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Flashcards in GRE, essential words Deck (800):


to decrease; reduce

  1. NASA announced that it would delay the launch of the manned spacecraft until the radiation from the solar flares ABATED.

The crew of the vessel waited for the storm to ABATE before going on deck to make repairs.



to give up a position, right, or power

  1. Romulus Augustus, the last Western Roman emperor, was forced to ABDICATE the throne in 476 A.D., and the Germanic chieftain Odovacar became the de facto ruler of Italy.
  2. The appeals judge has ABDICATED his responsibility to review the findings of the high court.

The 90-year-old monarch ABDICATED the throne to allow his son to become king.



deviating from what is normal

  1. When a person's behavior becomes ABERRANT, his or her peers may become concerned that the individual is becoming a deviant.
  • Aberration is a noun meaning something different from the usual or normal.
  1. For centuries, solar eclipses were regarded as serious ABERRATIONS in the natural order.

Psychotherapy relies on psychological rather than physiological approaches to curing mental ABERRATIONS.



temporary suppression or suspension

  1. A good judge must hold his or her judgment in ABEYANCE until all the facts in a case have been presente.

Implementation of the new plan has been held in ABEYANCE pending an investigation of its effectiveness to date.



miserable; pitiful

  1. John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath portrays the ABJECT poverty of many people during the Great Depression.

The documentary filmmaker was accused of using misleading footage to make it appear that nearly everyone in the country lived in ABJECT conditions.



to reject; abandon formally

  1. Most members of the Religious Society of Friends (commonly known as the Quakers or Friends) ABJURE the use of violence to settle disputes between nations.
  2. For a foreigner to become a U.S. citizen, he or she must take an oath ABJURING allegiance to any other country and pledging to take up arms to defend the United States.

The judge said he would reduce the convicted woman's sentence if she ABJURED all association with those convicted of treason.



the act of cutting; the natural separation of a leaf or other part of a plant

  1. Two scientists, Alan G. Williams and Thomas G. Whitham, have hypothesized that premature leaf ABSCISSION is an adaptive plant response to herbivorous attack.
  • The verb abscise means to cut off or away.
  1. The surgeon ABSCISED a small growth on the patient's hand.

The senior surgeon performed the difficult ABSCISSION.



to depart secretly

  1. A warrant is out for the arrest of a person believed to have ABSCONDED with three million dollars.

The audit of the bank's financial records led investigators to suspect that someone had ABSCONDED with $100,000.



moderate in appetite

  1. Some research suggests that people with an ABSTEMIOUS lifestyle tend to live longer than people who indulge their appetites.

Ms. Johnson's ABSTEMIOUS lifestyle helped her to amass a fortune.



the giving up of certain pleasures

  1. The monk's vow of ABSTINENCE includes all intoxicating substances.

The alcoholic's physician recommended total ABSTINENCE from liquor for her patient.



very bad

  1. The ABYSMAL failure of the free market system in Russia has led some people to argue that the planned economy of the Soviet Union, while not perfect, was better suited to Russia's history and culture than Western-style capitalism.

The band's playing was so ABYSMAL that they were booed off stage.



growth in size or increase in amount

  1. In the 1960s, the American geophysicist Harry Hess conceived the idea of sea-floor spreading, a process in which the new crust in the ocean is continually generated by igneous processes at the crests of the mid-oceanic ridges, causing a steady ACCRETION of the crust.

Over the years the university's computer system has grown so much by ACCRETION that no one person has a complete understanding of it.



to accumulate; grow by additions

  1. Regulating the growth of large companies when they begin to become monopolistic is a difficult task for government in a capitalist country; if it limits monopolies too much, the nation's firms could become less competitive than foreign companies that enjoy the advantages ACCRUING from greater monopolies.

Tom's savings account has ACCRUED $3,000 in interest over the last ten years.



uncompromising; unyielding

  1. Despite widespread opposition to his plan, the political party's leader is ADAMANT that the party must move to the center to appeal to moderate voters.

The English teacher is ADAMANT about one thing: students must correct all the errors in written work that she returns to them.



something added, attached, or joined

  1. Speed walking, cross-country running, and marathons are normally regarded as ADJUNCTS of track and field athletics since races in these sports are not normally held on a track.

Nearly half of the college courses in America are taught by ADJUNCT professors.



to caution or reprimand

  1. The judge ADMONISHED the jury to discount testimony that had been ruled inadmissible.

The poet ADMONISHED the critic for failing to appreciate the subtle changes in his poem's meter.



to corrupt or make impure

  1. The unscrupulous company sells an ADULTERATED version of the drug, and doesn't inform consumers that they are getting a less efficacious drug than they think they are getting.

Over the last 20 years or so consumers have increasingly demanded food that is not ADULTERATED with additives.



relating to beauty or art

  1. Members of the English AESTHETIC movement, such as Oscar Wilde, we're proponents of the doctrine of art for art's sake, which is the belief that art cannot and should not be useful for any purpose other than that of creating beauty.
  • Aesthetic is also a noun that means a conception of what is artistically beautiful.
  1. The Gothic AESTHETIC dominated European art and architecture from approximately the twelfth to the fifteenth century.
  • Aesthetics is the conception of what is beautiful; it is also a branch of philosophy dealing with beauty and art, and standards in judging them.
  • An aesthete is someone who cultivates a special sensitivity to beauty; often the word refers to a person whose interest in beauty and art is regarded as excessive or superficial.

The committee on education reform recommended that the school introduce more art courses to develop student's AESTHETIC awareness.



pretentious, phony

  1. It has been argued that the emphasis on so-called "proper English" leads to unnatural and AFFECTED speech.

The film is marred by the actor's AFFECTED English accent.



fondness; liking; similarity

  1. The female students in the class felt an AFFINITY for the Ancient Greek playwright Euripides because he sympathized with women, slaves, and other despised members of his society.

In Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights the characters Heathcliff and Catherine feel such an AFFINITY for each other that they almost literally cannot live without each other.



to make larger or greater

  1. One of the concerns of the framers of the U.S. Constitution was that one branch of government would try to AGGRANDIZE itself at the expense of the others.

The corporation's CEO claimed that his purchase of a personal jet airplane was not meant to personally AGGRANDIZE him.



amounting to a whole; total

  1. The AGGREGATE wealth of a country includes private as well as public resources and possessions.
  • Aggregate is also a verb meaning to collect into a mass.
  1. Portals are Web sites designed to AGGREGATE information and are used as a starting point on the Web.
  • Aggregate is also a noun meaning collective mass or sum.

The final plan is an AGGREGATE of the ideas of everyone in the class.



cheerful willingness; eagerness; speed

  1. The football coach was pleased to see the team get to work on the task of improving its tackling skills with ALACRITY.

With the organic chemistry test coming up soon, Maria knew she had to start studying for it with ALACRITY.



medieval chemical philosophy based on changing metal into gold; a seemingly magical power or process of transmutation

  1. ALCHEMY was the forerunner of the modern science of chemistry.
  2. None of their friends could understand the mysterious ALCHEMY that caused two people as different from one another as Rob and Barbara to fall in love.

By what remarkable artistic ALCHEMY did the interior decorator transform the drab living room into a room of vibrant color and light?



to lessen; ease; soothe

  1. Improvements in antivirus software have ALLAYED many people's fears of having their computers "infected" with malicious software.

To ALLAY the public's fears that his health was failing, the prime minister played tennis every day and invited reporters to be present.



to relieve; improve partially

  1. According to some commentators, one of the weaknesses of capitalism is that, although it is very efficient at increasing absolute wealth, it is not as successful at ALLEVIATING relative poverty; thus, a person living in a slum in America may be reasonably well off by historical standards, but he might perceive himself to be poor compared to members of the bourgeoisie, whom he sees regularly buying luxury goods that he is not able to afford.

The computer manufacturer donated one hundred computers to the inner-city school to ALLEVIATE the problem of children not having access to the Internet.



a combination; a mixture of two or more metals

  1. Scientists formulate ALLOYS to create properties that are not possessed by natural metals or other substances.

Modern ALLOYS have helped make cars lighter and more resistant to corrosion.



the power to entice by charm

  1. Political groups in the United States often lobby Congress to use the ALLURE of America's vast market as an incentive for countries to pursue policies in accordance with American policies.
  • Allure is also a verb meaning to entice by charm. The adjective is alluring.
  1. The idea of a clockwork universe is very ALLURING to some people because it explains how the universe was created, yet allows human beings to live in it without believing in supernatural intervention.

The ALLURE of France is great; millions of people around the world study its language and culture.



to combine into a unified whole

  1. In early 1999, six municipalities were AMALGAMATED into an enlarged city of Toronto, Canada.

Now separate entities, the twelve colleges will AMALGAMATE to create a single university.



unclear or doubtful in meaning

  1. The gender of the Mahayana Buddhist deity Avalokitesuara, the god of infinite mercy, is AMBIGUOUS in both China and Japan, where the god is sometimes called a goddess.

John's role in the affair is AMBIGUOUS; it is not clear whether he took an active part in it or was merely an advisor.



the state of having conflicting emotional attitudes

  1. John felt some AMBIVALENCE about getting married before finishing college.
  • The adjective is ambivalent.
  1. In public opinion surveys in the United States, scientists rank second only to physicians in public esteem, yet much of the public is increasingly AMBIVALENT about some of the implications for society of "Big Science" and its related technology.

Many people have an AMBIVALENT attitude to war: it causes great suffering, yet appears at times to be the only solution to a serious problem.



something delicious; the food of the gods

  1. The combination of favors in the Moroccan baked eggplant was pure AMBROSIA.
  • The adjective is ambrosial.
  1. The food critic praised the chef for preparing what he called an "AMBROSIAL meal."

After fasting for 24 hours, Wayne said that his first bite of steak tasted like AMBROSIA.



to improve

  1. Knowing they could not stop the spread of a contagion in a few days, health authorities worked to inhibit its spread and to AMELIORATE its effects by issuing warnings to the public and initiating immunization programs.

The antithesis of the principle of art for art's sake is social realism, which feels a heavy responsibility to identify, and even AMELIORATE, social ills.



agreeable; cooperative; suited

  1. The young writer is AMENABLE to suggestions for improving her prose style to make it more interesting.

The history professor is AMENABLE to student suggestions for the topic of the term paper.



something that increases comfort

  1. Many AMENITIES considered normal and necessary by people in developed countries, such as indoor plumbing, were luxuries only a few generations ago.

Many modern tourists like to have all the AMENITIES of home when they travel.



ornament worn as a charm against evil spirits

  1. The early Christian Church forbade the use of AMULETS, which had become common in the Roman Empire at the time the Christian Church began to develop.

The soldier attributed his survival through three battles to an AMULET he had found in Borneo.



something out of the proper time

  1. Some experts regard the retirement age of 65 as an ANACHRONISM at a time when people in the developed world have much longer life expectancies than previously.

The editor discovered an ANACHRONISM in the script; set in 1944, it contained a reference to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.



medication that reduces or eliminates pain

  1. Aspirin (the trademark of the drug acetylsalicylic acid) is a powerful ANALGESIC that was introduced in 1889 and is still one of the most effective medicines available to alleviate pain, fever, and inflammation.

"I'm afraid all I can do for your headache is prescribe an ANALGESIC to relieve the pain," the doctor told her patient.




  1. The psychology researcher's experiment postulates that the brain is ANALOGOUS to a digital computer.
  • Analogy is a noun meaning a similarity in some ways between things that are otherwise dissimilar.
  1. The idea of evolution in nature is sometimes misconstrued and applied by ANALOGY to other areas in which there is scant evidence for its existence; a notable example of this is Social Darwinism, in which it is argued that society is like nature, and thus people, like animals, are competing for survival, with those who are genetically superior at surviving and reproducing.
  • Analog is a noun meaning something that is comparable to something else.
  1. Some commentators have posited the existence of an ANALOG to the Protestant work ethic in Chinese culture, which they call the "Confucian work ethic," to explain the economic success of some countries with large Chinese populations.

