Magoosh Flashcards(GRE)

aberrantadjective: markedly different from an accepted normWhen the financial director started screaming and throwing food at his co-workers, the police had to come in to deal with his aberrant behavior.
aberrationnoun: a deviation from what is normal or expectedAberrations in climate have become the norm: rarely a week goes by without some meteorological phenomenon making headlines.
abjureverb: formally reject or give up (as a belief)While the church believed that Galileo abjured the heliocentric theory under threat of torture, he later wrote a book clearly supporting the theory.
aboveboardadjective: open and honestThe mayor, despite his avuncular face plastered about the city, was hardly aboveboard – some concluded that it was his ingratiating smile that allowed him to engage in corrupt behavior and get away with it.
abrogateverb: revoke formallyAs part of the agreement between the labor union and the company, the workers abrogated their right to strike for four years in exchange for better health insurance.
abstainverb: choose not to consume or take part in (particularly something enjoyable)Considered a health nut, Jessica abstained from anything containing sugar--even chocolate.
abstruseadjective: difficult to understand; incomprehensiblePhysics textbooks can seem so abstruse to the uninitiated that readers feel as though they are looking at hieroglyphics.
abysmaladjective: extremely badCoach Ramsey took his newest player off the field after watching a few painful minutes of her abysmal performance.
accessnoun: the ability to go into (when somebody or something must allow you to enter)
 verb: to go into something when allowed to enter
Only students have access to the university library.
There is a large amount of oil under the ice, but we have not be able to access it.
accoladenoun: an award or praise granted as a special honorJean Paul-Sartre was not a fan of accolades, and as such, he refused to accept the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964.
acerbicadjective: harsh in toneMost movie critics are acerbic towards summer blockbusters, often referring to them as garbage.
acmenoun: the highest point of achievementThe new Cessna airplanes will be the acme of comfort, offering reclining seats and ample legroom.
acrimonynoun: bitterness and ill willThe acrimonious dispute between the president and vice-president sent a clear signal to voters: the health of the current administration was imperiled.
adamantadjective: refusing to change one's mindCivil rights icon Rosa Parks will forever be remembered for adamantly refusing to give up her seat on a public bus--even after the bus driver insisted, she remained rooted in place.
adequateadjective: good enough for what you needA very light jacket will be adequate for Los Angeles's warm winter.
adjudicateverb: to serve as a judge in a competition; to arrive at a judgment or conclusionOnly those with the most refined palates were able to adjudicate during the barbeque competition.
admonishverb: to warn strongly, even to the point of reprimandingBefore the concert began, security personel admonished the crowd not to come up on stage during the performance.
admonitoryadjective: serving to warn; expressing reproof or reproach especially as a correctiveAt the assembly, the high school vice-principal gave the students an admonitory speech, warning them of the many risks and dangers of prom night.
advocateverb: speak, plead, or argue in favor of
noun: a person who pleads for a cause or propounds an idea
While the senator privately approved of gay marriage, he was unwilling to advocate for the cause in a public venue.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a tireless advocate for the rights of African-Americans in the United States.
aesthetenoun: one who professes great sensitivity to the beauty of art and natureA true aesthete, Marty would spend hours at the Guggenheim Museum, staring at the same Picasso.
aestheticadjective: concerned with the appreciation of beauty
noun: a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement.
The director, not known for his aesthetic sensibilities, decided not to use costumes at all, and put on the play in everyday clothing.
The artist operated according to a peculiar aesthetic, not considering any photograph to be worth publishing unless it contained a marine mammal.
affableadjective: likeable; easy to talk toFor all his surface affability, Marco was remarkably glum when he wasn’t around other people.
affluentadjective: wealthyThe center of the city had sadly become a pit of penury, while, only five miles away, multi-million dollar homes spoke of affluence.
affordverb: provide with an opportunityThe summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro affords a panoramic view that encompasses both Tanzania and Kenya.
alacritynoun: an eager willingness to do somethingThe first three weeks at his new job, Mark worked with such alacrity that upper management knew it would be giving him a promotion.
altruismnoun: the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of othersAlbert Schweitzer spent most of his life doing missionary work as a doctor in Africa, seeking no reward, apparently motivated only by altruism.
amalgamnoun: a mixture of multiple thingsThe band’s music was an amalgam of hip-hop, flamenco and jazz, blending the three styles with surprising results.
ambiguousadjective: open to more than one interpretationThe coach told his team, “Move towards that side of the field”; because he did not point, his directions were ambiguous, and the team had no idea to which side he was referring.
ambivalentadjective: mixed or conflicting emotions about somethingSam was ambivalent about studying for the exam because doing so ate up a lot of his time, yet he was able to improve his analytical skills.
ameliorateverb: make something bad better"Three Cups of Tea" tells the story of western man who hopes to ameliorate poverty and the lack of education in Afghanistan.
amenableadjective: easily persuadedEven though she did not like the outdoors, Shirley was generally amenable and so her brother was able to persuade her to go camping.
amiableadjective: friendlyAmy’s name was very apt: she was so amiable that she was twice voted class president.
amokadverb: in a frenzied or uncontrolled stateWherever the bowl haircut teen-idol went, his legions of screaming fans ran through the streets amok, hoping for a glance at his boyish face.
amorphousadjective: shapelessHis study plan for the GRE was at best amorphous; he would do questions from random pages in any one of seven test prep books.
amplyadverb: more than is adequateThe boat was amply supplied for its year at sea—no man would go hungry or thirst.
anachronismnoun: something that is inappropriate for the given time period (usually something old).Dressed in 15th century clothing each day, Edward was a walking anachronism.
analogousadjective: similar in some respects but otherwise differentIn many ways, the Internet's transformative effect on society has been analogous to that of the printing press.
anathemanoun: a detested person; the source of somebody's hateHundreds of years ago, Galileo was anathema to the church; today the church is anathema to some on the left side of the political spectrum.
anemicadjective: lacking energy and vigorAfter three straight shows, the lead actress gave an anemic performance the fourth night, barely speaking loudly enough for those in the back rows to hear.
animositynoun: intense hostilityThe governor’s animosity toward his rival was only inflamed when the latter spread false lies regarding the governor’s first term.
anodynenoun: something that soothes or relieves pain
adjective: inoffensive
Muzak, which is played in department stores, is intended to be an anodyne, but is often so cheesy and over-the-top that customers become irritated.
Wilbur enjoyed a spicy Mexican breakfast, but Jill preferred a far more anodyne meal in the mornings.
anomalousadjective: not normalAccording to those who do not believe in climate change, the extreme weather over the last five years is simply anomalous—daily temperatures should return to their old averages, they believe.
anomalynoun: something that is not normal, standard, or expectedAfter finding an anomaly in the data, she knew that she would have to conduct her experiment again.
antedateverb: precede in timeHarry was so unknowledgable that he was unaware the Egyptian pharaohs antedated the American Revolution.
anticadjective: ludicrously oddThe clown's antic act was too extreme for the youngest children, who left the room in tears.
antipathynoun: an intense feeling of dislike or aversionMaria had an antipathy for tour groups, often bolting to the other side of the museum as soon as she saw a chaperone leading a group of wide-eyed tourists.
antiquatedadjective: old-fashioned; belonging to an earlier period in timeAunt Betty had antiquated notions about marriage, believing that a man should court a woman for at least a year before receiving a kiss.
antitheticaladjective: sharply contrasted in character or purposeHis deep emotional involvement with these ideas is, in fact, antithetical to the disattachment Buddhism preaches.
apatheticadjective: marked by a lack of interestMr. Thompson was so talented at teaching math that even normally apathetic students took interest.
apathynoun: an absence of emotion or enthusiasmWidespread apathy among voters led to a very small turnout on election day.
apexnoun: the highest pointThe Ivy League is considered the apex of the secondary education system.
aphorismnoun: a short instructive saying about a general truthNietzsche was known for using aphorisms, sometimes encapsulating a complex philosophical thought in a mere sentence.
aphoristicadjective: something that is concise and instructive of a general truth or principleSometimes I can't stand Nathan because he tries to impress everyone by being aphoristic, but he just states the obvious.
aplombnoun: great coolness and composure under strainNancy acted with aplomb during dangerous situations--she once calmly climbed up an oak tree to save a cat.
apocryphaladjective: being of questionable authenticityThe web is notorious for sandwiching apocryphal stories between actual news.
apogeenoun: the highest pointThe apogee of the Viennese style of music, Mozart’s music continues to mesmerize audiences well into the 21st century.
apostatenoun: a person who has abandoned a religious faith or causeAn apostate of the Republican Party, Sheldon has yet to become affiliated with any party and dubs himself an independent.
apothegmnoun: a short, pithy instructive sayingWinston Churchill is famous for many apothegms, but this might be his most famous: "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."
apotheosisnoun: exaltation to divine status; the highest point of developmentAs difficult as it is to imagine, the apotheosis of Mark Zuckerberg’s career, many believe, is yet to come.
appeaseverb: pacify by acceding to the demands ofNeville Chamberlain, the British prime minister during WWII, tried to appease Hitler and in doing so sent a clear message: you can walk all over us.
appreciableadjective: large enough to be noticed (usu. refers to an amount)There is an appreciable difference between those who say they can get the job done and those who actually get the job done.
apprehensionnoun: fearful expectationTest day can be one of pure apprehension, as many students worry about their test scores.
approbatoryadjective: expressing praise or approvalAlthough it might not be her best work, Hunter's new novel has received generally approbatory reviews.
appropriateverb: to give or take something by force
verb: to allocate
The government appropriated land that was occupied by squatters, sending them scurrying for another place to live.
The committe appropriated the funds to its various members.
appurtenantadjective: supply added supportn hiking Mt. Everest, sherpas are appurtenant, helping climbers both carry gear and navigate treacherous paths.
arbitraryadjective: based on a random, groundless decisionOne of the arbitrary decrees in place during the emperor's rule is that all citizens pay him weekly homage at his palace.
arcaneadjective: requiring secret or mysterious knowledgeMost college fraternities are known for arcane rituals that those hoping to the join the fraterntiy must learn.
archadjective: to be deliberately teasingThe baroness was arch, making playful asides to the townspeople; yet because they couldn't pick up on her dry humor, they thought her supercilious.
archaicadjective: so old as to appear to belong to a different periodHoping to sound intelligent, Mary spoke in archaic English that was right out of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice--needless to say, she didn't have many friends.
arduousadjective: demanding considerable mental effort and skill; testing powers of enduranceIn order to deal with the arduous cross-country journey, truck drivers often survive on a string of caffeinated drinks, staying awake for up to 30 hours at a time.
arrantadjective: complete and wholly (usually modifying a noun with negative connotation)An arrant fool, Lawrence surprised nobody when he lost all his money in a pyramid scheme that was every bit as transparent as it was corrupt.
arrivistenoun: a person who has recently reached a position of power; a social climberThe city center was aflutter with arrivistes who each tried to outdo one another with their ostentatious sports cars and chic evening dress.
arrogateverb: seize and control without authorityArriving at the small town, the outlaw arrogated the privileges of a lord, asking the frightened citizens to provide food, drink, and entertainment.
artfuladjective: exhibiting artistic skill;
adjective: clever in a cunning way
Picasso is generally considered the most artful member of the Cubist movement.;
Bernie Madoff's artful Ponzi scheme stole billions of dollars from investors and is considered the largest financial fraud in U.S. history.
artificenoun: cunning tricks used to deceive othersThe mayoral candidates both spent much of the campaign accusing each other of artifices designed to mislead the voting public.
artlessadjective: without cunning or deceitDespite the president's seemingly artless speeches, he was a skilled and ruthless negotiator.
artlessnessnoun: the quality of innocenceI, personally, found the artlessness of her speech charming.
ascendancynoun: the state that exists when one person or group has power over anotherThe ascendancy of the Carlsbad water polo team is clear—they have a decade of championships behind them.
asceticadjective: practicing self-denial
noun: one who practices great self-denial
His ascetic life is the main reason he inspired so many followers, especially since he gave up wealth and power to live in poverty.
Historically, ascetics like Ghandi are often considered wise men partially because of their restraint.
ascribeverb: attribute or credit toHistory ascribes The Odyssey and The Iliad to Homer, but scholars now debate whether he was a historical figure or a fictitious name.
askanceadverb: with a look of suspicion or disapprovalThe old couple looked askance on the teenagers seated next to them, whispering to each other, "They've got rings through their noses and purple hair!"
asperitynoun: harshness of mannerThe editor was known for his asperity, often sending severe letters of rejection to amateur writers.
assailverb: attack in speech or writingIn the weekly paper, the editor assailed the governor for wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars in public projects that quickly failed.
assiduouslyadverb: with care and persistenceThe top college football program recruits new talent assiduously, only choosing those who were the top in their county.
assuageverb: make something intense less severeHer fear that the new college would be filled with unknown faces was assuaged when she recognized her childhood friend standing in line.
atavismnoun: a reappearance of an earlier characteristic; throwbackMuch of the modern art movement was an atavism to a style of art found only in small villages through Africa and South America.
attenuateverb: to weaken (in terms of intensity); to taper off/become thinner.Her animosity towards Bob attenuated over the years, and she even went so far as to invite him to her party.
audaciousadjective: willing to be bold in social situations or to take risksAs all of the other campers cowered in their tents, Bill, armed only with a flashlight, audaciously tracked down the bear that had raided their food.
audacitynoun: aggressive boldness in social situationsShe surprised her colleagues by having the audacity to publically criticize the findings of an distinguished scientist.
augmentverb: enlarge or increase; improveIdeally, the restaurant's augmented menu will expand its clientele and increase its profits.
auspiciousadjective: favorable, the opposite of sinisterDespite an auspicious beginning, Mike’s road trip became a series of mishaps, and he was soon stranded and penniless, leaning against his wrecked automobile.
austereadjective: practicing self-denial
adjective: unadorned in style or appearance
adjective: harsh in manner of temperament
His lifestyle of revelry and luxurious excess could hardly be called austere.
Late Soviet architecture, although remaining largely austere, moved into experimental territory that employed previously unused shapes and structures.
The principal of my elementary school was a cold, austere woman; I could never understand why she chose to work with children.
autocraticadjective: characteristic of an absolute ruler or absolute rule; having absolute sovereignty
adjective: offensively self-assured or given to exercising usually unwarranted power
The last true autocratic country is certainly North Korea; nowhere does a leader exercise the absolute control over all aspects of a people the way that Kim Jong-un does.
The manager was finally fired for his autocratic leadership, which often bordered on rude and offensive.
autonomouslyadverb: In an autonomous or self-governing manner.Many of the factory workers are worried about being replaced by machines and computers that will work completely autonomously.
avaricenoun: greed (one of the seven deadly sins)The Spanish conquistadors were known for their avarice, plundering Incan land and stealing Incan gold.
avariciousadjective: excessively greedySince avaricious desire is similar to gluttony or lust--sins of excess--it was listed as one of the seven deadly sins by the Catholic church.
avertverb: turn away
verb: ward off or prevent
Afraid to see the aftermath of the car crash, I averted my eyes as we drove by.
The struggling videogame company put all of its finances into one final, desperate project to avert bankruptcy.
avidadjective: marked by active interest and enthusiasmMartin is an avid birdwatcher, often taking long hikes into remote mountains to see some rare eagle.
badgerverb: to pesterBadgered by his parents to find a job, the 30-year-old loafer instead joined a gang of itinerant musicians.
balefuladjective: threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developmentsMovies often use storms or rain clouds as a baleful omen of evil events that will soon befall the main character.
balkverb: refuse to complyThe students were willing to clean up the broken glass, but when the teacher asked them to mop the entire floor, they balked, citing reasons why they needed to leave.
banaladjective: repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuseThe professor used such banal expression that many students in the class either fell asleep from bordeom or stayed awake to complete his sentences and humor friends.
banalitynoun: a trite or obvious remarkHerbert regarded the minister's remark as a mere banality until Sharon pointed out profound implications to the seemingly obvious words.
banishverb: expel from a community, residence, or location; drive awayThe most difficult part of the fast was banishing thoughts of food.
baseadjective: the lowest, class were without any moral principlesShe was not so base as to begrudge the beggar the unwanted crumbs from her dinner plate.
bastardizationnoun: an act that debases or corruptsThe movie World War Z is a complete bastardization of the book with little more in common than zombies and a title.
beatificadjective: blissfully happyOften we imagine all monks to wear the beatific smile of the Buddha, but, like any of us, a monk can have a bad day and not look very happy.
becomingadjective: appropriate, and matches nicelyHer dress was becoming and made her look even more beautiful.
begverb: to evade or dodge (a question)By assuming that Charlie was headed to college—which he was not—Maggie begged the question when she asked him to which school he was headed in the Fall.
begrudgeverb: to envy someone for possessing or enjoying something
verb: to give reluctantly
Sitting all alone in his room, Harvey begrudged the happiness of the other children playing outside his window.
We never begrudge money spent on ourselves.
behoovesverb: to be one's duty or obligationThe teacher looked down at the student and said, "It would behoove you to be in class on time and complete your homework, so that you don't repeat freshman English for a third straight year."
believerb: to give a false representation to; misrepresentThe smile on her face belies the pain she must feel after the death of her husband.
belittleverb: lessen the importance, dignity, or reputation ofA good teacher will never belittle his students, but will instead empower them.
bellicoseadjective: warlike; inclined to quarrelKnown for their bellicose ways, the Spartans were once the most feared people from Peloponnesus to Persia.
belligerentadjective: characteristic of one eager to fightTom said that he was arguing the matter purely for philosophical reasons, but his belligerent tone indicated an underlying anger about the issue.
bemoanverb: express discontent or a strong regretWhile the CFO carefully explained all the reasons for the cuts in benefits, after the meeting employees bemoaned the cuts as further evidence that management was against them.
benightedadjective: fallen into a state of ignoranceFar from being a period of utter benightedness, The Medieval Ages produced some great works of theological speculation.
benignadjective: kind
adjective: (medicine) not dangerous to health; not recurrent or progressive
I remember my grandfather's face was wrinkled, benign, and calm.
The tumor located in your ear lobe seems to be benign and should not cause you any trouble.
bereftadjective: unhappy in love; suffering from unrequited love
adjective: sorrowful through loss or deprivation
After 64 years of marriage, William was bereft after the death of his wife.
"You are not bereft if you haven't played on your Xbox in the past week," his mother said.
besiegeverb: harass, as with questions or requests; cause to feel distressed or worriedAfter discovering a priceless artifact in her backyard, Jane was besieged by phone calls, emails, and reporters all trying to buy, hold or see the rare piece of history.
besmirchverb: damage the good name and reputation of someoneThe prince's distasteful choice of words besmirched not only his own name, but the reputation of the entire royal family.
besottedadjective: strongly affectionate towards
adjective: very drunk
Even though her father did not approve, Juliet became besotted with the young Romeo.
Never before have I seen my mom so besotted, and honestly, I hope it's the last time she drinks so much.
betrayverb: to reveal or make known something, usually unintentionallyWith the gold medal at stake, the gymnast awaited his turn, his quivering lip betraying his intense emotions.
biliousadjective: irritable; always angryRex was bilious all morning, and his face would only take on a look of contentedness when he’d had his morning cup of coffee.
blatantadjective: without any attempt at concealment; completely obviousAllen was often punished in school for blatantly disrespecting teachers.
bleakadjective: having a depressing or gloomy outlookUnremitting overcast skies tend to lead people to create bleak literature and lugubrious music — compare England’s band Radiohead to any band from Southern California.
blinkeredadjective: to have a limited outlook or understandingIn gambling, the addict is easily blinkered by past successes and/or past failures, forgetting that the outcome of any one game is independent of the games that preceded it.
bolsterverb: support and strengthenThe case for the suspect's innocence was bolstered considerably by the fact that neither fingerprints nor DNA were found at the scene.
boonnoun: a desirable state
adjective: very close and convivial
Modern technology has been a boon to the travel industry.
