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Flashcards in B Deck (146):

babble (v.) (n.)

to chatter idly

The little girl babbled about her doll.


badger (v.)

to pester; to annoy

She was forced to change her telephone number because she was badgered by obscene phone calls.


badinage (n.)

teasing conversation

Her friends at work greeted the news of her engagement with cheerful badinage.


baffle (v.)

to frustrate; to perplex

The new code baffled the enemy agents.


bait (v.)

to harass; to tease

The school bully baited the smaller children, terrorizing them.


baleful (adj.)

deadly; having a malign influence; ominous

The fortune teller made baleful predictions of terrible things to come.


balk (v.)

to foil or thwart; to stop short; to refuse to go on

When the warden learned that several inmates were planning to escape, he took steps to balk their attempt. However, he balked at punishing them by shackling them to the walls of their cells.


ballast (n.)

heavy substance used to add stability or weight

The ship was listing badly to one side; it was necessary to shift the ballast in the hold to get her back on an even keel.


balm (n.)

something that relieves pain

Friendship is the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.


balmy (adj.)

mild; fragrant

A balmy breeze refreshed us after the sultry (=hot and humid) blast.


banal (adj.)

hackneyed; commonplace; trite; lacking originality

The hack writer's worn-out cliches made his comic sketch seem banal. He even restored to the banality of having someone slip on a banana peel!


bandy (v.)

to discuss lightly or glibly; to exchange (words) heatedly

While the president was happy to bandy patriotic generalizations with anyone who would listen to him, he refused to bandy words with unfriendly reporters at the press conference.


bane (n.)

cause of ruin

Lucy's little brother was the bane of her existence; his attempts to make her life miserable worked so well that she could have poisoned him with ratsbane for having such a baneful effect.


bantering (adj.)

good natured ridiculing

They resented his bantering remarks because they thought he was being sarcastic.


barb (n.)

sharp projection from fishhook, etc.; openly cutting remark

If you were a politician, which would you prefer, being caught on the barb of a fishhook or being subjected to malicious verbal barbs? Who can blame the president if he's happier fishing than back in the capitol listening to his critics' barbed remarks?


bard (n.)


The ancient bard Homer sang of the fall of Troy.


baroque (adj.)

highly ornate

Accustomed to the severe lines of contemporary buildings, the architecture students found the flamboyance of baroque architecture amusing.


barrage (n.)

barrier laid down by artillery (=large caliber guns used in warfare on land) fire

The company was forced to retreat through the barrage of heavy cannons.


barren (adj.)

desolate; fruitless and unproductive; lacking

Looking out at the trackless, barren desert, Indiana Jones feared that his search for the missing expedition would prove barren.


barricade (n.)

hastily put together defensive barrier; obstacle

Marius and his fellow students hurriedly improvised a rough barricade to block police access to the students' quarter.
Malcolm and his brothers barricaded themselves in their bedroom to keep their mother from seeing the hole in the bedroom floor.


barterer (n.)


The barterer exchanged trinkets for the natives' furs. It seemed smarter to barter than to pay cash.


bask (v.)

to luxuriate; to take pleasure in warmth

Basking on the beach, she relaxed so completely that she fell asleep.


bastion (n.)

fortress; defense

The villagers fortified the town hall, hoping this improvised bastion could protect them from the guerillas' raids.


bate (v.)

to let down; to restrain

Until it was time to open the presents, the children had to bate their curiosity.


bauble (n.)

trinket; trifle

The child was delighted with the bauble she had won in the grab bag.


bawdy (adj.)

indecent; obscene (=offensive or disgusting by standards of morality and decency)

Jack took offense at Jill's bawdy remarks.


beam (n.)

ray of light; long piece of metal or wood; course of a radio signal

If a beam of light falls on you, it illuminates you; if a beam of iron falls on you, it eliminates you.


beam (v.)

smile radiantly

No one feels like beaming when crushed by an iron beam.


beatific (adj.)

giving bliss; blissful

The beatific smile on the child's face made us very happy.


beatitude (n.)

blessedness; state of bliss

Growing closer to God each day, the mystic achiever a state of indescribable beatitude.


bedraggle (v.)

