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Flashcards in D (I) Deck (150):

dabble (v.)

to work at in a non-serious fashion; to splash around

The amateur painter dabbled at art, but seldom produced a finished piece.
The children dabbled their hands in the bird bath, splashing one another gleefully.


dais (n.)

raised platform for guests of honor

When he approached the dais, he was greeted by cheers from the people who had come to honor him.


dank (adj.)


Th walls of the dungeon were dank and slimy.


dapper (adj.)

neat and trim

In "The Odd Couple" TV show, Tony Randall played Felix Unger, an excessively dapper soul who could not stand to have a hair out of place.


dappled (adj.)


The sunlight filtering through the screens created a dappled effect on the wall.


daub (v.)

to smear (as with paint)

From the way he daubed his paint on the canvas, I could tell he knew nothing of oils.


daunt (v.)

to intimidate; to frighten

"Boast all you like of your prowess. Mere words cannot daunt me," the hero answered the villain.


dauntless (adj.)


Despite the dangerous nature of the undertaking, the dauntless soldier volunteered for the assignment.


dawdle (v.)

to loiter; to waste time

We have to meet a deadline so don't dawdle; just get down to work.


deadlock (n.)

standstill; stalemate

Because negotiations had reached a deadlock, some of the delegates had begun to mutter about breaking off the talks.


deadpan (adj.)

wooden; impersonal

We wanted to see how long he could maintain his deadpan expression.


dearth (n.)


The dearth of skilled labor compelled the employers to open trade schools.


debacle (n.)

sudden downfall; complete disaster

In the Airplane movies, every flight turns into a debacle, with passengers and crew members collapsing, engines falling apart, and carry-on baggage popping out of the overhead bins.


debase (v.)

to reduce in quality or value; to lower in esteem; to degrade

In The King and I, Anna refuse to kneel down and prostate herself before the king, for she feels that to do so would debase her position, and she will not submit to such debasement.


debauch (v.)

to corrupt; to seduce from virtue

Did Socrates' teachings lead the young men of Athens to be virtuous citizens, or did they debauch the young men, causing them to question the customs of their fathers? Clearly, Socrates' philosophical talks were nothing like the wild debauchery of the toga parties in Animal House.


debilitate (v.)

to weaken; to enfeeble

Michael's severe bout of the flu debilitated him so much that he was too tired to go to work for a week.


debonair (adj.)

friendly; aiming to please

The debonair youth was liked by all who met him, because of his cheerful and obliging manner.


debris (n.)


A full year after the earthquake in Mexico City, they were still carting away the debris.


debunk (v.)

to expose as false, exaggerated, worthless, etc.; ridicule

Pointing out that he consistently had voted against strengthening anti-pollution legislation, reporters debunked the candidate's claim that he was a fervent environmentalist.


debutante (n.)

young woman making formal entrance into society

As a debutante, she was often mentioned in the society columns of the newspapers.


decadence (n.)


The moral decadence of the people was reflected in the lewd literature of the period.


decapitate (v.)

to behead

They did not hand Lady Jane Grey; they decapitated her. "Off with her head!" cried the Duchess, eager to decapitate poor Alice.


decelerate (v.)

to slow down

Seeing the emergency blinkers in the road ahead, he decelerated quickly.


deciduous (adj.)

falling off as of leaves

The oak is a deciduous tree; in winter it looks quite bare.


decimate (v.)

to kill, usually one out of ten

We do more to decimated our population in automobile accidents than we do in war.


decipher (v.)

to interpret secret code

Lacking his code book, the spy was unable to decipher the scrambled message sent to him from the KGB.


declivity (n.)

downward slope

The children loved to ski down declivity.


decollete (adj.)

having a low-necked dress

Current fashion decrees that evening gowns be decollete this season; bare shoulders are again the vogue.


decomposition (n.)


