yard proved a dismal failure.
chisel N. Wedgelike tool for cutting. With his hammer and chisel, the sculptor chipped away at the block of marble.
chisel V. swindle or cheat; cut with a chisel. That crook chiseled me out of a hundred dollars when he sold me that“marble” statue he’d chiseled out of some cheap hunk of rock.
chivalrous ADJ. courteous; faithful; brave. Chivalrous behavior involves noble words and good deeds.
choleric ADJ. hot-tempered. His flushed, angry face indicated a choleric nature.
choreography N. art of representing dances in written symbols; arrangement of dances. Merce Cunningham uses a computer in designing choreography: a software program allows him to compose sequences of possible moves and immediately view them on-screen.
chronic ADJ. long established as a disease. The doctors were finally able to attribute his chronic headaches and nausea to traces of formaldehyde gas in his apartment.
chronicle V. report; record (in chronological order). The gossip columnist was paid to chronicle the latest escapades of the socially prominent celebrities. also N.
churlish ADJ. boorish; rude. Dismayed by his churlish manners at the party, the girls vowed never to invite him again.
cipher N. secret code. Lacking his code book, the spy was unable to decode the message sent to him in cipher.
cipher N. nonentity; worthless person or thing. She claimed her ex-husband was a total cipher and wondered why she had ever married him.
circuitous ADJ. roundabout. To avoid the traffic congestion on the main highways, she took a circuitous route. circuit, N.
circumlocution N. indirect or roundabout expression. He was afraid to call a spade a spade and resorted to circumlocutions to avoid direct reference to his subject.
circumscribe V. limit; confine. School regulations circumscribed Elle’s social life: she hated having to follow rules that limited her activities.
circumspect ADJ. prudent; cautious. Investigating before acting, she tried always to be circumspect.
circumvent V. outwit; baffle. In order to circumvent the enemy, we will make two preliminary attacks in other sections before starting our major campaign.
cite V. quote; command. She could cite passages in the Bible from memory. citation, N.
civil ADJ. having to do with citizens or the state; courteous and polite. Although Internal Revenue Service agents are civil servants, they are not always civil to suspected tax cheats.
clairvoyant ADJ., N. having foresight; fortuneteller. Cassandra’s clairvoyant warning was not heeded by the Trojans. clairvoyance, N.
clamber V. climb by crawling. She clambered over the wall.
clamor N. noise. The clamor of the children at play outside made it impossible for her to take a nap. also V.
clandestine ADJ. secret. After avoiding their chaperon, the lovers had a clandestine meeting.
clangor N. loud, resounding noise. The blacksmith was accustomed to the clangor of hammers on steel.
clasp N. fastening device; firm grip. When the clasp on Judy’s bracelet broke, Fred repaired it, bending the hook back into shape. He then helped her slip on the bracelet, holding it firm in the sure clasp of his hand.
cleave V. split or sever; cling to; remain faithful to. With her heavy cleaver, Julia Child can cleave a whole roast duck in two. Soaked through, the soldier tugged at the uniform that cleaved annoyingly to his body. He would cleave to his post, come rain or shine.
cleft N. split. Trying for a fresh handhold, the mountain climber grasped the edge of a cleft in the sheer rock face. also ADJ.
clemency N. disposition to be lenient; mildness, as of the weather. The lawyer was pleased when the case was sent to Judge Smith’s chambers because Smith was noted for her clemency toward first offenders.
clench V. close tightly; grasp. “Open wide, ” said the dentist, but Clint clenched his teeth even more tightly than before.
cliché N. phrase dulled in meaning by repetition. High school compositions are often marred by such clichés as “strong as an ox.”
clientele N. body of customers. The rock club attracted a young, stylish clientele.
climactic ADJ. relating to the highest point. When he reached the climactic portions of the book, he could not stop reading. climax, N.
clime N. region; climate. His doctor advised him to move to a milder clime.
clip N. section of filmed material. Phil’s job at Fox Sports involved selecting clips of the day’s sporting highlights for later broadcast. also V.
clique N. small exclusive group. Fitzgerald wished that he belonged to the clique of popular athletes and big men on campus who seemed to run Princeton’s social life.
cloister N. monastery or convent. The nuns lived a secluded life in the cloister.
clout N. great influence (especially political or social). Gatsby wondered whether he had enough clout to be admitted to the exclusive club.
cloying ADJ. distasteful (because excessive); excessively sweet or sentimental. Disliking the cloying sweetness of standard wedding cakes, Jody and Tom chose to have homemade carrot cake at the reception. cloy, V.
clump N. cluster or close group (of bushes, trees); mass; sound of heavy treading. Hiding behind the clump of bushes, the fugitives waited for the heavy clump of the soldiers’ feet to fade away.
coagulate V. thicken; congeal; clot. Even after you remove the pudding from the burner, it will continue to coagulate as it stands; therefore, do not overcook the pudding, lest it become too thick.
coalesce V. combine; fuse. The brooks coalesce into one large river. When minor political parties coalesce, their coalescence may create a major coalition.
coalition N. partnership; league; union. The Rainbow Coalition united people of all races in a common cause.
coddle V. to treat gently. Don’t coddle the children so much; they need a taste of discipline.
codify V. arrange (laws, rules) as a code; classify. We need to take the varying rules and regulations of the different health agencies and codify them into a national health code.
coercion N. use of force to get someone to obey. The inquisitors used both physical and psychological coercion to force Joan of Arc to deny that her visions were sent by God. coerce, V.
cogent ADJ. convincing. It was inevitable that David chose to go to Harvard: he had several cogent reasons for doing so, including a full-tuition scholarship. Katya argued her case with such cogency that the jury had to decide in favor of her client.
cogitate V. think over. Cogitate on this problem; the solution will come.
cognate ADJ. related linguistically: allied by blood: similar or akin in nature. The English word “mother” is cognate to the Latin word “mater, ” whose influence is visible in the words “maternal” and “maternity.” also N.
cognitive ADJ. having to do with knowing or perceiving; related to the mental processes. Though Jack was emotionally immature, his cognitive development was admirable; he was very advanced intellectually.
cognizance N. knowledge. During the election campaign, the two candidates were kept in full cognizance of the international situation.
cohere V. stick together. Solids have a greater tendency to cohere than liquids.
cohesion N. tendency to keep together. A firm believer in the maxim “Divide and conquer, ” the evil emperor, by means of lies and trickery, sought to disrupt the cohesion of the federation of free nations.
coiffure N. hairstyle. You can make a statement with your choice of coiffure: in the sixties many African-Americans affirmed their racial heritage by wearing their hair in Afros.
coin V. make coins; invent or fabricate. Mints coin good money; counterfeiters coin fakes. Slanderers coin nasty rumors; writers coin words. A neologism is an expression that’s been newly-coined.
coincidence N. two or more things occurring at the same time by chance. Was it just a coincidence that John and she had chanced to meet at the market for three days running, or was he deliberately trying to seek her out? coincidental, ADJ.
Word List 10 collaborate–congenital
collaborate V. work together. Two writers collaborated in preparing this book.
collage N. work of art put together from fragments. Scraps of cloth, paper doilies, and old photographs all went into her collage.
collate V. examine in order to verify authenticity; arrange in order. They collated the newly found manuscripts to determine their age.
collateral N. security given for loan. The sum you wish to borrow is so large that it must be secured by collateral.
colloquial ADJ. pertaining to conversational or common speech. Some of the new, less formal reading passages on the SAT have a colloquial tone that is intended to make them more appealing to students.
collusion N. conspiring in a fraudulent scheme. The swindlers were found guilty of collusion.
colossal ADJ. huge. Radio City Music Hall has a colossal stage.
comatose ADJ. in a coma; extremely sleepy. The long-winded orator soon had his audience in a comatose state.
combustible ADJ. easily burned. After the recent outbreak of fires in private homes, the fire commissioner ordered that all combustible materials be kept in safe containers. also N.
comely ADJ. attractive; agreeable. I would rather have a poor and comely wife than a rich and homely one.
comeuppance N. rebuke; deserts. After his earlier rudeness, we were delighted to see him get his comeuppance.
commandeer V. to draft for military purposes; to take for public use. The policeman commandeered the first car that approached and ordered the driver to go to the nearest hospital.
commemorate V. honor the memory of. The statue of the Minute Man commemorates the valiant soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War.
commensurate ADJ. equal in extent. Your reward will be commensurate with your effort.
commiserate V. feel or express pity or sympathy for. Her friends commiserated with the widow.
commodious ADJ. spacious and comfortable. After sleeping in small roadside cabins, they found their hotel suite commodious.
communal ADJ. held in common; of a group of people. When they were divorced, they had trouble dividing their communal property.
compact N. agreement; contract. The signers of the Mayflower Compact were establishing a form of government.
compact ADJ. tightly packed; firm; brief. His short, compact body was better suited to wrestling than to basketball.
comparable ADJ. similar. People whose jobs are comparable in difficulty should receive comparable pay.
compatible ADJ. harmonious; in harmony with. They were compatible neighbors, never quarreling over unimportant matters. compatibility, N.
compelling ADJ. overpowering; irresistible in effect. The prosecutor presented a well-reasoned case, but the defense attorney’s compelling arguments for leniency won over the jury.
compensatory ADJ. making up for; repaying. Can a compensatory education program make up for the inadequate schooling he received in earlier years?
compile V. assemble; gather; accumulate. We planned to compile a list of the words most frequently used on SAT examinations.
complacency N. self-satisfaction; smugness. Full of complacency about his latest victories, he looked smugly at the row of trophies on his mantelpiece. complacent, ADJ.
complaisant ADJ. trying to please; obliging. Always ready to accede to his noble patron’s wishes, Mr. Collins was a complaisant, even obsequious, character.
complement V. complete; consummate; make perfect. The waiter recommended a glass of port to complement the cheese. also N.
complementary ADJ. serving to complete something. John and Lisa’s skills are complementary: he’s good at following a daily routine, while she’s great at improvising and handling emergencies. Together they make a great team.
compliance N. readiness to yield; conformity in fulfilling requirements. Bullheaded Bill was not noted for easy compliance with the demands of others. As an architect, however, Bill recognized that his design for the new school had to be in compliance with the local building code.
compliant ADJ. yielding. Because Joel usually gave in and went along with whatever his friends desired, his mother worried that he might be too compliant.
complicity N. participation; involvement. You cannot keep your complicity in this affair secret very long; you would be wise to admit your involvement immediately.
component N. element; ingredient. I wish all the components of my stereo system were working at the same time.
composure N. mental calmness. Even the latest work crisis failed to shake her composure.
compound V. combine; constitute; pay interest; increase. The makers of the popular cold remedy compounded a nasal decongestant with an antihistamine. also N.
comprehensive ADJ. thorough; inclusive. This book provides a comprehensive review of verbal and math skills for the SAT.
compress V. close; squeeze; contract. She compressed the package under her arm.
comprise V. include; consist of. If the District of Columbia were to be granted statehood, the United States of America would comprise fifty-one states, not just fifty.
compromise V. adjust or settle by making mutual concessions; endanger the interests or reputation of. Sometimes the presence of a neutral third party can help adversaries compromise their differences. Unfortunately, you’re not neutral; therefore, your presence here compromises our chances of reaching an agreement. also N.
compunction N. remorse. The judge was especially severe in his sentencing because he felt that the criminal had shown no compunction for his heinous crime.
compute V. reckon; calculate. He failed to compute the interest, so his bank balance was not accurate. computation, N.
concave ADJ. hollow. The back-packers found partial shelter from the storm by huddling against the concave wall of the cliff.
concede V. admit; yield. Despite all the evidence Monica had assembled, Mark refused to concede that she was right.
conceit N. vanity or self-love; whimsical idea; extravagant metaphor. Although Jack was smug and puffed up with conceit, he was an entertaining companion, always expressing himself in amusing conceits and witty turns of phrase.
concentric ADJ. having a common center. The target was made of concentric circles.
conception N. beginning; forming of an idea. At the first conception of the work, he was consulted. conceive, V.
concerted ADJ. mutually agreed on; done together. All the Girl Scouts made a concerted effort to raise funds for their annual outing. When the movie star appeared, his fans let out a concerted sigh.
concession N. an act of yielding. Before they could reach an agreement, both sides had to make certain concessions.
conciliatory ADJ. reconciling; soothing. She was still angry despite his conciliatory words. conciliate, V.
concise ADJ. brief and compact. When you define a new word, be concise: the shorter the definition, the easier it is to remember.
conclusive ADJ. decisive; ending all debate. When the stolen books turned up in John’s locker, we finally had conclusive evidence of the identity of the mysterious thief.
concoct V. prepare by combining; make up in concert. How did the inventive chef ever concoct such a strange dish? concoction, N.
concomitant N. that which accompanies. Culture is not always a concomitant of wealth. also ADJ.
concord N. harmony; agreement between people or things. Watching Tweedledum and Tweedledee battle, Alice wondered at their lack of concord.
concur V. agree. Did you concur with the decision of the court or did you find it unfair?
concurrent ADJ. happening at the same time. In America, the colonists were resisting the demands of the mother country; at the concurrent moment in France, the middle class was sowing the seeds of rebellion.
condemn V. censure; sentence; force or limit to a particular state. In My Cousin Vinnie, Vinnie’s fiancée condemned Vinnie for mishandling his cousin Tony’s defense. If Vinnie didn’t do a better job defending Tony, the judge would condemn Tony to death, and Vinnie would be condemned to cleaning toilets for a living.
condense V. make more compact or dense; shorten or abridge; reduce into a denser form. If you squeeze a slice of Wonder Bread, taking out the extra air, you can condense it into a pellet the size of a sugar cube. If you cut out the unnecessary words from your essay, you can condense it to a paragraph. As the bathroom cooled down, the steam from the shower condensed into droplets of water.
condescend V. act conscious of descending to a lower level; patronize. Though Jill had been a star softball player in college, when she played a pickup game at the park she never condescended to her less experienced teammates. condescension, N.
condiments N. seasonings; spices. The chef seasoned the dish with so much garlic that we could hardly taste the other condiments.
condole V. express sympathetic sorrow. His friends gathered to condole with him over his loss. condolence, N.
condone V. overlook; forgive; give tacit approval; excuse. Unlike the frail widow, who indulged her only son and condoned his minor offenses, the boy’s stern uncle did nothing but scold.
conducive ADJ. contributive; tending to. Rest and proper diet are conducive to good health.
confidant N. trusted friend. He had no confidants with whom he could discuss his problems at home.
confine V. shut in; restrict. The terrorists had confined their prisoner in a small room. However, they had not chained him to the wall or done anything else to confine his movements further. confinement, N.
confirm V. corroborate; verify; support. I have several witnesses who will confirm my account of what happened.
confiscate V. seize; commandeer. The army confiscated all available supplies of uranium.
conflagration N. great fire. In the conflagration that followed the 1906 earthquake, much of San Francisco was destroyed.
confluence N. flowing together; crowd. They built the city at the confluence of two rivers.
conformity N. harmony; agreement. In conformity with our rules and regulations, I am calling a meeting of our organization.
confound V. confuse; puzzle. No mystery could confound Sherlock Holmes for long.
confrontation N. act of facing someone or something; encounter, often hostile. Morris hoped to avoid any confrontations with his ex-wife, but he kept on running into her at the health club. How would you like to confront someone who can bench press 200 pounds? confront, V., confrontational, ADJ.
congeal V. freeze; coagulate. His blood congealed in his veins as he saw the dread monster rush toward him.
congenial ADJ. pleasant; friendly. My father loved to go out for a meal with congenial companions.
congenital ADJ. existing at birth. Were you born stupid, or did you just turn out this way? In other words, is your idiocy congenital or acquired? Doctors are able to cure some congenital deformities such as cleft palates by performing operations on infants.
Word List 11 conglomeration–countermand
conglomeration N. mass of material sticking together. In such a conglomeration of miscellaneous statistics, it was impossible to find a single area of analysis.
congruent ADJ. in agreement; corresponding. In formulating a hypothesis, we must keep it congruent with what we know of the real world; it cannot disagree with our experience.
conjecture V. surmise; guess. Although there was no official count, the organizers conjectured that more than 10,000 marchers took part in the March for Peace. also N.
conjugal ADJ. pertaining to marriage. Their dreams of conjugal bliss were shattered as soon as their temperaments clashed.
conjure V. summon a devil; practice magic; imagine or invent. Sorcerers conjure devils to appear. Magicians conjure white rabbits out of hats. Political candidates conjure up images of reformed cities and a world at peace.
connivance N. assistance; pretense of ignorance of something wrong; permission to offend. With the connivance of his friends, he plotted to embarrass the teacher. connive, V.
connoisseur N. person competent to act as a judge of art, etc.; a lover of an art. She had developed into a connoisseur of fine china.
connotation N. suggested or implied meaning of an expression. Foreigners frequently are unaware of the connotations of the words they use.
connubial ADJ. pertaining to marriage or the matrimonial state. In his telegram, he wished the newlyweds a lifetime of connubial bliss.
conscientious ADJ. scrupulous; careful. A conscientious editor, she checked every definition for its accuracy.
consecrate V. dedicate; sanctify. We shall consecrate our lives to this noble purpose.
consensus N. general agreement. Every time the garden club members had nearly reached a consensus about what to plant, Mistress Mary, quite contrary, disagreed.
consequential ADJ. pompous; important; self-important. Convinced of his own importance, the actor strutted about the dressing room with a consequential air.
conservatory N. school of the fine arts (especially music or drama). A gifted violinist, Marya was selected to study at the conservatory.
consign V. deliver officially; entrust; set apart. The court consigned the child to her paternal grandmother’s care. consignment, N.
consistency N. absence of contradictions; dependability; uniformity; degree of thickness. Holmes judged puddings and explanations on their consistency: he liked his puddings without lumps and his explanations without improbabilities.
console V. lessen sadness or disappointment; give comfort. When her father died, Marius did his best to console Cosette.
consolidation N. unification; process of becoming firmer or stronger. The recent consolidation of several small airlines into one major company has left observers of the industry wondering whether room still exists for the “little guy” in aviation. consolidate, V.
consonance N. harmony; agreement. Her agitation seemed out of consonance with her usual calm.
consort V. associate with. We frequently judge people by the company with whom they consort
consort N. husband or wife. The search for a consort for the young Queen Victoria ended happily.
conspicuous ADJ. easily seen; noticeable; striking. Janet was conspicuous both for her red hair and for her height.
conspiracy N. treacherous plot. Brutus and Cassius joined in the conspiracy to kill Julius Caesar. conspire, V.
constituent N. supporter. The congressman received hundreds of letters from angry constituents after the Equal Rights Amendment failed to pass.
constraint N. compulsion; repression of feelings. There was a feeling of constraint in the room because no one dared to criticize the speaker. constrain, V.
construe V. explain; interpret. If I construe your remarks correctly, you disagree with the theory already advanced.
consummate ADJ. complete. I have never seen anyone who makes as many stupid errors as you do; what a consummate idiot you are! also V.
contagion N. infection. Fearing contagion, they took great steps to prevent the spread of the disease.
contaminate V. pollute. The sewage system of the city so contaminated the water that swimming was forbidden.
contemporary N. person belonging to the same period. Though Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot were contemporaries, the two novelists depicted their Victorian world in markedly different ways. also ADJ.
contempt N. scorn; disdain. The heavyweight boxer looked on ordinary people with contempt, scorning them as weaklings who couldn’t hurt a fly. We thought it was contemptible of him to be contemptuous of people for being weak.
contend V. struggle; compete; assert earnestly. Sociologist Harry Edwards contends that young black athletes are exploited by some college recruiters.
contention N. claim; thesis. It is our contention that, if you follow our tactics, you will boost your score on the SAT. contend, V.
contentious ADJ. quarrelsome. Disagreeing violently with the referees’ ruling, the coach became so contentious that they threw him out of the game.
contest V. dispute. The defeated candidate attempted to contest the election results.
context N. writings preceding and following the passage quoted. Because these lines are taken out of context, they do not convey the message the author intended.
contiguous ADJ. adjacent to; touching upon. The two countries are contiguous for a few miles; then they are separated by the gulf.
continence N. self-restraint; sexual chastity. At the convent, Connie vowed to lead a life of continence. The question was, could Connie be content with always being continent?
contingent ADJ. dependent on; conditional. Caroline’s father informed her that any raise in her allowance was contingent on the quality of her final grades. contingency, N.
contingent N. group that makes up part of a gathering. The New York contingent of delegates at the Democratic National Convention was a boisterous, sometimes rowdy lot.
contortions N. twistings; distortions. As the effects of the opiate wore away, the contortions of the patient became more violent and demonstrated how much pain she was enduring.
contraband N. ADJ. illegal trade; smuggling. The Coast Guard tries to prevent traffic in contraband goods.
contract V. compress or shrink; make a pledge; catch a disease. Warm metal expands; cold metal contracts.
contravene V. contradict; oppose; infringe on or transgress. Mr. Barrett did not expect his frail daughter Elizabeth to contravene his will by eloping with Robert Browning.
contrite ADJ. penitent. Her contrite tears did not influence the judge when he imposed sentence. contrition, N.
contrived ADJ. forced; artificial; not spontaneous. Feeling ill at ease with his new in-laws, James made a few contrived attempts at conversation and then retreated into silence.
controvert V. oppose with arguments; attempt to refute; contradict. The witness’s testimony was so clear and her reputation for honesty so well-established that the defense attorney decided it was wiser to make no attempt to controvert what she said.
conundrum N. riddle. During the long car ride, she invented conundrums to entertain the children.
convene V. assemble. Because much needed legislation had to be enacted, the governor ordered the legislature to convene in special session by January 15.
convention N. social or moral custom; established practice. Flying in the face of convention, George Sand shocked society by taking lovers and wearing men’s clothes.
conventional ADJ. ordinary; typical. His conventional upbringing left him wholly unprepared for his wife’s eccentric family.
converge V. approach; tend to meet; come together. African-American men from all over the United States converged on Washington to take part in the historic Million Men march.
conversant ADJ. familiar with. The lawyer is conversant with all the evidence.
converse N. opposite. The inevitable converse of peace is not war but annihilation.
converse V. chat; talk informally. Eva was all ears while Lulu and Lola conversed. Wasn’t it rude of her to eavesdrop on their conversation? conversation, N.
convert N. one who has adopted a different religion or opinion. On his trip to Japan, though the President spoke at length about the virtues of American automobiles, he made few converts to his beliefs. also V.
convex ADJ. curving outward. He polished the convex lens of his telescope.
conveyance N. vehicle; transfer. During the transit strike, commuters used various kinds of conveyances.
conviction N. judgment that someone is guilty of a crime; strongly held belief. Even her conviction for murder did not shake Peter’s conviction that Harriet was innocent of the crime.
convivial ADJ. festive; gay; characterized by joviality. The convivial celebrators of the victory sang their college songs.
convoke V. call together. Congress was convoked at the outbreak of the emergency. convocation, N.
convoluted ADJ. coiled around; involved; intricate. The new tax regulations are so convoluted that even accountants have trouble following their twists and turns.
copious ADJ. plentiful. She had copious reasons for rejecting the proposal.
coquette N. flirt. Because she refused to give him an answer to his proposal of marriage, he called her a coquette. also V.
cordial ADJ. gracious; heartfelt. Our hosts greeted us at the airport with a cordial welcome and a hearty hug.
cordon N. extended line of men or fortifications to prevent access or egress. The police cordon was so tight that the criminals could not leave the area. also V.
cornucopia N. horn overflowing with fruit and grain; symbol of abundance. The encyclopedia salesman claimed the new edition was a veritable cornucopia of information, an inexhaustible source of knowledge for the entire family.
corollary N. consequence; accompaniment. Brotherly love is a complex emotion, with sibling rivalry its natural corollary.
coronation N. ceremony of crowning a queen or king. When the witches told Macbeth he would be king, they failed to warn him he would lose his crown soon after his coronation.
corporeal ADJ. bodily; material. The doctor had no patience with spiritual matters: his job was to attend to his patients’ corporeal problems, not to minister to their souls.
corpulent ADJ. very fat. The corpulent man resolved to reduce. corpulence, N.
correlation N. mutual relationship. He sought to determine the correlation that existed between ability in algebra and ability to interpret reading exercises. correlate, V., N.
corroborate V. confirm; support. Though Huck was quite willing to corroborate Tom’s story, Aunt Polly knew better than to believe either of them.
corrode V. destroy by chemical action. The girders supporting the bridge corroded so gradually that no one suspected any danger until the bridge suddenly collapsed. corrosion, N.
corrosive ADJ. eating away by chemicals or disease. Stainless steel is able to withstand the effects of corrosive chemicals. corrode, V.
corrugated ADJ. wrinkled; ridged. She wished she could smooth away the wrinkles from his corrugated brow.
cosmic ADJ. pertaining to the universe; vast. Cosmic rays derive their name from the fact that they bombard the earth’s atmosphere from outer space. cosmos, N.
cosmopolitan ADJ. sophisticated. Her years in the capitol had transformed her into a cosmopolitan young woman highly aware of international affairs.
coterie N. group that meets socially; select circle. After his book had been published, he was invited to join the literary coterie that lunched daily at the hotel.
countenance V. approve; tolerate. He refused to countenance such rude behavior on their part.
countenance N. face. When Jose saw his newborn daughter, a proud smile spread across his countenance.
countermand V. cancel; revoke. The general countermanded the orders issued in his absence.
Word List 12 counterpart–decelerate
counterpart N. a thing that completes another; things very much alike. Night and day are counterparts, complementing one another.
coup N. highly successful action or sudden attack. As the news of his coup spread throughout Wall Street, his fellow brokers dropped by to congratulate him.
couple V. join; unite. The Flying Karamazovs couple expert juggling and amateur joking in their nightclub act.
courier N. messenger. The publisher sent a special courier to pick up the manuscript.
covenant N. agreement. We must comply with the terms of the covenant.
covert ADJ. secret; hidden; implied. Investigations of the Central Intelligence Agency and other secret service networks reveal that such covert operations can get out of control.
covetous ADJ. avaricious; eagerly desirous of. The child was covetous by nature and wanted to take the toys belonging to his classmates. covet, V.
cow V. terrorize; intimidate. The little boy was so cowed by the hulking bully that he gave up his lunch money without a word of protest.
cower V. shrink quivering, as from fear. The frightened child cowered in the corner of the room.
coy ADJ. shy; modest; coquettish. Reluctant to commit herself so early in the game, Kay was coy in her answers to Ken’s offer.
cozen V. cheat; hoodwink; swindle. He was the kind of individual who would cozen his friends in a cheap card game but remain eminently ethical in all business dealings.
crabbed ADJ. sour; peevish. The crabbed old man was avoided by the children because he scolded them when they made noise.
craftiness N. slyness; trickiness. In many Native American legends, the coyote is the clever trickster, the embodiment of craftiness. crafty, N.
crass ADJ. very unrefined; grossly insensible. The film critic deplored the crass commercialism of movie-makers who abandon artistic standards in order to make a quick buck.
craven ADJ. cowardly. Lillian’s craven refusal to join the protest was criticized by her comrades, who had expected her to be brave enough to stand up for her beliefs.
credence N. belief. Do not place any credence in his promises.
credibility N. believability. Because the candidate had made some pretty unbelievable promises, we began to question the credibility of everything she said.
credo N. creed. I believe we may best describe his credo by saying that it approximates the Golden Rule.
credulity N. belief on slight evidence; gullibility; naivete. Con artists take advantage of the credulity of inexperienced investors to swindle them out of their savings. credulous, ADJ.
creed N. system of religious or ethical belief. Any loyal American’s creed must emphasize love of democracy.
crescendo N. increase in the volume or intensity, as in a musical passage; climax. The music suddenly shifted its mood, dramatically switching from a muted, contemplative passage to a crescendo with blaring trumpets and clashing cymbals.
crest N. highest point of a hill; foamy top of a wave. Fleeing the tidal wave, the islanders scrambled to reach the crest of Mount Lucinda. With relief, they watched the crest of the wave break well below their vantage point.
crestfallen ADJ. dejected; dispirited. We were surprised at his reaction to the failure of his project; instead of being crestfallen he was busily engaged in planning new activities.
cringe V. shrink back, as if in fear. The dog cringed, expecting a blow.
criterion N. standard used in judging. What criterion did you use when you selected this essay as the prizewinner? criteria, PL.
crop V. cut off unwanted parts of a photograph; graze. With care, David cropped the picture until its edges neatly framed the flock of sheep cropping the grass.
crotchety ADJ. eccentric; whimsical. Although he was reputed to be a crotchety old gentleman, I found his ideas substantially sound and sensible.
crux N. crucial point. This is the crux of the entire problem: everything centers on its being resolved.
crypt N. secret recess or vault, usually used for burial. Until recently, only bodies of rulers and leading statesmen were interred in this crypt.
cryptic ADJ. mysterious; hidden; secret. Thoroughly baffled by Holmes’s cryptic remarks, Watson wondered whether Holmes was intentionally concealing his thoughts about the crime.
cubicle N. small compartment partitioned off; small bedchamber. Hoping to personalize their workspace, the staff members decorated their tiny identical cubicles in markedly individual ways.
cuisine N. style of cooking. French cuisine is noted for its use of sauces and wines.
culinary ADJ. relating to cooking. Many chefs attribute their culinary skill to the wise use of spices.
cull V. pick out; reject. Every month the farmer culls the nonlaying hens from his flock and sells them to the local butcher. also N.
culminate V. attain the highest point; climax. George Bush’s years of service to the Republican Party culminated in his being chosen as the Republican candidate for the presidency. His subsequent inauguration as President of the United States marked the culmination of his political career.
culpable ADJ. deserving blame. Corrupt politicians who condone the activities of the gamblers are equally culpable.
cumbersome ADJ. heavy; hard to manage. He was burdened down with cumbersome parcels.
cumulative ADJ. growing by addition. Vocabulary building is a cumulative process: as you go through your flash cards, you will add new words to your vocabulary, one by one.
cupidity N. greed. The defeated people could not satisfy the cupidity of the conquerors, who demanded excessive tribute.
curator N. superintendent; manager. The members of the board of trustees of the museum expected the new curator to plan events and exhibitions that would make the museum more popular.
curmudgeon N. churlish, miserly individual. Although he was regarded by many as a curmudgeon, a few of us were aware of the many kindnesses and acts of charity that he secretly performed.
cursive ADJ. flowing, running. In normal writing we run our letters together in cursive form; in printing, we separate the letters.
cursory ADJ. casual; hastily done. Because a cursory examination of the ruins indicates the possibility of arson, we believe the insurance agency should undertake a more extensive investigation of the fire’s cause.
curtail V. shorten; reduce. When Herb asked Diane for a date, she said she was really sorry she couldn’t go out with him, but her dad had ordered her to curtail her social life.
cynical ADJ. skeptical or distrustful of human motives. Cynical from birth, Sidney was suspicious whenever anyone gave him a gift “with no strings attached.” cynic, N.
cynosure N. the object of general attention. As soon as the movie star entered the room, she became the cynosure of all eyes.
dabble V. work at in a non-serious fashion; splash around. The amateur painter dabbled at art, but seldom produced a finished piece. The children dabbled their hands in the bird bath, splashing one another gleefully.
dais N. raised platform for guests of honor. When he approached the dais, he was greeted by cheers from the people who had come to honor him.
dank ADJ. damp. The walls of the dungeon were dank and slimy.
dapper ADJ. neat and trim. In “The Odd Couple” TV show, Tony Randall played Felix Unger, an excessively dapper soul who could not stand to have a hair out of place.
dappled ADJ. spotted. The sunlight filtering through the screens created a dappled effect on the wall.
daub V. smear (as with paint). From the way he daubed his paint on the canvas, I could tell he knew nothing of oils. also N.
daunt V. intimidate; frighten. “Boast all you like of your prowess. Mere words cannot daunt me, ” the hero answered the villain.
dauntless ADJ. bold. Despite the dangerous nature of the undertaking, the dauntless soldier volunteered for the assignment.
dawdle V. loiter; waste time. We have to meet a deadline so don’t dawdle; just get down to work.
deadlock N. standstill; stalemate. Because negotiations had reached a deadlock, some of the delegates had begun to mutter about breaking off the talks. also V.
deadpan ADJ. wooden; impersonal. We wanted to see how long he could maintain his deadpan expression.
dearth N. scarcity. The dearth of skilled labor compelled the employers to open trade schools.
debacle N. sudden downfall; complete disaster. In the Airplane movies, every flight turns into a debacle, with passengers and crew members collapsing, engines falling apart, and carry-on baggage popping out of the overhead bins.
debase V. reduce in quality or value; lower in esteem; degrade. In The King and I, Anna refuses to kneel down and prostrate herself before the king, for she feels that to do so would debase her position, and she will not submit to such debasement.
debauch V. corrupt; seduce from virtue. Did Socrates’teachings lead the young men of Athens to be virtuous citizens, or did they debauch the young men, causing them to question the customs of their fathers? Clearly, Socrates’philosophical talks were nothing like the wild debauchery of the toga parties in Animal House.
debilitate V. weaken; enfeeble. Michael’s severe bout of the flu debilitated him so much that he was too tired to go to work for a week.
debonair ADJ. friendly; aiming to please. The debonair youth was liked by all who met him, because of his cheerful and obliging manner.
debris N. rubble. A full year after the earthquake in Mexico City, they were still carting away the debris.
debunk V. expose as false, exaggerated, worthless, etc; ridicule. Pointing out that he consistently had voted against strengthening anti-pollution legislation, reporters debunked the candidate’s claim that he was a fervent environmentalist.
debutante N. young woman making formal entrance into society. As a debutante, she was often mentioned in the society columns of the newspapers.
decadence N. decay. The moral decadence of the people was reflected in the lewd literature of the period.
decapitate V. behead. They did not hang Lady Jane Grey; they decapitated her. “Off with her head!” cried the Duchess, eager to decapitate poor Alice.
decelerate V. slow down. Seeing the emergency blinkers in the road ahead, he decelerated quickly.
Word List 13 deciduous–derivative
deciduous ADJ. falling off as of leaves. The oak is a deciduous tree; in winter it looks quite bare.
decimate V. kill, usually one out of ten. We do more to decimate our population in automobile accidents than we do in war.
decipher V. interpret secret code. Lacking his code book, the spy was unable to decipher the scrambled message sent to him from the KGB.
declivity N. downward slope. The children loved to ski down the declivity.
decolleté ADJ. having a low-necked dress. Current fashion decrees that evening gowns be decolleté this season; bare shoulders are again the vogue.
decomposition N. decay. Despite the body’s advanced state of decomposition, the police were able to identify the murdered man.
decorum N. propriety; orderliness and good taste in manners. Even the best-mannered students have trouble behaving with decorum on the last day of school. decorous, ADJ.
decoy N. lure or bait. The wild ducks were not fooled by the decoy. also V.
decrepit ADJ. worn out by age. The decrepit car blocked traffic on the highway. decrepitude, N.
decry V. express strong disapproval of; disparage. The founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman, strongly decries the lack of financial and moral support for children in America today.
deducible ADJ. derived by reasoning. If we accept your premise, your conclusions are easily deducible.
deface V. mar; disfigure. If you deface a library book, you will have to pay a hefty fine.
defame V. harm someone’s reputation; malign; slander. If you try to defame my good name, my lawyers will see you in court. If rival candidates persist in defaming one another, the voters may conclude that all politicians are crooks. defamation, N.
default N. failure to act. When the visiting team failed to show up for the big game, they lost the game by default. When Jack failed to make the payments on his Jaguar, the dealership took back the car because he had defaultedon his debt.
defeatist ADJ. attitude of one who is ready to accept defeat as a natural outcome. If you maintain your defeatist attitude, you will never succeed. also N.
defection N. desertion. The children, who had made him an idol, were hurt most by his defection from our cause.
defer V. delay till later; exempt temporarily. In wartime, some young men immediately volunteer to serve; others defer making plans until they hear from their draft boards. During the Vietnam War, many young men, hoping to be deferred, requested student deferments.
defer V. give in respectfully; submit. When it comes to making decisions about purchasing software, we must defer to Michael, our computer guru; he gets the final word. Michael, however, can defer these questions to no one; only he can decide.
deference N. courteous regard for another’s wish. In deference to the minister’s request, please do not take photographs during the wedding service.
defiance N. refusal to yield; resistance. When John reached the “terrible two’s, ” he responded to every parental request with howls of defiance. defy, V.
defile V. pollute; profane. The hoodlums defiled the church with their scurrilous writing.
definitive ADJ. final; complete. Carl Sandburg’s Abraham Lincoln may be regarded as the definitive work on the life of the Great Emancipator.
deflect V. turn aside. His life was saved when his cigarette case deflected the bullet.
defray V. pay the costs of. Her employer offered to defray the costs of her postgraduate education.
deft ADJ. neat; skillful. The deft waiter uncorked the champagne without spilling a drop.
defunct ADJ. dead; no longer in use or existence. The lawyers sought to examine the books of the defunct corporation.
defuse V. remove the fuse of a bomb; reduce or eliminate a threat. Police negotiators are trained to defuse dangerous situations by avoiding confrontational language and behavior.
degenerate V. become worse; deteriorate. As the fight dragged on, the champion’s style degenerated until he could barely keep on his feet.
degradation N. humiliation; debasement; degeneration. Some secretaries object to fetching the boss a cup of coffee because they resent the degradation of being made to do such lowly tasks. degrade, V.
dehydrate V. remove water from; dry out. Running under a hot sun quickly dehydrates the body; joggers soon learn to carry water bottles and to drink from them frequently.
deify V. turn into a god; idolize. Admire Elvis Presley all you want; just don’t deify him.
deign V. condescend; stoop. The celebrated fashion designer would not deign to speak to a mere seamstress; his overburdened assistant had to convey the master’s wishes to the lowly workers assembling his great designs.
delectable ADJ. delightful; delicious. We thanked our host for a most delectable meal.
delete V. erase; strike out. Less is more: if you delete this paragraph, your whole essay will have greater appeal.
deleterious ADJ. harmful. If you believe that smoking is deleterious to your health (and the Surgeon General certainly does), then quit!
deliberate V. consider; ponder. Offered the new job, she asked for time to deliberate before she told them her decision.
delineate V. portray; depict; sketch. Using only a few descriptive phrases, Austen delineates the character of Mr. Collins so well that we can predict his every move. delineation, N.
delirium N. mental disorder marked by confusion. In his delirium, the drunkard saw pink panthers and talking pigs. Perhaps he wasn’t delirious: he might just have wandered into a movie.
delude V. deceive. His mistress may have deluded herself into believing that he would leave his wife and marry her.
deluge N. flood; rush. When we advertised the position, we received a deluge of applications.
delusion N. false belief; hallucination. Don suffers from delusions of grandeur: he thinks he’s a world-famous author when he’s published just one paperback book.
delve V. dig; investigate. Delving into old books and manuscripts is part of a researcher’s job.
demagogue N. person who appeals to people’s prejudice; false leader of people. He was accused of being a demagogue because he made promises that aroused futile hopes in his listeners.
demean V. degrade; humiliate. Standing on his dignity, he refused to demean himself by replying to the offensive letter. If you truly believed in the dignity of labor, you would not think it would demean you to work as a janitor.
demeanor N. behavior; bearing. His sober demeanor quieted the noisy revelers.
demented ADJ. insane. Doctor Demento was a lunatic radio personality who liked to act as if he were truly demented. If you’re demented, your mental state is out of whack; in other words, you’re wacky.
demise N. death. Upon the demise of the dictator, a bitter dispute about succession to power developed.
demolition N. destruction. One of the major aims of the air force was the complete demolition of all means of transportation by bombing of rail lines and terminals. demolish, V.
demoniac ADJ. fiendish. The Spanish Inquisition devised many demoniac means of torture. demon, N.
demur V. object (because of doubts, scruples); hesitate. When offered a post on the board of directors, David demurred: he had scruples about taking on the job because he was unsure he could handle it in addition to his other responsibilities.
demure ADJ. grave; serious; coy. She was demure and reserved, a nice modest girl whom any young man would be proud to take home to his mother.
demystify V. clarify; free from mystery or obscurity. Helpful doctors demystify medical procedures by describing them in everyday language, explaining that a myringotomy, for example, is an operation involving making a small hole in one’s eardrum.
denigrate V. blacken. All attempts to denigrate the character of our late president have failed; the people still love him and cherish his memory.
denizen N. inhabitant or resident; regular visitor. In The Untouchables, Eliot Ness fights Al Capone and the other denizens of Chicago’s underworld. Ness’s fight against corruption was the talk of all the denizens of the local bars.
denotation N. meaning; distinguishing by name. A dictionary will always give us the denotation of a word; frequently, it will also give us the connotations. denote, V.
denouement N. outcome; final development of the plot of a play. The play was childishly written; the denouement was obvious to sophisticated theatergoers as early as the middle of the first act.
denounce V. condemn; criticize. The reform candidate denounced the corrupt city officers for having betrayed the public’s trust. denunciation, N.
depict V. portray. In this sensational exposé, the author depicts Beatle John Lennon as a drug-crazed neurotic. Do you question the accuracy of this depiction of Lennon?
deplete V. reduce; exhaust. We must wait until we deplete our present inventory before we order replacements.
deplore V. regret; disapprove of. Although I deplore the vulgarity of your language, I defend your right to express yourself freely.
deploy V. spread out [troops] in an extended though shallow battle line. The general ordered the battalion to deploy in order to meet the enemy offensive.
depose V. dethrone; remove from office. The army attempted to depose the king and set up a military government.
deposition N. testimony under oath. He made his deposition in the judge’s chamber.
depravity N. extreme corruption; wickedness. The depravity of Caligula’s behavior came to sicken even those who had willingly participated in his earlier, comparatively innocent orgies.
deprecate V. express disapproval of; protest against; belittle. A firm believer in old-fashioned courtesy, Miss Post deprecated the modern tendency to address new acquaintances by their first names. deprecatory, ADJ.
depreciate V. lessen in value. If you neglect this property, it will depreciate.
depredation N. plundering. After the depredations of the invaders, the people were penniless.
derange V. make insane; disarrange. Hamlet’s cruel rejection deranged poor Ophelia; in her madness, she drowned herself.
derelict ADJ. abandoned; negligent. The derelict craft was a menace to navigation. Whoever abandoned it in the middle of the harbor was derelict in living up to his responsibilities as a boat owner. also N.
deride V. ridicule; make fun of. The critics derided his pretentious dialogue and refused to consider his play seriously. derision, N.
derivative ADJ. unoriginal; derived from another source. Although her early poetry was clearly derivative in nature, the critics thought she had promise and eventually would find her own voice.