He was a boon companion to many, and will be sadly missed.
boorishadjective: ill-mannered and coarse or contemptible in behavior or appearanceBukowski was known for being a boorish drunk and alienating close friends and family.
bowdlerizeverb: edit by omitting or modifying parts considered indelicateTo receive an R rating, the entire movie was bowdlerized because it contained so much violence and grotesque subject matter.
brazenadjective: unrestrained by convention or proprietyTheir large "donations" to the local police department gave the drug cartel the brazen confidence to do their business out in the open.
bridleverb: the act of restraining power or action or limiting excess
verb: anger or take offense
New curfew laws have bridled people's tendency to go out at night.
The hostess bridled at the tactless dinner guests who insisted on eating before everybody had gotten their food.
bristleverb: react in an offended or angry mannerAs we discussed the painting, I noticed the artist's wife bristling at our criticisms, ready to defend her husband's work.
broadsidenoun: a strong verbal attackPolitical broadsides are usually strongest in the weeks leading up to a national election.
bromidenoun: a trite or obvious remarkInstead of sharing his umbrella, the cheeky stranger offered Martha the following bromide: "Looks like it's raining."
brookverb: put up with something or somebody unpleasantWhile she was at the chalkboard, the teacher did not brook any form of talking--even a tiny peep resulted in afternoon detention.
browbeatverb: be bossy towards; discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering mannerDuring the interrogation, the suspect was browbeaten into signing a false confession.
brusquelyadverb: in a blunt, direct mannerNot one for social pleasantries, the Chief of Staff would brusquely ask his subordinates anything he wanted, even coffee.
buckverb: resistThe profits at our firm bucked the general downturn that affected the real estate industry.
bucolicadjective: relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryThe noble families of England once owned vast expanses of beautiful, bucolic land.
bumblingadjective: lacking physical movement skills, especially with the handsWithin a week of starting, the bumbling new waiter was unceremoniously fired.
burgeonverb: grow and flourishChina's housing market is burgeoning, but some predict that the growth is merely a bubble and will burst much like the U.S. real estate bubble of 2008.
buttressverb: make stronger or defensibleChina's economy has been buttressed by a global demand for the electronic parts the country manufactures.
byzantineadjective: intricate and complexGetting a driver’s license is not simply a matter of taking a test; the regulations and procedures are so byzantine that many have found themselves at the mercy of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
cadaverousadjective: emaciated; gauntSome actors take challenging roles in which they have to lose so much weight that they appear cadaverous.
callowadjective: young and inexperiencedBoth Los Angeles and New York are known for callow out-of-towners hoping to make it big.
calumnynoun: making of a false statement meant to injure a person’s reputationWith the presidential primaries well under way, the air is thick withcalumny, and the mud already waist-high.
canardnoun: a deliberately misleading fabricationThe public will always be fooled by the media's canards.
candidadjective: a straightforward and honest look at somethingEven with a perfect stranger, Charles was always candid and would rarely hold anything back.
candidnessnoun: the quality of being honest and straightforward in attitude and speechAlthough I was unhappy that the relationship ended, I appreciated her candidness about why she was ready to move on from the relationship.
capacitynoun noun: the amount or volume something can hold ability (especially mental)The hotel is full to maximum capacity; there are no empty rooms.
Few birds have the capacity to recognize themselves when looking in a mirror; most act as though there is a second bird behind the glass.
capitulatenoun: to surrender (usually under agreed conditions)Paul, losing 19-0 in a ping-pong match against his nimble friend, basically capitulated when he played the last two points with his eyes closed.
capriciousadjective: determined by chance or impulse or whim rather than by necessity or reasonNearly every month our capricious CEO had a new plan to turn the company around, and none of them worked because we never gave them the time they needed to succeed.
cardinaladjective: of primary importance; fundamentalMost cultures consider gambling a cardinal sin and thus have outlawed its practice.
carpingadjective: persistently petty and unjustified criticismWhat seemed like incessant nagging and carping about my behavior from my mother turned out to be wise and useful advice that has served me well.
castigateverb: to reprimand harshlyDrill sergeants are known to castigate new recruits so mercilessly that the latter often break down during their first week in training.
cataclysmnoun: an event resulting in great loss and misfortuneThe introduction of smallpox was a cataclysm for Native Americans, killing off more than half of their population.
catalystnoun: something that speeds up an eventRosa Park’s refusal to give up her bus seat acted as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement, setting into motion historic changes for African-Americans.
catholicadjective: of broad scope; universalJonah’s friends said that Jonah’s taste in music was eclectic; Jonah was quick to point out that not only was his taste eclectic but it was also catholic: he enjoyed music from countries as far-flung as Mali and Mongolia.
cavalieradjective: given to haughty disregard of othersPercy dismissed the issue with a cavalier wave of his hand.
cedeverb: relinquish possession or control overEventually, all parents must cede control of their growing childrens' educations and allow their offspring some autonomy.
celeritynoun: speed, rapidityWe aim to respond to customers' questions with celerity and accuracy, with no longer than a 24 hour wait time.
censorverb: to examine and remove objectionable material
noun: an official who censors material
Every fall, high school English teachers are inundated by requests to censor their curriculum by removing The Catcher in the Rye and Scarlet Letter from their reading lists.
The censor insisted that every reference to drugs should be removed from the manuscript.
censorverb: to examine and remove objectionable material
noun: an official who censors material
Every fall, high school English teachers are inundated by requests to censor their curriculum by removing The Catcher in the Rye and Scarlet Letter from their reading lists.
The censor insisted that every reference to drugs should be removed from the manuscript.
censureverb: to express strong disapprovalAfter being caught in bed with a mistress, the mayor was quickly censured by the city council.
cerebraladjective: involving intelligence rather than emotions or instinctA cerebral analysis of most pop music finds it to be simple and childish, but that ignores the point--the music's effect on the listener.
chagrinnoun: strong feelings of embarrassment
verb: cause to feel shame; hurt the pride of
Much to the timid writer's chagrin, the audience chanted his name until he came back on the stage.
She never cared what others said about her appearance but was chagrined by the smallest comment from her mother.
championverb: to fight for a causeMartin Luther King Jr. championed civil rights fiercely throughout his short life.
charlatannoun: a flamboyant deceiver; one who attracts customers with tricks or jokesYou may call him a "motivational speaker," but I call him a charlatan--he doesn't have any idea what he's really talking about.
charyadjective: cautious, suspiciously reluctant to do somethingHaving received three speeding tickets in the last two months, Jack was chary of driving at all above the speed limit, even on a straight stretch of highway that looked empty for miles ahead.
chastiseverb: to reprimand harshlyThough chastised for eating the snacks for the party, Lawrence shrugged off his mother’s harsh words, and continued to plow through jars of cookies and boxes of donuts.
chastiseverb: to reprimand harshlyThough chastised for eating the snacks for the party, Lawrence shrugged off his mother’s harsh words, and continued to plow through jars of cookies and boxes of donuts.
chauvinismnoun: fanatical patriotism; belief that one's group/cause is superior to all other groups/causesVegetarians argue that man is chauvinistic in his belief that animals do not consciously feel the pain we humans do.
chauvinistnoun: a person who believes in the superiority of their groupThe chauvinist lives on both sides of the political spectrum, outright shunning anybody whose ideas are not consistent with his own.
checkverb: to limit (usually modifying the growth of something)
noun: the condition of being held back or limited
Deserted for six months, the property began to look more like a jungle and less like a residence—weeds grew unchecked in the front yard
When government abuses are not kept in check, that government is likely to become autocratic.
checkeredadjective: one that is marked by disreputable happeningsOne by one, the presidential candidates dropped out of the race, their respective checkered pasts— from embezzlement to infidelity—sabotaging their campaigns.
chimeranoun: something desired or wished for but is only an illusion and impossible to achieveMany believe that a world free of war is a chimera—a dream that ignores humanity's violent tendencies.
chivalrousadjective: being attentive to women like an ideal knightMarco's chivalrous ways, like opening doors and pulling out chairs, was much appreciated by his date.
cholericadjective: prone to outbursts of temper; easily angeredWhile a brilliant lecturer, Mr. Dawson came across as choleric and unapproachable—very rarely did students come to his office hours.
chortleverb: to chuckle, laugh merrilyWalking past the bar, I could hear happy, chortling people and the blast of horns from a jazz band.
churlishadjective: lacking manners or refinementThe manager was unnecessarily churlish to his subordinates, rarely deigning to say hello, but always quick with a sartorial jab if someone happened to be wearing anything even slightly mismatching.
circumscribeverb: restrict or confineTheir tour of South America was circumscribed so that they saw only popular destinations and avoided the dangerous parts of cities.
circumventverb: cleverly find a way out of one's duties or obligationsOne way of circumventing the GRE is to apply to a grad school that does not require GRE scores.
clemencynoun: leniency and compassion shown toward offenders by a person or agency charged with administering justiceIn the final moments of the trial, during his closing speech, Phillips was nearly begging the judge for clemency.
coalesceverb: fuse or cause to grow togetherOver time, the various tribes coalesced into a single common culture with one universal language.
cogentadjective: clear and persuasiveA cogent argument will change the minds of even the most skeptical audience.
cohesiveadjective: well integrated, forming a united wholeA well-written, cohesive essay will keep on topic at all times, never losing sight of the main argument.
collusionnoun: agreement on a secret plotMany have argued that Lee Harvey Oswald, JFK's assassin, was in collusion with other criminals; others maintain that Oswald was a lone gunman.
colossaladjective: so great in size or force or extent as to elicit aweFew appreciate the colossal scale of the sun: if hollow, it could contain a million Earths.
commendableadjective: worthy of high praiseThe efforts of the firefighters running into the burning building were commendable.
commensurateadjective: to be in proportion or corresponding in degree or amountThe convicted felon’s life sentence was commensurate to the heinousness of his crime.
complacentadjective: contented to a fault with oneself or one's actionsAfter the water polo team won their sixth championship, they became complacent and didn't even make it to the playoffs the next year.
complaisantadjective: showing a cheerful willingness to do favors for othersOn her first day at the job, Annie was complaisant, fulfilling every request of her new employee and anticipating future requests.
complementaryadjective: enhancing each other's qualities (for two things or more).The head waiter was careful to tell the amateur diners that red wine was complementary with beef, each bringing out subtle taste notes in the other.
complicitadjective: Associated with or participating in an activity, especially one of a questionable nature.While the grand jury cleared the senator of all criminal charges, in the public mind he was still complicit in the corruption.
compoundverb: make more intense, stronger, or more markedHer headache was compounded by the construction crew outside, which had six jackhammers going at the same time.
concedeverb: acknowledge defeat
verb: admit (to a wrongdoing)
verb: give over; surrender or relinquish to the physical control of another
I concede. You win!
After a long, stern lecture from her father, Olivia conceded to having broken the window.
The Spanish were forced to concede much of the territory they had previously conquered.
conciliateverb: to make peace withHis opponents believed his gesture to be conciliatory, yet as soon as they put down their weapons, he unsheathed a hidden sword.
concomitantadjective: describing an event or situation that happens at the same time as or in connection with anotherConcomitant with his desire for nature was a desire for the culture and energy of a big city.
conduciveadjective: making a situation or outcome more likely to happenStudying in a quiet room is conducive to learning; studying in a noisy environment makes learning more difficult.
conflagrationnoun: a very intense and uncontrolled fireIn the summer months, conflagrations are not uncommon in the southwest, do to the heat and lack of rain.
conflateverb: mix together different elements or conceptsIn her recent book, the author conflates several genres--the detective story, the teen thriller, and the vampire romance--to create a memorable read.
confoundverb: be confusing or perplexing to
verb: mistake one thing for another
Though Harry loved numbers, he found calculus confounding.
Americans often confound sweet potatoes with yams, and refer to both vegetables by the same name.
connivingverb: taking part in immoral and unethical plotsThe queen was so conniving that, with the help of the prince, she tried to overthrow the king.
connivingverb: taking part in immoral and unethical plotsThe queen was so conniving that, with the help of the prince, she tried to overthrow the king.
consecrateverb: to make holy or set apart for a high purposeAt the church of Notre Dame in France, the new High Altar was consecrated in 1182.
conspicuousadjective: without any attempt at concealment; completely obviousAmerican basketball players are always conspicuous when they go abroad--not only are they American, but some are over seven feet tall.
constituentnoun: a citizen who is represented in a government by officials for whom he or she votes
noun: an abstract part of something
The mayor's constituents are no longer happy with her performance and plan to vote for another candidate in the upcoming election.
The constituents of the metal alloy are nickel, copper, and tin.
constraintnoun: something that limits or restrictsWe don't have many resources, so we'll have to work with some very tight constraints.
construeverb: interpreted in a particular wayThe author's inability to take a side on the issue was construed by both his opponents and supporters as a sign of weakness.
consummateadjective: having or revealing supreme mastery or skill
verb: to make perfect and complete in every respect
Tyler was the consummate musician: he was able to play the guitar, harmonica, and the drum at the same time.
The restoration of the ancient church was only consummated after a twenty years of labor.
contemptuousadjective: scornful, looking down at others with a sneering attitudeAlways on the forefront of fashion, Vanessa looked contemptuously at anyone wearing dated clothing.
contentiousadjective: likely to argueSince old grandpa Harry became very contentious during the summer when only reruns were on T.V., the grandkids learned to hide from him at every opportunity.
contingentnoun: a gathering of persons representative of some larger group
adjective: possible but not certain to occur
A small contingent of those loyal to the king have gathered around the castle to defend it.
Whether the former world champions can win again this year is contingent upon none of its star players getting injured.
contriteadjective: to be remorsefulThough he stole his little sister’s licorice stick with malevolent glee, Chucky soon became contrite when his sister wouldn't stop crying.
contritionnoun: the feeling of remorse or guilt that comes from doing something badThose who show contrition during their prison terms--especially when under review by a parole board--often get shortened sentences.
contriveverb: to pull off a plan or scheme, usually through skill or trickeryDespite a low GPA, he contrived to get into college, going so far as to write his own glowing letters of recommendation.
conundrumnoun: a difficult problemComputers have helped solve some of the mathematical conundrums which have puzzled man for many centuries.
convivialadjective: describing a lively atmosphereThe wedding reception was convivial; friends who hadn't seen each other for ages drank and ate together before heading to the dance floor.
convolutedadjective: highly complex or intricateInstead of solving the math problem in three simple steps, Kumar used a convoluted solution requiring fifteen steps.
copiousadjective: in abundant supplyIn midsummer, there are copious popiscle stands at the beach; in the winter, there are none.
cornucopianoun: an abundant supply of something goodThe International Food Expo was a cornucopia of culinary delights: gourmet foods from every continent were under one roof.
corollarynoun: a practical consequence that follows naturallyA corollary of Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the east coast of the U.S., is a push to build higher sea walls to protect against future hurricanes.
corroborateverb: to confirm or lend support to (usually an idea or claim)Her claim that frog populations were falling precipitously in Central America was corroborated by locals, who reported that many species of frogs had seemingly vanished overnight.
cosmopolitanadjective: comprising many cultures; global in reach and outlookThere are few cities in the world as diverse and cosmopolitan as New York.
cossetedverb: treat with excessive indulgenceThe king and queen cosseted the young prince, giving him a prized miniature pony for his fifth birthday.
coterminousadjective: being of equal extent or scope or durationThe border of the state is coterminous with geographic limits on travel; the east and north are surrounded by a nearly uncrossable river and the south by a desert.
countermandverb: a contrary command cancelling or reversing a previous commandBy the time the colonel countermanded his soldiers not to land in enemy territory, a few helicopters had already touched down amid heavy gunfire.
cowverb: to intimidateDo not be cowed by a 3,000-word vocabulary list: turn that list into a deck of flashcards!
cravenadjective: pathetically cowardlyThough the man could have at least alerted the police, he crouched cravenly in the corner as the old woman was mugged.
credencenoun: belief in somethingHe placed no credence in psychics, claiming that they offered no special powers beyond the ability to make people part with their money.
creditableadjective: deserving of praise but not that amazingCritics agreed the movie was creditable, but few gave it more than three out of five stars.
credulitynoun: tendency to believe readilyVirginia's wide-eyed credulity as a five-year old was replaced by suspicion after she learned that Santa Claus didn't really exist.
crestfallenadjective: brought low in spiritI asked Maria on a date and she refused without a moment's thought; I was crestfallen.
crypticadjective: mysterious or vague, usually intentionallySince Sarah did not want her husband to guess the Christmas present she had bought him, she only answered cryptically when he would ask her questions about it.
crystallizeverb: cause to take on a definite and clear shapeOnly after fifteen minutes of brainstorming did Samantha's ideas for the essay crystallize.
culminateverb: reach the highest or most decisive pointBeethoven's musical genius culminated in the 9th Symphony, which many consider his greatest work.
culpabilitynoun: a state of guiltSince John had left his banana peel at the top of the stairwell, he accepted culpability for Martha's broken leg.
cumbersomeadjective: difficult to handle or use especially because of size or weightOnly ten years ago, being an avid reader and a traveler meant carrying a cumbersome backpack stuffed with books--these days we need only an e-reader.
cupiditynoun: greed for moneySome believe people that amassing as much wealth as possible is the meaning to life—yet they often realize that cupidity brings anything but happiness.
curmudgeonnoun: a grouchy, surly personSince Uncle Mike was the family curmudgeon, each Thanksgiving he was plied with copious amounts of wine, in the hope that he would become less grouchy.
dearthnoun: a lack or shortageI am surprised by the dearth of fast food chains; this is America and I assumed they were on every street.
debaseverb: reduce the quality or value of somethingThe third-rate script so debased the film that not even the flawless acting could save it from being a flop.
debonairadjective: having a sophisticated charmJames Bond is known for his good looks, high tech gadgets, and debonair manner.
debunkverb: expose as false ideas and claims, especially while ridiculingRichard Dawkins tries to debunk religious belief, but his ridicule tends to push people away from his points rather than convince them.
decimationnoun: destroying or killing a large part of the populationThe decimation after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is incomprehensible.
decorousadjective: characterized by good taste in manners and conductSally's parties are decorous affairs, and instead of the usual beer and music, there is tea and intellectual conversation.
decorumnoun: propriety in manners and conduct"You will obey the rules of decorum for this courtroom or spend the night in a jail cell," said the judge to the prosecutor.
decryverb: express strong disapproval ofThe entire audience erupted in shouts and curses, decrying the penalty card issued by the referee.
deferentialadjective: showing respectIf you ever have the chance to meet the president, stand up straight and be deferential.
defrayverb: to help pay the cost of, either in part of fullIn order for Sean to attend the prestigious college, his generous uncle helped defray the excessive tuition with a monthly donation.
degradeverb: reduce in worth or character, usually verballyJesse had mockingly pointed out all of Nancy's faults in front of their friends, publicly degrading the poor girl.
deignverb: do something that one considers to be below one's dignityThe master of the house never deigned to answer questions from the servants.
delegateverb: give an assignment to (a person)Since the senior manager had to go on many international business trips, she was forced to delegate many of her responsibilities to two lower-level managers.
deleteriousadjective: harmful to living thingsThe BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was deleterious to the fishing industry in the southern states.
deliberateverb: think about carefully; weigh the pros and cons of an issueEmergency situations such as this call for immediate action and leave no room to deliberate over options.
delineateverb: describe in detailAfter a brief summary of proper swimming technique, the coach delineated the specifics of each stroke, spending 30 minutes alone on the backstroke.
demeanverb: to insult; to cause someone to lose dignity or respectAt first the soccer players bantered back and forth, but as soon as one of the players became demeaning, calling the other's mother a water buffalo, the ref whipped out a red card.
demonstrativeadjective: given to or marked by the open expression of emotionWhen Sally told James that she wanted to break up with him, she expected he would react demonstratively, but he quietly nodded his head and left without saying a word.
demurverb: to object or show reluctanceWallace disliked the cold, so he demurred when his friends suggested they going skiing in the Alps.
demureadjective: to be modest and shyThe portrait of her in a simple white blouse was sweet and demure.
denigrateverb: charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someoneCount Rumford denigrated the new theory of heat, demonstrating that it was wholly inadequate to explain the observations.
denoteverb: be a sign or indication of; have as a meaningEven if the text is not visible, the red octagon denotes "stop" to all motorists in America.
denouementnoun: the final resolution of the many strands of a literary or dramatic work; the outcome of a complex sequence of eventsAt the denouement of the movie, all questions were answered, and the true identity of the robber was revealed.
derelictadjective: (of a person) not doing one's duties
noun: (of a building) abandoned
The teacher was derelict in her duties because she hadn't graded a single student paper in three weeks.
