N. division of a long poem. Dante's poetic masterpiece The Divine Comedy is divided into cantos.
V. determine votes, etc. After canvassing the sentiments of his constituents, the congressman was confident that he represented the majority opinion of his district. also N.
ADJ. spacious. In the capacious rotunda of the railroad terminal, thousands of travelers lingered while waiting for their train.
N. mental or physical ability; role; ability to accommodate. Mike had the capacity to handle several jobs at once. In his capacity as president of SelecTronics he marketed an electronic dictionary with a capacity of 200,000 words.
V. surrender. The enemy was warned to capitulate or face annihilation.
N. sudden, unexpected fancy; whim. On a caprice, Jack tried drag-racing, but paid the price-his father took his Chevy Caprice away from him.
ADJ. unpredictable; fickle. The storm was capricious: it changed course constantly. Jill was capricious, too: she changed boyfriends almost as often as she changed clothes.
N. title; chapter heading; text under illustration. The captions that accompany The Far Side cartoons are almost as funny as the pictures. alsoV.
V. charm or enthrall. Bart and Lisa were captivated by their new nanny's winning manner.
N. unit of weight for precious stones; measure of fineness of gold. He gave her a three-carat diamond mounted in an eighteen-carat gold band.
ADJ. chief. If you want to increase your word power, the cardinal rule of vocabulary-building is to read.
N. doctor specializing in the heart. When the pediatrician noticed Philip had a slight heart murmur, she referred him to a cardiologist for further tests.
V. lurch; sway from side to side. The taxicab careened wildly as it rounded the corner.
N. distortion; burlesque. The caricatures he drew always emphasized a personal weakness of the people he burlesqued. alsoV.
N. destruction of life. The film The Killing Fields vividly depicts the carnage wreaked by Pol Pot's followers in Cambodia.
ADJ. fleshly. Is the public more interested in carnal pleasures than in spiritual matters? Compare the number of people who read Playboy daily to the number of those who read the Bible or Koran every day.
ADJ. meat-eating. The lion's a carnivorous beast. A hunk of meat makes up his feast. A cow is not a carnivore. She likes the taste of grain, not gore.
ADJ. finding fault. A carping critic is a nit-picker: he loves to point out flaws. If you don't like this definition, feel free to carp.
N. map-maker. Though not a professional cartographer, Tolkien was able to construct a map of his fictional world.
N. small waterfall. We were too tired to appreciate the beauty of the many cascades because we had to detour around them to avoid being drenched by the water cascading down.
V. criticize severely; punish. When the teacher threatened that she would castigate the mischievous boys if they didn't behave, they shaped up in a hurry.
N. serious or fatal accident. The number of automotive casualties on this holiday weekend was high.
N. upheaval; deluge. A cataclysm such as the French Revolution affects all countries. cataclysmic,ADJ.
N. agent which brings about a chemical change while it remains unaffected and unchanged. Many chemical reactions cannot take place without the presence of a catalyst.
N. slingshot; a hurling machine. Airplanes are sometimes launched from battleships by catapults. alsoV.
N. great waterfall; eye abnormality. She gazed with awe at the mighty cataract known as Niagara Falls.
N. calamity; disaster. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake was a catastrophe that destroyed most of the city. A similar earthquake striking today could have even more catastrophic results.
N. shout of disapproval; boo. Every major league pitcher has off days during which he must learn to ignore the catcalls and angry hisses from the crowd.
N. book for religious instruction; instruction by question and answer. He taught by engaging his pupils in a catechism until they gave him the correct answer.
ADJ. without exceptions; unqualified; absolute. Though the captain claimed he was never, never sick at sea, he finally had to qualify his categorical denial: he was "hardly ever" sick at sea.
V. supply something desired (whether good or bad). The chef was happy to cater to the tastes of his highly sophisticated clientele. Critics condemned the movie industry for catering to the public's ever-increasing appetite for violence.