Word List 14 derogatory–disgruntle
derogatory ADJ. expressing a low opinion. I resent your derogatory remarks.
descant V. discuss fully. He was willing to descant upon any topic of conversation, even when he knew very little about the subject under discussion. also N.
descry V. catch sight of. In the distance, we could barely descry the enemy vessels.
desecrate V. profane; violate the sanctity of. Shattering the altar and trampling the holy objects underfoot, the invaders desecrated the sanctuary.
desiccate V. dry up. A tour of this smokehouse will give you an idea of how the pioneers used to desiccate food in order to preserve it.
desolate ADJ. unpopulated. After six months in the crowded, bustling metropolis, David was so sick of people that he was ready to head for the most desolate patch of wilderness he could find.
desolate V. rob of joy; lay waste to; forsake. The bandits desolated the countryside, burning farms and carrying off the harvest.
despise V. look on with scorn; regard as worthless or distasteful. Mr. Bond, I despise spies; I look down on them as mean, despicable, honorless men, whom I would wipe from the face of the earth with as little concern as I would scrape dog droppings from the bottom of my shoe.
despoil V. strip of valuables; rob. Seeking plunder, the raiders despoiled the village, carrying off any valuables they found.
despondent ADJ. depressed; gloomy. To the dismay of his parents, William became seriously despondent after he broke up with Jan; they despaired of finding a cure for his gloom. despondency, N.
despot N. tyrant; harsh, authoritarian ruler. How could a benevolent king turn overnight into a despot? destitute ADJ. extremely poor. Because they had no health insurance, the father’s costly illness left the family destitute.
desultory ADJ. aimless; haphazard; digressing at random. In prison Malcolm X set himself the task of reading straight through the dictionary; to him, reading was purposeful, not desultory.
detached ADJ. emotionally removed; calm and objective; physically unconnected. A psychoanalyst must maintain a detached point of view and stay uninvolved with his or her patients’ personal lives. To a child growing up in an apartment or a row house, to live in a detached house was an unattainable dream.
detergent N. cleansing agent. Many new detergents have replaced soap.
determination N. resolve; measurement or calculation; decision. Nothing could shake his determination that his children would get the best education that money could buy. Thanks to my pocket calculator, my determination of the answer to the problem took only seconds of my time.
deterrent N. something that discourages; hindrance. Does the threat of capital punishment serve as a deterrent to potential killers? deter, V.
detraction N. slandering; aspersion. He is offended by your frequent detractions of his ability as a leader.
detrimental ADJ. harmful; damaging. The candidate’s acceptance of major financial contributions from a well-known racist ultimately proved detrimental to his campaign, for he lost the backing of many of his early grassroots supporters. detriment, N.
deviate V. turn away from (a principle, norm); depart; diverge. Richard never deviated from his daily routine: every day he set off for work at eight o’clock, had his sack lunch (peanut butter on whole wheat) at 12:15, and headed home at the stroke of five.
devious ADJ. roundabout; erratic; not straightforward. The Joker’s plan was so devious that it was only with great difficulty we could follow its shifts and dodges.
devise V. think up; invent; plan. How clever he must be to have devised such a devious plan! What ingenious inventions might he have devised if he had turned his mind to science and not to crime.
devoid ADJ. lacking. You may think her mind is a total void, but she’s actually not devoid of intelligence. She just sounds like an airhead.
devotee N. enthusiastic follower. A devotee of the opera, he bought season tickets every year.
devout ADJ. pious. The devout man prayed daily.
dexterous ADJ. skillful. The magician was so dexterous that we could not follow him as he performed his tricks.
diabolical ADJ. devilish. “What a fiend I am, to devise such a diabolical scheme to destroy Gotham City,” chortled the Joker gleefully.
diagnosis N. art of identifying a disease; analysis of a condition. In medical school Margaret developed her skill at diagnosis, learning how to read volumes from a rapid pulse or a hacking cough. diagnose, V.; diagnostic, ADJ.
dialectical ADJ. relating to the art of debate; mutual or reciprocal. The debate coach’s students grew to develop great forensic and dialectical skill. Teaching, however, is inherently a dialectical situation: the coach learned at least as much from her students as they learned from her. dialectics, N.
diaphanous ADJ. sheer; transparent. Through the diaphanous curtains, the burglar could clearly see the large jewelry box on the dressing table.
diatribe N. bitter scolding; invective. During the lengthy diatribe delivered by his opponent he remained calm and self-controlled.
dichotomy N. split; branching into two parts (especially contradictory ones). Willie didn’t know how to resolve the dichotomy between his ambition to go to college and his childhood longing to run away and join the circus. Then he heard about Ringling Brothers Circus College, and he knew he’d found the perfect school.
dictum N. authoritative and weighty statement; saying; maxim. University administrations still follow the old dictum of “Publish or perish.” They don’t care how good a teacher you are; if you don’t publish enough papers, you’re out of a job.
didactic ADJ. teaching; instructional. Pope’s lengthy poem An Essay on Man is too didactic for my taste: I dislike it when poets turn preachy and moralize.
differentiate V. distinguish; perceive a difference between. Tweedledum and Tweedledee were like two peas in a pod; not even Mother Tweedle could differentiate the one from the other.
diffidence N. shyness. You must overcome your diffidence if you intend to become a salesperson.
diffuse ADJ. wordy; rambling; spread out (like a gas). If you pay authors by the word, you tempt them to produce diffuse manuscripts rather than brief ones. diffusion, N.
digression N. wandering away from the subject. Nobody minded when Professor Renoir’s lectures wandered away from their official theme; his digressions were always more fascinating than the topic of the day. digress, V.
dilapidated ADJ. ruined because of neglect. The dilapidated old building needed far more work than just a new coat of paint. dilapidation, N.
dilate V. expand. In the dark, the pupils of your eyes dilate.
dilatory ADJ. delaying. If you are dilatory in paying bills, your credit rating may suffer.
dilemma N. problem; choice of two unsatisfactory alternatives. In this dilemma, he knew no one to whom he could turn for advice.
dilettante N. aimless follower of the arts; amateur; dabbler. He was not serious in his painting; he was rather a dilettante.
diligence N. steadiness of effort; persistent hard work. Her employers were greatly impressed by her diligence and offered her a partnership in the firm. diligent, ADJ.
dilute V. make less concentrated; reduce in strength. She preferred to dilute her coffee with milk.
diminution N. lessening; reduction in size. Old Jack was as sharp at eighty as he had been at fifty; increasing age led to no diminution of his mental acuity.
din N. continued loud noise. The din of the jackhammers outside the classroom window drowned out the lecturer’s voice. also V.
dingy ADJ. dull; not fresh; cheerless. Refusing to be depressed by her dingy studio apartment, Bea spent the weekend polishing the floors and windows and hanging bright posters on the walls.
dint N. means; effort. By dint of much hard work, the volunteers were able to place the raging forest fire under control.
dire ADJ. disastrous. People ignored her dire predictions of an approaching depression.
dirge N. lament with music. The funeral dirge stirred us to tears.
disabuse V. correct a false impression; undeceive. I will attempt to disabuse you of your impression of my client’s guilt; I know he is innocent.
disaffected ADJ. disloyal. Once the most loyal of Gorbachev’s supporters, Sheverdnaze found himself becoming increasingly disaffected.
disapprobation N. disapproval; condemnation. The conservative father viewed his daughter’s radical boyfriend with disapprobation.
disarray N. a disorderly or untidy state. After the New Year’s party, the once orderly house was in total disarray.
disavowal N. denial; disclaiming. His disavowal of his part in the conspiracy was not believed by the jury. disavow, V.
disband V. dissolve; disperse. The chess club disbanded after its disastrous initial season.
disburse V. pay out. When you disburse money on the company’s behalf, be sure to get a receipt.
discernible ADJ. distinguishable; perceivable. The ships in the harbor were not discernible in the fog. discern, V.
discerning ADJ. mentally quick and observant; having insight. Though no genius, the star was sufficiently discerning to tell her true friends from the countless phonies who flattered her.
disclaim V. disown; renounce claim to. If I grant you this privilege, will you disclaim all other rights?
disclose V. reveal. Although competitors offered him bribes, he refused to disclose any information about his company’s forthcoming product. disclosure, N.
discombobulated ADJ. confused; discomposed. The novice square dancer became so discombobulated that he wandered into the wrong set.
discomfit V. put to rout; defeat; disconcert. This ruse will discomfit the enemy. discomfiture, N. discomfited, ADJ.
discomposure N. agitation; loss of poise. Perpetually poised, Agent 007 never exhibited a moment’s discomposure.
disconcert V. confuse; upset; embarrass. The lawyer was disconcerted by the evidence produced by her adversary.
disconsolate ADJ. sad. The death of his wife left him disconsolate.
discord N. conflict; lack of harmony. Watching Tweedledum battle Tweedledee, Alice wondered what had caused this pointless discord.
discordant ADJ. not harmonious; conflicting. Nothing is quite so discordant as the sound of a junior high school orchestra tuning up.
discount V. disregard; dismiss. Be prepared to discount what he has to say about his ex-wife.
discourse N. formal discussion; conversation. The young Plato was drawn to the Agora to hear the philosophical discourse of Socrates and his followers. also V.
discredit V. defame; destroy confidence in; disbelieve. The campaign was highly negative in tone; each candidate tried to discredit the other.
discrepancy N. lack of consistency; difference. The police noticed some discrepancies in his description of the crime and did not believe him.
discrete ADJ. separate; unconnected. The universe is composed of discrete bodies.
discretion N. prudence; ability to adjust actions to circumstances. Use your discretion in this matter and do not discuss it with anyone. discreet, ADJ.
discriminating ADJ. able to see differences; prejudiced. A superb interpreter of Picasso, she was sufficiently discriminating to judge the most complex works of modern art. (secondary meaning) discrimination, N.
discursive ADJ. digressing; rambling. As the lecturer wandered from topic to topic, we wondered what if any point there was to his discursive remarks.
disdain V. view with scorn or contempt. In the film Funny Face, the bookish heroine disdained fashion models for their lack of intellectual interests. also N.
disembark V. go ashore; unload cargo from a ship. Before the passengers could disembark, they had to pick up their passports from the ship’s purser.
disenfranchise V. deprive of a civil right. The imposition of the poll tax effectively disenfranchised poor Southern blacks, who lost their right to vote.
disengage V. uncouple; separate; disconnect. A standard movie routine involves the hero’s desperate attempt to disengage a railroad car from a moving train.
disfigure V. mar in beauty; spoil. An ugly frown disfigured his normally pleasant face.
disgorge V. surrender something; eject; vomit. Unwilling to disgorge the cash he had stolen from the pension fund, the embezzler tried to run away.
disgruntle V. make discontented. The passengers were disgruntled by the numerous delays.
Word List 15 dishearten–duplicity
dishearten V. discourage; cause to lose courage or hope. His failure to pass the bar exam disheartened him.
disheveled ADJ. untidy. Your disheveled appearance will hurt your chances in this interview.
disinclination N. unwillingness. Some mornings I feel a great disinclination to get out of bed.
disingenuous ADJ. lacking genuine candor; insincere. Now that we know the mayor and his wife are engaged in a bitter divorce fight, we find their earlier remarks regretting their lack of time together remarkably disingenuous.
disinter V. dig up; unearth. They disinterred the body and held an autopsy.
disinterested ADJ. unprejudiced. Given the judge’s political ambitions and the lawyers’ financial interest in the case, the only disinterested person in the courtroom may have been the court reporter.
disjointed ADJ. disconnected. His remarks were so disjointed that we could not follow his reasoning.
dislodge V. remove (forcibly). Thrusting her fist up under the choking man’s lower ribs, Margaret used the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the food caught in his throat.
dismantle V. take apart. When the show closed, they dismantled the scenery before storing it.
dismay V. discourage; frighten. The huge amount of work she had left to do dismayed her. also N.
dismember V. cut into small parts. When the Austrian Empire was dismembered, several new countries were established.
dismiss V. put away from consideration; reject. Believing in John’s love for her, she dismissed the notion that he might be unfaithful. (secondary meaning)
disparage V. belittle. A doting mother, Emma was more likely to praise her son’s crude attempts at art than to disparage them.
disparate ADJ. basically different; unrelated. Unfortunately, Tony and Tina have disparate notions of marriage: Tony sees it as a carefree extended love affair, while Tina sees it as a solemn commitment to build a family and a home.
disparity N. difference; condition of inequality. Their disparity in rank made no difference at all to the prince and Cinderella.
dispassionate ADJ. calm; impartial. Known in the company for his cool judgment, Bill could impartially examine the causes of a problem, giving a dispassionate analysis of what had gone wrong, and go on to suggest how to correct the mess.
dispatch N. speediness; prompt execution; message sent with all due speed. Young Napoleon defeated the enemy with all possible dispatch; he then sent a dispatch to headquarters informing his commander of the great victory. also V.
dispel V. scatter; drive away; cause to vanish. The bright sunlight eventually dispelled the morning mist.
disperse V. scatter. The police fired tear gas into the crowd to disperse the protesters. dispersion, N.
dispirited ADJ. lacking in spirit. The coach used all the tricks at his command to buoy up the enthusiasm of his team, which had become dispirited at the loss of the star player.
disputatious ADJ. argumentative; fond of arguing. Convinced he knew more than his lawyers, Alan was a disputatious client, ready to argue about the best way to conduct the case. disputant, N.
disquiet V. make uneasy or anxious. Holmes’s absence for a day, slightly disquieted Watson; after a week with no word, however, Watson’s uneasiness about his missing friend had grown into a deep fear for his safety. disquietude, N.
dissection N. analysis; cutting apart in order to examine. The dissection of frogs in the laboratory is particularly unpleasant to some students.
dissemble V. disguise; pretend. Even though John tried to dissemble his motive for taking modern dance, we all knew he was there not to dance but to meet girls.
disseminate V. distribute; spread; scatter (like seeds). By their use of the Internet, propagandists have been able to disseminate their pet doctrines to new audiences around the globe.
dissent V. disagree. In the recent Supreme Court decision, Justice O’Connor dissented from the majority opinion. also N.
dissertation N. formal essay. In order to earn a graduate degree from many of our universities, a candidate is frequently required to prepare a dissertation on some scholarly subject.
dissident ADJ. dissenting; rebellious. In the purge that followed the student demonstrations at Tiananmen Square, the government hunted down the dissident students and their supporters. also N.
dissimulate V. pretend; conceal by feigning. Although the governor tried to dissimulate his feelings about the opposing candidate, we all knew he despised his rival.
dissipate V. squander; waste; scatter. He is a fine artist, but I fear he may dissipate his gifts if he keeps wasting his time playing games.
dissolute ADJ. loose in morals. The dissolute life led by the ancient Romans is indeed shocking.
dissolution N. breaking of a union; decay; termination. Which caused King Lear more suffering: the dissolution of his kingdom into warring factions, or the dissolution of his aged, failing body?
dissonance N. discord. Composer Charles Ives often used dissonance—clashing or unresolved chords—for special effects in his musical works.
dissuade V. persuade not to do; discourage. Since Tom could not dissuade Huck from running away from home, he decided to run away with him. dissuasion, N.
distant ADJ. reserved or aloof; cold in manner. His distant greeting made me feel unwelcome from the start. (secondary meaning)
distend V. expand; swell out. I can tell when he is under stress by the way the veins distend on his forehead.
distill V. extract the essence; purify; refine. A moonshiner distills mash into whiskey; an epigrammatist distills thoughts into quips.
distinction N. honor; contrast; discrimination. A holder of the Medal of Honor, George served with great distinction in World War II. He made a distinction, however, between World War II and Vietnam, which he considered an immoral conflict.
distort V. twist out of shape. It is difficult to believe the newspaper accounts of the riots because of the way some reporters distort and exaggerate the actual events. distortion, N.
distraught ADJ. upset; distracted by anxiety. The distraught parents frantically searched the ravine for their lost child.
diurnal ADJ. daily. A farmer cannot neglect his diurnal tasks at any time; cows, for example, must be milked regularly.
diva N. operatic singer; prima donna. Although world famous as a diva, she did not indulge in fits of temperament.
diverge V. vary; go in different directions from the same point. The spokes of the wheel diverge from the hub.
divergent ADJ. differing; deviating. Since graduating from medical school, the two doctors have taken divergent paths, one going on to become a nationally prominent surgeon, the other dedicating himself to a small family practice in his home town. divergence, N.
diverse ADJ. differing in some characteristics; various. The professor suggested diverse ways of approaching the assignment and recommended that we choose one of them. diversity, N.
diversion N. act of turning aside; pastime. After studying for several hours, he needed a diversion from work. divert, V.
diversity N. variety; dissimilitude. The diversity of colleges in this country indicates that many levels of ability are being cared for.
divest V. strip; deprive. He was divested of his power to act and could no longer govern. divestiture, N.
divine V. perceive intuitively; foresee the future. Nothing infuriated Tom more than Aunt Polly’s ability to divine when he was telling the truth.
divulge V. reveal. No lover of gossip, Charlotte would never divulge anything that a friend told her in confidence.
docile ADJ. obedient; easily managed. As docile as he seems today, that old lion was once a ferocious, snarling beast. docility, N.
doctrinaire ADJ. unable to compromise about points of doctrine; dogmatic; unyielding. Weng had hoped that the student-led democracy movement might bring about change in China, but the repressive response of the doctrinaire hard-liners crushed his dreams of democracy.
doctrine N. teachings, in general; particular principle (religious, legal, etc.) taught. He was so committed to the doctrines of his faith that he was unable to evaluate them impartially.
document V. provide written evidence. She kept all the receipts from her business trip in order to document her expenses for the firm. also N.
dogged ADJ. determined; stubborn. Les Miserables tells of Inspector Javert’s long, dogged pursuit of the criminal Jean Valjean.
doggerel N. poor verse. Although we find occasional snatches of genuine poetry in her work, most of her writing is mere doggerel.
dogmatic ADJ. opinionated; arbitrary; doctrinal. We tried to discourage Doug from being so dogmatic, but never could convince him that his opinions might be wrong.
doldrums N. blues; listlessness; slack period. Once the excitement of meeting her deadline was over, she found herself in the doldrums.
doleful ADJ. sorrowful. He found the doleful lamentations of the bereaved family emotionally disturbing and he left as quickly as he could.
dolt N. stupid person. The heroes of Dumb and Dumber are, as the title suggests, a classic pair of dolts.
domicile N. home. Although his legal domicile was in New York City, his work kept him away from his residence for many years. also V.
domineer V. rule over tyrannically. Students prefer teachers who guide, not ones who domineer.
don V. put on. When Clark Kent has to don his Superman outfit, he changes clothes in a convenient phone booth.
doodle V. scribble or draw aimlessly; waste time. Art’s teachers scolded him when he doodled all over the margins of his papers.
dormant ADJ. sleeping; lethargic; latent. At fifty her long-dormant ambition to write flared up once more; within a year she had completed the first of her great historical novels.
dossier N. file of documents on a subject. Ordered by J. Edgar Hoover to investigate the senator, the FBI compiled a complete dossier on him.
dote V. be excessively fond of; show signs of mental decline. Not only grandmothers bore you with stories about their brilliant grandchildren; grandfathers dote on the little rascals, too. Poor old Alf clearly doted: the senile old dotard was past it; in fact, he was in his dotage.
douse V. plunge into water; drench; extinguish. They doused each other with hoses and water balloons.
dowdy ADJ. slovenly; untidy. She tried to change her dowdy image by buying a new fashionable wardrobe.
downcast ADJ. disheartened; sad. Cheerful and optimistic by nature, Beth was never downcast despite the difficulties she faced.
drab ADJ. dull; lacking color; cheerless. The Dutch woman’s drab winter coat contrasted with the distinctive, colorful native costume she wore beneath it.
draconian ADJ. extremely severe. When the principal canceled the senior prom because some seniors had been late to school that week, we thought the draconian punishment was far too harsh for such a minor violation of the rules.
dregs N. sediment; worthless residue. David poured the wine carefully to avoid stirring up the dregs.
drivel N. nonsense; foolishness. Why do I have to spend my days listening to such idiotic drivel? Drivel is related to dribble: think of a dribbling, driveling idiot.
droll ADJ. queer and amusing. He was a popular guest because his droll anecdotes were always entertaining.
drone N. idle person; male bee. Content to let his wife support him, the would-be writer was in reality nothing but a drone.
drone V. talk dully; buzz or murmur like a bee. On a gorgeous day, who wants to be stuck in a classroom listening to the teacher drone?
dross N. waste matter; worthless impurities. Many methods have been devised to separate the valuable metal from the dross.
drudgery N. menial work. Cinderella’s fairy godmother rescued her from a life of drudgery.
dubious ADJ. questionable; filled with doubt. Many critics of the SAT contend the test is of dubious worth. Jay claimed he could get a perfect 2400 on the new SAT, but Ellen was dubious: she knew he hadn’t cracked a book in three years.
ductile ADJ. malleable; flexible; pliable. Copper is an extremely ductile material: you can stretch it into the thinnest of wires, bend it, even wind it into loops.
dulcet ADJ. sweet sounding. The dulcet sounds of the birds at dawn were soon drowned out by the roar of traffic passing our motel.
dumbfound V. astonish. Egbert’s perfect 2400 on his SAT exam dumbfounded his classmates, who had always found him to be perfectly dumb.
dupe N. someone easily fooled. While the gullible Watson often was made a dupe by unscrupulous parties, Sherlock Holmes was far more difficult to fool. also V.
duplicity N. double-dealing; hypocrisy. When Tanya learned that Mark had been two-timing her, she was furious at his duplicity.
Word List 16 duration–encroachment
duration N. length of time something lasts. Because she wanted the children to make a good impression on the dinner guests, Mother promised them a treat if they’d behave for the duration of the meal.
duress N. forcible restraint, especially unlawfully. The hostages were held under duress until the prisoners’ demands were met.
dutiful ADJ. respectful; obedient. When Mother told Billy to kiss Great-Aunt Hattie, the boy obediently gave the old woman a dutiful peck on her cheek.
dwarf V. cause to seem small. The giant redwoods and high cliffs dwarfed the elegant Ahwahnee Hotel, making it appear a modest lodge rather than an imposing hostelry.
dwindle V. shrink; reduce. The food in the life boat gradually dwindled away to nothing; in the end, they ate the ship’s cook.
dynamic ADJ. energetic; vigorously active. The dynamic aerobics instructor kept her students on the run; she was a little dynamo.
earthy ADJ. unrefined; coarse. His earthy remarks often embarrassed the women in his audience.
ebb V. recede; lessen. Sitting on the beach, Mrs. Dalloway watched the tide ebb: the waters receded, drawing away from her as she sat there all alone. also N.
ebullient ADJ. showing excitement; overflowing with enthusiasm. Amy’s ebullient nature could not be repressed; she was always bubbling over with excitement. ebullience, N.
eccentric ADJ. irregular; odd; whimsical; bizarre. The comet veered dangerously close to the earth in its eccentric orbit. People came up with some eccentric ideas for dealing with the emergency: someone even suggested tieing a knot in the comet’s tail!
eccentricity N. oddity; idiosyncrasy. Some of his friends tried to account for his rudeness to strangers as the eccentricity of genius.
ecclesiastic ADJ. pertaining to the church. The minister donned his ecclesiastic garb and walked to the pulpit. also N.
eclectic ADJ. composed of elements drawn from disparate sources. His style of interior decoration was eclectic: bits and pieces of furnishings from widely divergent periods, strikingly juxtaposed to create a unique decor. eclecticism, N.
eclipse V. darken; extinguish; surpass. The new stock market high eclipsed the previous record set in 1995.
ecologist N. a person concerned with the interrelationship between living organisms and their environment. The ecologist was concerned that the new dam would upset the natural balance of the creatures living in Glen Canyon.
economy N. efficiency or conciseness in using something. Reading the epigrams of Pope, I admire the economy of his verse: in few words he conveys worlds of meaning. (secondary meaning)
ecstasy N. rapture; joy; any overpowering emotion. When Allison received her long-hoped-for letter of acceptance from Harvard, she was in ecstasy. ecstatic, ADJ.
edict N. decree (especially issued by a sovereign); official command. The emperor issued an edict decreeing that everyone should come see him model his magnificent new clothes.
edify V. instruct; correct morally. Although his purpose was to edify and not to entertain his audience, many of his listeners were amused rather than enlightened.
eerie ADJ. weird. In that eerie setting, it was easy to believe in ghosts and other supernatural beings.
efface V. rub out. The coin had been handled so many times that its date had been effaced.
effectual ADJ. able to produce a desired effect; valid. Medical researchers are concerned because of the development of drug-resistant strains of bacteria; many once useful antibiotics are no longer effectual in curing bacterial infections.
effervescence N. inner excitement or exuberance; bubbling from fermentation or carbonation. Nothing depressed Sue for long; her natural effervescence soon reasserted itself. Soda that loses its effervescence goes flat. effervescent, ADJ. effervesce, V.
effete ADJ. lacking vigor; worn out; sterile. Is the Democratic Party still a vital political force, or is it an effete powerless faction, wedded to outmoded liberal policies?
efficacy N. power to produce desired effect. The efficacy of this drug depends on the regularity of the dosage. efficacious, ADJ.
effrontery N. shameless boldness. She had the effrontery to insult the guest.
effusive ADJ. pouring forth; gushing. Her effusive manner of greeting her friends finally began to irritate them. effusion, N.
egoism N. excessive interest in one’s self; belief that one should be interested in one’s self rather than in others. His egoism prevented him from seeing the needs of his colleagues.
egotistical ADJ. excessively self-centered; self-important; conceited. Typical egotistical remark: “But enough of this chit-chat about you and your little problems. Let’s talk about what’s really important: Me!”
egregious ADJ. notorious; conspicuously bad or shocking. She was an egregious liar; we all knew better than to believe a word she said. Ed’s housekeeping was egregious: he let his dirty dishes pile up so long that they were stuck together with last week’s food.
egress N. exit. Barnum’s sign “To the Egress” fooled many people who thought they were going to see an animal and instead found themselves in the street.
ejaculation N. exclamation. He could not repress an ejaculation of surprise when he heard the news.
elaboration N. addition of details; intricacy. Tell what happened simply, without any elaboration. elaborate, V.
elated ADJ. overjoyed; in high spirits. Grinning from ear to ear, Bonnie Blair was clearly elated by her fifth Olympic gold medal. elation, N.
elegy N. poem or song expressing lamentation. On the death of Edward King, Milton composed the elegy “Lycidas.” elegiacal, ADJ.
elicit V. draw out by discussion. The detectives tried to elicit where he had hidden his loot.
elixir N. cure-all; something invigorating. The news of her chance to go abroad acted on her like an elixir.
ellipsis N. omission of words from a text. Sometimes an ellipsis can lead to a dangling modifier, as in the sentence “Once dressed, you should refrigerate the potato salad.”
elliptical ADJ. oval; ambiguous, either purposely or because key words have been left out. An elliptical billiard ball wobbles because it is not perfectly round; an elliptical remark baffles because it is not perfectly clear.
eloquence N. expressiveness; persuasive speech. The crowds were stirred by Martin Luther King’s eloquence. eloquent, ADJ.
elucidate V. explain; enlighten. He was called upon to elucidate the disputed points in his article.
elusive ADJ. evasive; baffling; hard to grasp. Trying to pin down exactly when the contractors would be finished remodeling the house, Nancy was frustrated by their elusive replies. elude, V.
emaciated ADJ. thin and wasted. Many severe illnesses leave their victims so emaciated that they must gain back their lost weight before they can fully recover.
emanate V. issue forth. A strong odor of sulphur emanated from the spring.
emancipate V. set free. At first, the attempts of the Abolitionists to emancipate the slaves were unpopular in New England as well as in the South.
embargo N. ban on commerce or other activity. As a result of the embargo, trade with the colonies was at a standstill.
embark V. commence; go on board a boat or airplane; begin a journey. In devoting herself to the study of gorillas, Dian Fossey embarked on a course of action that was to cost her her life.
embed V. enclose; place in something. Tales of actual historical figures like King Alfred have become embedded in legends.
embellish V. adorn; ornament. The costume designer embellished the leading lady’s ball gown with yards and yards of ribbon and lace.
embezzlement N. stealing. The bank teller confessed his embezzlement of the funds.
embody V. personify; make concrete; incorporate. Cheering on his rival Mark McGwire’s efforts to break Roger Maris’s home run record, Sammy Sosa embodied the spirit of true sportsmanship.
embrace V. hug; adopt or espouse; accept readily; encircle; include. Clasping Maid Marian in his arms, Robin Hood embraced her lovingly. In joining the outlaws in Sherwood Forest, she had openly embraced their cause.
embroider V. decorate with needlework; ornament with fancy or fictitious details. For her mother’s birthday, Beth embroidered a lovely design on a handkerchief. When asked what made her late getting home, Jo embroideredher account with tales of runaway horses and rescuing people from a ditch. embroidery, N.
embroil V. throw into confusion; involve in strife; entangle. He became embroiled in the heated discussion when he tried to arbitrate the dispute.
embryonic ADJ. undeveloped; rudimentary. The CEO reminisced about the good old days when the computer industry was still in its embryonic stage and start-up companies were founded in family garages.
emend V. correct; correct by a critic. The critic emended the book by selecting the passages which he thought most appropriate to the text.
emendation N. correction of errors; improvement. Please initial all the emendations you have made in this contract.
eminent ADJ. high; lofty. After his appointment to this eminent position, he seldom had time for his former friends.
emissary N. agent; messenger. The secretary of state was sent as the president’s special emissary to the conference on disarmament.
empathy N. ability to identify with another’s feelings, ideas, etc. What made Ann such a fine counselor was her empathy, her ability to put herself in her client’s place and feel his emotions as if they were her own. empathize, V.
empirical ADJ. based on experience. He distrusted hunches and intuitive flashes; he placed his reliance entirely on empirical data.
emulate V. imitate; rival. In a brief essay, describe a person you admire, someone whose virtues you would like to emulate.
enamored ADJ. in love. Narcissus became enamored of his own beauty.
encipher V. encode; convert a message into code. One of Bond’s first lessons was how to encipher the messages he sent to Miss Moneypenny so that none of his other lady friends could decipher them.
enclave N. territory enclosed within an alien land. The Vatican is an independent enclave in Italy.
encomium N. high praise; eulogy. Uneasy with the encomiums expressed by his supporters, Tolkien felt unworthy of such high praise.
encompass V. surround. A moat, or deep water-filled trench, encompassed the castle, protecting it from attack.
encroachment N. gradual intrusion. The encroachment of the factories upon the neighborhood lowered the value of the real estate.
Word List 17 encumber–etymology
encumber V. burden. Some people encumber themselves with too much luggage when they take short trips.
endearment N. fond statement. Your gifts and endearments cannot make me forget your earlier insolence.
endemic ADJ. prevailing among a specific group of people or in a specific area or country. This disease is endemic in this part of the world; more than 80 percent of the population are at one time or another affected by it.
endorse V. approve; support. Everyone waited to see which one of the rival candidates for the city council the mayor would endorse. (secondary meaning) endorsement, N.
enduring ADJ. lasting; surviving. Keats believed in the enduring power of great art, which would outlast its creators’ brief lives.
energize V. invigorate; make forceful and active. Rather than exhausting Maggie, dancing energized her.
enervate V. weaken. She was slow to recover from her illness; even a short walk to the window would enervate her.
enfranchise V. to admit to the rights of citizenship (especially the right to vote). Although Blacks were enfranchised shortly after the Civil War, women did not receive the right to vote until 1920.
engage V. attract; hire; pledge oneself; confront. “Your case has engaged my interest, my lord, ” said Holmes. “You may engage my services.”
engaging ADJ. charming; attractive. Everyone liked Nancy’s pleasant manners and engaging personality.
engender V. cause; produce. To receive praise for real accomplishments engenders self-confidence in a child.
engross V. occupy fully. John was so engrossed in his studies that he did not hear his mother call.
enhance V. increase; improve. You can enhance your chances of being admitted to the college of your choice by learning to write well; an excellent essay can enhance any application.
enigma N. puzzle; mystery. “What do women want?” asked Dr. Sigmund Freud. Their behavior was an enigma to him. enigmatic, ADJ.
enmity N. ill will; hatred. At Camp David, President Carter labored to bring an end to the enmity that prevented the peaceful coexistence of Egypt and Israel.
ennui N. boredom. The monotonous routine of hospital life induced a feeling of ennui that made him moody and irritable.
enormity N. hugeness (in a bad sense). He did not realize the enormity of his crime until he saw what suffering he had caused.
enrapture V. please intensely. The audience was enraptured by the freshness of the voices and the excellent orchestration.
ensconce V. settle comfortably. Now that their children were ensconced safely in the private school, the jet-setting parents decided to leave for Europe.
ensemble N. group of (supporting) players; organic unity; costume. As a dancer with the Oakland Ballet, Benjamin enjoyed being part of the ensemble. Having acted with one another for well over a decade, the cast members have developed a true sense of ensemble: they work together seamlessly. Mitzi wore a charming two-piece ensemble designed by Donna Karan.
entail V. require; necessitate; involve. Building a college level vocabulary will entail some work on your part.
enterprising ADJ. full of initiative. By coming up with fresh ways to market the company’s products, Mike proved himself to be an enterprising businessman.
enthrall V. capture; enslave. From the moment he saw her picture, he was enthralled by her beauty.
entice V. lure; attract; tempt. She always tried to entice her baby brother into mischief.
entitlement N. right to claim something; right to benefits. While Bill was entitled to use a company car while he worked for the firm, the company’s lawyers questioned his entitlement to the vehicle once he’d quit his job.
entity N. real being. As soon as the Charter was adopted, the United Nations became an entity and had to be considered as a factor in world diplomacy.
entourage N. group of attendants; retinue. Surrounded by the members of his entourage, the mayor hurried into city hall, shouting a brusque “No comment!” to the reporters lining the steps.
entrance V. put under a spell; carry away with emotion. Shafts of sunlight on a wall could entrance her and leave her spellbound.
entreat V. plead; ask earnestly. She entreated her father to let her stay out till midnight.
entrepreneur N. businessman; contractor. Opponents of our present tax program argue that it discourages entrepreneurs from trying new fields of business activity.
enumerate V. list; mention one by one. Huck hung his head in shame as Miss Watson enumerated his many flaws.
enunciate V. speak distinctly. Stop mumbling! How will people understand you if you do not enunciate?
eon N. long period of time; an age. It has taken eons for our civilization to develop.
ephemeral ADJ. short-lived; fleeting. The mayfly is an ephemeral creature: its adult life lasts little more than a day.
epic N. long heroic poem, or similar work of art. Kurosawa’s film Seven Samurai is an epic portraying the struggle of seven warriors to destroy a band of robbers. also ADJ.
epicure N. connoisseur of food and drink. Epicures frequent this restaurant because it features exotic wines and dishes. epicurean, ADJ.
epigram N. witty thought or saying, usually short. Poor Richard’s epigrams made Benjamin Franklin famous.
epilogue N. short speech at conclusion of dramatic work. The audience was so disappointed in the play that many did not remain to hear the epilogue.
episodic ADJ. loosely connected; divided into incidents. Though he tried to follow the plot of Gravity’s Rainbow, John found the novel too episodic; he enjoyed individual passages, but had trouble following the work as a whole.
epistolary ADJ. consisting of letters. Mark Harris’s Wake Up, Stupid! is a modern epistolary novel that uses letters, telegrams, and newspaper clippings to tell the hero’s story. The movie You’ve Got Mail tells a story using e-mail; does that make it an e-pistolary movie? epistle, N.
epitaph N. inscription in memory of a dead person. In his will, he dictated the epitaph he wanted placed on his tombstone.
epithet N. word or phrase characteristically used to describe a person or thing. So many kings of France were named Charles that you could tell them apart only by their epithets: Charles the Wise was someone far different from Charles the Fat.
epitome N. perfect example or embodiment. Singing “I am the very model of a modern Major-General, ” in The Pirates of Penzance, Major-General Stanley proclaimed himself the epitome of an officer and a gentleman.
epoch N. period of time. The glacial epoch lasted for thousands of years.
equable ADJ. tranquil; steady; uniform. After the hot summers and cold winters of New England, he found the climate of the West Indies equable and pleasant.
equanimity N. calmness of temperament; composure. Even the inevitable strains of caring for an ailing mother did not disturb Bea’s equanimity.
equilibrium N. balance. After the divorce, he needed some time to regain his equilibrium.
equinox N. period of equal days and nights; the beginning of Spring and Autumn. The vernal equinox is usually marked by heavy rainstorms.
equitable ADJ. fair; impartial. I am seeking an equitable solution to this dispute, one that will be fair and acceptable to both sides.
equity N. fairness; justice. Our courts guarantee equity to all.
equivocal ADJ. ambiguous; intentionally misleading. Rejecting the candidate’s equivocal comments on tax reform, the reporters pressed him to state clearly where he stood on the issue. equivocate, V.
equivocate V. lie; mislead; attempt to conceal the truth. No matter how bad the news is, give it to us straight. Above all, don’t equivocate.
erode V. eat away. The limestone was eroded by the dripping water until only a thin shell remained. erosion, N.
erotic ADJ. arousing sexual desire; pertaining to sexual love. Films with significant erotic content are rated R; pornographic films are rated X.
erratic ADJ. odd; unpredictable. Investors become anxious when the stock market appears erratic.
erroneous ADJ. mistaken; wrong. I thought my answer was correct, but it was erroneous.
erudite ADJ. learned; scholarly. Unlike much scholarly writing, Huizinga’s prose was entertaining as well as erudite, lively as well as learned.
escapade N. prank; flighty conduct. The headmaster could not regard this latest escapade as a boyish joke and expelled the young man.
escapism N. avoiding reality by diverting oneself with amusements. Before you criticize her constant reading as mere escapism, note how greatly her vocabulary has improved since she began spending her days buried in books.
eschew V. avoid. Hoping to present himself to his girlfriend as a totally reformed character, he tried to eschew all the vices, especially chewing tobacco and drinking bathtub gin.
esoteric ADJ. hard to understand; known only to the chosen few. The New Yorker short stories often include esoteric allusions to obscure people and events: the implication is, if you are in the in-crowd, you’ll get the reference; if you come from Cleveland, you won’t.
espionage N. spying. In order to maintain its power, the government developed a system of espionage that penetrated every household.
espouse V. adopt; support. She was always ready to espouse a worthy cause.
esteem V. respect; value. Jill esteemed Jack’s taste in music, but she deplored his taste in clothes.
estranged ADJ. separated; alienated. The estranged wife sought a divorce. estrangement, N.
ethereal ADJ. light; heavenly; unusually refined. In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the spirit Ariel is an ethereal creature, too airy and unearthly for our mortal world.
ethnic ADJ. relating to races. Intolerance between ethnic groups is deplorable and usually is based on lack of information.
ethos N. underlying character of a culture, group, etc. Seeing how tenderly ordinary Spaniards treated her small daughter made author Barbara Kingsolver aware of how greatly children were valued in the Spanish ethos.
etymology N. study of word parts. A knowledge of etymology can help you on many English tests: if you know what the roots and prefixes mean, you can determine the meanings of unfamiliar words.
Word List 18 eulogy–faculty
eulogy N. expression of praise, often on the occasion of someone’s death. Instead of delivering a spoken eulogy at Genny’s memorial service, Jeff sang a song he had written in her honor.
euphemism N. mild expression in place of an unpleasant one. The expression “he passed away” is a euphemism for “he died.”
euphonious ADJ. pleasing in sound. Euphonious even when spoken, the Italian language is particularly pleasing to the ear when sung. euphony. N.
euphoria N. feeling of great happiness and well-being (sometimes exaggerated). Delighted with her SAT scores, sure that the university would accept her, Allison was filled with euphoria. euphoric, ADJ.
evanescent ADJ. fleeting; vanishing. Brandon’s satisfaction in his new job was evanescent, for he immediately began to notice its many drawbacks. evanescence, N.
evasive ADJ. not frank; eluding. Your evasive answers convinced the judge that you were with holding important evidence. evade, V.
evenhanded ADJ. impartial; fair. Do men and women receive evenhanded treatment from their teachers, or, as recent studies suggest, do teachers pay more attention to male students than to females?
evince V. show clearly. When he tried to answer the questions, he evinced his ignorance of the subject matter.
evocative ADJ. tending to call up (emotions, memories). Scent can be remarkably evocative: the aroma of pipe tobacco evokes the memory of my father; a whiff of talcum powder calls up images of my daughter as a child.
exacerbate V. worsen; embitter. The latest bombing exacerbated England’s already existing bitterness against the IRA, causing the prime minister to break off the peace talks abruptly.
exacting ADJ. extremely demanding. Cleaning the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was an exacting task, one that demanded extremely meticulous care on the part of the restorers. exaction, N.
exalt V. raise in rank or dignity; praise. The actor Alec Guinness was exalted to the rank of knighthood by the queen.
exasperate V. vex. Johnny often exasperates his mother with his pranks.
exceptionable ADJ. objectionable. Do you find the punk rock band Green Day a highly exceptionable, thoroughly distasteful group, or do you think they are exceptionally talented performers?
excerpt N. selected passage (written or musical). The cinematic equivalent of an excerpt from a novel is a clip from a film. also V.
excise V. cut away; cut out. When you excise the dead and dying limbs of a tree, you not only improve its appearance but also enhance its chances of bearing fruit. excision. N.
exclaim V. cry out suddenly. “Watson! Behind you!” Holmes exclaimed, seeing the assassin hurl himself on his friend.
excoriate V. scold with biting harshness; strip the skin off. Seeing the holes in Bill’s new pants, his mother furiously excoriated him for ruining his good clothes. The tight, starched collar chafed and excoriated his neck, rubbing it raw.
exculpate V. clear from blame. He was exculpated of the crime when the real criminal confessed.
execrable ADJ. very bad. The anecdote was in such execrable taste that it revolted the audience.
execute V. put into effect; carry out. The choreographer wanted to see how well she could execute a pirouette. (secondary meaning) execution, N.
exegesis N. explanation; interpretation, especially of a biblical text. The minister based her sermon on her exegesis of a difficult passage from the book of Job. exegetical, ADJ.
exemplary ADJ. serving as a model; outstanding. At commencement the dean praised Ellen for her exemplary behavior as class president.
exemplify V. serve as an example of; embody. For a generation of ballet goers, Rudolf Nureyev exemplified the ideal of masculine grace.
exempt ADJ. not subject to a duty, obligation. Because of his flat feet, Foster was exempt from serving in the armed forces. also V.
exertion N. effort; expenditure of much physical work. The exertion spent in unscrewing the rusty bolt left her exhausted.
exhaustive ADJ. thorough; comprehensive. We have made an exhaustive study of all published SAT tests and are happy to share our research with you.
exhilarating ADJ. invigorating and refreshing; cheering. Though some of the hikers found tramping through the snow tiring, Jeffrey found the walk on the cold, crisp day exhilarating.
exhort V. urge. The evangelist exhorted all the sinners in his audience to repent. exhortation, N.
exhume V. dig out of the ground; remove from the grave. Could evidence that might identify the serial killer have been buried with his victim? To answer this question, the police asked the authorities for permission to exhumethe victim’s body.
exigency N. urgent situation. In this exigency, we must look for aid from our allies.
exodus N. departure. The exodus from the hot and stuffy city was particularly noticeable on Friday evenings.
exonerate V. acquit; exculpate. The defense team feverishly sought fresh evidence that might exonerate their client.
exorbitant ADJ. excessive. The people grumbled at his exorbitant prices but paid them because he had a monopoly.
exorcise V. drive out evil spirits. By incantation and prayer, the medicine man sought to exorcise the evil spirits which had taken possession of the young warrior.
exotic ADJ. not native; strange. Because of his exotic headdress, he was followed in the streets by small children who laughed at his strange appearance.
expansive ADJ. outgoing and sociable; broad and extensive; able to increase in size. Mr. Fezziwig was in an expansive humor, cheerfully urging his guests to join in the Christmas feast. Looking down on his expansive paunch, he sighed: if his belly expanded any further, he’d need an expansive waistline for his pants.
expatriate N. exile; someone who has withdrawn from his native land. Henry James was an American expatriate who settled in England.
expedient ADJ. suitable; practical; politic. A pragmatic politician, he was guided by what was expedient rather than by what was ethical. expediency, N.
expedite V. hasten. Because we are on a tight schedule, we hope you will be able to expedite the delivery of our order. The more expeditious your response is, the happier we’ll be.
expenditure N. payment or expense; output. When you are operating on an expense account, you must keep receipts for all your expenditures. If you don’t save your receipts, you won’t get repaid without the expenditure of a lot of energy arguing with the firm’s accountants.
expertise N. specialized knowledge; expert skill. Although she was knowledgeable in a number of fields, she was hired for her particular expertise in computer programming.
expiate V. make amends for (a sin). Jean Valjean tried to expiate his crimes by performing acts of charity.
expletive N. interjection; profane oath. The sergeant’s remarks were filled with expletives that offended the new recruits.
explicate V. explain; interpret; clarify. Harry Levin explicated James Joyce’s often bewildering novels with such clarity that even Finnegan’s Wake seemed comprehensible to his students.
explicit ADJ. totally clear; definite; outspoken. Don’t just hint around that you’re dissatisfied: be explicit about what’s bugging you.
exploit N. deed or action, particularly a brave deed. Raoul Wallenberg was noted for his exploits in rescuing Jews from Hitler’s forces.
exploit V. make use of, sometimes unjustly. Cesar Chavez fought attempts to exploit migrant farmworkers in California. exploitation, N. exploitative, ADJ.
expository ADJ. explanatory; serving to explain. The manual that came with my VCR was no masterpiece of expository prose: its explanations were so garbled that I couldn’t even figure out how to rewind a tape. exposition, N.
exposure N. risk, particularly of being exposed to disease or to the elements; unmasking; act of laying something open. Exposure to sun and wind had dried out her hair and weathered her face. She looked so changed that she no longer feared exposure as the notorious Irene Adler, onetime antagonist of Sherlock Holmes.
expropriate V. take possession of. He questioned the government’s right to expropriate his land to create a wildlife preserve.
expunge V. cancel; remove. If you behave, I will expunge this notation from your record.
expurgate V. clean; remove offensive parts of a book. The editors felt that certain passages in the book had to be expurgated before it could be used in the classroom.
extant ADJ. still in existence. Although the book is out of print, some copies are still extant. Unfortunately, all of them are in libraries or private collections; none are for sale.
extent N. degree; magnitude; scope. What is the extent of the patient’s injuries? If they are not too extensive, we can treat him on an outpatient basis.
extenuate V. weaken; mitigate. It is easier for us to extenuate our own shortcomings than those of others.
extol V. praise; glorify. The president extolled the astronauts, calling them the pioneers of the Space Age.
extort V. wring from; get money by threats, etc. The blackmailer extorted money from his victim.
extradition N. surrender of prisoner by one state to another. The lawyers opposed the extradition of their client on the grounds that for more than five years he had been a model citizen.
extraneous ADJ. not essential; superfluous. No wonder Ted can’t think straight! His mind is so cluttered up with extraneous trivia, he can’t concentrate on the essentials.
extrapolation N. projection; conjecture. Based on their extrapolation from the results of the primaries on Super Tuesday, the networks predicted that Bob Dole would be the Republican candidate for the presidency. extrapolate, V.
extricate V. free; disentangle. Icebreakers were needed to extricate the trapped whales from the icy floes that closed them in.
extrinsic ADJ. external; not essential; extraneous. A critically acclaimed extrinsic feature of the Chrysler Building is its ornate spire. The judge would not admit the testimony, ruling that it was extrinsic to the matter at hand.
extrovert N. person interested mostly in external objects and actions. A good salesman is usually an extrovert, who likes to mingle with people.
extrude V. force or push out. Much pressure is required to extrude these plastics.
exuberance N. overflowing abundance; joyful enthusiasm; flamboyance; lavishness. I was bowled over by the exuberance of Amy’s welcome. What an enthusiastic greeting!
exude V. discharge; give forth. We get maple syrup from the sap that exudes from the trees in early spring. exudation, N.
exult V. rejoice. We exulted when our team won the victory.
fabricate V. build; lie. If we fabricate the buildings in this project out of standardized sections, we can reduce construction costs considerably. Because of Jack’s tendency to fabricate, Jill had trouble believing a word he said.
facade N. front (of building); superficial or false appearance. The ornate facade of the church was often photographed by tourists, who never bothered to walk around the building to view its other sides. Susan seemed super-confident, but that was just a facade she put on to hide her insecurity.
facet N. small plane surface (of a gem); a side. The stonecutter decided to improve the rough diamond by providing it with several facets.
facetious ADJ. joking (often inappropriately); humorous. I’m serious about this project; I don’t need any facetious, smart-alecky cracks about do-gooder little rich girls.
facile ADJ. easily accomplished; ready or fluent; superficial. Words came easily to Jonathan: he was a facile speaker and prided himself on being ready to make a speech at a moment’s notice.
facilitate V. help bring about; make less difficult. Rest and proper nourishment should facilitate the patient’s recovery.
facsimile N. copy. Many museums sell facsimiles of the works of art on display.
faction N. party; clique; dissension. The quarrels and bickering of the two small factions within the club disturbed the majority of the members.
faculty N. mental or bodily powers; teaching staff. As he grew old, Professor Twiggly feared he might lose his faculties and become unfit to teach. However, he had tenure: whether or not he was in full possession of his faculties, the school couldn’t kick him off the faculty
Word List 19 fallacious–flinch
fallacious ADJ. false; misleading. Paradoxically, fallacious reasoning does not always yield erroneous results: even though your logic may be faulty, the answer you get may nevertheless be correct. fallacy, N.
fallible ADJ. liable to err. I know I am fallible, but I feel confident that I am right this time.
fallow ADJ. plowed but not sowed; uncultivated. Farmers have learned that it is advisable to permit land to lie fallow every few years.
falter V. hesitate. When told to dive off the high board, she did not falter, but proceeded at once.
fanaticism N. excessive zeal; extreme devotion to a belief or cause. When Islamic fundamentalists demanded the death of Salman Rushdie because his novel questioned their faith, world opinion condemned them for their fanaticism.
fancy N. notion; whim; inclination. Martin took a fancy to paint his toenails purple. Assuming he would outgrow such fanciful behavior, his parents ignored his fancy feet. also ADJ.
fanfare N. call by bugles or trumpets. The exposition was opened with a fanfare of trumpets and the firing of cannon.
farce N. broad comedy; mockery. Nothing went right; the entire interview degenerated into a farce. farcical, ADJ.
fastidious ADJ. difficult to please; squeamish. Bobby was such a fastidious eater that he would eat a sandwich only if his mother first cut off every scrap of crust.
fatalism N. belief that events are determined by forces beyond one’s control. With fatalism, he accepted the hardships that beset him. fatalistic, ADJ.
fathom V. comprehend; investigate. I find his motives impossible to fathom; in fact, I’m totally clueless about what goes on in his mind.
fatuous ADJ. foolish; inane. He is far too intelligent to utter such fatuous remarks.
fauna N. animals of a period or region. The scientist could visualize the fauna of the period by examining the skeletal remains and the fossils.
fawning ADJ. courting favor by cringing and flattering. She was constantly surrounded by a group of fawning admirers who hoped to win some favor. fawn, V.
faze V. disconcert; dismay. No crisis could faze the resourceful hotel manager.
feasible ADJ. practical. Is it feasible to build a new stadium for the Yankees on New York’s West Side? Without additional funding, the project is clearly unrealistic.
fecundity N. fertility; fruitfulness. The fecundity of his mind is illustrated by the many vivid images in his poems.
feign V. pretend. Bobby feigned illness, hoping that his mother would let him stay home from school.
feint N. trick; shift; sham blow. The boxer was fooled by his opponent’s feint and dropped his guard. also V.
felicitous ADJ. apt; suitably expressed; well chosen. He was famous for his felicitous remarks and was called upon to serve as master-of-ceremonies at many a banquet. felicity, N.
felicity N. happiness; appropriateness (of a remark, choice, etc.). She wrote a note to the newlyweds wishing them great felicity in their wedded life.
fell ADJ. cruel; deadly. Newspaper reports of the SARS epidemic told of the tragic spread of the fell disease.
fell V. cut or knock down; bring down (with a missile). Crying “Timber!” Paul Bunyan felled the mighty redwood tree. Robin Hood loosed his arrow and felled the king’s deer.
felon N. person convicted of a grave crime. A convicted felon loses the right to vote.
feral ADJ. not domestic; wild. Abandoned by their owners, dogs may revert to their feral state, roaming the woods in packs.
ferment N. agitation; commotion. With the breakup of the Soviet Union, much of Eastern Europe was in a state of ferment.
ferret V. drive or hunt out of hiding. She ferreted out their secret.
fervent ADJ. ardent; hot. She felt that the fervent praise was excessive and somewhat undeserved.
fervid ADJ. ardent. Her fervid enthusiasm inspired all of us to undertake the dangerous mission.
fervor N. glowing ardor; intensity of feeling. At the protest rally, the students cheered the strikers and booed the dean with equal fervor.
fester V. rankle; produce irritation or resentment. Joe’s insult festered in Anne’s mind for days, and made her too angry to speak to him.
festive ADJ. joyous; celebratory. Their wedding in the park was a festive occasion.
fetid ADJ. malodorous. The neglected wound became fetid.
fetter V. shackle. The prisoner was fettered to the wall.
fiasco N. total failure. Tanya’s attempt to look sophisticated by taking up smoking was a fiasco: she lit the filter, choked when she tried to inhale, and burned a hole in her boyfriend’s couch.
fickle ADJ. changeable; faithless. As soon as Romeo saw Juliet, he forgot all about his old girlfriend Rosaline. Was Romeo fickle?
fictitious ADJ. imaginary. Although this book purports to be a biography of George Washington, many of the incidents are fictitious.
fidelity N. loyalty. Iago wickedly manipulates Othello, arousing his jealousy and causing him to question his wife’s fidelity.
figment N. invention; imaginary thing. Was he hearing real voices in the night, or were they just a figment of his imagination?
figurative ADJ. not literal, but metaphorical; using a figure of speech. “To lose one’s marbles” is a figurative expression; if you’re told that Jack has lost his marbles, no one expects you to rush out to buy him a replacement set.
filament N. fine thread or fiber; threadlike structure within a light bulb. A ray of sunlight illuminated the filaments of the spider web, turning the web into a net of gold.
filch V. steal. The boys filched apples from the fruit stand.
filial ADJ. pertaining to a son or daughter. Many children forget their filial obligations and disregard the wishes of their parents.
filibuster V. to block legislation by making long speeches. Even though we disapproved of Senator Foghorn’s political goals, we were impressed by his ability to filibuster endlessly to keep an issue from coming to a vote.
finale N. conclusion. It is not until we reach the finale of this play that we can understand the author’s message.
finesse N. delicate skill. The finesse and adroitness with which the surgeon wielded her scalpel impressed all the observers in the operating room.
finicky ADJ. too particular; fussy. The little girl was finicky about her food, leaving over anything that wasn’t to her taste.
firebrand N. hothead: troublemaker. The police tried to keep track of all the local firebrands when the President came to town.
fissure N. crevice. The mountain climbers secured footholds in tiny fissures in the rock.
fitful ADJ. spasmodic; intermittent. After several fitful attempts, he decided to postpone the start of the project until he felt more energetic.
flabbergasted ADJ. astounded; astonished; overcome with surprise. In the film Flubber, the hero invents a remarkable substance whose amazing properties leave his coworkers flabbergasted. flabbergast, V.
flaccid ADJ. flabby. His sedentary life had left him with flaccid muscles.
flag V. droop; grow feeble. When the opposing hockey team scored its third goal only minutes into the first quarter, the home team’s spirits flagged. flagging, ADJ.
flagrant ADJ. conspicuously wicked; blatant; outrageous. The governor’s appointment of his brother-in-law to the State Supreme Court was a flagrant violation of the state laws against nepotism (favoritism based on kinship).
flair N. talent. She has an uncanny flair for discovering new artists before the public has become aware of their existence.
flamboyant ADJ. ornate. Modern architecture has discarded the flamboyant trimming on buildings and emphasizes simplicity of line.
flaunt V. display ostentatiously. Mae West saw nothing wrong with showing off her considerable physical charms, saying, “Honey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!”
fleck V. spot. Her cheeks, flecked with tears, were testimony to the hours of weeping.
fledgling ADJ. inexperienced. The folk dance club set up an apprentice program to allow fledgling dance callers a chance to polish their skills. also N.
fleece N. wool coat of a sheep. They shear sheep of their fleece, which they then comb into separate strands of wool.
fleece V. rob; plunder. The tricksters fleeced him of his inheritance.
flick N. light stroke as with a whip. The horse needed no encouragement; one flick of the whip was all the jockey had to apply to get the animal to run at top speed.
flinch V. hesitate, shrink. He did not flinch in the face of danger but fought back bravely.