At one time the waterfront factories were busy and productive, but now they stand derelict and will be torn down.
derideverb: treat or speak of with contemptThe nun derided the students for trying to sneak insects and worms into the classroom.
derisiveadjective: abusing vocally; expressing contempt or ridiculeI was surprised by her derisive tone; usually, she is sweet, soft spoken, and congenial.
derivativeadjective: (or a creative product, e.g. music, writing, etc.) not original but drawing on the work of another personBecause the movies were utterly derivative of other popular movies, they did well at the box office.
deriveverb: come from; be connected by a relationship of blood, for example
verb: reason by deduction; establish by deduction
Many words in the English language are derived from Latin, including the word "derive."
From the multiple set of footprints in the living room, the investigator derived an important clue: Sheila was not alone in the room at the time of the murder.
derogativeadjective: expressed as worthless or in negative termsNever before have we seen a debate between two political candidates that was so derogative and filthy.
desecrateverb: to willfully violate or destroy a sacred placeAfter desecrating the pharaoh's tomb, the archaeologist soon fell victim to a horrible illness.
desiccatedadjective: uninteresting, lacking vitalityFew novelists over 80 are able to produce anything more than desiccated works--boring shadows of former books.
desideratumnoun: something desired as a necessityThe desideratum of the environmental group is that motorists should rely on carpooling.
despitepreposition: even with (when an event is surprising because of some difficulty)We enjoyed our vacation despite the rain.
despotnoun: a cruel and oppressive dictatorThe Emperor Claudius was regarded as a fair-minded leader; his successor, Nero, was an absolute despot.
destituteadjective: poor enough to need help from others
adjective: completely wanting or lacking (usually "destitute of")
Jean Valjean, is at first destitute, but through the grace of a priest, he makes something of his life.
Now that the mine is closed, the town is destitute of any economic activity.
deterverb: turn away from by persuasion
verb: try to prevent; show opposition to
His mother tried to deter him from joining the army, but he was too intoxicated with the idea of war to listen.
The government's primary job should involve deterring paths to war, not finding ways to start them.
detrimentaladjective: (sometimes followed by "to") causing harm or injuryMany know that smoking is detrimental to your health, but processed sugar in large quantities is equally bad.
devolveverb: pass on or delegate to another
verb: grow worse (usually "devolve into")
The company was full of managers known for devolving tasks to lower management, but never doing much work themselves.
The dialogue between the two academics devolved into a downright bitter argument.
diabolicaladjective: to be extremely wicked like the devilThe conspirators, willing to dispatch anyone who stood in their way, hatched a diabolical plan to take over the city.
diatribenoun: a strong verbal attack against a person or institutionSteve’s mom launched into a diatribe during the PTA meeting, contending that the school was little more than a daycare in which students stare at the wall and teachers stare at the chalkboard.
dictatorialadjective: expecting unquestioning obedience; characteristic of an absolute rulerThe coach was dictatorial in his approach: no players could ever argue or question his approach.
didacticadjective: instructive (especially excessively)Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Illyich is a didactic novel, instructing the reader on how to live a good life.
differentiateverb: be a distinctive feature, attribute, or trait (sometimes in positive sense)
verb: evolve so as to lead to a new species or develop in a way most suited to the environment
Mozart's long melodic lines differentiate his compositions from other works of late 18th century music.
Animals on Madagascar differentiated from other similar animal species due to many years of isolation on the island.
diffidentadjective: showing modest reserve; lacking self-confidenceAs a young girl she was diffident and reserved, but now as an adult, she is confident and assertive.
dilapidatedadjective: in terrible conditionThe main house has been restored but the gazebo is still dilapidated and unuseable.
dilatoryadjective: wasting timeLawyers use dilatory tactics so that it takes years before the case is actually decided.
dilettantenoun: an amateur who engages in an activity without serious intentions and who pretends to have knowledgeFred has no formal medical training; while he likes to claim authority on medical issues, he is little more than a dilettante
diligentadjective: characterized by care and perseverance in carrying out tasksMichael was a diligent gardener, never leaving a leaf on the ground and regularly watering each plant.
diminutivenoun: to indicate smallness
adjective: very small
He prefers to be called a diminutive of his name: "Bill" instead of "John William."
When he put on his father's suit and shoes, his appearance was that of a diminutive youth.
disabuseverb: to persuade somebody that his/her belief is not validAs a child, I was quickly disabused of the notion that Santa Claus was a rotund benefactor of infinite largess—one night I saw my mother diligently wrapping presents and storing them under our Christmas tree.
disaffectedadjective: discontented as toward authorityAfter watching his superior take rations from the soliders, he quickly became disaffected and rebeled.
discordnoun: lack of agreement or harmonyDespite all their talented players, the team was filled with discord--some players refused to talk to others--and lost most of their games.
discreetadjective: careful to protect one's speech or actions in order to avoid offense or gain an advantageThe professor thought that he was discreet, subtly wiping the stain off of his shirt, but as soon as he stepped off the podium a member of the audience pointed out the large ketchup stain.
discreteadjective: constituting a separate entity or partWhat was once known as Czechoslovakia has since split into two discrete, independent nations.
discriminateverb: recognize or perceive the differenceSarah couldn't discriminate between a good wine and a bad wine, so she avoided wine tastings.
discursiveadjective: (of e.g. speech and writing) tending to depart from the main pointMany readers find it tough to read Moby Dick since the author is discursive, often cutting the action short to spend 20 pages on the history of a whale.
disenfranchiseverb: deprive of voting rightsThe U.S. Constitution disenfranchised women until 1920 when they were given the right to vote.
disheartenedadjective: made less hopeful or enthusiasticAfter the visiting team scored nine times, the home team's fans were disheartened, some leaving the game early.
disingenuousadjective: not straightforward; giving a false appearance of franknessMany adults think that they can lie to children, but kids are smart and know when people are disingenuous.
disinterestedadjective: unbiased; neutralThe potential juror knew the defendant, and therefore could not serve on the jury, which must consist only of disinterested members.
disparateadjective: two things are fundamentally differentWith the advent of machines capable of looking inside the brain, fields as disparate as religion and biology have been brought together by scientists trying to understand what happens in the brain when people have a religious experience.
dispassionateadjective: unaffected by strong emotion or prejudiceA good scientist should be dispassionate, focusing purely on what the evidence says, without personal attachment.
dispatchnoun: the property of being prompt and efficient
verb: dispose of rapidly and without delay and efficiently
She finished her thesis with dispatch, amazing her advisors who couldn't believe she hadn't written 60 scholarly pages so quickly.
As soon as the angry peasants stormed the castle, they caught the king and swiftly dispatched him.
dispensationnoun: an exemption from a rule or obligationSince her father is a billionaire, she is given dispensation from many of the school's policies.
dissembleverb: conceal one's true motives, usually through deceitTo get close to the senator, the assassin dissembled his intentions, convincing many people that he was a reporter for a well-known newspaper.
disseminateverb: cause to become widely knownBefore the effects of anaethesia were disseminated, patients had to experience the full pain of a surgery.
dissipateverb: squander or spend money frivolously
verb: to disperse or scatter
The recent graduates dissipated their earnings on trips to Las Vegas and cruises in Mexico.
Kathleen's perfume was overwhelming in the cramped apartment, but once we stepped outside the smell dissipated and we could breathe once again.
dissolutionnoun: a living full of debauchery and indulgence in sensual pleasureMany Roman emperors were known for their dissolution, indulging in unspeakable desires of the flesh.
docileadjective: easily handled or managed; willing to be taught or led or supervised or directedBarnyard animals are considerably more docile than the wild animals.
dogverb: to pursue relentlessly; to houndThroughout his life, he was dogged by insecurities that inhibited personal growth.
dogmaticadjective: highly opinionated, not accepting that your belief may not be correctBryan is dogmatic in his belief that the earth is flat, claiming that all pictures of a spherical earth are computer generated.
dolefuladjective: filled with or evoking sadnessNo event is more doleful than the passing of my mother; she was a shining star in my life, and it brings me great sadness to think that she is now gone.
dolorousadjective: showing sorrowChopin's ballades are filled with sharp changes in moods--a dolorous melody can give way to a lighthearted tempo.
doughtyadjective: brave; bold; courageousI enjoy films in which a doughty group comes together to battle a force of evil.
dovetailverb: fit together tightly, as if by means of a interlocking jointAlthough Darwin's evolution and Mendel's genetics were developed in isolation from one another, they dovetail very well.
dupeverb: to trick or swindle
noun: a person who is easily tricked or swindled
Once again a get-rich-fast Internet scheme had duped Harold into submitting a $5,000 check to a sham operation.
The charlatan mistook the crowd for a bunch of dupes, but the crowd was quickly on to him and decried his bald-faced attempt to bilk them.
duplicitynoun: deceitfulness, pretending to want one thing but interested in something elseA life of espionage is one of duplicity: an agent must pretend to be a totally different person than who she or he actually is.
duressnoun: compulsory force or threatThe witness said he signed the contract under duress and argued that the court should cancel the agreement.
ebullientadjective: joyously unrestrainedCan you blame him for his ebullient mood? He just graduated from medical school.
eccentricadjective: highly unconventional or unusual (usually describes a person)Mozart was well-known for his eccentricities, often speaking words backward to confuse those around him.
eclecticadjective: comprised of a variety of stylesJoey was known for his eclectic tastes in music, one moment dancing to disco the next "air conducting" along to Beethoven's 9th symphony.
economicaladjective: avoiding waste, efficientJournalists favor an economical style of writing, in which no unnecessary words are used and every sentence is as short as possible.
edifyingadjective: enlightening or uplifting so as to encourage intellectual or moral improvementI recently read an article in the Times about whether good literature is edifying or not; specifically, does reading more make a person more moral.
effervescentadjective: marked by high spirits or excitementAfter the sales result, the manager was in an effervescent mood, letting several employees leave work early that day.
efficaciousadjective: producing the intended resultSince Maggie's cough syrup, which had expired five years back, was no longer efficacious, she coughed through the night.
effronterynoun: audacious (even arrogant) behavior that you have no right toThe skateboarders acted with effrontery, skating through the church grounds and spray-painting signs warning trespassers.
egotistnoun: a conceited and self-centered personAn egotist, Natasha had few friends because of her inability to talk about anything except her dream of becoming the next American Idol.
egregiousadjective: standing out in negative way; shockingly badThe dictator’s abuse of human rights was so egregious that many world leaders demanded that he be tried in an international court for genocide.
ekeverb: To live off meager resources, to scrape byStranded in a cabin over the winter, Terry was able to eke out an existence on canned food.
elaborateadjective: marked by complexity and richness of detail
verb: explain in more detail
Thomas, on returning from Morocco, replaced his dirty gray carpet with an elaborate one he'd brought back with him.
Most high school physics teachers find themselves elaborating the same point over and over again, since many concepts confuse students.
elegiacadjective: expressing sorrowFew can listen to the elegiac opening bars of the Moonlight sonata without feeling the urge to cry.
elicitverb: call forth (emotions, feelings, and responses)Just smiling--even if you are depressed--can elicit feelings of pleasure and happiness.
elicitverb: call forth (emotions, feelings, and responses)Just smiling--even if you are depressed--can elicit feelings of pleasure and happiness.
elucidateverb: make clearer and easier to understandYoutube is great place to learn just about anything--an expert elucidates finer points so that even a complete novice can learn.
eludeverb: escape understandingEven a basic understanding of physics can elude most high schools students.
elusiveadjective: difficult to capture or difficult to rememberMany first time skydivers say that describing the act of falling from the sky is elusive.
embellishverb: make more attractive by adding ornament, colour, etc.; make more beautifulMcCartney would write relatively straightforward lyrics, and Lennon would embellish them with puns and poetic images.
embroiledadjective: involved in argument or contentionThese days we are never short of a D.C. politician embroiled in scandal—a welcome phenomenon for those who, having barely finished feasting on the sordid details of one imbroglio, can sink their teeth into a fresh one.
eminentadjective: standing above others in quality or positionShakespeare is an eminent author in the English language, but I find his writing uninteresting and melodramatic.
empatheticadjective: showing understanding and ready comprehension of other peoples' states and emotionsMost discrimination and hatred is based on a lack of empathetic awareness of people that have the same aspirations and fears.
empiricismnoun: any method that derives knowledge from experience, used in experimental science as a way to gain insight and knowledgeEmpiricism does not always lead to knowledge; an experience or experiment may raise more questions than it answers.
emulateverb: strive to equal or match, especially by imitating; compete with successfullyTo really become fluent in a new language, emulate the speech patterns and intonation of people who speak the language.
enamorverb: attraction or feeling of loveShe is completely enamored with Justin Bieber, and goes to all his concerts on the East coast.
encumberverb: hold backThe costume encumbered all my movements and caused me to sweat profusely.
endemicadjective: native; originating where it is foundIrish cuisine makes great use of potatoes, but ironically, the potato is not endemic to Ireland.
enervateverb: to sap energy fromJohn preferred to avoid equatorial countries; the intense sun would always leave him enervated after he’d spent the day sightseeing.
engenderverb: give rise toThe restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles were so severe that they engendered deep hatred and resentment in the German people.
enjoinverb: give instructions to or direct somebody to do something with authorityThe government agency enjoined the chemical company to clean up the hazardous dump it had created over the years.
enmitynoun: a state of deep-seated ill-willCharles rude remark toward Sarah yesterday was due to his illness, not due to any real enmity toward Sarah.
enormitynoun: an act of extreme wickednessThe enormity of Pol Pot's regime is hard to capture in words--within months hundreds of thousands of Cambodians lost their lives.
enthrallverb: hold spellboundShe was so enthralled by the movie that she never heard people screaming, "Fire! Fire!" in the neighboring theater.
enticeverb: get someone to do something through (often false or exaggerated) promisesHarold enticed his wife, Maude, to go on a vacation to Hawaii, with promises of luaus on the beach and all-you-can-eat seafood buffets.
entrenchedadjective: fixed firmly or securelyBy the time we reach 60-years old, most of our habits are so entrenched that it is difficult for us to change.
enumerateverb: determine the number or amount of
verb: specify individually, one by one
The survey enumerates the number of happy workers and the number of unhappy workers.
I sat and listened as she enumerated all of the things she did not like about the past three months.
ephemeraladjective: lasting a very short timeThe lifespan of a mayfly is ephemeral, lasting from a few hours to a couple of days.
epigramnoun: a witty sayingMy favorite epigram from Mark Twain is "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn no other way."
epiphanynoun: a sudden revelation or moment of insightGary one day had an epiphany that he was a people person; he prompty quit his factory job and began working as a salesman.
eponymnoun: the name derived from a person (real or imaginary); the person for whom something is namedAlexandria, Egypt is an eponym because it is named after Alexander the Great.
equitableadjective: fair to all parties as dictated by reason and conscienceThe equitable distribution of ice cream to a group of 5 year olds will ensure little to no fighting—at least until the ice cream is gone.
equivocaladjective: confusing or ambiguousThe findings of the study were equivocal—the two researchers had different opinions on what the results signified.
equivocateverb: to speak vaguely, usually with the intention to mislead or deceiveAfter Sharon brought the car home an hour after her curfew, she equivocated when her parents pointedly asked her where she had been.
eradicateverb: to completely destroyI tried eradicating the mosquitos in my apartment with a rolled up newspaper, but there were too many of them.
errverb: to make an errorHe erred in thinking that "indigent" and "indignant" were synonyms.
errantadjective: to be wandering; not sticking to a circumscribed pathUnlike his peers, who spent their hours studying in the library, Matthew preferred errant walks through the university campus.
erraticadjective: unpredictable; strange and unconventionalIt came as no surprise to pundits that the President’s attempt at re-election floundered; even during his term, support for his policies was erratic, with an approval rating jumping anywhere from 30 to 60 percent.
ersatzadjective: not real or genuine; phonyThe car dealer's ersatz laughter was immediately followed by a price quote, one that Shelley found highly inflated.
eruditeadjective: having or showing profound knowledgeBefore the Internet, the library was typically were you would find erudite readers.
eschewverb: avoid and stay away from deliberately; stay clear ofPoliticians are the masters of eschewing morals; academics are the masters of eschewing clarity.
esotericadjective: confined to and understandable by only an enlightened inner circleMap collecting is an esoteric hobby to most, but to geography geeks it is a highly enjoyable pasttime.
espouseverb: to adopt or support an idea or causeAs a college student, Charlie espoused Marxism, growing his beard out and railing against the evils of the free-market.
estimableadjective: deserving of esteem and respectAfter serving thirty years, in which he selflessly served the community, Judge Harper was one of the more estimable people in town.
etherealadjective: characterized by lightness and insubstantialityBecause she dances with an ethereal style, ballet critics have called her Madame Butterfly.
euphorianoun: a feeling of great (usually exaggerated) elationThe euphoria of winning her first gold medal in the 100 meter dash overwhelmed Shelly-Ann Fraser and she wept tears of immense joy.
evanescentadjective: tending to vanish like vaporThe storm flashed into existence above us and lasted only a short time—an evanescent turbulence of wind and cloud.
evasiveadjective: avoiding or escaping from difficulty or danger or commitment
adjective: deliberately vague or ambiguous
His responses were clearly evasive; he obviously did not want to take on any responsibility or any new work.
Every time I call the bank, I receive the same evasive answers about our mortgage and never get a clear response.
evenhandedadjective: without partialityTeachers often have trouble being evenhanded to all of their varied students.
exacerbateverb: make worseHer sleeplessness exacerbated her cold--when she woke up the next day, her sinuses were completely blocked.
exactingadjective: requiring and demanding accuracyThough his childhood piano teacher was so exacting, Max is thankful now, as a professional pianist.
exaltverb: praise or glorifyThe teenagers exalted the rock star, covering their bedrooms with posters of him.
exasperateverb: to irritate intenselyAs a child, I exasperated my mother with strings of never-ending questions.
excoriateverb: to criticize very harshlyEntrusted with the prototype to his company’s latest smartphone, Larry, during a late night karaoke bout, let the prototype slip into the hands of a rival company—the next day Larry was excoriated, and then fired.
excruciatingadjective: extremely painfulAfter the boulder rolled a couple of feet, pinning my friend's arm, he experienced excruciating pain.
execrateverb: to curse and hiss atThough the new sitcom did decently in the ratings, Nelson railed against the show, saying that it was nothing more than an execrable pastiche of tired cliché’s and canned laughter.
exegesisnoun: critical explanation or analysis, especially of a textThe Bible is fertile ground for exegesis—over the past five centuries there have been as many interpretations as there are pages in the Old Testament.
exemplarnoun: something to be imitatedLena's homework is on the wall because it is an exemplar of clean, neat, and thoughtful work.
exemplifyverb: be characteristic of
verb: clarify by giving an example of
Lincoln exemplified the best of not only America, but also the potential greatness that exists within each person.
