ADJ. relating to the stars. She was amazed at the number of astral bodies the new telescope revealed.
ADJ. binding; causing contraction. The astringent quality of the unsweetened lemon juice made swallowing difficult. also N.
ADJ. enormously large or extensive. The government seems willing to spend astronomical sums on weapons development.
ADJ. wise; shrewd; keen. The painter was an astute observer, noticing every tiny detail of her model's appearance and knowing exactly how important each one was.
ADV. into parts; apart A fierce quarrel split the partnership asunder: the two partners finally sundered their connections because their points of view were poles asunder.
N. place of refuge or shelter; protection. The refugees sought asylum from religious persecution in a new land.
ADJ. not identical on both sides of a dividing central line. Because one eyebrow was set markedly higher than the other, William's face had a particularly asymmetric appearance.
N. resemblance to remote ancestors rather than to parents; deformity returning after passage of two or more generations. The doctors ascribed the child's deformity to an atavism.
ADJ. denying the existence of God. His atheistic remarks shocked the religious worshippers.
N. a bound volume of maps, charts, or tables. Embarrassed at being unable to distinguish Slovenia from Slovakia, George W. finally consulted an atlas.
V. make amends for; pay for. He knew no way in which he could atone for his brutal crime.
N. brutal deed. In time of war, many atrocities are committed by invading armies.
N. wasting away. Polio victims need physiotherapy to prevent the atrophy of affected limbs. alsoV.
V. achieve or accomplish; gain. The scarecrow sought to attain one goal: he wished to obtain a brain.
ADJ. alert and watchful; considerate; thoughtful. Spellbound, the attentive audience watched the final game of the tennis match, never taking their eyes from the ball. A cold wind sprang up; Stan's attentive daughter slipped a sweater over his shoulders without distracting his attention from the game.
V. make thin; weaken. By withdrawing their forces, the generals hoped to attenuate the enemy lines.
V. testify, bear witness. Having served as a member of the Grand Jury, I can attest that our system of indicting individuals is in need of improvement.
N. essential quality. His outstanding attribute was his kindness.
V. ascribe; explain. I attribute her success in science to the encouragement she received from her parents.
N. gradual decrease in numbers; reduction in the work force without firing employees; wearing away of opposition by means of harassment. In the 1960s urban churches suffered from attrition as members moved from the cities to the suburbs. Rather than fire staff members, church leaders followed a policy of attrition, allowing elderly workers to retire without replacing them.
ADJ. not normal. The child psychiatrist reassured Mrs. Keaton that playing doctor was not atypical behavior for a child of young Alex's age. "Yes," she replied, "but not charging for house calls!"
ADJ. daring; bold. Audiences cheered as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia made their audacious, deathdefying leap to freedom, escaping Darth Vader's troops. audacity, N.
N. examination of accounts. When the bank examiners arrived to hold their annual audit, they discovered the embezzlements of the chief cashier. alsoV.
ADJ. pertaining to the sense of hearing. Audrey suffered from auditory hallucinations: she thought Elvis was speaking to her from the Great Beyond.
V. increase; add to. Armies augment their forces by calling up reinforcements; teachers augment their salaries by taking odd jobs.
N. omen; prophecy. He interpreted the departure of the birds as an augury of evil. augur,V.
ADJ. impressive; majestic. Visiting the palace at Versailles, she was impressed by the august surroundings in which she found herself.
N. sun's corona; halo. Many medieval paintings depict saintly characters with aureoles around their heads.
ADJ. pertaining to the aurora borealis. The auroral display was particularly spectacular that evening.
ADJ. favoring success. With favorable weather conditions, it was an auspicious moment to set sail. Thomas, however, had doubts about sailing: a paranoid, he became suspicious whenever conditions seemed auspicious.
ADJ. forbiddingly stern; severely simple and unornamented. The headmaster's austere demeanor tended to scare off the more timid students, who never visited his study willingly. The room reflected the man, austere and bare, like a monk's cell, with no touches of luxury to moderate its austerity.
V. prove genuine. An expert was needed to authenticate the original Van Gogh painting, distinguishing it from its imitation.
ADJ. subordinating the individual to the state; completely dominating another's will. The leaders of the authoritarian regime ordered the suppression of the democratic protest movement. After years of submitting to the will of her authoritarian father, Elizabeth Barrett ran away from home with the poet Robert Browning.