to wet thoroughly; to stain with mud

We were so bedraggled by the severe storm that we had to change into dry clothing.


beeline (n.)

direct, quick route

As soon as the movie was over, Jim made a beeline for the exit.


befuddle (v.)

to confuse thoroughly

His attempts to clarify the situation succeeded only in befuddling her further.


beget (v.)

to father (=to be the creator of); to produce; to give rise to

One good turn may deserve another; it does not necessarily beget another.


begrudge (v.)

to resent

I begrudge every minute I have to spend attending meetings; they're a complete waste of time.


beguile (v.)

to mislead or delude; to pass time

With flattery and big talk of easy money, the con men beguiled Kyle into betting his allowance on the shell game/ Broke, he beguiled himself during the long hours by playing solitaire.


behemoth (n.)

huge creature; monstrous animal

Sportscasters nicknamed the linebacker "The Behemoth."


belabor (v.)

to explain or go over excessively or to a ridiculous degree; attack verbally

The debate coach warned her student not to bore the audience by belaboring her point.


belated (adj.)


He apologized for his belated note of condolence to the widow of his friend and explained that he had just learned of her husband's untimely (=happening or done at an unsuitable time) death.


beleaguer (v.)

to besiege (=to surround with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender) or attack; to harass

The babysitter was surrounded by a crowd of unmanageable brats who relentlessly beleaguered her.


belie (v.)

to contradict; to give a false impression

His coarse, hard-bitten exterior belied his inner sensitivity.


belittle (v.)

to disparage or depreciate; to put down

Parents should not belittle their children's early attempts at drawing, but should encourage their efforts.
Barry was a put-down artist: he was a genius at belittling people and making them feel small.


bellicose (adj.)


His bellicose disposition alienated his friends.


belligerent (adj.)


Whenever he had too much to drink, he became belligerent and tried to pick fights with strangers.


bemoan (v.)

to lament; to express disapproval of

The widow bemoaned the death of her beloved husband.
Although critics bemoaned the serious flaws in the author's novels, each year his latest book topped the best-seller list.


bemused (adj.)

confused; lost in thought; preoccupied

Jill studied the garbled instructions with a bemused look on her face.


benediction (n.)


The appearance of the sun after the many rainy days was like a benediction.


benefactor (n.)

gift giver; patron (=a person who gives financial or other support to a person, organization, cause, or activity)

Scrooge later became Tiny Tim's benefactor and gave him gifts.


beneficial (adj.)

helpful; useful

Tiny Time's cheerful good nature had a beneficial influence on Scrooge's once-uncharitable disposition.


beneficiary (n.)

person entitled to benefits or proceeds of an insurance policy or will.

In Scrooge's will, he made Tiny Tim his beneficiary: everything he left would go to Tiny Tim.


benevolent (adj.)

generous; charitable

Mr. Fezzwig was a benevolent employer, who wished to make Christmas merrier for young Scrooge and his other employees.


benign (adj.)

kindly; favorable; not malignant

Through her benign smile and gentle bearing made Miss Marple seem a sweet little old lady, in reality she was a though-minded, shrewd observer of human nature.


bent (adj.)


She wanted to succeed; she was bent on advancing in the business world.


bent (n.)

natural talent or inclination

She has a true bent for calculations and could compute complex numbers in seconds.


bequeath (v.)

to leave to someone by a will; to hand down

Though Maud had intended to bequeath the family home to her nephew, she died before changing her will.


berate (v.)

to scold strongly

He feared she would berate him for his forgetfulness.


bereavement (n.)

state of being deprived of something valuable or beloved

His friends gathered to console him upon his sudden bereavement.


bereft (adj.)

deprived of; lacking; desolate because of a loss

The foolish gambler soon found himself bereft of funds.


berserk (adj.)