Despite the body's advanced state of decomposition, the police were able to identify the murdered man.


decorum (n.)

propriety; orderliness and good taste in manners

Even the best-mannered students have trouble behaving with decorum on the last day of school.


decoy (n.)

lure or bait

The wild ducks were not fooled by the decoy.


decrepit (adj.)

worn out by age

The decrepit car blocked traffic on the highway.


decry (v.)

to express strong disapproval of; disparage

The founder of the Children's Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman, strongly decries that lack of financial and moral support for children in America today.


deducible (adj.)

derived by reasoning

If we accept our premise, your conclusions are easily deducible.


deface (v.)

to mar; to disfigure

If you deface a library book, you will have to pay a hefty fine.


defame (v.)

to harm someone's reputation; to malign; to slander

If you try to defame my good name, my lawyers will see you in court.
If rival candidates persist in defaming one another, the voters may conclude that all politicians are crooks.


default (n.)

failure to act

When the visiting team failed to show up for the big game, they lost the game by default.
When Jack failed to make the payments on his Jaguar, the dealership took back the car because he had defaulted on his debt.


defeatist (adj.)

attitude of one who is ready to accept defeat as a natural outcome

If you maintain your defeatist attitude, you will never succeed.


defection (n.)


The children, who had made him an idol, were hurt most by his defection from our cause.


defer (v.)

to delay till later; to exempt temporarily

In wartime, some young men immediately volunteer to serve; others defer making plans until they hear from their draft boards.
During the Vietnam War, many young men, hoping to be deferred, requested student deferments.


defer (v.)

to give in respectfully; to submit

When it comes to making decisions about purchasing software, we must defer to Michael, our computer guru; he gets the final word.
Michael, however, can defer these questions to no one; only he can decide.


deference (n.)

courteous regard for another's wish

In deference to the minister's request, please do not take photographs during the wedding service.


defiance (n.)

refusal to yield; resistance

When John reached the "terrible two's," he responded to every parental request with howls of defiance.


defile (v.)

to pollute; to profane

The hoodlums defiled the church with their scurrilous writing.


definitive (adj.)

final; complete

Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln may be regarded as the definitive work on the life of the Great Emancipator.


deflect (v.)

to turn aside

His life was saved when his cigarette case deflected the bullet.


defray (v.)

to pay the costs of

Her employer offered to defray the costs of her postgraduate eduction.


deft (adj.)

neat; skillful

The deft waiter uncorked the champagne without spilling a drop.


defunct (adj.)

dead; no longer in use or existence

The lawyers sought to examine the books of the defunct corporation.


defuse (v.)

to remove the fuse of a bomb; to reduce or eliminate a threat

Police negotiators are trained to defuse dangerous situations by avoiding confrontational language and behavior.


degenerate (v.)

become worse; deteriorate

As the fight dragged on, the champion's style degenerated until he could barely keep on his feet.


degradation (n.)

humiliation; debasement; degeneration

Some secretaries object to fetching the boss a cup of coffee because they resent the degradation of being made to do such lowly tasks.


dehydrate (v.)

to remove water from; to dry out

Running under a hot sun quickly dehydrates the body; joggers soon learn to carry water bottles and to drink from them frequently.


deify (v.)

to turn into a god; to idolize

Admire Elvis Presley all you want; just don't deify him.


deign (v.)

to condescend; to stoop

The celebrated fashion designer would not deign to speak to a mere seamstress; his overburdened assistant had to convey the master's wishes to the lowly workers assembling his great designs.


delectable (adj.)

delightful; delicious

We thanked our host for a most delectable meal.


delete (v.)

to erase; to strike out

Less is more: If you delete this paragraph, your whole essay will have greater appeal.


deleterious (adj.)