The governor drew an ANALOGY between a family and society, pointing out that both need a leader if they are to function smoothly.



absence of government; state of disorder

  1. The American philosopher Robert Nozick does not advocate ANARCHY; rather, he argues for the merits of a minimal state that would not violate the natural rights of individuals.
  • The adjective anarchic means lacking order or control.
  1. The student of mythology speculated that Dionysos was created as a projection of the pleasure-loving, ANARCHIC aspect of human nature.
  • The noun anarchism refers to the theory that all forms of government are oppressive and should be abolished. It also means the advocacy of this theory or the attempt to bring about anarchism.
  1. Most political scientists do not believe ANARCHISM to be a tenable theory of government.

During the revolution the country began to slip toward ANARCHY.



something that calms or soothes pain

  1. Some people use ANODYNE to numb their emotional pain.
  • Anodyne is an adjective that means relaxing, or capable of soothing pain.
  1. The public relations officer is remarkably ANODYNE; all he does is mouth comforting, politically correct platitudes, saying nothing of substance.

The pastor's comforting words at the child's funeral were an ANODYNE for the grieving family.



irregular; deviating from the norm

  1. The psychologist discounted the ANOMALOUS behavior of the soldier, saying it was merely a short-term effect of the stress of the battle.
  • The noun is anomaly.
  1. A moral dilemma that arises with humanity's ability to clone is posed in the following hypothetical scenario: a pig that produces much more meat than a normal pig can be cloned, but the pig's life span would be cut in half because of ANOMALIES in the cloning process: Is it right to clone such an animal?

The scientist asked the lab technician to check the ANOMALOUS results again.



something that comes before

  1. Historical factors, such as the increased emphasis on the individual, the invention of printing, and the rise of the bourgeoisie, contributed to make the Reformation, which had its ANTECEDENTS in the reform movement within the Roman Catholic Church, into a much broader phenomenon that created powerful churches that grew to rival the original church.

The transistor was the result of a collaborative effort by researchers at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, one of the world's most advanced scientific and technological laboratories, which had its ANTECEDENTS in the great laboratories created in the late nineteenth century by people like Thomas Edison.




  1. Most of our knowledge of ANTEDILUVIAN times has been built up as a result of one of humanity's grandest collaborative endeavors - the gathering, identification, dating, and categorization of fossils as they are discovered.

The English teacher showed his class the classic film On the Beach, but many of the students had trouble appreciating it because of what one student called its "ANTEDILUVIAN black and white film technology."



dislike; hostility

  1. Heathcliff, the protagonist of Emily Brontë's novel Wuthering Heights, feels great ANTIPATHY for Edgar Linton, the man who marries the woman he loves.

In "Strange Meeting," one of Wilfred Owen's poems about World War I, the speaker says that he has no ANTIPATHY for the foe he killed in battle.




  1. APATHY was high in the election because there was no major controversy or issue to arouse voter interest.
  • The adjective is apathetic.
  1. One criticism of the welfare state is that it makes people overly reliant on government, with the result that democracy is gradually weakened as citizens take a more APATHETIC and detached view of politics.

The students are trying to overcome public APATHY on the issue by setting up exhibitions about it in shopping centers.



the highest point

  1. In English literature, classicism reached its APEX in the poetry of Alexander Pope and the other Augustans.

Many religions view human beings as standing at the APEX of creation.



the point in an orbit most distant from the body being orbited: the highest point

  1. The Ottoman Empire reached its APOGEE in the seventeenth century, when it controlled a territory running from Budapest to North Africa.

When the spacecraft reaches its APOGEE in its orbit around Earth, another craft will be launched from it on a voyage to Mars.



a terse, witty saying

  1. One of the best-known political APOTHEGMS was written by the British historian Lord Acton: "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The eighteenth-century British writer Samuel Johnson is famous for his sage APOTHEGMS, such as "If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary be not idle."



to calm; pacify; placate

  1. Many historians have criticized British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for trying to APPEASE Adolf Hitler in the 1930s.

To APPEASE angry voters the legislature approved a tax cut.




  1. The discovery of the bones of a person with the APPELLATION Kennewick Man in the state of Washington in 1996 has raised important questions about who the earliest people to populate America were.

Former U.S. Supreme Court justice Byron White was given the APPELLATION "Whizzer" when he played football in college.



strikingly appropriate and relevant

  1. The writer searched two dictionaries and a thesaurus before finding the perfectly APPOSITE word he was looking for.

The fashion book contains the perfect, APPOSITE image to represent one hundred famous designers.



to inform

  1. Nadine Cohodas's biography of the blues singer Dinah Washington keeps the reader APPRISED of the racism black Americans had to endure.

The president ordered his chief of staff to keep him APPRISED of any changes in the situation.



praise; approval

  1. The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest APPROBATION an American soldier can receive.

The young scientist is working 80 hours a week to gain the APPROBATION of her peers.



to take possession for one's own use; confiscate

  1. The invading army APPROPRIATED supplies from the houses of the local people.

The city APPROPRIATED private land to build low-cost housing.




  1. APROPOS of nothing, the speaker declared that the purpose of life is to love.

Some people felt the remarks were out of place, but others thought they were perfectly APROPOS.



ornate design featuring intertwined curves; a ballet position in which one leg is extended in back while the other supports the weight of the body.

  1. The ballerina stunned the audience with her perfectly executed ARABESQUE.

The ARABESQUE is one of the fundamental ballet poses.



the study of material evidence of past human life

  1. Carbon-14 dating is of great use in ARCHEOLOGY because it can determine the age of specimens as old as 35,000 years, but it is of less use in geology because most of the processes studied in this field occurred millions of years ago.

ARCHEOLOGY provides anthropologists with important information about prehistoric cultures.



great emotion or passion

  1. The twentieth-century American poet Wallace Stevens said,"It is the unknown that excites the ARDOR of scholars, who, in the known alone, would shrivel up with boredom."

During an economic "bubble" there is a great ARDOR for speculative investing.



extremely difficult; laborious

  1. The task of writing a research paper is ARDUOUS, but if it is broken down into logical steps it becomes less daunting.

The English professor has started on the ARDUOUS task of writing book-length commentaries on all thirty-seven of William Shakespeare's plays.



a specialized vocabulary used by a group

  1. Writers of crime fiction often use the ARGOT of criminals and detectives to create a realistic atmosphere.

Much of the ARGOT from the field of information technology that previously was familiar only to experts in the field is now used in everyday conversation ("Internet Service Provider," for example).



to stop; to seize

  1. Temporary ARREST of the patient's respiration made it easier for the doctor to perform surgery on him.

The new drug is able to ARREST the development of cancerous cells.



item made by human craft

  1. Marxists contend that appreciation of art has declined because capitalism has trained people to perceive human artifacts as commodities, and has alienated people from nature, their true humanity, and their creations.

Some scholars have argued that the idea of romantic love is an ARTIFACT of culture, unique to the West, with its origin in the European tradition of courtly love; however, sociological research has shown that romantic love exists in most cultures.



guileless; natural

  1. The source of the meaning of ARTLESS as guileless is the poet John Dryden, who wrote of William Shakespeare in 1672: "Such artless beauty lies in Shakespeare's wit..."

The young actor's brilliant portrayal of the ARTLESS young boy was the result, paradoxically, of many hours of careful rehearsal.



one who practices self-denial

  1. Muslim ASCETICS consider the internal battle against human passions a greater jihad than the struggle against infidels.
  • Ascetic is also an adjective meaning self-denying or austere.
  1. The writers ASCETIC lifestyle helped her to concentrate on finishing her novel.
  • The noun is asceticism.
  1. One tradition of ASCETICISM derives from the belief that the body is fundamentally bad and must be subjugated to the soul.

In his book Confessions, Saint Augustine tells of his sinful life before he was converted to Christianity and began to live an ASCETIC and virtuous life.



severity; harshness; irritability

  1. In his autobiography Gerald Trywhitt, the British writer, composer, artist, and aesthete, recounts a humorous incident: "Many years later, when I was sketching in Rome, a grim-looking Englishwoman came up to me and said with some ASPERITY, 'I see you are painting MY view."

Considering that the two men had been such good friends for so long, we were surprised by the ASPERITY of their attacks on each other.



slander; false rumor

  1. The Republic of Singapore is a young democracy, and its leaders often respond strongly to journalists and others who cast ASPERSIONS on their integrity.

The report in the newspaper cast ASPERSIONS on the candidate.



diligent; hard-working

  1. The ASSIDUOUS people of Hong Kong live in a territory with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.

The study's conclusion is that more females attend college than males because girls tend to apply themselves more ASSIDUOUSLY to their studies than boys.



to make less severe

  1. On November 21, 1864, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln wrote the following in a letter to Mrs. Bixby of Boston, who had lost five sons in battle: "I pray that our Heavenly Father may ASSUAGE the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom."

China's leaders talked with a group of American congressional representatives to ASSUAGE fears that China plans to threaten American military preeminence.



harsh; severe

  1. Bob tends to nick himself when he shaves, so he uses an ASTRINGENT aftershave to stop the bleeding.

Mate, a popular beverage in South America, is similar to tea but is less ASTRINGENT and often contains more caffeine.



place of refuge or shelter

  1. The Stoic, accused of seeking ASYLUM in the consolations of philosophy, rebutted this charge, saying that Stoicism is simply the most prudent and realistic philosophy to follow.

The United States and Britain have long histories of offering ASYLUM to victims of persecution.



in biology, the reappearance of a characteristic in an organism after several generations of absence; individual or a part that exhibits atavism; return of a trait after a period of absence

  1. Some modern political theorists reject nationalism as a tribal ATAVISM.

Scientists examining the whale discovered an ATAVISM: it had two legs.



to weaken

  1. Modern digital radio equipment allows even signals that have been greatly ATTENUATED to be transmitted by one station and received by another station.

Aspirin has the power to ATTENUATE a fever.



bold; daring

  1. The German army commander Erwin Rommel was known as the "Desert Fox" as a result of his AUDACIOUS surprise attacks on Allied forces in World War II.

The plan to eliminate hunger in the world is an AUDACIOUS one, but it can be achieved if all the nations of the world cooperate.



stern; unadorned

  1. Deism is an AUSTERE belief that reflects the predominant philosophy of the Age of Enlightenment: a universe symmetrical and governed by rationality.

The monks live in AUSTERE quarters.



self-governing; independent

  1. Some biologist have theorized that our belief in our ability to act as AUTONOMOUS agents is in conformity with the theory of evolution because it gives us a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives that helps us to survive.

It is important to have an AUTONOMOUS judiciary so that laws can be interpreted free of political influence and considerations.




  1. Successful investment bankers are sometimes accused of AVARICE; their defenders, however, say that they are simply very good at what they do and should be rewarded accordingly.

A criticism that has been made of capitalism is that it encourages AVARICE.



to affirm; declare to be true

  1. Yogis AVER that everyone has a guru, whether it be a person, God, or the experiences of the world, that helps him or her practice the yoga that is in accordance with his or her nature, and assists on the path toward enlightenment.

Materialism is a philosophy that AVERS that matter is the only reality and denies the existence of idealism and spiritualism.



secondary occupation

  1. Dan became so proficient at his AVOCATION - computer programming - that he is thinking of giving up his job as a teacher to do it full time.

Many people prefer to pursue an AVOCATION that is very different from their occupation.



like an uncle, benevolent and tolerant

  1. Walter Cronkite, who was the anchorman of CBS News during much of the 1970s and 1980s, had an AVUNCULAR manner that made him one of America's most trusted personalities.

The AVUNCULAR teacher is popular with students.



taken for granted

  1. In nineteenth-century geology, uniformitarianism was the antithesis of catastrophism, asserting that it was AXIOMATIC that natural law and processes do not fundamentally change, and that what we observe now is essentially the same as what occurred in the past.

In Jack London's novel The Sea Wolf, on​e of the characters says, "The sacredness of life I had accepted as AXIOMATIC."



pertaining to riotous or drunken festivity; pertaining to revelry.

