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Flashcards in C (I) Deck (150):

cabal (n.)

small group of persons secretly united to promote their own interests

The cabal was defeated when their scheme was discovered.


cache (n.)

hiding place

The detectives followed the suspect until he led them to the cache where he had stored his loot.
He had cached the cash in a bag for trash: it was a hefty sum.


cacophonous (adj.)

discordant; inharmonious

Do the students in the orchestra enjoy the cacophonous sounds they make when they're tuning up?
I don't know how they can stand the racket.


cadaver (n.)


In some states, it is illegal to dissect cadavers.


cadence (n.)

rhythmic rise and fall (of words or sound); beat

Marching down the road, the troops sang out, following the cadence set by the sergeant.


cajole (v.)

to coax; to wheedle

Diane tried to cajole her father into letting her drive the family car.


calamity (n.)

disaster; misery

As news of the calamity spread, offers of relief poured in to the stricken community.


calculated (adj.)

deliberately planned; likely

Lexy's choice of clothes to wear to the debate tournament was carefully calculated. Her conventional suit was one calculated to appeal to the conservative judges.


caldron (n.)

large kettle

"Why, Mr. Crusoe," said the savage heating the giant caldron, "we'd love to have you for dinner!"


caliber (n.)

ability; quality

The scholarship committee searched for students of high caliber, ones with the intelligence and ability to be a credit to the school.


calligraphy (n.)

beautiful writing; excellent penmanship

As we examine ancient manuscripts, we become impressed with the calligraphy of the scribes.


callous (adj.)

hardened; unfeeling

He had worked in the hospital for so many years that he was callous to the suffering in the wards.


callow (adj.)

youthful; immature; inexperienced
As a freshman, Jack was sure he was a man of the world; as a sophomore, he made fun of freshmen as callow youths. In both cases, his judgment showed just how callow he was.


calorific (adj.)


Coal is much more calorific than green wood.


calumny (n.)

malicious misrepresentation; slander

He could endure his financial failure, but he could not bear the calumny that his foes heaped upon him.


camaraderie (n.)


What he loved best about his job was the sense of camaraderie he and his coworkers shared.


cameo (n.)

shell or jewel carved in relief; star's special appearance in a minor role in a film

Don't buy cameos from the street peddlers in Rome: the workmanship is wretched.
Did you catch Bill Murray's cameo in Little Shop of Horrors? He was on-screen so briefly that if you blinked you missed him.


camouflage (v.)

to disguise; to conceal

In order to rescue Han Solo, Princess Leia camouflaged herself in the helmet and cloak of a space bandit.


candor (n.)

frankness; open honesty

Jack can carry candor too far: when he told Jill his honest opinion of her, she nearly slapped his face.


canine (adj.)

related to dogs; dog-like

Some days the canine population of Berkeley seems almost to outnumber the human population.


canny (adj.)

shrewd; thrifty

The canny Scotsman was more than a match for the swindlers.


cant (n.)

insincere expressions of piety; jargon or thieves

Shocked by news of the minister's extramarital love affairs, the worshippers dismissed his talk about the sacredness of marriage as mere cant.
Cant is a form of hypocrisy: those who can pray; those who cant, pretend.


cantankerous (adj.)

ill-humored; irritable

Constantly complaining about his treatment and refusing to cooperate with the hospital staff, he was a cantankerous patient.


canter (n.)

slow gallop

Because the racehorse had outdistanced its competition so easily, the reporter wrote that the race was won in a canter.


canto (n.)

division of a long poem

Dante's poetic masterpiece The Divine Comedy is divided into cantos.


canvass (v.)

to determine votes, etc.

After canvassing the sentiments of is constituents, the congressman was confident that he represented the majority opinion of his district.


capacious (adj.)


In the capacious rotunda of the railroad terminal, thousands of travelers lingered while waiting for their train.


capacity (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.


capitulate (v.)

to surrender

The enemy was warned to capitulate or face annihilation.


capricious (adj.)

unpredictable; fickle; fanciful

The storm was capricious: it changed course constantly.
Jill was capricious: she changed boyfriends almost as often as she changed clothes.


caption (n.)

title; chapter heading; text under illustration

The captions that accompany The Far Side cartoons are almost as funny as the pictures.


captivate (v.)

to charm or enthrall

Bart and Lisa were captivated by their new nanny's winning manner.


cardinal (adj.)


If you want to increase your word power, the cardinal rule of vocabulary-building is to read.


careen (v.)

to lurch; to sway from side to side

The taxicab careened wildly as it rounded the corner.


caricature (n.)

exaggerated picture or description; distortion

The cartoonist's caricature of President Bush grossly exaggerated the size of the president's ears.


carnage (n.)

destruction of life

The film The Killing Fields vividly depicts the carnage wreaked by Pol Pot's followers in Cambodia.


carnal (adj.)