Word List 20 flippant–gaffe
flippant ADJ. lacking proper seriousness. When Mark told Mona he loved her, she dismissed his earnest declaration with a flippant “Oh, you say that to all the girls!” flippancy, N.
flit V. fly; dart lightly; pass swiftly by. Like a bee flitting from flower to flower, Rose flitted from one boyfriend to the next.
flora N. plants of a region or era. Because she was a botanist, she spent most of her time studying the flora of the desert.
florid ADJ. ruddy; reddish; flowery. If you go to Florida and get a sunburn, your complexion will look florid. If your postcards about the trip praise Florida in flowery words, your prose sounds florid.
flounder V. struggle and thrash about; proceed clumsily or falter. Up to his knees in the bog, Floyd floundered about, trying to regain his footing. Bewildered by the new software, Flo floundered until Jan showed her how to get started.
flourish V. grow well; prosper; decorate with ornaments. The orange trees flourished in the sun.
flout V. reject; mock. The headstrong youth flouted all authority; he refused to be curbed.
fluctuate V. waver; shift. The water pressure in our shower fluctuates wildly; you start rinsing yourself off with a trickle, and, two minutes later, a blast of water nearly knocks you down.
fluency N. smoothness of speech. He spoke French with fluency and ease.
fluke N. unlikely occurrence; stroke of fortune. When Douglas defeated Tyson for the heavyweight championship, some sportscasters dismissed his victory as a fluke.
fluster V. confuse. The teacher’s sudden question flustered him and he stammered his reply.
flux N. flowing; series of changes. While conditions are in such a state of flux, I do not wish to commit myself too deeply in this affair.
fodder N. coarse food for cattle, horses, etc. One of Nancy’s chores at the ranch was to put fresh supplies of fodder in the horses’ stalls.
foible N. weakness; slight fault. We can overlook the foibles of our friends; no one is perfect.
foil N. contrast. In Star Wars, dark, evil Darth Vader is a perfect foil for fair-haired, naive Luke Skywalker.
foil V. defeat; frustrate. In the end, Skywalker is able to foil Vader’s diabolical schemes.
foment V. stir up; instigate. Cheryl’s archenemy Heather spread some nasty rumors that fomented trouble in the club. Do you think Cheryl’s foe meant to foment such discord?
foolhardy ADJ. rash. Don’t be foolhardy. Get the advice of experienced people before undertaking this venture.
fop N. dandy; man excessively concerned with his clothes. People who dismissed young Mizrahi as a fop felt chagrined when he turned into one of the top fashion designers of his day. foppish, ADJ.
forbearance N. patience. Be patient with John. Treat him with forbearance: he is still weak from his illness.
forebears N. ancestors. Reverence for one’s forebears (sometimes referred to as ancestor worship) plays an important part in many Oriental cultures.
foreboding N. premonition of evil. Suspecting no conspiracies against him, Caesar gently ridiculed his wife’s forebodings about the Ides of March.
forensic ADJ. suitable to debate or courts of law. In her best forensic manner, the lawyer addressed the jury. forensics, N.
foreshadow V. give an indication beforehand; portend; prefigure. In retrospect, political analysts realized that Yeltsin’s defiance of the attempted coup foreshadowed his emergence as the dominant figure of the new Russian republic.
foresight N. ability to foresee future happenings; prudence. A wise investor, she had the foresight to buy land just before the current real estate boom.
forestall V. prevent by taking action in advance. By setting up a prenuptial agreement, the prospective bride and groom hoped to forestall any potential arguments about money in the event of a divorce.
forgo V. give up; do without. Determined to lose weight for the summer, Ida decided to forgo dessert until she could fit into a size eight again.
forlorn ADJ. sad and lonely; wretched. Deserted by her big sisters and her friends, the forlorn child sat sadly on the steps awaiting their return.
formality N. ceremonious quality; something done just for form’s sake. The president received the visiting heads of state with due formality: flags waving, honor guards standing at attention, anthems sounding at full blast. Signing this petition is a mere formality; it does not obligate you in any way.
formidable ADJ. inspiring fear or apprehension; difficult; awe-inspiring. In the film Meet the Parents, the hero is understandably nervous around his fiancee’s father, a formidable CIA agent.
forsake V. desert; abandon; renounce. No one expected Foster to forsake his wife and children and run off with another woman.
forswear V. renounce; abandon. The captured knight could escape death only if he agreed to forswear Christianity and embrace Islam as the one true faith.
forte N. strong point or special talent. I am not eager to play this rather serious role, for my forte is comedy.
forthright ADJ. outspoken; straightforward; frank. Never afraid to call a spade a spade, she was perhaps too forthright to be a successful party politician.
fortitude N. bravery; courage. He was awarded the medal for his fortitude in the battle.
fortuitous ADJ. accidental; by chance. Though he pretended their encounter was fortuitous, he’d actually been hanging around her usual haunts for the past two weeks, hoping she’d turn up.
forum N. place of assembly to discuss public concerns; meeting for discussion. The film opens with a shot of the ancient Forum in Rome, where several senators are discussing the strange new sect known as Christians. At the end of the movie, its director presided over a forum examining new fashions in film making.
foster V. rear; encourage. According to the legend, Romulus and Remus were fostered by a she-wolf who raised the abandoned infants with her own cubs. also ADJ.
founder V. fail completely; sink. After hitting the submerged iceberg, the Titanic started taking in water rapidly and soon foundered.
founder N. person who establishes (an organization, business). Among those drowned when the Titanic sank was the founder of the Abraham & Straus department store.
fracas N. brawl, melee. The military police stopped the fracas in the bar and arrested the belligerents.
fractious ADJ. unruly; disobedient; irritable. Bucking and kicking, the fractious horse unseated its rider.
frail ADJ. weak. The delicate child seemed too frail to lift the heavy carton. frailty, N.
franchise N. right granted by authority; right to vote; business licensed to sell a product in a particular territory. The city issued a franchise to the company to operate surface transit lines on the streets for ninety-nine years. For most of American history women lacked the right to vote: not until the early twentieth century was the franchise granted to women. Stan owns a Carvel’s ice cream franchise in Chinatown.
frantic ADJ. wild. At the time of the collision, many people became frantic with fear.
fraternize V. associate in a friendly way. After the game, the members of the two teams fraternized as cheerfully as if they had never been rivals.
fraudulent ADJ. cheating; deceitful. The government seeks to prevent fraudulent and misleading advertising.
fraught ADJ. filled. Since this enterprise is fraught with danger, I will ask for volunteers who are willing to assume the risks.
fray N. brawl. The three musketeers were in the thick of the fray.
frenetic ADJ. frenzied; frantic. His frenetic activities convinced us that he had no organized plan of operation.
frenzied ADJ. madly excited. As soon as they smelled smoke, the frenzied animals milled about in their cages.
fret V. to be annoyed or vexed. To fret over your poor grades is foolish; instead, decide to work harder in the future.
friction N. clash in opinion; rubbing against. At this time when harmony is essential, we cannot afford to have any friction in our group.
frigid ADJ. intensely cold. Alaska is in the frigid zone.
frivolous ADJ. lacking in seriousness; self-indulgently carefree; relatively unimportant. Though Nancy enjoyed Bill’s frivolous, lighthearted companionship, she sometimes wondered whether he could ever be serious. frivolity, N.
frolicsome ADJ. prankish; gay. The frolicsome puppy tried to lick the face of its master.
frugality N. thrift; economy. In economically hard times, anyone who doesn’t learn to practice frugality risks bankruptcy. frugal, ADJ.
fruition N. bearing of fruit; fulfillment; realization. After years of saving and scrimping, her dream of owning her own home finally came to fruition.
frustrate V. thwart; defeat. Constant partisan bickering frustrated the governor’s efforts to convince the legislature to approve his proposed budget.
fugitive ADJ. fleeting or transitory; roving. The film brought a few fugitive images to her mind, but on the whole it made no lasting impression upon her.
fulcrum N. support on which a lever rests. If we use this stone as a fulcrum and the crowbar as a lever, we may be able to move this boulder.
fulsome ADJ. disgustingly excessive. Disgusted by her fans’ fulsome admiration, the movie star retreated from the public, crying, “I want to be alone!”
fundamental V. basic; primary; essential. The committee discussed all sorts of side issues without ever getting down to addressing the fundamental problem.
furlough N. leave of absence; vacation granted a soldier or civil servant. Dreaming of her loved ones back in the States, the young soldier could hardly wait for her upcoming furlough.
furor N. frenzy; great excitement. The story of her embezzlement of the funds created a furor on the Stock Exchange.
furtive ADJ. stealthy; sneaky. Noticing the furtive glance the customer gave the diamond bracelet on the counter, the jeweler wondered whether he had a potential shoplifter on his hands.
fusion N. union; blending; synthesis. So-called rockabilly music represents a fusion of country music and blues that became rock and roll.
futile ADJ. useless; hopeless; ineffectual. It is futile for me to try to get any work done around here while the telephone is ringing every thirty seconds. futility, N.
gadfly N. animal-biting fly; an irritating person. Like a gadfly, he irritated all the guests at the hotel; within forty-eight hours, everyone regarded him as an annoying busy-body.
gaffe N. social blunder. According to Miss Manners, to call your husband by your lover’s name is worse than a mere gaffe; it is a tactical mistake.
Word List 21 gainsay–gory
gainsay V. deny. Even though it reflected badly upon him, he was too honest to gainsay the truth of the report.
gait N. manner of walking or running; speed. The lame man walked with an uneven gait.
galaxy N. large, isolated system of stars, such as the Milky Way; any collection of brilliant personalities. Science fiction stories speculate about the possible existence of life in other galaxies. The deaths of such famous actors as John Candy and George Burns tells us that the galaxy of Hollywood superstars is rapidly disappearing.
gale N. windstorm; gust of wind; emotional outburst (laughter, tears). The Weather Channel warned viewers about a rising gale, with winds of up to sixty miles per hour.
gall N. bitterness; nerve. The knowledge of his failure filled him with gall.
gall V. annoy; chafe. Their taunts galled him.
galvanize V. stimulate by shock; stir up; revitalize. News that the prince was almost at their door galvanized the ugly stepsisters into a frenzy of combing and primping.
gambit N. opening in chess in which a piece is sacrificed. The player was afraid to accept his opponent’s gambit because he feared a trap which as yet he could not see.
gambol V. skip; leap playfully. Watching the children gambol in the park, Betty marveled at their youthful energy and spirit.
gamely ADV. bravely; with spirit. Because he had fought gamely against a much superior boxer, the crowd gave him a standing ovation when he left the arena.
gamut N. entire range. In a classic put-down of actress Katharine Hepburn, the critic Dorothy Parker wrote that the actress ran the gamut of emotion from A to B.
gape V. open widely; stare open-mouthed. The huge pit gaped before him; if he stumbled, he would fall in. Slack-jawed in wonder, Huck gaped at the huge stalactites hanging down from the ceiling of the limestone cavern.
garbled ADJ. mixed up; jumbled; distorted. A favorite party game involves passing a whispered message from one person to another until, by the time it reaches the last player, the message is totally garbled.
gargantuan ADJ. huge; enormous. The gargantuan wrestler was terrified of mice.
garish ADJ. over-bright in color; gaudy. She wore a gaudy rhinestone necklace with an excessively garish gold lamé dress.
garner V. gather; store up. In her long career as an actress, Katharine Hepburn garnered many awards, including the coveted Oscar.
garnish V. decorate. The chef garnished the boiled potatoes with a sprinkling of parsley. also N.
garrulous ADJ. loquacious; wordy; talkative. My Uncle Henry is the most garrulous person in Cayuga County: he can outtalk anyone I know. garrulity, N.
gauche ADJ. clumsy; coarse and uncouth. Compared to the sophisticated young ladies in their elegant gowns, tomboyish Jo felt gauche and out of place.
gaudy ADJ. flashy; showy. The newest Trump skyscraper is typically gaudy, covered in gilded panels that gleam in the sun.
gaunt ADJ. lean and angular; barren. His once round face looked surprisingly gaunt after he had lost weight.
gavel N. hammer like tool; mallet. “Sold!” cried the auctioneer, banging her gavel on the table to indicate she’d accepted the final bid.
gawk V. stare foolishly; look in open-mouthed awe. The country boy gawked at the skyscrapers and neon lights of the big city.
genealogy N. record of descent; lineage. He was proud of his genealogy and constantly referred to the achievements of his ancestors.
generality N. vague statement. This report is filled with generalities; be more specific in your statements.
generate V. cause; produce; create. In his first days in office, President Clinton managed to generate a new mood of optimism; we just hoped he could generate some new jobs.
generic ADJ. characteristic of an entire class or species. Sue knew so many computer programmers who spent their spare time playing fantasy games that she began to think that playing Dungeons & Dragons was a generic trait.
genesis N. beginning; origin. Tracing the genesis of a family is the theme of Roots.
geniality N. cheerfulness; kindliness; sympathy. This restaurant is famous and popular because of the geniality of the proprietor who tries to make everyone happy.
genre N. particular variety of art or literature. Both a short story writer and a poet, Langston Hughes proved himself equally skilled in either genre.
genteel ADJ. well-bred; elegant. We are looking for a man with a genteel appearance who can inspire confidence by his cultivated manner.
gentility N. those of gentle birth; refinement. Her family was proud of its gentility and elegance.
gentry N. people of standing; class of people just below nobility. The local gentry did not welcome the visits of the summer tourists and tried to ignore their presence in the community.
germane ADJ. pertinent; bearing upon the case at hand. The judge refused to allow the testimony to be heard by the jury because it was not germane to the case.
germinal ADJ. pertaining to a germ; creative. Such an idea is germinal; I am certain that it will influence thinkers and philosophers for many generations.
germinate V. cause to sprout; sprout. After the seeds germinate and develop their permanent leaves, the plants may be removed from the cold frames and transplanted to the garden.
gesticulation N. motion; gesture. We were still too far off to make out what Mother was shouting, but from her animated gesticulations we could tell she wanted us to hurry home instantly.
ghastly ADJ. horrible. The murdered man was a ghastly sight.
gibberish N. nonsense; babbling. Did you hear that fool boy spouting gibberish about monsters from outer space? gibber, V.
gibe V. mock; taunt; scoff at. The ugly stepsisters constantly gibed at Cinderella, taunting her about her ragged clothes.
gingerly ADV. very carefully. To separate egg whites, first crack the egg gingerly.
girth N. distance around something; circumference. It took an extra-large cummerbund to fit around Andrew Carnegie’s considerable girth.
gist N. essence. She was asked to give the gist of the essay in two sentences.
glacial ADJ. like a glacier; extremely cold. Never a warm person, when offended John could seem positively glacial.
glaring ADJ. highly conspicuous; harshly bright. Glaring spelling or grammatical errors in your resumé will unfavorably impress potential employers.
glaze V. cover with a thin and shiny surface. The freezing rain glazed the streets and made driving hazardous. also N.
glib ADJ. fluent; facile; slick. Keeping up a steady patter to entertain his customers, the kitchen gadget salesman was a glib speaker, never at a loss for a word.
glimmer V. shine erratically; twinkle. In the darkness of the glimmered cavern, the glow worms hanging from the cavern roof like distant stars.
gloat V. express evil satisfaction; view malevolently. As you gloat over your ill-gotten wealth, do you think of the many victims you have defrauded?
glossary N. brief explanation of words used in the text. I have found the glossary in this book very useful; it has eliminated many trips to the dictionary.
gloss over V. explain away. No matter how hard he tried to talk around the issue, President Bush could not gloss over the fact that he had raised taxes after all.
glossy ADJ. smooth and shining. I want this photograph printed on glossy paper, not matte.
glower V. scowl. The angry boy glowered at his father.
glut V. overstock; fill to excess. The many manufacturers glutted the market and could not find purchasers for the excess articles they had produced. also N.
glutton N. someone who eats too much. When Mother saw that Bobby had eaten all the cookies, she called him a little glutton. gluttonous, ADJ.
gnarled ADJ. twisted. The weather-beaten old sailor was as gnarled and bent as an old oak tree.
gnome N. dwarf; underground spirit. In medieval mythology, gnomes were the special guardians and inhabitants of subterranean mines.
goad V. urge on; spur; incite. Mother was afraid that Ben’s wild friends would goad him into doing something that would get him into trouble with the law. also N.
gorge N. small, steep-walled canyon. The white-water rafting guide warned us about the rapids farther downstream, where the river cut through a narrow gorge.
gorge V. stuff oneself. The gluttonous guest gorged himself with food as though he had not eaten for days.
gory ADJ. bloody. The audience shuddered as they listened to the details of the gory massacre.
Word List 22 gouge–hiatus
gouge V. tear out. In that fight, all the rules were forgotten; the adversaries bit, kicked, and tried to gouge each other’s eyes out.
gourmet N. connoisseur of food and drink. The gourmet stated that this was the best onion soup she had ever tasted.
graduated ADJ. arranged by degrees (of height, difficulty, etc.). Margaret loved her graduated set of Russian hollow wooden dolls; she spent hours happily putting the smaller dolls into their larger counterparts.
graft N. piece of transplanted tissue; portion of plant inserted in another plant. After the fire, Greg required skin grafts to replace the badly damaged areas on his forearms. also V.
grandeur N. impressiveness; stateliness; majesty. No matter how often he hiked through the mountains, David never failed to be struck by the grandeur of the Sierra Nevada range.
grandiloquent ADJ. pompous; bombastic; using high sounding language. The politician could never speak simply; she was always grandiloquent.
grandiose ADJ. pretentious; high-flown; ridiculously exaggerated; impressive. The aged matinee idol still had grandiose notions of his supposed importance in the theatrical world.
granulate V. form into grains. Sugar that has been granulated dissolves more readily than lump sugar. granule, N.
graphic ADJ. pertaining to the art of delineating; vividly described. The description of the winter storm was so graphic that you could almost feel the hailstones.
grapple V. wrestle; come to grips with. He grappled with the burglar and overpowered him.
grate V. make a harsh noise; have an unpleasant effect; shred. The screams of the quarreling children grated on her nerves.
gratify V. please. Lori’s parents were gratified by her successful performance on the SAT.
gratis ADJ. free. The company offered to give one package gratis to every purchaser of one of their products. also ADJ.
gratuitous ADJ. given freely; unwarranted; uncalled for. Quit making gratuitous comments about my driving; no one asked you for your opinion.
gravity N. seriousness. We could tell we were in serious trouble from the gravity of the principal’s expression. (secondary meaning) grave, ADJ.
gregarious ADJ. sociable. Typically, party goers are gregarious; hermits are not.
grievance N. cause of complaint. When her supervisor ignored her complaint, she took her grievance to the union.
grill V. question severely. In violation of the Miranda law, the police grilled the suspect for several hours before reading him his rights. (secondary meaning)
grimace N. a facial distortion to show feeling such as pain, disgust, etc. Even though he remained silent, his grimace indicated his displeasure. also V.
grisly ADJ. ghastly. She shuddered at the grisly sight.
grouse V. complain; fuss. Students traditionally grouse about the abysmal quality of “mystery meat” and similar dormitory food.
grotesque ADJ. fantastic; comically hideous. On Halloween people enjoy wearing grotesque costumes.
grovel V. crawl or creep on ground; remain prostrate. Mr. Wickfield was never harsh to his employees; he could not understand why Uriah would always cringe and grovel as if he expected a beating.
grudging ADJ. unwilling; reluctant; stingy. We received only grudging support from the mayor despite his earlier promises of aid.
gruel V. liquid food made by boiling oatmeal, etc., in milk or water. Our daily allotment of gruel made the meal not only monotonous but also unpalatable.
grueling ADJ. exhausting. The marathon is a grueling race.
gruesome ADJ. grisly; horrible. His face was the stuff of nightmares: all the children in the audience screamed when Freddy Kruger’s gruesome countenance was flashed on the screen.
gruff ADJ. rough-mannered. Although he was blunt and gruff with most people, he was always gentle with children.
guile N. deceit; duplicity; wiliness; cunning. Iago uses considerable guile to trick Othello into believing that Desdemona has been unfaithful.
guileless ADJ. without deceit. He is naive, simple, and guileless; he cannot be guilty of fraud.
guise N. appearance; costume. In the guise of a plumber, the detective investigated the murder case.
gullible ADJ. easily deceived. Overly gullible people have only themselves to blame if they fall for con artists repeatedly. As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
gustatory ADJ. affecting the sense of taste. The Thai restaurant offered an unusual gustatory experience for those used to a bland cuisine.
gusto N. enjoyment; enthusiasm. He accepted the assignment with such gusto that I feel he would have been satisfied with a smaller salary.
gusty ADJ. windy. The gusty weather made sailing precarious.
hackneyed ADJ. commonplace; trite. When the reviewer criticized the movie for its hackneyed plot, we agreed; we had seen similar stories hundreds of times before.
haggard ADJ. wasted away; gaunt. After his long illness, he was pale and haggard.
haggle V. argue about prices. I prefer to shop in a store that has a one-price policy because, whenever I haggle with a shopkeeper, I am never certain that I paid a fair price for the articles I purchased.
hallowed ADJ. blessed; consecrated. Although the dead girl’s parents had never been active churchgoers, they insisted that their daughter be buried in hallowed ground.
hallucination N. delusion. I think you were frightened by a hallucination you created in your own mind.
halting ADJ. hesitant; faltering. Novice extemporaneous speakers often talk in a halting fashion as they grope for the right words.
hamper V. obstruct. The new mother didn’t realize how much the effort of caring for an infant would hamper her ability to keep an immaculate house.
haphazard ADJ. random; unsystematic; aimless. In place of a systematic family policy, America has a haphazard patchwork of institutions and programs created in response to immediate crises.
harangue N. noisy speech. In her lengthy harangue, the principal berated the offenders. also V.
harass V. to annoy by repeated attacks. When he could not pay his bills as quickly as he had promised, he was harassed by his creditors.
harbinger N. forerunner. The crocus is an early harbinger of spring.
harbor V. provide a refuge for; hide. The church harbored illegal aliens who were political refugees.
hardy ADJ. sturdy; robust; able to stand inclement weather. We asked the gardening expert to recommend particularly hardy plants that could withstand our harsh New England winters.
harrowing ADJ. agonizing; distressing; traumatic. At first the former prisoner did not wish to discuss his harrowing months of captivity as a political hostage.
haughtiness N. pride; arrogance. When she realized that Darcy believed himself too good to dance with his inferiors, Elizabeth took great offense at his haughtiness.
hazardous ADJ. dangerous. Your occupation is too hazardous for insurance companies to consider your application.
hazy ADJ. slightly obscure. In hazy weather, you cannot see the top of this mountain.
headlong ADJ. hasty; rash. The slave seized the unexpected chance to make a headlong dash across the border to freedom.
headstrong ADJ. stubborn; willful; unyielding. Because she refused to marry the man her parents had chosen for her, everyone scolded Minna and called her a foolish, headstrong girl.
heckler N. person who harasses others. The heckler kept interrupting the speaker with rude remarks. heckle, V.
hedonist N. one who believes that pleasure is the sole aim in life. A thoroughgoing hedonist, he considered only his own pleasure and ignored any claims others had on his money or time.
heed V. pay attention to; consider. We hope you heed our advice and get a good night’s sleep before the test. also N.
heedless ADJ. not noticing; disregarding. He drove on, heedless of the danger warnings placed at the side of the road.
heinous ADJ. atrocious; hatefully bad. Hitler’s heinous crimes will never be forgotten.
herbivorous ADJ. grain-eating. Some herbivorous animals have two stomachs for digesting their food.
heresy N. opinion contrary to popular belief; opinion contrary to accepted religion. Galileo’s assertion that the earth moved around the sun directly contradicted the religious teachings of his day; as a result, he was tried for heresy. heretic, N.
hermetic ADJ. sealed by fusion so as to be airtight. After you sterilize the bandages, place them in a container and seal it with a hermetic seal to protect them from contamination by airborne bacteria.
hermitage N. home of a hermit. Even in his remote hermitage he could not escape completely from the world.
heterodox ADJ. unorthodox; unconventional. To those who upheld the belief that the earth did not move, Galileo’s theory that the earth circled the sun was disturbingly heterodox.
heterogeneous ADJ. dissimilar; mixed. This year’s entering class is a remarkably heterogeneous body: it includes students from forty different states and twenty-six foreign countries, some the children of billionaires, others the offspring of welfare families. heterogeneity, N.
heyday N. time of greatest success; prime. In their heyday, the San Francisco Forty-Niners won the Super Bowl two years running.
hiatus N. gap; interruption in duration or continuity; pause. During the summer hiatus, many students try to earn enough money to pay their tuition for the next school year.
Word List 23 hibernal–imbibe
hibernal ADJ. wintry. Bears prepare for their long hibernal sleep by overeating.
hibernate V. sleep throughout the winter. Bears are one of the many species of animals that hibernate. hibernation, N.
hierarchy N. arrangement by rank or standing; authoritarian body divided into ranks. To be low man on the totem pole is to have an inferior place in the hierarchy.
hilarity N. boisterous mirth. No longer able to contain their hilarity, they broke into great guffaws and whoops of laughter.
hindrance N. block; obstacle. Stalled cars along the highway are a hindrance to traffic that tow trucks should remove without delay. hinder, V.
histrionic ADJ. theatrical. He was proud of his histrionic ability and wanted to play the role of Hamlet. histrionics, N.
hoard V. stockpile; accumulate for future use. Whenever there are rumors of a food shortage, many people are tempted to hoard food. also N.
hoary ADJ. white with age. Old Father Time was hoary and wrinkled with age.
hoax N. trick; deception; fraud. In the case of Piltdown man, a scientific forgery managed to fool the experts for nearly half a century, when the hoax was finally unmasked. also V.
hodgepodge N. jumble; mixture of ill-suited elements. The reviewer roundly condemned the play as a hodgepodge of random and purposeless encounters carried out by a cast lacking any uniformity of accent or style.
homage N. honor; tribute. In her speech she tried to pay homage to a great man.
homogeneous ADJ. of the same kind. Because the student body at Elite Prep was so homogeneous, Sara and James decided to send their daughter to a school that offered greater cultural diversity. homogenize, V.
hone V. sharpen. To make shaving easier, he honed his razor with great care.
hoodwink V. deceive; delude. Having been hoodwinked once by the fast-talking salesman, he was extremely cautious when he went to purchase a used car.
horde N. crowd. Just before Christmas the stores are filled with hordes of shoppers.
horticultural ADJ. pertaining to cultivation of gardens. When he bought his house, he began to look for flowers and decorative shrubs, and began to read books dealing with horticultural matters.
host N. great number; person entertaining guests; animal or plant from which a parasite gets its nourishment. You must attend to a host of details if you wish to succeed as host of a formal dinner party. Leeches are parasites that cling to their hosts and drink their hosts’ blood.
hostility N. unfriendliness; hatred. A child who has been the sole object of his parents’ affection often feels hostility toward a new baby in the family, resenting the newcomer who has taken his place.
hovel N. shack; small, wretched house. He wondered how poor people could stand living in such a hovel.
hover V. hang about; wait nearby. The police helicopter hovered above the accident.
hue N. color; aspect. The aviary contained birds of every possible hue.
hulking ADJ. massive; bulky; great in size. Despite his hulking build, the heavyweight boxing champion was surprisingly light on his feet. hulk, N.
humane ADJ. marked by kindness or consideration. It is ironic that the Humane Society sometimes must show its compassion toward mistreated animals by killing them to put them out of their misery.
humdrum ADJ. dull; monotonous. After his years of adventure, he could not settle down to a humdrum existence.
humid ADJ. damp. Oakland’s humid climate aggravated Richard’s asthma, so he decided to move to a drier area.
humility N. humbleness of spirit. Despite his fame as a Nobel Prize winner, Bishop Tutu spoke with a humility and lack of self-importance that immediately won over his listeners.
hurtle V. crash; rush. The runaway train hurtled toward disaster.
husband V. use sparingly; conserve; save. Marathon runners must husband their energy so that they can keep going for the entire distance.
hybrid N. mongrel; mixed breed. Mendel’s formula explains the appearance of hybrids and pure species in breeding. also ADJ.
hydrophobia N. rabies; fear of water. A dog that bites a human being must be observed for symptoms of hydrophobia.
hyperbole N. exaggeration; overstatement. As far as I’m concerned, Apple’s claims about the new computer are pure hyperbole: no machine is that good!
hypercritical ADJ. excessively exacting. You are hypercritical in your demands for perfection; we all make mistakes.
hypochondriac N. person unduly worried about his health; worrier without cause about illness. The doctor prescribed chocolate pills for his patient who was a hypochondriac.
hypocritical ADJ. pretending to be virtuous; deceiving. It was hypocritical of Martha to say nice things about my poetry to me and then make fun of my verses behind my back. hypocrisy, N.
hypothetical ADJ. based on assumptions or hypotheses; supposed. Suppose you are accepted by Harvard, Stanford, and Brown. Which one would you choose to attend? Remember, this is only a hypothetical situation. hypothesis, N.
icon N. religious image; idol. The icons on the walls of the church were painted in the 13th century.
iconoclastic ADJ. attacking cherished traditions. Deeply iconoclastic, Jean Genet deliberately set out to shock conventional theatergoers with his radical plays.
ideology N. system of ideas of a group. For people who had grown up believing in the communist ideology, it was hard to adjust to capitalism.
idiom N. expression whose meaning as a whole differs from the meanings of its individual words; distinctive style. The phrase “to lose one’s marbles” is an idiom: if I say that Joe’s lost his marbles, I’m not asking you to find some for him. I’m telling you idiomatically that he’s crazy.
idiosyncrasy N. individual trait, usually odd in nature; eccentricity. One of Richard Nixon’s little idiosyncrasies was his liking for ketchup on cottage cheese. One of Hannibal Lecter’s little idiosyncrasies was his liking for human flesh. idiosyncratic, ADJ.
idolatry N. worship of idols; excessive admiration. Such idolatry of singers of country music is typical of the excessive enthusiasm of youth.
ignite V. kindle; light. When Desi crooned, “Baby, light my fire, ” literal-minded Lucy looked around for some paper to ignite.
ignoble ADJ. unworthy; base in nature; not noble. Sir Galahad was so pure in heart that he could never stoop to perform an ignoble deed.
ignominy N. deep disgrace; shame or dishonor. To lose the Ping-Pong match to a trained chimpanzee! How could Rollo stand the ignominy of his defeat? ignominious, ADJ.
illicit ADJ. illegal. The defense attorney maintained that his client had never performed any illicit action.
illimitable ADJ. infinite. Man, having explored the far corners of the earth, is now reaching out into illimitable space.
illuminate V. brighten; clear up or make understandable; enlighten. Just as a lamp can illuminate a dark room, a perceptive comment can illuminate a knotty problem.
illusion N. misleading vision. It is easy to create an optical illusion in which lines of equal length appear different.
illusory ADJ. deceptive; not real. Unfortunately, the costs of running the lemonade stand were so high that Tom’s profits proved illusory.
imbalance N. lack of balance or symmetry; disproportion. To correct racial imbalance in the schools, school boards have bussed black children into white neighborhoods and white children into black ones.
imbibe V. drink in. The dry soil imbibed the rain quickly.
Word List 24 immaculate–incessant
immaculate ADJ. spotless; flawless; absolutely clean. Ken and Jessica were wonderful tenants and left the apartment in immaculate condition when they moved out.
imminent ADJ. near at hand; impending. Rosa was such a last-minute worker that she could never start writing a paper till the deadline was imminent.
immobility N. state of being unable to move. Peter’s fear of snakes shocked him into immobility; then the use of his limbs returned to him, and he bolted from the room.
immune ADJ. resistant to; free or exempt from. Fortunately, Florence had contracted chicken pox as a child and was immune to it when her baby broke out in spots.
immutable ADJ. unchangeable. All things change over time; nothing is immutable.
impair V. injure; hurt. Drinking alcohol can impair your ability to drive safely; if you’re going to drink, don’t drive.
impale V. pierce. He was impaled by the spear hurled by his adversary.
impalpable ADJ. imperceptible; intangible. The ash is so fine that it is impalpable to the touch but it can be seen as a fine layer covering the window ledge.
impart V. reveal or tell; grant. Polly begged Grandma to impart her recipe for rugeleh, but her grandmother wouldn’t say a word.
impartial ADJ. not biased; fair. Knowing she could not be impartial about her own child, Jo refused to judge any match in which Billy was competing.
impassable ADJ. not able to be traveled or crossed. A giant redwood had fallen across the highway, blocking all four lanes: the road was impassable.
impasse N. predicament from which there is no escape; deadlock. The negotiators reported they had reached an impasse in their talks and had little hope of resolving the deadlock swiftly.
impassive ADJ. without feeling; imperturbable; stoical. Refusing to let the enemy see how deeply shaken he was by his capture, the prisoner kept his face impassive.
impeach V. charge with crime in office; indict. The angry congressman wanted to impeach the president for his misdeeds.
impeccable ADJ. faultless. The uncrowned queen of the fashion industry, Diana was acclaimed for her impeccable taste.
impecunious ADJ. without money. Though Scrooge claimed he was too impecunious to give alms, he easily could have afforded to be charitable.
impede V. hinder; block; delay. A series of accidents impeded the launching of the space shuttle.
impediment N. hindrance; stumbling-block. She had a speech impediment that prevented her speaking clearly.
impel V. drive or force onward. A strong feeling of urgency impelled her; if she failed to finish the project right then, she knew that she would never get it done.
impenetrable ADJ. not able to be pierced or entered; beyond understanding. How could the murderer have gotten into the locked room? To Watson, the mystery, like the room, was impenetrable.
impending ADJ. nearing; approaching. The entire country was saddened by the news of his impending death.
impenitent ADJ. not repentant. We could see from his tough guy attitude that he was impenitent.
imperative ADJ. absolutely necessary; critically important. It is imperative that you be extremely agreeable to Great-Aunt Maud when she comes to tea: otherwise she might not leave you that million dollars in her will. also N.
imperceptible ADJ. unnoticeable; undetectable. Fortunately, the stain on the blouse was imperceptible after the blouse had gone through the wash.
imperial ADJ. like an emperor; related to an empire. When hotel owner Leona Helmsley appeared in ads as Queen Leona standing guard over the Palace Hotel, her critics mocked her imperial fancies.
imperious ADJ. domineering; haughty. Jane rather liked a man to be masterful, but Mr. Rochester seemed so bent on getting his own way that he was actually imperious!
impermeable ADJ. impervious; not permitting passage through its substance. Sue chose a raincoat made of Gore-Tex because the material is impermeable to liquids.
impertinent ADJ. insolent; rude. His neighbors’ impertinent curiosity about his lack of dates angered Ted. It was downright rude of them to ask him such personal questions.
imperturbable ADJ. calm; placid; composed. In the midst of the battle, the Duke of Wellington remained imperturbable and in full command of the situation despite the hysteria and panic all around him. imperturbability, N.
impervious ADJ. impenetrable; incapable of being damaged or distressed. The carpet salesman told Simone that his most expensive brand of floor covering was warranted to be impervious to ordinary wear and tear. Having read so many negative reviews of his acting, the movie star had learned to ignore them, and was now impervious to criticism.
impetuous ADJ. violent; hasty; rash. “Leap before you look” was the motto suggested by one particularly impetuous young man.
impetus N. incentive; stimulus; moving force. A new federal highway program would create jobs and give added impetus to our economic recovery.
impiety N. irreverence; lack of respect for God. When members of the youth group draped the church in toilet paper one Halloween, the minister reprimanded them for their impiety. impious, ADJ.
impinge V. infringe; touch; collide with. How could they be married without impinging on one another’s freedom?
implacable ADJ. incapable of being pacified. Madame Defarge was the implacable enemy of the Evremonde family.
implausible ADJ. unlikely; unbelievable. Though her alibi seemed implausible, it in fact turned out to be true.
implement V. put into effect; supply with tools. The mayor was unwilling to implement the plan until she was sure it had the governor’s backing. also N.
implicate V. incriminate; show to be involved. Here’s the deal: if you agree to take the witness stand and implicate your partners in crime, the prosecution will recommend that the judge go easy in sentencing you.
implication N. something hinted at or suggested. When Miss Watson said she hadn’t seen her purse since the last time Jim was in the house, the implication was that she suspected Jim had taken it. imply, V.
implicit ADJ. understood but not stated. Jack never told Jill he adored her; he believed his love was implicit in his actions.
implore V. beg. He implored her to give him a second chance.
imply V. suggest a meaning not expressed; signify. When Aunt Millie said, “My! That’s a big piece of pie, young man!” was she implying that Bobby was being a glutton in helping himself to such a huge piece?
imponderable ADJ. not able to be determined precisely. Psychology is not a precise science; far too many imponderable factors play a part in determining human behavior.
import N. importance; meaning. To Miss Manners, proper etiquette was a matter of great import. Because Tom knew so little about medical matters, it took a while for the full import of the doctor’s words to sink in.
importunate ADJ. urging; demanding. He tried to hide from his importunate creditors until his allowance arrived.
importune V. beg persistently. Democratic and Republican phone solicitors importuned her for contributions so frequently that she decided to give nothing to either party.
impostor N. someone who assumes a false identity. “This man is no doctor! He is a fraud!” cried Holmes, exposing the impostor.
impotent ADJ. weak; ineffective. Although he wished to break the nicotine habit, he found himself impotent to resist the craving for a cigarette.
impoverished ADJ. poor. The loss of their farm left the family impoverished and without hope.
impregnable ADJ. invulnerable. Until the development of the airplane as a military weapon, the fort was considered impregnable.
impromptu ADJ. without previous preparation; off the cuff; on the spur of the moment. The judges were amazed that she could make such a thorough, well-supported presentation in an impromptu speech.
impropriety N. improperness; unsuitableness. Because of the impropriety of the punk rocker’s slashed T-shirt and jeans, the management refused to admit him to the hotel’s very formal dining room.
improvident ADJ. thriftless. He was constantly being warned to mend his improvident ways and begin to “save for a rainy day.” improvidence, N.
improvise V. compose on the spur of the moment. She would sit at the piano and improvise for hours on themes from Bach and Handel.
imprudent ADJ. lacking caution; injudicious. It is imprudent to exercise vigorously and become overheated when you are unwell.
impudence N. impertinence; insolence. Kissed on the cheek by a perfect stranger, Lady Catherine exclaimed, “Of all the nerve! Young man, I should have you horse-whipped for your impudence.”
impugn V. dispute or contradict (often in an insulting way); challenge; gainsay. Our treasurer was furious when the finance committee’s report impugned the accuracy of his financial records and recommended that he should take bonehead math.
impunity N. freedom from punishment or harm. A 98-pound weakling can’t attack a beachfront bully with impunity: the poor, puny guy is sure to get mashed.
imputation N. accusation; charge; reproach. Paradoxically, the guiltier he was of the offense with which he was charged, the more he resented the imputation.
inadvertently ADV. unintentionally; by oversight; carelessly. Judy’s great fear was that she might inadvertently omit a question on the exam and mismark her whole answer sheet.
inalienable ADJ. not to be taken away; nontransferable. The Declaration of Independence asserts that all people possess certain inalienable human rights that no powers on earth can take away.
inane ADJ. silly; senseless. There’s no point to what you’re saying. Why are you bothering to make such inane remarks?
inanimate ADJ. lifeless. She was asked to identify the still and inanimate body.
inarticulate ADJ. speechless; producing indistinct speech. He became inarticulate with rage and uttered sounds without meaning.
inaugurate V. start; initiate; install in office. The airline decided to inaugurate its new route to the Far East with a special reduced fare offer. inaugural, ADJ.
incandescent ADJ. strikingly bright; shining with intense heat. If you leave on an incandescent light bulb, it quickly grows too hot to touch.
incantation N. singing or chanting of magic spells; magical formula. Uttering incantations to make the brew more potent, the witch doctor stirred the liquid in the caldron.
incapacitate V. disable. During the winter, many people were incapacitated by respiratory ailments.
incarcerate V. imprison. The civil rights workers were willing to be arrested and even incarcerated if by their imprisonment they could serve the cause.
incarnation N. act of assuming a human body and human nature. The incarnation of Jesus Christ is a basic tenet of Christian theology.
incense V. enrage; infuriate. Cruelty to defenseless animals incensed Kit: the very idea brought tears of anger to her eyes.
incentive N. spur; motive. Mike’s strong desire to outshine his big sister was all the incentive he needed to do well in school.
inception N. start; beginning. She was involved with the project from its inception.
incessant ADJ. uninterrupted; unceasing. In a famous TV commercial, the frogs’ incessant croaking goes on and on until eventually it turns into a single word: “Bud-weis-er.”