  1. For some people New Year's Eve is an occasion for BACCHANALIAN revelry.

The college's annual spring break party in Florida is a BACCHANALIAN affair.



commonplace; trite

  1. The writer has a gift for making even the most BANAL observation seem important and original.

The TV show's producer tries to steer a midle path between making a typical BANAL program and being so original that much of the audience is lost.



playful conversation

  1. The governor engaged in some BANTER with reporters before getting to the serious business of the news conference.

The world leaders enjoyed some friendly BANTER before getting down to the serious business of the negotiations.




  1. The great BARDS of English literature have all been masters of the techniques of verse.

The BARD Ted Hughes was appointed Britain's Poet Laureate in 1984.




  1. Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is the story of a group of Christian pilgrims who entertain one another with stories, ranging from the holy to the BAWDY, on their journey to Canterbury Cathedral.

The comedian dropped the BAWDY jokes from his routine for his appearance on national television.



to sanctify; to bless; to ascribe a virtue to

  1. In the year 2000 Pope John Paul II traveled to Fatima in Portugal to BEATIFY two of the three children who said they saw the appearance of the Virgin Mary there in 1917.
  • Beatification is the noun.
  1. BEATIFICATION is the second and next to last step on the path to sainthood.

In the Roamn Catholic Church, the final stage in the path to sainthood is canonization, which occurs after BEATIFICATION.



to dress in a vulgar, showy manner

  1. Paul went to the costume party BEDIZENED as a seventeenth-century French aristocrat.

​The queen decided to BEDIZEN herself with expensive jewelry for the ball.



huge creature; anything very large and powerful

  1. In the 1980s and 1990s, the trend in American business was toward increased privatization of government industries (such as power generation), partly becuase it was believed that private industry is more efficient and partly because foreign private companies were becoming commercial BEHEMOTHS, outsripping government-owned companies in competitiveness.

​​First IBM, next Microsoft and then Google became the BEHEMOTHS of the computer industry.



to contradict; misrepresent; give a false impression

  1. The boxer's childlike face BELIES the ferocity with which he can attack opponents in the ring.

​At first, college seemed to BELIE all the good things Steve had heard about it in high school; gradually, however, he came to like it.



kindly; doing good

  1. The theologian discussed the question of why a BENEFICENT and omnipotent God allows bad things to happen to good people.

Bill Gates showed his BENEFICENCE by setting up with his wife Melinda a foundation to provide financial help to, among other things, fight disease in the third world.



to divide into two parts

  1. Contemporary physicists generally BIFURCATE their discipline into two parts - classical physics and modern physics; the former are the fields of study that were already well developed before the momentous breakthroughs of the early twentieth century by scientists such as Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Werner Heisenberg, which inaugurated the age of modern physics.
  • Bifurcation is the noun.
  1. Some people regard the Hindu-Buddhist philosophy on animals as more in accordance with the modern scientific view than the traditional Western view, since it does not posit a radical BIFURCATION of man and nature.

There is a BIFURCATION in American politics between a tradition that believes that interference in the affairs of other countries is imprudent, and an idealistic streak that seeks to use American power to help other countries.




  1. Despite the salesperson's BLANDISHMENTS, Donna did not buy the car.
  • Blandish is the verb, meaning to coax with flattery.

Russian historians have shown how the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin used a mixture of arguments, BLANDISHMENTS, and threats to overcome resistance to his repressive policies among his fellow Politburo members.



bored because of frequent indulgence; unconcerned

  1. We were amazed by John's BLASÉ attitude toward school; he seems to have made it a rule never to open a book.

The coach warned the lacrosse team not to become BLASÉ even though they had won a school record twenty matches the previous season.



to give a boost to; prop up; support

  1. The president has visited the state several times to BOLSTER his sagging popularity there.

The prosecutor's case was BOLSTERED by the new testimony of a credible witness.



pompous; using inflated language

  1. Nearly lost in the senator's long, BOMBASTIC speech were several sensible ideas.

The president's speechwriter told him that she was doing her best to write a speech that was serious and solemn but not BOMBASTIC.



rude; insensitive

  1. Bob apologized for his BOORISH behavior at the party, saying he hadn't realized that it was such a formal occasion.

Many people in the audience were annoyed at the BOORISH behavior of the two men who talked loudly to each other through the entire movie.




  1. Following the slow-moving group of students up the long path to the school's entrance, the word "BOVINE" popped into the English teacher's mind.

The audience listened to the boring speech with BOVINE expressions on their faces.



bold; shameless

  1. The BRAZEN student irritated his teacher by saying that he could learn more from a day spent "surfing" the World Wide Web than a day spent in school.

The small company startled investors by its BRAZEN takeover of a company with three times its assets.



to mention for the first time

  1. Steve's boss knew that she couldn't put off warning him about his poor performance and decided to BROACH the subject the next time she saw him.

Amanda went out with her boyfriend for two years before she BROACHED the subject of marriage.



characteristic of the countryside; rustic; pastoral

  1. The south end of Toronto's beautiful High Park is a BUCOLIC expanse of land that is perfect for anyone wanting a quiet walk.

A traditional olive farm is a BUCOLIC sight: big trees spaced fairly far apart providing good cover for grass and grazing animals.



to flourish

  1. After World War II, the increased speed of industrialization and the BURGEONING world population resulted in such an increase in pollution that it began to be recognized by some peopple as a threat to the human habitat, Earth.

The BURGEONING of modern communications has made fiber optics nearly indispensible because of its ability to transmit vast amounts of information.



to polish

  1. The poet T.S. Eliot BURNISHED his reputation as one of the master poets of the twentieth century with Four Quartets, four long poems published between 1936 and 1942.

The company's new advertising campaign is intended to BURNISH its image as a dynamic, forward-looking firm.



to reinforce; support

  1. Some critics of the American legal system argue that the requirement of providing guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt" is too difficult a criterion to use, and BUTTRESS their case by citing the fact that objective studies suggest that only a very small number of criminals are successfully prosecuted.

The link between economic boom and war is used by Marxists to BUTTRESS their view that capitalism thrives on war, and to some degree, encourages it in periods of low economic activity.



unpleasant or harsh-sounding

  1. The dissonant harmonies of the great jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk might seem CACOPHONOUS to some listeners, but to many jazz affectionados they are sublime.
  • A cacophony is a jarring, unpleasant noise.

The task the poultry farm worker looked forward to the least was going into the  CACOPHONOUS hen yard at feeding time.



to beg; sponge

  1. An enduring image of the Great Depression in America is the out-of-work man CADGING money with the line, "Hey, mister, can you spare a dime for a cup of coffee?"

The student is well known for his tendency to CADGE money from his friends.



thik-skinned; insensitive

  1. Jim's terrible experiences in the war have made him CALLOUS about the suffering of others.

The public relations director's comments that the inmates had hanged themselves as a public relations stunt was widely regarded as showing a CALLOUS disregard for life,



false and malicious accusation; slander

  1. "Be thou chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape CALUMNY." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet Act III, Scene 1 (Hamlet addressing Ophelia)

The movie star sued the newspaper for printing CALUMNY about him.



false, deliberately misleading story

  1. Most politicians do not want to be associated with the old CANARD that big government in Washington can solve all of America's problems.

How many times have you heard the old CANARD "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach?"



an established principle; a basis or standard for judgment; a group of literary works

  1. CANONS of aesthetic taste vary over the years; the Rococo period, for example, valued ornate art.
  2. The sixty-volume Great Books of the Western World is an attempt to gather the central CANON of Western civilization into one collecton.
  • Canon is also an adjective.
  1. The system of civil law originated in the Roman Empire and was kept alive in the Middle Ages in the CANON law of the Church.
  • Canonical is an adjective meaning belonging to a group of literary works.
  1. The English professor is trying to persuade the chairperson of her department to let her teach some writers that are not CANONICAL.

The nineteenth-century French composer Hector Berlioz has become a central figure in the Western musical CANON.



insincere talk; language of a particular group

  1. Many of the beat artists of the 1950s reacted against what they regarded as the CANT of bourgeois society.

Commentators dismissed the speech as the mere CANT of someone desperately trying to be reelected.



irritable; ill-humored

  1. Many of us have in our mind the stereotype of the CANTANKEROUS old man who is constantly complaining about something or other

The CANTANKEROUS woman is always getting into arguments with people.




  1. The rule of law is regarded by many historians as one of humanity's great achievements because since its inception citizens are no longer subject to CAPRICIOUS decisons and penalties of rulers.
  • Caprice is a noun meaning an inclination to change one's mind.
  1. Styles in high fashion seem governed by CAPRICE as much as anything else.

It is a postulate of science that the laws of nature are not CAPRICIOUS and that the universe is not chaotic.



faultfinding; intended to entrap, as in an argument

  1. The pedantic and CAPTIOUS critic seems incapable of appreciating the merits of even the most highly regarded books.

The English teacher is so pedantic and CAPTIOUS in her marking that her students have become discouraged.



of foremost importance

  1. The CARDINAL rule of any weight-loss diet must be limiting the intake of calories.

According to this book the CARDINAL rule of good writing is to be clear.



of the flesh or body; related to physical appetites

  1. The yogi's goal is to achieve nirvana through, among other things, the overcoming of CARNAL desires.

Rococo painting often reflects the great pleasure the French aristocracy took in all things CARNAL.



to find fault; complain

  1. Cost-benefit analysis owes much of its origin to utilitarian thought; despite the CARPING of critics that such analysis is based on faulty premises, the technique has proved useful in many area.

The band decided to continue to play in their new style despite the CARPING of critics who said it was a sell-out to commercial interests.



science of making maps

  1. Satellites in Earth orbit take pictures of topography that have greatly aided CARTOGRAPHY.

The ability of modern CARTOGRAPHY to produce very accurate maps of the Earth's surface has been a boon to navigators.



any of the hereditary social classes of Hindu society; social stratification

  1. The dalits, formerly known as untouchables, are at the bottom of the thousands of CASTES that make up Indian society.
  • Caste is also an adjective.
  1. Most modern corporations employ a sort of CASTE system, with senior executives at the top and ordinary workers at the bottom.

The military employs a type of CASTE system with generals at the top and privates at the bottom.



punishment; chastisement; criticism

  1. Many British writers recall with loathing the CASTIGATION they received at school.

The boss CASTIGATED the worker for losing the important client's file.



a violent upheaval that causes great desruction and change

  1. The French Revolution of 1789 was a CATACLYSM whose effects are still felt today.

Scientists say that the impact of a large meteor with the Earth would cause a CATACLYSM that might end all life on our planet.



somehting causing change

  1. Among the CATALYSTS of the Romantic movement were the libertarian ideals of the French Revolution.

Biochemical CATALYSTS, called enzymes, occur naturally in cells, changing one molecule into another.



absolute; without exception

  1. Although incest is CATEGORICALLY forbidden by every state, recent evidence that marriage between cousins is no more likely to produce abnormal offspring than "normal" marriages may allow the constitutionality of bans on marriage between cousins to be challenged.

"My position is CATEGORICAL," the CEO said. "I will not allow this company to be bought out."



smaller group within an organization

  1. The workers formed an informal CAUCUS to discuss their difficulties.

The parliament's minority CAUCUS issued a report condemning government policy.



involving a cause

  1. The philosopher Plato believed there is a CAUSAL relationship between income inequality, on the one hand, and political discontent and crime, on the other hand: in his Laws he quantified his argument, contending that the income of the rich should be no more than five times that of the poor, and he proposed policies to limit extremes of wealth and poverty.

A study finds that people who exercise more tend to be healthier: Its authors raise the question, "Are these individuals healthier because they exercise - a CAUSAL link - or do they exercise more because they are healthier to begin with?"



sarcastically biting; burning

  1. The columnist's CAUSTIC comments on government policy did not win her any friends among government officials.

Wear protective gloves when working with CAUSTIC substances in the laboratory.



concerning the sky or heavens; sublime

  1. Astronomers make use of the Doppler effect to measure the velocities and distance from Earth of stars and other CELESTIAL objects.

Gothic cathedrals place a great importance on light and a sense of space that seems to lift one toward the CELESTIAL.



moving away from a center

  1. As the empire expanded, there was an ever-increasing CENTRIFUGAL stress as remote colonies sought autonomy.

Theoretically, a space station could be rotated to create arificial gravity as a result of CENTRIFUGAL force.



moving or directed toward a center

  1. Astronomers calculate that the CENTRIPETAL force exerted by the Earth's gravity on the Moon will keep the Moon in orbit around the Earth for billions of years.