ADJ. having the weight of authority; peremptory and dictatorial. Impressed by the young researcher's well-documented presentation, we accepted her analysis of the experiment as authoritative.
ADJ. having absolute, unchecked power; dictatorial. Someone accustomed to exercising authority may become autocratic if his or her power is unchecked. Dictators by definition are autocrats. Bosses who dictate behavior as well as letters can be autocrats too.
N. mechanism that imitates actions of humans. Long before science fiction readers became aware of robots, writers were presenting stories of automatons who could outperform men.
ADJ. self-governing. Although the University of California at Berkeley is just one part of the state university system, in many ways Cal Berkeley is autonomous, for it runs several programs that are not subject to outside control. autonomy, N.
N. examination of a dead body; post-mortem. The medical examiner ordered an autopsy to determine the cause of death. alsoV.
ADJ. helper, additional or subsidiary. To prepare for the emergency, they built an auxiliary power station. also N.
N. great mass of falling snow and ice. The park ranger warned the skiers to stay on the main trails, where they would be in no danger of being buried beneath a sudden avalanche.
N. greediness for wealth. King Midas is a perfect example of avarice, for he was so greedy that he wished everything he touched would turn to gold.
V. take vengeance for something (or on behalf of someone). Hamlet vowed he would avenge his father's murder and punish Claudius for his horrible crime.
ADJ. reluctant; disinclined. The reporter was averse to revealing the sources of his information.
N. firm dislike. Bert had an aversion to yuppies; Alex had an aversion to punks. Their mutual aversion was so great that they refused to speak to one another.
V. prevent; turn away. She averted her eyes from the dead cat on the highway.
N. enclosure for birds. The aviary at the zoo held nearly 300 birds.
ADJ. greedy; eager for. He was avid for learning and read everything he could get. avidity, N.
N. secondary or minor occupation. His hobby proved to be so fascinating and profitable that gradually he abandoned his regular occupation and concentrated on his avocation.
V. declare openly. Lana avowed that she never meant to steal Debbie's boyfriend, but no one believed her avowal of innocence.
ADJ. like an uncle. Avuncular pride did not prevent him from noticing his nephew's shortcomings.
N. solemn wonder. The tourists gazed with awe at the tremendous expanse of the Grand Canyon.
ADV. distorted; crooked. He held his head awry, giving the impression that he had caught cold in his neck during the night. alsoADJ.
N. self-evident truth requiring no proof. Before a student can begin to think along the lines of Euclidean geometry, he must accept certain principles or axioms.
ADJ. sky blue. Azure skies are indicative of good weather.
V. chatter idly. The little girl babbled about her doll. also N.
ADJ. drunken. Emperor Nero attended the bacchanalian orgy.
V. pester; annoy. She was forced to change her telephone number because she was badgered by obscene phone calls.
N. teasing conversation. Her friends at work greeted the news of her engagement with cheerful badinage.
V. frustrate; perplex. The new code baffled the enemy agents.
V. harass; tease. The school bully baited the smaller children, terrorizing them.
ADJ. deadly; having a malign influence; ominous. The fortune teller made baleful predictions of terrible things to come.
V. foil or thwart; stop short; refuse to go on. When the warden learned that several inmates were planning to escape, he took steps to balk their attempt. However, he balked at punishing them by shackling them to the walls of their cells.
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. alsoV.
N. something that relieves pain. Friendship is the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.
ADJ. mild; fragrant. A balmy breeze refreshed us after the sultry blast.
ADJ. hackneyed; commonplace; trite; lacking originality. The hack writer's worn-out clich6s made his comic sketch seem banal. He even resorted to the banality of having someone slip on a banana peel!
V. discuss lightly or glibly; exchange (words) heatedly. While the president was happy to bandy patriotic generalizations with anyone who would listen to him, he refused to bandy words with unfriendly reporters at the press conference.
N. cause of ruin; curse. Lucy's little brother was the bane of her existence: his attempts to make her life miserable worked so well that she could have poisoned him with ratsbane for having such a baneful effect.
ADJ. good-natured ridiculing. They resented his bantering remarks because they thought he was being sarcastic.
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?