Word List 25 inchoate–ingenious
inchoate ADJ. recently begun; rudimentary; elementary. Before the Creation, the world was an inchoate mass.
incidence N. rate of occurrence; particular occurrence. Health professionals expressed great concern over the high incidence of infant mortality in major urban areas.
incidental ADJ. not essential; minor. The scholarship covered his major expenses at college and some of his incidental expenses as well.
incipient ADJ. beginning; in an early stage. I will go to sleep early for I want to break an incipient cold.
incisive ADJ. cutting; sharp. His incisive remarks made us see the fallacy in our plans.
incite V. arouse to action; goad; motivate; induce to exist. In a fiery speech, Mario incited his fellow students to go out on strike to protest the university’s anti-affirmative action stand.
inclement ADJ. stormy; unkind. In inclement weather, I like to curl up on the sofa with a good book and listen to the storm blowing outside.
incline N. slope; slant. The architect recommended that the nursing home’s ramp be rebuilt because its incline was too steep for wheelchairs.
inclined ADJ. tending or leaning toward; bent. Though I am inclined to be skeptical, the witness’s manner inclines me to believe his story. also V.
inclusive ADJ. tending to include all. The comedian turned down the invitation to join the Players’ Club, saying any club that would let him in was too inclusive for him.
incoherence N. unintelligibility; lack of logic or relevance. “This essay makes no sense at all, ” commented the teacher, giving it an F because of its incoherence.
incompatible ADJ. inharmonious. The married couple argued incessantly and finally decided to separate because they were incompatible. incompatibility, N.
incongruous ADJ. not fitting; absurd. Dave saw nothing incongruous about wearing sneakers with his tuxedo; he couldn’t understand why his date took one look at him and started to laugh. incongruity, N.
inconsequential ADJ. insignificant; unimportant. Brushing off Ali’s apologies for having broken the wineglass, Tamara said, “Don’t worry about it; it’s inconsequential.”
inconsistency N. state of being self-contradictory; lack of uniformity or steadiness. How are lawyers different from agricultural inspectors? While lawyers check inconsistencies in witnesses’ statements, agricultural inspectors check inconsistencies in Grade A eggs. inconsistent, ADJ.
incontinent ADJ. lacking self-restraint; licentious. His incontinent behavior off stage so shocked many people that they refused to attend the plays and movies in which he appeared.
incontrovertible ADJ. indisputable; not open to question. Unless you find the evidence against my client absolutely incontrovertible, you must declare her not guilty of this charge.
incorporate V. introduce something into a larger whole; combine; unite. Breaking with precedent, President Truman ordered the military to incorporate blacks into every branch of the armed services. also ADJ.
incorporeal ADJ. lacking a material body; insubstantial. While Casper the friendly ghost is an incorporeal being, nevertheless he and his fellow ghosts make quite an impact on the physical world.
incorrigible ADJ. not correctable. Though Widow Douglass hoped to reform Huck, Miss Watson called him incorrigible and said he would come to no good end.
incredulous ADJ. withholding belief; skeptical. When Jack claimed he hadn’t eaten the jelly doughnut, Jill took an incredulous look at his smeared face and laughed. incredulity, N.
increment N. increase. The new contract calls for a 10 percent increment in salary for each employee for the next two years.
incriminate V. accuse. The evidence gathered against the racketeers incriminates some high public officials as well.
incubate V. hatch; scheme. Because our supply of electricity has been cut off, we shall have to rely on the hens to incubate these eggs.
inculcate V. teach; instill. In an effort to inculcate religious devotion, the officials ordered that the school day begin with the singing of a hymn.
incumbent ADJ. obligatory; currently holding an office. It is incumbent upon all incumbent elected officials to keep accurate records of expenses incurred in office. also N.
incur V. bring upon oneself. His parents refused to pay any future debts he might incur.
incursion N. temporary invasion. The nightly incursions and hit-and-run raids of our neighbors across the border tried the patience of the country to the point where we decided to retaliate in force.
indefatigable ADJ. tireless. Although the effort of taking out the garbage tired Wayne out for the entire morning, when it came to partying, he was indefatigable.
indelible ADJ. not able to be erased. The indelible ink left a permanent mark on my shirt. Young Bill Clinton’s meeting with President Kennedy made an indelible impression on the youth.
indentation N. notch; deep recess. You can tell one tree from another by examining their leaves and noting the differences in the indentations along the edges of the leaves. indent, V.
indenture V. bind as servant or apprentice to a master. Many immigrants could come to America only after they had indentured themselves for several years. also N.
indeterminate ADJ. uncertain; not clearly fixed; indefinite. That interest rates shall rise appears certain; when they will do so, however, remains indeterminate.
indicative ADJ. suggestive; implying. A lack of appetite may be indicative of a major mental or physical disorder.
indices N.PL. signs; indications. Many college admissions officers believe that SAT scores and high school grades are the best indices of a student’s potential to succeed in college. N.SG. index.
indict V. charge. The district attorney didn’t want to indict the suspect until she was sure she had a strong enough case to convince a jury. indictment, N.
indifferent ADJ. unmoved or unconcerned by; mediocre. Because Ann felt no desire to marry, she was indifferent to Carl’s constant proposals. Not only was she indifferent to him personally, but she felt that, given his general silliness, he would make an indifferent husband.
indigenous ADJ. native. Cigarettes are made of tobacco, a plant indigenous to the New World.
indigent ADJ. poor; destitute. Someone who is truly indigent can’t even afford to buy a pack of cigarettes. [Don’t mix up indigent and indigenous. See previous sentence.]
indignation N. anger at an injustice. He felt indignation at the ill-treatment of helpless animals.
indignity N. offensive or insulting treatment. Although he seemed to accept cheerfully the indignities heaped upon him, he was inwardly very angry.
indiscretion N. lack of tactfulness or sound judgment. Terrified that the least indiscretion could jeopardize his political career, the novice politician never uttered an unguarded word. indiscreet, ADJ.
indiscriminate ADJ. choosing at random; confused. She disapproved of her son’s indiscriminate television viewing and decided to restrict him to educational programs.
indisputable ADJ. too certain to be disputed. In the face of these indisputable statements, I withdraw my complaint.
indissoluble ADJ. permanent. The indissoluble bonds of marriage are all too often being dissolved.
indoctrinate V. instruct in a doctrine or ideology. Cuban-Americans resisted sending Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba because he would be indoctrinated there with Communist principles.
indolent ADJ. lazy. Couch potatoes lead an indolent life lying back on their Lazyboy recliners watching TV. indolence, N.
indomitable ADJ. unconquerable; unyielding. Focusing on her game despite all her personal problems, tennis champion Steffi Graf proved she had an indomitable will to win.
indubitable ADJ. unable to be doubted; unquestionable. Auditioning for the chorus line, Molly was an indubitable hit: the director fired the leading lady and hired Molly in her place!
induce V. persuade; bring about. After the quarrel, Tina said nothing could induce her to talk to Tony again. inducement, N.
indulgent ADJ. humoring; yielding; lenient. Jay’s mom was excessively indulgent: she bought him every Nintendo cartridge and video game on the market. She indulged Jay so much, she spoiled him rotten.
industrious ADJ. diligent; hard-working. Look busy when the boss walks by your desk; it never hurts to appear industrious. industry, N.
inebriated ADJ. habitually intoxicated; drunk. Abe was inebriated more often than he was sober. Because of his inebriety he was discharged from his job as a bus driver.
ineffable ADJ. unutterable; cannot be expressed in speech. Looking down at her newborn daughter, Ruth felt such ineffable joy that, for the first time in her adult life, she had no words to convey what was in her heart.
ineffectual ADJ. not effective; weak. Because the candidate failed to get across his message to the public, his campaign was ineffectual.
inefficacious ADJ. not effective; unable to produce a desired result. All Lois’s coaxing and urging was inefficacious: Clark still refused to join her and Superman for dinner. inefficacy, N.
inept ADJ. lacking skill; unsuited; incompetent. The inept glovemaker was all thumbs.
inequity N. unfairness. In demanding equal pay for equal work, women protest the basic inequity of a system that gives greater financial rewards to men.
inert ADJ. inactive; lacking power to move. “Get up, you lazybones, ” she cried to her husband, who lay in bed inert. inertia, N.
inevitable ADJ. unavoidable. Though death and taxes are both supposedly inevitable, some people avoid paying taxes for years.
inexorable ADJ. relentless; unyielding; implacable. After listening to the pleas for clemency, the judge was inexorable and gave the convicted man the maximum punishment allowed by law.
infallible ADJ. unerring. Jane refused to believe the pope was infallible, reasoning, “All human beings are capable of error. The pope is a human being. Therefore, the pope is capable of error.”
infamous ADJ. notoriously bad. Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer are both infamous killers.
infantile ADJ. childish. When will he outgrow such infantile behavior?
infer V. deduce; conclude. From the students’ glazed looks, it was easy for me to infer that they were bored out of their minds. inference, N.
infernal ADJ. pertaining to hell; devilish. Batman was baffled: he could think of no way to hinder the Joker’s infernal scheme to destroy the city.
infidel N. unbeliever. The Saracens made war against the infidels.
infiltrate V. pass into or through; penetrate (an organization)sneakily. In order to be able to infiltrate enemy lines at night without being seen, the scouts darkened their faces and wore black coveralls. infiltrator, N.
infinitesimal ADJ. exceedingly small; so small as to be almost nonexistent. Making sure everyone was aware she was on an extremely strict diet, Melanie said she would have only an infinitesimal sliver of pie.
infirmity N. weakness. Her greatest infirmity was lack of willpower.
inflated ADJ. exaggerated; pompous; enlarged (with air or gas). His claims about the new product were inflated; it did not work as well as he had promised.
influx N. flowing into. The influx of refugees into the country has taxed the relief agencies severely.
informal ADJ. absence of ceremony; casual. The English teacher preferred informal discussions to prepared lectures.
infraction N. violation (of a rule or regulation); breach. When Dennis Rodman butted heads with that referee, he committed a clear infraction of NBA rules.
infuriate V. enrage; anger. Her big brother’s teasing always infuriated Margaret; no matter how hard she tried to keep her temper, he always got her goat.
infusion N. act of introducing or instilling a quality; liquid solution. The rookie quarterback brought an infusion of new life and vigor to the tired team. infuse, V.
ingenious ADJ. clever; resourceful. Kit admired the ingenious way that her computer keyboard opened up to reveal the built-in CD-ROM below. ingenuity, N.
Word List 26 ingenue–invigorate
ingenue N. an artless girl; an actress who plays such parts. Although she was forty, she still insisted that she be cast as an ingenue and refused to play more mature roles.
ingenuous ADJ. naive and trusting; young; unsophisticated. The woodsman had not realized how ingenuous Little Red Riding Hood was until he heard that she had gone off for a walk in the woods with the Big Bad Wolf.
ingrained ADJ. deeply established; firmly rooted. Try as they would, the missionaries were unable to uproot the ingrained superstitions of the natives.
ingrate N. ungrateful person. That ingrate Bob sneered at the tie I gave him.
ingratiate V. make an effort to become popular with. In All About Eve, the heroine, an aspiring actress, wages a clever campaign to ingratiate herself with Margo Channing, an established star.
inherent ADJ. firmly established by nature or habit. Katya’s inherent love of justice caused her to champion anyone she considered treated unfairly by society.
inhibit V. restrain; retard or prevent. Only two things inhibited him from taking a punch at Mike Tyson: Tyson’s left hook, and Tyson’s right jab. The protective undercoating on my car inhibits the formation of rust.
inimical ADJ. unfriendly; hostile; harmful; detrimental. I’ve always been friendly to Martha. Why is she so inimical to me?
inimitable ADJ. matchless; not able to be imitated. We admire Auden for his inimitable use of language; he is one of a kind.
iniquitous ADJ. wicked; immoral; unrighteous. Whether or not King Richard III was responsible for the murder of the two young princes in the Tower, it was an iniquitous deed. iniquity, N.
initiate V. begin; originate; receive into a group. The college is about to initiate a program in reducing math anxiety among students.
injurious ADJ. harmful. Smoking cigarettes can be injurious to your health.
inkling N. hint. This came as a complete surprise to me as I did not have the slightest inkling of your plans.
innate ADJ. inborn. Mozart’s parents soon recognized young Wolfgang’s innate talent for music.
innocuous ADJ. harmless. An occasional glass of wine with dinner is relatively innocuous and should have no ill effect on you.
innovation N. change; introduction of something new. Although Richard liked to keep up with all the latest technological innovations, he didn’t always abandon tried and true techniques in favor of something new. innovate, V.
innovative ADJ. novel; introducing a change. The establishment of our SAT computer data base has enabled us to come up with some innovative tactics for doing well on the SAT.
innuendo N. hint; insinuation. I can defend myself against direct accusations; innuendos and oblique attacks on my character are what trouble me.
inopportune ADJ. untimely; poorly chosen. A rock concert is an inopportune setting for a quiet conversation.
inordinate ADJ. unrestrained; excessive. She had an inordinate fondness for candy, eating two or three boxes in a single day.
inquisitor N. questioner (especially harsh); investigator. Fearing being grilled ruthlessly by the secret police, Masha faced her inquisitors with trepidation.
insalubrious ADJ. unwholesome; not healthful. The mosquito-ridden swamp was an insalubrious place, a breeding ground for malarial contagion.
insatiable ADJ. not easily satisfied; unquenchable; greedy. David’s appetite for oysters was insatiable: he could easily eat four dozen at a single sitting.
inscrutable ADJ. impenetrable; not readily understood; mysterious. Experienced poker players try to keep their expressions inscrutable, hiding their reactions to the cards behind a so called“poker face.”
insensible ADJ. unconscious; unresponsive. Sherry and I are very different; at times when I would be covered with embarrassment, she seems insensible to shame.
insidious ADJ. treacherous; stealthy; sly. The fifth column is insidious because it works secretly within our territory for our defeat.
insightful ADJ. discerning; perceptive. Sol thought he was very insightful about human behavior, but he was actually clueless as to why people acted the way they did.
insinuate V. hint; imply; creep in. When you said I looked robust, did you mean to insinuate that I’m getting fat?
insipid ADJ. lacking in flavor; dull. Flat prose and flat ginger ale are equally insipid: both lack sparkle.
insolence N. impudent disrespect; haughtiness. How dare you treat me so rudely! The manager will hear of your insolence. insolent, ADJ.
insolvent ADJ. bankrupt; unable to repay one’s debts. Although young Lord Widgeon was insolvent, he had no fear of being thrown into debtors’ prison, for he was sure that if his creditors pressed him for payment his wealthy parents would repay what he owed. insolvency, N.
instigate V. urge; start; provoke. Rumors of police corruption led the mayor to instigate an investigation into the department’s activities.
insubordination N. disobedience; rebelliousness. At the slightest hint of insubordination from the sailors of the Bounty, Captain Bligh had them flogged; finally, they mutinied.
insubstantial ADJ. lacking substance; insignificant; frail. His hopes for a career in acting proved insubstantial; no one would cast him, even in an insubstantial role.
insularity N. narrow-mindedness; isolation. The insularity of the islanders manifested itself in their suspicion of anything foreign. insular, ADJ.
insulated ADJ. set apart; isolated. A well-to-do bachelor, James spent his money freely, insulated from the cares of his friends, who had families to support.
insuperable ADJ. insurmountable; unbeatable. Though the odds against their survival seemed insuperable, the Apollo 13 astronauts reached earth safely.
insurgent ADJ. rebellious. Because the insurgent forces had occupied the capital and had gained control of the railway lines, several of the war correspondents covering the uprising predicted a rebel victory.
insurmountable ADJ. overwhelming; unbeatable; insuperable. Faced by almost insurmountable obstacles, the members of the underground maintained their courage and will to resist.
insurrection N. rebellion; uprising. In retrospect, given how badly the British treated the American colonists, the eventual insurrection seems inevitable.
intangible ADJ. not able to be perceived by touch; vague. Though the financial benefits of his Oxford post were meager, Lewis was drawn to it by its intangible rewards: prestige, intellectual freedom, the fellowship of his peers.
integral ADJ. complete; necessary for completeness. Physical education is an integral part of our curriculum; a sound mind and a sound body are complementary.
integrate V. make whole; combine; make into one unit. We hope to integrate the French, Spanish, and Italian programs into a combined Romance languages department.
integrity N. uprightness; wholeness. Lincoln, whose personal integrity has inspired millions, fought a civil war to maintain the integrity of the Republic, that these United States might remain undivided for all time.
intellect N. higher mental powers. If you wish to develop your intellect, read the great books.
intelligentsia N. the intelligent and educated classes [often used derogatorily]. She preferred discussions about sports and politics to the literary conversations of the intelligentsia.
intemperate ADJ. immoderate; excessive; extreme. In a temper, Tony refused to tone down his intemperate remarks.
interim N. meantime. The company will not consider our proposal until next week; in the interim, let us proceed as we have in the past.
interloper N. intruder; unwanted meddler. The merchant thought of his competitors as interlopers who were stealing away his trade.
interminable ADJ. endless. Although his speech lasted for only twenty minutes, it seemed interminable to his bored audience.
intermittent ADJ. periodic; on and off. The outdoor wedding reception had to be moved indoors to avoid the intermittent showers that fell on and off all afternoon.
interrogate V. question closely; cross-examine. Knowing that the Nazis would interrogate him about his background, the secret agent invented a cover story that would help him meet their questions.
intervene V. come between. When two close friends get into a fight, be careful if you try to intervene; they may join forces to gang up on you.
intimacy N. closeness, often affectionate; privacy; familiarity. In a moment of rare intimacy, the mayor allowed the reporters a glimpse of his personal feelings about his family. intimate, ADJ.
intimate V. hint; suggest. Was Dick intimating that Jane had bad breath when he asked if she’d like a breath mint?
intimidate V. frighten. I’ll learn karate and then those big bullies won’t be able to intimidate me any more.
intractable ADJ. unruly; stubborn; unyielding. Charlie Brown’s friend Pigpen was intractable: he absolutely refused to take a bath.
intransigence N. refusal of any compromise; stubbornness. The negotiating team had not expected such intransigence from the striking workers, who rejected any hint of a compromise. intransigent, ADJ.
intrepid ADJ. fearless. For her intrepid conduct nursing the wounded during the war, Florence Nightingale was honored by Queen Victoria.
intricate ADJ. complex; knotty; tangled. Philip spent many hours designing mazes so intricate that none of his classmates could solve them. intricacy, N.
intrinsic ADJ. essential; inherent; built-in. Although my grandmother’s china has little intrinsic value, I shall always cherish it for the memories it evokes.
introspective ADJ. looking within oneself. Though young Francis of Assisi led a wild and worldly life, even then he had introspective moments during which he examined his soul.
introvert N. one who is introspective; inclined to think more about oneself. Uncommunicative by nature and disinclined to look outside himself, he was a classic introvert.
intrude V. trespass; enter as an uninvited person. She hesitated to intrude on their conversation.
intuition N. immediate insight; power of knowing without reasoning. Even though Tony denied that anything was wrong, Tina trusted her intuition that something was bothering him. intuitive, ADJ.
inundate V. overwhelm; flood; submerge. This semester I am inundated with work: You should see the piles of paperwork flooding my desk. Until the great dam was built, the waters of the Nile used to inundate the river valley like clockwork every year.
inured ADJ. accustomed; hardened. She became inured to the Alaskan cold.
invalidate V. weaken; destroy. The relatives who received little or nothing sought to invalidate the will by claiming that the deceased had not been in his right mind when he had signed the document.
invasive ADJ. tending to spread aggressively; intrusive. Giving up our war with the invasive blackberry vines that had taken over the back yard, we covered the lawn with concrete. invade, V.
invective N. abuse. He had expected criticism but not the invective that greeted his proposal. inveigh, V.
inveigle V. entice; persuade; wheedle. Flattering Adam about his good taste in food, Eve inveigled him into taking a bite of her apple pie.
inverse ADJ. opposite. There is an inverse ratio between the strength of light and its distance.
invert V. turn upside down or inside out. When he inverted his body in a handstand, he felt the blood rush to his head.
inveterate ADJ. deep-rooted; habitual. An inveterate smoker, Bob cannot seem to break the habit, no matter how hard he tries.
invidious ADJ. designed to create ill will or envy. We disregarded her invidious remarks because we realized how jealous she was.
invigorate V. energize; stimulate. A quick dip in the pool invigorated Meg, and with renewed energy she got back to work.
Word List 27 invincible–laggard
invincible ADJ. unconquerable. Superman is invincible.
inviolable ADJ. secure from corruption, attack, or violation; unassailable. Batman considered his oath to keep the people of Gotham City safe inviolable: nothing on earth could make him break this promise.
invocation N. prayer for help; calling upon as a reference or support. The service of Morning Prayer opens with an invocation during which we ask God to hear our prayers.
invoke V. call upon; ask for. She invoked her advisor’s aid in filling out her financial aid forms.
invulnerable ADJ. incapable of injury. Achilles was invulnerable except in his heel.
iota N. very small quantity. She hadn’t an iota of common sense.
irascible ADJ. irritable; easily angered. Miss Minchin’s irascible temper intimidated the younger school girls, who feared she’d burst into a rage at any moment.
irate ADJ. angry. When John’s mother found out he had overdrawn his checking account for the third month in a row, she was so irate she could scarcely speak to him.
ire N. anger. The waiter tried unsuccessfully to placate the ire of the diner who had found a cockroach in her soup.
iridescent ADJ. exhibiting rainbowlike colors. She admired the iridescent hues of the oil that floated on the surface of the water.
irksome ADJ. annoying; tedious. He found working on the assembly line irksome because of the monotony of the operation he had to perform. irk, V.
ironic ADJ. resulting in an unexpected and contrary outcome. It is ironic that his success came when he least wanted it.
irony N. hidden sarcasm or satire; use of words that seem to mean the opposite of what they actually mean. Gradually his listeners began to realize that the excessive praise he was lavishing on his opponent was actually irony; he was in fact ridiculing the poor fool.
irrational ADJ. illogical; lacking reason; insane. Many people have such an irrational fear of snakes that they panic at the sight of a harmless garter snake.
irreconcilable ADJ. incompatible; not able to be resolved. Because the separated couple were irreconcilable, the marriage counselor recommended a divorce.
irrefutable ADJ. indisputable; incontrovertible; undeniable. No matter how hard I tried to find a good comeback for her argument, I couldn’t think of one: her logic was irrefutable.
irrelevant ADJ. not applicable; unrelated. No matter how irrelevant the patient’s mumblings may seem, they give us some indications of what he has on his mind.
irremediable ADJ. incurable; uncorrectable. The error she made was irremediable; she could see no way to repair it.
irreparable ADJ. not able to be corrected or repaired. Your apology cannot atone for the irreparable damage you have done to her reputation.
irrepressible ADJ. unable to be restrained or held back. My friend Kitty’s curiosity was irrepressible: she poked her nose into everybody’s business and just laughed when I warned her that curiosity killed the cat.
irreproachable ADJ. blameless; impeccable. Homer’s conduct at the office party was irreproachable; even Marge didn’t have anything bad to say about how he behaved.
irresolute ADJ. uncertain how to act; weak. Once you have made your decision, don’t waver; a leader should never appear irresolute.
irretrievable ADJ. impossible to recover or regain; irreparable. The left fielder tried to retrieve the ball, but it flew over the fence, bounced off a wall, and fell into the sewer: it was irretrievable.
irreverence N. lack of proper respect. Some audience members were amused by the irreverence of the comedian’s jokes about the Pope; others felt offended by his lack of respect for their faith. irreverent, ADJ.
irrevocable ADJ. unalterable; irreversible. As Sue dropped the “Dear John” letter into the mailbox, she suddenly had second thoughts and wanted to take it back, but she could not: her action was irrevocable.
itinerant ADJ. wandering; traveling. He was an itinerant peddler and traveled through Pennsylvania and Virginia selling his wares. also N.
itinerary N. plan of a trip. Disliking sudden changes in plans when she traveled abroad, Ethel refused to make any alterations in her itinerary.
jabber V. chatter rapidly or unintelligibly. Why does the fellow insist on jabbering away in French when I can’t understand a word he says?
jaded ADJ. fatigued; surfeited. He looked for exotic foods to stimulate his jaded appetite.
jargon N. language used by a special group; technical terminology; gibberish. The computer salesmen at the store used a jargon of their own that we simply couldn’t follow; we had no idea what they were jabbering about.
jaundiced ADJ. prejudiced (envious, hostile, or resentful); yellowed. Because Sue disliked Carolyn, she looked at Carolyn’s paintings with a jaundiced eye, calling them formless smears. Newborn infants afflicted with jaundicelook slightly yellow: they have jaundiced skin.
jaunt N. trip; short journey. He took a quick jaunt to Atlantic City.
jaunty ADJ. lighthearted; animated; easy and carefree. In An American in Paris, Gene Kelly sang and danced his way through “I Got Rhythm” in a properly jaunty style.
jeopardize V. endanger; imperil; put at risk. You can’t give me a D in chemistry: you’ll jeopardize my chances of getting into M.I.T. jeopardy, N.
jettison V. throw overboard. In order to enable the ship to ride safely through the storm, the captain had to jettison much of his cargo.
jingoist N. extremely aggressive and militant patriot; warlike chauvinist. Always bellowing “America first!, ” the congressman was such a jingoist you could almost hear the sabers rattling as he marched down the halls. jingoism, N.
jocose ADJ. given to joking. The salesman was so jocose that many of his customers suggested that he become a “stand-up” comic.
jocular ADJ. said or done in jest. Although Bill knew the boss hated jokes, he couldn’t resist making one jocular remark.
jollity N. gaiety; cheerfulness. The festive Christmas dinner was a merry one, and old and young alike joined in the general jollity.
jostle V. shove; bump. In the subway he was jostled by the crowds.
jovial ADJ. good-natured; merry. A frown seemed out of place on his invariably jovial face.
jubilation N. rejoicing. There was great jubilation when the armistice was announced. jubilant, ADJ.
judicious ADJ. sound in judgment; wise. At a key moment in his life, he made a judicious investment that was the foundation of his later wealth.
juncture N. crisis; joining point. At this critical juncture, let us think carefully before determining the course we shall follow.
junta N. group of men joined in political intrigue; cabal. As soon as he learned of its existence, the dictator ordered the execution of all of the members of the junta.
jurisprudence N. science of law. He was more a student of jurisprudence than a practitioner of the law.
justification N. good or just reason; defense; excuse. The jury found him guilty of the more serious charge because they could see no possible justification for his actions.
kernel N. central or vital part; whole seed (as of corn). “Watson, buried within this tissue of lies there is a kernel of truth; when I find it, the mystery will be solved.”
killjoy N. grouch; spoilsport. At breakfast we had all been enjoying our bacon and eggs until that killjoy John started talking about how bad animal fats were for our health.
kindle V. start a fire; inspire. One of the first things Ben learned in the Boy Scouts was how to kindle a fire by rubbing two dry sticks together. Her teacher’s praise for her poetry kindled a spark of hope inside Maya.
kindred ADJ. related; belonging to the same family. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn were kindred spirits, born mischief makers who were always up to some new tomfoolery.
kinetic ADJ. producing motion. Designers of the electric automobile find that their greatest obstacle lies in the development of light and efficient storage batteries, the source of the kinetic energy needed to propel the vehicle.
kleptomaniac N. person who has a compulsive desire to steal. They discovered that the wealthy customer was a kleptomaniac when they caught her stealing some cheap trinkets.
knave N. untrustworthy person; rogue; scoundrel. Any politician nicknamed Tricky Dick clearly has the reputation of a knave. knavery, N.
knit V. contract into wrinkles; grow together. Whenever David worries, his brow knits in a frown. When he broke his leg, he sat around the house all day waiting for the bones to knit.
knotty ADJ. intricate; difficult; tangled. What to Watson had been a knotty problem, to Sherlock Holmes was simplicity itself.
kudos N. honor; glory; praise. The singer complacently received kudos from his entourage on his performance.
laborious ADJ. demanding much work or care; tedious. In putting together his dictionary of the English language, Doctor Johnson undertook a laborious task.
labyrinth N. maze. Hiding from Indian Joe, Tom and Becky soon lost themselves in the labyrinth of secret underground caves. labyrinthine, ADJ.
laceration N. torn, ragged wound. The stock car driver needed stitches to close up the laceration she received in the car crash.
lachrymose ADJ. producing tears. His voice has a lachrymose quality more appropriate to a funeral than a class reunion.
lackadaisical ADJ. lacking purpose or zest; halfhearted; languid. Because Gatsby had his mind more on his love life than on his finances, he did a very lackadaisical job of managing his money.
lackluster ADJ. dull. We were disappointed by the lackluster performance.
laconic ADJ. brief and to the point. Many of the characters portrayed by Clint Eastwood are laconic types: strong men of few words.
laggard ADJ. slow; sluggish. The sailor had been taught not to be laggard in carrying out orders. also N. lag, N., V.
Word List 28 lament–lout
lament V. grieve; express sorrow. Even advocates of the war lamented the loss of so many lives in combat. also N. lamentation, N.
lampoon V. ridicule. This article lampoons the pretensions of some movie moguls. also N.
languid ADJ. weary; sluggish; listless. Her siege of illness left her languid and pallid.
languish V. lose animation; lose strength. Left at Miss Minchin’s school for girls while her father went off to war, Sarah Crewe refused to languish; instead, she hid her grief and actively befriended her less fortunate classmates.
languor N. lassitude; depression. His friends tried to overcome the languor into which he had fallen by taking him to parties and to the theater.
lap V. take in food or drink with one’s tongue; splash gently. The kitten neatly lapped up her milk. The waves softly lapped against the pier.
larceny N. theft. Because of the prisoner’s record, the district attorney refused to reduce the charge from grand larceny to petty larceny.
largess N. generous gift. Lady Bountiful distributed largess to the poor.
lassitude N. languor; weariness. After a massage and a long soak in the hot tub, I gave in to my growing lassitude and lay down for a nap.
latent ADJ. potential but undeveloped; dormant; hidden. Polaroid pictures are popular at parties, because you can see the latent photographic image gradually appear before your eyes.
lateral ADJ. coming from the side. In order to get good plant growth, the gardener must pinch off all lateral shoots.
latitude N. freedom from narrow limitations. I think you have permitted your son too much latitude in this matter.
laud V. praise. The NFL lauded Boomer Esiason’s efforts to raise money to combat cystic fibrosis. laudable, laudatory, ADJ.
lavish ADJ. generous; openhanded; extravagant; wasteful. Her wealthy suitors wooed her with lavish gifts. also V.
lax ADJ. careless. We dislike restaurants where the service is lax and inattentive.
leaven V. cause to rise or grow lighter; enliven. As bread dough is leavened, it puffs up, expanding in volume.
lecherous ADJ. lustful; impure in thought and deed. The villain of the play, a lecherous old banker, lusted after the poor farmer’s beautiful daughter.
leery ADJ. suspicious; cautious. Don’t eat the sushi at this restaurant; I’m a bit leery about how fresh the raw fish is.
legacy N. a gift made by a will. Part of my legacy from my parents is an album of family photographs.
legend N. explanatory list of symbols on a map. The legend at the bottom of the map made it clear which symbols stood for rest areas along the highway and which stood for public camp sites. (secondary meaning)
legerdemain N. sleight of hand. The magician demonstrated his renowned legerdemain.
leniency N. mildness; permissiveness. Considering the gravity of the offense, we were surprised by the leniency of the sentence.
lethal ADJ. deadly. It is unwise to leave lethal weapons where children may find them.
lethargic ADJ. drowsy; dull. The stuffy room made her lethargic: she felt as if she was about to nod off.
levity N. lack of seriousness; lightness. Stop giggling and wriggling around in the pew: such levity is improper in church.
levy V. impose (a fine); collect (a payment). Crying “ No taxation without representation, ” the colonists demonstrated against England’s power to levy taxes.
lewd ADJ. lustful. They found his lewd stories objectionable.
lexicographer N. compiler of a dictionary. The new dictionary is the work of many lexicographers who spent years compiling and editing the work.
lexicon N. dictionary. I cannot find this word in any lexicon in the library.
liability N. drawback; debts. Her lack of an extensive vocabulary was a liability that she was eventually able to overcome.
liaison N. contact keeping parts of an organization in communication; go-between; secret love affair. As the liaison between the American and British forces during World War II, the colonel had to ease tensions between the leaders of the two armies. Romeo’s romantic liaison with Juliet ended in tragedy.
libel N. defamatory statement; act of writing something that smears a person’s character. If Batman wrote that the Joker was a dirty, rotten, mass-murdering criminal, could the Joker sue Batman for libel?
liberator N. one who sets free. Simon Bolivar, who led the South American colonies in their rebellion against Spanish rule, is known as the great liberator. liberate, V.
licentious ADJ. amoral; lewd and lascivious; unrestrained. Unscrupulously seducing the daughter of his host, Don Juan felt no qualms about the immorality of his licentious behavior.
lilliputian ADJ. extremely small. Tiny and delicate, the model was built on a lilliputian scale. also N.
limber ADJ. flexible. Hours of ballet classes kept him limber.
limerick N. humorous short verse. The limerick form is the best; its meter is pure anapest. A limerick’s fun for most everyone, and the word may occur on your test.
limpid ADJ. clear; transparent; lucid. We could see swarms of colorful tropical fish in the limpid waters of the peaceful cove.
linchpin N. something that holds or links various parts together. The linchpin in the district attorney’s case was a photograph showing the defendant shaking hands with the hired killer.
lineage N. descent; ancestry. He traced his lineage back to Mayflower days.
linger V. loiter or dawdle; continue or persist. Hoping to see Juliet pass by, Romeo lingered outside the Capulet house for hours. Though Mother made stuffed cabbage on Monday, the smell lingered around the house for days.
linguistic ADJ. pertaining to language. Exposed to most modern European languages in childhood, she grew up to be a linguistic prodigy.
liniment N. ointment; lotion; salve. The trainer carefully applied the liniment to the quarterback’s bruise, gently rubbing it into the skin.
lionize V. treat as a celebrity. She enjoyed being lionized and adored by the public.
liquidate V. settle accounts; clear up. He was able to liquidate all his debts in a short period of time.
list V. tilt; lean over. That flagpole should be absolutely vertical; instead, it lists to one side. (secondary meaning)
listless ADJ. lacking in spirit or energy. We had expected him to be full of enthusiasm and were surprised by his listless attitude.
lithe ADJ. flexible; supple. Her figure was lithe and willowy.
litigation N. lawsuit. Try to settle this without involving any lawyers; I do not want to become bogged down in litigation. litigant, N.
livid ADJ. lead-colored; black and blue; enraged. His face was so livid with rage that we were afraid that he might have an attack of apoplexy.
loath ADJ. reluctant; disinclined. Fearing for their son’s safety, the overprotective parents were loath to let him go on the class trip.
loathe V. detest. Booing and hissing, the audience showed how much they loathed the wicked villain.
lofty ADJ. very high. Though Barbara Jordan’s fellow students used to tease her about her lofty ambitions, she rose to hold one of the highest positions in the land.
log N. record of a voyage or flight; record of day to day activities. “Flogged two seamen today for insubordination” wrote Captain Bligh in the Bounty’s log. To see how much work I’ve accomplished recently, just take a look at the number of new files listed on my computer log.
loiter V. hang around; linger. The policeman told him not to loiter in the alley.
loll V. lounge about. They lolled around in their chairs watching television.
longevity N. long life. When he reached ninety, the old man was proud of his longevity.
loom V. appear or take shape (usually in an enlarged or distorted form). The shadow of the gallows loomed threateningly above the small boy.
lope V. gallop slowly. As the horses loped along, we had an opportunity to admire the ever-changing scenery.
loquacious ADJ. talkative. Though our daughter barely says a word to us these days, put a phone in her hand and see how loquacious she can be: our phone bills are out of sight! loquacity, N.
lout N. clumsy person. That awkward lout dropped my priceless vase!
Word List 29 lucid–maul
lucid ADJ. easily understood; clear; intelligible. Ellen makes an excellent teacher: her explanations of technical points are lucid enough for a child to grasp.
lucrative ADJ. profitable. He turned his hobby into a lucrative profession.
ludicrous ADJ. ridiculous; laughable; absurd. Gwen tried to keep a straight face, but Bill’s suggestion was so ludicrous that she finally had to laugh.
lugubrious ADJ. mournful. Gloomy Gus walked around town with a lugubrious expression on his face.
lull N. moment of calm. Not wanting to get wet, they waited under the awning for a lull in the rain.
lull V. soothe; cause one to relax one’s guard; subside. The mother’s gentle song lulled the child to sleep. Malcolm tried to come up with a plausible story to lull his mother’s suspicions, but she didn’t believe a word he said.
lumber V. move heavily or clumsily. Still somewhat torpid after its long hibernation, the bear lumbered through the woods.
luminary N. celebrity; dignitary. A leading light of the American stage, Ethel Barrymore was a theatrical luminary whose name lives on.
luminous ADJ. shining; issuing light. The sun is a luminous body.
lummox N. big, clumsy, often stupid person. Because he was highly overweight and looked ungainly, John Candy often was cast as a slow-witted lummox.
lunge V. quickly dive forward; thrust. The wide receiver lunged forward to grab the football. With his sword, Dartagnan lunged at his adversary.
lurid ADJ. wild; sensational; graphic; gruesome. Do the lurid cover stories in the Enquirer actually attract people to buy that trashy tabloid?
lurk V. stealthily lie in waiting; slink; exist unperceived. “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.”
luscious ADJ. pleasing to taste or smell. The ripe peach was luscious.
luster N. shine; gloss. The soft luster of the silk in the dim light was pleasing.
lustrous ADJ. shining. Her large and lustrous eyes lent a touch of beauty to an otherwise plain face.
luxuriant ADJ. abundant; rich and splendid; fertile. Lady Godiva was completely covered by her luxuriant hair.
machinations N. evil schemes or plots. Fortunately, Batman saw through the wily machinations of the Riddler and saved Gotham City from destruction by the forces of evil.
madrigal N. pastoral song. His program of folk songs included several madrigals which he sang to the accompaniment of a lute.
maelstrom N. whirlpool. The canoe was tossed about in the maelstrom.
magnanimous ADJ. generous; great-hearted. Philanthropists by definition are magnanimous; misers, by definition, are not. Cordelia was too magnanimous to resent her father’s unkindness to her; instead, she generously forgave him. magnanimity, N.
magnate N. person of prominence or influence. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Annie Dillard was surrounded by the mansions of the great steel and coal magnates who set their mark on that city.
magnitude N. greatness; extent. It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of his crime.
maim V. mutilate; injure. The hospital could not take care of all who had been wounded or maimed in the railroad accident.
maladroit ADJ. clumsy; bungling. “Oh! My stupid tongue!” exclaimed Jane, embarrassed at having said anything so maladroit.
malady N. illness. A mysterious malady swept the country, filling doctors’ offices with feverish, purple-spotted patients.
malaise N. uneasiness; vague feeling of ill health. Feeling slightly queasy before going on stage, Carol realized that this touch of malaise was merely stage fright.
malapropism N. comic misuse of a word. When Mrs. Malaprop accuses Lydia of being “as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile, ” she confuses “allegory” and “alligator” in a typical malapropism.
malcontent N. person dissatisfied with existing state of affairs. One of the few malcontents in Congress, he constantly voiced his objections to the presidential program. also ADJ.
malediction N. curse. When the magic mirror revealed that Snow White was still alive, the wicked queen cried out in rage and uttered dreadful maledictions.
malefactor N. evildoer; criminal. Mighty Mouse will save the day, hunting down malefactors and rescuing innocent mice from peril.
malevolent ADJ. wishing evil. Iago is a malevolent villain who takes pleasure in ruining Othello.
malfeasance N. wrongdoing. The authorities did not discover the campaign manager’s malfeasance until after he had spent most of the money he had embezzled.
malicious ADJ. hateful; spiteful. Jealous of Cinderella’s beauty, her malicious stepsisters expressed their spite by forcing her to do menial tasks. malice, N.
malign V. speak evil of; bad-mouth; defame. Putting her hands over her ears, Rose refused to listen to Betty malign her friend Susan.
malignant ADJ. injurious; tending to cause death; aggressively malevolent. Though many tumors are benign, some are malignant, growing out of control and endangering the life of the patient.
malingerer N. one who feigns illness to escape duty. The captain ordered the sergeant to punish all malingerers and force them to work. malinger, V.
malleable ADJ. capable of being shaped by pounding; impressionable. Gold is a malleable metal, easily shaped into bracelets and rings. Fagin hoped Oliver was a malleable lad, easily shaped into a thief.
malodorous ADJ. foul-smelling. The compost heap was most malodorous in summer.
mammal N. a vertebrate animal whose female suckles its young. Many people regard the whale as a fish and do not realize that it is a mammal.
mammoth ADJ. gigantic; enormous. To try to memorize every word on this vocabulary list would be a mammoth undertaking; take on projects that are more manageable in size.
mandate N. order; charge. In his inaugural address, the president stated that he had a mandate from the people to seek an end to social evils such as poverty. also V.
mandatory ADJ. obligatory; compulsory. It is mandatory that, before graduation, all students must pass the swimming test.
maniacal ADJ. raging mad; insane. Though Mr. Rochester had locked his mad wife in the attic, he could still hear her maniacal laughter echoing throughout the house.
manifest ADJ. evident; visible; obvious. Digby’s embarrassment when he met Madonna was manifest: his ears turned bright pink, he kept scuffing one shoe in the dirt, and he couldn’t look her in the eye.
manifesto N. declaration; statement of policy. The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels proclaimed the principles of modern communism.
manipulate V. operate with one’s hands; control or play upon (people, forces, etc.) artfully. Jim Henson understood how to manipulate the Muppets. Madonna understands how to manipulate men (and publicity).
mannered ADJ. affected; not natural. Attempting to copy the style of his wealthy neighbors, Gatsby adopted a mannered, artificial way of speech.
marital ADJ. pertaining to marriage. After the publication of her book of marital advice, she was often consulted by married couples on the verge of divorce.
marked ADJ. noticeable or pronounced; targeted for vengeance. He walked with a marked limp, a souvenir of an old I.R.A. attack. As British ambassador, he knew he was a marked man, for he knew the Irish Republican Army wanted him dead.
marred ADJ. damaged; disfigured. She had to refinish the marred surface of the table. mar, V.
marshal V. put in order. At a debate tournament, extemporaneous speakers have only a minute or two to marshal their thoughts before they address their audience.
marsupial N. one of a family of mammals that nurse their offspring in a pouch. The most common marsupial in North America is the opossum.
martial ADJ. warlike. The sound of martial music inspired the young cadet with dreams of military glory.
martinet N. strict disciplinarian. No talking at meals! No mingling with the servants! Miss Minchin was a martinet who insisted that the school girls in her charge observe each regulation to the letter.
martyr N. one who voluntarily suffers death for his or her religion or cause; great sufferer. By burning her at the stake, the English made Joan of Arc a martyr for her faith. Mother played the martyr by staying home cleaning the house while the rest of the family went off to the beach.
masochist N. person who enjoys his own pain. The masochist begs, “Hit me.” The sadist smiles and says, “I won’t.”
material ADJ. made of physical matter; unspiritual; important. Probing the mysteries of this material world has always fascinated physicist George Whitesides. Reporters nicknamed Madonna the Material Girl because, despite her name, she seemed wholly uninterested in spiritual values. Lexy’s active participation made a material difference to the success of the fund-raiser.
materialism N. preoccupation with physical comforts and things. By its nature, materialism is opposed to idealism, for where the materialist emphasizes the needs of the body, the idealist emphasizes the needs of the soul.
maternal ADJ. motherly. Many animals display maternal instincts only while their offspring are young and helpless.
matriarch N. woman who rules a family or larger social group. The matriarch ruled her gypsy tribe with a firm hand.
matriculate V. enroll (in college or graduate school). Incoming students formally matriculate at our college in a special ceremony during which they sign the official register of students.
matrix N. point of origin; array of numbers or algebraic symbols; mold or die. Some historians claim the Nile Valley was the matrix of Western civilization.
maudlin ADJ. effusively sentimental. Whenever a particularly maudlin tearjerker was playing at the movies, Marvin would embarrass himself by weeping copiously.
maul V. handle roughly. The rock star was mauled by his over-excited fans.
