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Flashcards in A Words Deck (60):

abate (v)


lessen in intensity

Rather than leaving immediately, they waited for the storm to abate.


aberration (n)

departure from the norm

It remains the consensus among investors on Wall Street that current high oil prices are a temporary aberration and that we shall soon see a return to cheap oil.


abeyance (n)

temporary inactivity

During the military takeover, the constitution was not abolished, but some of its clauses temporarily were put in abeyance as the armed forces took over the administration.


abjure (v)

renounce upon oath; abstain from

Pressure from university authorities caused the young scholar to abjure his heretical opinions.


abrogate (v)

put an end to; abolish by an authoritative action

Washington sought to abrogate the ABM Treaty in order to be free to push ahead with its antiballistic missile Star Wars program.


abstemious (adj)

sparing in eating and drinking

Concerned whether her vegetarian son's abstemious diet provided him with sufficient protein, the worried mother pressed food upon him.


abstruse (adj)

difficult to understand

Baffled by the abstruse philosophical texts assigned in class, Dave asked Lexy to explain Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.


accolade (n)

recognition of achievement

In Hollywood, an "Oscar" is the highest accolade.


accretion (n)

gradual buildup or increase

Over the years Bob gradually gained weight; because of this accretion of flab, he went from size M to size XL.


acerbic (adj)

bitter in nature

Noted for her wicked gossip and her acerbic wit, Alice Roosevelt Longworth had a pillow in her home embroidered with the legend "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."


acquiesce (v)

agree with

Although she appeared to acquiesce to her employer's suggestions, I could tell she had reservations about the changes he wanted made.


acumen (n)

mental keenness

His rare combination of editorial acumen and business know-how enabled him to transform himself from a textbook editor into a major force in the test-preparation industry.


admonish (v)

express disapproval; give a mild warning

When her courtiers questioned her religious beliefs, Marty Stuart admonished them, declaring that she would worship as she pleased.


adroit (adj)

having skill or resourcefulness in coping with situations

I had to admire the adroit excuses that Dexter found to get our of doing any chores he disliked.


adulation (n)

excessive admiration

The conceited rock star relished the adulation he received from his groupies


adulterate (v)

make impure by adding inferior or tainted substances

When consumers learned that the company had adulterated its "pure" apple juice by mixing the juice with water, they protested vigorously.


aesthetic (adj n)

dealing with or capable of appreciating the beautiful

The beauty of Tiffany's stained glass appealed to Esther's aesthetic sense.


aggregate (n)

gross amount; whole mass; body of units; materials used in making concrete

The effect of the war upon the amount and distribution of what we usually call wealth -- the aggregate of private fortunes -- is still obscure.


alacrity (n)

cheerful willingness

Eager to set off on their ski trip, the boys packed up their gear and climbed into the van with alacrity.


alleviate (v)

make more bearable

When Johnny came down with a bad case of poison oak, the doctor recommended calamine lotion to alleviate the itching.


allude (v)

refer to indirectly

Try not to mention divorce in Jack's presence because he will think you are alluding to his marital problems with Jill.


amalgamate (v)

unite in one body

It was the task of Henry II to weld the peoples of England together and to amalgamate the institutions of the conquerors and the conquered.


ameliorate (v)

make better or more bearable

The government's idealistic reforms did little to ameliorate the lot of the lower classes, who continued to be exploited by the aristocratic landed classes.


amenable (adj)

able to be affected; readily managed or willing to be led; legally answerable

Juvenile offenders can avoid prison if they are amenable to rehabilitation.


anachronistic (adj)

chronologically out of place

Shakespeare's references to clocks in Julius Caesar is anacronistic; no clocks existed in Caesar's time.


analogous (adj)

showing a likeness or similarity

There's an old adage that watching government in action is analogous to watching sausage being made. Neither process is pretty.


ancillary (adj n)

serving as an aid or accessory

In an ancillary capacity Doctor Watson was helpful; however, Holmes could not trust the good doctor to solve a perplexing case on his own.


anomaly (n)

deviation from the norm

A bird that cannot fly is an anomaly.


antagonism (n)

active opposition

Barry showed his antagonism toward his new stepmother by ignoring her whenever she tried talking to him.


antipathy (n)

habitual aversion; intense dislike; natural repugnance

Like most Boston Red Sox fans, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck feel a strong antipathy toward the New York Yankees, Boston's bitter rival.


