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Flashcards in C Words Deck (59):

cabal (n)

small group of persons secretly united to promote their own interests

In time Winters came to oppose the poetry establishment, leading a tight-knit cabal of like-minded poets and reviewers who praised the formal, Augustan poetic style he championed.


cacophonous (adj)

unpleasant sounding

Sharon shuddered to hear the cacophonous sounds made by the junior high school orchestra class as they struggled to get in tune.


cajole (v)

persuade in the face of reluctance

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


calumny (n)

malicious misrepresentation

He could endure his financial failure, but he could not bear the calumny and wicked libels that his enemies heaped upon him.


candor (n)

open honesty

When Terri asked Tom how she looked, she was hoping for compliments, not candor.


canon (n)

collection or authoritative list of books (e.g., by an author, or accepted as scripture); principle, frequently religious

Scholars hotly debate whether the newly discovered sonnet should be accepted as part of the Shakespearean canon.


cant (n)

insincere expressions of piety; terminology of a particular class or profession

Shocked by news of the minister's extramarital love affairs, the worshippers dismissed his talk about the sacredness of marriage as mere cant.


capricious (adj)

impulsive and unpredictable

The winter storm was capricious: it changed course unpredictable.


cardinal (adj)


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


carping (n adj)

petulent and sometimes perverse criticism

Welcoming constructive criticism, Sharon appreciated her editor's comments, which she found free of carping and negativity.


castigation (n)

severe criticism

Sensitive even to mild criticism, Virginia Woolf could not bear the castigation that she found in certain hostile reviews.


catalyst (n)

someone or something that precipitates an action or change; substance that initiates or speeds up a chemical reaction without itself being affected

Jean-Michel Cousteau, one of the world's leading ocean explorers, hopes that the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster will become a catalyst for political, industrial, and environmental change.


categorical (adj)

absolute and explicit

Though the captain claimed he was never, never sick at sea, he finally qualified his categorical denial: he was "hardly ever" sick at sea.


cathartic (adj n)

inducing catharsis or purging

Spokespersons for the TV industry discount the idea that viewing violence on television has a negative effect on behavior; some even suggest that, instead of stimulating violence, television programs may reduce it by providing a cathartic experience that can purge viewers of their violent impulses.


caustic (adj)

able to burn, dissolve, or corrode by chemical action; bitingly sarcastic

The laboratory technicians wore protective aprons and gloves to keep themselves from being burned by the caustic chemicals they employed.


cavalier (adj)

casual and offhand

Sensitive about having her ideas taken lightly, Marcia felt insulted by Mark's cavalier dismissal of her suggestion.


cavil (v)

find unnecessary fault with

When Adams commended his two favorite generals, Pickering scornfully caviled at each one: Horatio Gates was "an old woman," whereas Daniel Morgan had "one foot in the grave."


charisma (n)

magnetic popular charm or appeal

Political commentators deplore the importance of a candidate's charisma in winning over voters in these days of television campaigning.


charlatan (n)

someone who pretends to have knowledge or an ability that he or she actually lacks

When she realized that the Wizard didn't know how to get her back to Kansas, Dorothy was sure that she had been duped by a charlatan.


chary (adj)

prudently cautious; hesitant and watchful; sparing and 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.


chasten (v)

correct by punishment or scolding

Someone sadder but wiser has been chastened or humbled by experience.


chauvinist (n adj)

blindly devoted patriot; zealous adherent of a group or cause

A chauvinist cannot recognize any faults in his or her country, no matter how flagrant they may be.


chicanery (n)

trickery to deceive someone

Abraham Lincoln was called "Honest Abe" in recognition of his integrity; Richard Nixon was called "Tricky Dick" in recognition of his chicanery.


chimerical (adj)

fantastically improbable

As anyone with any sense would have expected, Ted's chimerical scheme to make a fortune by raising ermines in his backyard proved a dismal failure.


circumlocution (n)

unnecessarily wordy and indirect speech

Don't beat about the bush, but just say what you want to say: I'm fed up with listening to your circumlocutions.


circumscribe (v)

limit narrowly in range or activity

The great lords of state tried to circumscribe the queen's power by having her accept a set of conditions that left the decisive voice in important matters to the privy council.


clemency (n)

disposition to be lenient, especially to ease the severity of punishment

Why did the defense lawyer look pleased when her case was sent to Judge Bland's chambers? Blad was noted for his clemency to first-time offenders.


coalesce (v)

unite in a whole

When minor political parties coalesce, their coalescence may create a major coalition.


coda (n)

concluding section of a musical or literary composition; something that rounds out, summarizes, or concludes

Several months after Charlie Chaplin's death, his body was briefly kidnapped from a Swiss cemetery by a pair of bungling thieves -- a macabre coda that Chaplin might have concocted to end one of his own two-reel comedies.


cogent (adj)

powerfully persuasive

Clear and persuasive, Stevenson was a writer of originality and power, whose essays at their best are cogent and perceptive renderings of aspects of the human condition.


cognizance (n)


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


commensurate (adj)

corresponding in extent, degree, amount, etc.