Please present some case studies that exemplify the results that you claim in your paper.
exhortverb: to strongly urge on; encourageNelson’s parents exhorted him to study medicine, urging him to choose a respectable profession; intransigent, Nelson left home to become a graffiti artist.
exiguitynoun: the quality of being meagerAfter two months at sea, the exiguity of the ship's supplies forced them to search for fresh water and food.
exorbitantadjective: greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderationShelley made one exorbitant purchase after another, buying new clothes and taking vacations even though she earned a limited salary.
expansiveadjective: communicative, and prone to talking in a sociable mannerAfter a few sips of cognac, the octogenarian shed his irascible demeanor and became expansive, speaking fondly of the “good old days”.
expoundverb: add details or explanation; clarify the meaning; state in depthThe CEO refused to expound on the decision to merge our department with another one, and so I quit.
expoundverb: add details or explanation; clarify the meaning; state in depthThe CEO refused to expound on the decision to merge our department with another one, and so I quit.
expungeverb: to eliminate completelyWhen I turned 18, all of the shoplifting and jaywalking charges were expunged from my criminal record.
expurgateverb: to remove objectionable material 
extantadjective: still in existence (usually refers to documents).Despite many bookstores closing, experts predict that some form of book dealing will still be extant generations from now.
extenuatingadjective: making less guilty or more forgivableThe jury was hardly moved by the man’s plea that his loneliness was an extenuating factor in his crime of dognapping a prized pooch.
extrapolateverb: draw from specific cases for more general casesBy extrapolating from the data on the past three months, we can predict a 5% increase in traffic to our website.
facetiousadjective: cleverly amusing in toneFacetious behavior will not be tolerated during sex eduation class; it's time for all of you to treat these matters like mature adults.
facileadjective: arrived at without due care or effort; lacking depthMany news shows provide facile explanations to complex politics, so I prefer to read the in-depth reporting of The New York Times.
factiousadjective: produced by, or characterized by internal dissensionThe controversial bill proved factious, as dissension even within parties resulted
factitiousadjective: artificial; not naturalThe defendant’s story was largely factitious and did not accord with eyewitness testimonies
fallaciousadjective: of a belief that is based on faulty reasoningadjective: of a belief that is based on faulty reasoning
fastidiousadjective: overly concerned with details; fussyWhitney is fastidious about her shoes, arranging them on a shelf in a specific order, each pair evenly spaced.
fawnverb: try to gain favor by extreme flatteryThe media fawned over the handsome new CEO, praising his impeccable sense of style instead of asking more pointed questions.
fecklessadjective: lazy and irresponsibleTwo years after graduation, Charlie still lived with his parents and had no job, becoming more feckless with each passing day.
fecundadjective: intellectually productiveThe artist had entered a fecund period, producing three masterpieces in the span of two months.
felladjective: terribly evilFor fans of the Harry Potter series, the fell Lord Voldemort, who terrorized poor Harry for seven lengthy installments, has finally been vanquished by the forces of good—unless, that is, JK Rowling decides to come out of retirement.
ferretverb: to search for something persistentlyEver the resourceful lexicographer, Fenton was able to ferret out the word origin of highly obscure words.
feteverb: to celebrate a personAfter World War II, war heroes were feted at first but quickly forgotten.
fickleadjective: liable to sudden unpredictable change, esp. in affections or attachmentsShe was so fickle in her politics, it was hard to pinpoint her beliefs; one week she would embrace a side, and the next week she would denounce it.
finagleverb: achieve something by means of trickery or devious methodsSteven was able to finagle one of the last seats on the train by convincing the conductor that his torn stub was actually a valid ticket.
firebrandnoun: someone who deliberately creates troubleFreddie is a firebrand: every time he walks into the office, he winds up at the center of heated argument.
flagverb: droop, sink, or settle from or as if from pressure or loss of tautness; become less intenseAfter the three crushing defeats in the last three games, the team's enthusiasm began to flag.
fledglingadjective: young and inexperienced; describing any new participant in some activityMurray has years of experience in family practice, but he is just a fledgling in surgery.
fleeceverb: to deceiveMany people have been fleeced by Internet scams and never received their money back.
flippantadjective: showing inappropriate levityAlthough Sam was trying to honor Mark's sense of humor, many found it quite flippant that he wore a comic nose and glasses mask to Mark's funeral.
flounderverb: behave awkwardly; have difficultiesSylvia has excelled at advanced calculus, but ironically, when she has deal with taxes, she flounders.
flummoxverb: be a mystery or bewildering toMary's behavior completely flummoxes me: I never have any idea what her motivations might be.
flushadjective: to be in abundanceThe exam's passage is flush with difficult words, words that you may have learned only yesterday.
fluxnoun: a state of uncertainty about what should be done (usually following some important event)Ever since Elvira resigned as the head of marketing, everything about our sales strategy has been in a state of flux.
foiblenoun: a behavioral attribute that is distinctive and peculiar to an individualWhen their new roommate sat staring at an oak tree for an hour, Marcia thought it indicated a mental problem, but Jeff assured her it was a harmless foible.
fomentverb: try to stir up public opinionAfter having his pay cut, Phil spread vicious rumors about his boss, hoping to foment a general feeling of discontent.
foolhardyadjective: marked by defiant disregard for danger or consequencesThe police regularly face dangerous situations, so for a police officer not to wear his bullet-proof vest is foolhardy.
forlornadjective: marked by or showing hopelessnessAfter her third pet dog died, Marcia was simply forlorn: this time even the possibility of buying a new dog no longer held any joy.
forthcomingadjective: available when required or as promised
adjective: at ease in talking to others
The President announced that the senators were about to reach a compromise, and that he was eager to read the forthcoming details of the bill.
As a husband, Larry was not forthcoming: if Jill didn't demand to know details, Larry would never share them with her.
forthrightadjective: characterized by directness in manner or speech; without subtlety or evasionI did not expect the insurance agent to give us any straight answers, but I was pleasantly surprised by how forthright he was.
fortuitousadjective: occurring by happy chance; having no cause or apparent causeWhile the real objects are vastly different sizes in space, the sun and the moon seem to have the same fortuitous size in the sky.
fractiousadjective: irritable and is likely to cause disruptionWe rarely invite my fractious Uncle over for dinner; he always complains about the food, and usually launches into a tirade on some touchy subject.
frivolousadjective: not serious in content or attitude or behaviorCompared to Juliet's passionate concern for human rights, Jake's non-stop concern about football seems somewhat frivolous.
frugaladjective: not spending much money (but spending wisely)Monte was no miser, but was simply frugal, wisely spending the little that he earned.
frustrateverb: hinder or prevent (the efforts, plans, or desires) ofI thought I would finish writing the paper by lunchtime, but a number of urgent interruptions served to frustrate my plan.
furtiveadjective: marked by quiet and caution and secrecy; taking pains to avoid being observedWhile at work, George and his boss Regina felt the need to be as furtive as possible about their romantic relationship.
futileadjective: producing no result or effect; unproductive of successI thought I could repair the car myself, but after two days of work with no success, I have to admit that my efforts were futile.
gaffenoun: a socially awkward or tactless actIn a famous gaffe, Vice President Quayle attempted to correct the spelling of a grade school student, only to find that the child was correct.
gainsayverb: deny or contradict; speak against or opposeI can't gainsay a single piece of evidence James has presented, but I still don't trust his conclusion.
gallnoun: the trait of being rude and impertinent
noun: feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will
Even though Carly was only recently hired, she had the gall to question her boss's judgment in front of the office.
In an act of gall, Leah sent compromising photos of her ex-boyfriend to all his co-workers and professional contacts.
galvanizeverb: to excite or inspire (someone) to actionAt mile 23 of his first marathon, Kyle had all but given up, until he noticed his friends and family holding a banner that read, “Go Kyle”; galvanized, he broke into a gallop, finishing the last three miles in less than 20 minutes.
gambitnoun: a maneuver or risk in a game or conversation, designed to secure an advantageRandy played a gambit, telling his boss that he would leave at the end of the week if he didn't get a raise.
garrulousadjective: full of trivial conversationLynne was garrulous: once, she had a fifteen minute conversation with a stranger before she realized the woman didn't speak English.
gaucheadjective: lacking social polishSylvester says the most gauche things, such as telling a girl he liked that she was much prettier when she wore makeup.
genialadjective: agreeable, conducive to comfortBetty is a genial young woman: everyone she meets is put at ease by her elegance and grace.
genteeladjective: marked by refinement in taste and mannersA live string quartet would provide a more genteel air to the wedding than would a folk singer.
germaneadjective: relevant and appropriateThe professor wanted to tell the jury in detail about his new book, but the lawyer said it wasn't germane to the charges in the cases.
gerrymanderverb: to manipulate voting districts in order to favor a particular political partyYears ago, savvy politicians had gerrymandered the city center to ensure their re-election.
gleanverb: collect information bit by bitHerb has given us no formal statement about his background, but from various hints, I have gleaned that he grew up in difficult circumstances.
glibadjective: (of a person) speaking with ease but without sincerityI have found that the more glib the salesman, the worse the product.
glutnoun: an excessive supply
verb: supply with an excess of
The Internet offers such a glut of news related stories that many find it difficult to know which story to read first.
In the middle of economic crises, hiring managers find their inboxes glutted with resumes.
goadverb: urge on with unpleasant commentsDoug did not want to enter the race, but Jim, through a steady stream of taunts, goaded him into signing up for it.
gossameradjective: characterized by unusual lightness and delicacyThe gossamer wings of a butterfly, which allow it to fly, are also a curse, so delicate that they are often damaged.
graftnoun: corruption, usually through briberyIn countries with rampant graft, getting a driver's license can require no more than paying an official.
grandiloquentadjective: puffed up with vanityThe dictator was known for his grandiloquent speeches, puffing his chest out and using big, important-sounding words.
gregariousadjective: to be likely to socialize with othersOften we think that great leaders are those who are gregarious, always in the middle of a large group of people; yet, as Mahatma Gandhi and many others have shown us, leaders can also be introverted.
grovelverb: show submission or fearEvery time Susan comes to the office, Frank grovels as if she were about to fire.
guffawverb: laugh boisterouslyWhenever the jester fell to the ground in mock pain, the king guffawed, exposing his yellow, fang-like teeth.
guilelessadjective: free of deceitAt first I thought my niece was guileless, but I then found myself buying her ice cream every time we passed a shop.
gumptionnoun: resourcefulness and determinationWallace Stegner lamented the lack of gumption in the U.S. during the sixties, claiming that no young person knew the value of work.
hackneyedadjective: lacking significance through having been overusedCheryl rolled her eyes when she heard the lecturer's hackneyed advice to "be true to yourself."
hagiographicadjective: excessively flattering toward someone's life or workMost accounts of Tiger Woods life were hagiographic, until, that is, his affairs made headlines.
hailverb: enthusiastically acclaim or celebrate somethingMany college superstar athletes are hailed as the next big thing, but then flop at the professional level.
halcyonadjective: idyllically calm and peaceful; suggesting happy tranquillity; marked by peace and prosperityThe first decade after WWI was a halcyon period in America with new-found wealth and rapidly improving technology.
hamperverb: prevent the progress or free movement ofAs the rain water began to collect in pools on the highway, it began to hamper the flow of traffic.
hamstrungverb: made ineffective or powerlessThe FBI has made so many restrictions on the local police that they are absolutely hamstrung, unable to accomplish anything.
hamstrungverb: made ineffective or powerlessThe FBI has made so many restrictions on the local police that they are absolutely hamstrung, unable to accomplish anything.
haphazardadjective: marked by great carelessness; dependent upon or characterized by chanceMany golf courses are designed with great care, but the greens on the county golf course seem entirely haphazard.
haranguenoun: a long pompous speech; a tirade;
verb: to deliver a long pompous speech or tirade
Dinner at Billy's was more a punishment than a reward, since anyone who sat at the dinner table would have to listen to Billy's father's interminable harangues against the government.;
Tired of his parents haranguing him about his laziness and lack of initiative, Tyler finally moved out of home at the age of thirty-five.
harriedadjective: troubled persistently especially with petty annoyancesWith a team of new hires to train, Martha was constantly harried with little questions and could not focus on her projects.
haughtyadjective: having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthyThe haughty manager didn't believe that any of his subordinates could ever have an insight as brilliant his own.
hauteurnoun: overbearing pride evidenced by a superior manner toward inferiorsAs soon as she won the lottery, Alice begin displaying a hauteur to her friends, calling them dirty-clothed peasants behind their backs.
hectorverb: to bully or intimidateThe boss’s hectoring manner put off many employees, some of whom quit as soon as they found new jobs.
hedgeverb: to limit or qualify a statement; to avoid making a direct statementWhen asked why he had decided to buy millions of shares at the very moment the tech companies stock soared, the CEO hedged, mentioning something vague about gut instinct.
hegemonyadjective: dominance over a certain areaUntil the Spanish Armada was defeated in 1587, Spain had hegemony over the seas, controlling waters stretching as far as the Americas.
hereticnoun: a person who holds unorthodox opinions in any field (not merely religion)Though everybody at the gym told Mikey to do cardio before weights, Mikey was a heretic and always did the reverse.
heydaynoun: the pinnacle or top of a time period or careerDuring the heyday of Prohibition, bootlegging had become such a lucrative business that many who had been opposed to the 18th Amendment began to fear it would be repealed.
histrionicadjective: to be overly theatricalThough she received a B- on the test, she had such a histrionic outburst that one would have thought that she’d been handed a death sentence.
hoaryadjective: ancientMost workout gurus are young, fit people, whereas most yoga gurus are hoary men with long white beards.
hobbleverb: to hold back the progress of somethingBad weather has hobbled rescue efforts, making it difficult for crews to find bodies in the wreckage.
hodgepodgenoun: a confusing mixture or jumbleThose in attendance represented a hodgepodge of the city's denizens: chimney sweepers could be seen sitting elbow to elbow with stockbrokers.
hoodwinkverb: to deceive or trick someoneSomeone tried to hoodwink Marty with an email telling him that his uncle had just passed away, and to collect the inheritance he should send his credit card information.
houndverb: to pursue relentlesslyAn implacable foe of corruption, Eliot Ness hounded out graft in all forms—he even helped nab Al Capone.
hubrisnoun: overbearing pride or presumptionBill Clinton was criticized for his hubris, since he believed he could get away with anything once in the White House.
humdrumadjective: dull and lacking excitementHaving grown up in a humdrum suburb, Jacob relished life in New York City after moving.
iconoclastnoun: somebody who attacks cherished beliefs or institutionsLady Gaga, in challenging what it means to be clothed, is an iconoclast for wearing a "meat dress" to a prominent awards show.
iconoclasticadjective: defying tradition or conventionJackson Pollack was an iconoclastic artist, totally breaking with tradition by splashing paint on a blank canvas.
idiosyncrasynoun: a behavioral attribute that is distinctive and peculiar to an individualPeggy's numerous idiosyncrasies include wearing mismatched shoes, laughing loudly to herself, and owning a pet aardvark.
ignobleadjective: dishonorableIn the 1920s, the World Series was rigged--an ignoble act which baseball took decades to recover from.
ignominiousadjective: (used of conduct or character) deserving or bringing disgrace or shameSince the politician preached ethics and morality, his texting of revealing photographs was ignominious, bringing shame on both himself and his party.
illicitadjective: contrary to or forbidden by lawThough Al Capone was engaged in many illicit activities, he was finally arrested for income tax evasion, a relatively minor offense.
illustriousadjective: widely known and esteemed; having or conferring gloryEinstein was possibly the most illustrious scientist in recent history.
imbibeverb: to drink or absorb as if drinkingPlato imbibed Socrates’ teachings to such an extent that he was able to write volumes of work that he directly attributed, sometimes word for word, to Socrates.
imbroglionoun: a confusing and potentially embarrassing situationThe chef cook-off featured one gourmand who had the unfortunate distinction of mixing the wrong broths, creating an imbroglio that diners would not soon forget.
immaterialadjective: not relevantThe judge found the defendant’s comments immaterial to the trial, and summarily dismissed him from the witness stand.
immureverb: to enclose, usually in wallsThe modern supermarket experience makes many feel claustrophobic, as they are immured in walls upon walls of products.
immutableadjective: not able to be changedTaxes are one of the immutable laws of the land, so there is no use arguing about paying them.
impartialadjective: free from undue bias or preconceived opinionsThe judge was not impartial since he had been bribed by the witness's family.
impeccableadjective: without fault or errorHe was impeccably dressed in the latest fashion without a single crease or stain.
impecuniousadjective: lacking money; poorIn extremely trying times, even the moderately wealthy, after a few turns of ill-fortune, can become impecunious.
impedeverb: be a hindrance or obstacle toSince the police sergeant had to train the pair of new hires, progress in his own case was impeded.
impendingadjective: close in time; about to occurThe impending doom of our world has been a discussed and debated for 2000 years—maybe even longer.
imperiousadjective: having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthyChildren are imperious with each other before they learn that earning someone's respect is better than demanding.
impermeableadjective: does not allow fluids to pass throughThe sand bags placed on the river formed an impermeable barrier, protecting the town from flooding.
impertinentadjective: being disrespectful; improperly forward or boldDexter, distraught over losing his pet dachshund, Madeline, found the police officer’s questions impertinent—after all, he thought, did she have to pry into such details as to what Madeline’s favorite snack was?
imperviousadjective: not admitting of passage or capable of being affectedI am not impervious to your insults; they cause me great pain.
impetuousadjective: characterized by undue haste and lack of thought or deliberationHerbert is rarely impetuous, but on the spur of the moment, he spent thousands of dollars on a motorcycle today.
implacableadjective: incapable of making less angry or hostileWin or lose, the coach was always implacable, never giving the athletes an easy practice or a break.
implausibleadjective: describing a statement that is not believableThe teacher found it implausible that the student was late to school because he had been kidnapped by outlaws on horseback.
implicateverb: convey a meaning; imply
verb: to indicate in wrongdoing, usually a crime
By saying that some of the guests were uncomfortable, the manager implicated to the hotel staff that it needed to be more dilligent.
The crime boss was implicated for a long list of crimes, ranging from murder to disturbing the peace.
implicateverb: convey a meaning; imply
verb: to indicate in wrongdoing, usually a crime
By saying that some of the guests were uncomfortable, the manager implicated to the hotel staff that it needed to be more dilligent.
The crime boss was implicated for a long list of crimes, ranging from murder to disturbing the peace.
imponderableadjective: impossible to estimate or figure outAccording to many lawmakers, the huge variety of factors affecting society make devising an efficient healthcare system an imponderable task.
importunedverb: beg persistently and urgentlyAfter weeks of importuning the star to meet for a five-minute interview, the journalist finally got what she wanted.
impregnableadjective: immune to attack; incapable of being tampered withAs a child, Amy would build pillow castles and pretend they were impregnable fotresses.
improvidentadjective: not given careful considerationMarty was improvident, never putting money aside for the future but spending it on decorating the interior of his home.
imprudentadjective: not wiseHitler, like Napoleon, made the imprudent move of invading Russia in winter, suffering even more casualties than Napoleon had.
impudentadjective: improperly forward or boldIn an impudent move, the defendant spoke out of order to say terribly insulting things to the judge.
impugnverb: attack as false or wrongThough many initially tried to impugn Darwin's theory, in scientific circles today, the is idea taken as truth.
imputeverb: attribute (responsibility or fault) to somethingHe imputed his subpar performance on the test to a combination of stress and poor sleep.
inadvertentadjective: happening by chance or unexpectedly or unintentionallyAlthough Prohibition was rooted in noble ideals, the inadvertent and costly consequences of making alcohol illegal in the U.S. led its the repeal.
inanitynoun: total lack of meaning or ideasBill's poem was nothing more than a list of impressive sounding words, so there was no point in trying to take meaning from the inanity.
inarticulateadjective: without or deprived of the use of speech or wordsAlthough a brilliant economist, Professor Black was completely inarticulate, a terrible lecturer.
incenseverb: make furiousWhen Herb bought football tickets for a game on the day of their wedding anniversary, Jill was incensed.
incessantadjective: uninterrupted in time and indefinitely long continuingI don't mind small children in brief doses, but I think the incessant exposure that their parents have to them would quickly wear me down.
inchoateadjective: only partly in existence; imperfectly formedInchoate ideas about the relation of humans to other animals had been discussed since the Middle Ages but the modern theory really began with Darwin.
incisiveadjective: having or demonstrating ability to recognize or draw fine distinctionsThe lawyer had an incisive mind, able in a flash to dissect a hopelessly tangled issue and isolate the essential laws at play.
inclementadjective: (of weather) unpleasant, stormy
adjective: used of persons or behavior; showing no mercy
After a week of inclement weather, we finally are able to go outside and enjoy the sun.