Japanese sociologists are studying the CENTRIPETAL effects of a homogenous population on society.



to defend or support

  1. Robin Hood is famous for CHAMPIONING the underdogs of England.

Since its founding in 1966, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has CHAMPIONED the rights of women.



to correct by punishment or reproof; to restrain or subdue

  1. The child's behavior improved after she ahd been CHASTENED by punishment.

The dictator of the small country was CHASTENED by the great power's show of naval strength in the harbor of his country's capital city.



trickery; fraud

  1. The governor ordered an audit to investigate alleged financial CHICANERY.

The government's budget deficit was covered up by CHICANERY; several items were moved off-budget and unrealistically high revenues were projected.



the qualities idealized by knighthood such as bravery and gallantry toward women

  1. CHIVALRY was rooted in Christian values, and the knight was bound to be loyal to Christian ideals; the Crusades enhanced this idea, as knights vowed to uphold Christianity against heathens.

The idea of the gentleman is derived from the CHIVALRY ideal that a man should be honorable, courteous, brave, and loyal, especially to woen.



rude; boorish

  1. According to the chivarlic code, a knight was never supposed to be CHURLISH, especially toward noble ladies, to whom he was supposed to be unfailingly hentle and courteous.

Mr. Jones tends to be CHURLISH before he has had breakfast.




  1. According to Hindu philosophy, some souls take a CIRCUITOUS path through many births to reach God.

After robbing the store, the thief took a CIRCUITOUS route back to his house in case anyone was following him.



one who can predict the future; psychic

  1. Edgar Cayce was a famous CLAIRVOYANT who some people believe was able to go into a trance during which he was in touch with a spiritual realm.

We all said that Claire must be CLAIRVOYANT after she predicted the exact score of the football game.



noisy outcry

  1. Over the past 12 years or so the CLAMOR for better protection of the Earth's rain forests has increased dramatically.
  • Clamor is also a verb meaning to cry out noisily.
  1. The crowd CLAMORED their disapproval of the plan.

Over the last few years there has been a CLAMOR in the media about increased global warming.



a small, exclusive group

  1. The principal of the high school is concerned that one CLIQUE of students is dominating the student council.

The college newspaper is dominated by a CLIQUE of students who seem to be interested mainly in sports.



to confine; seclude

  1. The writer CLOISTERED herself in a country house to finish her novel.
  • The adjective cloistered means shut away from the world.
  1. The journalist described the large American philanthropic foundation as arrogant, elitist, and CLOISTERED.
  • The noun cloister means a monastery or convent.

The scholar lives a CLOISTERED life among his books.



thicken; congeal

  1. In normal individuals, blood begins to COAGULATE about 20 seconds after a wound is sustained, thus preventing further bleeding.

Egg white COAGULATE when heated.



to cause to become one

  1. President John F. Kennedy said that Americans must be vigilant so that the interests of business and the military do not COALESCE and thus undermine those of society as a whole.

A recent theory of how the Earth got its moon is that a very large object collided with the Earth about 4.5 billion years ago, producing iron-free material that gradually COALESCED into the Moon.



concluding part of a literary or musical composition; something that summarizes or concludes

  1. The CODA of the Danish composer Per Norgard's Sixth Symphony seems to return to the serene sounds of the opening.

The final chapter of the scientist's book is a CODA in which the author reflects on her life and the importnat role science played in it.



to systematize

  1. The state legislature voted to CODIFY regulations governing banking fraud.
  • Codification is the noun.
  1. The most influential CODIFICAITON of civil law was the Napoleonic Code in France, which became the paradigm for law in the non-English-speaking contries of Europe and had a generally civilizing influence on most of the countries in which it was enacted.
  • Codified is the adjective.
  1. Common law is the system of laws that originated in England; it is based on court decisions and on customs rather than on CODIFIED written laws.

Another important CODIFICATION of modern civil law in addition to the Napoleonic Code is the German Civil Code (German Bügerliches Gesetzbuch) that went into effect in the German Empire in 1900.



informed; conscious; aware

  1. O. Henry's "The gift of the Magi" is a simple evocation of a young couple's love for one another, a story in which a husband and wife in straitened circumstances each sacrifices to buy a Christmas present for the other, not COGNIZANT of what the other is doing.

It is important that a person accused of a crime be COGNIZANT of his or her legal rights.



artistic coomposition of materials pasted over a surface; an assemblage of diverse elements

  1. The cubist Juan Gris is noted for his use of COLLAGE to create trompe l'oeil effects - the illusion of photographic reality.

Modern Singapore is a multiethnic COLLAGE of Malays, Indians, Chinese, and many other groups.




  1. In the United States, malpractice suits have reaised the cost of medicine because doctors must pay more for insurance, and thus increase their fees COMMENSURATELY.

One of the cornerstones of capitalism is the conviction that a worker's rewards should be COMMENSURATE with his or her contribution.



brief, comprehensive summary

  1. The Mozart COMPENDIUM: A Guide to Mozart's Life and Music by H. C. Robbins Landon is a convenient reference for finding information about the life and music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

When one is studying a complex novel, it is helpful to have a COMPENDIUM that gives information about characters, setting, plot, etc.




  1. Although Tom received an "A" on his midterm exam, Professor Donovan warned him not to become COMPLACENT since the work in the second term would be harder.

The company's CEO is worried that this quarter's record profits will make his employees COMPLACENT.



overly polite; willing to please; obliging

  1. Although  France and Germany have a close relationship, neither would consider the other a COMPLAISANT ally.

The former chain-smoker describes herself as "Now a COMPLAISANT passive nonsmoker."



something that completes or makes up a whole

  1. Some people envision chess developing into a game between teams of humans and computers, each COMPLEMENTING the other and providing investigations with insight into the cognitive processes of each.

Traditionally, white wine is considered a good COMPLEMENT to fish, whereas red wine is considered to be more suitable for meat.




  1. The young negotiator is trying to learn the skill of being open to proposals by the other side without seeming too COMPLIANT.

Amateur radio operators must be COMPLIANT with federal laws as administered by the Federal Communications Commission.



uneasiness caused by guilt

  1. The American psychiatrist Frank Pittman said, "Men who have been raised violently have every reason to believe it is appropriate for them to control others through violence; they feel no COMPUNCTION over being violent to women, children, and one another."

One of the main goals of military training is to train soldiers to kill without COMPUNCTION.



curving inward

  1. CONCAVE lenses are used in glasses to compensate for myopia (nearsightedness).

A lens with two CONCAVE surfaces is called a biconcave lens.



overcoming distrust or hostility

  1. The leader of the country made CONCILIATORY statements assuring the world that his country did not intend to acquire nuclear weapons.

After ten years of feuding with her neighbor, Mrs. Clampett decided enough was enough: as a CONCILIATORY gesture, she baked a cake and brought it over to her neighbor.



to invent

  1. The various human cultures have CONCOCTED  a great many explanations to describe the begining of the Earth, life, and humanity.

The story Bud CONCOCTED about having been abducted by Vegans in search of Earth's greatest knowledge was not deemed by his professor an acceptable excuse for not handing in his term papaer.



existing concurrently

  1. A rebuttal of the argument that homo sapiens's higher cognitive functions could not be the result solely of evolution is that such abilities arose as CONCOMITANTS of language, which gave early hominids a tremendous advantage over other species.

It appears that bureaucracies are today a necessary evil, a CONCOMITANT of modern society.



to overlook voluntarily; forgive

  1. Mahatma Gandhi believed in the principle of ahimsa and refused to CONDONE violence of any kind, even if used in a just cause.

Some people believe that the use of nuclear weapons sohuld never be CONDONED.



to baffle; perplex; mix up

  1. Everyone but astrophysicists seem to be CONFOUNDED by the question, "What happened before the Big Bang?"

For centuries, Fermat's last theorem CONFOUNDED mathematicians.



similar in tastes and habits; friendly; suited to

  1. The physicist Freeman Dyson has expressed his awe at how CONGENIAL the universe is to intelligent life and consciousness.

The dating service matches men and women with CONGENIAL interests.



pertaining to marriage agreement

  1. The goal of the Bennett sisters in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is to find a suitable man to marry with whom they can live in CONJUGAL happiness.

The novel's plot centers around a woman's search for CONJUGAL bliss.



a person possessing expert knowledge or taining; a person of informed and discriminating taste.

  1. The art CONNOISEUR selected works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Picasso for the exhibition.

The dream holiday of the wine CONNOISSEUR is a trip to France to visit famous chateaux in the region of Bordeaux.



person compulsorily enrolled for military service

  1. The position of NOW (The National Organization for Women) is that having male-only CONSCRIPTS violates the principle of gender equality.
  • Conscript is also a verb meaning to enroll a person for military service.
  1. The French writer Andre Breton was CONSCRIPTED into the artillery and had to put his medical studies in abeyance for the duration of World War I.
  • Conscription is the noun.
  1. During the War of 1812, American political leaders considered national CONSCRIPTION to augment state militias, but Daniel Webster successfully argued before Congress that such a measure would be unconstitutional and thus the proposal was rejected.

in Israel, women as well as men are CONSCRIPTED into the armed forces; however, men can be made to serve in combat, whereas women serve in a noncombat capacity.



to declare sacred

  1. In his Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln said of the soldiers who died in the Battle of Gettysburg in July, 1863: "We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live... But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate - we cannot CONSECRATE - we cannot hallow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have CONSECRATED it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

The Cardinal CONSECRATED the cathedral in 1676.



to assert

  1. One of the most famous philosophers to argue for ethical relativism was the German Friedrich Nietzsche, who CONTENDED that the rightness of a particular action is dependent on the circumstances of the time and culture in which it occurs.
  • Contention is a noun meaning an assetion.
  1. The study's CONTENTION is that obesity is America's biggest health problem.

The art critic CONTENDS that the art of what are called less sophisticated cultures has an immediacy that is often lacking in civilized art, perhaps because it is less self-conscious, intellectual, and stylized.



quarrelsome; causing quarrels

  1. When genetic engineering began in the 1970s, there was a CONTENTIOUS, and sometimes acrimonious, debate among scientists themselves about its dangers.

The appropriate function of literary criticism is a CONTENTIOUS issue, even among critics themselves.



touching; neighboring; connecting without a break

  1. There are forty-eight CONTIGUOUS state in the United States of America.

The landowner had the abandoned house CONTIGUOUS to his house torn down.



self-control; abstention from sexual activity

  1. Saint Augustine's famous line "Give me chastity and CONTINENCE, but not just now" is sometimes used to highlight the idea that action is desirable at some point, but not at presenr.

The monk pledged himself to a life of CONTINENCE.



very sorrowful for a wrong

  1. In sentencing the convicted man to a life sentence, the judge took into consideration the fact that he did not seem to be at all CONTRITE about his crime.

The CONTRITE sinner prayed every day for God to forgive her.



disobedient; rebellious

  1. In the late eighteenth century, Great Britain tried unsuccessfully to put down the uprising against their rule by CONTUMACIOUS Americans, leading eventually to the establishment of a separate nation.

The king ordered his army to quell the rebellion by his CONTUMACIOUS subject.



riddle; puzzle with no solution

  1. The paradoxical statement "This statement is false" presents us with a CONUNDRUM.

One of the great CONUNDRUMS in economics is how to achieve full employment without high inflation.



practice widely observed in a group; custom; accepted technique or device

  1. The work of French artist Henri Rousseau demonstrates a naiveté that many people find more attractive than the sophistication of highly complex works that make use of all the CONVENTIONS of their genre.
  • Conventional is an adjective meaning customary or commonplace
  1. Guerrilla war presents a dilemma for framers of rules of war: should guerrilla fighters be subject to the same rules as those imposed on soldiers who fight CONVENTIONAL wars?