Is the public more interested in carnal pleasures than in spiritual matters?


carnivorous (adj.)


The lion's a carnivorous beast.


carping (adj.)

finding fault or complaining querulously

A carping critic is a nit-picker: he loves to point out flaws. I you don't like this definition, feel free to carp.


castigate (v.)

to criticize severely; to punish

When the teacher threatened that she would castigate the mischievous boys if they didn't behave, they shaped up in a hurry.


casualty (n.)

serious or fatal accident

The number of automotive casualties on this holiday weekend was high.


cataclysm (n.)

violent upheaval; deluge

The Russian Revolution was a political and social cataclysm that overturned czarist society.


catalyst (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.


catapult (n.)

slingshot; a hurling machine

Airplanes are sometimes launched from battleships by catapults.


cataract (n.)

great waterfall; eye abnormality

She gazed with awe at the mighty cataract known as Niagara Falls.


catastrophe (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.


catechism (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.


categorical (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.


cater to (v.)

to 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.


catharsis (n.)

purging or cleansing of any passage of the body

Aristotle maintained that tragedy created a catharsis by purging the soul of base concepts.


catholic (adj.)

broadly sympathetic; liberal

He was extremely catholic in his taste and read everything he could find in the library.


caucus (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.


caulk (v.)

to make watertight by filling in cracks

Jack had to caulk the tiles in the shower stall to stop the leak into the basement below.


casual (adj.)

implying a cause-and-effect relationship

The psychologist maintained there was a casual relationship between the nature of one's early childhood experiences and one's adult personality.


caustic (adj.)

burning; sarcastically biting

The critic's caustic comments angered the actors, who resented his cutting remarks.


cavalcade (n.)

procession; parade

As described by Chaucer, the cavalcade of Canterbury pilgrims was a motley group.


cavalier (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!


cavil (v.)

to make frivolous objections

It's fine when you make sensible criticisms, but it really bugs me when you cavil about unimportant details.


cede (v.)

to yield (title, territory) to; to surrender formally

Eventually the descendants of England's Henry II were forced to cede their French territories to the King of France.


celebrated (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.


celerity (n.)

speed; rapidity

Hamlet resented his mother's celerity in remarrying within a month after his father's death.


celestial (adj.)

heavenly; relating to the sky

Pointing his primitive telescope at the heavens, Galileo explored the celestial mysteries.


celibate (adj.)

unmarried; abstaining from sexual intercourse

Though Havelock Ellis wrote extensively about sexual practices, recent studies maintain he was celibate throughout his life.


censor (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.


censorious (adj.)

severely critical of others

Censorious people delight in casting blame.


censure (v.)

to blame; to criticize

The senator was censured for behavior inappropriate to a member of Congress.


centrifugal (adj.)

radiating; departing from the center

Does centripetal force or the force of gravity bring orbiting bodies to the earth's surface?


cerebral (adj.)

pertaining to the brain or intellect

The heroes of Dumb and Dumber were poorly equipped for cerebral pursuits.


cerebration (n.)


Mathematics problems sometimes require much cerebration.


ceremonious (adj.)

marked by formality

Ordinary dress would be inappropriate at so ceremonious an affair.


certitude (n.)


Though there was no certitude of his getting the job.
Lou thought he had a good chance of doing so.


cessation (n.)


The airline's employees threatened a cessation of all work if management failed to meet their demands.


cession (n.)

yielding to another; ceding

The cession of Alaska to the United States is discussed in this chapter.


chafe (v.)

to warm by rubbing; to make sore (by rubbing)

Chilled, he chafed his hands before the fire.
The collar of the school uniform chafed Tom's neck, but not as much the school strict rules chafed his spirit.


chaff (n.)

worthless products of an endeavor

When you separate the wheat from the chaff, be sure you throw out the chaff.


chaffing (adj.)

bantering; joking

Sometimes Chad's flippant, chaffing remarks annoy us. Still, Chad's chaffing keep us laughing.


chagrin (n.)

vexation (caused by humiliate 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.


chameleon (n.)

lizard that changes color in different situations

Like the chameleon, he assumed the political thinking of every group he met.


champion (v.)

to support militantly (=combative and aggressive in support of a political or social cause)

Martin Luther King Jr., won the Nobel Peace Prize because he championed the oppressed in their struggle for equality.


chaotic (adj.)

in utter disorder

He tried to bring order into the chaotic state of affairs.


charisma (n.)

divine gift; great popular charm or appeal of a political leader
Political commentators have deplored the importance of a candidate's charisma in these days of television campaigning.


charlatan (n.)