apathy (n)

lack of concern, especially about things that others find important

A firm believer in democratic government, she could not understand the apathy of those who never bother to vote.


apocryphal (adj)

not authentic; invented rather than true

Although many versions exist of the famous story of Emerson's visit to Thoreau in jail, in his writings Thoreau never mentions any such visit by Emerson, and so the tale is most likely apocryphal.


apostate (n)

one who abandons his or her religious faith or political belieffs

An apostle ardently supports a belief or cause; an apostate ardently renounces or abandons one.


apposite (adj)


She was always able to find the apposite phrase, the correct expression for every occasion.


apprise (v)

make aware of

When meteorologists apprised NASA of the dangerous weather conditions, the head of the space agency decided to postpone the shuttle launch.


approbation (n)


Wanting her parents' regard, she looked for some sign of their approbation.


appropriate (v)

take possession of for one's own use

The ranch owners appropriated the lands that had originally been set aside for the Native American's use.


arcane (adj)

known only to the initiated

Secret brotherhoods surround themselves with arcane rituals and trappings to mystify outsiders.


archaic (adj)

characteristic of an earlier or more primitive time

The foreign student spoke in correct but rather archaic English, for he had learned it from studying the English classics, not from everyday conversation.


arduous (adj)


At the outbreak of the Second Punic War, Hannibal made an arduous journey from Iberia into northern Italy, marching an army that included war elephants, over both the Pyrenees and the Alps.


articulate (v adj)

express coherently in words

A skilled extemporaneous debater can articulate her thoughts quickly and clearly, mustering complex arguments in minutes.


ascetic (n)

one who practices self-denial

Thoreau was a natural ascetic who ate little mean, but subsisted on grains and vegetables, and who drank nothing but water.


asperity (n)

harshness of manner

Exasperated by the boys' unruly behavior, she addressed them with considerable asperity.


aspersion (n)

slanderous remark

Rather than attacking President Cleveland's arguments with logic, his opponent resorted to casting aspersions on the president's moral character.


assiduous (adj)


It took Rembrandt weeks of assiduous labor before he was satisfied with his portrait of his son.


assuage (v)

relieve or reduce in intensity

Revenge seems to touch on something at the deepest level of hurt, a sense of unbearable violation that feels as if it can be assuaged only by retaliation.


astringent (adj)

harshly biting

Black tea is full of astringent compounds called tannins that can help shrink and tighten the bags under your eyes.


asymmetrical (adj)

not identical on both sides of a dividing central line

Because one eyebrow was set markedly higher than the other, William's face had a particularly asymmetrical appearance.


atrophy (v n)

waste away

After three months in a cast, your calf muscles are bount to atrophy; you'll need physical therapy to get back in shape.


attenuate (v)

weaken or lessen (in density, force, or degree)

Fortunately, aspirin attenuated the fever's intensity, and the patient's temperature dropped to normal.


attrition (n)

gradual decrease in numbers

Rather than fire staff members, church leaders followed a policy of attrition allowing elderly workers to retire without replacing them.


audacious (adj)

rashly bold; reckless and brave; highly inventive

Audiences cheered as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia made their audacious, death-defying leap to freedom and escaped Darth Vader's troops.


auspicious (adj)

promising well for the future

With such favorable weather conditions, it seemed a particularly auspicious moment to set sail.


austere (adj)

strict and rigorous

The headmaster's austere demeanor tended to scare off the more timid students, who never visited his study willingly.


autocratic (adj)

having absolute, unchecked power

Any person accustomed to exercising authority may become autocratic if his or her power is unchecked.


autonomy (n)

political or personal independence

Under the Constitution, states have considerable autonomy to pass, enforce, and interpret their own laws and to pursue their own public policy programs.


avarice (n)

insatiable greed for wealth

Montaigne is correct in maintaining that it is not poverty, but rather abundance, that breeds avarice: the more shoes Imelda Marcos had, the more she craved.


aver (v)

assert confidently

The self-proclaimed psychic averred that, because he had extrasensory perception on which to base his predictions, he had no need of seismographs in order to foretell earthquakes.


avid (adj)


Voracious in their pursuit of books, avid readers often read several books at once.


axiomatic (adj)

in no need of proof; self-evident

To Sherlock Holmes, it was axiomatic that the little things were infinitely the most important; he based his theory of detection on this self-evident truth.