N. purging or cleansing of any passage of the body. Aristotle maintained that tragedy created a catharsis by purging the soul of base concepts.
ADJ. broadly sympathetic; liberal. He was extremely catholic in his taste and read everything he could find in the library.
N. private meeting of members of a party to select officers or determine policy. At the opening of Congress, the members of the Democratic Party held a caucus to elect the Majority Leader of the House and the Party Whip.
V. make watertight by filling in cracks. Jack had to caulk the tiles in the shower stall to stop the leak into the basement below.
ADJ. implying a cause-and-effect relationship. The psychologist maintained there was a causal relationship between the nature of one's early childhood experiences and one's adult personality. causality, N.
ADJ. burning; sarcastically biting. The critic's caustic remarks angered the hapless actors who were the subjects of his sarcasm.
N. procession; parade. As described by Chaucer, the cavalcade of Canterbury pilgrims was a motley group.
ADJ. offhand or casual; haughty. The disguised prince resented the cavalier way in which the palace guards treated him. How dared they handle a member of the royal family so unceremoniously!
V. make frivolous objections. It's fine when you make sensible criticisms, but it really bugs me when you cavil about unimportant details. also N.
V. yield (title, territory) to; surrender formally. Eventually the descendants of England's Henry II were forced to cede their French territories to the King of France.
ADJ. famous; well-known. Thanks to their race to break Roger Maris's home-run record, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire are two of America's most celebrated baseball players. celebrity, N.
N. speed; rapidity. Hamlet resented his mother's celerity in remarrying within a month after his father's death.
ADJ. heavenly. She spoke of the celestial joys that awaited virtuous souls in the hereafter.
ADJ. unmarried; abstaining from sexual intercourse. The perennial bachelor vowed to remain celibate. celibacy, N.
N. overseer of morals; person who reads to eliminate inappropriate remarks. Soldiers dislike having their mail read by a censor but understand the need for this precaution. alsoV.
ADJ. critical. Censorious people delight in casting blame.
V. blame; criticize. The senator was censured for behavior inappropriate to a member of Congress. also N.
ADJ. measure of temperature used widely in Europe. On the centigrade thermometer, the freezing point of water is zero degrees.
ADJ. radiating; departing from the center. Many automatic drying machines remove excess moisture from clothing by centrifugal force.
ADJ. tending toward the center. Does centripetal force or the force of gravity bring orbiting bodies to the earth's surface?
N. Roman army officer. Because he was in command of a company of one hundred soldiers, he was called a centurion.
ADJ. pertaining to the brain or intellect. The content of philosophical works is cerebral in nature and requires much thought.
N. thought. Mathematics problems sometimes require much cerebration.
ADJ. marked by formality. Ordinary dress would be inappropriate at so ceremonious an affair.
N. certainty. Though there was no certitude of his getting the job, Lou thought he had a good chance of doing so.
N. stoppage. The airline's employees threatened a cessation of all work if management failed to meet their demands. cease,V.
N. yielding to another; ceding. The cession of Alaska to the United States is discussed in this chapter.
V. warm by rubbing; make sore (by rubbing). Chilled, he chafed his hands before the fire. The collar of his school uniform chafed Tom's neck, but not as much the school's strict rules chafed his spirit. also N.
N. worthless products of an endeavor. When you separate the wheat from the chaff, be sure you throw out the chaff.
ADJ. bantering; joking. Sometimes Chad's flippant, chaffing remarks annoy us. Still, Chad's chaffing keeps us laughing. also N.
N. vexation (caused by humiliation or injured pride); disappointment. Embarrassed by his parents' shabby, working-class appearance, Doug felt their visit to his school would bring him nothing but chagrin. Someone filled with chagrin doesn't grin: he's too mortified.
N. goblet; consecrated cup. In a small room adjoining the cathedral, many ornately decorated chalices made by the most famous European goldsmiths were on display.
N. lizard that changes color in different situations. Like the chameleon, he assumed the political thinking of every group he met.