A work of art may seem contrived to a person who is unfamiliar with the CONVENTION of the form of art he is observing.



to approach; come together; tend to meet

  1. Although the People's Republic of China and India are rivals in many ways, in certain areas their interests CONVERGE.

In Robert Frost's famous poem "The Road Not Taken" the speaker must choose which path to take after the one he is on CONVERGES



curved outward

  1. The term for a lens with one CONVEX and one concave side is "convex-concave."

CONVEX lenses are used to correct farsightedness.




  1. One of the jobs of an ambassador is to provide a CONVIVIAL atmosphere for diplomats to meet.

Politicains are often CONVIVIAL individuals who are comfortable with a wide variety of people.



twisted; complicated

  1. Unraveling the CONVOLUTED genetic code is one of the great achievements of modern science.

Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Possessed has a fascinating, though CONVOLUTED, plot.



abundant; plentiful

  1. The COPIOUS rainfall was welcomed by farmers in the parched land.

Stella takes COPIOUS notes in all of her classes.



woman who flirts

  1. After she had played the part of a COQUETTE in the college play, Pam's boyfriend felt that he needed to remind her that real life was quite different from the theater.

Sarah has a reputation as a bit of a COQUETTE.



horn overflowing with fruit and grain; state of abundance

  1. The U.S. economy has produced a CORNUCOPIA of employment opportunities.

Tropical rain forests contain a CORNUCOPIA of plant substances that have proven to be effective medicines.



study of the universe as a totality; theory of the origin and structure of the universe

  1.  Albert Einstein downplayed the strength of the evidence for quantum theory because a universe governed by laws that are inconsistent in their application was not congruent with his personal COSMOLOGY,
  • Cosmos is a noun meaning the physical universe regarded as a totality.
  1. Shakespeare embodies the incredible confidence and vitality of Renaissance artists and writers, depicting the entire COSMOS, not intimidated by its vastness.
  • Cosmic is an adjective meaning relating to the physical universe, especially as distinct from Earth, and suggests infinite vastness.
  1. The gods of ancient Greece were concerned not only with COSMIC events, but also with the ordinary events of everyday life.

One need not know anything of medieval Christian COSMOLOGY to appreciate the great Gothic cathedrals, edifices that are a supreme legacy of that age.



hidden; secret

  1. The CIA gathers information about foreign intelligence through many means, including COVERT ones.

The plainclothes detective took part in a COVERT operation.



desiring something owned by another

  1. The astronomer is COVETOUS of the time that his colleague gets for research using the Hubble Space Telescope.
  • Covet is the verb.
  1. The latest model cell phone is designed to make people COVET it so much that they go out and buy it even though their present hone is perfectly adequate.

The amateur radio operator COVETS a new ICOM 7800 high-frequency transceiver costing more than $10,000, but hif wife says he can afford only the Kenwood 570D costing about $1,000.



to mislead by trick or fraud; deceive

  1. The writer H.L. Mencken pointed out that a common strategy of politicians is to COZEN the people by exaggerating the seriousness of a problem and then offering a solution that, conveniently, only they can provide.

The sales pitch COZENS potential customers by omitting the fact that the product has been superseded by far superior products available at the same price.




  1. In the Hindu epic poem the Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna warns the hero, who is reluctant to fight, that refusing to fight would be a CRAVEN act.

The general called his advisor's suggestion that he surrender "the CRAVEN proposal of a coward."



acceptance of amoething as true

  1. One of the lessons in Aesop's fable "The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf" is that if a person "cries wolf" too many times without real danger being present (that is, raises too many false alarms) people will be less likely to give CREDENCE to future alarms raised by that person.

I admit that the professor's statement is baffling; however, it should be given some CREDENCE because of his towering reputation in the field.



statement of belief or principle; creed

  1. The CREDO of Google is "Don't be evil."

The novelist follows the CREDO that plot proceeds from character.



to discourage; intimidate; dishearten

  1. Do not let the difficulty of learning the 800 words in Essential Words for the GRE daunt you.
  • Daunting  is anadjective that means discouraging or disheartening.
  1. Earning a Ph.D. is a DAUNTING task, but it can be done.
  • The adjective dauntless means fearless.

To make the task of writing the book less DAUNTING, the author broke the task into anumber of small tasks he could do one at a time.




  1. In his book The Affluent Society, published in 1958, the economist J. K. Galbraith pointed out that in America affluence is located disproportionately in the private sector, leaving a DEARTH of resources available for the public sector.

Because so many young men were killed in the war, there is a DEARTH of potential husbands for the young women of the village.




  1. The prince lived a life of DEBAUCHERY until he discovered a spiritual dimension to life.

The students went to Fort Lauderdale for a week of DEBAUCHERY.



proper behavior

  1. When addressing the nation, the president generally has an air of DECORUM.
  • The adjective is decorous.

The principle reminded the students to conduct themselves with DECORUM during the guests' visit.



to malign; harm someone's reputation

  1. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was DEFAMED as a teacher who corrupted the morals of his students.

The journalist was sued for DEFAMING a police officer in his article.



to fail to act

  1. Economists have pointed out the danger of using government money to help banks in danger of DEFAULTING on a loan: such help might encourage banks to take excessive risks on the future,knowing they will be "bailed out" by the government.

Rather than DEFAULT on her car loan payments after losing her job, Ruth worked out an agreement that allowed her to make lower monthly payments.



respect; regard for another's wish

  1. There was a movement to condemn slavery among some of the writers of the Declaration of Independence, but despite many misgivings, the proposal was dropped in DEFERENCE to the objections of a number of people.
  • The verb defer means to submit to the wishes of another due to respect or recognition of the person's authority or knowledge.
  1. The young lawyer DEFERRED to the view of the senior partner in the law firm.

In Victorian times servants were expected to show great DEFERENCE to their employers.



no longer existing

  1. Skeptics have been prognosticating that Moore's Law, which says computer processing power doubles every 18 months, will soon become DEFUNCT, but the ingenuity of engineers, coupled with commercial incentives, has so far succeeded in preventing the law from being invalidated.

Solid-state electronic equipment has made vacuum tube equipment DEFUNCT in most areas other than very specialized applications.



to represent or depict

  1. Quantum theory led to the formulation of the uncertainty principle, which was DELINEATED in 1937 by Werner Heisenberg.

The political science professor DELINEATED a plan to reorganize the United Nations to make it better reflect the realities of the contemporary world.



related to population balance

  1. Demographic trends in many European countries indicate that in the next generation there will be relatively fewer working people to support retired people.
  • Demography is the study of human populaiton.
  1. Demography makes use of the knowledge of other fields such as geography and statistics.
  • A demographer is one who studies human population.
  1. If, beginning in the mid-twentieth century, many governments in the world had not taken steps to promote birth control among their citizens, causing a diminution in the birth rate, DEMOGRAPHERS say the world would now have a much greater population than it does.

Data gathered in the census provides planners with important DEMOGRAPHIC information.



pertaining to people

  1. Walt Whitman is considered by many to be a quintessentially American poet, a poet who celebrated the glory of the ordinary person; one critic praised him as a poet who was able to "make the DEMOTIC sing."

The professor never watches movies, which he calls "DEMOTIC entertainment for the semiliterate."



to express doubt

  1. The Supreme Court's decision was not unanimous; one justice DEMURRED, saying that the majority decision used specious reasoning.

The chairperson asked for a vote on the proposal; since no one DEMURRED, it passed unaimously.



to slur someone's reputation

  1. According to a recent biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, the famous leader felt a need to DENIGRATE women.

In many societies women have been DENIGRATED as inferior to men.



an inhabitant; a regular visitor

  1. The U.S. Census Bureau has the responsibility of collecting information about the DENIZENS of the United States.

On his first scuba dive, Kenny was happy to find that the DENIZENS of the sea did not appear to be hostile.



outcome; unraveling of the plot of a play or work of literature

  1. The book tells the story of what was for Europe a rather embarrassing DENOUEMENT to the Crusades.

The DENOUEMENT of a novel by crime writer Mickey Spillane is generally very violent.



to mock

  1. Innovation often requires challenges to orthodox thinking; for example, in the late 1960s, scientists from the U.S. Department of Defense's Advanced Rsearch Projects Agency presented their idea of a vast network of computers to leading scientists from IBM and AT&T - companies with innumerable research breakthroughs to their credit - and were DERIDED as impractical visionaries.

The critics DERIDED the movie as "a waste of $100 million dollars."



something derived; unoriginal

  1. The drug morphine - considered by doctors to be one of the most effective analgesics - is the principal DERIVATIVE of opium, which is the juice in the unripe seed pods of the opium poppy.
  • Derivative is also an adjective.
  1. The critic dismissed the new novel as dull and DERIVATIVE.
  • The verb derive means obtained from another source.
  1. One of the attempts to create a lingua franca resulted in Esperanto, a synthetic language whose vocabulary is created by adding various affixes to individual roots and is DERIVED from Latin and Greek, as well as Germanic and Romance languages.

The poet describes his work as DERIVATIVE because it draws on the work of many other poets.



to dry completely

  1. The dry desert air caused the bodies of the dead animals to DESICCATE quickly.

Scientists are studying the DESICCATED bones to see if they are the remains of a person.



state of disuse

  1. NASA is considering a plan to refurbish booster rockets from the Apollo Program that have fallen into DESUETUDE.

The rise of Irish naitonalism has probably helped bring the Irish language back from the DESUETUDE it was falling into in the nineteenth century.



random; disconnected; rambling

  1. The jury had difficulty following the witnesses' DESULTORY testimony.

The two men walked along the beach, engaged in DESULTORY conversation.



something that discourages or hinders

  1. During the Cold Was, the United States maintained a large number of nuclear weapons as a DETERRENT to aggression by the Soviet Union and its allies.

Some studies suggest that capital punishment is a DETERRENT against murder.



the act of taking away; derogatory comment on a person's character

  1. The writer responded in a letter to the critic's long list of DETRACTIONS about his book.

The only DETRACTION from the excellence of the climate is the rainy winter.



transparent; fine-textured; insubstantial; vague

  1. In World War II, many soldiers went to wwar with DIAPHANOUS dreams of glory, but found instead horror and death.

The two areas of the room are separated only by a DIAPHANOUS curtain.



bitter verbal attack

  1. The speaker launched into a DIATRIBE against what he called "the evils of technology."

The prime minister's DIATRIBE against foreign influence in the country lasted three huors.



division into two usually contradictory parts

  1. The philosopher is a dualist who argues that there is a DICHOTOMY between the mind and physical phenomena.

In his book Supernature the British biologist Lyell Watson argues that the DICHOTOMY between nature and the supernatural exists more in the human mind than in reality.



shyness; lack of confidence

  1. As a result of the strength of his opposition to the Vietnam War Senator Eugene McCarthy overcame his DIFFIDENCE and ran against President Lyndon Johnson for the Democratic nomination for president.

The study suggests that women do not find DIFFIDENCE in men to be an attractive quality.



to spread out

  1. The idea of equality and liberty DIFFUSED through society after the French Revolution.
  • Diffuse is also an adjective meaning wordy; rambling; sread out.
  1. This essay is so DIFFUSE it is difficult to follow its central argument.

The intravenous drug will DIFFUSE through the patient's body in about 20 minutes.



act of straying from the main point

  1. The novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig contains many fascinating DIGRESSIONS from the main story that discuss topics such as Platonic philosophy.

Some readers are annoyed by the long DIGRESSIONS on geology and other scientific subjects in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy; other readers, however, find them fascinating, illuminating and beautifully written.



funeral hymn

  1. The music critic described the movement of the symphony portraying the hero's last days as "DIRGELIKE."

The band played a DIRGE at the soldier's funeral.



to free from a misconception

  1. The chairman of the Federal Reserve used his testimony before Congress to DISABUSE his audience of the idea that the business cycle had been eliminated by the unprecedented period of prosperity.

One year of medical school was enough to DISABUSE Steve of the idea that medical school is a "piece of cake."



perceptive; exhibiting keen insight and good judgment

  1. Discerning movie critics have praised the work of producer Stanley Kubrick, who produced such excellent films as 2001, Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, and Lolita.
  • Discern is a verb that means to perceive something obscure.
  1. Superficially, expressionism can appear to be unrealistic becuase of its extreme distortion of reality, but upon closer examination, an inner psychological reality can often be DISCERNED.