Angered, he went berserk and began to wreck the room.


beseech (v.)

to beg; to plead with

The workaholic executives wide beseeched him to spend more time with their son.


beset (v.)

to harass or trouble; to hem (=to surround and restrict the movement of)

Many vexing problems beset the American public school system.
Sleeping Beauty's castle was beset on all sides by dense thickets that hid it from view.


besiege (v.)

to surround with armed forces; to harass (with requests)

When the bandits besieged the village, the villagers holed up in the town hall and prepared to withstand a long siege.
Members of the new administration were besieged with job applications from people who had worked on the campaign.


besmirch (v.)

to soil (=to tarnish), to defile (=to spoil)

The scandalous remarks in the newspaper besmirch the reputations of every member in the society.


bestial (adj.)

beast-like; brutal

According to legend, the werewolf was able to abandon its human shape and take on a bestial form.


bestow (v.)

to give

He wished to bestow great honors upon the hero.


betoken (v.)

to signify; to indicate

The well-equipped docks, tall piles of cargo containers, and numerous vessels being loaded all betoken Oakland's importance as a port.


betray (v.)

to be unfaithful; to reveal (unconsciously or unwillingly)

The spy betrayed his country by selling military secrets to the enemy. When he was taken in for questioning, the tightness of his lips betrayed his fear of being caught.


betroth (v.)

to become engaged to marry

The announcement that they had become betrothed surprised their friends who had not suspected any romance.


bevy (n.)

large group

The movie actor was surrounded by a bevy of starlets.


biased (adj.)

slanted; prejudiced

Because the judge played golf regularly with the district attorney's father, we feared he might be biased in the prosecution's favor.


bicameral (adj.)

two-chambered, as a legislative body

The United States Congress is a bicameral body.


bicker (v.)

to quarrel

The children bickered morning, noon, and night, exasperating their parents.


biennial (adj.)

every two years

Seeing no need to meet more frequently, the group held biennial meeting instead of annual ones.
Plants that bear flowers biennially are known as biennials.


bigotry (n.)

stubborn intolerance

Brought up in a democratic atmosphere, the student was shocked by the bigotry and narrowness expressed by several of his classmates.


bilious (adj.)

suffering from indigestion; irritable (=having or showing a tendency to be easily annoyed or made angry)

His bilious temperament was apparent to all who heard him rant about his difficulties.


bilk (v.)

to swindle; to cheat

The con man specialized in bilking insurance companies.


billowing (adj.)

swelling out in waves; surging

Standing over the air vent, Marilyn Monroe tried vainly to control her billowing skirts.


bizarre (adj.)

fantastic; violently contrasting

The plot of the novel was too bizarre to be believed.


blanch (v.)

to bleach; to whiten

Although age had blanched his hair, he was still vigorous and energetic.


bland (adj.)

soothing or mild; agreeable

Jill tried a bland ointment for her sunburn.
However, when Jack absent-mindedly patted her on the sunburned shoulder, she couldn't maintain a bland disposition.


blandishment (n.)


Despite the salesperson's blandishments, the customer did not buy the outfit.


blare (n.)

loud, harsh roar or screech; dazzling blaze of light

I don't know which is worse: the steady blare of a boom box deafening your ears or a sudden blare of flashbulbs dazzling your eyes.


blasé (adj.)

bored with pleasure of dissipation

Although Beth was as thrilled with the idea of a trip to Paris as her classmates were, she tried to act super cool and blasé, as if she'd been abroad hundreds of times.


blasphemy (n.)

irreverence; sacrilege (=violence or misuse of what is regarded as sacred); cursing

In my father's house, the Dodgers were the holiest of holies; to cheer for another team was to utter words of blasphemy.


blatant (adj.)

flagrant (obviously offensive); conspicuously (=standing out) obvious; loudly offensive

To the unemployed youth from Dublin, the "No Irish Need Apply" placard in the shop window was a blatant mark of prejudice.


bleak (adj.)

cold or cheerless; unlikely to be favorable

The frigid, inhospitable Aleutian Islands are bleak military outposts.
It's no wonder that soldiers assigned there have a bleak attitude toward their posting.


blighted (adj.)

suffering from a disease; destroyed

The extent of the blighted areas could be seen only when viewed from the air.


blithe (adj.)

gay; joyous; carefree

Without a care in the world, Beth went her blithe, lighthearted way.


bloated (adj.)

swollen or puffed as with water or air

Her bloated stomach came from drinking so much water.


bludgeon(v.), (n.)

to club; heavy-handed weapon

Attacked by Dr. Moriarty, Holmes used his walking stick as a bludgeon to defend himself. "Watson," he said, "I fear I may have bludgeoned Moriarty to death."


bluff (adj.)

rough but good-natured

Jack had a bluff and hearty manner that belied his actual sensitivity; he never let people know how thin-skinned he was.


bluff (n.)

pretense (of strength); deception; high cliff

Claire thought Lord Byron's boast that he would swim the Hellespont was just a bluff; she was astounded when he dove from the high bluff into the waters below.


blunder (n.)