Word List 30 maverick–misrepresent
maverick N. rebel; nonconformist. To the masculine literary establishment, George Sand with her insistence on wearing trousers and smoking cigars was clearly a maverick who fought her proper womanly role.
mawkish ADJ. mushy and gushy; icky-sticky sentimental; maudlin. Whenever Gigi and her boyfriend would sigh and get all lovey-dovey, her little brother would shout, “Yuck!” protesting their mawkish behavior.
maxim N. proverb; a truth pithily stated. Aesop’s story of the hare and the tortoise illustrates the maxim “Slow and steady wins the race.”
meager ADJ. scanty; inadequate. Still hungry after his meager serving of porridge, Oliver Twist asked for a second helping.
meander V. wind or turn in its course. Needing to stay close to a source of water, he followed every twist and turn of the stream as it meandered through the countryside.
meddlesome ADJ. interfering. He felt his marriage was suffering because of his meddlesome mother-in-law.
mediate V. settle a dispute through the services of an outsider. King Solomon was asked to mediate a dispute between two women, each of whom claimed to be the mother of the same child.
mediocre ADJ. ordinary; commonplace. We were disappointed because he gave a rather mediocre performance in this role.
meditation N. reflection; thought. She reached her decision only after much meditation.
medley N. mixture. To avoid boring dancers by playing any one tune for too long, bands may combine three or four tunes into a medley.
meek ADJ. quiet and obedient; spiritless. Can Lois Lane see through Superman’s disguise and spot the superhero hiding behind the guise of meek, timorous Clark Kent? Mr. Barrett never expected his meek daughter would dare to defy him by eloping with her suitor.
melancholy ADJ. gloomy; morose; blue. To Eugene, stuck in his small town, a train whistle was a melancholy sound, for it made him think of all the places he would never get to see.
mellifluous ADJ. sweetly or smoothly flowing; melodious. Italian is a mellifluous language, especially suited to being sung.
membrane N. thin soft sheet of animal or vegetable tissue. Each individual section of an orange is covered with a thin, transparent membrane. membranous, ADJ.
memento N. token; reminder. Take this book as a memento of your visit.
menagerie N. collection of wild animals. Whenever the children run wild around the house, Mom shouts, “Calm down! I’m not running a menagerie!”
mendacious ADJ. lying; habitually dishonest. Distrusting Huck from the start, Miss Watson assumed he was mendacious and refused to believe a word he said.
mendicant N. beggar. “O noble sir, give alms to the poor, ” cried Aladdin, playing the mendicant.
menial ADJ. suitable for servants; lowly; mean. Her wicked stepmother forced Cinderella to do menial tasks around the house while her ugly stepsisters lolled around painting their toenails.
mentor N. teacher. During this very trying period, she could not have had a better mentor, for the teacher was sympathetic and understanding.
mercenary ADJ. interested in money or gain. Andy’s every act was prompted by mercenary motives: his first question was always “What’s in it for me?”
mercurial ADJ. capricious; changing; fickle. Quick as quicksilver to change, he was mercurial in nature and therefore unreliable.
merger N. combination (of two business corporations). When the firm’s president married the director of financial planning, the office joke was that it wasn’t a marriage, it was a merger.
mesmerize V. hypnotize. The incessant drone seemed to mesmerize him and place him in a trance.
metallurgical ADJ. pertaining to the art of removing metals from ores. During the course of his metallurgical research, the scientist developed a steel alloy of tremendous strength.
metamorphosis N. change of form; major transformation. The metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly is typical of many such changes in animal life. metamorphose, V.
metaphor N. implied comparison. “He soared like an eagle” is an example of a simile; “He is an eagle in flight, ” a metaphor.
metaphysical ADJ. pertaining to speculative philosophy. The modern poets have gone back to the fanciful poems of the metaphysical poets of the seventeenth century for many of their images. metaphysics, N.
methodical ADJ. systematic. An accountant must be methodical and maintain order among his financial records.
meticulous ADJ. excessively careful; painstaking; scrupulous. Martha Stewart was a meticulous housekeeper, fussing about each and every detail that went into making up her perfect home.
metropolis N. large city. Every evening the terminal is filled with thousands of commuters going from this metropolis to their homes in the suburbs.
mettle N. courage; spirit. When challenged by the other horses in the race, the thoroughbred proved its mettle by its determination to hold the lead.
miasma N. swamp gas; heavy, vaporous atmosphere, often emanating from decaying matter; pervasive corrupting influence. The smog hung over Victorian London like a dark cloud; noisome, reeking of decay, it was a visible miasma.
microcosm N. small world; the world in miniature. The small village community that Jane Austen depicts serves as a microcosm of English society in her time, for in this small world we see all the social classes meeting and mingling.
migrant ADJ. changing its habitat; wandering. Migrant workers return to the Central Valley each year at harvest time. also N.
migratory ADJ. wandering. The return of the migratory birds to the northern sections of this country is a harbinger of spring. migrate, V.
milieu N. environment; means of expression. Surrounded by smooth preppies and arty bohemians, the country boy from Smalltown, USA, felt out of his milieu. Although he has produced excellent oil paintings and lithographs, his proper milieu is watercolor.
militant ADJ. combative; bellicose. Although at this time he was advocating a policy of neutrality, one could usually find him adopting a more militant attitude. also N.
mimicry N. imitation. Her gift for mimicry was so great that her friends said that she should be in the theater.
mincing ADJ. affectedly dainty. Yum-Yum walked across the stage with mincing steps.
minuscule ADJ. extremely small. Why should I involve myself with a project with so minuscule a chance for success?
minute ADJ. extremely small. The twins resembled one another closely; only minute differences set them apart.
minutiae N. petty details. She would have liked to ignore the minutiae of daily living.
mirage N. unreal reflection; optical illusion. The lost prospector was fooled by a mirage in the desert.
mire V. entangle; stick in swampy ground. Their rear wheels became mired in mud. also N.
mirth N. merriment; laughter. Sober Malvolio found Sir Toby’s mirth improper.
misanthrope N. one who hates mankind. In Gulliver’s Travels, Swift portrays an image of humanity as vile, degraded beasts; for this reason, various critics consider him a misanthrope.
misapprehension N. error; misunderstanding. To avoid misapprehension, I am going to ask all of you to repeat the instructions I have given.
miscellany N. mixture of writings on various subjects. This is an interesting miscellany of nineteenth-century prose and poetry.
mischance N. ill luck. By mischance, he lost his week’s salary.
misconception N. mistaken idea. “Sir, you are suffering from a misconception. I do not wish to marry you in the least!”
misconstrue V. interpret incorrectly; misjudge. She took the passage seriously rather than humorously because she misconstrued the author’s ironic tone.
misdemeanor N. minor crime. The culprit pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor rather than face trial for a felony.
miserly ADJ. stingy; mean. Transformed by his vision on Christmas Eve, mean old Scrooge ceased being miserly and became a generous, kind old man.
misgivings N. doubts. Hamlet described his misgivings to Horatio but decided to fence with Laertes despite his foreboding of evil.
mishap N. accident. With a little care you could have avoided this mishap.
misnomer N. wrong name; incorrect designation. His tyrannical conduct proved to all that his nickname, King Eric the Just, was a misnomer.
misrepresent V. give a false or incorrect impression, often deliberately; serve unsatisfactorily as a representative. In his job application, Milton misrepresented his academic background; he was fired when his employers discovered the truth. The reformers accused Senator Gunbucks of misrepresenting his constituents and claimed he took bribes from the NRA.
Word List 31 missile–natty
missile N. object to be thrown or projected. After carefully folding his book report into a paper airplane, Beavis threw the missile across the classroom at Butthead. Rocket scientists are building guided missiles; Beavis and Butthead can barely make unguided ones.
missive N. Ietter. The ambassador received a missive from the secretary of state.
mite N. very small object or creature; small coin. Gnats are annoying mites that sting.
mitigate V. appease; moderate. Nothing Jason did could mitigate Medea’s anger; she refused to forgive him for betraying her.
mnemonic ADJ. pertaining to memory. He used mnemonic tricks to master new words.
mobile ADJ. movable; not fixed. The mobile blood bank operated by the Red Cross visited our neighborhood today. mobility, N.
mock V. ridicule; imitate, often in derision. It is unkind to mock anyone; it is stupid to mock anyone significantly bigger than you. mockery, N.
mode N. prevailing style; manner; way of doing something. The rock star had to have her hair done in the latest mode: frizzed, with occasional moussed spikes for variety. Henry plans to adopt a simpler mode of life: he is going to become a mushroom hunter and live off the land.
modicum N. limited quantity. Although his story is based on a modicum of truth, most of the events he describes are fictitious.
modulate V. tone down in intensity; regulate; change from one key to another. Always singing at the top of her lungs, the budding Brunhilde never learned to modulate her voice.
molecule N. the smallest particle (one or more atoms) of a substance, having all the properties of that substance. In chemistry, we study how atoms and molecules react to form new substances.
mollify V. soothe. The airline customer service representative tried to mollify the angry passenger by offering her a seat in first class.
molten ADJ. melted. The city of Pompeii was destroyed by volcanic ash rather than by molten lava flowing from Mount Vesuvius.
momentous ADJ. very important. When Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium, they had no idea of the momentous impact their discovery would have upon society.
momentum N. quantity of motion of a moving body; impetus. The car lost momentum as it tried to ascend the steep hill.
monarchy N. government under a single ruler. Though England today is a monarchy, there is some question whether it will be one in twenty years, given the present discontent at the prospect of Prince Charles as king.
monastic ADJ. related to monks or monasteries; removed from worldly concerns. Withdrawing from the world, Thomas Merton joined a contemplative religious order and adopted the monastic life.
monetary ADJ. pertaining to money. Jane held the family purse strings: she made all monetary decisions affecting the household.
monochromatic ADJ. having only one color. Most people who are color blind actually can distinguish several colors; some, however, have a truly monochromatic view of a world all in shades of gray.
monolithic ADJ. solidly uniform; unyielding. Knowing the importance of appearing resolute, the patriots sought to present a monolithic front.
monosyllabic ADJ. having only one syllable. No matter what he was asked, the taciturn New Englander answered with a monosyllabic “Yep” or “Nope.” monosyllable, N.
monotony N. sameness leading to boredom. What could be more deadly dull than the monotony of punching numbers into a computer hour after hour?
montage N. photographic composition combining elements from different sources. In one early montage, Beauchamp brought together pictures of broken mannequins and newspaper clippings about the Vietnam War.
monumental ADJ. massive. Writing a dictionary is a monumental task.
moodiness N. fits of depression or gloom. Her recurrent moodiness left her feeling as if she had fallen into a black hole.
moratorium N. legal delay of payment. If we declare a moratorium and delay collection of debts for six months, I am sure the farmers will be able to meet their bills.
morbid ADJ. given to unwholesome thought; moody; characteristic of disease. People who come to disaster sites just to peer at the grisly wreckage are indulging their morbid curiosity.
mores N. conventions; moral standards; customs. In America, Benazir Bhutto dressed as Western women did; in Pakistan, however, she followed the mores of her people, dressing in traditional veil and robes.
moribund ADJ. dying. Hearst took a moribund, failing weekly newspaper and transformed it into one of the liveliest, most profitable daily papers around.
morose ADJ. ill-humored; sullen; melancholy. Forced to take early retirement, Bill acted morose for months; then, all of a sudden, he shook off his sullen mood and was his usual cheerful self.
mortician N. undertaker. The mortician prepared the corpse for burial.
mortify V. humiliate; punish the flesh. She was so mortified by her blunder that she ran to her room in tears.
mosaic N. picture made of colorful small inlaid tiles. The mayor compared the city to a beautiful mosaic made up of people of every race and religion on earth.
mote N. small speck. The tiniest mote in the eye is very painful.
motif N. theme. This simple motif runs throughout the entire score.
motley ADJ. multi-colored; mixed. The jester wore a motley tunic, red and green and blue and gold all patched together haphazardly. Captain Ahab had gathered a motley crew to sail the vessel: old sea dogs and runaway boys, pillars of the church and drunkards, even a tattooed islander who terrified the rest of the crew.
mottled ADJ. blotched in coloring; spotted. When old Falstaff blushed, his face was mottled with embarrassment, all pink and purple and red.
muddle V. confuse; mix up. His thoughts were muddled and chaotic. also N.
muggy ADJ. warm and damp. August in New York City is often muggy.
multifaceted ADJ. having many aspects. A multifaceted composer, Roger Davidson has recorded original pieces that range from ragtime tangos to choral masses.
multifarious ADJ. varied; greatly diversified. A career woman and mother, she was constantly busy with the multifarious activities of her daily life.
multiform ADJ. having many forms. Snowflakes are multiform but always hexagonal.
multilingual ADJ. having many languages. Because Switzerland is surrounded by France, Germany, Italy, and Austria, many Swiss people are multilingual.
multiplicity N. state of being numerous. He was appalled by the multiplicity of details he had to complete before setting out on his mission.
mundane ADJ. worldly as opposed to spiritual; everyday. Uninterested in philosophical or spiritual discussions, Tom talked only of mundane matters such as the daily weather forecast or the latest basketball results.
munificent ADJ. very generous. Shamelessly fawning over a particularly generous donor, the dean kept on referring to her as “our munificent benefactor.” munificence, N.
mural N. wall painting. The walls of the Chicano Community Center are covered with murals painted in the style of Diego Rivera, the great Mexican artist.
murky ADJ. dark and gloomy; thick with fog; vague. The murky depths of the swamp were so dark that one couldn’t tell the vines and branches from the snakes.
muse V. ponder. For a moment he mused about the beauty of the scene, but his thoughts soon changed as he recalled his own personal problems. also N.
mushroom V. expand or grow rapidly. Between 1990 and 1999, the population of Silicon Valley mushroomed; with the rapidly increasing demand for housing, home prices skyrocketed as well.
musky ADJ. having the odor of musk. She left a trace of musky perfume behind her.
muster V. gather; assemble. Washington mustered his forces at Trenton. also N.
musty ADJ. stale; spoiled by age. The attic was dark and musty.
mutability N. ability to change in form; fickleness. Going from rags to riches, and then back to rags again, the bankrupt financier was a victim of the mutability of fortune.
muted ADJ. silent; muffled; toned down. Thanks to the thick, sound-absorbing walls of the cathedral, only muted traffic noise reached the worshippers within.
mutinous ADJ. unruly; rebellious. The captain had to use force to quiet his mutinous crew. mutiny, N.
myopic ADJ. nearsighted; lacking foresight. Stumbling into doors despite the coke bottle lenses on his glasses, the nearsighted Mr. Magoo is markedly myopic. In playing all summer long and ignoring to store up food for winter, the grasshopper in Aesop’s fable was myopic as well.
myriad N. very large number. Myriads of mosquitoes from the swamps invaded our village every twilight. also ADJ.
mystify V. bewilder purposely. When doctors speak in medical jargon, they often mystify their patients, who have little knowledge of medical terminology.
nadir N. lowest point. Although few people realized it, the DowJones averages had reached their nadir and would soon begin an upward surge.
naiveté N. quality of being unsophisticated; simplicity; artlessness; gullibility. Touched by the naiveté of sweet, convent-trained Cosette, Marius pledges himself to protect her innocence. naive, ADJ.
narcissist N. conceited person; someone in love with his own image. A narcissist is her own best friend.
narrative ADJ. related to telling a story. A born teller of tales, Tillie Olsen used her impressive narrative skills to advantage in her story “I Stand Here Ironing.” narrate, V.
nascent ADJ. incipient; coming into being. If we could identify these revolutionary movements in their nascent state, we would be able to eliminate serious trouble in later years.
natty ADJ. neatly or smartly dressed. Priding himself on being a natty dresser, the gangster Bugsy Siegel collected a wardrobe of imported suits and ties.
Word List 32 nauseate–obsessive
nauseate V. cause to become sick; fill with disgust. The foul smells began to nauseate him.
nautical ADJ. pertaining to ships or navigation. The Maritime Museum contains many models of clipper ships, logbooks, anchors and many other items of a nautical nature.
navigable ADJ. wide and deep enough to allow ships to pass through; able to be steered. So much sand had built up at the bottom of the canal that the waterway was barely navigable.
nebulous ADJ. vague; hazy; cloudy. Phil and Dave tried to come up with a clear, intelligible business plan, not some hazy, nebulous proposal.
necromancy N. black magic; dealings with the dead. The evil sorceror performed feats of necromancy, calling on the spirits of the dead to tell the future.
nefarious ADJ. very wicked. The villain’s crimes, though various, were one and all nefarious.
negate V. cancel out; nullify; deny. A sudden surge of adrenalin can negate the effects of fatigue: there’s nothing like a good shock to wake you up.
negligence N. neglect; failure to take reasonable care. Tommy failed to put back the cover on the well after he fetched his pail of water; because of his negligence, Kitty fell in.
negligible ADJ. so small, trifling, or unimportant that it may be easily disregarded. Because the damage to his car had been negligible, Michael decided he wouldn’t bother to report the matter to his insurance company.
nemesis N. someone seeking revenge. Abandoned at sea in a small boat, the vengeful Captain Bligh vowed to be the nemesis of Fletcher Christian and his fellow mutineers.
neologism N. new or newly coined word or phrase. As we invent new techniques and professions, we must also invent neologisms such as “microcomputer” and “astronaut” to describe them.
neophyte N. recent convert; beginner. This mountain slope contains slides that will challenge experts as well as neophytes.
nepotism N. favoritism (to a relative). John left his position with the company because he felt that advancement was based on nepotism rather than ability.
nettle V. annoy; vex. Do not let him nettle you with his sarcastic remarks.
neutral ADJ. impartial; not supporting one side over another. Reluctant to get mixed up in someone else’s quarrel, Bobby tried to remain neutral, but eventually he had to take sides.
nicety N. subtlety; precision; minute distinction; fine point. This word list provides illustrative sentences for each entry word; it cannot, however, explain all the niceties of current English usage.
nihilist N. one who believes traditional beliefs to be groundless and existence meaningless; absolute skeptic; revolutionary terrorist. In his final days, Hitler revealed himself a power-mad nihilist, ready to annihilate all of Western Europe, even to destroy Germany itself, in order that his will might prevail. The root of the word nihilist is nihil, Latin for nothing. nihilism, N.
nip V. stop something’s growth or development; snip off; bite; make numb with cold. The twins were plotting mischief, but Mother intervened and nipped that plan in the bud. The gardener nipped off a lovely rose and gave it to me. Last week a guard dog nipped the postman in the leg; this week the extreme chill nipped his fingers till he could barely hold the mail.
nirvana N. in Buddhist teachings, the ideal state in which the individual loses himself in the attainment of an impersonal beatitude. Despite his desire to achieve nirvana, the young Buddhist found that even the buzzing of a fly could distract him from his meditation.
nocturnal ADJ. done at night. Mr. Jones obtained a watchdog to prevent the nocturnal raids on his chicken coops.
noisome ADJ. foul-smelling; unwholesome. The noisome atmosphere downwind of the oil refinery not only stank, it damaged the lungs of everyone living in the area.
nomadic ADJ. wandering. Several nomadic tribes of Indians would hunt in this area each year.
nomenclature N. terminology; system of names. Sharon found Latin word parts useful in translating medical nomenclature: when her son had to have a bilateral myringotomy, she figured out that he just needed a hole in each of his eardrums to end the earaches he had.
nominal ADJ. in name only; trifling. He offered to drive her to the airport for only a nominal fee.
nonchalance N. indifference; lack of concern; composure. Cool, calm, and collected under fire, James Bond shows remarkable nonchalance in the face of danger.
noncommittal ADJ. neutral; unpledged; undecided. We were annoyed by his noncommittal reply for we had been led to expect definite assurances of his approval.
nondescript ADJ. undistinctive; ordinary. The private detective was a short, nondescript fellow with no outstanding features, the sort of person one would never notice in a crowd.
nonentity N. person of no importance; nonexistence. Because the two older princes dismissed their youngest brother as a nonentity, they did not realize that he was quietly plotting to seize the throne.
nonplus V. bring to halt by confusion; perplex. Jack’s uncharacteristic rudeness nonplussed Jill, leaving her uncertain how to react.
nostalgia N. homesickness; longing for the past. My grandfather seldom spoke of life in the old country; he had little patience with nostalgia. nostalgic, ADJ.
notable ADJ. conspicuous; important; distinguished. Normally notable for his calm in the kitchen, today the head cook was shaking, for the notable chef Julia Child was coming to dinner.
notoriety N. disrepute; ill fame. To the starlet, any publicity was good publicity: if she couldn’t have a good reputation, she’d settle for notoriety. notorious, ADJ.
novelty N. something new; newness. The computer is no longer a novelty at work; every desk in our office has one. novel, ADJ.
novice N. beginner. Even a novice at working with computers can install voice recognition software by following the easy steps outlined in the user’s manual.
noxious ADJ. harmful. We must trace the source of these noxious gases before they asphyxiate us.
nuance N. shade of difference in meaning or color; subtle distinction. Jody gazed at the Monet landscape for an hour, appreciating every subtle nuance of color in the painting.
nullify V. to make invalid. Once the contract was nullified, it no longer had any legal force.
nuptial ADJ. related to marriage. Reluctant to be married in a traditional setting, they decided to hold their nuptial ceremony at the carousel in Golden Gate Park.
nurture V. nourish; educate; foster. The Head Start program attempts to nurture pre-kindergarten children so that they will do well when they enter public school. also N.
nutrient N. nourishing substance. As a budding nutritionist, Kim has learned to design diets that contain foods rich in important basic nutrients.
oaf N. stupid, awkward person. “Watch what you’re doing, you clumsy oaf!” Bill shouted at the waiter who had drenched him with iced coffee.
obdurate ADJ. stubborn. He was obdurate in his refusal to listen to our complaints.
obese ADJ. fat. It is advisable that obese people try to lose weight.
obfuscate V. confuse; muddle; cause confusion; make needlessly complex. Was the president’s spokesman trying to clarify the hidden weapons mystery, or was he trying to obfuscate the issue so the voters would never figure out what had gone on?
obituary ADJ. death notice. I first learned of her death when I read the obituary column in the newspaper. also N.
objective ADJ. not influenced by emotions; fair. Even though he was her son, she tried to be objective about his behavior.
objective N. goal; aim. A degree in medicine was her ultimate objective.
obligatory ADJ. binding; required. It is obligatory that books borrowed from the library be returned within two weeks.
oblique ADJ. indirect; slanting (deviating from the perpendicular or from a straight line). Casting a quick, oblique glance at the reviewing stand, the sergeant ordered the company to march “Oblique Right.”
obliterate V. destroy completely. The tidal wave obliterated several island villages.
oblivion N. obscurity; forgetfulness. After a decade of popularity, Hurston’s works had fallen into oblivion; no one bothered to read them anymore.
oblivious ADJ. inattentive or unmindful; wholly absorbed. Deep in her book, Nancy was oblivious to the noisy squabbles of her brother and his friends.
obnoxious ADJ. offensive; objectionable. A sneak and a tattletale, Sid was an obnoxious little brat.
obscure ADJ. dark; vague; unclear. Even after I read the poem a fourth time, its meaning was still obscure. obscurity, N.
obscure V. darken; make unclear. At times he seemed purposely to obscure his meaning, preferring mystery to clarity.
obsequious ADJ. slavishly attentive; servile; sycophantic. Helen liked to be served by people who behaved as if they respected themselves; nothing irritated her more than an excessively obsequious waiter or a fawning salesclerk.
obsessive ADJ. related to thinking about something constantly; preoccupying. Ballet, which had been a hobby, began to dominate his life: his love of dancing became obsessive. obsession, N.
Word List 33 obsolete–pacifist
obsolete ADJ. no longer useful; outmoded; antiquated. The invention of the pocket calculator made the slide rule used by generations of engineers obsolete.
obstinate ADJ. stubborn; hard to control or treat. We tried to persuade him to give up smoking, but he was obstinate and refused to change. Blackberry stickers are the most obstinate weeds I know: once established in a yard, they’re extremely hard to root out. obstinacy, N.
obstreperous ADJ. boisterous; noisy. What do you do when an obstreperous horde of drunken policemen goes carousing through your hotel, crashing into potted plants and singing vulgar songs?
obtrude V. push (oneself or one’s ideas) forward or intrude; butt in; stick out or extrude. Because Fanny was reluctant to obtrude her opinions about child-raising upon her daughter-in-law, she kept a close watch on her tongue. obtrusive, ADJ.
obtuse ADJ. blunt; stupid. Because Mr. Collins was too obtuse to take a hint, Elizabeth finally had to tell him that she wouldn’t marry him if he were the last man on earth.
obviate V. prevent; make unnecessary. In the twentieth century, people believed electronic communications would obviate the need for hard copy; they envisioned a paperless society.
odious ADJ. hateful; vile. Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters had the odious habit of popping their zits in public.
odium N. strong dislike or contempt; hatefulness; disrepute. Unable to bear the odium attached to their family name, the killer’s parents changed their name and moved away from their hometown.
odorous ADJ. having an odor. This variety of hybrid tea rose is more odorous than the one you have in your garden.
odyssey N. Iong, eventful journey. The refugee’s journey from Cambodia was a terrifying odyssey.
offensive ADJ. attacking; insulting; distasteful. Getting into street brawls is no minor matter for professional boxers, who are required by law to restrict their offensive impulses to the ring.
offhand ADJ. casual; done without prior thought. Expecting to be treated with due propriety by her hosts, GreatAunt Maud was offended by their offhand manner.
officious ADJ. meddlesome; excessively pushy in offering one’s services. Judy wanted to look over the new computer models on her own, but the officious salesman kept on butting in with “helpful” advice until she was ready to walk out of the store.
ogle V. look at amorously; make eyes at. At the coffee house, Walter was too shy to ogle the pretty girls openly; instead, he peeked out at them from behind a rubber plant.
olfactory ADJ. concerning the sense of smell. A wine taster must have a discriminating palate and a keen olfactory sense, for a good wine appeals both to the taste buds and to the nose.
oligarchy N. government by a privileged few. One small clique ran the student council: what had been intended as a democratic governing body had turned into an oligarchy.
ominous ADJ. threatening. Those clouds are ominous; they suggest a severe storm is on the way.
omnipotent ADJ. all-powerful. Under Stalin, the Soviet government seemed omnipotent: no one dared defy the all-powerful State.
omnipresent ADJ. universally present; ubiquitous. The Beatles are a major musical force, whose influence is omnipresent in all contemporary popular music.
omniscient ADJ. all-knowing. I may not be omniscient, but I know a bit more than you do, young man!
omnivorous ADJ. eating both plant and animal food; devouring everything. Some animals, including man, are omnivorous and eat both meat and vegetables; others are either carnivorous or herbivorous.
onerous ADJ. burdensome. He asked for an assistant because his work load was too onerous.
onset N. beginning; attack. Caught unprepared by the sudden onset of the storm, we rushed around the house closing windows and bringing the garden furniture into shelter. Caught unprepared by the enemy onset, the troops scrambled to take shelter.
onus N. burden; responsibility. The emperor was spared the onus of signing the surrender papers; instead, he relegated the assignment to his generals.
opalescent ADJ. iridescent; lustrous. The oil slick on the water had an opalescent, rainbow-like sheen.
opaque ADJ. dark; not transparent. The opaque window shade kept the sunlight out of the room. opacity, N.
opiate N. medicine to induce sleep or deaden pain; something that relieves emotions or causes inaction. To say that religion is the opiate of the people is to condemn religion as a drug that keeps the people quiet and submissive to those in power.
opportune ADJ. timely; well-chosen. Sally looked at her father struggling to balance his checkbook; clearly this would not be an opportune moment to ask him for a raise in her allowance.
opportunist N. individual who sacrifices principles for expediency by taking advantage of circumstances. Joe is such an opportunist that he tripled the price of bottled water at his store as soon as the earthquake struck. Because it can break water pipes, an earthquake is, to most people, a disaster; to Joe, it was an opportunity
optimist N. person who looks on the good side. The pessimist says the glass is half-empty; the optimist says it is half-full.
optimum ADJ. most favorable. If you wait for the optimum moment to act, you may never begin your project. also N.
optional ADJ. not obligatory; left to one’s choice. Most colleges require applicants to submit SAT scores; at some colleges, however, submitting SAT scores is optional.
opulence N. extreme wealth; luxuriousness; abundance. The glitter and opulence of the ballroom took Cinderella’s breath away. opulent, ADJ.
opus N. work. Although many critics hailed his Fifth Symphony as his greatest work, he did not regard it as his major opus.
oracular ADJ. prophetic; uttered as if with divine authority; mysterious or ambiguous. Like many others who sought divine guidance from the oracle at Delphi, Oedipus could not understand the enigmatic oracular warning he received.
orator N. public speaker. The abolitionist Frederick Douglass was a brilliant orator whose speeches brought home to his audience the evils of slavery.
ordain V. decree or command; grant holy orders; predestine. The king ordained that no foreigner should be allowed to enter the city. The Bishop of Michigan ordained David a deacon in the Episcopal Church. The young lovers felt that fate had ordained their meeting.
ordeal N. severe trial or affliction. June was so painfully shy that it was an ordeal for her to speak up when the teacher called on her in class.
ordinance N. decree. Passing a red light is a violation of a city ordinance.
ordination N. ceremony making someone a minister. At the young priest’s ordination, the members of the congregation presented him with a set of vestments. ordain, V.
orgy N. wild, drunken revelry; unrestrained indulgence in a tendency. The Roman emperor’s orgies were far wilder than the toga party in the movie Animal House. When her income tax refund check finally arrived, Sally indulged in an orgy of shopping.
orient V. get one’s bearings; adjust. Philip spent his first day in Denver orienting himself to the city.
orientation N. act of finding oneself in society. Freshman orientation provides the incoming students with an opportunity to learn about their new environment and their place in it.
ornate ADJ. excessively or elaborately decorated. With its elaborately carved, convoluted lines, furniture of the Baroque period was highly ornate.
ornithology N. study of birds. Audubon’s studies of American birds greatly influenced the course of ornithology.
orthodox ADJ. traditional; conservative in belief. Faced with a problem, he preferred to take an orthodox approach rather than shock anyone. orthodoxy, N.
oscillate V. vibrate pendulumlike; waver. It is interesting to note how public opinion oscillates between the extremes of optimism and pessimism.
ossify V. change or harden into bone. When he called his opponent a “bonehead, ” he implied that his adversary’s brain had ossified to the point that he was incapable of clear thinking.
ostensible ADJ. apparent; professed; pretended. Although the ostensible purpose of this expedition is to discover new lands, we are really interested in finding new markets for our products.
ostentatious ADJ. showy; pretentious; trying to attract attention. Donald Trump’s latest casino in Atlantic City is the most ostentatious gambling palace in the East: it easily out-glitters its competitors. ostentation, N.
ostracize V. exclude from public favor; ban. As soon as the newspapers carried the story of his connection with the criminals, his friends began to ostracize him. ostracism, N.
oust V. expel; drive out. The world wondered if Aquino would be able to oust Marcos from office. ouster, N.
outlandish ADJ. bizarre; peculiar; unconventional. The eccentric professor who engages in markedly outlandish behavior is a stock figure in novels with an academic setting.
outmoded ADJ. no longer stylish; old-fashioned. Unconcerned about keeping in style, Lenore was perfectly happy to wear outmoded clothes as long as they were clean and unfrayed.
outskirts N. fringes; outer borders. We lived, not in central London, but in one of those peripheral suburbs that spring up on the outskirts of a great city.
outspoken ADJ. candid; blunt. The candidate was too outspoken to be a successful politician; he had not yet learned to weigh his words carefully.
outstrip V. surpass; outdo. Jesse Owens easily outstripped his white competitors to win the gold medal at the Olympic Games.
outwit V. outsmart; trick. By disguising himself as an old woman, Holmes was able to outwit his pursuers and escape capture.
ovation N. enthusiastic applause. When the popular tenor Placido Domingo came on stage in the first act of La Boheme, he was greeted by a tremendous ovation.
overbearing ADJ. bossy and arrogant; decisively important. Certain of her own importance, and of the unimportance of everyone else, Lady Bracknell was intolerably overbearing in her manner. “In choosing a husband, ” she said, “good birth is of overbearing importance; compared to that, neither wealth nor talent signifies.”
overt ADJ. open to view. According to the United States Constitution, a person must commit an overt act before he may be tried for treason.
overwrought ADJ. extremely agitated; hysterical. When Kate heard the news of the sudden tragedy, she became too overwrought to work and had to leave the office early.
pacifist N. one opposed to force; antimilitarist. During the war, though the pacifists refused to bear arms, they nevertheless served in the front lines as ambulance drivers and medical corpsmen.
Word List 34 pacify–peccadillo
pacify V. soothe; make calm or quiet; subdue. Dentists criticize the practice of giving fussy children sweets to pacify them.
pact N. agreement; treaty. Tweedledum and Tweedledee made a pact not to quarrel anymore.
paean N. song of praise or joy. Paeans celebrating the victory filled the air.
painstaking ADJ. showing hard work; taking great care. The new high-frequency word list is the result of painstaking efforts on the part of our research staff.
palatable ADJ. agreeable; pleasing to the taste. Neither Jack’s underbaked opinions nor his overcooked casseroles were palatable to Jill.
palette N. flat surface on which painter mixes pigments; range of colors commonly used by a particular artist. The artist’s apprentices had the messy job of cleaning his brushes and palette. Through chromatic analysis, the forgers were able to match all the colors in Monet’s palette.
pall V. grow tiresome. The study of word lists can eventually pall and put one to sleep.
palliate V. lessen the violence of (a disease); alleviate; moderate intensity; gloss over with excuses. Not content merely to palliate the patient’s sores and cankers, the researcher sought a means of wiping out the disease. palliative, ADJ.
pallid ADJ. pale; wan. Because his job required that he work at night and sleep during the day, he had an exceptionally pallid complexion.
palpable ADJ. tangible; easily perceptible; unmistakable. The patient’s enlarged spleen was palpable: even the first year medical student could feel it.
palpitate V. throb; flutter. As he became excited, his heart began to palpitate more and more erratically.
paltry ADJ. insignificant; petty; trifling. One hundred dollars for a genuine imitation Rolex watch! Lady, this is a paltry sum to pay for such a high-class piece of jewelry.
pan V. criticize harshly. Hoping for a rave review of his new show, the playwright was miserable when the critics panned it unanimously.
panacea N. cure-all; remedy for all diseases. The rich youth cynically declared that the panacea for all speeding tickets was a big enough bribe.
panache N. flair; flamboyance. Many performers imitate Noel Coward, but few have his panache and sense of style.
pandemic ADJ. widespread; affecting the majority of people. They feared the AIDS epidemic would soon reach pandemic proportions.
pandemonium N. wild tumult. When the ships collided in the harbor, pandemonium broke out among the passengers.
pander V. cater to the low desires of others. The reviewer accused the makers of Lethal Weapon of pandering to the masses’ taste for violence.
panegyric N. formal praise. Blushing at all the praise heaped upon him by the speakers, the modest hero said, “I don’t deserve such panegyrics.”
panoramic ADJ. related to an unobstructed and comprehensive view. From Inspiration Point we had a magnificent panoramic view of the Marin headlands and San Francisco Bay. panorama, N.
pantomime N. acting without dialogue. Artists in pantomime need no words to communicate with their audience; their only language is gesture. also V.
parable N. short, simple story teaching a moral. Let us apply to our own conduct the lesson that this parable teaches.
paradigm N. model; example; pattern. Pavlov’s experiment in which he trains a dog to salivate on hearing a bell is a paradigm of the conditioned-response experiment in behavioral psychology. Barron’s How to Prepare for College Entrance Examinations was a paradigm for all the SATprep books that followed.
paradox N. something apparently contradictory in nature; statement that looks false but is actually correct. Richard presents a bit of a paradox, for he is a card-carrying member of both the National Rifle Association and the relatively pacifist American Civil Liberties Union.
paragon N. model of perfection. Her fellow students disliked Lavinia because Miss Minchin always pointed her out as a paragon of virtue.
parallelism N. state of being parallel; similarity. Although the twins were separated at birth and grew up in different adoptive families, a striking parallelism exists between their lives.
parameter N. boundary; limiting factor; distinguishing characteristic. According to feminist Andrea Dworkin, men have defined the parameters of every subject; now women must redefine the limits of each field.
paramount ADJ. foremost in importance; supreme. Proper nutrition and hygiene are of paramount importance in adolescent development and growth.
paranoia N. psychosis marked by delusions of grandeur or persecution. Suffering from paranoia, Don claimed everyone was out to get him; ironically, his claim was accurate: even paranoids have enemies.
paraphernalia N. equipment; odds and ends. His desk was cluttered with paper, pen, ink, dictionary and other paraphernalia of the writing craft.
paraphrase V. restate a passage in one’s own words while retaining thought of author. In 250 words or less, paraphrase this article. also N.
parasite N. animal or plant living on another; toady; sycophant. The tapeworm is an example of the kind of parasite that may infest the human body.
parched ADJ. extremely dry; very thirsty. The parched desert landscape seemed hostile to life.
pariah N. social outcast. If everyone ostracized singer Mariah Carey, would she then be Mariah the pariah?
parity N. equality in status or amount; close resemblance. Unfortunately, some doubt exists whether women’s salaries will ever achieve parity with men’s.
parochial ADJ. narrow in outlook; provincial; related to parishes. Although Jane Austen sets her novels in small rural communities, her concerns are universal, not parochial.
parody N. humorous imitation; spoof; takeoff; travesty. The show Forbidden Broadway presents parodies spoofing the year’s new productions playing on Broadway.
paroxysm N. fit or attack of pain, laughter, rage. When he heard of his son’s misdeeds, he was seized by a paroxysm of rage.
parry V. ward off a blow; deflect. Unwilling to injure his opponent in such a pointless clash, Dartagnan simply tried to parry his rival’s thrusts. What fun it was to watch Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy parry each other’s verbal thrusts in their classic screwball comedies!
parsimony N. stinginess; excessive frugality. Furious because her father wouldn’t let her buy out the clothing store, Annie accused him of parsimony.
partial ADJ. incomplete; having a liking for something. In this issue we have published only a partial list of contributors because we lack space to acknowledge everyone. I am extremely partial to chocolate eclairs.
partiality N. inclination; bias. As a judge, not only must I be unbiased, but I must also avoid any evidence of partiality when I award the prize.
partisan ADJ. one-sided; prejudiced; committed to a party. On certain issues of principle, she refused to take a partisan stand, but let her conscience be her guide. Rather than joining forces to solve our nation’s problems, the Democrats and Republicans spend their time on partisan struggles. also N.
partition V. divide into parts. Before their second daughter was born, Jason and Lizzie decided each child needed a room of her own, and so they partitioned a large bedroom into two small but separate rooms. also N.
passive ADJ. not active; acted upon. Mahatma Gandhi urged his followers to pursue a program of passive resistance as he felt that it was more effective than violence and acts of terrorism.
passport N. legal document identifying the bearer as a citizen of a country and allowing him or her to travel abroad. In arranging your first trip abroad, be sure to allow yourself enough time to apply for and receive your passport: you won’t be allowed to travel without one.
pastiche N. piece of writing or music made up of borrowed bits and pieces; hodgepodge. Her essay was a pastiche of fragments of articles she had found on the Internet.
pastoral ADJ. rural; simple and peaceful; idyllic; related to shepherds. Tired of the stress of life in the city, Dana dreamed of moving to the country and enjoying a simple pastoral life.
patent ADJ. open for the public to read; obvious. It was patent to everyone that the witness spoke the truth. also N.
pathetic ADJ. causing sadness, compassion, pity; touching. Everyone in the auditorium was weeping by the time he finished his pathetic tale about the orphaned boy.
pathological ADJ. related to the study of disease; diseased or markedly abnormal. Jerome’s pathological fear of germs led him to wash his hands a hundred times a day. pathology, N.
pathos N. tender sorrow; pity; quality in art or literature that produces these feelings. The quiet tone of pathos that ran through the novel never degenerated into the maudlin or the overly sentimental.
patina N. green crust on old bronze works; tone slowly taken by varnished painting. Judging by the patina on this bronze statue, we can conclude that this is the work of a medieval artist.
patriarch N. father and ruler of a family or tribe. In many primitive tribes, the leader and lawmaker was the patriarch.
patrician ADJ. noble; aristocratic. We greatly admired her well-bred, patrician elegance. also N.
patronize V. support; act superior toward; be a customer of. Penniless artists hope to find some wealthy art-lover who will patronize them. If some condescending wine steward patronized me because he saw I knew nothing about fine wine, I’d refuse to patronize his restaurant.
paucity N. scarcity. They closed the restaurant because the paucity of customers made it uneconomical to operate.
pauper N. very poor person. Though Widow Brown was living on a reduced income, she was by no means a pauper.
peccadillo N. slight offense. When Peter Piper picked a peck of Polly Potter’s pickles, did Pete commit a major crime or just a peccadillo?
Word List 35 pecuniary–philanderer
pecuniary ADJ. pertaining to money. Seldom earning enough to cover their expenses, folk dance teachers work because they love dancing, not because they expect any pecuniary reward.
pedagogy N. teaching; art of education. Though Maria Montessori gained fame for her innovations in pedagogy, it took years before her teaching techniques were common practice in American schools.
pedantic ADJ. showing off learning; bookish. Leavening his decisions with humorous, down-to-earth anecdotes, Judge Walker was not at all the pedantic legal scholar. pedant, pedantry, N.
pedestrian ADJ. ordinary; unimaginative. Unintentionally boring, he wrote page after page of pedestrian prose.
peerless ADJ. having no equal; incomparable. The reigning operatic tenor of his generation, to his admirers Luciano Pavarotti was peerless: no one could compare with him.
pejorative ADJ. negative in connotation; having a belittling effect. Instead of criticizing Schwarzenegger’s policies, the Democrats made pejorative comments about his character.
pellucid ADJ. transparent; limpid; easy to understand. After reading these stodgy philosophers, I find Bertrand Russell’s pellucid style very enjoyable.
penchant N. strong inclination; liking. Dave has a penchant for taking risks: one semester he went steady with three girls, two of whom were stars on the school karate team.
penitent ADJ. repentant. When he realized the enormity of his crime, he became remorseful and penitent. also N.
pensive ADJ. dreamily thoughtful; thoughtful with a hint of sadness; contemplative. The pensive lover gazed at the portrait of his beloved and deeply sighed.
penury N. severe poverty; stinginess. When his pension fund failed, George feared he would end his days in penury. He became such a penny pincher that he turned into a closefisted, penurious miser.
perceptive ADJ. insightful; aware; wise. Although Maud was a generally perceptive critic, she had her blind spots: she could never see flaws in the work of her friends.
percussion ADJ. striking one object against another sharply. The drum is a percussion instrument. also N.
perdition N. damnation; complete ruin. Praying for salvation, young Steven Daedalus feared he was damned to eternal perdition.
peregrination N. journey. Auntie Mame was a world traveler whose peregrinations took her from Tiajuana to Timbuctou.
peremptory ADJ. demanding and leaving no choice. From Jack’s peremptory knock on the door, Jill could tell he would not give up until she let him in.
perennial N. something that is continuing or recurrent. These plants are hardy perennials and will bloom for many years. also ADJ.
perfidious ADJ. treacherous; disloyal. When Caesar realized that Brutus had betrayed him, he reproached his perfidious friend. perfidy, N.
perforate V. pierce; put a hole through. Before you can open the aspirin bottle, you must first perforate the plastic safety seal that covers the cap.
perfunctory ADJ. superficial; not thorough; lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm. The auditor’s perfunctory inspection of the books overlooked many errors. Giving the tabletop only a perfunctory swipe with her dust cloth, Betty promised herself she’d clean it more thoroughly tomorrow.
perimeter N. outer boundary. To find the perimeter of any quadrilateral, we add the lengths of the four sides.
peripheral ADJ. marginal; outer. We lived, not in central London, but in one of those peripheral suburbs that spring up on the outskirts of a great city. periphery, N.
perjury N. false testimony while under oath. Rather than lie under oath and perhaps be indicted for perjury, the witness chose to take the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer any questions on the grounds that he might incriminate himself.
permeable ADJ. penetrable; porous; allowing liquids or gas to pass through. If your jogging clothes weren’t made out of permeable fabric, you’d drown in your own perspiration (figuratively speaking).
permeate V. pass through; spread. The odor of frying onions permeated the air.
pernicious ADJ. very destructive. Crack cocaine has had a pernicious effect on urban society: it has destroyed families, turned children into drug dealers, and increased the spread of violent crimes.
perpetrate V. commit an offense. Only an insane person could perpetrate such a horrible crime.
perpetual ADJ. everlasting. Ponce de Leon hoped to find the legendary fountain of perpetual youth.
perpetuate V. make something last; preserve from extinction. Some critics attack The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because they believe Twain’s book perpetuates a false image of Blacks in this country.
perquisite N. any gain above stipulated salary. The perquisites attached to this job make it even more attractive than the salary indicates.
persevere V. persist; endure; strive. Despite the church’s threats to excommunicate him for heresy, Galileo persevered in his belief that the earth moved around the sun.
persona N. public personality or facade. Offstage the comedian was a sullen, irritable grumbler, a far cry from his ever-cheerful adopted stage persona.
personable ADJ. attractive. Though not as strikingly handsome as a movie star, James was nonetheless a personable young man.
perspicacious ADJ. having insight; penetrating; astute. “Absolutely brilliant, Holmes!” cried Watson, as Holmes made yet another perspicacious deduction. perspicacity, N.
pert ADJ. impertinent; forward. The matron in charge of the orphanage thought Annie was pert and disrespectful.
pertinacious ADJ. stubborn; persistent. He is bound to succeed because his pertinacious nature will not permit him to quit.
pertinent ADJ. to the point; relevant. Virginia Woolf’s words on women’s rights are as pertinent today as they were when she wrote them nearly a century ago.
perturb V. disturb greatly. The thought that electricity might be leaking out of the empty lightbulb sockets perturbed my aunt so much that at night she crept about the house screwing fresh bulbs in the vacant spots. perturbation, N.
peruse V. read with care. After the conflagration that burned down her house, Joan closely perused her home insurance policy to discover exactly what benefits her coverage provided her. perusal, N.
pervasive ADJ. pervading; spread throughout every part. Despite airing them for several hours, Martha could not rid her clothes of the pervasive odor of mothballs that clung to them. pervade, V.
perverse ADJ. stubbornly wrongheaded; wicked and perverted. When Jack was in a perverse mood, he would do the opposite of whatever Jill asked him. When Hannibal Lecter was in a perverse mood, he ate the flesh of his victims. Jack acted out of perversity. Hannibal’s act proved his perversion.
pessimism N. belief that life is basically bad or evil; gloominess. Considering how well you have done in the course so far, you have no real reason for such pessimism about your final grade.
petrify V. turn to stone. His sudden, unexpected appearance shocked her into immobility: she was petrified.
petty ADJ. trivial; unimportant; very small. She had no major complaints to make about his work, only a few petty quibbles that were almost too minor to state.
petulant ADJ. touchy; peevish. If you’d had hardly any sleep for three nights and people kept phoning and waking you up, you’d sound pretty petulant, too.
phenomena N. observable facts; subjects of scientific investigation. We kept careful records of the phenomena we noted in the course of these experiments.
philanderer N. faithless lover; flirt. Swearing he had never so much as looked at another woman, Ralph assured Alice he was no philanderer.