quack; pretender to knowledge

When they realized that the Wizard didn't know how to get them back to Kansas, Dorothy and her companions were indignant that they'd been duped by a charlatan.


chary (adj.)

cautious; sparing or restrained about giving

A prudent, thrifty, New Englander, DeWitt was as chary of investing money in junk bonds as he was chary of paying people unnecessary compliments.


chasm (n.)

abyss (=deep or seemingly bottomless chasm)

Looking down from the Cliffs of Doom, Frodo and his companions could not see the bottom of the chasm.


chaste (adj.)

pure; virginal; modest

To ensure that his bride would stay chaste while he was off to the wars, the crusader had her fitted out with a chastity belt.


chasten (v.)

to discipline; to punish in order to correct

Whom God loves, God chastens.


chastise (v.)

to punish

"Spare the rod and spoil the child" was Miss Watson's motto: she relished whipping Huck with a birch rod to chastise him.


chauvinist (n.)

blindly devoted patriot

A chauvinist cannot recognize any faults in his country, no matter how flagrant they may be. Likewise, a male chauvinist cannot recognize his bias in favor of his own sex, no matter how flagrant that may be.


check (v.)

to stop motion; to curb or restrain

Thrusting out her arm, Grandma checked Bobby's lunge at his sister. "Young man," she said, "you'd better check your temper." (secondary-meaning)


checkered (adj.)

marked by changes in fortune

During his checkered career he had lived in palatial mansions and in dreary boardinghouses.


cherubic (adj.)

angelic; innocent-looking

With her cheerful smile and rosy cheeks, she was a particularly cherubic child.


chicanery (n.)

trickery; deception

Those sneaky lawyers misrepresented what occurred, made up all sorts of implausible alternative scenarios to confuse the jurors, and in general depended on chicanery to win the case.


chide (v.)

to scold

Grandmas began to chide Steven for his lying.


chimerical (adj.)

fantastically improbable; highly unrealistic; imaginative

As everyone expected, Ted's chimerical scheme to make a fortune by raising ermines in his backyard proved a dismal failure.


chisel (n.)

wedgelike tool for cutting

With his hammer and chisel, the sculptor chipped away at the block of marble.


chisel (v.)

to swindle or cheat; to cut with a chisel

That crook chiseled me out of a hundred dollars when he sold me that "marble" statue he'd chiseled out of some cheap hunk of rock.


chivalrous (adj.)

courteous; faithful; brave

Chivalrous behavior involves noble words and good deeds.


choleric (adj.)


His flushed, angry face indicated a choleric nature.


choreography (n.)

art of representing dances in written symbols; arrangement of dances

Merce Cunningham uses a computer in designing choreography: a software program allows him to compose sequence of possible moves and immediately view them on-screen.


chronic (adj.)

long established as a disease

The doctors were finally able to attribute his chronic headaches and nausea to traces of formaldehyde gas in his apartment.


chronicle (v.)

to report; to record (in chronological order)

The gossip columnist was paid to chronicle the latest escapades of the socially prominent celebrities.


churlish (adj.)

boorish; rude

Dismayed by his churlish manners at the party, the girls vowed never to invite him again.


cipher (n.)

secret code

Lacking his code book, the spy was unable to decode the message sent to him in cipher.


cipher (n.)

nonentity; worthless person or thing

She claimed her ex-husband was a total cipher and wondered why she had ever married him.


circuitous (adj.)

roundabout (=circuitous or indirect path)

To avoid the traffic congestion on the main highways, she took a circuitous route.


circumlocution (n.)

indirect or roundabout expression

He was afraid to call a spade a spade and resorted to circumlocutions to avoid direct reference to his subject.


circumscribe (v.)

to limit; to confine

School regulations circumscribed Elle's social life: she hated having the follow the rules that limited her activities.


circumspect (v.)

prudent; cautious

Investigating before acting, she tried always to be circumspect.


circumvent (v.)

to outwit; to baffle

In order to circumvent the enemy, we will make two preliminary attacks in other sections before starting our major campaign.


cite (v.)

to quote; to command

She could cite passages in the Bible from memory.


civil (adj.)

having to do with citizens or the state; courteous and polite

Although Internal Revenue Service agents are civil servants, they are not always civil to suspected tax cheats.


clairvoyant (adj., n.)

having foresight; fortuneteller

Cassandra's clairvoyant warning was not heeded by the Trojans.


clamber (v.)

to climb by crawling

She clambered over the wall.


clamor (n.)


The clamor of the children at play outside made it impossible for her to take a nap.


clandestine (adj.)