Marcus Aurelius, though a fair man, was inclement to Christians during his reign, persecuting them violently.
incongruousadjective: lacking in harmony or compatibility or appropriatenessThe vast economic inequality of modern society is incongruous with America's ideals.
incontrovertibleadjective: necessarily or demonstrably true; impossible to deny or disproveUnless you can provide incontrovertible evidence, I will remain skeptical.
incorrigibleadjective: impervious to correction by punishmentTom Sawyer seems like an incorrigible youth until Huck Finn enters the novel; even Sawyer can't match his fierce individual spirit.
incumbentadjective: necessary (for someone) as a duty or responsibilityMiddle managers at times make important decisions, but real responsibility for the financial well-being of the corporation is ultimately incumbent on the CEO.
indecorousadjective: not in keeping with accepted standards of what is right or proper in polite societyEating with elbows on the table is considered indecorous in refined circles.
indictverb: to formally charge or accuse of wrong-doingThe bankrobber was indicted on several major charges, including possession of a firearm.
indifferencenoun: the trait of seeming not to careIn an effort to fight indifference, the president of the college introduced a new, stricter grading system.
indigenousadjective: originating in a certain areaThe plants and animals indigenous to Australia are notably different from those indigenous to the U.S—one look at a duckbill platypus and you know you’re not dealing with an opossum.
indigentadjective: poor; having very little
noun: a poor or needy person
In the so-called Third World, many are indigent and only a privileged few have the resources to enjoy material luxuries.
The indigents, huddled under the overpass, tried to start a small bonfire in the hope of staying warm.
indignantadjective: feeling anger over a perceived injusticeWhen the cyclist swerved into traffic, it forced the driver to brake and elicited an indignant shout of "Hey, punk, watch where you're going!"
industriousadjective: characterized by hard work and perseverancePete was an industrious student, completing every assignment thoroughly and on time.
ineffableadjective: too sacred to be uttered; defying expression or descriptionWhile art critics can occasionally pinpoint a work's greatness, much of why a piece captures our imaginations is completely ineffable.
ineluctableadjective: impossible to avoid or evade:For those who smoke cigarettes for years, a major health crisis brought on by smoking is ineluctable.
inequitynoun: injustice by virtue of not conforming with rules or standardsAfter decades of racial inequity, the "separate but equal" doctrine was successfully overturned.
inexorableadjective: impossible to stop or preventThe rise of the computer was an inexorable shift in technology and culture.
infelicitousadjective: inappropriateDuring the executive meeting, the marketing director continued to make infelicitous comments about the CEO's gambling habit.
inflammatoryadjective: extremely controversial, incendiaryIt only takes one person to leave an inflammatory comment on an Internet thread for that thread to blow up into pages upon pages of reader indignation.
ingenuitynoun: the power of creative imaginationDaedalus was famous for his ingenuity; he was able to fashion his son Icarus with a pair of wings, using wax to hold them together.
ingenuousadjective: to be naïve and innocentTwo-years in Manhattan had changed Jenna from an ingenuous girl from the suburbs to a jaded urbanite, unlikely to fall for any ruse, regardless of how elaborate.
inimicaladjective: hostile (usually describes conditions or environments)Venus, with a surface temperature that would turn rubber to liquid, is inimical to any form of life.
inimitableadjective: defying imitation; matchlessMozart's music follows a clear pattern that, anyone could imitate, but his music gives an overall sense of effortlessness that is inimitable.
inklingnoun: a slight suggestion or vague understandingLynne speaks four Romance languages, but she doesn't have an inkling about how East Asian languages are structured.
innocuousadjective: harmless and doesn’t produce any ill effectsEveryone found Nancy’s banter innocuous—except for Mike, who felt like she was intentionally picking on him.
inscrutableadjective: not easily understood; unfathomableHis speech was so dense and confusing that many in the audience found it inscrutable.
insidiousadjective: working in a subtle but destructive wayPlaque is insidious: we cannot see it, but each day it eats away at our enamel, causing cavities and other dental problems.
insipidadjective: dull and uninterestingThe movie director was known for hiring beautiful actors in order to deflect attention away from the insipid scripts he would typically use.
insolentadjective: rude and arrogantLilian could not help herself from being insolent, commenting that the Queen's shoes were showing too much toe.
insolventadjective: unable to pay one's bills; bankruptWith credit card bills skyrocketing, a shockingly large number of Americans are truly insolvent.
insouciancenoun: lack of concernSurprisingly, Hank had become a high-powered CEO; his high school friends remembered him as "Hanky Panky", who shrugged off each failed class with insouciance.
insufferableadjective: intolerable, difficult to endureChester always tried to find some area in which he excelled above others; unsurprisingly, his co-workers found him insufferable and chose to exclude him from daily luncheons out.
intermittentadjective: stopping and starting at irregular intervalsThe intermittent thunder continued and the night was punctuated by cracks of lightning—a surreal sleepless night.
internecineadjective: (of conflict) within a group or organizationThe guerilla group, which had become so powerful as to own the state police, was finally destroyed by an internecine conflict.
intimateverb: to suggest something subtlyAt first Manfred’s teachers intimated to his parents that he was not suited to skip a grade; when his parents protested, teachers explicitly told them that, notwithstanding the boy’s precocity, he was simply too immature to jump to the 6th grade.
intimationnoun: an indirect suggestionAt first the hostess tried intimation, praising the benefits of cutlery; when Cecil continued eating with his hands, the hostess told him to use a fork at dinner.
intransigentadjective: unwilling to change one's beliefs or course of actionDespite many calls for mercy, the judge remained intransigent, citing strict legal precedence.
intrepidadjective: fearlessCaptain Ahab was an intrepid captain whose reckless and fearless style ultimate leads to his downfall.
inundateverb: to flood or overwhelmThe newsroom was inundated with false reports that only made it more difficult for the newscasters to provide an objective account of the bank robbery.
inureverb: to make accustomed to something unpleasantThree years of Manhattan living has inured her to the sound of wailing sirens; she could probably sleep through the apocalypse.
invectivenoun: abusive or denunciatory languageThe Internet has unleashed the invectives in many of us; many people post stinging criticism on the comments section underneath newspaper articles or YouTube videos.
inveterateadjective: habitualHe is an inveterate smoker and has told his family and friends that there is no way he will ever quit.
invidiousadjective: likely to cause resentmentAt a time when many others in the office were about to be laid off, many considered Cheryl's fine clothes that day an invidious display.
inviolableadjective: never to be broken, infringed, or dishonoredTo many the grass at Wimbledon is inviolable and only greater tennis players are able to enjoy a game there.
inviolateadjective: must be kept sacredWhile the literary critic subjected most of the classics to the harshest reviews, he regarded Cervantes as inviolate, and had nothing but praise for him.
involvedadjective: complicated, and difficult to comprehendThe physics lecture became so involved that the undergraduate’s eyes glazed over.
irascibleadjective: quickly aroused to angerIf Arthur's dog is not fed adequately, he becames highly irascible, even growling at his own shadow.
irkverb: irritate or vexMy little sister has a way of irking and annoying me like no other person.
irrefutableadjective: impossible to deny or disproveThe existence of life on earth is irrefutable; the existence of intelligent life on earth is still hotly debated.
irresoluteadjective: uncertain how to act or proceedHe stood irresolute at the split in the trail, not sure which route would lead back to the camp.
irrevocableadjective: incapable of being retracted or revokedOnce you enter your plea to the court, it is irrevocable so think carefully about what you will say.
itinerantadjective: traveling from place to place to workDoctors used to be itinerant, traveling between patients' homes.
jargonnoun: a characteristic language of a particular groupTo those with little training in medicine, the jargon of doctors can be very difficult to understand.
jaundiceadjective: to be biased against due to envy or prejudiceShelly was jaundiced towards Olivia; though the two had once been best friends, Olivia had become class president, prom queen, and, to make matters worse, the girlfriend of the one boy Shelly liked.
jejuneadjective: dull; lacking flavor
adjective: immature; childish
Although many top chefs have secured culinary foam's popularity in haute cuisine, Waters criticizes it for being jejune and unfilling.
Her boss further cemented his reuptation for being jejune after throwing a fit when the water cooler wasn't refilled.
jingoismnoun: fanatical patriotismNorth Korea maintains intense control over its population through a combination of jingoism and cult of personality.
jingoistnoun: a person who thinks that their country should be at warIn the days leading up to war, a nation typically breaks up into the two opposing camps: doves, who do their best to avoid war, and jingoists, who are only too eager to wave national flags from their vehicles and vehemently denounce those who do not do the same.
jocularadjective: characterized by jokes and good humorMy uncle was always in a jocular mood at family gatherings, messing up people's hair and telling knock-knock jokes to anyone who would listen.
jocularadjective: characterized by jokes and good humorMy uncle was always in a jocular mood at family gatherings, messing up people's hair and telling knock-knock jokes to anyone who would listen.
jovialadjective: full of or showing high-spirited merrimentThe political candidate and his supporters were jovial once it was clear that she had won.
jubilantadjective: full of high-spirited delight because of triumph or successMy hardwork paid off, and I was jubilant to receive a perfect score on the GRE.
juggernautnoun: a force that cannot be stoppedNapoleon was considered a juggernaut until he decided to invade Russia in winter; after which, his once indomitable army was decimated by cold and famine.
juntanoun: an aggressive takeover by a group (usually military)As dangerous of a threat as North Korea is, some analysts believe that were a junta suddenly to gain power, it could be even more unpredictable and bellicose than the current leadership
juxtaposeverb: place side by sideThe appeal of her paintings comes from a classical style which is juxtaposed with modern themes.
kowtowverb: to bow or act in a subservient mannerPaul kowtowed to his boss so often the boss herself became nauseated by his sycophancy.
labelnoun: a name or phrase given to a group of things to identify them (often negative)
verb: to give a label to something
The meaning of the label ""punk"" has changed greatly in the last 30 years.
Children are often unkind and label others who look different as outsiders.
laboriousadjective: characterized by effort to the point of exhaustion; especially physical effortThe most laborious job I've had was working 20 hours a day as a fisherman in King Salmon, Alaska.
lacerateverb: deeply hurt the feelings of; distressThe teacher was fired for lacerating a student who wrote a poor essay.
lachrymoseadjective: showing sorrowLachrymose and depressed, Alexei Alexandrovich walked two miles home in the rain after learning that his wife was having an affair.
laconicadjective: one who says very few wordsWhile Martha always swooned over the hunky, laconic types in romantic comedies, her boyfriends inevitably were very talkative—and not very hunky.
lambastverb: criticize severely or angrilyShowing no patience, the manager utterly lambasted the sales team that lost the big account.
lampoonverb: ridicule with satireMark Twain understood that lampooning a bad idea with humor was the most effective criticism.
languidadjective: not inclined towards physical exertion or effort; slow and relaxedAs the sun beat down and the temperature climbed higher, we spent a languid week lying around the house.
languishverb: become feebleStranded in the wilderness for four days, the hiker languished, eating protein bars and nuts.
largessnoun: extreme generosity and givingUncle Frank was known for his largess, so his nephew was sad when he did not receive a present for his birthday.
lasciviousadjective: lecherous; sexually pervertedLolita is a challenging novel for many, not necessarily because of the elevated prose style but because of the depravity of the main character, Humbert Humbert, who, as an old, lascivious man, falls in love with a girl.
laudableadjective: worthy of high praiseTo say that Gandhi's actions were laudable is the greatest understatement; he overthrew an empire without violence.
leeryadjective: openly distrustful and unwilling to confideWithout checking his references and talking to previous employers, I am leery of hiring the candidate.
lethargicadjective: lacking energyNothing can make a person more lethargic than a big turkey dinner.
limpidadjective: clarity in terms of expressionHer limpid prose made even the most recondite subjects accessible to all.
lionizeverb: assign great social importance toStudents in the U.S. learn to lionize Jefferson, Franklin, and Washington because they are the founding fathers of the nation.
litanynoun: any long and tedious account of somethingMr. Rogers spoke to a Senate committee and did not give a litany of reasons to keep funding the program, but instead, appealed to the basic human decency of all present.
loathadjective: unwillingness to do something contrary to your custom (usually followed by 'to')I was loath to leave the concert before my favorite band finished playing.
lucidadjective: (of language) transparently clear; easily understandableThough Walters writes about physics and time travel, his writing is always lucid, so readers with little scientific training can understand difficult concepts.
lugubriousadjective: excessively mournfulAt the funeral, lugubrious songs filled the small church.
macabreadjective: suggesting the horror of death and decay; gruesomeEdgar Allen Poe was considered the master of the macabre; his stories vividly describe the moment leading up to—and often those moments after—a grisly death.
machinateverb: engage in plotting or enter into a conspiracy, swear togetherThe rebels met at night in an abandoned barn to machinate.
magisterialadjective: offensively self-assured or given to exercising unwarranted powerThough she was only a third grade teacher, Ms. Martinet was magisterial in dealing with her class, lording over them like a queen.
magnanimousadjective: noble and generous in spirit, especially towards a rival or someone less powerfulHe was a great sportsman: in defeat he was complementary and in victory he was magnanimous.
maintainverb: to assertThe scientist maintained that the extinction of dinosaurs was most likely brought about by a drastic change in climate.
maladroitadjective: clumsyAs a child she was quite maladroit, but as an adult, she has become an adept dancer.
maladynoun: a disease or sicknessThe town was struck by a malady throughout the winter that left most people sick in bed for two weeks.
malapropismnoun: the confusion of a word with another word that sounds similarWhenever I looked glum, my mother would offer to share "an amusing antidote" with me—an endearing malapropism of "anecdote" that never failed to cheer me up.
malevolentadjective: wishing or appearing to wish evil to others; arising from intense ill will or hatredVillians are known for their malevolent nature, oftentimes inflicting cruetly on others just for enjoyment.
malfeasanceadjective: misconduct or wrongdoing (especially by a public official)Not even the mayor’s trademark pearly-toothed grin could save him from charges of malfeasance: while in power, he’d been running an illegal gambling rink in the room behind his office.
malingerernoun: someone shirking their duty by pretending to be sick or incapacitatedAt one time, our country was full of hardworking respectful people, but now it seems that everyone is a malingerer with little inclination to work.
malleableadjective: capable of being shaped or bent or drawn out
adjective: easily influenced
The clay became malleable and easy to work with after a little water was added.
My little brother is so malleable that I can convince him to sneak cookies from the cupboard for me.
malodorousadjective: having an unpleasant smellSome thermally active fountains spew sulfur fumes--the air around them is sometimes so malodorous that many have to plug their noses.
martialadjective: suggesting war or military lifeAmericans tend to remember Abraham Lincoln as kindly and wise, not at all martial, despite the fact that he was involved in the fiercest war America has even fought.
martinetnoun: a strict disciplinarianThe job seemed perfect to Rebecca, until she found out that her boss was a total martinet; after each project the boss would come by to scrutinize—and inevitably criticize—every little detail of the work Rebecca had done.
maudlinadjective: overly emotional and sadJust as those who were alive during the 70’s are mortified that they once cavorted about in bellbottoms, many who lived during the 80’s are now aghast at the maudlin pop songs they used to enjoy—really, just what exactly is a total eclipse of the heart?
maunderverb: wander aimlessly
verb: speak (about unimportant matters) rapidly and incessantly
Max liked to maunder down by the seaside and pick up whatever sea shells he would stumble upon.
After drinking two espressos each, the animated couple would maunder loudly, annoying the other patrons in the coffee shop.
mavericknoun: someone who exhibits great independence in thought and actionOfficer Kelly was a maverick, rarely following police protocols or adopting the conventions for speech common among his fellow officers.
mawkishadjective: overly sentimental to the point that it is disgustingThe film was incredibly mawkish, introducing highly likeable characters only to have them succumb to a devastating illnesses by the end of the movie.
maximnoun: a short saying expressing a general truthJohnson initially suggests that the secret to business can be summarized in a single maxim but then requires a 300-page book to explain exactly what he means.
meanderverb: to wander aimlesslyA casual observer might have thought that Peter was meandering through the city, but that day he was actually seeking out those places where he and his long lost love had once visited.
melancholynoun: a deep, long-lasting sadnessHamlet is a figure of tremendous melancholy: he doesn't have a truly cheerful scene throughout the entire play.
meleenoun: a wild, confusing fight or struggleAfter enduring daily taunts about my name, I became enraged and pummeled the schoolyard bully and his sycophantic friends in a brutal melee.
mellifluousadjective: smooth and sweet-soundingChelsea’s grandmother thought Franz Schubert’s music to be the most mellifluous ever written; Chelsea demurred, and to her grandmother’s chagrin, would blast Rihanna on the home stereo speakers.
mendacitynoun: the tendency to be untruthfulI can forgive her for her mendacity but only because she is a child and is seeing what she can get away with.
mendicantnoun: a pauper who lives by beggingTolstoy was an aristocrat, but he strove to understand the Christianity of the Russian peasants by wandering among them as a mendicant.
mercurialadjective: (of a person) prone to unexpected and unpredictable changes in moodThe fact that Ella’s moods were as mercurial as the weather was problematic for her relationships—it didn’t help that she lived in Chicago.
mesmerizeverb: to spellbind or enthrallThe plot and the characters were so well developed that many viewers were mesmerized, unable to move their eyes from the screen for even a single second.
meteoricadjective: like a meteor in speed or brilliance or transienceThe early spectacular successes propelled the pitcher to meteoric stardom, but a terribly injury tragically cut short his career.
meticulousadjective: marked by extreme care in treatment of detailsThe Japanese noodle maker was meticulous in making his noodles and would never let another person take over the task.
mettlesomeadjective: filled with courage or valorFor its raid on the Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Seal Team Six has become, for many Americans, the embodiment of mettle.
mettlesomeadjective: filled with courage or valorFor its raid on the Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Seal Team Six has become, for many Americans, the embodiment of mettle.
misanthropenoun: a hater of mankindKevin is such a misanthrope that he refused to attend the Christmas party, claiming that everyone's happiness was "fake" and "annoying."
misattributeverb: To erroneously attribute; to falsely ascribe; used especially of authorship.I made a mistake; I misattributed "Crime and Punishment" to Leo Tolstoy when it was actually written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
misconstrueverb: interpret in the wrong wayThe politician never trusted journalists because he though that they misconstrue his words and misrepresent his positions.
miscreantnoun: a person who breaks the law"Come back you miscreant!" yelled the woman who just had her purse stolen.
misernoun: a person who doesn't like to spend money (because they are greedy)Monte was no miser, but was simply frugal, wisely spending the little that he earned.
misogynistnoun: a person who dislikes women in particularMany have accused Hemingway of being a quiet misogynist, but recently unearthed letters argue against this belief.
mitigateverb: make less severe or harsh
verb: lessen the severity of an offense
I can only spend so much time mitigating your disagreements with your wife, and at certain point, you need to do it on your own.
If it weren't for the mitigating circumstances, he would have certainly lost his job.
modicumnoun: a small or moderate or token amountIf my sister had even a modicum of sense, she wouldn't be engaged to that barbarian.
mollifyverb: to make someone angry less angry; placateIn the morning, Harriat was unable to mollify Harry, if he happened to become angry, unless he had his cup of coffee.
momentnoun: significant and important valueDespite the initial hullabaloo, the play was of no great moment in Hampton’s writing career, and within a few years the public quickly forgot his foray into theater arts.
mootadjective: open to argument or debate; undecidable in a meaningless or irrelevant waySince the Board just terminated Steve as the CEO, what the finance committe might have thought of his proposed marketing plan for next year is now a moot point.
mordantadjective: biting and caustic in thought, manner, or styleWhile Phil frequently made mordant remarks about company policy overall, he always was considerably gentler in discussing any person in particular.
moribundadjective: being on the point of death; declining rapidly losing all momentum in progressWhether you like it or not, jazz as a genre is moribund at best, possibly already dead.
moroseadjective: ill-tempered and not inclined to talk; gloomyAfter Stanley found out he was no longer able to go on vacation with his friends, he sat in his room morosely.
morphverb: To undergo dramatic change in a seamless and barely noticeable fashion.The earnestness of the daytime talk shows of the 1970's has morphed into something far more sensational and vulgar: today guests actually standup and threaten to take swings at one another.
mulctverb: to defraud or swindleThe so-called magical diet cure simply ended up mulcting Maria out of hundreds of dollars, but did nothing for her weight.
mundaneadjective: repetitive and boring; not spiritual
adjective: relating to the ordinary world
Nancy found doing dishes a thorougly mundane task, although Peter found a kind of Zen pleasure in the chore.