By the close of World War II much progress had been made in assigning nurses rank and responsibilities commensurate with their training and abilities.


commodious (adj)

spacious and comfortable

After sleeping in small roadside cabins that had barely enough room for their backpacks, they found their hotel suite quite commodious.


compendium (n)

comprehensive though brief summary of a larger work

This text can serve as a valuable compendium of the tremendous amount of new discoveries being made in the field of nanotechnology.


complaisant (adj)

eager to please

Fearing that the king might become enraged if his will were thwarted, the complaisant Parliament recognized Henry VIII as King of Ireland.


complement (v n)

provide something lacking for completion

Anne's skills complement John's: he excels at following a daily routine, whereas she shines at improvising and handling emergencies.


compliant [1] (adj)

willing to obey

Because Joel usually gave in and went along with whatever his friends suggested, his mother worried that he might be too compliant.


compliant [2] (adj)

conforming to requirements; meeting official obligations

The computer firm replied that its accounting was "within the letter of accepted industry practice" and was "fully compliant with regulatory standards."


comprise (v)

be made up of

If the District of Columbia were to be granted statehood, the United States of America would comprise fifty-one states, not just fifty.


concerted (adj)

mutually agreed on; done together

All the Girl Scouts made a concerted effort to raise funds for their annual outing.


concurrent (adj)

taking place at the same time

In America, the colonists were resisting the demands of the mother country; at the concurrent moment in France, the middle class was sowing the seeds of rebellion.


condone (v)

treat as if harmless or unimportant

Unlike Widow Douglass, who condoned Huck's minor offenses, Miss Watson did nothing but scold him for his misdeeds.


confound (v)


No mystery, no matter how puzzling, could confound Sherlock Holmes for long.


connoisseur (n)

person competent to act as a judge of art, etc.; person with discriminating taste

Bernard Berenson, the American art critic and noted connoisseur of Italian art, was hired by wealthy art lovers to select paintings for their collections.


consistency (n)

absence of contradictions

Sherlock Holmes judged puddings and explanations on their consistency: he liked his puddings without lumps and his explanations without improbabilities.


contention (n)

point argued in a debate; struggle

It is our contention that, if you follow our tactics, you will boost your score on the GRE.


contentious (adj)

involving argument or strife

Disagreeing violently with the referee's ruling, the coach became so contentious that the referee threw him out of the game.


contingent [1] (adj)

dependent on

Cher's father informed her that any increase in her allowance was contingent on an improvement in her final grades.


contingent [2] (n)

representative group that makes up part of a gathering

The New York contingent of delegates at the Democratic National Convention was a boisterous, sometimes rowdy lot.


contrite (adj)

deeply sorry

Miss Post recommends that, in writing a note of apology, one should sound properly contrite.


convention (n)

social or moral custom; established practice

Flying in the face of convention, George Sand (Amandine Dudevant) shocked her contemporaries by taking lovers and wearing men's clothes.


converge (v)

come together

African-American men from all over the United States converged on Washington to take part in the historic Million Man March.


convoluted (adj)

highly complex

His argument was so convoluted that few of us could follow its twists and turns.


correlation (n)

mutual or reciprocal relationship

He sought to determine whether any correlation existed between ability in algebra and ability to interpret reading passages.


countenance (v)

put up with

Miss Manners refused to countenance such rude behavior on their part.


craven (adj n)

contemptibly cowardly

Lillian's craven refusal to join the antigovernment protest shocked her comrades, who had expected her to be brave enough to stand up for her beliefs.


credulity (n)

readiness to believe on the basis of weak or uncertain evidence

Con artists take advantage of the credulity of inexperienced investors to swindle them out of their savings.


curmudgeon (n)

bad-tempered, grouchy individual

A self-described curmudgeon, FDR's Interior Secretary Harold Ickes was a cantankerous, outspoken politician who trusted no one and was very tightfisted with the public's money.


cursory (adj)

hastily done; not thorough

Because a cursory examination of the ruins indicates the possibility of arson, we believe the insurance agency should undertake a more extensive investigation of the fire's cause.