If you believe that smoking is deleterious to your health (and the Surgeon General certainly does), then quit!


deliberate (v.)

to consider; to ponder

Offered the new job, she asked for time to deliberate before she told her decision.


delineate (v.)

to portray; to depict; to sketch

Using only a few descriptive phrase, Austen delineates the character of Mr. Collins so well that were can predict his every move.


delirium (n.)

mental disorder marked by confusion

In his delirium, the drunkard saw pink panthers and talking pigs. Perhaps he wasn't delirious: he might just have wandered into a movie.


delude (v.)

to deceive

His mistress may have deluded herself into believing that he would leave his wife and marry her.


deluge (n.)

flood; rush

When we advertised the position, we received a deluge of applications.


delusion (n.)

false belief; hallucination

Don suffers from delusions of grandeur: he thinks he's a world-famous author when he's published just one paperback book.


delve (v.)

to dig; to investigate

Delving into old books and manuscripts is part of a researcher's job.


demagogue (n.)

person who appeals to people's prejudice; false leader of people

He was accused of being a demagogue because he made promises that aroused futile hopes in his listeners.


demean (v.)

to degrade; to humiliate

Standing on his dignity, he refused to demean himself by replying to the offensive letter.
If you truly believed in the dignity of labor, you would not think it would demean you to work as a janitor.


demeanor (n.)

behavior; bearing

His sober demeanor quieted the noisy revelers.


demented (adj.)


Doctor Demento was a lunatic radio personality who liked to act as if he were truly demented.
If you're demented, your mental state is out of whack; in other words, you're wacky.


demise (n.)


Upon the demise of the dictator, a bitter dispute about succession to power developed.


demolition (n.)


One of the major aims of the air force was the complete demolition of all means of transporation by bombing of rail lines and terminals.


demoniac (adj.)


The Spanish Inquisition devised many demoniac means of torture.


demur (v.)

to object (because of doubts, scruples); hesitate

When offered a post on the board of directors, David demurred: he had scruples about taking on the job because he was unsure he could handle it in addition to his other responsibilities.


demure (adj.)

grave; serious; coy

She was demure and reserved, a nice modest girl who any young man would be proud to take home to his mother.


demystify (v.)

to clarify; to free from mystery or obscurity

Helpful doctors demystify medical procedures by describing them in everyday language, explaining that a myringotomy, for examples, is an operations involving making a small hole in one's eardrum.


denigrate (v.)

to blacken

All attempts to denigrate the character of our late president have failed; the people still love him and cherish his memory.


denizen (n.)

inhabitant or resident; regular visitor

In The Untouchables, Eliot Ness fights Al Capone and the other denizens of Chicago's underworld.
Ness's fight against corruption was the talk of all the denizens of the local bars.


denotation (n.)

meaning; distinguishing by name

A dictionary will always give us the denotation of a word; frequently, it will also give us the connotations.


denouement (n.)

outcome; final development of the plot of a play

The play was childishly written; the denouement was obvious to sophisticated theatergoers as early as the middle of the first act.


denounce (v.)

to condemn; to criticize

The reform candidate denounced the corrupt city officers for having betrayed the public's trust.


depict (v.)

to portray

In this sensational expose, the author depicts Beatle John Lennon as a drug-crazed neurotic.
Do you question the accuracy of this depiction of Lennon?


deplete (v.)

to reduce; to exhaust

We must wait until we deplete our present inventory before we order replacements.


deplore (v.)

to regret; to disapprove of

Although I deplore the vulgarity of your language, I defend your right to express yourself freely.


deploy (v.)

to spread out [troops] in an extended though shallow battle line

The general ordered the battalion to deploy in order to meet the enemy offensive.


depose (v.)

to dethrone; to remove the office

The army attempted to depose the king and set up a military government.


deposition (n.)

testimony under oath

he made his deposition in the judge's chamber.


depravity (n.)

extreme corruption; wickedness

The depravity of Caligula's behavior came to sicken even those who had willingly participated in his earlier, comparatively innocent orgies.


deprecate (v.)

to express disapproval of; to protest against; to belittle

A firm believer in old-fashioned courtesy, Miss Post deprecated the modern tendency to address new acquaintances by their first names.


depreciate (v.)

to lessen in value

If you neglect this property, it will depreciate.


depredation (n.)