Though we think of the pope as someone always dealing in holy matters, he is also concerned with mundane events, such as deciding when to set his alarm each morning.
munificentadjective: very generousUncle Charley was known for his munificence, giving all seven of his nephews lavish Christmas presents each year.
mutedadjective: softened, subduedHelen preferred muted earth colors, such as green and brown, to the bright pinks and red her sister liked.
myopicadjective: lacking foresight or imaginationThe company ultimately went out of business because the myopic managers couldn't predict the changes in their industry.
myriadnoun: a large indefinite numberThere are a myriad of internet sites hawking pills that claim to boost energy for hours on end.
nadirnoun: the lowest pointFor many pop music fans, the rap and alternative-rock dominated 90s were the nadir of musical expression.
negligibleadjective: so small as to be meaningless; insignificantThe GRE tests cumulative knowledge, so if you cram the night before it is, at best, likely to only have a negligible impact on your score.
nettlesomeadjective: causing irritation or annoyanceMaria found her coworker's cell phone nettlesome, because every few minutes it would buzz to life with another text message.
noisomeadjective: having an extremely bad smellEach August, when the winds moved in a south easterly direction, the garbage dump would spread noisome vapors through the small town.
nonchalantadjective: coming across as uninterested or unconcerned; overly casualThe twenty-somethings at the coffee shop always irked Sheldon, especially the way in which they acted nonchalantly towards everything, not even caring when Sheldon once spilled his mocha on them.
nonplussedverb: unsure how to act or respondShirley was totally nonplussed when the angry motorist cut her off and then stuck his finger out the window.
nuancenoun: a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitudeBecause of the nuances involved in this case, I hired an outside consultant to advice us and help.
nuancenoun: a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitudeBecause of the nuances involved in this case, I hired an outside consultant to advice us and help.
obdurateadjective: stubbornly persistent in changing an opinion or actionNo number of pleas and bribes would get him to change his obdurate attitude.
objurgateverb: express strong disapproval ofThe manager spent an hour objurgating the employee in the hopes that he would not make these mistakes again.
obligingadjective: showing a cheerful willingness to do favors for othersEven after all his success, I found him to be accommodating and obliging, sharing with me his "secret tips" on how to gain wealth and make friends.
obliqueadjective: not straightforward; indirectHerbert never explicitly revealed anything negative about Tom's past, but at times he would obliquely suggest that Tom was not as innocent as he seemed.
obscureverb: make unclear
adjective: known by only a few
On the Smith's drive through the Grand Canyon, Mr. Smith's big head obscured much of Mrs. Robinson's view, so that she only saw momentary patches of red rock.
Many of the biggest movie stars were once obscure actors who got only bit roles in long forgotten films.
obsequiousadjective: attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner; attempting to win favor from influential people by flatteryThe obsequious waiter did not give the couple a moment's peace all through the meal, constantly returning to their table to refill their water glasses and to tell them what a handsome pair they made.
obstinateadjective: resistant to guidance or discipline; stubbornly persistentThe coach suggested improvements Sarah might make on the balance beam, but she remained obstinate, unwilling to modify any of the habits that made her successful in the past.
obstreperousadjective: noisily and stubbornly defiant; willfully difficult to controlWhen the teacher asked the obstreperous student simply to bus his tray, the student threw the entire tray on the floor, shouted an epithet, and walked out.
obtainadjective: be valid, applicable, or trueThe custom of waiting your turn in line does not obtain in some countries, in which many people try to rush to front of the line at the same time.
obtuseadjective: slow to learn or understand; lacking intellectual acuity; lacking in insight or discernmentJackson was the most obtuse member of the team: the manager's subtle ironies were always lost on him.
officiousadjective: intrusive in a meddling or offensive mannerThe professor had trouble concentrating on her new theorem, because her officious secretary would barge in frequently reminding her of some trivial detail involving departmental paperwork.
opaqueadjective: not clearly understood or expressedThe meaning of the professor's new research was opaque to most people, so no one asked any questions.
opulencenoun: wealth as evidenced by sumptuous livingRussian oligarchs are famous for their opulence, living in fancy homes and dining on expensive cavier.
ornateadjective: marked by elaborate rhetoric and elaborated with decorative detailsThe ornate Victorian and Edwardian homes spread throughout San Francisco are my favorite part of the city.
ossifyverb: make rigid and set into a conventional patternEven as a young man, Bob had some bias against poor people, but during his years in social services, his bad opinions ossified into unshiftable views.
ostentatiousadjective: intended to attract notice and impress others; tawdry or vulgarMatt wanted to buy stone lions for front of the house, but Cynthia convinced him that such a display would be too ostentatious for a modest house in an unassuming neighborhood.
ostracizeverb: exclude from a community or groupLater in his life, Leo Tolstoy was ostracized from the Russian Orthodox Church for his writings that contradicted church doctrine.
overweeningadjective: arrogant; presumptuousMark was so convinced of his basketball skills that in his overweening pride he could not fathom that his name was not on the varsity list; he walked up to the basketball coach and told her she had forgotten to add his name.
palatableadjective: acceptable to the taste or mindMIkey didn't partake much in his friends' conversations, but found their presence palatable.
palaververb: speak (about unimportant matters) rapidly and incessantlyDuring the rain delay, many who had come to see the game palavered, probably hoping that idle chatter would make the time go by faster.
palimpsestnoun: something that has been changed numerous times but on which traces of former iterations can still be seenThe downtown was a palimpsest of the city’s checkered past: a new Starbucks had opened up next to an abandoned, shuttered building, and a freshly asphalted road was inches away from a pothole large enough to swallow a small dog.
panaceanoun: hypothetical remedy for all ills or diseases; a universal solutionWhile the company credit card has made most large purchases easier, it is no panacea: some smaller basic transactions still must be conducted in cash.
panachenoun: distinctive and stylish eleganceJim, with his typical panache, came to the wedding reception with a top hat, a cane, and a long cape covered in sequins.
panegyricnoun: a formal expression of praiseDave asked Andrew to do just a simple toast, but Andrew launched into a full panegyric, enumerating a complete list of Dave's achievements and admirable qualities.
paradoxicaladjective: seemingly contradictory but nonetheless possibly trueThat light could be both a particle and a wave seems paradoxical, but nonetheless, it is true.
paragonnoun: model of excellence or perfection of a kind; one having no equal
noun: an ideal instance; a perfect embodiment of a concept
Even with the rise of Kobe Bryant, many still believe that Michael Jordon is the paragon for basketball players.
Some say that Athens was the paragon of democracy, but these people often forget that slaves and women were still not allowed to vote.
pariahnoun: an outcastThe once eminent scientist, upon being found guilty of faking his data, has become a pariah in the research community.
parochialadjective: narrowly restricted in scope or outlookJasmine was sad to admit it, but her fledgling relationship with Jacob did not work out because his culinary tastes were simply tooparochial; "After all," she quipped on her blog, "he considered Chef Boyardee ethnic food."
parsimoniousadjective: extremely frugal; miserlyKatie is so parsimonious that she only buys a pair of socks if all of her other socks have holes in them.
parvenunoun: a person who has suddenly become wealthy, but not socially accepted as part of a higher classThe theater was full of parvenus who each thought that they were surrounded by true aristocrats.
pastoraladjective: relating to the countryside in a pleasant senseThose who imagine America's countryside as a pastoral region are often disappointed to learn that much of rural U.S. is filled with cornfields extending as far as the eye can see.
patentadjective: glaringly obviousSince the book had been through no fewer than six proof runs, the staff was shocked to see such a patent spelling mistake remaining, right in the middle of the front cover!
patronizeverb: treat condescendinglyShe says she genuinely wanted to help me, but instead she patronized me, constantly pointing out how I was inferior to her.
paucitynoun: a lack of somethingThere is a paucity of jobs hiring today that require menial skills, since most jobs have either been automated or outsourced.
pecuniaryadjective: relating to or involving moneyThe defendent was found guilty and had to serve a period of community service as well as pay pecuniary damages to the client.
pedanticadjective: marked by a narrow focus on or display of learning especially its trivial aspectsProfessor Thompson was regarded as an expert in his field, but his lectures were utterly pedantic, focused on rigorous details of the most trivial conventions in the field.
pedestrianadjective: lacking imaginationWhile Nan was always engaged in philosophical speculation, her brother was occupied with far more pedestrian concerns: how to earn a salary and run a household.
peevishadjective: easily irritated or annoyedOur office manager is peevish, so the rest of us tip-toe around him, hoping not to set off another one of his fits.
pejorativeadjective: expressing disapproval (usu. refers to a term)Most psychologists object to the pejorative term "shrink", believing that they expand the human mind, not limit it.
pellucidadjective: transparently clear; easily understandableThe professor had a remarkable ability make even the most difficult concepts seem pellucid.
penuriousadjective: lacking money; poor
adjective: miserly
Truly penurious, Mary had nothing more than a jar full of pennies.
Warren Buffett, famous multi-billionaire, still drives a cheap sedan, not because he is penurious, but because luxury cars are gaudy and impractical.
perceiveverb: to be aware of, to sense or feelIf hunters are skilled, the animals will not perceive their presence.
percipientadjective: highly perceptiveEven the most percipient editor will make an occasional error when proofreading.
peremptoryadjective: bossy and domineeringMy sister used to peremptorily tell me to do the dishes, a chore I would either do perfunctorily or avoid doing altogether.
perennialadjective: lasting an indefinitely long time; eternal; everlastingEven at the old-timers games, Stan Musial would get the loudest cheer: he was a perennial favorite of the fans there.
perfidynoun: an act of deliberate betrayal; a breach of a trustThe lowest circles in Dante's Inferno were for those who had practiced perfidy, and among these, the very lowest was for those, such as Judas, who had been treacherous to one of their benefactors.
perfunctoryadjective: done routinely and with little interest or careThe short film examines modern perfunctory cleaning rituals such as washing dishes, doing laundry and tooth-brushing.
peripateticadjective: traveling by footJim always preferred a peripatetic approach to discovering a city: he felt that he could see so many more details while walking.
perniciousadjective: exceedingly harmful; working or spreading in a hidden and injurious wayThe most successful viruses are pernicious: an infected person may feel perfectly healthy for several months while incubating and spreading the virus.
perpetuateverb: cause to continueIf you do not let him do things for himself, you are merely perpetuating bad habits that will be even harder to break in the future.
perquisitenoun: a right reserved exclusively by a particular person or group (especially a hereditary or official right)Even as the dishwasher at the French restaurant, Josh quickly learned that he had the perquisite of being able to eat terrific food for half the price diners would pay.
perspicaciousadjective: acutely insightful and wiseMany modern observers regard Eisenhower as perspicacious, particularly in his accurate prediction of the growth of the military.
pertinentadjective: having precise or logical relevance to the matter at handWhile the salaries of the players might draw attention in the media, such monetary figures are not pertinent to the question of who plays the best on the field.
perturbverb: disturb in mind or cause to be worried or alarmedNow that Henry is recovering from a major illnesses, he no longer lets the little trivialities, such as late mail, perturb him.
peruseverb: to read very carefullyInstead of perusing important documents, people all too often rush to the bottom of the page and plaster their signatures at the bottom.
petulantadjective: easily irritated or annoyedWhen Ed first met Ruth, he didn't realize she was so petulant, but now that they are three months into their relationship, Ed feels a day doesn't go by in which she isn't whining about some minor issue.
phantasmagoricaladjective: illusive; unrealThose suffering from malaria fall into a feverish sleep, their world a whirligig of phantasmagoria; if they recover, they are unsure of what actually took place and what was simply a product of their febrile imaginations.
philistineadjective: smug and ignorant towards artistic and cultural valuesJane considered Al completely philistine, because he talked almost exclusive about video games; she was entirely unaware of how well read he really was.
phlegmaticadjective: showing little emotionArnold is truly noble, remaining reserved until an issue of significance arises, but Walter is simply phlegmatic: he doesn't have the energy or inclination to care about anything.
picayuneadjective: trifling or petty (a person)English teachers are notorious for being picayune; however, the English language is so nuanced and sophisticated that often such teachers are not being contrary but are only adhering to the rules.
pilloryverb: ridicule or expose to public scornAfter the candidate confessed, the press of the opposing party took the opportunity to pillory him, printing editorials with the most blatantly exaggerated accusations.
pineverb: to yearn forStanding forlornly by the window, she pined for her lost love.
pinnaclenoun: the highest pointAt its pinnacle, the Roman Empire extended across most of the landmass of Eurasia, a feat not paralleled to the rise of the British Empire in the 18th and 19th century.
piquantadjective: having an agreeably pungent tasteThe chef, with a mere flick of the salt shaker, turned the bland tomato soup into a piquant meal.
pithnoun: the most essential part of somethingWhen Cynthia hears a speaker presenting a complex argument, she is always able to discard the irrelevant details and extract the pith of what the speaker is trying to convey.
pithyadjective: concise and full of meaningI enjoy reading the Daodejing for its pithy and insightful prose; it always gives me something to think about.
pittancenoun: a small amount (of money)Vinny’s uncle beamed smugly about how he’d offered his nephew fifty dollars for his Harvard tuition; even twice the amount would have been a mere pittance.
placateverb: cause to be more favorably inclined; gain the good will ofI was able to placate the angry mob of students by promising to bring cookies on Monday.
placidadjective: not easily irritatedDoug is normally placid, so we were all shocked to see him yelling at the television when the Mets lost the game.
platitudenoun: a trite or obvious remarkThe professor argued that many statements regarded as wise in previous times, such as the Golden Rule, are now regarded as mere platitudes.
ploddingadjective: (of movement) slow and laboriousCharlie may seem to run at a plodding pace, but he is an ultramarathoner, meaning he runs distances of up to 100 miles, and can run for ten hours at a stretch.
ploynoun: a clever plan to turn a situation to one's advantageDennis arranged an elaborate ploy, involving 14 different people lying for him in different situations, so that it could appear that he was meeting Mary completely by chance at the wedding reception.
pluckyadjective: marked by courage and determinationSome scouts initially doubted Pedroia because of his short stature, but he is a plucky player, surprising everyone with his boundless energy and fierce determination.
poignantadjective: emotionally touchingAfter the Montagues and Capulets discover the dead bodies of Romeo and Juliet, in the play's most poignant moment, the two griefstricken familes agree to end their feud once and for all.
polemicnoun: a strong verbal or written attack on someone or something.The professor launched into a polemic, claiming that Freudian theory was a pack of lies that absolutely destroyed European literary theory.
Pollyannaishadjective: extremely optimisticEven in the midst of a lousy sales quarter, Debbie remained Pollyannaish, never losing her shrill voice and wide smile, even when prospective customers hung up on her.
ponderousadjective: weighed-down; moving slowlyLaden with 20 kilograms of college text books, the freshman moved ponderously across the campus.
pontificateverb: talk in a dogmatic and pompous mannerThe vice-president would often pontificate about economic theory, as if no one else in the room were qualified to speak on the topic.
portentousadjective: ominously propheticWhen the captain and more than half the officers were sick on the very first night of the voyage, many of the passengers felt this was portentous, but the rest of the voyage continued without any problems.
positverb: assume as factInitially, Einstein posited a repulsive force to balance Gravity, but then rejected that idea as a blunder.
powwownoun: an informal meeting or discussionBefore the team takes the field, the coach always calls for a powwow so that he can make sure all the players are mentally in the right place.
pragmaticadjective: guided by practical experience and observation rather than theoryRather than make a philosophical appeal to the Congressmen, the Speaker decided to take a far more pragmatic approach, making small side-deals that would add votes to his bill.
precariousadjective: fraught with dangerPeople smoke to relax and forget their cares, but ironically, in terms of health risks, smoking is far more precarious than either mountain-climbing or skydiving.
precedentnoun: an example that is used to justify similar occurrences at a later timeThe principal explained that even though one student had done modelling work outside of school, the outfits that student wore in those photographs in no way established a precedent for what could be worn at school dances.
precipitateadjective: hasty or rash
verb: to cause to happen
Instead of conducting a thorough investigation after the city hall break-in, the governor acted precipitately, accusing his staff of aiding and abetting the criminals.
The government's mishandling the hurricane's aftermath precipitated a widespread outbreak of looting and other criminal activity.
precipitousadjective: done with very great haste and without due deliberationHe was expecting a precipitous rise in the value of a "hot" tech stock, so he was disappointed when it only inched up a dollar or two each day.
precludeverb: keep from happening or arising; make impossibleThe manager specified that all other gates be locked, to preclude the possibility of persons without tickets entering the arena undetected.
precociousadjective: characterized by or characteristic of exceptionally early development or maturity (especially in mental aptitude)Though only seven years old, she was a precocious chess prodigy, able to beat players twice her age.
predilectionnoun: a strong likingMonte had a predilection for the fine things in life: Cuban cigars, 200 dollar bottles of wine, and trips to the French Riviera.
preemptverb: take the place of or have precedence overA governmental warning about an imminent terrorist attack would preempt ordinary network programming on television.
preemptiveadjective: done before someone else can do itJust as Martha was about to take the only cookie left on the table, Noah preemptively swiped it.
presciencenoun: the power to foresee the futureBaxter's warnings about investing in technology stocks seemed like an act of prescience after the whole market declined significantly.
presentimentnoun: a feeling of evil to comeOn the night that Lincoln would be fatally shot, his wife had a presentiment about going to Ford's Theater, but Lincoln persuaded her that everything would be fine.
presumptionnoun: an assumption that is taken for granted
noun: audacious (even arrogant) behavior that you have no right to
When Mr. Baker found out the family car was gone, he acted under the presumption that his rebellious son had taken the car, calling his son's phone and yelling at him; only later did Mr. Baker realize that Mrs. Baker had simply gone out to get her nails done.
The new neighbor quickly gained a reputation for her presumption; she had invited herself to several neighbors' homes, often stopping over at inopportune times and asking for a drink.
presumptuousadjective: excessively forwardMany felt that Barney was presumptuous in moving into the large office before the management even made any official announcement of his promotion.
prevailverb: be widespread in a particular area at a particular time; be current:
verb: prove superior
During the labor negotiations, an air of hostility prevailed in the office.
Before the cricket match, Australia was heavily favored, but India prevailed.
prevaricateverb: to speak in an evasive wayThe cynic quipped, “There is not much variance in politicians; they all seem to prevaricate”.
primacynoun: the state of being first in importanceThe primacy of Apple Computers is not guaranteed, as seen in the recent lawsuits and weak growth.
pristineadjective: Unspoiled, untouched (usu. of nature)
adjective: Immaculately clean and unused
The glacial lake was pristine and we filled our canteens to drink deeply.
Drill sergeants are known for demanding pristine cabinets, uniforms, and beds, and often make new recruits clean and clean and clean until they meet the expected high standards.
probitynoun: integrity, strong moral principlesThe ideal politician would have the probity to lead, but reality gravely falls short of the ideal of morally upright leaders.
prodigaladjective: rashly or wastefully extravagantSuccessful professional athletes who do not fall prey to prodigality seem to be the exception—most live decadent lives.
prodigiousadjective: so great in size or force or extent as to elicit aweAfter the relatively small homerun totals in the "dead ball" era, Babe Ruth's homerun totals were truly prodigious: every year, he set a new all-time record.
profligateadjective: spending resources recklessly or wastefully;
noun: someone who spends resources recklessly or wastefully
The composer Wagner, while living on a limited salary, was so profligate as to line all the walls of his apartment with pure silk.