One of the aims of the English literature course is to help students become DISCERNING readers.



to make uneasy; disconcert

  1. The young man was DISCOMFITED being the only male in the play.

Many people are DISCOMFITED by the idea of their own death.



not in tune

  1. In a pluralistic society there exists a cacophony of DISCORDANT voices, each shouting to be heard.

The governor traveled around the state listening to the DISCORDANT views on the controversial issue.



to dishonor; disgrace; cause to be doubted

  1. The candidate's attempt to DISCREDIT his opponent by spreading damaging rumors about him failed.

Historians of science study theories that have become accepted by modern science as well as those that have been DISCREDITED.



difference between

  1. The book studies the DISCREPANCY in values and outlook between men who fought in the war, whether voluntarily or not, and those who remained civilians.

Auditors are investigating the DISCREPANCY between the company's stated earnings and its projected earnings based on sales.



constituting a separate thing; distinct

  1. Like the physicist, the abstract artist strives to identify the DISCRETE elements of reality and to understand how they interact.

The historian describes her method as "not so much the study of DISCRETE events but rather the study of relationships between those events."



quality of showing self-restraint in speech or actions; circumspection; freedom to act on one's own

  1. In nineteenth-century Britain gentlemen were expected to behave with DISCRETION.

The school lets its teachers use considerable DISCRETION in designing lessons for students.



not candid; crafty

  1. When a person starts a sentence, "I don't mean to appear DISINGENUOUS," one might be tempted to suspect that the person is being just that.

The investigating committee ruled that the governor "had been DISINGENUOUS" in not providing important information to them.



unprejudiced; objective

  1. The newspaper reporter looked for DISINTERESTED witnesses to the events so that she could get an objective account of qhat had happened.

The historian tries to take a DISINTERESTED view of how the United States got involved in the Vietnam War.



lacking order or coherence; dislocated

  1. The technique of telling a story through a DISJOINTED narrative is a technique best left to masters of the modern novel such as James Joyce and William Faulkner.

The novel's narrative is so DISJOINTED that many readers have trouble following it.



put away from consideration; reject

  1. Investigators DISMISSED the man's account of a visit to another planet aboard an alien spacecraft as the product of an overactive imagination.

The judge DISMISSED the evidence as not relevant to the case at hand.



to belittle

  1. Though sometimes DISPARAGED as merely an intellectual game, philosophy provides us with a method for inquiring systematically into problems that arise in areas such as medicine, science, and technology.

The noted director Stanley Kubrick, who turned down the chance to go to college when he was seventeen, DISPARAGED formal education, saying, "I never learned anything at all at school."




  1. Many technological projects are interdisciplinary, requiring a knowledge of fields as DISPARATE as physics and biology.
  • Disparity is a noun meaning the condition of being unequal or unlike.
  1. The huge income DISPARITY in the world is clearly illustrated by the fact that the assets of the world's two hundred richest people exceed the combined income of 41 percent of the world's population.

Scientific laws identify a common fundamental element in seemingly DISPARATE phenomena.



to pretend; disguise one's motives

  1. "Miss," the prosecutor said, "I believe you are DISSEMBLING. I want you to tell me the whole truth about what happened that night."

The girl DISSEMBLED when her date asked if she had ever been kissed.



to spread; scatter; disperse

  1. While belief in reincarnation appeared as doctrine first in India and was DISSEMINATED throughout Asia by Buddhism, it is interesting that it was accepted by the most influential philosophy of the West, Platonism, and by some important early Christian thinkers, such as the theologian Origen.

 The great increase in travel in modern times makes it difficult to determine how and where a disease originated, as well as how it was DISSEMINATED, so that measures can be taken to mitigate its effects.



person who disagrees about beliefs, etc.

  1. Some of the most notorious concentration camps in history were the Gulag camps used by the Soviet Union to control DISSIDENTS.

During World War I many people in the United States considered conscientious objectors to be radical DISSIDENTS.



disintegration; debauchery

  1. Some philosophers maintain that the DISSOLUTION of the body does not mean the destruction of the mind.

The members' vote of no confidence in the ruling government led to the DISSOLUTION of parliament.



discord; lack of harmony

  1. In psychology, the term "cognitive DISSONANCE" refers to a conflict resulting from inconsistency between one's beliefs and one's actions. For example, a soldier who believes that all killing is immoral but is forced to kill by his superiors might experience cognitive dissonance.

According to the child psychologist, DISSONANCE between family and school is normal.



to expand; swell out

  1. People in an advanced stage of starvation often have DISTENDED bellies.

The man who ate more than fifty hot dogs to win the hot dog eating competition gained seven pounds and ahd a DISTENDED belly for a few days.



extract the essential elements

  1. In his book Men of Ideas: Some Creators of Contemporary Philosophy, Bryan Magee manages to DISTILL the essence of leading thinkers such as W. V. Quine, John Searle, Iris Murdoch, and Noam Chonmsky.

How the poet John Keats was able to DISTILL so much beauty and wisdom into his poetry remains a mystery.



inattentive; preoccupied

The chairperson became DISTRAIT because his secretary was not sitting in her usual position on his right.

The guest seemed to be melancholy and DISTRAIT, so I asked him what was troubling him.



to vary; go in different directions from the same point

  1. A famous line in American poetry is from Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken": Two roads DIVERGED in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by...
  • Divergence is the noun.
  1. Psychological tests show that there is a wide DIVERGENCE between citizens of different countries in how much importance they pace on the virtue of justice, on the one hand, and the virtue of mercy, on the other hand.

Pam's life DIVERGED from Bob's after they graduated from college in 1971; he was drafted and sent to fight in Vietnam and she went to Paris to do a Ph.D. in French literature.



to strip; deprive; rid

  1. The candidate for secretary of defense pledged to DIVEST himself of the shares he held in defense-related companies.

The psychologist's patient DIVESTED himself of the secrets he had been carrying within for 30 years.



to make known something that is secret

  1. Under the Geneva Conventions, prisoners of war cannot be tortured and forced to DIVULGE information.

Companies that are not publicly listed and have no major debt normally do not need to DIVULGE much about their sales and other matters to financial markets.



relating to a person who cannot compromise about points of a theory or doctrine; dogmatic; unyielding

  1. The DOCTRINAIRE Marxists say that capitalism is merely a temporary phenomenon on the road to socialism.

"If the world is lucky enough to enjoy peace, it may even one day make the discovery, to the horror of DOCTRINAIRE free-enterprisers and doctrinaire planners alike, that what is called capitalism and what is called socialism are both capable of working quite well." (J. K. Galbrath, American economist)



to provide with written evidence to support

  1. The insurance company asked Debbie to DOCUMENT her claim with letters from the doctors who treated her for her condition.

Police investigators DOCUMENTED the case with photographs and recorded interviews.



poor verse

  1. In his book Poetic Meter and Poetic Form, the literary critic Paul Fussell quotes this bit of DOGGEREL from a U.S. Army latrine during Wolrd War II: Soldiers who wish to be a hero Are prectically zero. But those who wish to be civilians, Jesus, they run into millions.

Even the DOGGEREL of a great poet like John Milton is interesting.



stating opinios without proof

  1. Since every case is unique, jurists must not be DOGMATIC in applying precedents to make their decision, but instead must base their decision on a combination of such precedents and the facts of the case at hand.
  • Dogma is a noun meaning a belief asserted on authority without evidence.
  1. Religions whose DOGMA sepecifies a time of the creation of the world have found difficulty in reconciling their view of creation with that of modern science.

The philosopher Bertrand Russell once oberved that people are often most DOGMATIC about things that it is least possible to be certain about.




  1. There is a considerable body of evidence showing that many diseases, such as ulcers, asthma, and hypertension have a large psychological component: the working hypothesis is that they represent manifestations of DORMANT emotional disturbances.

The doctor suspected that the patient had once contracted malaria, but that the disease was now DORMANT.



waste; worthless matter; trivial matter

  1. One of the ways the DROSS among blogs on the Internet are filtered out from the worthwhile ones is through links good blogs provide to other good blogs.

One of the traditional functions of literary critics is to help separate the DROSS from the worthwhile among the many books published every year.



to deceive; trick

  1. "In friendship, as well as in love, the mind is often DUPED by the heart." (Philip Dormer Stanhope)

The country's leaders DUPED the people into thinking it was necessary to declare war.



exhilarated; enthusiastic

  1. The EBULLIENT candidate for president appeared before his supporters to announce that he had won in a landslide.

Oregon State baseball fans were EBULLIENT after their team captured the College World Series in June 2006.



selecting from varioius sources

  1. Neo-Platonism - an ECLECTIC third-century synthesis of Platonic, Pythagorean, Aristotelian, Stoic, and Jewish philosophy - was an essentially mystical belief that a person can achieve spiritual emancipation through union of the soul with the ultimate source of existence.

Clinical psychologists provide treatment for psychological disorders, and today can choose from an array of psychotherapies; often they are ECLECTIC, choosing elements of therapies best suited to each particular case.



state of high spirits or liveliness; the process of bubbling as gas escapes

  1. EFFERVESCENCE occurs when hydrochloric acid is added to a block of limestone.
  • The adjective is effervescent.
  1. A person who believes himself to be physically unattractive might develop an EFFERVESCENT personality as a compensation for his perceived deficiency.

Julia's EFFERVESCENT personality makes her one of the college's most popular students.



depleted of vitality; overrefined; decadent

  1. In 1969, U.S. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew denounced people protesting against the Vietnam War: "A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an EFFETE corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals."

It is interesting to observe how some traditions remain strong, while others gradually become EFFETE.



efficiency; effectiveness

  1. A cardinal rule of medicine is that the EFFICACY of a treatment should be measured against the seriousness of its side effects.
  • The adjective is efficacious.
  1. In a situation where some subjects are benefiting while others are not, a researcher is likely to have ambivalent feelings, since he or she is in a "no-win" situation. In such a situation, the experimenter must choose between, on the one hand, getting more conclusive results by continuing the experiment and, on the other hand, stopping it and administering the drug that has proven EFFICACIOUS to those who have not received it.

The politician has found a grassroots approach to garnering support to be most EFFICACIOUS.



shameless boldness; presumptuousness

  1. In her essay the student had the EFFRONTERY to argue that school is largely a waste of time.

The teachers were shocked when the student council had the EFFRONTERY to pass a motion stating that teachers were using outdated methods of instruction.



the tendency to see things in relation to oneself; self-centeredness

  1. The beginning of philosophy has been described as a moving away from EGOISM to an understanding of the larger world.

One theory of child development is that the infant moves from EGOISM to an increased ability to understand the viewpoint of other people.



excessively self-centered; conceited

  1. The critics accused the writer of being EGOTISTICAL since she wrote only about herself.

Some critics consider the artist EGOTISTICAL because he does only self-portraits.



poem or song expressing lamentation

  1. Adonais is a pastoral ELEGY written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in the spring of 1821 after he learned of the death of his friend and fellow poet John Keats.

The poet wrote an ELEGY for the soldiers who had given their lives for their country.



to provoke; draw out

  1. The Scratic method is designed to ELICIT responses that guide the student toward understanding.

Nothing the teacher could say was able to ELICIT a response from the bored students.



a substance believed to have the power to cure ills

  1. The doctor said that her prescription would help to alleviate my condition but that I could not expect it to be an ELIXIR.

In the nineteenth century, snake oil salesmen traveled around America selling ELIXIRS to gullible people.



blissful; delightful

  1. In Book VI of Virgil's Aeneid, the hero Aeneas descends to the Underworld where he meets the soul of his dead father, Anchises, in the Elysian fields and learns from him the future of the Roman race.

The novel portrays an ELYSIAN world in which suffering and death have been eliminated.



thin and wasted

  1. The prisoner was EMACIATED after being fed only bread and water for three months.

The aid program provides emergency food to feed the EMACIATED people of the drought-stricken country.



to adorn; decorate; enhance; make more attractive by adding details

  1. The story he had been told was so powerful that the writer felt no need to EMBELLISH it.

It seems to be almost a natural human trait to EMBELLISH a good story to make it an even better story.



soothing; mollifying

  1. The politician's speech is filled with EMOLLIENT phrases to make his message more palatable.
  • Emollient is also a nuon that means an agent that soothes or makes more acceptable.