After the depredations of the invaders, the people were penniless.


derange (v.)

to make insane; to disarrange

Hamlet's cruel rejection deranged poor Ophelia; in her madness, she drowned herself.


derelict (adj.)

abandoned; negligent

The derelict craft was a menace to navigation.
Whoever abandoned it in the middle of the harbor was derelict in living up to his responsibilities as a boat owner.


deride (v.)

to ridicule; to make fun of

The critics derided his pretentious dialogue and refused to consider his play seriously.


derivative (adj.)

unoriginal; derived from another source

Although her early poetry was clearly derivative in nature, the critics thought she had promise and eventually would find her own voice.


derogatory (adj.)

expressing a low opinion

I resent your derogatory remarks.


descant (v.)

to discuss fully

He was willing to descant upon any topic of conversation, even when he knew very little about the subject under the discussion.


descry (v.)

to catch sight of

In the distance, we could barely descry the enemy vessels.


desecrate (v.)

to profane; to violate the sanctity of

Shattering the altar and trampling the holy objects underfoot, the invaders desecrated the sanctuary.


desiccate (v.)

to dry up

A tour of this smokehouse will give you an idea of how the pioneers used to desiccated food in order to preserve it.


desolate (adj.)


After six months in the crowded, bustling metropolis, David was so sick of people that he was ready to head for the most desolate patch of wilderness he could find.


despise (v.)

to look on with scorn; to regard as worthless or distasteful

Mr. Bong, I despise spies; I look down on them as mean, despicable, honorless men, whom I would wipe from the face of the earth with as little concern as I would scrape dog droppings from the bottom of my shoe.


despoil (v.)

to strip of valuable; to rob

Seeking plunder, the raiders despoiled the village, carrying off any valuables they found.


despondent (adj.)

depressed; gloomy

To the dismay of his parents, William became seriously despondent after he broke up with Jan; they despaired of finding a cure for his gloom.


despot (n.)

tyrant; harsh, authoritarian ruler

How could a benevolent king turn overnight into a despot?


destitute (adj.)

extremely poor

Because they had no health insurance, the father's costly illness left the family destitute.


desultory (adj.)

aimless; haphazard; digressing at random

In prison Malcolm X set himself the task of reading straight through the dictionary; to him, reading was purposeful, not desultory.


detached (adj.)

emotionally removed; calm and objective; physically unconnected

A psychoanalyst must maintain a detached point of view and stay uninvolved with his or her patients' personal live.
To a child growing up in an apartment or a row house, to live in a detached house was an unattainable dream.


detergent (n.)

cleansing agent

Many new detergents have replaced soap.


determination (n.)

resolve; measurement or calculation; decision

Nothing could shake his determination that his children would get the best education that money could buy.
Thanks to my packet calculator, my determination of the answer to the problem took only seconds of my time.


deterrent (n.)

something that discourages; hindrance

Does the threat of capital punishment serve as a deterrent to potential killers?


detraction (n.)

slandering; aspersion

He is offended by your frequent detractions of his ability as a leader.


detrimental (adj.)

harmful; damaging

The candidate's acceptance of major financial contributions from a well-known racist ultimately proved detrimental to his campaign, for he lost the backing of many of his early grassroots supporters.


deviate (v.)

to turn away from (a principle, norm); to depart to diverge

Richard never deviated from his daily routine: every day he set off for work at eight o'clock, had his sack lunch (peanut butter on whole wheat) at 12:15, and headed home at the stroke of five.


devious (adj.)

roundabout; erratic; not straightforward

The Joker's plan was so devious that it was only with great difficulty we could follow its shifts and dodges.


devise (v.)

to think up; to invent; to plan

How clever he must by to have devised such a devious plan! What ingenious inventions might he have devised if he had turned his mind to science and not to crime.


devoid (adj.)


You may think her mind is a total void, but she's actually not devoid of intelligence. She just sounds like an airhead.


devotee (n.)

enthusiastic follower

A devotee of the opera, he bought season tickets every year.


devout (adj.)


The devout man prayed daily.


dexterous (adj.)


The magician was so dexterous that we could not follow him as her performed his tricks.


diabolical (adj.)