;Most lottery winners go from being conservative, frugal types to outright profligates who blow millions on fast cars, lavish homes, and giant yachts.
profuseadjective: plentiful; pouring out in abundanceDuring mile 20 of the Hawaii Marathon, Dwayne was sweating so profusely that he stopped to take off his shirt, and ran the remaining six miles wearing nothing more than skimpy shorts.
profusionnoun: the property of being extremely abundantWhen Maria reported that she had been visited by Jesus Christ and had proof, a profusion of reporters and journalists descended on the town.
prognosticationnoun: a statement made about the futureWhen the Senator was asked about where the negotiations would lead, he said that any guess he could make would be an unreliable prognostication.
prolificadjective: intellectually productiveSchubert was the most prolific composer, producing hundreds of hours of music before he died at the age of 31.
prolixitynoun: boring verbosityI loved my grandfather dearly, but his prolixity would put me to sleep, regardless of the topic.
promulgateverb: state or announceThe President wanted to promulgate the success of the treaty negotiations, but he had to wait until Congress formally approved the agreement.
propitiateverb: to placate or appeaseThe two sons, plying their angry father with cheesy neckties for Christmas, were hardly able to propitiate him – the father already had a drawer full of ones he had never worn before or ever planned to.
propitiousadjective: presenting favorable circumstances; likely to result in or show signs of successThe child's heartbeat is still weak, but I am seeing many propitious signs and I think that she may be healing.
proponentnoun: a person who pleads for a cause or propounds an ideaIronically, the leading proponent of Flat-Earth Theory flies all over the world in an effort to win more adherents.
prosaicadjective: dull and lacking imaginationUnlike the talented artists in his workshop, Paul had no such bent for the visual medium, so when it was time for him to make a stained glass painting, he ended up with a prosaic mosaic.
proscribeverb: command againstMy doctor proscribes that I not eat donuts with chocolate sauce and hamburger patties for breakfast.
proselytizeverb: convert to another religion, philosophy, or perspectiveLisa loves her Mac but says little about it; by contrast, Jake will proselytize, interrogating anyone with an Android about why she didn't purchase an iPhone.
proteanadjective: readily taking on different roles; versatilePeter Sellers was truly a protean actor—in Doctor Strangelove he played three very different roles: a jingoist general, a sedate President and a deranged scientist.
providentadjective: careful in regard to your own interests; providing carefully for the futureIn a move that hardly could be described as provident, Bert spend his entire savings on a luxurious cruise, knowing that other bills would come due a couple months later.
provincialadjective: characteristic of the a limited perspective; not fashionable or sophisticatedMaggie's enthusiasm about her high school teams seemed provincial to her college classmates, all of whom were following a nationally ranked college team.
provisionaladjective: under terms not final or fully worked out or agreed uponUntil the corporate office hands down a definitive decision on use of the extra offices, we will share their use in a provisional arrangement.
puerileadjective: of or characteristic of a child; displaying or suggesting a lack of maturityHelen enjoyed blowing soap bubbles, but Jim regarded this as puerile, totally unworthy of a woman with a Ph.D.
pugnaciousadjective: eager to fight or argue; verbally combativeThe comedian told one flat joke after another, and when the audience started booing, he pugnaciously spat back at them, “Hey, you think this is easy – why don’t you buffoons give it a shot?”
puissantadjective: powerfulOver the years of service, and quite to his surprise, he became a puissant advisor to the community.
punctiliousadjective: marked by precise accordance with detailsThe colonel was so punctilious about enforcing regulations that men feel compelled to polish even the soles of their shoes.
punditnoun: someone who has been admitted to membership in a scholarly fieldSteven Pinker's credentials are unquestioned as a pundit; he has taught at MIT and Stanford, teaches at Harvard, and has published a number of influential books on cognition, language, and psychology.
pyrrhicadjective: describing a victory that comes at such a great cost that the victory is not worthwhileGeorge W. Bush’s win in the 2000 election was in many ways a pyrrhic victory: the circumstances of his win alienated half of the U.S. population.
quailverb: draw back, as with fear or painCraig always claimed to be a fearless outdoorsman, but when the thunderstorm engulfed the valley, he quailed at the thought of leaving the safety of his cabin.
qualifyverb: to be eligible for a role, status, or benefit by meeting specific requirements;
verb: to make less severe; to limit (a statement)
If James had made more than $50,000 last year, then he wouldn't havequalified for the low-income scholarship.;
Chris qualified his love for San Francisco, adding that he didn't like the weather as much as the weather in Los Angeles.
qualmnoun: uneasiness about the fitness of an actionWhile he could articulate no clear reason why Harkner's plan would fail, he neverless felt qualms about committing any resources to it.
quandarynoun: state of uncertainty or perplexity especially as requiring a choice between equally unfavorable optionsSteve certainly is in a quandary: if he doesn't call Elaine, she will blame him for everything, but if he does call her, the evidence of where he currently is could cost him his job.
querulousadjective: habitually complainingThe querulous old woman was begining to wear down even the happier members of the staff with her ceaseless complaining.
quipnoun: a witty saying or remark
verb: to make a witty remark, to say in jest
In one of the most famous quips about classical music, Mark Twain said: "Wagner's music is better than it sounds."
When a old English teacher criticized Churchill for ending a sentence with a preposition, he quipped, "This is the kind of criticism up with which we will not put!"
quislingnoun: a traitorHistory looks unfavorably upon quislings; indeed they are accorded about the same fondness as Nero—he who watched his city burn down while playing the violin.
quixoticadjective: wildly idealistic; impracticalFor every thousand startups with quixotic plans to be the next big name in e-commerce, only a handful ever become profitable.
quotidianadjective: found in the ordinary course of eventsPhil gets so involved thinking about Aristotle's arguments that he totally forgets quotidian concerns, such as exercising and eating regularly.
raconteurnoun: a person skilled in telling anecdotesJude is entertaining, but he is no raconteur: beyond the handful of amusing stories he has memorized, he has absolutely no spontaneous story-telling ability.
raffishadjective: marked by a carefree unconventionality or disreputablenessThe men found him raffish, but the women adored his smart clothes and casual attitude.
raftnoun: a large number of somethingDespite a raft of city ordinances passed by an overzealous council, noise pollution continued unabated in the megalopolis.
raillerynoun: light teasingThe new recruit was not bothered by the raillery, finding most of it light-hearted and good-natured.
rakishadjective: marked by a carefree unconventionality or disreputablenessAs soon as he arrived in the city, the rakish young man bought some drugs and headed straight for the seedy parts of town.
rankleverb: gnaw into; make resentful or angryHis constant whistling would rankle her, sometimes causing her to leave in a huff.
rapprochementnoun: the reestablishing of cordial relationsAlthough Ann hoped that her mother and her aunt would have a rapprochement, each one's bitter accusations against the other made any reconciliation unlikely.
rarefiedverb: make more subtle or refinedJack's vulgar jokes were not so successful in the rarefied environment of college professors.
rashadjective: marked by defiant disregard for danger or consequences; imprudently incurring riskAlthough Bruce was able to make the delivery in time with a nightime motorcycle ride in the rain, Susan criticized his actions as rash.
ravenousadjective: extremely hungry; devouring or craving food in great quantitiesJohn didn't eat much at all during the week he had the flu, so now that he is regaining his health, it's not surprising that he has a ravenous appetite.
rebukeverb: criticize severely or angrily; censureThe police chief rebuked the two officers whose irresponsible decisions almost led to the deaths of seven innocent by-standers.
recapitulationnoun: a summary (think of recap)Every point of the professors lesson was so clear that the students felt his concluding recapitulation was not necessary.
reconcileverb: make (one thing) compatible with (another)Peggy was unable to reconcile her kind friend Jane with the cruel and merciless character Jane played on television.
reconditeadjective: difficult to penetrate; incomprehensible to one of ordinary understanding or knowledgeI found Ulysses recondite and never finished the book, waiting instead to read it with someone else so we could penetrate its meaning together.
recriminationnoun: mutual accusationsThe two brothers sat and cried, pointing fingers and making elaborate recriminations of the other's guilt
recrudesceverb: to break out or happen againAfter years of gamblers anonymous, Tony thought he'd broken his compulsive slot machine playing, but it took only one trip to the Atlantic City for a full recrudescence--he lost $5k on the one armed bandit.
redoubtableadjective: inspiring fear or aweOn television basketball players don't look that tall, but when you stand in front of a seven-foot tall NBA player, he is truly redoubtable.
redressnoun: an act of making something rightBarry forgot his wife's birthday two years in a row, and was only able to redress his oversight by surprising his wife with a trip to Tahiti.
refractoryadjective: stubbornly resistant to authority or controlUsed to studious high school students, Martha was unprepared for the refractory Kindgergarteners who neither sat still nor listened to a single word she said.
refuteverb: prove to be false or incorrectNo one could refute his theories or propositions, and that is why he was esteemed by all his colleagues in the philosophy department.
registerverb: to put your name or other information in a list for something
verb: to identify and show on a tool for measuring
If you'd like to buy a meal plan, you can register at the student affairs office.
 The bomb was so strong that far away weather balloons registered the heat.
relegateverb: assign to a lower positionWhen Dexter was unable to fulfill his basic duties, instead of firing him, the boss relegated him to kitchen cleanup.
relevantadjective: closely connected to the topic and therefore importantI think Professor McGarry can give you some relevant books to help you write that essay.
remissadjective: to be negligent in one’s dutyRemiss in his duty to keep the school functioning efficiently, the principal was relieved of his position after only three months.
remonstrateverb: to make objections while pleadingThe mothers of the kidnapped victims remonstrated to the rogue government to release their children, claiming that the detention violated human rights.
renegeverb: fail to fulfill a promise or obligationWe will no longer work with that vendor since it has reneged on nearly every agreement.
repleteadjective: completely stocked or furnished with somethingOnly weeks after the hurricane made landfall, the local supermarket shelves were replete with goods, so quick was the disaster relief response.
repleteadjective: completely stocked or furnished with somethingOnly weeks after the hurricane made landfall, the local supermarket shelves were replete with goods, so quick was the disaster relief response.
reprisalnoun: a retaliatory action against an enemy in wartimeThe Old Testament doctrine of an eye for an eye is not the kind of retaliation practiced in war; rather, an arm, a leg, and both ears are the reprisal for the smallest scratch.
reproachverb: to express criticism towardsAt first, Sarah was going to yell at the boy, but she didn't want to reproach him for telling the truth about the situation.
reprobatenoun: a person who is disapproved ofThose old reprobates drinking all day down by the river–they are not going to amount to much.
repudiateverb: reject as untrue or unfoundedMany in the public believed the rumors of a UFO crash outside town, so the chief of police did everything he could to repudiate the rumors.
rescindverb: cancel officiallyThe man's driver's license was rescinded after his tenth car accident, which meant he would never be allowed to legally drive again.
reservationnoun: an unstated doubt that prevents you from accepting something wholeheartedlyI was initially excited by the idea of a trip to Washington, D.C. but now that I have read about the high crime statistics there, I have some reservations.
resignationnoun: the acceptance of something unpleasant that can't be avoidedSince Jack could not think of a convincing reason why he had to miss the seminar, he attended it with a sense of resignation.
resolveverb: reach a conclusion after a discussion or deliberationAfter much thought, Ted resolved not to travel abroad this summer because he didn't have much money in his bank account.
resourcenoun: some saved material that can be used for a purpose (especially money, anything used to make energy such as oil, or information sources such as books)Many of the richest countries have surprisingly few natural resources and must buy oil or gas from other countries.
 Never forget to make use of the library during your studies; it's full of great resources.
respitenoun: a pause from doing something (as work)Every afternoon, the small company has a respite in which workers play foosball or board games.
restiveadjective: restlessThe crowd grew restive as the comedian’s opening jokes fell flat.
resurgentadjective: rising again as to new life and vigorThe team sank to fourth place in June, but is now resurgent and about to win the division.
reticentadjective: reluctant to draw attention to yourself; temperamentally disinclined to talkWhen asked about her father, Helen lost her outward enthusiasm and became rather reticent.
retiringadjective: to be shy, and to be inclined to retract from companyNelson was always the first to leave soirees—rather than mill about with “fashionable” folk, he was retiring, and preferred the solitude of his garret.
retractverb: pull inward or towards a center; formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief, usually under pressureEmail is wonderfully efficient, but once something awkward or damaging has been sent, there is no way to retract it.
reverentadjective: feeling or showing profound respect or venerationThe professor could speak objectively about the other composers, but he always lectured about Brahms with a particularly reverent air, unable to offer a single criticism of his compositions.
ribaldadjective: humorously vulgarThe speaker was famous for his ribald humor, but the high school principal asked him to keep the talk G-rated when he spoke to the student body.
rileverb: cause annoyance in; disturb, especially by minor irritationsDan is usually calm and balanced, but it takes only one intense glare from Sabrina to rile him.
robustadjective: sturdy and strong in form, constitution, or constructionChris preferred bland and mild beers, but Bhavin preferred a beer with more robust flavor.
rownoun: an angry disputeThe Prime Minister looked very foolish after his row with the foreign dignitary was caught on video and posted on youtube.
rudimentaryadjective: being in the earliest stages of development; being or involving basic facts or principlesI would love to be able to present a fully polished proposal to the board, but right now, our plans for the product are still in the most rudimentary stages.
rusticadjective: characteristic of rural life; awkwardly simple and provincialThe vacation cabin had no electricity and no indoor plumbing, but despite these inconveniences, Nigel adored its rustic charm.
sagaciousadjective: having good judgement and acute insightSteve Jobs is surely one of the most sagacious CEOs, making Apple the most recognizable and valuable companies in the world.
sanctimoniousadjective: making a show of being pious; holier-than-thouEven during the quiet sanctity of evening prayer, she held her chin high, a sanctimonious sneer forming on her face as she eyed those who were attending church for the first time.
sanctionverb: give authority or permission to
noun: a legal penalty for a forbidden action
The authorities have sanctioned the use of the wilderness reserve for public use; many expect to see hikers an campers enjoying the park in the coming months.
International sanctions have been placed on certain shipping lanes that were thought to be involved in human trafficking.
sangfroidnoun: calmness or poise in difficult situationsThe hostage negotiator exhibited a sangfroid that oftentimes was more menacing than the sword at his throat, or the gun at his head.
sanguineadjective: cheerful; optimisticWith the prospect of having to learn 3,000 words during the course of the summer, Paul was anything but sanguine.
sardonicadjective: disdainfully or ironically humorous; scornful and mockingA stand-up comedian walks a fine line when making jokes about members of the audience; such fun and joking can quickly become sardonic and cutting.
sartorialadjective: related to fashion or clothesMonte was astute at navigating the world of finance; sartorially, however, he was found wanting—he typically would attempt to complement his beige tie with a gray suit and white pants.
saturnineadjective: morose or gloomyDeprived of sunlight, humans become saturnine; that’s why in very northerly territories people are encouraged to sit under an extremely powerful lamp, lest they become morose.
savvynoun: a perceptive understanding
verb: get the meaning of something
adjective: well-informed or perceptive
Although a great CEO, he did not have the political savvy to win the election.
The student savvies the meaning of astrophysics with little effort.
With his savvy business partner, the company was able to turn a profit within a year.
schadenfreudenoun: joy from watching the suffering of othersFrom his warm apartment window, Stanley reveled in schadenfreude as he laughed at the figures below, huddled together in the arctic chill.
scintillatingadjective: describes someone who is brilliant and livelyRichard Feynman was renowned for his scintillating lectures—the arcana of quantum physics was made lucid as he wrote animatedly on the chalkboard.
screednoun: an abusive rant (often tedious)Joey had difficulty hanging out with his former best friend Perry, who, during his entire cup of coffee, enumerated all of the government’s deficiencies--only to break ranks and launch into some screed against big business.
scrupulousadjective: characterized by extreme care and great effort
adjective: having a sense of right and wrong; principled
Because of his scrupulous nature, Mary put him in charge of numbering and cataloging the entire collection of rare stamps.
Everyone trusted what he said and followed his example because he was scrupulous and honest.
sedulousadjective: done diligently and carefullyAn avid numismatist, Harold sedulously amassed a collection of coins from over 100 countries—an endeavor that took over fifteen years, and to five continents.
self-effacingadjective: reluctant to draw attention to yourselfThe most admirable teachers and respected leaders are those who are self-effacing, directing attention and praise to their students and workers.
semblancenoun: an outward or token appearance or form that is deliberately misleadingWhile the banker maintained a semblance of respectability in public, those who knew him well were familiar with his many crimes.
sententiousadjective: to be moralizing, usually in a pompous senseThe old man, casting his nose up in the air at the group of adolescents, intoned sententiously, “Youth is wasted on the young.”
sentimentaladjective: effusively or insincerely emotional, especially in art, music, and literatureI don't like romanticism for the same reason I don't like melodramatic acting and soap operas—overly sentimental.
serendipitynoun: the instance in which an accidental, fortunate discovery is madeBy pure serendipity, Sarah discovered, at a flea market in Peoria, a matching earring to replace the one that fell down the storm drain back home.
sereneadjective: calm and peacefulI'd never seen him so serene; usually, he was a knot of stress and anxiety from hours of trading on the stock exchange.
simulacrumnoun: a representation of a person (especially in the form of sculpture)
noun: a bad imitation
The Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center showcases a simulacrum of all the present and approved buildings in the city of Shanghai.
The early days of computer graphics made real people into a simulacrum that now seems comical.
sinecurenoun: an office that involves minimal dutiesThe position of Research Director is a sinecure: the job entails almost no responsibilities, nor does the person in that position have to answer to anyone.
slapdashadjective: carelessly and hastily put togetherThe office building had been constructed in a slapdash manner, so it did not surprise officials when, during a small earthquake, a large crack emerged on the façade of the building.
smatteringnoun: a slight or superficial understanding of a subject; a small amount of somethingI know only a smattering of German, but Helen is able to read German newspapers and converse with natives.
smugadjective: marked by excessive complacency or self-satisfactionWhen Phil was dating the model, he had a smug attitude that annoyed his buddies.
snideadjective: expressive of contempt; derogatory or mocking in an indirect wayThe chairman interpreted Taylor's question about promotions as a snide remark, but in all innocence Taylor was trying to figure out the company's process.
snubverb: refuse to acknowledge; reject outright and bluntlyWheeler was completely qualified for the committee, but the board snubbed him, choosing an obviously lesser qualified candidate instead.
solecismnoun: a socially awkward or tactless actMother Anna was always on guard against any solecism from her children and scolded them immediately if any of them talked out of place in public.
solicitousadjective: showing hovering attentivenessOur neighbors are constantly knocking on our door to make sure we are ok, and I don't know how to ask them to stop being so solicitous about our health.
solicitudenoun: a feeling of excessive concernI walked to his house in the rain to make sure he had enough to eat while he was sick, but he seemed not to appreciate my solicitude.
soporificadjective: inducing mental lethargy; sleep inducingAlthough the professor is brilliant, his bland monotone gives his lectures a soporific effect.
sordidadjective: involving ignoble actions and motives; arousing moral distaste and contempt; foul and run-down and repulsiveThe nightly news simply announced that the senator had had an affair, but the tabloid published all the sordid details of the interaction.
spartanadjective: unsparing and uncompromising in discipline or judgment; practicing great self-denialAfter losing everything in a fire, Tim decided to live in spartan conditions, sleeping on the floor and owning as little furniture as a possible.
speciousadjective: based on pretense; deceptively pleasing
adjective: plausible but false
Almost every image on TV is specious and not to be trusted.
He made a career out of specious arguments and fictional lab results, but lost his job and reputation when his lies were exposed by an article in The New York Times.
spendthriftnoun: one who spends money extravagantlyTaking weekly trips to Vegas, Megan was a spendthrift whose excesses eventually caught up to her.
spleneticadjective: very irritableEver since the car accident, Frank has been unable to walk without a cane, and so he has become splenetic and unpleasant to be around.
sporadicadjective: recurring in scattered and irregular or unpredictable instancesThe signals were at first sporadic, but now we detect a clear, consistent pattern of electromagnetic radiation eminating from deep space.
spuriousadjective: plausible but falseWhen listening to a politician speak, it is hard to distinguish the spurious claims from the authentic ones.
spurnverb: reject with contemptShe spurned all his flattery and proposals, and so he walked off embarrassed and sad.
squanderverb: spend thoughtlessly; waste time, money, or an opportunityFearing his money would be squandered by his family, he gave all of it to charity when he died.
squelchverb: suppress or crush completelyAfter the dictator consolidated his power, he took steps to squelch all criticism, often arresting any journalist who said anything that could be interpreted as negative about his regime.
staidadjective: characterized by dignity and proprietyFrank came from a staid environment, so he was shocked that his college roommate sold narcotics.
stalwartadjective: dependable; inured to fatigue or hardshipsDespite all the criticism directed at the President during this scandal, Lisa has remained his stalwart supporter.
startverb: to suddenly move in a particular directionAll alone in the mansion, Henrietta started when she heard a sound.
staunchadjective: firm and dependable especially in loyaltyNo longer a staunch supporter of the movement, Todd now will openly question whether its goals are worthwhile.
steadfastadjective: marked by firm determination or resolution; not shakableA good captain needs to be steadfast, continuing to hold the wheel and stay the course even during the most violent storm.
stemverb: to hold back or limit the flow or growth of somethingTo stem the tide of applications, the prestigious Ivy requires that each applicant score at least 330 on the Revised GRE.
stipendnoun: a regular allowance (of money)He was hoping for a monthly allowance loan from the government, but after no such stipend was forthcoming he realized he would have to seek other means of paying for his college tuition.
stolidadjective: having or revealing little emotion or sensibility; not easily aroused or excitedElephants may appear stolid to casual observers, but they actually have passionate emotional lives.
stringentadjective: demanding strict attention to rules and proceduresMost of the students disliked the teacher because of his stringent homework policy, but many students would later thank him for demanding so much from them.
stultifyverb: cause one, through routine, to lose energy and enthusiasmAs an undergraduate Mark felt stultified by classes outside his area of study; only in grad school, in which he could focus solely on literary analysis, did he regain his scholarly edge.
stymieverb: hinder or prevent the progress or accomplishment ofThe engineers found their plans stymied at every turn and were ultimately able to make almost no progress on the project.
subsumeverb: contain or include
verb: consider (an instance of something) as part of a general rule or principle
The rogue wave quickly subsumed the pier and boardwalk, destroying everything in its path.