The veteran mediator is famous for his EMOLLIENT approach that rarely fails to find a way to bring opposing sides together.



derived from obervation or experiment

Some people erroneously cite the theory of relativity as support for ethical relativism, whereas in reality the former is a scientific theory, while the latter is a moral issue, and thus by its nature is not subject to EMPIRICAL verification.

Empiricism is a noun meaning the view that experience is the only source of knowledge. It can also mean the employment of empirical methods, as in science.

It has been said that Charles Darwin, virtually single-handedly, emancipated science from the ideologies of philosophy and religion by being fiercely independent in his thinking, rejecting all prevailing dogmas as to the immutability of species, and relying solely on EMPIRICAL evidence.



to imitate; copy

  1. Bionics uses technology to EMULATE nature, but sometimes a similar process occurs in reverse, in which scientists use technology as a heuristic tool to better understand netural processes.

As technology developed at a prodigious rate in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, technologists increasingly EMULATED the professionalization and methodology of science by establishing, for example, professional associations and publicaitons that published peer-reviewed articles.



a formal expression of praise

  1. The prime minister asked her speechwriter to compose an ENCOMIUM for the retiring general.

ENCOMIUMS to Pope Paul II began to be published in newspapers around the world shortly after his death in 2005.



inherent; belonging to an area

  1. Malaria, once ENDEMIC to the area, has now been largely eradicated.

Faced with ENDEMIC high unemployment, the government lowered taxes on foreign investment to encourage economic growth.



to weaken

  1. During World War II Russian commanders counted on the bitter cold to ENERVATE German soldiers invading their country.

Many people who travel to tropical countries find the heat ENERVATING.



to cause; produce

  1. Freudians believe that the traumatic events of infancy often ENGENDER repression that creates neuroses.

Much of the tragedy of the Holocaust can be attributed to the fanatical racism ENGENDERED by the Nazis.



to increase; improve

  1. Although it is widely believed that the primary objective of the researchers developing the Internet was to secure the American nuclear missile system, in fact their main goal was to foster science by ENHANCING the ability of technology to disseminate information among scientists.

The dream of many Internet users is the building of a network connected entirely by optical cable, which would greatly ENHANCE the ability of the system to cope with the vast amount of data that it carries.



the scientific study of insects

  1. Considering that there are approximately 925,000 species of insects (more than all other species combined), ENTOMOLOGY is a vast field of study.

The eminent Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson is an ENTYMOLOGIST specializing in ants.



to pronuonce clearly

  1. In everyday speech the sounds of many words are not ENUNCIATED clearly.

There is a tendency in casual converstion for speakers to not ENUNCIATE each word clearly.



short-lived; fleeting

  1. Impressionist painters such as Claude Monet share with the Romantics an affinity for nature, but the Impressionists took a more scientific interest in it, attempting to accurately depict EPHEMERAL phenomena such as the play of light on water.

Although much slang is EPHEMERAL, there are many examples of slang that endures and even comes to be accepted as legitimate.



branch of philosophy that examines the nature of knowledge

  1. A major question in EPISTEMOLOGY is whether the mind can ever gain objective knowledge, limited as it is by its narrow range of sense experience.

The cognitive sciences are providing EPISTEMOLOGY with new insights into how the mind acquires knowledge.



steady; unvarying; serene

  1. Throughout the crisis the president remained EQUABLE.

Perth, Australia is often cited as a pleasant place to live because of its EQUABLE climate.



composure; calmness

  1. Emergency room doctors and nurses are trained to maintain their EQUANIMITY when treating patients.

Swami Vivekananda, the founder of the Ramakrishna Math, an Indian order of monks, counseled that one should try to maintain one's EQUANIMITY, even in trying circumstances.



to intentionally use vague language

  1. The businessperson has earned a reputation as someone who never EQUIVOCATES and can be trusted to do exactly what he promises.
  • The noun is equivocation.
  1. The saying "It's a matter of semantics" is often used to indicate that the real meaning of something is being lost in verbiage, often with the implication that there is obfuscation or EQUIVOCATION.

"Don't EQUIVOCATE; tell me if you want to marry me or not," Ruth said to Seth.



mistaken; straying from the proper course

  1. The pitcher's ERRANT fastball struck the batter on the shoulder.

The ERRANT missile had to be destroyed after it veered off course.



learned; scholarly

  1. Frederick Copleston, author of the nine-volume History of Philosophy, was undoubtedly one of the most ERUDITE people who ever lived .
  • The noun is erudition.
  1. Great ERUDITION does not necessarily mean that a person is sagacious.

Mmebers of the Society of Jesus (often called Jesuits), are famous for their ERUDITION, which they believe should be used in the service of God.



hard to understand; known only to a few

  1. Epidemiologists, using ESOTERIC statistical analyses, field investigations, and complex laboratory techniques, investigate the cause of a disease, its distribution (geographic, ecological, and ethnic), method of spread, and measures for preventing or controlling it.

Much slang originates in a specific group as a sort of argot that allows that group to share something ESOTERIC.



to make an attempt; subject to a test

  1. The composer began work on a sonata, a form she had not previously ESSAYED.

The infant ESSAYED walking up a stairs for the first time in her life.



admirable; possible to estimate

  1. Alistair Cooke's book Six Men contains character studies of ESTIMABLE modern figures including H. L. Mencken, Humphrey Bogart, and Adlai Stevenson.

Chris Evert was an ESTIMABLE tennis player who won three Wimbledon titles.



based on the attitude that one's group is superior

  1. The words "primitive" and "savage" reflect an ETHNOCENTRIC bias in Western culture that regards societies that do not have Western science and technology as inferior because they have not achieved as much material success as Western societies.
  • The noun is ethnocentrism.
  1. During certain periods of Chinese history, foreigners were considered to be "barbarians"; perhaps this ETHNOCENTRISM made it difficult for the Chinese to accept innovations from other countries.

In order to discourage ETHNOCENTRISM the college requires students to take three courses dealing with other cultures.



causes or origins

  1. The ETIOLOGY of mental illness is complex because of the diversity of factors - social, biological, genetic, and psychological - that contribute to many disorders.

The diversity of factors involved in triggering cancers makes it difficult to be certain of the ETIOLOGY of a particular case of cancer.



origin and history of a word

  1. The origin of the word "barbarian" reflects the ethnocentrism of the ancient Greeks; its ETYMOLOGY is that it comes (through Latin and French words) from the Greek word barbaros, meaning non-Greek, foreign.

"Folk ETYMOLOGY" is the term used by llinguists to refer to popular theories of how words originated or changed their meaning.



study of factors that influence the hereditary qualities of the human race and ways to improve these qualities

  1. The science fiction novel describes a military EUGENICS program designed to create a race of "super-soldiers" possessing intelligence, strength, and other qualities far in advance of the ordinary person.

Alexander Graham Bell advocated a form of EUGENICS; from his research, he concluded that deafness was hereditary and in 1881 he recommended that deaf people be prohibited froom getting married.



high praise, especially of a person who has recently died

  1. After the death of Abraham Lincoln, many EULOGIES of him appeared in newspapers throughout America.

The captain's EULOGY of the dead soldier described his bravery in battle.



use of agreeable or inoffensive language in place of unpleasant or offensive language

  1. An illustration of the tendency toward EUPHEMISM is the change (reflecting the political concerns of the day) in the accepted appellation of poor countries from the unambiguous poor, to undeveloped, to underdeveloped, to less developed, to developing.

Modern warfare has produced EUPHEMISM such as antipersonnel mines for mines that rip soldiers' bodies into shreds with bits of metal and collateral damage for noncombatants killed as a result of war.



a feeling of extreme happiness

  1. There was EUPHORIA in the professor's house after it was learned that she had received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

The book describes the EUPHORIA among Allied soldiers after Japan surrendered in 1945.



mercy killing

  1. Modern medicine's ability to prolong life has raised ethical questions, such as "Is EUTHANASIA ever morally justifiable?"

Advances in medical technology have made the question of qhether EUTHANASIA is morally justifiable an important issue in many countries.



to show plainly; be an indicaiton of

  1. The student's response to the teacher's question EVINCED his ignorance of the subject.

The Oxford Dictionary of the English Language EVINCES the scholarship of a large team of dedicated scholars.



tending to call to mind or produce a reaction

  1. Somerset Maugham's short stories are often EVOCATIVE of exotic places such as Pago-Pago and Gibraltar.
  • Evocation is the noun.
  1. Some literary critics believe that Charles Dickens' use of caricature makes his characters one-dimensional, but others see these characters as EVOCATIONS of universal human types that resonate powerfully with readers' experiences of real people.
  • The verb is evoke.
  1. The terms "loaded language" and "charged language" are used to specify language that has so many connotations for most readers that it is difficult for a writer to use it without EVOKING myriad associations, which will distract attention from the topic under discussion.

The novel includes many descriptions EVOCATIVE of New England in winter.



to aggravate; make worse

  1. The relaese of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels has increased the amount of this gas in the atmosphere, EXACERBATING the naturally occurring "greenhouse effect" that has predominated in Earth's recent past.

In India, small farmers are increasingly abandoning their farms to live in urban centers, EXACERBATING the problems faced by already overcrowded cities with insufficient infrastructure and servies.



to force the payment of; demand and obtain by authority

  1. The conquering rulers EXACTED a tax of 10% from every adult male in the country.
  • The adjective exacting means extremely demanding.
  1. Early in his career the English writer Aldous Huxley made this comment: "What occupation is pleasanter, what less EXACTING, than the absorption of curious literary information?"

Amateur radio equipment generally is not built to the EXACTING standards that professional and military radio equipment is.



to clear of blame; vindicate

  1. The report EXCULPATED the FBI of any wrongdoing in ite handling of the investigation.

The defendant's attorney brought forward new evidence that EXCULPATED her of the crime.



detestable; abhorrent

  1. When folk artists such as Bob Dylan began to use rock instruments, many folk music traditionalists considered it an EXECRABLE travesty.

The people living in the slums of Mexico City live in EXCRABLE conditions.



to urge by strong appeals

  1. In 1943 U.S. General George S. Patton EXHORTED American troops about to invade Hitler's Europe, saying that victory was assured because American soldiers were more virile and courageous than their German counterparts.

The principal EXHORTED the students to study hard for the final exams.



crisis; urgent requirements

  1. Astronauts must be prepared for EXIGENCIES such as damage to their spacecraft's life support system.

The Boy Scouts motto, "Be Prepared," is a concise reminder to be ready for any EXIGENCY.



having to do with existence; based on experience; having to do with the philosophy of existentialism

  1. EXISTENTIAL writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre have argued that human beings are free, but that this freedom entails a burden of responsibility that makes them anxious.

EXISTENTIAL writers such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre tend to focus on the individual human condition as opposed to human social interaciton.



to expel evil spirits; free from bad influences

  1. A modern parallel to the shaman is the psychiatrist, who helps the patient EXORCISE personal demons and guides him toward mental wholeness.

In E. M. Forster's A Passage to India, Miss Quested, one of the novel's important characters, EXORCISES what she calls her psychological "bothers" by coming to terms with their underlying cause.



to speak or write at length

  1. Every year the book club invites a famous author to come to EXPATIATE on the art of writing.

The literature student was amazed that the professor could EXPATIATE for an hour on a poem containing only twelve words.



to send into exile

  1. People seeking asylum in another country are sometimes EXPATRIATED.
  • Expatriate is also a noun meaning a person living outside his or her own land.
  • The adjective is also expatriate.

The eminent poet T. S. Eliot was born in the United States in 1888 and lived in England as an EXPATRIATE from 1914 until 1927, when he became a British subject.



to atone for

  1. The pilgrims undertook their long journey to EXPIATE their sins.
  • Expiation is the noun.

The priest advised the man to perform penance to EXPIATE his sins.



to explain; interpret; clarify

  1. The literature exam requires students to EXPLICATE three poems they studied in class and one they have not studied.
  • Explication is the noun.