The criminal's fatal blunder led to his capture.


blurt (v.)

to utter impulsively

Before she could stop him, he blurted out the news.


bluster (v.)

to blow in heavy gusts; to threaten emptily; to bully

"Let the stormy winds bluster," cried Jack, "we'll set sail tonight." Jill let Jack bluster: she wasn't going anywhere, no matter what he said.


bode (v.)

to foreshadow; to portend (=be a sign or warning that something is likely to happen)

The gloomy skies and the sulfurous odors from the mineral springs seemed to bode evil to those who settled in the area.


bogus (adj.)

counterfeit; not authentic

The police quickly found the distributors of the bogus twenty dollar bills.


bohemian (adj.)

unconventional (in an artistic way)

Gertrude Stein ran off to Paris to live an eccentric, bohemian life with her writer friends. Oakland was not bohemian: it was too bourgeois, too middle-class.


boisterous (adj.)

violent; rough; noisy

The unruly crowd became even more boisterous when he tried to quiet them.


bolster (v.)

to support; to reinforce

The debaters amassed file boxes full of evidence to bolster their arguments.


bolt (n.)

door bar; fastening pin or screw; length of fabric

The carpenter shut the workshop door, sliding the heavy metal bolt into place.
He sorted through his toolbox for the nuts and bolts and nails he would need.
Before he cut into the volt of canvas, he measured how much fabric he would need.


bolt (v.)

to dash or dart off; to fasten (a door); gobble down

Jack was set to bolt out the front door, but Jill bolted the door. "Eat your breakfast," she said, "don't bolt your food."


bombardment (n.)

attack with missiles

The enemy's bombardment demolished the town. Members of the opposition party bombarded the prime minister with questions about the enemy attack.


bombastic (adj.)

pompous; using inflated language

Puffed up with conceit, the orator spoke in such a bombastic manner that we longed to deflate him.


booming (adj.)

deep and resonant; flourishing, thriving

"Who needs a microphone?" cried the mayor in his booming voice.
Cheerfully he boomed out that, thanks to him, the city's economy was booming.


boon (n.)

blessing; benefit

The recent rains that filled our empty reservoirs were a boon to the whole community.


boorish (adj.)

rude; insensitive

Though Mr. Collins constantly interrupted his wife, she ignored his boorish behavior, for she had lost hope of teaching him courtesy.


boundless (adj.)

unlimited; vast

Mike's energy was boundless: the greater the challenge, the more vigorously he tackled the job.


bountiful (adj.)

abundant; graciously generous

Thanks to the good harvest, we had a bountiful supply of food and we could be as bountiful as we liked in distributing food to the needy.


bourgeois (adj.)

middle class; selfishly materialistic; dully conventional

Technically, anyone who belongs to the middle class is bourgeois, but, given the word's connotations, most people resent it if you call them that.


bovine (adj.)

cow-like; placid and dull

Nothing excites Esther; even when she won the state lottery, she still preserved her air of bovine calm.


bowdlerize (v.)

to expurgate (=to amend words by removing words deemed to be offensive or objectionable)

After the film editors had bowdlerized the language in the script, the motion picture's rating was changed from "R" to "PG."


boycott (v.)

to refrain from buying or using

To put pressure on grape growers to stop using pesticides that harmed the farm worker's health, Cesar Chavez called for consumers to boycott grapes.


braggart (n.)