Word List 36 philanthropist–precedent
philanthropist N. lover of mankind; doer of good. In his role as philanthropist and public benefactor, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., donated millions to charity; as an individual, however, he was a tight-fisted old man.
philistine N. narrow-minded person, uncultured and exclusively interested in material gain. A philistine knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.
phlegmatic ADJ. calm; not easily disturbed. The nurse was a cheerful but phlegmatic person, unexcited in the face of sudden emergencies.
phobia N. morbid fear. Her fear of flying was more than mere nervousness; it was a real phobia.
phoenix N. symbol of immortality or rebirth. Like the legendary phoenix rising from its ashes, the city of San Francisco rose again after its destruction during the 1906 earthquake.
phylum N. major class of plants; primary branch of animal kingdom; division. In sorting out her hundreds of packets of seeds, Katya decided to file them by phylum.
physiological ADJ. pertaining to the science of the function of living organisms. To understand this disease fully, we must examine not only its physiological aspects but also its psychological elements.
picaresque ADJ. pertaining to rogues in literature. Tom Jones has been hailed as one of the best picaresque novels in the English language.
piecemeal ADV. one piece at a time; gradually. Tolstoy’s War and Peace is too huge to finish in one sitting; I’ll have to read it piecemeal.
pied ADJ. variegated; multicolored. The Pied Piper of Hamelin got his name from the multicolored clothing he wore.
piety N. religious devotion; godliness. The nuns in the convent were noted for their piety; they spent their days in worship and prayer. pious, ADJ.
pigment N. coloring matter. Van Gogh mixed various pigments with linseed oil to create his paints.
pillage V. plunder. The enemy pillaged the quiet village and left it in ruins.
pine V. languish, decline; long for, yearn. Though she tried to be happy living with Clara in the city, Heidi pined for the mountains and for her gruff but loving grandfather.
pinnacle N. peak. We could see the morning sunlight illuminate the pinnacle while the rest of the mountain lay in shadow.
pious ADJ. devout; religious. The challenge for church people today is how to be pious in the best sense, that is, to be devout without becoming hypocritical or sanctimonious. piety, N.
piquant ADJ. pleasantly tart-tasting; stimulating. The piquant sauce added to our enjoyment of the meal. piquancy, N.
pique N. irritation; resentment. She showed her pique at her loss by refusing to appear with the other contestants at the end of the competition. also V.
pique V. provoke or arouse; annoy. “I know something you don’t know, ” said Lucy, trying to pique Ethel’s interest.
pitfall N. hidden danger; concealed trap. Her parents warned young Sophie against the many pitfalls that lay in wait for her in the dangerous big city.
pithy ADJ. concise; meaningful; substantial; meaty. While other girls might have gone on and on about how uncool Elton was, Liz summed it up in one pithy remark: “He’s bogus!”
pittance N. a small allowance or wage. He could not live on the pittance he received as a pension and had to look for an additional source of revenue.
pivotal ADJ. crucial; key; vital. The new “smart weapons” technology played a pivotal role in the quick resolution of the war with Iraq.
placate V. pacify; conciliate. The store manager tried to placate the angry customer, offering to replace the damaged merchandise or to give back her money right away.
placebo N. harmless substance prescribed as a dummy pill. In a controlled experiment, fifty volunteers were given aspirin tablets; the control group received only placebos.
placid ADJ. peaceful; calm. Looking at the storm-tossed waters of the lake, Bob wondered how people had ever come to call it Lake Placid.
plagiarize V. steal another’s ideas and pass them off as one’s own. The teacher could tell that the student had plagiarized parts of his essay; she could recognize whole paragraphs straight from Barron’s Book Notes. plagiarism, N.
plaintive ADJ. mournful. The dove has a plaintive and melancholy call.
plasticity N. ability to be molded. When clay dries out, it loses its plasticity and becomes less malleable.
platitude N. trite remark; commonplace statement. In giving advice to his son, old Polonius expressed himself only in platitudes; every word out of his mouth was a commonplace.
plaudit N. enthusiastically worded approval; round of applause. The theatrical company reprinted the plaudits of the critics in its advertisements. plauditory, ADJ.
plausible ADJ. having a show of truth but open to doubt; specious. Your mother made you stay home from school because she needed you to program the VCR? I’m sorry, you’ll have to come up with a more plausible excuse than that.
plenitude N. abundance; completeness. Looking in the pantry, we admired the plenitude of fruits and pickles we had preserved during the summer.
plethora N. excess; overabundance. She offered a plethora of excuses for her shortcomings.
pliable ADJ. flexible; yielding; adaptable. In remodeling the bathroom, we have replaced all the old, rigid lead pipes with new, pliable copper tubing.
pliant ADJ. flexible; easily influenced. Pinocchio’s disposition was pliant; he was like putty in his tempters’ hands.
plight N. condition, state (especially a bad state or condition); predicament. Many people feel that the federal government should do more to alleviate the plight of the homeless. Loggers, unmoved by the plight of the spotted owl, plan to continue logging whether or not they ruin the owl’s habitat.
plumage N. feathers of a bird. Bird watchers identify different species of bird by their characteristic songs and distinctive plumage.
plumb ADJ. checking perpendicularity; vertical. Before hanging wallpaper it is advisable to drop a plumb line from the ceiling as a guide. also N. and V.
plumb V. examine critically in order to understand; measure depth (by sounding). Try as he would, Watson could never fully plumb the depths of Holmes’s thought processes.
plummet V. fall sharply. Stock prices plummeted as Wall Street reacted to the crisis in the economy.
plutocracy N. society ruled by the wealthy. From the way the government caters to the rich, you might think our society is a plutocracy rather than a democracy.
podium N. pedestal; raised platform. The audience applauded as the conductor made his way to the podium.
poignancy N. quality of being deeply moving; keenness of emotion. Watching the tearful reunion of the long-separated mother and child, the social worker was touched by the poignancy of the scene. poignant, ADJ.
polarize V. split into opposite extremes or camps. The abortion issue has polarized the country into pro-choice and anti-abortion camps. polarization, N.
polemical ADJ. aggressive in verbal attack; disputatious. Lexy was a master of polemical rhetoric; she should have worn a T-shirt with the slogan “Born to Debate.”
politic ADJ. expedient; prudent; well advised. Even though he was disappointed by the size of the bonus he was offered, he did not think it politic to refuse it.
polygamist N. one who has more than one spouse at a time. He was arrested as a polygamist when his two wives filed complaints about him.
polyglot ADJ. speaking several languages. New York City is a polyglot community because of the thousands of immigrants who settle there.
pomposity N. self-important behavior; acting like a stuffed shirt. Although the commencement speaker had some good things to say, we had to laugh at his pomposity and general air of parading his own dignity. pompous, ADJ.
ponderous ADJ. weighty; unwieldy. His humor lacked the light touch; his jokes were always ponderous.
pontifical ADJ. pertaining to a bishop or pope; pompous or pretentious. From his earliest days at the seminary, John seemed destined for a high pontifical office. However, he sounded so pompous when he pontificated that he never was chosen pontiff after all.
pore V. study industriously; ponder; scrutinize. Determined to become a physician, Beth spent hours poring over her anatomy text.
porous ADJ. full of pores; like a sieve. Dancers like to wear porous clothing because it allows the ready passage of water and air.
portend V. foretell; presage. The king did not know what these omens might portend and asked his soothsayers to interpret them.
portent N. sign; omen; forewarning. He regarded the black cloud as a portent of evil.
portly ADJ. stately; stout. The overweight gentleman was referred to as portly by the polite salesclerk.
poseur N. person who pretends to be sophisticated, elegant, etc., to impress others. Some thought Salvador Dali was a brilliant painter; others dismissed him as a poseur.
posterity N. descendants; future generations. We hope to leave a better world to posterity.
posthumous ADJ. after death (as of child born after father’s death or book published after author’s death). The critics ignored his works during his lifetime; it was only after the posthumous publication of his last novel that they recognized his great talent.
postulate N. essential premise; underlying assumption. The basic postulate of democracy, set forth in the Declaration of Independence, is that all men are created equal.
potable ADJ. suitable for drinking. The recent drought in the Middle Atlantic states has emphasized the need for extensive research in ways of making sea water potable. also N.
potent ADJ. powerful; persuasive; greatly influential. Looking at the expiration date on the cough syrup bottle, we wondered whether the medication would still be potent. potency, N.
potentate N. monarch; sovereign. The potentate spent more time at Monte Carlo than he did at home on his throne.
potential ADJ. expressing possibility; latent. The cello teacher viewed every new pupil as a potential Yo-Yo Ma. also N.
potion N. dose (of liquid). Tristan and Isolde drink a love potion in the first act of the opera.
practicable ADJ. feasible. The board of directors decided that the plan was practicable and agreed to undertake the project.
practical ADJ. based on experience; useful. He was a practical man, opposed to theory.
practitioner N. someone engaged in a profession (law, medicine). In need of a hip replacement, Carl sought a practitioner with considerable experience performing this particular surgery.
pragmatic ADJ. practical (as opposed to idealistic); concerned with the practical worth or impact of something. This coming trip to France should provide me with a pragmatic test of the value of my conversational French class.
pragmatist N. practical person. No pragmatist enjoys becoming involved in a game he can never win.
prank N. mischievous trick. Is tipping over garbage cans on Halloween merely a childish prank, or is it vandalism?
prate V. speak foolishly; boast idly. Despite Elizabeth’s obvious disinclination for the topic, Mr. Collins prated on and on about his wonderful prospects as a husband, thanks to his noble patron, Lady Catherine de Burgh.
prattle V. babble. Baby John prattled on and on about the cats and his ball and the Cookie Monster.
preamble N. introductory statement. In the Preamble to the Constitution, the purpose of the document is set forth.
precarious ADJ. uncertain; risky. Saying the stock would be a precarious investment, the broker advised her client against purchasing it.
precedent N. something preceding in time that may be used as an authority or guide for future action. If I buy you a car for your sixteenth birthday, your brothers will want me to buy them cars when they turn sixteen, too; I can’t afford to set such an expensive precedent. The law professor asked Jill to state which famous case served as a precedent for the court’s decision in Brown II.
Word List 37 precept–propitiate
precept N. practical rule guiding conduct. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is a worthwhile precept.
precinct N. district or division of a city. Ed Mc Bain’s detective novels set in the 87th precinct provide an exciting picture of police work.
precipice N. cliff; dangerous position. Suddenly Indiana Jones found himself dangling from the edge of a precipice.
precipitate ADJ. rash; premature; hasty; sudden. Though I was angry enough to resign on the spot, I had enough sense to keep myself from quitting a job in such a precipitate fashion.
precipitate V. throw headlong; hasten. The removal of American political support appears to have precipitated the downfall of the Marcos regime.
precipitous ADJ. steep; overhasty. This hill is difficult to climb because it is so precipitous; one slip, and our descent will be precipitous as well.
précis N. concise summing up of main points. Before making her presentation at the conference, Ellen wrote up a neat précis of the major elements she would cover.
precise ADJ. exact. If you don’t give me precise directions and a map, I’ll never find your place.
preclude V. make impossible; eliminate. The fact that the band was already booked to play in Hollywood on New Year’s Eve precluded their accepting the New Year’s Eve gig in London they were offered.
precocious ADJ. advanced in development. Listening to the grown-up way the child discussed serious topics, we couldn’t help remarking how precocious she was. precocity, N.
precursor N. forerunner. Though Gray and Burns share many traits with the Romantic poets who followed them, most critics consider them precursors of the Romantic Movement, not true Romantics.
predator N. creature that seizes and devours another animal; person who robs or exploits others. Not just cats, but a wide variety of predators—owls, hawks, weasels, foxes—catch mice for dinner. A carnivore is by definition predatory, for he preys on weaker creatures.
predecessor N. former occupant of a post. I hope I can live up to the fine example set by my late predecessor in this office.
predetermine V. predestine; settle or decide beforehand; influence markedly. Romeo and Juliet believed that Fate had predetermined their meeting. Bea gathered estimates from caterers, florists, and stationers so that she could predetermine the costs of holding a catered buffet. Philip’s love of athletics predetermined his choice of a career in sports marketing.
predicament N. tricky or dangerous situation; dilemma. Tied to the railroad tracks by the villain, Pauline strained against her bonds. How would she escape from this terrible predicament?
predilection N. partiality; preference. Although Ogden Nash wrote all sorts of poetry over the years, he had a definite predilection for limericks.
predispose V. give an inclination toward; make susceptible to. Oleg’s love of dressing up his big sister’s Barbie doll may have predisposed him to become a fashion designer. Genetic influences apparently predispose people to certain forms of cancer.
preeminent ADJ. outstanding; superior. The king traveled to Boston because he wanted the preeminent surgeon in the field to perform the operation.
preempt V. head off; forestall by acting first; appropriate for oneself; supplant. Hoping to preempt any attempts by the opposition to make educational reform a hot political issue, the candidate set out her own plan to revitalize the public schools. preemptive, ADJ.
preen V. make oneself tidy in appearance; feel self-satisfaction. As Kitty preened before the mirror, carefully smoothing her shining hair, she couldn’t help preening over how pretty she looked.
prehensile ADJ. capable of grasping or holding. Monkeys use not only their arms and legs but also their prehensile tails in traveling through the trees.
prelate N. church dignitary. The archbishop of Moscow and other high-ranking prelates visited the Russian Orthodox seminary.
prelude N. introduction; forerunner. I am afraid that this border raid is the prelude to more serious attacks.
premeditate V. plan in advance. She had premeditated the murder for months, reading about common poisons and buying weed killer that contained arsenic.
premise N. assumption; postulate. Based on the premise that there’s no fool like an old fool, P. T. Barnum hired a ninety-year-old clown for his circus.
premonition N. forewarning. In horror movies, the hero often has a premonition of danger, yet he foolishly ignores it.
preposterous ADJ. absurd; ridiculous. When he tried to downplay his youthful experiments with marijuana by saying he hadn’t inhaled, we all thought, “What a preposterous excuse!”
prerogative N. privilege; unquestionable right. The president cannot levy taxes; that is the prerogative of the legislative branch of government.
presage V. foretell. The vultures flying overhead presaged the discovery of the corpse in the desert.
prescience N. ability to foretell the future. Given the current wave of Japan-bashing, it does not take prescience for me to foresee problems in our future trade relations with Japan.
presentiment N. feeling something will happen; anticipatory fear; premonition. Saying goodbye at the airport, Jack had a sudden presentiment that this was the last time he would see Jill.
prestige N. impression produced by achievements or reputation. Many students want to go to Harvard College not for the education offered but for the prestige of Harvard’s name.
presumptuous ADJ. overconfident; impertinently bold; taking liberties. Matilda thought it was somewhat presumptuous of the young man to have addressed her without first having been introduced. Perhaps manners were freer here in the New World.
pretentious ADJ. ostentatious; pompous; making unjustified claims; overly ambitious. None of the other prize winners are wearing their medals; isn’t it a bit pretentious of you to wear yours?
preternatural ADJ. beyond what is normal in nature. Malcolm’s mother’s total ability to tell when he was Iying struck him as almost preternatural.
pretext N. excuse. He looked for a good pretext to get out of paying a visit to his aunt.
prevail V. induce; triumph over. He tried to prevail on her to type his essay for him.
prevalent ADJ. widespread; generally accepted. A radical committed to social change, Reed had no patience with the conservative views prevalent in the America of his day.
prevaricate V. lie. Some people believe that to prevaricate in a good cause is justifiable and regard such a statement as a “white lie.”
prey N. target of a hunt; victim. In Stalking the Wild Asparagus, Euell Gibbons has as his prey not wild beasts but wild plants. also V.
prim ADJ. very precise and formal; exceedingly proper. Never having worked as a governess before, Jane thought it best to assume a very prim and proper manner so that her charges would not take liberties with her.
primordial ADJ. existing at the beginning (of time); rudimentary. The Neanderthal Man is one of our primordial ancestors.
primp V. groom oneself with care; adorn oneself. The groom stood by idly while his nervous bride-to-be primped one last time before the mirror.
pristine ADJ. characteristic of earlier times; primitive; unspoiled. This area has been preserved in all its pristine wildness.
privation N. hardship; want. In his youth, he knew hunger and privation.
probe V. explore with tools. The surgeon probed the wound for foreign matter before suturing it. also N.
problematic ADJ. doubtful; unsettled; questionable; perplexing. Given the way building costs have exceeded estimates for the job, whether the arena will ever be completed is problematic.
proclivity N. inclination; natural tendency. Watching the two-year-old voluntarily put away his toys, I was amazed by his proclivity for neatness.
procrastinate V. postpone; delay or put off. Looking at four years of receipts and checks he still had to sort through, Bob was truly sorry he had procrastinated for so long and not finished filing his taxes long ago.
prod V. poke; stir up; urge. If you prod him hard enough, he’ll eventually clean his room.
prodigal ADJ. wasteful; reckless with money. Don’t be so prodigal spending my money; when you’ve earned some money yourself, you can waste it as much as you want! also N.
prodigious ADJ. marvelous; enormous. Watching the champion weight lifter heave the weighty barbell to shoulder height and then boost it overhead, we marveled at his prodigious strength.
prodigy N. marvel; highly gifted child. Menuhin was a prodigy, performing wonders on his violin when he was barely eight years old.
profane V. violate; desecrate; treat unworthily. The members of the mysterious Far Eastern cult sought to kill the British explorer because he had profaned the sanctity of their holy goblet by using it as an ashtray. also ADJ.
profligate ADJ. dissipated; wasteful; wildly immoral. Although surrounded by wild and profligate companions, she nevertheless managed to retain some sense of decency.
profound ADJ. deep; not superficial; complete. Freud’s remarkable insights into human behavior caused his fellow scientists to honor him as a profound thinker. profundity, N.
profusion N. overabundance; lavish expenditure; excess. Freddy was so overwhelmed by the profusion of choices on the menu that he knocked over his wine glass and soaked his host. He made profuse apologies to his host, the waiter, the bus boy, the people at the next table, and the attendant handing out paper towels.
progenitor N. ancestor. The Roth family, whose progenitors emigrated from Germany early in the nineteenth century, settled in Peru, Illinois.
progeny N. children; offspring. He was proud of his progeny in general, but regarded George as the most promising of all his children.
prognosis N. forecasted course of a disease; prediction. If the doctor’s prognosis is correct, the patient will be in a coma for at least twenty-four hours.
projectile N. missile. Man has always hurled projectiles at his enemy, whether in the form of stones or of highly explosive shells.
proletarian N. member of the working class; blue collar person. “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains” is addressed to proletarians, not preppies. So is Blue Collar Holler. proletariat, N.
proliferation N. rapid growth; spread; multiplication. Times of economic hardship inevitably encourage the proliferation of countless get-rich-quick schemes. proliferate, V.
prolific ADJ. abundantly fruitful. My editors must assume I’m a prolific writer: they expect me to revise six books this year!
prolixity N. tedious wordiness; verbosity. A writer who suffers from prolixity tells his readers everything they never wanted to know about his subject (or were too bored to ask). prolix, ADJ.
prologue N. introduction (to a poem or play). In the prologue to Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare introduces the audience to the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets.
prolong V. make longer; draw out; lengthen. In their determination to discover ways to prolong human life, doctors fail to take into account that longer lives are not always happier ones.
prominent ADJ. conspicuous; notable; sticking out. Have you ever noticed that Prince Charles’s prominent ears make him look like the big-eared character in Mad comics?
promiscuous ADJ. mixed indiscriminately; haphazard; irregular, particularly sexually. In the opera La Bohème, we get a picture of the promiscuous life led by the young artists of Paris.
promote V. help to flourish; advance in rank; publicize. Founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman ceaselessly promotes the welfare of young people everywhere.
prompt V. cause; provoke; provide a cue for an actor. Whatever prompted you to ask for such a big piece of cake when you’re on a diet?
promulgate V. proclaim a doctrine or law; make known by official publication. When Moses came down from the mountaintop all set to promulgate God’s commandments, he freaked out on discovering his followers worshipping a golden calf.
prone ADJ. inclined to; prostrate. She was prone to sudden fits of anger during which she would lie prone on the floor, screaming and kicking her heels.
propagate V. multiply; spread. Since bacteria propagate more quickly in unsanitary environments, it is important to keep hospital rooms clean.
propellants N. substances that propel or drive forward. The development of our missile program has forced our scientists to seek more powerful propellants.
propensity N. natural inclination. Convinced of his own talent, Sol has an unfortunate propensity to belittle the talents of others.
prophetic ADJ. foretelling the future. I have no magical prophetic powers; when I predict what will happen, I base my predictions on common sense. prophesy, V.
propinquity N. nearness; kinship. Their relationship could not be explained as being based on mere propinquity; they were more than relatives, they were true friends.
propitiate V. appease. The natives offered sacrifices to propitiate the gods.
Word List 38 propitious–quarry
propitious ADJ. favorable; fortunate; advantageous. Chloe consulted her horoscope to see whether Tuesday would be a propitious day to dump her boyfriend.
proponent N. supporter; backer; opposite of opponent. In the Senate, proponents of the universal health care measure lobbied to gain additional support for the controversial legislation.
propound V. put forth for analysis. In your discussion, you have propounded several questions; let us consider each one separately.
propriety N. fitness; correct conduct. Miss Manners counsels her readers so that they may behave with due propriety in any social situation and not embarrass themselves.
propulsive ADJ. driving forward. The jet plane has a greater propulsive power than the engine-driven plane.
prosaic ADJ. dull and unimaginative; matter-of-fact; factual. Though the ad writers came up with an original way to publicize the product, the head office rejected it for a more prosaic, ordinary slogan.
proscribe V. ostracize; banish; outlaw. Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus proscribed all those who had conspired against Julius Caesar.
proselytize V. convert to a religion or belief. In these interfaith meetings, there must be no attempt to proselytize; we must respect all points of view.
prosperity N. good fortune; financial success; physical well-being. Promising to stay together “for richer, for poorer,” the newlyweds vowed to be true to one another in prosperity and hardship alike.
prostrate V. stretch out full on ground. He prostrated himself before the idol. also ADJ.
protean ADJ. versatile; able to take on many shapes. A remarkably protean actor, Alec Guinness could take on any role.
protégé N. person receiving protection and support from a patron. Born with an independent spirit, Cyrano de Bergerac refused to be a protégé of Cardinal Richelieu.
protocol N. diplomatic etiquette. We must run this state dinner according to protocol if we are to avoid offending any of our guests.
prototype N. original work used as a model by others. The National Air and Space Museum displays the Wright brothers’ first plane, the prototype of all the American aircraft that came after.
protract V. prolong. Seeking to delay the union members’vote, the management team tried to protract the negotiations endlessly.
protrude V. stick out. His fingers protruded from the holes in his gloves. protrusion, N.
protuberance N. protrusion; bulge. A ganglionic cyst is a fluid-filled tumor that develops near a joint membrane or tendon sheath, and that bulges beneath the skin, forming a protuberance.
provident ADJ. displaying foresight; thrifty; preparing for emergencies. In his usual provident manner, he had insured himself against this type of loss.
provincial ADJ. pertaining to a province; limited in outlook; unsophisticated. As provincial governor, Sir Henry administered the Queen’s law in his remote corner of Canada. Caught up in local problems, out of touch with London news, he became sadly provincial.
provisional ADJ. tentative. Kim’s acceptance as an American Express card holder was provisional: before issuing her a card, American Express wanted to check her employment record and credit history.
provocative ADJ. arousing anger or interest; annoying. In a typically provocative act, the bully kicked sand into the weaker man’s face. provocation, N.; provoke, V.
prowess N. extraordinary ability; military bravery. Performing triple axels and double lutzes at the age of six, the young figure skater was world famous for her prowess on the ice.
proximity N. nearness. Blind people sometimes develop a compensatory ability to sense the proximity of objects around them.
proxy N. authorized agent. Please act as my proxy and vote for this slate of candidates in my absence.
prude N. excessively modest person. The X-rated film was definitely not for prudes. prudish, ADJ.
prudent ADJ. cautious; careful. A miser hoards money not because he is prudent but because he is greedy. prudence, N.
prune V. cut away; trim. With the help of her editor, she was able to prune her overlong manuscript into publishable form.
prurient ADJ. having or causing lustful thoughts and desires. Aroused by his prurient impulses, the dirty old man leered at the sweet young thing and offered to give her a sample of his “prowess.”
pseudonym N. pen name. Samuel Clemens’ pseudonym was Mark Twain.
psyche N. soul; mind. It is difficult to delve into the psyche of a human being.
puerile ADJ. childish; immature. “Throwing tantrums! You should have outgrown such puerile behavior years ago.”
pugilist N. boxer. The famous pugilist Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammed Ali.
pugnacity N. combativeness; disposition to fight. “Put up your dukes!” he cried, making a fist to show his pugnacity. pugnacious, ADJ.
pulchritude N. beauty; comeliness. I do not envy the judges who have to select this year’s Miss America from this collection of female pulchritude.
pulverize V. crush or grind into dust. Before sprinkling the dried herbs into the stew, Michael first pulverized them into a fine powder.
pummel V. beat or pound with fists. Swinging wildly, Pam pummeled her brother around the head and shoulders.
punctilious ADJ. laying stress on niceties of conduct or form; minutely attentive to fine points (perhaps too much so). Percy is punctilious about observing the rules of etiquette whenever Miss Manners invites him to stay. punctiliousness, N.
pundit N. authority on a subject; learned person; expert. Some authors who write about the SAT as if they are pundits actually know very little about the test.
pungent ADJ. stinging; sharp in taste or smell; caustic. The pungent odor of ripe Limburger cheese appealed to Simone but made Stanley gag.
punitive ADJ. punishing. He asked for punitive measures against the offender.
puny ADJ. insignificant; tiny; weak. Our puny efforts to stop the flood were futile.
purchase N. firm grasp or footing. The mountaineer struggled to get a proper purchase on the slippery rock. (secondary meaning)
purge V. remove or get rid of something unwanted; free from blame or guilt; cleanse or purify. When the Communist government purged the party to get rid of members suspected of capitalist sympathies, they sent the disloyal members to labor camps in Siberia.
purported ADJ. alleged; claimed; reputed or rumored. The purported Satanists sacrificing live roosters in the park turned out to be a party of Shriners holding a chicken barbecue.
purse V. pucker; contract into wrinkles. Miss Watson pursed her lips to show her disapproval of Huck’s bedraggled appearance.
purveyor N. furnisher of foodstuffs; caterer. As purveyor of rare wines and viands, he traveled through France and Italy every year in search of new products to sell.
pusillanimous ADJ. cowardly; fainthearted. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s friend the Cowardly Lion wishes he were brave and not pusillanimous.
putrid ADJ. foul; rotten; decayed. When we removed the bandage, we could tell from the putrid smell that the wound had turned gangrenous. putrescence, N.
quack N. charlatan; impostor. Don’t let that quack fool you with his extravagant claims; he can’t cure you.
quadruped N. four-footed animal. Most mammals are quadrupeds.
quaff V. drink with relish. As we quaffed our ale, we listened to the lively songs of the students in the tavern.
quagmire N. soft, wet, boggy land; complex or dangerous situation from which it is difficult to free oneself. Up to her knees in mud, Myra wondered how on earth she was going to extricate herself from this quagmire.
quail V. cower; lose heart. The Cowardly Lion was afraid that he would quail in the face of danger.
quaint ADJ. odd; old-fashioned; picturesque. Her quaint clothes and old-fashioned language marked her as an eccentric.
qualified ADJ. limited; restricted. Unable to give the candidate full support, the mayor gave him only a qualified endorsement. (secondary meaning)
qualms N. misgivings; uneasy fears, especially about matters of conscience. I have no qualms about giving this assignment to Helen; I know she will handle it admirably.
quandary N. dilemma. When both Harvard and Stanford accepted Laura, she was in a quandary as to which school she should attend.
quarantine N. isolation of person or ship to prevent spread of infection. We will have to place this house under quarantine until we determine the exact nature of the disease. also V.
quarry N. victim; object of a hunt. The police closed in on their quarry.
quarry V. dig into. They quarried blocks of marble out of the hillside. also N.
Word List 39 queasy–recurrent
queasy ADJ. easily nauseated; squeamish. Remember that great chase movie, the one with the carsick passenger? That’s right: Queasy Rider!
quell V. extinguish; put down; quiet. Miss Minchin’s demeanor was so stern and forbidding that she could quell any unrest among her students with one intimidating glance.
quench V. douse or extinguish; assuage or satisfy. No matter how much water the hiker drank, she could not quench her thirst.
querulous ADJ. fretful; whining. Even the most agreeable toddlers can begin to act querulous if they miss their nap.
query N. inquiry; question. In her column “Ask Beth, ” the columnist invites young readers to send her their queries about life and love.
quibble N. minor objection or complaint. Aside from a few hundred teensy-weensy quibbles about the set, the script, the actors, the director, the costumes, the lighting, and the props, the hypercritical critic loved the play. also V.
quiescent ADJ. at rest; dormant; temporarily inactive. After the massive eruption, fear of Mount Etna was great; people did not return to cultivate the rich hillside lands until the volcano had been quiescent for a full two years. quiescence, N.
quietude N. tranquility. He was impressed by the air of quietude and peace that pervaded the valley.
quintessence N. purest and highest embodiment. Gandhi maintained that to befriend someone who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion.
quip N. taunt. You are unpopular because you are too free with your quips and sarcastic comments. also V.
quirk N. startling twist; caprice. By a quirk of fate, he found himself working for the man whom he had discharged years before.
quiver V. tremble; shake. The bird dog’s nose twitched and his whiskers quivered as he strained eagerly against the leash. also N.
quiver N. case for arrows. Robin Hood reached back and plucked one last arrow from his quiver. (secondary meaning)
quixotic ADJ. idealistic but impractical. Constantly coming up with quixotic, unworkable schemes to save the world, Simon has his heart in the right place, but his head somewhere in the clouds.
quizzical ADJ. teasing; bantering; mocking; curious. When the skinny teenager tripped over his own feet stepping into the bullpen, Coach raised one quizzical eyebrow, shook his head, and said, “ Okay, kid. You’re here, let’s see what you’ve got.”
quorum N. number of members necessary to conduct a meeting. The senator asked for a roll call to determine whether a quorum was present.
rabid ADJ. like a fanatic; furious. He was a rabid follower of the Dodgers and watched them play whenever he could go to the ballpark.
raconteur N. storyteller. My father was a gifted raconteur with an unlimited supply of anecdotes.
rail V. scold; rant. You may rail at him all you want; you will never change him.
raiment N. clothing. “How can I go to the ball?” asked Cinderella. “I have no raiment fit to wear.”
rally V. call up or summon (forces, vital powers, etc.); revive or recuperate. Washington quickly rallied his troops to fight off the British attack. The patient had been sinking throughout the night, but at dawn she rallied and made a complete recovery.
ramble V. wander aimlessly (physically or mentally). Listening to the teacher ramble, Judy wondered whether he’d ever get to his point.
ramification N. branching out; subdivision. We must examine all the ramifications of this problem.
ramify V. divide into branches or subdivisions. When the plant begins to ramify, it is advisable to nip off most of the new branches.
ramp N. slope; inclined plane. The house was built with ramps instead of stairs in order to enable the man in the wheelchair to move easily from room to room and floor to floor.
rampant ADJ. growing in profusion; unrestrained. The rampant weeds in the garden choked the flowers until they died.
ramshackle ADJ. rickety; falling apart. The boys propped up the ramshackle clubhouse with a couple of boards.
rancid ADJ. having the odor of stale fat. The rancid odor filling the ship’s galley nauseated the crew.
rancor N. bitterness; hatred. Thirty years after the war, she could not let go of the past but was still consumed with rancor against the foe.
random ADJ. without definite purpose, plan, or aim; haphazard. Although the sponsor of the raffle claimed all winners were chosen at random, people had their suspicions when the grand prize went to the sponsor’s brother-in-law.
rankle V. irritate; fester. The memory of having been jilted rankled him for years.
rant V. rave; talk excitedly; scold; make a grandiloquent speech. When he heard that I’d totaled the family car, Dad began to rant at me like a complete madman.
rapacious ADJ. excessively greedy; predatory. The rapacious brigands stripped the villagers of all their possessions. rapacity, N.
rapport N. emotional closeness; harmony. In team teaching, it is important that all teachers in the group have good rapport with one another.
rapt ADJ. absorbed; enchanted. Caught up in the wonder of the storyteller’s tale, the rapt listeners sat motionless, hanging on his every word.
rarefied ADJ. made less dense [of a gas]. The mountain climbers had difficulty breathing in the rarefied atmosphere. rarefy, V.
raspy ADJ. grating; harsh. The sergeant’s raspy voice grated on the recruits’ ears.
ratify V. approve formally; confirm; verify. Party leaders doubted that they had enough votes in both houses of Congress to ratify the constitutional amendment.
ratiocination N. reasoning; act of drawing conclusions from premises. While Watson was a man of average intelligence, Holmes was a genius, whose gift for ratiocination made him a superb detective.
rationale N. fundamental reason or justification; grounds for an action. Her need to have someplace to hang her earring collection was Dora’s rationale for piercing fifteen holes in each ear.
rationalize V. give a plausible reason for an action in place of a true, less admirable one; offer an excuse. When David told gabby Gabrielle he couldn’t give her a ride to the dance because he had no room in the car, he was rationalizing; actually, he couldn’t stand being cooped up in a car with anyone who talked as much as she did.
raucous ADJ. harsh and shrill; disorderly and boisterous. The raucous crowd of New Year’s Eve revelers got progressively noisier as midnight drew near.
rave N. overwhelmingly favorable review. Though critic John Simon seldom has a good word to say about most contemporary plays, his review of All in the Timing was a total rave.
ravel V. fall apart into tangles; unravel or untwist; entangle. A single thread pulled loose, and the entire scarf started to ravel.
ravenous ADJ. extremely hungry. The ravenous dog upset several garbage pails in its search for food.
raze V. destroy completely. Spelling is important: to raise a building is to put it up; to raze a building is to tear it down.
reactionary ADJ. recoiling from progress; politically ultraconservative. Opposing the use of English in worship services, reactionary forces in the church fought to reinstate the mass in Latin.
realm N. kingdom; field or sphere. In the animal realm, the lion is the king of beasts.
reaper N. one who harvests grain. Death, the Grim Reaper, cuts down mortal men and women, just as a farmer cuts down the ripened grain. reap, V.
rebuff V. snub; beat back. She rebuffed his invitation so smoothly that he did not realize he had been snubbed. also N.
rebuke V. scold harshly; criticize severely. No matter how sharply Miss Watson rebuked Huck for his misconduct, he never talked back but just stood there like a stump. also N.
rebuttal N. refutation; response with contrary evidence. The defense lawyer confidently listened to the prosecutor sum up his case, sure that she could answer his arguments in her rebuttal.
recalcitrant ADJ. obstinately stubborn; determined to resist authority; unruly. Which animal do you think is more recalcitrant, a pig or a mule?
recant V. disclaim or disavow; retract a previous statement; openly confess error. Those who can, keep true to their faith; those who can’t, recant. Hoping to make Joan of Arc recant her sworn testimony, her English captors tried to convince her that her visions had been sent to her by the Devil.
recapitulate V. summarize. Let us recapitulate what has been said thus far before going ahead.
recast V. reconstruct (a sentence, story, etc.); fashion again. Let me recast this sentence in terms your feeble brain can grasp: in words of one syllable, you are a fool.
receptive ADJ. quick or willing to receive ideas, suggestions, etc. Adventure-loving Huck Finn proved a receptive audience for Tom’s tales of buried treasure and piracy.
recession N. withdrawal; retreat; time of low economic activity. The slow recession of the flood waters created problems for the crews working to restore power to the area. recede, V.
recidivism N. habitual return to crime. Prison reformers in the United States are disturbed by the high rate of recidivism; the number of men serving second and third terms in prison indicates the failure of prisons to rehabilitate the inmates.
recipient N. receiver. Although he had been the recipient of many favors, he was not grateful to his benefactor.
reciprocal ADJ. mutual; exchangeable; interacting. The two nations signed a reciprocal trade agreement.
reciprocate V. repay in kind. If they attack us, we shall be compelled to reciprocate and bomb their territory. reciprocity, N.
recluse N. hermit; loner. Disappointed in love, Miss Emily became a recluse; she shut herself away in her empty mansion and refused to see another living soul. reclusive, ADJ.
reconcile V. correct inconsistencies; become friendly after a quarrel. Each month when we try to reconcile our checkbook with the bank statement, we quarrel. However, despite these monthly lovers’ quarrels, we always manage to reconcile.
reconnaissance N. survey of enemy by soldiers; reconnoitering. If you encounter any enemy soldiers during your reconnaissance, capture them for questioning.
recount V. narrate or tell; count over again. A born storyteller, my father loved to recount anecdotes about his early years in New York.
recourse N. resorting to help when in trouble. The boy’s only recourse was to appeal to his father for aid.
recrimination N. Counter charges. Loud and angry recriminations were her answer to his accusations.
rectify V. set right; correct. You had better send a check to rectify your account before American Express cancels your credit card.
rectitude N. uprightness; moral virtue; correctness of judgment. The Eagle Scout was a model of rectitude.
recumbent ADJ. reclining; lying down completely or in part. The command “AT EASE” does not permit you to take a recumbent position.
recuperate V. recover. The doctors were worried because the patient did not recuperate as rapidly as they had expected.
recurrent ADJ. occurring again and again. Richard’s recurrent asthma attacks disturbed us and we consulted a physician.
Word List 40 redolent–rescind
redolent ADJ. fragrant; odorous; suggestive of an odor. Even though it is February, the air is redolent of spring.
redoubtable ADJ. formidable; causing fear. During the Cold War period, neighboring countries tried not to offend the Russians because they could be redoubtable foes.
redress N. remedy; compensation. Do you mean to tell me that I can get no redress for my injuries? also V.
redundant ADJ. superfluous; repetitious; excessively wordy. The bottle of wine I brought to Bob’s was certainly redundant: how was I to know Bob owned a winery? In your essay, you repeat several points unnecessarily; try to be less redundant in the future. redundancy, N.
reek V. emit (odor). The room reeked of stale tobacco smoke. also N.
refraction N. bending of a ray of light. When you look at a stick inserted in water, it looks bent because of the refraction of the light by the water.
refractory ADJ. stubborn; unmanageable. Though his jockey whipped him, the refractory horse stubbornly refused to enter the starting gate.
refrain V. abstain from; resist. N. chorus. Whenever he heard a song with a lively chorus, Sol could never refrain from joining in on the refrain.
refurbish V. renovate; make bright by polishing. The furniture in the lobby was worn, the paint faded; clearly, it was time to refurbish the lobby.
refute V. disprove. The defense called several respectable witnesses who were able to refute the false testimony of the prosecution’s sole witness. refutation, N.
regal ADJ. royal. Prince Albert had a regal manner.
regale V. entertain. John regaled us with tales of his adventures in Africa.
regeneration N. renewal or restoration (of a bodily part); spiritual rebirth. Hoping for insights into healing human injuries, biologists study the process of regeneration in lizards that regrow lost tails.
regime N. method or system of government. When the French mention the Old Regime, they refer to the government existing before the revolution.
regimen N. prescribed diet and habits. I doubt whether the results warrant our living under such a strict regimen.
rehabilitate V. restore to proper condition. We must rehabilitate those whom we send to prison.
reimburse V. repay. Let me know what you have spent and I will reimburse you.
reiterate V. repeat. He reiterated the warning to make sure everyone understood it.
rejoinder N. retort; comeback; reply. When someone has been rude to me, I find it particularly satisfying to come up with a quick rejoinder.
rejuvenate V. make young again. The charlatan claimed that his elixir would rejuvenate the aged and weary.
relegate V. banish to an inferior position; delegate; assign. After Ralph dropped his second tray of drinks that week, the manager swiftly relegated him to a minor post cleaning up behind the bar.
relent V. give in. When her stern father would not relent and allow her to marry Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett eloped with her suitor. relentless, ADJ.
relevant ADJ. pertinent; referring to the case in hand. How relevant Virginia Woolf’s essays are to women writers today! It’s as if Woolf in the 1930s foresaw our current literary struggles. relevancy, N.
relic N. surviving remnant; memento. Egypt’s Department of Antiquities prohibits tourists from taking mummies and other ancient relics out of the country. Mike keeps his photos of his trip to Egypt in a box with other relics of his travels.
relinquish V. give up something with reluctance; yield. Denise never realized how hard it would be for her to relinquish her newborn son to the care of his adoptive parents. Once you get used to fringe benefits like expense account meals and a company car, it’s very hard to relinquish them.
relish V. savor; enjoy. Watching Peter enthusiastically chow down, I thought, “Now there’s a man who relishes a good dinner!” also N.
remediable ADJ. reparable. Let us be grateful that the damage is remediable.
remedial ADJ. curative; corrective. Because he was a slow reader, he decided to take a course in remedial reading.
reminiscence N. recollection. Her reminiscences of her experiences are so fascinating that she ought to write a book.
remiss ADJ. negligent. The guard was accused of being remiss in his duty when the prisoner escaped.
remission N. temporary moderation of disease symptoms; cancellation of a debt; forgiveness or pardon. Though the senator had been treated for cancer, his symptoms were in remission, and he was considered fit enough to handle the strains of a presidential race.
remnant N. remainder. I suggest that you wait until the store places the remnants of these goods on sale.
remonstrance N. protest; objection. The authorities were deaf to the pastor’s remonstrances about the lack of police protection in the area. remonstrate, V.
remorse N. guilt; self-reproach. The murderer felt no remorse for his crime.
remunerative ADJ. compensating; rewarding. I find my new work so remunerative that I may not return to my previous employment. remuneration, N.
rend V. split; tear apart. In his grief, he tried to rend his garments. rent, N.
render V. deliver; provide; represent. He rendered aid to the needy and indigent.
rendition N. translation; artistic interpretation of a song, etc. The audience cheered enthusiastically as she completed her rendition of the aria.
renegade N. deserter; traitor. Because he had abandoned his post and joined forces with the Indians, his fellow officers considered the hero of Dances with Wolves a renegade. also ADJ.
renege V. deny; go back on. He reneged on paying off his debt.
renounce V. abandon; disown; repudiate. Even though she knew she would be burned at the stake as a witch, Joan of Arc refused to renounce her belief that her voices came from God. renunciation, N.
renovate V. restore to good condition; renew. We renovated our kitchen, replacing the old cabinets and countertop and installing new appliances.
renown N. fame. For many years an unheralded researcher, Barbara McClintock gained international renown when she won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. renowned, ADJ.
rent N. rip; split. Kit did an excellent job of mending the rent in the lining of her coat.
reparable ADJ. capable of being repaired. Fortunately, the damage to our car was reparable, and after two weeks in the shop it looks brand new.
reparation N. amends; compensation. At the peace conference, the defeated country promised to pay reparations to the victors.
repast N. meal; feast; banquet. The caterers prepared a delicious repast for Fred and Judy’s wedding day.
repeal V. revoke; annul. What would the effect on our society be if we decriminalized drug use by repealing the laws against the possession and sale of narcotics?
repel V. drive away; disgust. At first, the Beast’s ferocious appearance repelled Beauty, but she came to love the tender heart hidden behind that beastly exterior.
repellent ADJ. driving away; unattractive. Mosquitoes find the odor so repellent that they leave any spot where this liquid has been sprayed. also N.
repercussion N. result or impact (of an event, etc.); rebound; reverberation. The brothers’ quarrel had serious repercussions, for it led to their estrangement.
repertoire N. list of works of music, drama, etc., a performer is prepared to present. The opera company decided to include Madame Butterfly in its repertoire for the following season.
replenish V. fill up again. Before she could take another backpacking trip, Carla had to replenish her stock of freeze-dried foods.
replete ADJ. filled to the brim or to the point of being stuffed; abundantly supplied. The movie star’s memoir was replete with juicy details about the love life of half of Hollywood.
replica N. copy. Are you going to hang this replica of the Declaration of Independence in the classroom or in the auditorium?
replicate V. reproduce; duplicate. Because he had always wanted a palace, Donald decided to replicate the Taj Mahal in miniature on his estate.
repository N. storehouse. Libraries are repositories of the world’s best thoughts.
reprehensible ADJ. deserving blame. Shocked by the viciousness of the bombing, politicians of every party uniformly condemned the terrorists’ reprehensible deed.
repress V. restrain; crush; oppress. Anne’s parents tried to curb her impetuosity without repressing her boundless high spirits.
reprieve N. temporary stay. During the twenty-four-hour reprieve, the lawyers sought to make the stay of execution permanent. also V.
reprimand V. reprove severely; rebuke. Every time Ermengarde made a mistake in class, she was afraid that Miss Minchin would reprimand her and tell her father how badly she was doing in school. also N.
reprisal N. retaliation. I am confident that we are ready for any reprisals the enemy may undertake.
reprise N. musical repetition; repeat performance; recurrent action. We enjoyed the soprano’s solo in Act I so much that we were delighted by its reprise in the finale.
reproach V. express disapproval or disappointment. He never could do anything wrong without imagining how the look on his mother’s face would reproach him afterwards. reproachful, ADJ.
reprobate N. person hardened in sin, devoid of a sense of decency. I cannot understand why he has so many admirers if he is the reprobate you say he is.
reprove V. censure; rebuke. Though Aunt Bea at times had to reprove Opie for inattention in church, she believed he was at heart a God-fearing lad.
repudiate V. disown; disavow. On separating from Tony, Tina announced that she would repudiate all debts incurred by her soon-to-be ex-husband.
repugnant ADJ. loathsome; hateful. Whereas some people like earthworms, others find them repugnant and view them with disgust.
repulsion N. distaste; act of driving back. Hating bloodshed, she viewed war with repulsion. Even defensive battles distressed her, for the repulsion of enemy forces is never accomplished bloodlessly.
reputable ADJ. respectable. If you want to buy antiques, look for a reputable dealer; far too many dealers today pass off fakes as genuine antiques.
reputed ADJ. supposed. Though he is the reputed father of the child, no one can be sure. repute, N.
requisite N. necessary requirement. Many colleges state that a student must offer three years of a language as a requisite for admission.
requite V. repay; revenge. The wretch requited his benefactors by betraying them.
rescind V. cancel. Because of the public outcry against the new taxes, the senator proposed a bill to rescind the unpopular financial measure.