Don Quixote of La Mancha subsumes all other modern novels, demonstrating modern literary devices and predating even the idea of a postmodern, metanarrative.
subterfugenoun: something intended to misrepresent the true nature of an activityFinally deciding to abandon all subterfuge, Arthur revealed to Cindy everything about his secret affair over the past two years.
subversiveadjective: in opposition to a civil authority or governmentThe ruling political party has begun a campaign to shut down subversive websites that it deems as a threat to "national safety."
sullenadjective: showing a brooding ill humorHerbert took board games too seriously, often appearing sullen after losing.
summitnoun: the peak or highest point
noun: a meeting of high-level leaders
After hiking for two days, the climbers finally reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Since climate change policy has been mired in congressional fighting, this summit should help set the goals for president's next term.
superciliousadjective: haughty and disdainful; looking down on othersNelly felt the Quiz Bowl director acted superciliously towards the underclassmen; really, she fumed, must he act so preternaturally omniscient each time he intones some obscure fact—as though everybody knows that Mt. Aconcagua is the highest peak in South America.
superfluousadjective: serving no useful purpose
adjective: more than is needed, desired, or required
How can we hope to stay open if we don't eliminate all superfluous spending, like catered meetings and free acupucture Tuesday?
The third paragraph in your essay is superfluous and can be deleted.
supplantverb: take the place or move into the position ofFor many, a cell phone has supplanted a traditional phone; in fact, most 20-somethings don't even have a traditional phone anymore.
surfeitnoun: an excessive amount of somethingThere was no such thing as a surfeit of shopping for Nancy--she could stay at the outlet stores from opening to closing time.
surlyadjective: inclined to anger or bad feelings with overtones of menaceEvery morning, Bhavin was a surly unhappy person, but once he ate breakfast, he became loving, laughing, and a joy to be around.
surreptitiousadjective: stealthy, taking pains not to be caught or detectedSince his mom was a light sleeper, Timmy had to tiptoe surreptitiously through the entire house, careful to not make the floors creak, until he at last was able to enjoy his plunder: a box of chocolate chip cookies.
sybaritenoun: a person who indulges in luxuryDespite the fact that he’d maxed out fifteen credit cards, Max was still a sybarite at heart: when the police found him, he was at a $1,000 an hour spa in Manhattan, getting a facial treatment.
sycophantnoun: a person who tries to please someone in order to gain a personal advantageThe CEO was unaware of the damaging consequences of his choices, largely because he surrounded himself with sycophants who would never dare criticize him.
taciturnadjective: habitually reserved and uncommunicativeWhile the CEO enthusiastically shares his plans and agenda with all who will listen, the CFO is far more taciturn, rarely revealing his perspective.
tactnoun: consideration in dealing with others and avoiding giving offenseIn a tremendous display of tact, Shelly was able to maintain a strong friendship with Marcia, even though Marcia's husband, Frank, confessed to finding Shelley more attractive than Marcia.
tantamountadjective: being essentially equal to somethingIn many situations, remaining silent is tantamount to admitting guilt, so speak to prove your innocence.
tarnishverb: make dirty or spotty, as by exposure to air; also used metaphoricallyPete Rose was one of the best baseball players of his generation, but his involvement with gambling on baseball games has tarnished his image in the eyes of many.
tawdryadjective: tastelessly showy; cheap and shoddyCarol expected to find New York City magical, the way so many movies had portrayed it, but she was surprised how often tawdry displays took the place of genuine elegance.
taxingadjective: use to the limit; exhaustThe hike to the summit of Mt. Whitney was so taxing that I could barely speak or stand up.
tellingadjective: significant and revealing of another factorHer unbecoming dress was very telling when it came to her sense of fashion.
telltaleadjective: revealingThe many telltale signs of chronic smoking include yellow teeth, and a persistent, hacking cough.
temeritynoun: fearless daringNo child has the temerity to go in the rundown house at the end of the street and see if it is haunted.
temperancenoun: the trait of avoiding excessesWelles wasn't known for his temperance--he usually ate enough for two and drank enough for three.
temperedadjective: moderated in effectThe wide-eyed optimism of her youth was now tempered after she had worked many years in the criminal justice system.
tempestuousadjective: as if driven by turbulent or conflicting emotions; highly energetic and wildly changing or fluctuatingChuck and Kathy had always been stable and agreeable people on their own, but when they got involved, it was a tempestuous relationship.
tenaciousadjective: stubbornly unyieldingEven the most tenacious advocates for gun ownership must admit some of the dangers that firearms present.
tenaciousadjective: stubbornly unyieldingEven the most tenacious advocates for gun ownership must admit some of the dangers that firearms present.
tendentiousadjective: likely to lean towards a controversial viewBecause political mudslinging has become a staple of the 24-hour media cycle, most of us, despite protestations to the contrary, are tendentious on many of today’s pressing issues.
tenderverb: offer up something formallyThe government was loath to tender more money in the fear that it might set off inflation.
The document clearly indicated that Nick was out of the state at the time of the crime, and so served to exonerate him of any charges.verb: gain favor with somebody by deliberate effortsEven though Tom didn't like his new boss, he decided to ingratiate himself to her in order to advance his career.
thoroughgoingadjective: very thorough; completeAs a thoroughgoing bibliophile, one who had turned his house into a veritable library, he shocked his friends when he bought a Kindle.
thriftyadjective: spending money wiselyHe was economical, spending his money thriftily and on items considered essential.
thwartverb: hinder or prevent (the efforts, plans, or desires) ofI wanted to spend a week in New York this autumn, but the high costs of travel and lodging thwarted my plans.
timorousadjective: timid by nature or revealing fear and nervousnessSince this was her first time debating on stage and before an audience, Di's voice was timorous and quiet for the first 10 minutes.
tiradenoun: an angry speechIn terms of political change, a tirade oftentimes does little more than make the person speaking red in the face.
To say that Gandhi's actions were laudable is the greatest understatement; he overthrew an empire without violence.verb: pronounce not guilty of criminal chargesThe document clearly indicated that Nick was out of the state at the time of the crime, and so served to exonerate him of any charges.
torpornoun: inactivity resulting from lethargy and lack of vigor or energyAfter work, I was expecting my colleagues to be enthusiastic about the outing, but I found them in a state of complete torpor.
tortuousadjective: marked by repeated turns and bends; not straightforwardBecause the logic behind McMahon's side of the debate was so tortuous, his audience came out either completely confused or, worse, feeling they'd been tricked.
toutverb: advertize in strongly positive terms; show offAt the conference, the CEO touted the extraordinary success of his company's Research & Development division.
tractableadjective: readily reacting to suggestions and influences; easily managed (controlled or taught or molded)Compared to middle school students, who have an untamed wildness about them, high school students are somewhat more tractable.
transientadjective: lasting a very short timeThe unpredictable and transient nature of deja vu makes it a very difficult phenomenon to study properly.
transitoryadjective: lasting a very short timeIf we lived forever and life was not transitory, do you think we would appreciate life less or more?
transmuteverb: change or alter in form, appearance, or natureOne of the goals of alchemy was to find the substance or process that would transmute lead into gold.
travailnoun: use of physical or mental energy; hard work; agony or anguishWhile they experienced nothing but travails in refinishing the kitchen, they completed the master bedroom in less than a weekend.
travestynoun: an absurd presentation of something; a mockeryWhat I expected to be an intelligent, nuanced historical documentary turned out to be a poorly-produced travesty of the form.
treacherousadjective: tending to betray
adjective: dangerously unstable and unpredictable
Even though Jesse James was an outlaw, his killer, Robert Ford, is remembered more for his treacherous actions than for eliminating a criminal and murder.
The bridge built from twine and vine is treacherous to walk across, and so I think I will stay put right here.
trenchantadjective: characterized by or full of force and vigor; having keenness and forcefulness and penetration in thought, expression, or intellectJill presented a rather superficial treatment of sales in Asia, but her trenchant analysis of sales in Europe inspired a number of insights into how to proceed in that market.
tribulationnoun: something, especially an event, that causes difficulty and sufferingAs of 2013, nearly 1.5 million Syrians have fled their country hoping to escape the tribulations of a civil war tearing their country to pieces.
triteadjective: repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuseMany style guides recommend not using idioms in writing because these trite expressions are uninteresting and show a lack of imagination on the part of the writer.
truculencenoun: defiant aggressivenessWhen the boss confronted Aaron about his earlier remarks, Aaron responded with utter truculence, simply throwing a glass of water in the boss' face and walking away.
truculentadjective: having a fierce, savage natureStanding in line for six hours, she became progressively truculent, yelling at DMV employees and elbowing other people waiting in line.
truncateverb: reduce the length of somethingThe soccer game was truncated when the monsoon rain began to fall.
tumultnoun: a state of chaos, noise and confusionRiots broke out just in front of our apartment building, and the tumult continued late into the night.
turgidadjective: (of language) pompous and tediousThe amount of GRE vocabulary he used increased with his years--by the time he was 60, his novels were so turgid that even his diehard fans refused to read them.
turpitudenoun: depravity; a depraved actDuring his reign, Caligula indulged in unspeakable sexual practices, so it not surprising that he will forever be remembered for his turpitude.
tyronoun: someone new to a field or activityAll great writers, athletes, and artists were tyros at one time—unknown, clumsy, and unskilled with much to learn.
umbragenoun: a feeling of anger caused by being offendedSince he was so in love with her, he took umbrage at her comments, even though she had only meant to gently tease him.
unassailableadjective: immune to attack; without flawsProfessor Williams is so self-assured as to seem arrogant, presenting each and every opinion as an unassailable fact.
uncannyadjective: suggesting the operation of supernatural influences; surpassing the ordinary or normalReggie has an uncanny ability to connect with animals: feral cats will readily approach him, and sometimes even wild birds will land on his finger.
uncompromisingadjective: not making concessionsThe relationship between Bart and Hilda ultimately failed because they were both so uncompromising, never wanting to change their opinions.
unconscionableadjective: unreasonable; unscrupulous; excessiveThe lawyer’s demands were so unconscionable that rather than pay an exorbitant sum or submit himself to any other inconveniences, the defendant decided to find a new lawyer.
undermineadjective: to weaken (usually paired with an abstract term)The student undermined the teacher’s authority by questioning the teacher’s judgment on numerous occasions.
underscoreverb: give extra weight to (a communication)While the hiking instructor agreed that carrying a first aid kit could be a good idea under certain circumstances, he underscored the importance of carrying enough water.
underwriteverb: to support financiallyThe latest symphony broadcast was made possible with underwriting from the Carnegie Endowment.
unequivocaladjective: admitting of no doubt or misunderstanding; having only one meaning or interpretation and leading to only one conclusionThe President's first statement on the subject was vague and open to competing interpretations, so when he spoke to Congress about the same subject later, he was cafeful to make his position completely unequivocal.
unflappableadjective: not easily perturbed or excited or upset; marked by extreme calm and composureThe house shook and the ground quaked, but my dad was unflappable and comforted the family.
unforthcomingadjective: uncooperative, not willing to give up informationThe teacher demanded to know who broke the window while he was out of the room, but the students understandably were unforthcoming.
unimpeachableadjective: free of guilt; not subject to blame; beyond doubt or reproachAfter his long and unimpeachable service to the company, Sharat felt that a gold watch was a slap in the face rather than an honor.
unnerveverb: to make nervous or upsetAt one time unnerved by math problems, she began avidly “Magoosh-ing”, and soon became adept at even combinations and permutations questions.
unprecedentedadjective: having never been done or known before; novelWhen America first created its national parks, the idea of setting aside the most beautiful land in a country was unprecedented in the history of mankind.
unprepossessingadjective: creating an unfavorable or neutral first impressionWorld leaders coming to meet Gandhi would expect a towering sage, and often would be surprised by the unprepossessing little man dressed only in a loincloth and shawl.
unpropitiousadjective: (of a circumstance) with little chance of successWith only a bottle of water and a sandwich, the hikers faced an unpropitious task: ascending a huge mountain that took most two days to climb.
unrulyadjective: (of persons) noisy and lacking in restraint or discipline; unwilling to submit to authorityWalk in to any preschool and I am sure that you will find an unruly and chaotic scene—unless it's nap time.
unscrupulousadjective: without scruples or principlesIn the courtroom, the lawyer was unscrupulous, using every manner of deceit and manipulation to secure a victory for himself.
unseemlyadjective: not in keeping with accepted standards of what is right or proper in polite societyHe acted in an unseemly manner, insulting the hostess and then speaking ill of her deceased husband.
unstintingadjective: very generousHelen is unstinting with her time, often spending hours at the house of a sick friend.
untenableadjective: (of theories etc) incapable of being defended or justifiedWith the combination of Kepler's brilliant theories and Galileo's telescopic observations, the old geocentric theory became untenable to most of the educated people in Europe.
untowardadjective: unfavorable; inconvenientSome professors find teaching untoward as having to prepare for lectures and conduct office hours prevents them from focusing on their research.
untrammeledadjective: not confined or limiteduntrammeled inspired the American Revolution and was enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
unviableadjective: not able to work, survive, or succeed (also spelled inviable).The plan was obviously unviable considering that it lead to complete environmental destruction in the river valley.
upbraidverb: to reproach; to scoldBob took a risk walking into the "Students Barbershop"—in the end he had to upbraidthe apparently drunk barber for giving him an uneven bowl cut.
urbaneadjective: showing a high degree of refinement and the assurance that comes from wide social experienceBecause of his service as an intelligence officer and his refined tastes, W. Somerset Maugham became the inspiration for the urbane and sophistcate spy James Bond.
vacillateverb: be undecided about something; waver between conflicting positions or courses of actionSome students vacillate between schools when deciding which to attend, while others focus only on one school.
vacuousadjective: devoid of intelligence, matter, or significanceTo the journalist's pointed question, the senator gave a vacuous response, mixing a few of his overall campaign slogans with platitudes and completely avoiding the controversial subject of the question.
vanquishverb: come out better in a competition, race, or conflictFor years, Argentina would dominate in World Cup qualifying matches, only to be vanquished by one of the European countries during the late stages of the tournament.
variancenoun: the quality of being differentThe cynic quipped, “There is not much variance in politicians; they all seem to lie”.
vauntedadjective: highly or widely praised or boasted aboutFor years, they had heard of New York City's vaunted skyline, and when they finally saw it, the spectacular cityscape did not disappoint them in the least.
vehementadjective: marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictionsWhile the other employees responded to the bad news in a measured way, Andrew responded in a vehement manner, tipping over his desk and shouting at the top of his lungs.
venalitynoun: the condition of being susceptible to bribes or corruptionEven some of the most sacred sporting events are not immune to venality, as many of the officials have received substantial bribes to make biased calls.
veneernoun: covering consisting of a thin superficial layer that hides the underlying substanceMark Twain referred to the Victorian Period in America as the "Gilded Age", implying the ample moral corruption that lay beneath a mere veneer of respectability.
venerateverb: to respect deeplyThe professor, despite his sleep-inducing lectures, was veneratedamongst his colleagues, publishing more papers yearly than all of his peers combined.
venialadjective: easily excused or forgiven; pardonableHis traffic violations ran the gamut from the venial to the egregious—on one occasion he simply did not come to a complete stop; another time he tried to escape across state lines at speeds in excess of 140 mph.
veraciousadjective: truthfulWhile we elect our leaders in the hope that every word they speak will be veracious, history has shown that such a hope is naive.
verisimilitudenoun: the appearance of truthAll bad novels are bad for numerous reasons; all good novels are good for their verisimilitude of reality, placing the readers in a world that resembles the one they know.
veritableadjective: truthfully, without a doubtFrank is a veritable life-saver -- last year, on two different occasions, he revived people using CPR.
vicariousadjective: felt or undergone as if one were taking part in the experience or feelings of anotherThe advent of twitter is a celebrity stalker's dream, as he or she can—through hundreds of intimate "tweets"—vicariously live the life of a famous person.
vicissitudenoun: change in one’s circumstances, usually for the worseEven great rulers have their vicissitudes—massive kingdoms have diminished overnight, and once beloved kings have faced the scorn of angry masses.
vieverb: compete for somethingWhile the other teams in the division actively vie for the championship, this team seems content simply to go through the motions of playing.
vilifyverb: spread negative information aboutTodd was noble after the divorce, choosing to say only complimentary things about Barbara, but Barbara did not hesitate to vilify Todd.
vindicateverb: to clear of accusation, blame, suspicion, or doubt with supporting arguments or proofEven seven Tour de France wins cannot vindicate Lance Armstrong in the eyes of the public--that the athlete used performance enhancing drugs invalidates all those wins.
vindictiveadjective: to have a very strong desire for revengeThough the other girl had only lightly poked fun of Vanessa's choice in attire, Vanessa was so vindictive that she waited for an entire semester to get the perfect revenge.
viragonoun: an ill-tempered or violent womanPoor Billy was the victim of the virago’s invective—she railed at him for a good 30-minutes about how he is the scum of the earth for speaking loudly on his cellphone in public.
vitriolnoun: abusive or venomous language used to express blame or bitter deep-seated ill willHis vitriol spewed forth from a deep-seated racism that consumed his whole life.
vitriolicadjective: harsh or corrosive in toneWhile the teacher was more moderate in her criticism of the other student's papers, she was vitriolic toward Peter's paper, casting every flaw in the harshest light.
vituperateadjective: to criticize harshly; to berateJason had dealt with disciplinarians before, but nothing prepared him for the first week of boot camp, as drill sergeants vituperated him for petty oversights such as forgetting to double knot the laces on his boots.
vociferousadjective: conspicuously and offensively loud; given to vehement outcryIn giving Marcia a particular vociferous response, Paul caused people at every other table in the restaurant to turn around an look at them angrily.
volubilitynoun: the quality of talking or writing easily and continuouslyThe professor's volubility knows no bounds; he could talk through a hurricane and elaborate a point from one St. Patrick's Day to the next.
voraciousadjective: very hungry; approaching an activity with gustoSteven was a voracious reader, sometimes finishing two novels in the same day.
wantingadjective: lackingShe did not think her vocabulary was wanting, yet there were so many words that inevitably she found a few she didn't know.
wantonadjective: without check or limitation; showing no moral restraints to one's anger, desire, or appetitesDue to wanton behavior and crude language, the drunk man was thrown out of the bar and asked to never return.
waxverb: to gradually increase in size or intensityHer enthusiasm for the diva’s new album only waxed with each song; by the end of the album, it was her favorite CD yet.
whimsicaladjective: determined by impulse or whim rather than by necessity or reasonAdults look to kids and envy their whimsical nature at times, wishing that they could act without reason and play without limitation.
winsomeadjective: charming in a childlike or naive wayShe was winsome by nature, and many people were drawn to this free and playful spirit.
zeitgeistnoun: spirit of the timesEach decade has its own zeitgeist—the 1990’s was a prosperous time in which the promise of the American Dream never seemed more palpable.
zenithnoun: the highest point; culminationAt the zenith of his artistic career, Elvis was outselling any other artist on the charts.
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