Modest by nature, she was no braggart, preferring to let her accomplishments speak for themselves.


brandish (v.)

to wave around; to flourish

Alarmed, Doctor Watson wildly brandished his gun until Holmes told him to put the thing away before he shot himself.


bravado (n.)

swagger; assumed air of defiance (=bold disobedience)

The bravado of the young criminal disappeared when he was confronted by the victims of his brutal attack.


brawn (n.)

muscular strength; sturdiness

It takes brawn to become a champion weightlifter.


brazen (adj.)

insolent (=showing a rude and arrogant lack of respect)

Her brazen contempt for authority angered the officials.


breach (n.)

breaking of contract or duty; fissure or gap

Jill sued Jack for breach of promise, claiming he had broken his promise to marry her.
They found a breach in the enemy's fortifications and penetrated their lines.


breadth (n.)

width; extent

We were impressed by the breadth of her knowledge.


brevity (n.)


Brevity is essential when you send a telegram or cablegram; you are charged for every word.


bristling (adj.)

rising like bristles; showing irritation

The dog stood there, bristling with anger.


brittle (adj.)

easily broken; difficult

My employer's self-control was as brittle as an egg-shell.
Her brittle personality made it difficult for me to get along with her.


broach (v.)

to introduce; to open up

Jack did not even try to broach the subject of religion with his in-laws.
If you broach a touchy subject, it may cause a breach.


brochure (n.)


This brochure on farming was issued by the Department of Agriculture.


browbeat (v.)

to bully; to intimidate

Billy resisted Ted's attempts browbeat him into handing over his lunch money.


browse (v.)

to graze; to skim or glance at casually

"How now, brown cow, browsing in the green, green grass." I remember lines of verse that I came across while browsing through the poetry section of the local bookstore.


brunt (n.)

main impact of shock

Tom Sawyer claimed credit for painting the fence, but the brunt of the work fell on others.
However, he bore the brunt of Aunt Polly's complaints when the paint began to peel.


brusque (adj.)

blunt; abrupt

Was Bruce too brusque when he brushed off Bob's request with a curt "Not now!"?


buccaneer (n.)


At Disneyland the Pirates of the Caribbean song a song about their lives as bloody buccaneers.


bucolic (adj.)

rustic; pastoral

Filled with browsing cows and bleating cheep, the meadow was a charmingly bucolic sight.


buffet (n.)

table with food set out for people to serve themselves; meal at which people help themselves to food that's been set out

Please convey the soufflé on the tray to the buffet.


buffet (v.)

to slap; to batter; to knock about

To buffet something is to rough it up.
Was Miss Muffett buffeted by the crowd on the way to the buffet tray?


buffoonery (n.)


In the Ace Ventura movies, Jim Carrey's buffoonery was hilarious: like Bozo the Clown, he's a natural buffoon.


bulwark (n.)

earthwork or other strong defense; person who defends

The navy is our principal bulwark against invasion.


bumptious (adj.)


His classmates called him a show-off because of his bumptious airs.


bungle (v.)

to mismanage; to blunder (=to make a stupid or careless mistake)

Don't botch (=to carry out a task badly) this assignment, Bumstead; if you bungle the job, you're fired!


buoyant (adj.)

able to float; cheerful and optimistic

When the boat capsized (=to overturn in the water), her buoyant life jacket kept Jody afloat. Scrambling back on board, she was still in a buoyant mood, certain that despite the delay she'd win the race.


bureaucracy (n.)

over-regulated administrative system marked by red tape

The Internal Revenue Service is the ultimate bureaucracy: taxpayers wasted so much paper filing out IRS forms that the IRS bureaucrats printed up a new set of rules requiring taxpayers to comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act.


burgeon (v.)

to grow forth; to send out buds

In the spring, the plants that burgeon are a promise of beauty that is to come.


burlesque (v.)

to give an imitation that ridicules

In Spaceballs, Rick Moranis burlesques Darth Vader of Star Ward, outrageously parodying Vader's stiff walk and hollow voice.


burly (adj.)

husky; muscular

The burly mover lifted the packing crate with ease.


burnish (v.)

to make shiny by rubbing; to polish

The maid burnished the brass fixtures until they reflected the lamplight.


bustle (v.)

to move about energetically; to teem

David and the children bustled about the house getting in each other's way as they tried to pack for the camping trip.
The whole house bustled with activity.


buttress (v.)

to support; to prop up

The attorney came up with several far-fetched arguments in a vain attempt to buttress his weak case.


buxom (adj.)

plump; full-bosomed

Fashion models are usually slim and willowy rather than buxom.