After avoiding their chaperon, the lovers had a clandestine meeting.


clangor (n.)

loud, resounding noise

The blacksmith was accustomed to the clangor of hammers on steel.


clasp (n.)

fastening device; firm grip

When the clasp on Judy's bracelet broke, Fred repaired it, bending the hook back into shape. He then helped her slip on the bracelet, holding it firm in the sure clasp of his hand.


cleave (v.)

to split or sever; to cling to; to remain faithful to

With her heavy cleaver, Julia Child can cleave a whole roast duck in two.
Soaked through, the soldier tugged at the uniform that cleaved annoyingly to his body.
He would cleave to his post, come rain or shine.


cleft (n.)


Trying for a fresh handhold, the mountain-climber grasped the edge of a cleft in the sheer rockface.


clemency (n.)

disposition to be lenient; mildness, as of the weather

The lawyer was pleased when the case was sent to Judge Smith's chambers because Smith was noted for her clemency toward first offenders.


clench (v.)

to close tightly; to grasp

"Open wide," said the dentist, but Clint clenched his teeth even more tightly than before.


cliche (n.)

phrase dulled in meaning by repetition

High school compositions are often marred by such cliches as "strong as an ox."


clientele (n.)

body of customers

The rock club attracted a young, stylish clientele.


climactic (adj.)

relating to the highest point

When he reached the climactic portions of the books, he could not stop reading.


clime (n.)

region; climate

His doctor advised him to move to a milder clime.


clip (n.)

section of filmed material

Phil's job at Fox Sports involved selecting clips of the day's sporting highlights for later broadcast.


clique (n.)

small exclusive group

Fitzgerald wished that he belonged to the clique of popular athletes and big men on campus who seemed to run Princeton's social life.


cloister (n.)

monastery or convent

The nuns lived a secluded life in the cloister.


clout (n.)

great influence (especially political or social)

Gatsby wondered whether he had enough clout to be admitted to the exclusive club.


cloying (adj.)

distasteful (because excessive); excessively sweet or sentimental

Disliking the cloying sweetness of standard wedding cakes, Jody and Tom chose to have homemade carrot cake at the reception.


clump (n.)

cluster or close group (of bushes, trees); madd; sound of heavy treading

Hiding behind the clump of bushes, the fugitives waited for the heavy clump of the soldiers' feet to fade away.


coagulate (v.)

to thicken; to congeal; to lot

Even after you remove the pudding from the burner, it will continue to coagulate as it stands; therefore, do not overcook the pudding, lest it become too thick.


coalesce (v.)

to combine; to fuse

The brooks coalesce into one large river.
When minor political parties coalesce, their coalescence may create a major coalition.


coalition (n.)

partnership; league; union

The Rainbow Coalition united people of all races in a common cause.


coddle (v.)

to treat gently

Don't coddle the children so much; they need a taste of discipline.


codify (v.)

to arrange (laws, rules) as a code; to classify

We need to take the varying rules and regulations of the different health agencies and codify them into a national health code.


coercion (n.)

use of force to get someone to obey

The inquisitors used both physical and psychological coercion to force Joan of Arc to deny that her visions were sent by God.


cogent (adj.)


It was inevitable that David chose to go to Harvard: he had several cogent reasons for doing so, including a full-tuition scholarship.
Katya argued her case with such cogency that the jury had to decide in favor of her client.


cogitate (v.)

to think over

Cogitate on this problem; the solution will come.


cognate (adj.)

related linguistically: allied by blood: similar or akin in nature

The English word "mother" is cognate to the Latin word "mater," whose influence is visible in the words "maternal" and "maternity."


cognitive (adj.)

having to do with knowing or perceiving; related to the mental processes

Though jack was emotionally immature, his cognitive development was admirable; he was very advanced intellectually.


cognizance (n.)


During the election campaign, the two candidates were kept in full cognizance of the international situation.


cohere (v.)

to stick together

Solids have a greater tendency to cohere than liquids.


cohesion (n.)

tendency to keep together

A firm believer in the maxim "Divide and conquer," the evil emperor, by mean of lies and trickery, sought to disrupt the cohesion of the federation of free nations.


coiffure (n.)


You can make a statement with your choice of coiffure: in the sixties many African-Americans affirmed their racial heritage by wearing their hair in Afros.


coin (v.)

to make coins; to invent or fabricate

Mints coin good money; counterfeiters coin fakes.
Slanderers coin nasty rumors; writers coin words.
A neologism is an expression that's been newly-coined.


coincidence (n.)

two or more things occurring at the same time by chance

Was it just a coincidence that John and she had chanced to meet at the market for three days running, or was he deliberately trying to seek her out?


collaborate (v.)

to work together

Two writers collaborated in preparing this book.


collage (n.)

work of art put together from fragments

Scraps of cloth, paper doilies, and old photographs all went into her collage.


collate (v.)

to examine in order to verify authenticity; to arrange in order

They collated the newly found manuscripts to determine their age.