Word List 41 resentment–sacrosanct
resentment N. indignation; bitterness; displeasure. Not wanting to appear a sore loser, Bill tried to hide his resentment of Barry’s success.
reserve N. self-control; formal but distant manner. Although some girls were attracted by Mark’s air of reserve, Judy was put off by it, for she felt his aloofness indicated a lack of openness. reserved, ADJ.
residue N. remainder; balance. In his will, he requested that after payment of debts, taxes, and funeral expenses, the residue be given to his wife. residual, ADJ.
resigned ADJ. accepting one’s fate; unresisting; patiently submissive. Resigned to his downtrodden existence, Bob Cratchit was too meek to protest Scrooge’s bullying. resignation, N.
resilient ADJ. elastic; having the power of springing back. Highly resilient, steel makes excellent bedsprings. resilience, N.
resolution N. determination; resolve. Nothing could shake his resolution that his children would get the best education that money could buy. resolute, ADJ.
resolve N. determination; firmness of purpose. How dare you question my resolve to take up sky-diving! Of course I haven’t changed my mind!
resolve V. decide; settle; solve. Holmes resolved to travel to Bohemia to resolve the dispute between Irene Adler and the king.
resonant ADJ. echoing; resounding; deep and full in sound. The deep, resonant voice of the actor James Earl Jones makes him particularly effective when he appears on stage.
respiration N. breathing; exhalation. The doctor found that the patient’s years of smoking had adversely affected both his lung capacity and his rate of respiration.
respite N. interval of relief; time for rest; delay in punishment. After working nonstop on this project for three straight months, I need a respite! For David, the two weeks vacationing in New Zealand were a delightful respitefrom the pressures of his job.
resplendent ADJ. dazzling; glorious; brilliant. While all the adults were commenting how glorious the emperor looked in his resplendent new clothes, one little boy was heard to say, “But he’s naked!”
responsiveness N. state of reacting readily to appeals, orders, etc. The audience cheered and applauded, delighting the performers by its responsiveness.
restitution N. reparation; indemnification. He offered to make restitution for the window broken by his son.
restive ADJ. restlessly impatient; obstinately resisting control. Waiting impatiently in line to see Santa Claus, even the best-behaved children grow restive and start to fidget.
restraint N. moderation or self-control; controlling force; restriction. Control yourself, young lady! Show some restraint!
resumption N. taking up again; recommencement. During summer break, Don had not realized how much he missed university life; at the resumption of classes, however, he felt marked excitement and pleasure. resume, V.
resurge V. rise again; flow to and fro. It was startling to see the spirit of nationalism resurge as the Soviet Union disintegrated into a loose federation of ethnic and national groups. resurgence, N.
retain V. keep; employ. Fighting to retain his seat in Congress, Senator Foghorn retained a new manager to head his reelection campaign.
retaliation N. repayment in kind (usually for bad treatment). Because everyone knew the Princeton Band had stolen Brown’s mascot, the whole Princeton student body expected some sort of retaliation from Brown. retaliate, V.
retentive ADJ. able to retain or keep; able to remember. Priding herself on her retentive memory, she claimed she never forgot a face.
reticence N. reserve; uncommunicativeness; inclination to silence. Fearing his competitors might get advance word about his plans from talkative staff members, Hughes preferred reticence from his employees to loquacity. reticent, ADJ.
retinue N. following; attendants. The queen’s retinue followed her down the aisle.
retiring ADJ. modest; shy. Given Susan’s retiring personality, no one expected her to take up public speaking; surprisingly enough, she became a star of the school debate team.
retort N. quick sharp reply. Even when it was advisable for her to keep her mouth shut, she was always ready with a quick retort. also V.
retract V. withdraw; take back. When I saw how Fred and his fraternity brothers had trashed the frat house, I decided to retract my offer to let them use our summer cottage for the weekend. retraction, N.
retrench V. cut down; economize. In order to be able to afford to send their children to college, they would have to retrench. retrenchment, N.
retribution N. vengeance; compensation; punishment for offenses. The evangelist maintained that an angry deity would exact retribution from the sinners.
retrieve V. recover; find and bring in. The dog was intelligent and quickly learned to retrieve the game killed by the hunter.
retroactive ADJ. taking effect before its enactment (as a law) or imposition (as a tax). Because the new pension law was retroactive to the first of the year, even though Martha had retired in February she was eligible for the pension.
retrograde V. go backwards; degenerate. Instead of advancing, our civilization seems to have retrograded in ethics and culture. also ADJ.
retrospective ADJ. looking back on the past. The Museum of Graphic Arts is holding a retrospective showing of the paintings of Michael Whelan over the past two decades.
revelry N. boisterous merrymaking. New Year’s Eve is a night of revelry.
reverent ADJ. respectful; worshipful. Though I bow my head in church and recite the prayers, sometimes I don’t feel properly reverent. revere, V.
reverie N. daydream; musing. He was awakened from his reverie by the teacher’s question.
revert V. relapse; backslide; turn back to. Most of the time Andy seemed sensitive and mature, but occasionally he would revert to his smart-alecky, macho, adolescent self.
revile V. attack with abusive language; vilify. Though most of his contemporaries reviled Captain Kidd as a notorious, bloody-handed pirate, some of his fellow merchant-captains believed him innocent of his alleged crimes.
revoke V. cancel; retract. Repeat offenders who continue to drive under the influence of alcohol face having their driver’s licenses permanently revoked.
revulsion N. sudden violent change of feeling; reaction. Many people in this country who admired dictatorships underwent a revulsion when they realized what Hitler and Mussolini were trying to do.
rhapsodize V. to speak or write in an exaggeratedly enthusiastic manner. She greatly enjoyed her Hawaiian vacation and rhapsodized about it for weeks.
rhetoric N. art of effective communication; insincere language. All writers, by necessity, must be skilled in rhetoric.
rhetorical ADJ. pertaining to effective communication; insincere in language. To win his audience, the speaker used every rhetorical trick in the book.
ribald ADJ. wanton; profane. He sang a ribald song that offended many of the more prudish listeners.
riddle V. pierce with holes; permeate or spread throughout. With his machine gun, Tracy riddled the car with bullets till it looked like a slice of Swiss cheese. During the proofreaders’ strike, the newspaper was riddled with typos.
rife ADJ. abundant; current. Discontent was rife among the early settlers, who had not foreseen the harshness of life in the New World.
rift N. opening; break. The plane was lost in the stormy sky until the pilot saw the city through a rift in the clouds.
rig V. fix or manipulate. The ward boss was able to rig the election by bribing people to stuff the ballot boxes with ballots marked in his candidate’s favor.
rigid ADJ. stiff and unyielding; strict; hard and unbending. By living with a man to whom she was not married, George Eliot broke Victorian society’s most rigid rule of respectable behavior.
rigor N. severity. Many settlers could not stand the rigors of the New England winters.
rigorous ADJ. severe; harsh; demanding; exact. Disliked by his superiors, the officer candidate in An Officer and a Gentleman endured an extremely rigorous training program.
rile V. vex; irritate; muddy. Red had a hair-trigger temper: he was an easy man to rile.
riveting ADJ. absorbing; engrossing. The reviewer described Byatt’s novel Possession as a riveting tale, one so absorbing that he had finished it in a single night.
robust ADJ. vigorous; strong. After pumping iron and taking karate for six months, the little old lady was so robust that she could break a plank with her fist.
roil V. to make liquids murky by stirring up sediment. Be careful when you pour not to roil the wine; if you stir up the sediment you’ll destroy the flavor.
roster N. list. They print the roster of players in the season’s program.
rote N. repetition. He recited the passage by rote and gave no indication he understood what he was saying.
rotundity N. roundness; sonorousness of speech. Short, squat, and round as a bowling ball, he was the very model of rotundity.
rousing ADJ. lively; stirring. “And now, let’s have a rousing welcome for TV’s own Roseanne Barr, who’ll lead us in a rousing rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’”
rout V. stampede; drive out. The reinforcements were able to rout the enemy. also N.
rubble N. broken fragments. Ten years after World War II, some of the rubble left by enemy bombings could still be seen.
ruddy ADJ. reddish; healthy-looking. Santa Claus’s ruddy cheeks nicely complement Rudolph the Reindeer’s bright red nose.
rudimentary ADJ. not developed; elementary; crude. Although my grandmother’s English vocabulary was limited to a few rudimentary phrases, she always could make herself understood.
rue V. regret; lament; mourn. Tina rued the night she met Tony and wondered how she ever fell for such a jerk. rueful, ADJ.
ruffian N. bully; scoundrel. The ruffians threw stones at the police.
ruminate V. chew over and over (mentally, or, like cows, physically); mull over; ponder. Unable to digest quickly the baffling events of the day, Reuben ruminated about them till four in the morning.
rummage V. ransack; thoroughly search. When we rummaged through the trunks in the attic, we found many souvenirs of our childhood days. also N.
ruse N. trick; stratagem. You will not be able to fool your friends with such an obvious ruse.
rustic ADJ. pertaining to country people; uncouth. The backwoodsman looked out of place in his rustic attire.
ruthless ADJ. pitiless; cruel. Captain Hook was a dangerous, ruthless villain who would stop at nothing to destroy Peter Pan.
saboteur N. one who commits sabotage; destroyer of property. Members of the Resistance acted as saboteurs, blowing up train lines to prevent supplies from reaching the Nazi army.
saccharine ADJ. cloyingly sweet. She tried to ingratiate herself, speaking sweetly and smiling a saccharine smile.
sacrilegious ADJ. desecrating; profane. His stealing of the altar cloth was a very sacrilegious act.
sacrosanct ADJ. most sacred; inviolable. The brash insurance salesman invaded the sacrosanct privacy of the office of the president of the company.
Word List 42 sadistic–sentinel
sadistic ADJ. inclined to cruelty. If we are to improve conditions in this prison, we must first get rid of the sadistic warden.
saga N. Scandinavian myth; any legend. This is a saga of the sea and the men who risk their lives on it.
sagacious ADJ. perceptive; shrewd; having insight. My father was a sagacious judge of character: he could spot a phony a mile away. sagacity, N.
sage N. person celebrated for wisdom. Hearing tales of a mysterious Master of All Knowledge who lived in the hills of Tibet, Sandy was possessed with a burning desire to consult the legendary sage. also ADJ.
salacious ADJ. lascivious; lustful. Chaucer’s monk is not pious but salacious, a teller of lewd tales and ribald jests.
salient ADJ. protruding; strikingly conspicuous; jumping. Good readers quickly grasp the salient and significant points of a passage; indeed, the ideas almost leap out at them, demanding their attention.
salubrious ADJ. promoting good health; healthful. The health resort advertised the salubrious properties of the waters of its famous hot springs.
salutary ADJ. tending to improve; beneficial; wholesome. The punishment had a salutary effect on the boy, as he became a model student.
salvage V. rescue from loss. All attempts to salvage the wrecked ship failed. also N.
salvo N. discharge of firearms; military salute. The boom of the enemy’s opening salvo made the petrified private jump.
sanctimonious ADJ. falsely holy; feigning piety. Mark Twain mocked pious hypocrites, calling one a sanctimonious old iceberg who looked like he was waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity.
sanction V. approve; ratify. Nothing will convince me to sanction the engagement of my daughter to such a worthless young man.
sanctuary N. refuge; shelter; shrine; holy place. The tiny attic was Helen’s sanctuary to which she fled when she had to get away from the rest of her family.
sanguine ADJ. cheerful; hopeful. Let’s not be too sanguine about the outcome of the election; we may still lose.
sap V. diminish; undermine. The element kryptonite has an unhealthy effect on Superman: it saps his strength.
sarcasm N. scornful remarks; stinging rebuke. Though Ralph pretended to ignore the mocking comments of his supposed friends, their sarcasm wounded him deeply.
sardonic ADJ. cynically mocking; sarcastic. Dorothy Parker’s wry couplet, “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses, ” epitomizes her sardonic wit.
sartorial ADJ. pertaining to tailors. GQ Magazine provides sartorial advice for the not-so-well-dressed man.
sate V. satisfy to the full; cloy. Its hunger sated, the lion dozed.
satellite N. small body revolving around a larger one. During the first few years of the Space Age, hundreds of satellites were launched by Russia and the United States.
satiate V. satisfy fully. Having stuffed themselves until they were satiated, the guests were so full they were ready for a nap.
satire N. form of literature in which irony, sarcasm, and ridicule are employed to attack vice and folly. Gulliver’s Travels, which is regarded by many as a tale for children, is actually a bitter satire attacking man’s folly.
satirical ADJ. mocking. The humor of cartoonist Gary Trudeau often is satirical; through the comments of the Doonesbury characters, Trudeau ridicules political corruption and folly.
saturate V. soak thoroughly. Saturate your sponge with water until it can’t hold any more.
saturnine ADJ. gloomy. Do not be misled by his saturnine countenance; he is not as gloomy as he looks.
saunter V. stroll slowly. As we sauntered through the park, we stopped frequently to admire the spring flowers.
savant N. learned scholar. Despite all her academic honors, Dr. Diamond disliked being classed as a savant; considering herself a simple researcher, she refused to describe herself in such grandiose terms.
savor V. enjoy; have a distinctive flavor, smell, or quality. Relishing his triumph, the actor especially savored the chagrin of the critics who had predicted his failure.
savory ADJ. tasty; pleasing, attractive, or agreeable. Julia Child’s recipes enable amateur chefs to create savory delicacies for their guests.
scad N. a great quantity. Refusing Dave’s offer to lend him a shirt, Phil replied, “No, thanks, I’ve got scads of clothes.”
scale V. climb up; ascend. In order to locate a book on the top shelf of the stacks, Lee had to scale an exceptionally rickety ladder.
scamp N. rascal. Despite his mischievous behavior, Malcolm was such an engaging scamp that his mother almost lacked the heart to punish him.
scanty ADJ. meager; insufficient. Thinking his helping of food was scanty, Oliver Twist asked for more.
scapegoat N. someone who bears the blame for others. After the Challenger disaster, NASA searched for scapegoats on whom they could cast the blame.
scavenge V. hunt through discarded materials for usable items; search, especially for food. If you need car parts that the dealers no longer stock, try scavenging for odd bits and pieces at the auto wreckers’ yards. scavenger, N.
scenario N. plot outline; screenplay; opera libretto. Scaramouche startled the other actors in the commedia troupe when he suddenly departed from their customary scenario and began to improvise.
schematic ADJ. relating to an outline or diagram; using a system of symbols. In working out the solution to this logic puzzle, you may find it helpful to construct a simple schematic diagram outlining the order of events.
schism N. division; split. His reforms led to a schism in the church and the establishment of a new sect opposing the old order.
scintillate V. sparkle; flash. I enjoy her dinner parties because the food is excellent and the conversation scintillates.
scoff V. mock; ridicule. He scoffed at dentists until he had his first toothache.
scourge N. cause of widespread devastation; severe punishment; whip. Abraham Lincoln wrote, “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war speedily may pass away.” also V.
scruple V. fret about; hesitate, for ethical reasons. Fearing that her husband had become involved in an affair, she did not scruple to read his diary. also N.
scrupulous ADJ. conscientious; extremely thorough. Though Alfred is scrupulous in fulfilling his duties at work, he is less conscientious about his obligations to his family and friends.
scrutinize V. examine closely and critically. Searching for flaws, the sergeant scrutinized every detail of the private’s uniform.
scuffle V. struggle confusedly; move off in a confused hurry. The twins briefly scuffled, wrestling to see which of them would get the toy. When their big brother yelled, “Let go of my Gameboy!” they scuffled off down the hall.
scurrilous ADJ. vulgar; coarse; foul-mouthed; obscene. Politicians often face scurrilous attacks from angry constituents.
scurry V. move briskly. The White Rabbit had to scurry to get to his appointment on time.
scurvy ADJ. despicable; contemptible. Peter Pan sneered at Captain Hook and his scurvy crew.
scuttle V. scurry; run with short, rapid steps. The bug scuttled rapidly across the floor.
scuttle V. sink. The sailors decided to scuttle their vessel rather than surrender it to the enemy.
seamy ADJ. sordid; unwholesome. In The Godfather, Michael Corleone is unwilling to expose his wife and children to the seamy side of his life as the son of a Mafia don.
sear V. char or burn; brand. Accidentally brushing against the hot grill, she seared her hand badly.
seasoned ADJ. experienced. Though pleased with her new batch of rookies, the basketball coach wished she had a few more seasoned players on the team.
secession N. withdrawal. The secession of the Southern states provided Lincoln with his first major problem after his inauguration. secede, V.
seclusion N. isolation; solitude. One moment she loved crowds; the next, she sought seclusion. seclude, V.
secrete V. hide away; produce and release a substance into an organism. The pack rat secretes odds and ends in its nest; the pancreas secretes insulin in the islets of Langerhans.
sect N. separate religious body; faction. As university chaplain, she sought to address universal religious issues and not limit herself to concerns of any one sect.
sectarian ADJ. relating to a religious faction or subgroup; narrow-minded; limited. Far from being broad-minded, the religious leader was intolerant of new ideas, paying attention only to purely sectarian interests. sect. N.
secular ADJ. worldly; not pertaining to church matters; temporal. The church leaders decided not to interfere in secular matters.
sedate ADJ. calm and composed; dignified. To calm the agitated pony, we teamed him with a sedate mare who easily accepted the harness.
sedentary ADJ. requiring sitting. Sitting all day at the computer, Sharon grew to resent the sedentary nature of her job.
sedition N. resistance to authority; insubordination. His words, though not treasonous in themselves, were calculated to arouse thoughts of sedition.
sedulous ADJ. diligent; hardworking. After weeks of patient and sedulous labor, we completed our detailed analysis of every published SAT examination.
seedy ADJ. run-down; decrepit; disreputable. I would rather stay in dormitory lodgings in a decent youth hostel than have a room of my own in a seedy downtown hotel.
seemly ADJ. proper; appropriate. Lady Bracknell did not think it was seemly for Ernest to lack a proper family: no baby abandoned on a doorstep could grow up to be a fit match for her daughter.
seep V. ooze; trickle. During the rainstorm, water seeped through the crack in the basement wall and damaged the floor boards. seepage, N.
seethe V. be disturbed; boil. The nation was seething with discontent as the noblemen continued their arrogant ways.
seismic ADJ. pertaining to earthquakes. The Richter scale is a measurement of seismic disturbances.
seminary N. school for training future ministers; academy for young women. Sure of his priestly vocation, Terrence planned to pursue his theological training at the local Roman Catholic seminary.
sensual ADJ. devoted to the pleasures of the senses; carnal; voluptuous. Giving in to his sensual appetites, he sampled the carnal delights of the fleshpots.
sententious ADJ. terse; concise; aphoristic. After reading so many redundant speeches, I find his sententious style particularly pleasing.
sentinel N. sentry; lookout. Though camped in enemy territory, Bledsoe ignored the elementary precaution of posting sentinels around the encampment.
Word List 43 sequester–solvent
sequester V. isolate; retire from public life; segregate; seclude. Banished from his kingdom, the wizard Prospero sequestered himself on a desert island. To prevent the jurors from hearing news broadcasts about the case, the judge decided to sequester the jury.
serendipity N. gift for finding valuable or desirable things by accident; accidental good fortune or luck. Many scientific discoveries are a matter of serendipity: Newton was not sitting under a tree thinking about gravity when the apple dropped on his head.
serenity N. calmness; placidity. The sound of air raid sirens pierced the serenity of the quiet village of Pearl Harbor.
serpentine ADJ. winding; twisting. The car swerved at every curve in the serpentine road.
servile ADJ. slavish; cringing. Constantly fawning on his employer, humble Uriah Heap was a servile creature.
servitude N. slavery; compulsory labor. Born a slave, Frederick Douglass resented his life of servitude and plotted to escape to the North.
sever V. cut; separate. The released prisoner wanted to begin a new life and sever all connections with his criminal past. Dr. Guillotin invented a machine that could neatly sever an aristocratic head from its equally aristocratic body. Unfortunately, he couldn’t collect any severance pay. severance, N.
severity N. harshness; intensity; sternness; austerity. The severity of Jane’s migraine attack was so great that she took to her bed for a week.
shackle V. chain; fetter. In a chain gang, convicts are shackled together to prevent their escape. also N.
sham V. pretend. He shammed sickness to get out of going to school. also N.
shambles N. wreck; mess. After the hurricane, the Carolina coast was a shambles. After the New Year’s Eve party, the apartment was a shambles.
shard N. fragment, generally of pottery. The archaeologist assigned several students the task of reassembling earthenware vessels from the shards he had brought back from the expedition.
shear V. cut or clip (hair, fleece); strip of something. You may not care to cut a sheep’s hair, but Sarah shears sheep for Little Bo Peep.
sheathe V. place into a case. As soon as he recognized the approaching men, he sheathed his dagger and hailed them as friends.
sheer ADJ. very thin or transparent; very steep; absolute. Wearing nothing but an almost sheer robe, Delilah draped herself against the sheer temple wall. Beholding her, Samson was overcome by her sheer beauty. Then she sheared his hair.
shimmer V. glimmer intermittently. The moonlight shimmered on the water as the moon broke through the clouds for a moment. also N.
shirk V. avoid (responsibility, work, etc.); malinger. Brian has a strong sense of duty; he would never shirk any responsibility.
shoddy ADJ. inferior; trashy; cheap. Grumbling, “They don’t make things the way they used to, ” Grandpa complained about the shoddy workmanship nowadays.
shrewd ADJ. clever; astute. A shrewd investor, he took clever advantage of the fluctuations of the stock market.
shroud V. hide from view; wrap for burial. Fog shrouded Dracula’s castle, hiding the ruined tower beneath sheets of mist.
shun V. keep away from. Cherishing his solitude, the recluse shunned the company of other human beings.
shyster N. lawyer using questionable methods. On L.A. Law, Brackman was horrified to learn that his newlydiscovered half brother was nothing but a cheap shyster
sibling N. brother or sister. We may not enjoy being siblings, but we cannot forget that we still belong to the same family.
simile N. comparison of one thing with another, using the word like or as. “My love is like a red, red rose” is a simile.
simper V. smirk; smile affectedly. Complimented on her appearance, Stella self-consciously simpered.
simplistic ADJ. oversimplified. Though Jack’s solution dealt adequately with one aspect of the problem, it was simplistic in failing to consider various complications that might arise.
simulate V. feign. He simulated insanity in order to avoid punishment for his crime.
sinecure N. well-paid position with little responsibility. My job is no sinecure; I work long hours and have much responsibility.
sinewy ADJ. tough; strong and firm. The steak was too sinewy to chew.
singular ADJ. unique; extraordinary; odd. Though the young man tried to understand Father William’s singular behavior, he still found it odd that the old man incessantly stood on his head. singularity, N.
sinister ADJ. evil; conveying a sense of ill omen. Aware of the Penguin’s sinister purpose, Batman wondered how he could save Gotham City from the ravages of his evil enemy.
sinuous ADJ. winding; bending in and out; not morally honest. The snake moved in a sinuous manner.
skeptic N. doubter; person who suspends judgment until the evidence supporting a point of view has been examined. I am a skeptic about the new health plan; I want some proof that it can work. skepticism, N.
skimp V. provide scantily; live very economically. They were forced to skimp on necessities in order to make their limited supplies last the winter.
skinflint N. stingy person; miser. Scrooge was an ungenerous old skinflint until he reformed his ways and became a notable philanthropist.
skirmish N. minor fight. Custer’s troops expected they might run into a skirmish or two on maneuvers; they did not expect to face a major battle. also V.
skulk V. move furtively and secretly. He skulked through the less fashionable sections of the city in order to avoid meeting any of his former friends.
slacken V. slow up; loosen. As they passed the finish line, the runners slackened their pace.
slake V. quench; sate. When we reached the oasis, we were able to slake our thirst.
slander N. defamation; utterance of false and malicious statements. Considering the negative comments politicians make about each other, it’s a wonder that more of them aren’t sued for slander. also V.
slapdash ADJ. haphazard; careless; sloppy. From the number of typos and misspellings I’ve found in it, it’s clear that Mario proofread the report in a remarkably slapdash fashion.
sleeper N. something originally of little value or importance that in time becomes very valuable. Unnoticed by the critics at its publication, the eventual Pulitzer Prize winner was a classic sleeper.
sleight N. dexterity. The magician amazed the audience with his sleight of hand.
slight N. insult to one’s dignity; snub. Hypersensitive and ready to take offense at any discourtesy, Bertha was always on the lookout for real or imaginary slights. also V.
slipshod ADJ. untidy or slovenly; shabby. As a master craftsman, the carpenter prided himself on not doing slipshod work.
slither V. slip or slide. During the recent ice storm, many people slithered down this hill as they walked to the station.
slothful ADJ. lazy. Lying idly on the sofa while others worked, Reggie denied he was slothful: “I just supervise better lying down.”
slough V. cast off. Each spring, the snake sloughs off its skin.
slovenly ADJ. untidy; careless in work habits. Unshaven, sitting around in his bathrobe all afternoon, Gus didn’t seem to care about the slovenly appearance he presented. The dark ring around the bathtub and the spider webs hanging from the beams proved what a slovenly housekeeper she was.
sluggard N. lazy person. Someone who leaps happily out of bed first thing in the morning and cheerfully sets off to work is no sluggard.
sluggish ADJ. slow; lazy; lethargic. After two nights without sleep, she felt sluggish and incapable of exertion.
slur V. speak indistinctly; mumble. When Sol has too much to drink, he starts to slur his words: “ Washamatter? Cansh you undershtand what I shay?”
slur N. insult to one’s character or reputation; slander. Polls revealed that the front-runner’s standing had been badly damaged by the slurs and innuendoes circulated by his opponent’s staff. also V. (secondary meaning)
smirk N. conceited smile. Wipe that smirk off your face! also V.
smolder V. burn without flame; be liable to break out at any moment. The rags smoldered for hours before they burst into flame.
snicker N. half-stifled laugh. The boy could not suppress a snicker when the teacher sat on the tack. also V.
snivel V. run at the nose; snuffle; whine. Don’t you come sniveling to me complaining about your big brother.
sobriety N. moderation (especially regarding indulgence in alcohol); seriousness. Neither falling-down drunks nor stand-up comics are noted for sobriety. sober, ADJ.
sodden ADJ. soaked; dull, as if from drink. He set his sodden overcoat near the radiator to dry.
sojourn N. temporary stay. After his sojourn in Florida, he began to long for the colder climate of his native New England home.
solace N. comfort in trouble. I hope you will find solace in the thought that all of us share your loss.
solecism N. construction that is flagrantly incorrect grammatically. I must give this paper a failing mark because it contains many solecisms.
solemnity N. seriousness; gravity. The minister was concerned that nothing should disturb the solemnity of the marriage service. solemn, ADJ.
solicit V. request earnestly; seek. Knowing she needed to have a solid majority for the budget to pass, the mayor telephoned all the members of the city council to solicit their votes.
solicitous ADJ. worried; concerned. Dora was delicate, David knew, and he was very solicitous about her health during her pregnancy.
soliloquy N. talking to oneself. Dramatists use the soliloquy as a device to reveal a character’s innermost thoughts and emotions.
solitude N. state of being alone; seclusion. Much depends on how much you like your own company. What to one person seems fearful isolation to another is blessed solitude.
soluble ADJ. able to be dissolved; able to be explained. Sugar is soluble in water; put a sugar cube in water and it will quickly dissolve.
solvent ADJ. able to pay all debts. By dint of very frugal living, he was finally able to become solvent and avoid bankruptcy proceedings.
solvent N. substance that dissolves another. Dip a cube of sugar into a cup of water; note how the water acts as a solvent, causing the cube to break down.
Word List 44 somber–sublime
somber ADJ. gloomy; depressing; dark; drab. From the doctor’s grim expression, I could tell he had somber news. Dull brown and charcoal gray are pretty somber colors; can’t you wear something bright?
somnolent ADJ. half asleep. The heavy meal and the overheated room made us all somnolent and indifferent to the speaker.
sonorous ADJ. resonant. His sonorous voice resounded through the hall.
sophisticated ADJ. worldly-wise and urbane; complex. When Sophie makes wisecracks, she thinks she sounds sophisticated, but instead she sounds sophomoric. A few years ago the new IBM laptop with the butterfly keyboard and the built-in quadspeed fax modem seemed the height of computer sophistication.
sophistry N. seemingly plausible but fallacious reasoning. Instead of advancing valid arguments, he tried to overwhelm his audience with a flood of sophistries.
sophomoric ADJ. immature; half-baked, like a sophomore. Even if you’re only a freshman, it’s no compliment to be told your humor is sophomoric. The humor in Dumb and Dumber is sophomoric at best.
soporific ADJ. sleep-causing; marked by sleepiness. Professor Pringle’s lectures were so soporific that even he fell asleep in class. also N.
sordid ADJ. vile; filthy; wretched; mean. Talk show hosts seem willing to discuss any topic, no matter how sordid and disgusting it may be.
sovereign ADJ. efficacious; supreme or paramount; self-governing. Professor Pennywhistle claimed his panacea was a sovereign cure for all chronic complaints. In medicine the sovereign task of the doctor is to do no harm. Rebelling against the mother country, the onetime colony now proclaimed itself a sovereign state. also N.
sparse ADJ. not thick; thinly scattered; scanty. No matter how carefully Albert combed his hair to make it look as full as possible, it still looked sparse.
spartan ADJ. avoiding luxury and comfort; sternly disciplined. Looking over the bare, unheated room, with its hard cot, he wondered what he was doing in such spartan quarters. Only his spartan sense of duty kept him at his post.
spasmodic ADJ. fitful; periodic. The spasmodic coughing in the auditorium annoyed the performers.
spat N. squabble; minor dispute. What had started out as a mere spat escalated into a full-blown argument.
spate N. sudden flood or strong outburst; a large number or amount. After the spate of angry words that came pouring out of him, Mary was sure they would never be reconciled.
spatial ADJ. relating to space. NASA is engaged in an ongoing program of spatial exploration. Certain exercises test your sense of spatial relations by asking you to identify two views of an object seen from different points in space.
spawn V. lay eggs. Fish ladders had to be built in the dams to assist the salmon returning to spawn in their native streams. also N.
specious ADJ. seemingly reasonable but incorrect; misleading (often intentionally). To claim that, because houses and birds both have wings, both can fly, is extremely specious reasoning.
spectrum N. colored band produced when beam of light passes through a prism. The visible portion of the spectrum includes red at one end and violet at the other.
spendthrift N. someone who wastes money. Easy access to credit encourages people to turn into spendthrifts who shop till they drop.
sphinx-like ADJ. enigmatic; mysterious. The Mona Lisa’s sphinx-like expression has intrigued and mystified art lovers for centuries.
splice V. fasten together; unite. Before you splice two strips of tape together, be sure to line them up evenly. also N.
spontaneity N. lack of premeditation; naturalness; freedom from constraint. When Anne and Amy met, Amy impulsively hugged her new colleague, but Anne drew back, unprepared for such spontaneity. The cast over-rehearsed the play so much that the eventual performance lacked any spontaneity. spontaneous, ADJ.
sporadic ADJ. occurring irregularly. Although you can still hear sporadic outbursts of laughter and singing outside, the big Halloween parade has passed; the party’s over till next year.
sportive ADJ. playful. Half man, half goat, the mischievous, sportive fauns gamboled on the green.
spry ADJ. vigorously active; nimble. She was eighty years old, yet still spry and alert.
spurious ADJ. false; counterfeit; forged; illogical. The antique dealer hero of Jonathan Gash’s mystery novels gives the reader tips on how to tell spurious antiques from the real thing. Natasha’s claim to be the lost heir of the Romanoffs was spurious: the only thing Russian about her was the vodka she drank!
spurn V. reject; scorn. The heroine spurned the villain’s advances.
squabble N. minor quarrel; bickering. Children invariably get involved in petty squabbles; wise parents know when to interfere and when to let the children work things out on their own.
squalor N. filth; degradation; dirty, neglected state. Rusted, broken-down cars in its yard, trash piled up on the porch, tar paper peeling from the roof, the shack was the picture of squalor. squalid, ADJ.
squander V. waste. If you squander your allowance on candy and comic books, you won’t have any money left to buy the new box of crayons you want.
squat ADJ. stocky; short and thick. Tolkien’s hobbits are somewhat squat, sturdy little creatures, fond of good ale, good music, and good mushrooms.
staccato ADJ. played in an abrupt manner; marked by abrupt sharp sound. His staccato speech reminded one of the sound of a machine gun.
stagnant ADJ. motionless; stale; dull. Mosquitoes commonly breed in ponds of stagnant water. Mike’s career was stagnant; it wasn’t going anywhere, and neither was he! stagnate, V.
staid ADJ. sober; sedate. The wild parties at the fraternity house appealed to the jocks and slackers, but appalled the more staid and serious students on campus.
stalemate N. deadlock. Negotiations between the union and the employers have reached a stalemate; neither side is willing to budge from previously stated positions.
stalwart ADJ. strong and vigorous; unwaveringly dependable. We thought the congressman was a stalwart Republican until he voted against President Bush’s Medicare reform bill. also N.
stamina N. strength; staying power. I doubt that she has the stamina to run the full distance of the marathon race.
stanch V. check flow of blood. It is imperative that we stanch the gushing wound before we attend to the other injuries.
stanza N. division of a poem. Do you know the last stanza of “The Star-Spangled Banner”?
static ADJ. unchanging; lacking development. Why watch chess on TV? I like watching a game with action, not something static where nothing seems to be going on.
statute N. law enacted by the legislature. The statute of limitations sets the limits on how long you have to take legal action in specific cases.
steadfast ADJ. loyal; unswerving. Penelope was steadfast in her affections, faithfully waiting for Ulysses to return from his wanderings.
stealth N. slyness; sneakiness; secretiveness. Fearing detection by the sentries on duty, the scout inched his way toward the enemy camp with great stealth.
steep V. soak; saturate. Be sure to steep the fabric in the dyebath for the full time prescribed.
stellar ADJ. pertaining to the stars. He was the stellar attraction of the entire performance.
stem V. check the flow. The paramedic used a tourniquet to stem the bleeding from the slashed artery.
stem from V. arise from. Milton’s problems in school stemmed from his poor study habits.
stereotype N. fixed and unvarying representation; standardized mental picture, often reflecting prejudice. Critics object to the character of Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because he seems to reflect the stereotype of the happy, ignorant slave.
stifle V. suppress; extinguish; inhibit. Halfway through the boring lecture, Laura gave up trying to stifle her yawns.
stigma N. token of disgrace; brand. I do not attach any stigma to the fact that you were accused of this crime; the fact that you were acquitted clears you completely.
stigmatize V. brand; mark as wicked. I do not want to stigmatize this young offender for life by sending her to prison.
stilted ADJ. bombastic; inflated. His stilted rhetoric did not impress the college audience; they were immune to bombastic utterances.
stint N. supply; allotted amount; assigned portion of work. He performed his daily stint cheerfully and willingly. also V.
stint V. be thrifty; set limits. “Spare no expense, ” the bride’s father said, refusing to stint on the wedding arrangements.
stipend N. pay for services. There is a nominal stipend for this position.
stipulate V. make express conditions; specify. Before agreeing to reduce American military forces in Europe, the president stipulated that NATO inspection teams be allowed to inspect Soviet bases.
stodgy ADJ. stuffy; boringly conservative. For a young person, Winston seems remarkably stodgy: you’d expect someone his age to show a little more life.
stoic ADJ. impassive; unmoved by joy or grief. I wasn’t particularly stoic when I had my flu shot; I squealed like a stuck pig. also N.
stoke V. stir up a fire; feed plentifully. As a Scout Marisa learned how to light a fire, how to stoke it if it started to die down, and how to extinguish it completely.
stolid ADJ. unruffled; impassive; dull. Marianne wanted a romantic, passionate suitor like Willoughby, not a stolid unimaginative one like Colonel Brandon.
stratagem N. deceptive scheme. Though Wellington’s forces seemed in full retreat, in reality their withdrawal was a stratagem intended to lure the enemy away from its sheltered position.
stratify V. divide into classes; be arranged into strata. As the economic gap between the rich and the poor increased, Roman society grew increasingly stratified.
stratum N. layer of earth’s surface; layer of society. Neither an elitist nor a reverse snob, Mitch had friends from every social stratum.
strew V. spread randomly; sprinkle; scatter. Preceding the bride to the altar, the flower girl will strew rose petals along the aisle.
stricture N. restriction; adverse criticism. Huck regularly disobeyed Miss Watson’s rules and strictures upon his 'margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:0cm; margin-left:23.0pt;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-indent:-16.8pt;line-height:normal'> strident ADJ. loud and harsh; insistent. Whenever Sue became angry, she tried not to raise her voice; she had no desire to appear strident.
stringent ADJ. severe; rigid; constricted. Fearing the rapid spread of the SARS virus, the Canadian government imposed stringent quarantine measures.
strut N. pompous walk; swagger. Looking at his self-important strut as he swaggered about the parade ground, I could tell Colonel Blimp thought highly of himself. also V.
strut N. supporting bar. The engineer calculated that the strut supporting the rafter needed to be reinforced. (secondary meaning)
studied ADJ. not spontaneous; deliberate; thoughtful. Given Jill’s previous slights, Jack felt that the omission of his name from the guest list was a studied insult.
stultify V. cause to appear or become stupid or inconsistent; frustrate or hinder. His long hours in the blacking factory left young Dickens numb and incurious, as if the menial labor had stultified his brain.
stupefy V. make numb; stun; amaze. Disapproving of drugs in general, Laura refused to take sleeping pills or any other medicine that might stupefy her. stupefaction, N.
stupor N. state of apathy; daze; lack of awareness. The paramedics shook the unconscious man but could not rouse him from his stupor.
stymie V. present an obstacle; stump. The detective was stymied by the contradictory evidence in the robbery investigation. also N.
suavity N. urbanity; polish. The elegant actor is particularly good in roles that require suavity and sophistication.
subdued ADJ. less intense; quieter. Bob liked the subdued lighting at the restaurant because he thought it was romantic. I just thought it was dimly lit.
subjective ADJ. occurring or taking place within the subject; unreal. Your analysis is highly subjective; you have permitted your emotions and your opinions to color your thinking.
subjugate V. conquer; bring under control. Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world of his time, first subjugating the Persians under Darius, then defeating the armies of India’s King Porus.
sublime ADJ. exalted or noble and uplifting; utter. Lucy was in awe of Desi’s sublime musicianship, while he was in awe of her sublime naiveté.
Word List 45 subliminal–tantamount
subliminal ADJ. below conscious awareness. The pulse of the music began to work on the crowd in a subliminal way: they rocked to the rhythm unconsciously.
submissive ADJ. yielding; timid. When he refused to permit Elizabeth to marry her poet, Mr. Barrett expected her to be properly submissive; instead, she eloped!
subordinate ADJ. occupying a lower rank; inferior; submissive. Bishop Proudie’s wife expected all the subordinate clergy to behave with great deference to the wife of their superior.
suborn V. persuade to act unlawfully (especially to commit perjury). In The Godfather, the mobsters used bribery and threats to suborn the witnesses against Don Michael Corleone.
subpoena N. writ summoning a witness to appear. The prosecutor’s office was ready to serve a subpoena on the reluctant witness. also V.
subsequent ADJ. following; later. In subsequent lessons, we shall take up more difficult problems.
subservient ADJ. behaving like a slave; servile; obsequious. He was proud and dignified; he refused to be subservient to anyone.
subside V. settle down; descend; grow quiet. The doctor assured us that the fever would eventually subside.
subsidiary N. something secondary in importance or subordinate; auxiliary. The Turner Broadcasting System is a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL Time Warner. First deal with the critical issues, then with the subsidiary ones. also ADJ.
subsidy N. direct financial aid by government, etc. Without this subsidy, American ship operators would not be able to compete in world markets.
subsistence N. means needed to support life; existence. Farming those barren, depleted fields, he raised barely enough food for his family’s subsistence.
substantial ADJ. ample; solid; in essentials. The generous scholarship represented a substantial sum of money.
substantiate V. establish by evidence; verify; support. These endorsements from satisfied customers substantiate our claim that Barron’s How to Prepare for the SAT is the best SAT-prep book on the market.
substantive ADJ. real, as opposed to imaginary; essential; solidly based; substantial. Bishop Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his substantive contributions to the peace movement in South Africa.
subterfuge N. deceitful stratagem; trick; pretense. Hiding from his pursuers, the fugitive used every subterfuge he could think of to get them off his track.
subtlety N. perceptiveness; ingenuity; delicacy. Never obvious, she expressed herself with such subtlety that her remarks went right over the heads of most of her audience. subtle, ADJ.
subversive ADJ. tending to overthrow; destructive. At first glance, the notion that styrofoam cups may actually be more ecologically sound than paper cups strikes most environmentalists as subversive.
succinct ADJ. brief; terse; compact. Don’t bore your audience with excess verbiage: be succinct.
succor V. aid; assist; comfort. If you believe that con man has come here to succor you in your hour of need, you’re an even bigger sucker than I thought. also N.
succulent ADJ. juicy; full of richness. To some people, Florida citrus fruits are more succulent than those from California. also N.
succumb V. yield; give in; die. I succumb to temptation whenever I see chocolate.
suffragist N. advocate of voting rights (for women). In recognition of her efforts to win the vote for women, Congress authorized coining a silver dollar honoring the suffragist Susan B. Anthony.
sully V. tarnish; soil. He felt that it was beneath his dignity to sully his hands in such menial labor.
sultry ADJ. sweltering. He could not adjust himself to the sultry climate of the tropics.
summation N. act of finding the total; summary. In his summation the lawyer emphasized the testimony given by the two witnesses.
summit N. utmost height or pinnacle; highest point (of a mountain, etc.) The summit of the amateur mountain climber’s aspirations was someday to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
sumptuous ADJ. lavish; rich. I cannot recall when I have had such a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast.
sunder V. separate; part. Northern and southern Ireland are politically and religiously sundered.
supercilious ADJ. arrogant; condescending; patronizing. The supercilious headwaiter sneered at customers whom he thought did not fit in at a restaurant catering to an ultra-fashionable crowd.
superficial ADJ. trivial; shallow. Since your report gave only a superficial analysis of the problem, I cannot give you more than a passing grade.
superfluous ADJ. unnecessary; excessive; overabundant. Betsy lacked the heart to tell June that the wedding present she brought was superfluous; she and Bob had already received five toasters. Please try not to include so many superfluous details in your report; just give me the facts. superfluity, N.
superimpose V. place over something else. The filmmakers superimposed the credits over the movie’s opening scene.
supersede V. cause to be set aside; replace; make obsolete. The new bulk mailing postal regulation supersedes the old one. If you continue to follow the old regulation, your bulk mailing will be returned to you.
supplant V. replace; usurp. Bolingbroke, later to be known as King Henry IV, fought to supplant his cousin, Richard II, as King of England.
supple ADJ. flexible; pliant. Years of yoga exercises made Grace’s body supple.
supplicate V. petition humbly; pray to grant a favor. We supplicate Your Majesty to grant him amnesty.
supposition N. hypothesis; the act of supposing. I based my decision to confide in him on the supposition that he would be discreet. suppose, V.
suppress V. stifle; overwhelm; subdue; inhibit. Too polite to laugh in anyone’s face, Roy did his best to suppress his amusement at Ed’s inane remark.
surfeit V. satiate; stuff; indulge to excess in anything. Every Thanksgiving we are surfeited with an overabundance of holiday treats. also N.
surly ADJ. rude; cross. Because of his surly attitude, many people avoided his company.
surmise V. suspect; guess; imagine. I surmise that Suzanne will be late for this meeting; I’ve never known her to be on time. also N.
surmount V. overcome. Could Helen Keller, blind and deaf since childhood, surmount her physical disabilities and lead a productive life?
surpass V. exceed. Her SAT scores surpassed our expectations.
surreptitious ADJ. secret; furtive; sneaky; hidden. Hoping to discover where his mom had hidden the Christmas presents, Timmy took a surreptitious peek into the master bedroom closet.
surrogate N. substitute. For a fatherless child, a male teacher may become a father surrogate.
surveillance N. watching; guarding. The FBI kept the house under constant surveillance in the hope of capturing all the criminals at one time.
susceptible ADJ. impressionable; easily influenced; having little resistance, as to a disease; receptive to. Said the patent medicine man to his very susceptible customer: “Buy this new miracle drug, and you will no longer be susceptible to the common cold.”
sustain V. experience; support; nourish. He sustained such a severe injury that the doctors feared he would be unable to work to sustain his growing family.
sustenance N. means of support, food, nourishment. In the tropics, the natives find sustenance easy to obtain, due to all the fruit trees.
swagger V. behave arrogantly or pompously; strut or walk proudly. The conquering hero didn’t simply stride down the street; he swaggered. also N.
swarm N. dense moving crowd; large group of honeybees. At the height of the city hall scandals, a constant swarm of reporters followed the mayor everywhere. also V.
swarthy ADJ. dark; dusky. Despite the stereotypes, not all Italians are swarthy; many are fair and blond.
swathe V. wrap around; bandage. When I visited him in the hospital, I found him swathed in bandages.
swelter V. be oppressed by heat. I am going to buy an air conditioning unit for my apartment as I do not intend to swelter through another hot and humid summer.
swerve V. deviate; turn aside sharply. The car swerved wildly as the driver struggled to regain control of the wheel.
swindler N. cheat. She was gullible and trusting, an easy victim for the first swindler who came along.
sybarite N. lover of luxury. Rich people are not always sybarites; some of them have little taste for a life of luxury.
sycophant N. servile flatterer; bootlicker; yes man. Fed up with the toadies and flunkies who made up his entourage, the star cried, “Get out, all of you! I’m sick of sycophants!” sycophancy, N.
symbiosis N. interdependent relationship (between groups, species), often mutually beneficial. Both the crocodile bird and the crocodile derive benefit from their symbiosis: pecking away at food particles embedded in the crocodile’s teeth, the bird receives nourishment; the crocodile, meanwhile, receives proper dental hygiene. symbiotic, ADJ.
symmetry N. arrangement of parts so that balance is obtained; congruity. Something lopsided by definition lacks symmetry.
synoptic ADJ. providing a general overview; summary. The professor turned to the latest issue of Dissertation Abstracts for a synoptic account of what was new in the field. synopsis, N.
synthesis N. combining parts into a whole. Now that we have succeeded in isolating this drug, our next problem is to plan its synthesis in the laboratory. synthesize, V.
table V. set aside a resolution or proposal for future consideration. Because we seem unable to agree on this issue at the moment, let us table the motion for now and come back to it at a later date.
tacit ADJ. understood; not put into words. We have a tacit agreement based on only a handshake.
taciturn ADJ. habitually silent; talking little. The stereotypical cowboy is a taciturn soul, answering lengthy questions with “Yep” or “Nope.”
tactile ADJ. pertaining to the organs or sense of touch. His callused hands had lost their tactile sensitivity.
taint V. contaminate; cause to lose purity; modify with a trace of something bad. One speck of dirt on your utensils may contain enough germs to taint an entire batch of preserves.
talisman N. charm to bring good luck and avert misfortune. Joe believed the carved pendant he found in Vietnam served him as a talisman and brought him safely through the war.
tangential ADJ. peripheral; only slightly connected; digressing. Despite Clark’s attempts to distract her with tangential remarks, Lois kept on coming back to her main question: why couldn’t he come out to dinner with Superman and her?
tangible ADJ. able to be touched; real; palpable. Although Tom did not own a house, he had several tangible assets—a car, a television, a PC—that he could sell if he needed cash.
tantalize V. tease; torture with disappointment. Tom tantalized his younger brother, holding the ball just too high for Jimmy to reach.
tantamount ADJ. equivalent in effect or value. Because so few Southern blacks could afford to pay the poll tax, the imposition of this tax on prospective voters was tantamount to disenfranchisement for black voters.