"What a fiend I am, to devise such a diabolical scheme to destroy Gotham City," chortled the Joker gleefully.


diagnosis (n.)

art of identifying a disease; analysis of a condition

In medical school Margaret developed her skill at diagnosis, learning how to read volumes from a rapid pulse or a hacking cough.


dialectical (adj.)

relating to the art of debate; mutual or reciprocal

The debate coach's students grew to develop great forensic and dialectical skill. Teaching, however, is inherently a dialectical situation: the coach learned at least as much from her student as they learned from her.


diaphanous (adj.)

sheer; transparent

Through the diaphanous curtains, the burglar could clearly see the large jewelry box on the dressing table.


diatribe (n.)

bitter scolding; invective

During the lengthy diatribe delivered by his opponent he remained clam and self-controlled.


dichotomy (n.)

split; branching into two parts (especially contradictory ones)

Willie didn't know how to resolve the dichotomy between his ambition to go to college and his childhood longing to run away and join the circus.


dictum (n.)

authoritative and weighty statement; saying; maxim

University administrations still follow the old dictum of "Publish or perish." They don't care how good a teacher you are if you don't publish enough papers, you're our of a job.


didactic (adj.)

teaching; instructional

Pope's lengthy poem An Essay on man is too didactic for my taste: I dislike it when poets turn preachy and moralize.


differentiate (v.)

to distinguish; to perceive a difference between

Tweedledum and Tweedledee were like two peas in a pod; not even Mother Tweedle could differentiate the one from the other.


diffidence (n.)


You must overcome your diffidence if you intend to become a salesperson.


diffuse (adj.)

wordy; rambling; spread out (like a gas)

If you pay authors by the word, you tempt them to produce diffuse manuscripts rather than brief ones.


digression (n.)

wandering away from the subject

Nobody minded when Professor Renoir's lectures wandered away from their official theme; his digressions were always more fascinating than the topic of the day.


dilapidated (adj.)

ruined because of neglect

The dilapidated old building needed far more work than just a new coat of paint.


dilate (v.)

to expand

In the dark, the pupils of your eyes dilate.


dilatory (adj.)


If you are dilatory in paying bills, your credit rating may suffer.


dilemma (n.)

problem; choice of two unsatisfactory alternatives

In this dilemma, he knew no one to whom he could turn for advice.


dilettante (n.)

aimless follower of the arts; amateur; dabbler

He was not serious in his painting; he was rather a dilettante.


diligence (n.)

steadiness of effort; persistent hard work

Her employers were greatly impressed by her diligence and offered her a partnership in the firm.


dilute (v.)

to make less concentrated; to reduce in strength

She preferred to dilute her coffee with milk.


diminution (n.)

lessening; reduction in size

Old Jack was as sharp at eighty as he had been at fifty; increasing age led to no diminution of his mental acuity.


din (n.)

continued loud noise

The din of the jackhammers outside the classroom window drowned out the lecturer's voice.


dingy (adj.)

dull; not fresh; cheerless

Refusing to be depressed by her dingy studio apartment, Dea spent the weekend polishing the floors and windows and hanging bright posters on the walls.


dint (n.)

means; effort

By dint of much hard work, the volunteers were able to place the raging forest fire under control.


dire (adj.)


People ignored her dire predictions of an approaching depression.


dirge (n.)

lament with music

The funeral dirge stirred us to tears.


disabuse (v.)

to correct a false impression; to undeceive

I will attempt to disabuse you of your impression of my client's guilt; I know he is innocent.


disaffected (adj.)


Once the most loyal of Gorbachev's supporters, Sheverdnaze found himself becoming increasingly disaffected.


disapprobation (n.)

disapproval; condemnation

The conservative father viewed his daughter's radical boyfriend with disapprobation.


disarray (n.)

a disorderly or untidy state

After the New Year's party, the once orderly house was in total disarray.


disavowal (n.)

denial; disclaiming

His disavowal of his part in the conspiracy was not believed by the jury.


disband (v.)

to dissolve; to disperse

The chess club disbanded after its disastrous initial season.