Word List 46 tantrum–tonic
tantrum N. fit of petulance; caprice. The child learned that he could have almost anything if he had a tantrum.
tarry V. delay; dawdle. We can’t tarry if we want to get to the airport on time.
taut ADJ. tight; ready. The captain maintained that he ran a taut ship.
tautological ADJ. needlessly repetitious. In the sentence “It was visible to the eye, ” the phrase “to the eye” is tautological.
tautology N. unnecessary repetition. “Joyful happiness” is an illustration of tautology.
tawdry ADJ. cheap and gaudy. He won a few tawdry trinkets in Coney Island.
tedious ADJ. boring; tiring. The repetitious nature of work on the assembly line made Martin’s job very tedious. tedium, N.
temerity N. boldness; rashness. Do you have the temerity to argue with me?
temper V. moderate; tone down or restrain; toughen (steel). Not even her supervisor’s grumpiness could temper Nancy’s enthusiasm for her new job.
temperament N. characteristic frame of mind; disposition; emotional excess. Although the twins look alike, they differ markedly in temperament: Todd is calm, but Rod is excitable.
temperate ADJ. restrained; self-controlled; moderate in respect to temperature. Try to be temperate in your eating this holiday season; if you control your appetite, you won’t gain too much weight.
tempestuous ADJ. stormy; impassioned; violent. Racket throwing tennis star John McEnroe was famed for his displays of tempestuous temperament.
tempo N. speed of music. I find the band’s tempo too slow for such a lively dance.
temporal ADJ. not lasting forever; limited by time; secular. At one time in our history, temporal rulers assumed that they had been given their thrones by divine right.
temporize V. act evasively to gain time; avoid committing oneself. Ordered by King John to drive Robin Hood out of Sherwood Forest, the sheriff temporized, hoping to put off any confrontation with the outlaw band.
tenacious ADJ. holding fast. I had to struggle to break his tenacious hold on my arm.
tenacity N. firmness; persistence. Jean Valjean could not believe the tenacity of Inspector Javert. Here all Valjean had done was to steal a loaf of bread, and the inspector had pursued him doggedly for twenty years!
tendentious ADJ. having an aim; biased; designed to further a cause. The editorials in this periodical are tendentious rather than truth-seeking.
tender V. offer; extend. Although no formal charges had been made against him, in the wake of the recent scandal the mayor felt he should tender his resignation.
tenet N. doctrine; dogma. The agnostic did not accept the tenets of their faith.
tensile ADJ. capable of being stretched. Mountain climbers must know the tensile strength of their ropes.
tentative ADJ. hesitant; not fully worked out or developed; experimental; not definite or positive. Unsure of his welcome at the Christmas party, Scrooge took a tentative step into his nephew’s drawing room.
tenuous ADJ. thin; rare; slim. The allegiance of our allies is based on such tenuous ties that we have little hope they will remain loyal.
tenure N. holding of an office; time during which such an office is held. A special recall election put a sudden end to Gray Davis’s tenure in office as governor of California.
tepid ADJ. lukewarm. To avoid scalding the baby, make sure the bath water is tepid, not hot.
termination N. end. Though the time for termination of the project was near, we still had a lot of work to finish before we shut up shop. terminate, V.
terminology N. terms used in a science or art. In talking to patients, doctors should either avoid medical terminology altogether or take time to explain the technical terms they use.
terrestrial ADJ. earthly (as opposed to celestial); pertaining to the land. In many science fiction films, alien invaders from outer space plan to destroy all terrestrial life.
terse ADJ. concise; abrupt; pithy. There is a fine line between speech that is terse and to the point and speech that is too abrupt.
testy ADJ. irritable; short-tempered. My advice is to avoid discussing this problem with him today as he is rather testy and may shout at you.
tether V. tie with a rope. Before we went to sleep, we tethered the horses to prevent their wandering off during the night.
thematic ADJ. relating to a unifying motif or idea. Those who think of Moby Dick as a simple adventure story about whaling miss its underlying thematic import.
theocracy N. government run by religious leaders. Though some Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower favored the establishment of a theocracy in New England, many of their fellow voyagers preferred a nonreligious form of government.
theoretical ADJ. not practical or applied; hypothetical. Bob was better at applied engineering and computer programming than he was at theoretical physics and math. While I can still think of some theoretical objections to your plan, you’ve convinced me of its basic soundness.
therapeutic ADJ. curative. Now better known for its racetrack, Saratoga Springs first gained attention for the therapeutic qualities of its famous “healing waters.” therapy, N.
thermal ADJ. pertaining to heat. On cold, wintry days, Jack dresses for warmth, putting on his thermal underwear. also N.
thespian ADJ. pertaining to drama. Her success in the school play convinced her she was destined for a thespian career. also N.
threadbare ADJ. worn through till the threads show; shabby and poor. The poor adjunct professor hid the threadbare spots on his jacket by sewing leather patches on his sleeves.
thrifty ADJ. careful about money; economical. A thrifty shopper compares prices before making major purchases.
thrive V. prosper; flourish. Despite the impact of the recession on the restaurant trade, Philip’s cafe thrived.
throes N. violent anguish. The throes of despair can be as devastating as the spasms accompanying physical pain.
throng N. crowd. Throngs of shoppers jammed the aisles. also V.
thwart V. prevent; frustrate; oppose and defeat. Batman searched for a way to thwart the Joker’s evil plan to destroy Gotham City.
tightwad N. excessively frugal person; miser. Jill called Jack a tightwad because he never picked up the check.
timidity N. lack of self-confidence or courage. If you are to succeed as a salesman, you must first lose your timidity and fear of failure.
timorous ADJ. fearful; demonstrating fear. His timorous manner betrayed the fear he felt at the moment.
tirade N. extended scolding; denunciation; harangue. The cigar smoker went into a bitter tirade, denouncing the anti-smoking forces that had succeeded in banning smoking from most planes and restaurants.
titanic ADJ. gigantic. Titanic waves beat against the majestic S.S. Titanic, driving it against the concealed iceberg.
title N. right or claim to possession; mark of rank; name (of a book, film, etc.). Though the penniless Duke of Ragwort no longer held title to the family estate, he still retained his title as head of one of England’s oldest families.
titter N. nervous laugh. Her aunt’s constant titter nearly drove her mad. also V.
titular ADJ. nominal holding of title without obligations. Although he was the titular head of the company, the real decisions were made by his general manager.
toady N. servile flatterer; yes man. Never tell the boss anything he doesn’t wish to hear: he doesn’t want an independent adviser, he just wants a toady. also V.
tome N. large volume. He spent much time in the libraries poring over ancient tomes.
tonic ADJ. invigorating; refreshing. The tart homemade ginger ale had a tonic effect on Kit: she perked right up. also N.
Word List 47 topography–ubiquitous
topography N. physical features of a region. Before the generals gave the order to attack, they ordered a complete study of the topography of the region.
torpor N. lethargy; sluggishness; dormancy. Throughout the winter, nothing aroused the bear from his torpor: he would not emerge from hibernation until spring. torpid, ADJ.
torrent N. rushing stream; flood. Day after day of heavy rain saturated the hillside until the water ran downhill in torrents. torrential, ADJ.
torrid ADJ. passionate; hot or scorching. Harlequin Romances publish torrid tales of love affairs, some set in torrid climates.
tortuous ADJ. winding; full of curves. Because this road is so tortuous, it is unwise to go faster than twenty miles an hour on it.
totter V. move unsteadily; sway, as if about to fall. On unsteady feet, the drunk tottered down the hill to the nearest bar.
touchstone N. stone used to test the fineness of gold alloys; criterion. What touchstone can be used to measure the character of a person?
touchy ADJ. sensitive; irascible. Do not mention his bald spot; he’s very touchy about it.
tout V. publicize; praise excessively. I lost confidence in my broker after he touted some junk bonds to me that turned out to be a bad investment.
toxic ADJ. poisonous. We must seek an antidote for whatever toxic substance he has eaten. toxicity, N.
tract N. region of land (often imprecisely described); pamphlet. The king granted William Penn a tract of land in the New World. Penn then printed a tract in which he encouraged settlers to join his colony.
tractable ADJ. docile; easily managed. Although Susan seemed a tractable young woman, she had a stubborn streak of independence that occasionally led her to defy the powers-that-be when she felt they were in the wrong.
traduce V. expose to slander. His opponents tried to traduce the candidate’s reputation by spreading rumors about his past.
trajectory N. path taken by a projectile. The police tried to locate the spot from which the assassin had fired the fatal shot by tracing the trajectory of the bullet.
tranquillity N. calmness; peace. After the commotion and excitement of the city, I appreciate the tranquillity of these fields and forests.
transcendent ADJ. surpassing; exceeding ordinary limits; superior. For the amateur chef, dining at the four-star restaurant was a transcendent experience: the meal surpassed his wildest dreams.
transcribe V. copy. When you transcribe your notes, please send a copy to Mr. Smith and keep the original for our files. transcription, N.
transgression N. violation of a law; sin. Although Widow Douglass was willing to overlook Huck’s transgressions, Miss Watson refused to forgive and forget.
transient ADJ. momentary; temporary; staying for a short time. Lexy’s joy at finding the perfect Christmas gift for Phil was transient; she still had to find presents for the cousins and Uncle Bob. Located near the airport, this hotel caters to a largely transient trade. transience, N.
transition N. going from one state of action to another. During the period of transition from oil heat to gas heat, the furnace will have to be shut off.
transitory ADJ. impermanent; fleeting. Fame is transitory; today’s rising star is all too soon tomorrow’s washed-up has-been. transitoriness, N.
translucent ADJ. partly transparent. We could not recognize the people in the next room because of the translucent curtains that separated us.
transmute V. change; convert to something different. He was unable to transmute his dreams into actualities.
transparent ADJ. easily detected; permitting light to pass through freely. John’s pride in his son is transparent; no one who sees the two of them together can miss it.
transport N. strong emotion. Margo was a creature of extremes, at one moment in transports of joy over a vivid sunset, at another moment in transports of grief over a dying bird. also V. (secondary meaning)
trappings N. outward decorations; ornaments. He loved the trappings of success: the limousines, the stock options, the company jet.
traumatic ADJ. pertaining to an injury caused by violence. In his nightmares, he kept on recalling the traumatic experience of being wounded in battle.
travail N. painful physical or mental labor; drudgery; torment. Like every other high school student she knew, Sherry hated the year long travail of cramming for the SAT. also V.
traverse V. go through or across. When you traverse this field, be careful of the bull.
travesty N. harshly distorted imitation; parody; debased likeness. Phillips’s translation of Don Quixote is so inadequate and clumsy that it seems a travesty of the original.
treacly ADJ. sticky sweet; cloyingly sentimental. Irritatingly cheerful, always looking on the bright side, Pollyanna speaks nothing but treacly sentimentalities. treacle, N.
treatise N. article treating a subject systematically and thoroughly. He is preparing a treatise on the Elizabethan playwrights for his graduate degree.
trek N. travel; journey. The tribe made their trek farther north that summer in search of game. also V.
tremor N. trembling; slight quiver. She had a nervous tremor in her right hand.
tremulous ADJ. trembling; wavering. She was tremulous more from excitement than from fear.
trenchant ADJ. forceful and vigorous; cutting. With his trenchant wit, Rich cuts straight to the heart of the matter, panning a truly dreadful play.
trepidation N. fear; nervous apprehension. As she entered the office of the dean of admissions, Sharon felt some trepidation about how she would do in her interview.
trespass V. unlawfully enter the boundaries of someone else’s property. The wicked baron flogged any poacher who trespassed on his private hunting grounds. also N.
tribute N. tax levied by a ruler; mark of respect. The colonists refused to pay tribute to a foreign despot.
trifling ADJ. trivial; unimportant. Why bother going to see a doctor for such at rifling, everyday cold?
trigger V. set off. John is touchy today; say one word wrong and you’ll trigger an explosion.
trite ADJ. hackneyed; commonplace. The trite and predictable situations in many television programs turn off many viewers, who, in turn, turn off their sets.
trivial ADJ. unimportant; trifling. Too many magazines ignore newsworthy subjects and feature trivial affairs. trivia, N.
trough N. container for feeding farm animals; lowest point (of a wave, business cycle, etc.) The hungry pigs struggled to get at the fresh swill in the trough. The surfer rode her board, coasting along in the trough between two waves.
truculence N. aggressiveness; ferocity. Tynan’s reviews were noted for their caustic attacks and general tone of truculence. truculent, ADJ.
truism N. self-evident truth. Many a truism is summed up in a proverb; for example, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.”
truncate V. cut the top off. The top of a cone that has been truncated in a plane parallel to its base is a circle.
tumult N. commotion; riot; noise. She could not make herself heard over the tumult of the mob.
turbid ADJ. muddy; having the sediment disturbed. The water was turbid after the children had waded through it.
turbulence N. state of violent agitation. Warned of approaching turbulence in the atmosphere, the pilot told the passengers to fasten their seat belts.
turgid ADJ. swollen; distended. The turgid river threatened to overflow the levees and flood the countryside.
turmoil N. great commotion and confusion. Lydia running off with a soldier! Mother fainting at the news! The Bennet household was in turmoil.
turncoat N. traitor. The British considered Benedict Arnold a loyalist; the Americans considered him a turncoat.
turpitude N. depravity. A visitor may be denied admittance to this country if she has been guilty of moral turpitude.
tutelage N. guardianship; training. Under the tutelage of such masters of the instrument, she made rapid progress as a virtuoso.
tycoon N. wealthy leader. John D. Rockefeller was a prominent tycoon.
typhoon N. tropical hurricane or cyclone. If you liked Twister, you’ll love Typhoon!
tyranny N. oppression; cruel government. Frederick Douglass fought against the tyranny of slavery throughout his life.
tyro N. beginner; novice. For a mere tyro, you have produced some wonderfully expert results.
ubiquitous ADJ. being everywhere; omnipresent. That Christmas “The Little Drummer Boy” seemed ubiquitous; David heard the tune everywhere.
Word List 48 ulterior–vehement
ulterior ADJ. unstated; hidden; more remote. Suspicious of altruistic gestures, he looked for an ulterior motive behind every charitable deed.
ultimate ADJ. final; not susceptible to further analysis. Scientists are searching for ultimate truths.
unaccountable ADJ. inexplicable; unreasonable or mysterious. I have taken an unaccountable dislike to my doctor: “I do not love thee, Doctor Fell. The reason why, I cannot tell.”
unanimity N. complete agreement. We were surprised by the unanimity with which members of both parties accepted our proposals. unanimous, ADJ.
unassailable ADJ. not subject to question; not open to attack. Penelope’s virtue was unassailable; while she waited for her husband to come back from the war, no other man had a chance.
unassuming ADJ. modest. He is so unassuming that some people fail to realize how great a man he really is.
unbridled ADJ. violent. She had a sudden fit of unbridled rage.
uncanny ADJ. strange; mysterious. You have the uncanny knack of reading my innermost thoughts.
unconscionable ADJ. unscrupulous; excessive. She found the loan shark’s demands unconscionable and impossible to meet.
uncouth ADJ. outlandish; clumsy; boorish. Most biographers portray Lincoln as an uncouth and ungainly young man.
unctuous ADJ. oily; bland; insincerely suave. Uriah Heep disguised his nefarious actions by unctuous protestations of his “humility.”
underlying ADJ. fundamental; lying below. The underlying cause of the student riot was not the strict curfew rule but the moldy cafeteria food. Miss Marple seems a sweet little old lady at first, but there’s an iron will underlyingthat soft and fluffy facade.
undermine V. weaken; sap. The recent corruption scandals have undermined many people’s faith in the city government. The recent torrential rains have washed away much of the cliffside; the deluge threatens to undermine the pillars supporting several houses at the edge of the cliff.
underscore V. emphasize. Addressing the jogging class, Kim underscored the importance to runners of good nutrition.
undulating ADJ. moving with a wavelike motion. The Hilo Hula Festival was an undulating sea of grass skirts.
unearth V. dig up. When they unearthed the city, the archeologists found many relics of an ancient civilization.
unequivocal ADJ. plain; obvious; unmistakable. My answer to your proposal is an unequivocal and absolute “No.”
unerringly ADV. infallibly. My teacher unerringly pounced on the one typographical error in my essay.
unfathomable ADJ. incomprehensible; impenetrable. Unable to get to the bottom of the mystery, Watson declared it was unfathomable.
unfetter V. liberate; free from chains. Chained to the wall for months on end, the hostage despaired that he would ever be unfettered.
ungainly ADJ. awkward; clumsy; unwieldy. “If you want to know whether Nick’s an ungainly dancer, check out my bruised feet, ” said Nora. Anyone who has ever tried to carry a bass fiddle knows it’s an ungainly instrument.
uniformity N. sameness; monotony. At Persons magazine, we strive for uniformity of style; as a result, all our writers wind up sounding exactly alike.
unimpeachable ADJ. blameless and exemplary. Her conduct in office was unimpeachable and her record is spotless.
uninhibited ADJ. unrepressed. The congregation was shocked by her uninhibited laughter during the sermon.
unintimidating ADJ. unfrightening. Though Phil had expected to feel overawed when he met Steve Young, he found the famous quarterback friendly and unintimidating.
unique ADJ. without an equal; single in kind. You have the unique distinction of being the only student whom I have had to fail in this course.
universal ADJ. characterizing or affecting all; present everywhere. At first, no one shared Christopher’s opinions; his theory that the world was round was met with universal disdain.
unkempt ADJ. disheveled; uncared for in appearance. Jeremy hated his neighbor’s unkempt lawn: he thought its neglected appearance had a detrimental effect on neighborhood property values.
unmitigated ADJ. unrelieved or immoderate; absolute. After four days of unmitigated heat, I was ready to collapse from heat prostration. The congresswoman’s husband was an unmitigated jerk: not only did he abandon her, he took her campaign funds, too!
unobtrusive ADJ. inconspicuous; not blatant. Reluctant to attract notice, the governess took a chair in a far corner of the room and tried to be as unobtrusive as possible.
unpalatable ADJ. distasteful; disagreeable. “I refuse to swallow your conclusion, ” said she, finding his logic unpalatable.
unprecedented ADJ. novel; unparalleled. For a first novel, Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind was an unprecedented success.
unprepossessing ADJ. unattractive. During adolescence many attractive young people somehow acquire the false notion that their appearance is unprepossessing.
unravel V. disentangle; solve. With equal ease Miss Marple unraveled tangled balls of yarn and baffling murder mysteries.
unrequited ADJ. not reciprocated. Suffering the pangs of unrequited love, Olivia rebukes Cesario for his hardheartedness.
unruly ADJ. disobedient; lawless. The only way to curb this unruly mob is to use tear gas.
unscathed ADJ. unharmed. They prayed he would come back from the war unscathed.
unseemly ADJ. unbecoming; indecent; in poor taste. When he put whoopie cushions on all the seats in the funeral parlor, his conduct was most unseemly.
unsightly ADJ. ugly. Although James was an experienced emergency room nurse, he occasionally became queasy when faced with a particularly unsightly injury.
unstinting ADJ. giving generously; not holding back. The dean praised the donor of the new science building for her unstinting generosity.
untenable ADJ. indefensible; not able to be maintained. Wayne is so contrary that, the more untenable a position is, the harder he’ll try to defend it.
unwarranted ADJ. unjustified; groundless; undeserved. Your assumption that I would accept your proposal is unwarranted, sir; I do not want to marry you at all. We could not understand Martin’s unwarranted rudeness to his mother’s guests.
unwieldy ADJ. awkward; cumbersome; unmanageable. The large carton was so unwieldy that the movers had trouble getting it up the stairs.
unwitting ADJ. unintentional; not knowing. She was the unwitting tool of the swindlers.
upbraid V. severely scold; reprimand. Not only did Miss Minchin upbraid Ermengarde for her disobedience, but she hung her up by her braids from a coat rack in the classroom.
uproarious ADJ. marked by commotion; extremely funny; very noisy. The uproarious comedy hit Ace Ventura: Pet Detective starred Jim Carrey, whose comic mugging provoked gales of uproarious laughter from audiences coast to coast.
upshot N. outcome. The upshot of the rematch was that the former champion proved that he still possessed all the skills of his youth.
urbane ADJ. suave; refined; elegant. The courtier was urbane and sophisticated. urbanity, N.
usurp V. seize another’s power or rank. The revolution ended when the victorious rebel general succeeded in his attempt to usurp the throne.
utopia N. ideal place, state, or society. Fed up with this imperfect universe, Don would have liked to run off to Shangri-la or some other imaginary utopia. utopian, ADJ.
vacillate V. waver; fluctuate. Uncertain which suitor she ought to marry, the princess vacillated, saying now one, now the other. The big boss likes his people to be decisive: when he asks you for your opinion, whatever you do, don’t vacillate. vacillation, N.
vacuous ADJ. empty; inane. The vacuous remarks of the politician annoyed the audience, who had hoped to hear more than empty platitudes.
vagabond N. wanderer; tramp. In summer, college students wander the roads of Europe like carefree vagabonds. also ADJ.
vagrant N. a homeless wanderer. Because he was a stranger in town with no visible means of support, Martin feared he would be jailed as a vagrant. vagrancy, N.
valedictory ADJ. pertaining to farewell. I found the valedictory address too long; leave-taking should be brief.
valid ADJ. logically convincing; sound; legally acceptable. You’re going to have to come up with a better argument if you want to convince me that your reasoning is valid.
validate V. confirm; ratify. I will not publish my findings until I validate my results.
valor N. bravery. He received the Medal of Honor for his valor in battle.
vanguard N. advance guard of a military force; forefront of a movement. When no enemy was in sight, the Duke of Plaza Toro marched in the vanguard of his troops, but once the bullets flew above, he headed for the rear.
vantage N. position giving an advantage. They fired upon the enemy from behind trees, walls and any other point of vantage they could find.
vapid ADJ. dull and unimaginative; insipid and flavorless. “ Bor-ing!” said Jessica, as she suffered through yet another vapid lecture about Dead White Male Poets.
vaporize V. turn into vapor (steam, gas, fog, etc.). “Zap!” went Super Mario’s atomic ray gun as he vaporized another deadly foe.
variegated ADJ. many-colored. Without her glasses, Gretchen saw the fields of tulips as a variegated blur.
veer V. change in direction. After what seemed an eternity, the wind veered to the east and the storm abated.
vehement ADJ. forceful; intensely emotional; with marked vigor. Alfred became so vehement in describing what was wrong with the Internal Revenue Service that he began jumping up and down and frothing at the mouth. vehemence, N.
Word List 49 velocity–vogue
velocity N. speed. The train went by at considerable velocity.
venal ADJ. capable of being bribed. The venal policeman cheerfully accepted the bribe offered him by the speeding motorist whom he had stopped.
vendetta N. blood feud. Hoping to stop the street warfare disrupting his city, the Duke ordered the Capulet and Montague families to end their bitter vendetta.
veneer N. thin layer; cover. Casual acquaintances were deceived by his veneer of sophistication and failed to recognize his fundamental shallowness.
venerable ADJ. deserving high respect. We do not mean to be disrespectful when we refuse to follow the advice of our venerable leader.
venerate V. revere. In Tibet today, the common people still venerate their traditional spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
venial ADJ. forgivable; trivial. When Jean Valjean stole a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister, he committed a venial offense.
venom N. poison; hatred. Bitten by a rattlesnake on his ankle, the cowboy contortionist curled up like a pretzel and sucked the venom out of the wound.
vent N. a small opening; outlet. The wine did not flow because the air vent in the barrel was clogged.
vent V. express; utter. The angry teacher vented his wrath on his class.
ventriloquist N. someone who can make his or her voice seem to come from another person or thing. In the classic movie Dead of Night, the ventriloquist is possessed by his wooden dummy, which torments its master, driving him to madness and murder.
venturesome ADJ. bold. A group of venturesome women were the first to scale Mt. Annapurna.
veracity N. truthfulness. Asserting his veracity, young George Washington proclaimed, “Father, I cannot tell a lie!”
verbalize V. put into words. I know you don’t like to talk about these things, but please try to verbalize your feelings.
verbatim ADV. word for word. Blessed with a retentive memory, he could repeat lengthy messages verbatim. also ADJ.
verbiage N. pompous array of words. After we had waded through all the verbiage, we discovered that the writer had said very little.
verbose ADJ. wordy. Someone mute can’t talk; someone verbose can hardly stop talking.
verge N. border; edge. Madame Curie knew she was on the verge of discovering the secrets of radioactive elements. also V.
verisimilitude N. appearance of truth; likelihood. Critics praised her for the verisimilitude of her performance as Lady Macbeth. She was completely believable.
verity N. quality of being true; lasting truth or principle. Did you question the verity of Kato Kaelin’s testimony about what he heard the night Nicole Brown Simpson was slain? To the skeptic, everything was relative: there were no eternal verities in which one could believe.
vernacular N. living language; natural style. Cut out those old-fashioned thee’s and thou’s and write in the vernacular also ADJ.
versatile ADJ. having many talents; capable of working in many fields. She was a versatile athlete, earning varsity letters in basketball, hockey, and track.
vertex N. summit. Let us drop a perpendicular line from the vertex of the triangle to the base.
vertigo N. severe dizziness. When you test potential airplane pilots for susceptibility to spells of vertigo, be sure to hand out air-sickness bags.
verve N. energy in expressing ideas, especially artistically; liveliness. In his rhymes, Seuss writes with such verve and good humor that adults as well as children delight in the adventures of The Cat in the Hat.
vestige N. trace; remains. We discovered vestiges of early Indian life in the cave. vestigial, ADJ.
vex N. annoy; distress. Please try not to vex your mother; she is doing the best she can.
viable ADJ. practical or workable; capable of maintaining life. That idea won’t work. Let me see whether I can come up with a viable alternative.
vicarious ADJ. acting as a substitute; done by a deputy. Though Violet was too meek to talk back to anybody, she got a vicarious kick out of Rita’s sharp retorts.
vicissitude N. change of fortune. Humbled by life’s vicissitudes the last emperor of China worked as a lowly gardener in the palace over which he had once ruled.
vie V. contend; compete. Politicians vie with one another, competing for donations and votes.
vigilance N. watchfulness. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
vignette N. picture; short literary sketch. The New Yorker published her latest vignette.
vigor N. active strength. Although he was over seventy years old, Jack had the vigor of a man in his prime. vigorous, ADJ.
vilify V. slander. Waging a highly negative campaign, the candidate attempted to vilify his opponent’s reputation. vilification, N.
vindicate V. clear from blame; exonerate; justify or support. The lawyer’s goal was to vindicate her client and prove him innocent on all charges. The critics’ extremely favorable reviews vindicate my opinion that The Madness of King George is a brilliant movie.
vindictive ADJ. out for revenge; malicious. I think it’s unworthy of Martha to be so vindictive; she shouldn’t stoop to such petty acts of revenge.
viper N. poisonous snake. The habitat of the horned viper, a particularly venomous snake, is in sandy regions like the Sahara or the Sinai peninsula.
virile ADJ. manly. I do not accept the premise that a man proves he’s virile by being belligerent.
virtual ADJ. in essence; for practical purposes. She is a virtual financial wizard when it comes to money matters.
virtue N. goodness, moral excellence; good quality. Virtue carried to extremes can turn into vice: humility, for example, can degenerate into servility and spinelessness.
virtuoso N. highly skilled artist. The promising young cellist Yo-Yo Ma grew into a virtuoso whose performances thrilled audiences throughout the world. virtuosity, N.
virulent ADJ. extremely poisonous; hostile; bitter. Laid up with a virulent case of measles, Vera blamed her doctors because her recovery took so long. In fact, she became quite virulent on the subject of the quality of modern medical care.
virus N. disease communicator. The doctors are looking for a specific medicine to control this virus.
visceral ADJ. felt in one’s inner organs. She disliked the visceral sensations she had whenever she rode the roller coaster.
viscous ADJ. sticky; gluey. Melted tar is a viscous substance. viscosity, N.
visionary ADJ. produced by imagination; fanciful; mystical. She was given to visionary schemes that never materialized. also N.
vital ADJ. vibrant and lively; critical; living, breathing. The vital, highly energetic first aid instructor stressed that it was vital in examining accident victims to note their vital signs.
vitriolic ADJ. corrosive; sarcastic. Oil of vitriol, or sulfuric acid, leaves scars on the flesh; vitriolic criticism leaves scars on the soul.
vituperative ADJ. abusive; scolding. He became more vituperative as he realized that we were not going to grant him his wish.
vivacious ADJ. animated; lively. She had always been vivacious and sparkling.
vociferous ADJ. clamorous; noisy. The crowd grew vociferous in its anger and threatened to take the law into its own hands.
vogue N. popular fashion. Jeans are the vogue on college campuses.
Word List 50 volatile–zephyr
volatile ADJ. changeable; explosive; evaporating rapidly. The political climate today is extremely volatile: no one can predict what the electorate will do next. Maria Callas’s temper was extremely volatile: the only thing you could predict was that she was sure to blow up. Acetone is an extremely volatile liquid: it evaporates instantly.
volition N. act of making a conscious choice. She selected this dress of her own volition.
voluble ADJ. fluent; glib; talkative. The excessively voluble speaker suffers from logorrhea: he runs off at the mouth a lot!
voluminous ADJ. bulky; large. A caftan is a voluminous garment; most people wearing one look as if they’re draped in a small tent.
voluptuous ADJ. suggesting sensual delights; sensuously pleasing. Renoir’s paintings of nude women accent his subjects’ rosy-tinted flesh and full, voluptuous figures.
voracious ADJ. ravenous. The wolf is a voracious animal, its hunger never satisfied.
vortex N. whirlwind; whirlpool; center of turbulence; predicament into which one is inexorably plunged. Sucked into the vortex of the tornado, Dorothy and Toto were carried from Kansas to Oz.
vouchsafe V. grant; choose to give in reply; permit. Occasionally the rock star would drift out onto the balcony and vouchsafe the crowd below a glimpse of her celebrated features. The professor vouchsafed not a word to the students’ questions about what would be covered on the test.
voyeur N. Peeping Tom. Nancy called her brother a voyeur when she caught him aiming his binoculars at an upstairs window of the house of the newlyweds next door.
vulnerable ADJ. susceptible to wounds. His opponents could not harm Achilles, who was vulnerable only in his heel.
waffle V. speak equivocally about an issue. When asked directly about the governor’s involvement in the savings and loan scandal, the press secretary waffled, talking all around the issue.
waft V. moved gently by wind or waves. Daydreaming, he gazed at the leaves that wafted past his window.
waggish ADJ. mischievous; humorous; tricky. He was a prankster who, unfortunately, often overlooked the damage he could cause with his waggish tricks. wag, N.
waif N. homeless child or animal. Although he already had eight cats, he could not resist adopting yet another feline waif.
waive V. give up a claim or right voluntarily; refrain from enforcing; postpone considering. Although, technically, prospective students had to live in Piedmont to attend high school there, occasionally the school waived the residence requirement in order to enroll promising athletes.
wake N. trail of ship or other object through water; path of something that has gone before. The wake of the swan gliding through the water glistened in the moonlight. Reporters and photographers converged on South Carolina in the wake of the hurricane that devastated much of the eastern seaboard.
wallow V. roll in; indulge in; become helpless. The hippopotamus loves to wallow in the mud.
wan ADJ. having a pale or sickly color; pallid. The convalescent looked frail and wan, her skin almost as white as the sheets on her sickbed.
wane V. decrease in size or strength; draw gradually to an end. The verb wax, which means to grow in size, is an antonym for wane. As it burns, does a wax candle wane?
wanton ADJ. unrestrained; willfully malicious; unchaste. Pointing to the stack of bills, Sheldon criticized Sarah for her wanton expenditures. In response, Sarah accused Sheldon of making an unfounded, wanton attack.
warble V. sing; babble. Every morning the birds warbled outside her window. also N.
warrant V. justify; authorize. Before the judge issues the injunction, you must convince her this action is warranted.
warranty N. guarantee; assurance by seller. The purchaser of this automobile is protected by the manufacturer’s warranty that the company will replace any defective part for five years or 50, 000 miles.
wary ADJ. very cautious. The spies grew wary as they approached the sentry.
wastrel N. profligate. His neighbors denounced him as a wastrel who had dissipated his inheritance.
watershed N. crucial dividing point. The invention of the personal computer proved a historic watershed, for it opened the way to today’s Information Age.
wax V. increase; grow. With proper handling, his fortunes waxed and he became rich.
waylay V. ambush; lie in wait. They agreed to waylay their victim as he passed through the dark alley going home.
wean V. accustom a baby to not nurse; give up a cherished activity. He decided he would wean himself away from eating junk food and stick to fruits and vegetables.
weather V. endure the effects of weather or other forces. Reporters wondered whether Governor Gray Davis would weather his latest political challenge and remain in office, or whether he would be California’s first governor to be recalled.
welter N. turmoil; bewildering jumble. The existing welter of overlapping federal and state programs cries out for immediate reform.
wheedle V. cajole; coax; deceive by flattery. She knows she can wheedle almost anything she wants from her father.
whet V. sharpen; stimulate. The odors from the kitchen are whetting my appetite; I will be ravenous by the time the meal is served.
whiff N. puff or gust (of air, scent, etc.); hint. The slightest whiff of Old Spice cologne brought memories of George to her mind.
whimsical ADJ. capricious; fanciful. In Mrs. Doubtfire, the hero is a playful, whimsical man who takes a notion to dress up as a woman so that he can look after his children, who are in the custody of his ex-wife. whimsy, N.
willful ADJ. intentional; headstrong. Donald had planned to kill his wife for months; clearly, her death was a case of deliberate, willful murder, not a crime of passion committed by a hasty, willful youth unable to foresee the consequences of his deeds.
wily ADJ. cunning; artful. If coyotes are supposed to be such sneaky, wily creatures, how does Road Runner always manage to outwit Wile E. Coyote?
wince V. shrink back; flinch. The screech of the chalk on the blackboard made her wince.
windfall N. unexpected lucky event. This huge tax refund is quite a windfall.
winnow V. sift; separate good parts from bad. This test will winnow out the students who study from those who don’t bother.
winsome ADJ. agreeable; gracious; engaging. By her winsome manner, she made herself liked by everyone who met her.
wispy ADJ. thin; slight; barely discernible. Worried about preserving his few wispy tufts of hair, Walter carefully massaged his scalp and applied hair restorer every night.
wistful ADJ. vaguely longing; sadly thoughtful. With a last wistful glance at the happy couples dancing in the hall, Sue headed back to her room to study for her exam.
withdrawn ADJ. introverted; remote. Rebuffed by his colleagues, the initially outgoing young researcher became increasingly withdrawn.
wither V. shrivel; decay. Cut flowers are beautiful for a day, but all too soon they wither.
withhold V. refuse to give; hold back. The tenants decided to withhold a portion of the rent until the landlord kept his promise to renovate the building.
withstand V. stand up against; successfully resist. If you can withstand all the peer pressure in high school to cut classes and goof off, you should survive college just fine.
witless ADJ. foolish; idiotic. If Beavis is a half-wit, then Butthead is totally witless.
witticism N. witty saying; wisecrack. I don’t mean any criticism, but that last witticism totally hurt my feelings.
wizardry N. sorcery; magic. Merlin the Magician amazed the knights with his wizardry.
woe N. deep, inconsolable grief; affliction; suffering. Pale and wan with grief, Wanda was bowed down beneath the burden of her woes.
worldly ADJ. engrossed in matters of this earth; not spiritual. You must leave your worldly goods behind you when you go to meet your Maker.
wrath N. anger; fury. She turned to him, full of wrath, and said, “What makes you think I’ll accept lower pay for this job than you get?”
wrench V. pull; strain; twist. She wrenched free of her attacker and landed a powerful kick to his kneecap.
writhe V. twist in coils; contort in pain. In Dances with Snakes, the snake dancer wriggled sinuously as her boa constrictor writhed around her torso.
wry ADJ. twisted; with a humorous twist. We enjoy Dorothy Parker’s verse for its wry wit.
xenophobia N. fear or hatred of foreigners. Xenophobia is directed against foreign people, not necessarily against foreign products: even xenophobes patronize Chinese restaurants and buy Japanese TVs.
yen N. longing; urge. She had a yen to get away and live on her own for a while.
yield V. give in; surrender. The wounded knight refused to yield to his foe.
yield N. amount produced; crop; income on investment. An experienced farmer can estimate the annual yield of his acres with surprising accuracy. also V.
yoke V. join together, unite. I don’t wish to be yoked to him in marriage, as if we were cattle pulling a plow. also N.
yore N. time past. He dreamed of the elegant homes of yore, but gave no thought to their inelegant plumbing.
zany ADJ. crazy; comic. I can watch the Marx brothers’ zany antics for hours.
zeal N. eager enthusiasm. Katya’s zeal was contagious; soon all her fellow students were busily making posters, inspired by her ardent enthusiasm for the cause. zealous, ADJ.
zealot N. fanatic; person who shows excessive zeal. Though Glenn was devout, he was no zealot; he never tried to force his beliefs on his friends.
zenith N. point directly overhead in the sky; summit. When the sun was at its zenith, the glare was not as strong as at sunrise and sunset.
zephyr N. gentle breeze; west wind. When these zephyrs blow, it is good to be in an open boat under a full sail.
Basic Word Parts
In addition to reviewing the SAT High-Frequency Word List, what other quick vocabulary-building tactics can you follow when you face an SAT deadline?
One good approach is to learn how to build up (and tear apart) words. You know that words are made up of other words: the room in which you store things is the storeroom; the person whose job is to keep the books is the bookkeeper.
Just as words are made up of other words, words are also made up of word parts: prefixes, suffixes, and roots. If you know your basic word parts, you can figure out the meanings of thousands of unfamiliar words.
POWER UP YOUR PERFORMANCE!
Don’t let big words throw you. Build your vocabulary with prefixes, suffixes, and roots.
Learn 30 key word parts and unlock 10,000 words.
Learn 50 key word parts and unlock 100,000 words!
Prefixes are syllables that precede the root or stem of a word and change or refine its meaning.
from, away from
abduct lead away, kidnap
ad, ac, af, ag, an,
ambidextrous skilled with both hands
anarchy lack of government
antecedent preceding event or word
bedaub smear over
bicameral composed of two houses (Congress)
circumnavigate sail around (the globe)
com, co, col, con, cor
combine merge with
contravene conflict with
debase lower in value
demigod partly divine being
dichotomy division into two parts
diagonal across a figure
discord lack of harmony
dyslexia faulty ability to read
expel drive out
extracurricular beyond the curriculum
hypoglycemia low blood sugar
in, il, im, ir
inefficient not efficient
in, il, im, ir
in, on, upon
invite call in
intervene come between
intramural within a school
macrobiotic tending to prolong life
megalomania delusions of grandeur
metamorphosis change of form
microcosm miniature universe
misdemeanor minor crime; bad conduct
misanthrope person who hates mankind
monarchy government by one ruler
multifarious having many parts
neologism newly coined word
ob, oc, of, op
obloquy infamy; disgrace
oligarchy government by a few
permeable allowing passage through
perimeter outer boundary
polygamist person with several spouses
preamble introductory statement
primordial existing at the dawn of time
forward, in favor of
propulsive driving forward
prototype first of its kind
pseudonym pen name
retrospect looking back
semiannual every six months
sub, suc, suf, sug, sup, sus
subway underground road
supernatural above natural things
syn, sym, syl, sys
synchronize time together
telemetry measurement from a distance
transport carry across
ultramodern excessively modern
unfeigned not pretended; real
undergird strengthen underneath
unison oneness of pitch; complete accord
in place of
vicarious acting as a substitute
withhold hold back; keep
COMMON ROOTS AND STEMS
Roots are basic word elements that have been carried over into English. Stems are variations of roots brought about by changes in declension or conjugation
Root or Stem
acrimonious bitter; caustic
primeval of the first age
demagogue false leader of people
agrarian one who works in the field
alias assumed (another) name
altruistic unselfish, considering others
amorous loving, especially sexually
animadvert cast criticism upon
annuity yearly remittance
anthropology study of man
aqueduct passageway for conducting water
archaeology study of antiquities (study of first things)
astronomy study of the stars
audible able to be heard
autocracy rule by one person (self)
bellicose inclined to fight
benefactor one who does good deeds
bibliography list of books
biography writing about a person’s life
cap, capt, cept, cip
decapitate remove (cut off) someone’s head
to yield, to go
recede go back, withdraw
century one hundred years
chronology timetable of events
to cut, to kill
incision a cut (surgical)
to call, to start
incite stir up, start up
civilization society of citizens, culture
to cry out
claud, claus, clos,clud
claustrophobia fear of close places
agnostic lacking knowledge, skeptical
complete filled out
accord agreement (from the heart)
incorporate organize into a body
incredulous not believing, skeptical
curator person who has the care of something
data facts, statistics
debt something owed
democracy rule of the people
diary a daily record of activities, feelings, etc.
docile obedient; easily taught
dominate have power over
viaduct arched roadway
egoist person who is self-interested
good, well, beautiful
eupeptic having good digestion
fac, fic, fec, fect
to make, to do
factory place where things are made
to bring, to bear
transfer bring from one place to another
infidel nonbeliever, heathen
confine keep within limits
flexible able to bend
fortuitous accidental, occurring by chance
fortitude strength, firmness of mind
fragile easily broken
fugitive someone who flees
effusive gushing, pouring out
monogamy marriage to one person
genus group of animals with similar traits
digress go astray (from the main point)
epigram pithy statement
gregarious tending to group together as in a herd
heliotrope flower that faces the sun
exit way out
jac, jact, jec
projectile missile; something thrown forward
perjure testify falsely
laboratory place where work is done
leg, lect, lig
to choose, to read
legislature law-making body
library collection of books
liberation the fact of setting free
entomology study of insects
soliloquy speech by one individual
malevolent wishing evil
manufacture create (make by hand)
maritime connected with seafaring
maternal pertaining to motherhood
mob, mot, mov
mobilize cause to move
mortuary funeral parlor
amorphous formless, lacking shape
immutable not able to be changed
innate from birth
navigate sail a ship
nomenclature act of naming, terminology
omniscient all knowing
pacify make peaceful
dispassionate free of emotion
patriotism love of one’s country (fatherland)
pathology study of diseased tissue
impediment stumbling-block; hindrance
pedagogue teacher of children
compulsion a forcing to do
philanthropist benefactor, lover of humanity
postpone place after
portable able to be carried
psychology study of the mind
to trim, to calculate
putative supposed (calculated)
quer, ques, quir, quis
regicide murder of a ruler
interrupt break into
periscope device for seeing around corners
transcribe make a written copy
dissect cut apart
sedentary inactive (sitting)
to think, to feel
sequi, secut, seque
consecutive following in order
absolve free from blame
insomnia inability to sleep
philosopher lover of wisdom
to look at
respiratory pertaining to breathing
constructive helping to build
tang, tact, ting
contemporary at same time
tenable able to be held
terrestrial pertaining to earth
thermostat instrument that regulates heat
distort twist out of true shape or meaning
distract pull (one’s attention) away
intrude push one’s way in
urban pertaining to a city
vacuous lacking content, empty-headed
invade enter in a hostile fashion
veni, vent, ven
intervene come between
vertigo turning dizzy
deviation departure from the way
vinc, vict, vanq
vivisection operating on living animals
avocation calling, minor occupation
malevolent wishing someone ill
revolve roll around
Suffixes are syllables that are added to a word. Occasionally, they change the meaning of the word; more frequently, they serve to change the grammatical form of the word (noun to adjective, adjective to noun, noun to verb).
capable of (adjective
portable able to be carried
interminable not able to be limited
like, pertaining to
cardiac pertaining to the heart
aquatic pertaining to the water
full of (adjective suffix)
audacious full of daring
pertaining to (adjective
or noun suffix)
final pertaining to the end
full of (adjective or noun
eloquent pertaining to fluid, effective speech
suppliant pleader (person full of requests)
like, connected with
dictionary book connected with words
(adjective or noun suffix)
honorary with honor
to make (verb suffix)
consecrate to make holy
that which is (noun suffix)
state of being (noun suffix)
democracy government ruled by the people
eer, er, or
person who (noun suffix)
mutineer person who rebels
becoming (adjective suffix)
evanescent tending to vanish
making, doing (adjective
terrific arousing great fear
soporific causing sleep
to make (verb suffix)
pestiferous carrying disease
vociferous bearing a loud voice
pertaining to, capable of
puerile pertaining to a boy or child
ductile capable of being hammered or drawn
doctrine, belief (noun
monotheism belief in one god
fanaticism excessive zeal; extreme belief
dealer, doer (noun suffix)
fascist one who believes in a fascist state
state of being (noun suffix)
annuity yearly grant
like (adjective suffix)
make (verb suffix)
victimize make a victim of
resembling, like (adjective
ovoid like an egg
anthropoid resembling man
full of (adjective suffix)
verbose full of words
condition (noun suffix)
psychosis diseased mental condition
full of (adjective suffix)
nauseous full of nausea
state of (noun suffix)
fortitude state of strength