If you would like to read a profound EXPLICATION of English Romantic poetry, a good book to read is Harold Bloom's The Visionary Company.




  1. There is no one model of EXPOSITORY prose that a student can emulate, since each piece of good writing is unique.

Three modern masters of EXPOSITORY writing are Bertrand Russell, C. S. Lewis, and Lewis Thomas.



in existence; not lost

  1. Unfortunately for Bible scholars, there are no EXTANT writings of Jesus Christ.

The book contains all the EXTANT writings of Edgar Allan Poe.




  1. I enjoyed the speaker's EXTEMPORANEOUS remarks more than her prepared speech, because they gave me insight into her personality that helped me understand the decisions she made during her time as a federal judge.

The students were assigned to give an EXTEMPORANEOUS talk on a subject of their choice.



to root up; to destroy

  1. The new federal prosecutor promised voters that he would EXTIRPATE corruption in the state.

Many of the comic book heroes of the 1950s pledged to EXTIRPATE evil wherever they found it.



not essential

  1. The encyclopedia editors worked hard to cut out EXTRANEOUS material so that readers could find information easily on a given subject.

To solve the mystery of who had committed the crime, the detective systematically eliminated EXTRANEOUS evidence.



the act of estimation by projecting known information

  1. The economist's EXTRAPOLATION suggests that the economy will grow by 4 percent nest year.
  • The verb is extrapolate.
  1. Strict determinists believe that it is possible, at least theoretically, to EXTRAPOLATE the future movement of every atom in the universe based on present conditions.

EXTRAPOLATING from present trends, scientists predict that the star will explode 100 million years from now.



not inherent or essential

  1. The experiment is designed to exclude factors that are EXTRINSIC to the phenomenon.

Being born to a wealthy family can be considered an EXTRINSIC advantage to a person.




  1. The comedian's FACETIOUS comments about prominent politicians kept the audience amused.

Joan's comments are so subtle some of us have trouble telling whether she is being FACETIOUS or not.



to make less difficult

  1. The Internet - together with the availability of relatively inexpensive personal computers - has greatly FACILITATED the ability of ordinary people to conveniently exchange information with one another and with large computer systems.

The black box on commercial airlines, which records flight and engineering data, is usually painted a bright color to FACILITATE finding it after a crash.



a person who does all sorts of work; a handyman

  1. In Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night, the character Malvolio aspires to become more than merely a FACTOTUM in the house of Lady Olivia.

The general's aide-de-camp functions as the general's FACTOTUM.



based on a false idea or fact; misleading

  1. The belief of the Nazis that they could create a "master race"  was based on the FALLACIOUS premise that some races are inherently superior to others.
  • The noun fallacy means an incorrect idea.
  1. Critics of the "strong" anthropic principle argue that its proponents are guilty of a logical FALLACY: on the basis of one known case of intelligent life, they extrapolate the existence of a multitude of such cases.

Carbon-14 dating is predicated on the assumption that the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere remains constant, but recently this has been proved FALLACIOUS.



plowed but not sowed; uncultivated

  1. At the beginning of each school year the teacher looks out at the new students and thinks of a FALLOW field, ready to be cultivated.

The farmer could not afford to let any of his fields lie FALLOW.



foolishly self-satisfied

  1. The student could not understand why no one took seriously his FATUOUS comments.

The teacher was becoming tired of her students' FATUOUS response to lilterature.



animals of a period or region

  1. When humans introduce FAUNA from one habitat into another habitat, the ecological balance is upset.

The FAUNA of Australia includes quite a number of species introduced from Europe.



seeking favor by flattering

  1. The boss has a reputation for hiring FAWNING employees.

The bishop's secretary tries to be respectful of his superior's office without being FAWNING.



suitably expressed; appropriate; well-chosen

  1. The Gettysburg Address is full of FELICITOUS phrases such as "government of the people, by the people, and for the people."

President John F. Kennedy expressed the idea of duty to the country in these FELICITOUS words: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."



existing in a wild or untamed state

  1. FERAL dogs returning to an untamed state after domestication sometimes form packs, becoming a threat to humans.

FERAL dogs have become a problem in the more rural areas of Hong Kong, where people buy dogs as pets only to later abandon them.



warmth and intensity of emotion

  1. American soldiers were welcomed back to the United States with FERVOR after the end of World War II.
  • The adjective fervent means full of strong emotion, or impassioned.
  1. The FERVENT liberation believed that government is a necessary evil that should be constrained from excessive interference in the affairs of individuals.`

The football team's leading running back blocks and runs with equal FERVOR.



having a bad smell

Many people find the smell of Limburger cheese FETID.

Mosquitoes are breeding in the FETID pond.



to bind; confine

The poet William Blake believed that each person creates "mind-forged manacles," FETTERING his or her natural instincts and spirit.

The noun fetter means something that restricts or restrains.

The adjective fettered means bound or confined.

He refused to be FETTERED by the conventions of society.



arbitrary order; authorization

  1. The dictator rules almost entirely by FLAT.

The country's prime minister reflected how much easier it would be to rule by FLAT than by seeking consensus.



loyalty; exact correspondence

Monks joining the Franciscan Order pledge FIDELITY to the ideals and rules of the Order.

FIDELITY to one's spouse is one of the most important requirements for a successful marriage.



use of obstructive tactics in a legislature to block passage of a law

  1. The senator threatened that his FILIBUSTER would include a full reading of his eight-volume autobiography.

In the U.S. Senate, a two-thirds vote is required to break a FILIBUSTER.



to handle with a deceptive or evasive strategy; to use finess, that is, refinement in performance

  1. Engineers decided that the problem could be FINESSED by using lighter materials.

The boxer is known for relying more on FINESSE than strength.




  1. Geologists measure the width of the FISSURE regularly to monitor movement of the Earth's plates in the area.

The appearance of FISSURES in the rock suggested to geologists a movement in the Earth's crust.



to droop; grow weak

Noticing that the students' attention was FLAGGING, the professor gave them a short break.

The marathon runner began to FLAG about two miles froom the finish line.



beginner; novice

  1. The coach said that some of the team's FLEDGLINGS would play in Saturday's game.
  • The adjective fledgling means immature or inexperienced.

The FLEDGLING reporter was assigned to cover mundane events such as school board meetings.



plants of a region or era

Singapore's Botanical Gardens contain an extensive collection of the FLORA of Southeast Asia.

Botanists at the university have carried out a comprehensive survey of the FLORA of the region.



ruddy; reddish; flowery

  1. As he grew older, the novelist eschewed the FLORID, ostentatious style of his youth in favor of a more direct and sparse style.

A FLORID style is generally best avoided when one is writing a business letter or report.



an embellishment or ornamentation

  1. The Sophists often gave interminable speeches full of rhetorical FLOURISHES.
  • Flourish is also a verb meaning to grow vigorously, or to thrive.
  1. Capitalism FLOURISHED in the eighteenth century in Europe and the United States as the industrial revolution created a prodigious amount of welth that, for the first time in history, was in the hands of land-owners.

Rhetorical FLOURISHES are generally frowned upon under the canons of modern English.



to treat scornfully

  1. In his book Poetic Meter and Poetic Form the distinguished literary critic Paul Fusset discusses the ddangers poets face when they FLOUT poetic conventions.

The student's essay FLOUTS the rules of written English.



flowing; a continuous moving

  1. In some cultures time is conceptualized as a FLUX moving in one direction.

The education system is in a state of FLUX, as administrators struggle to keep up with changes in society.



to incite; arouse

  1. The government accused the newspaper of FOMENTING unrest in the country.

The country accused the neighboring country of employing agents to FOMENT revolution.




  1. The president warned that great courage and FORBEARANCE would be required to see the war through to a successful conclusion.

The governor urged the people of the state to show FORBEARANCE during the crisis.



to prevent; delay

  1. The government took steps to FORESTALL an economic downturn by increasing government spending.

Negotiators worked frantically to FORESTALL the outbreak of hosilities.



menacing; threatening

  1. By the middle of the nineteenth century the United States had become a FORMIDABLE economic and military power.

The head football coach and his staff spent the week devising a way to break down the FORMIDABLE defense of the next week's opponent.



renounce; repudiate

  1. When she became a U.S. citizen, Julia FORSWORE allegiance to all other countries and pledged to defend the United States if called upon to do so.

Peace activists are working to get governments to FORSWEAR the use of nuclear weapons.



to sink; fail; collapse

  1. Most attempts to create advanced new technology by government fiat FOUNDER, probably because of the difficulty in anticipating changes in the fluid world of high technology.

The negotiations FOUNDERED when agreement could not be reached on the central issue.



a loud quarrel; brawl

  1. The police were called in to break up a FRACAS that had erupted in the bar.

A FRACAS broke out on the field after the pitcher hit a third batter in a row.



quarrelsome; unruly; rebellious

  1. In an effort to unify their divided party, its leaders decided to first placate the party's most FRACTIOUS elements.

FRACTIOUS elements within the party have prevented a consensus from being reached on the issue.



a painting done on plaster

  1. The Italian Renaissance was the greatest period of FRESCO painting, as seen in the work of artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, and Giotto.

The earliest form of FRESCO in history was Egyptian wall paintings in tombs.



ornamental band on a wall

  1. One of the best-known FRIEZES, on the outer wall of the Parthenon in Athens, is a 525-foot depiction of the Panathenaic procession honoring Athena.

Archaeologists are studying the FRIEZE, which they hope will give them a better understanding of life in ancient Greece.



stubbornly contrary; obstinately disobedient

  1. The teacher had no choice but to send the FROWARD child to the vice-principle for disciplining.

The FROWARD horse resisted every effort of its rider to make it follow the path.




  1. In these days of credit card and installment plan buying, FRUGALITY seems to have become a rarely practiced virtue.

Many people find FRUGALITY a difficult virtue to practice.



to attack loudly; denounce

  1. The senator FULMINATED against what he termed "foreign meddling in America's business."

The reformer FULMINATED against a society in which wealth is distributed so unequally.



so excessive as to be disgusting

  1. The actor was embarrassed by the FULSOME praise he received after winning the Academy Award for best actor.

The guest of honor at the banquet qarned her hosts that she would leave if speakers began to heap FULSOME praise on her for her work for the poor.



union; synthesis

  1. A hydrogen bomb requires tremendous heat to trigger the FUSION reaction, which is provided by the detonation of a fission bomb.

The genesis of the computer revolution lay, to a large extent, in a FUSION of science and technology.



ineffective; useless; fruitless

  1. To some non-philosophers, the discipline seems frivolous and FUTILE because it produces no tangible benefits.

The philosopher's conclusion is that it is FUTILE to try to understand the ultimate meaning of existence.



to deny; dispute; oppose

  1. No one can GAINSAY the fact that she put great effort into the project.

No one can GAINSAY the fact that China has made great progress in improving the lives of its people over the past half century.



to frolic; leap playfully

  1. The children GAMBOLED on the lawn while their parents ate lunch.
  • The noun gambol means frolicking about.

Semi-tame deer GAMBOL in the lush green field.



very talkative; wordy

  1. The GARRULOUS houseguest made it difficult for us to get much work done on the project.

The GARRULOUS witness keeps digressing from his account of the incident to tell amusing anecdotes.



coarse and uncouth; clumsy

  1. What is considered GAUCHE in one culture might not be considered gauche in another culture: for example, burping is considered rude in America but is acceptable in China.

The protagonist of the novel is a shy woman who becomes flustered and GAUCHE in formal social situations.



cheerfulness; kindliness; sociability

  1. Hosts of television talk shows are generally people who possess a great deal of GENIALITY.
  • The adjective genial means having a pleasant or friendly disposition.

The host's GENIALITY impressed everyone at the party.



to divide an area into voting districts in a way that favors a political party

  1. An argument against the practice of GERRYMANDERING is that it tends to make it difficult for the party that is out of power to regain power.

The political scientist suggested that GERRYMANDERING be prohibited so that political districts would remain the same over the years.



fluent in an insincere way; offhand

  1. Sharon's parents were not satisfied by her GLIB explanation of why she had not been able to study for the exam.

The suspect's explanation sounded suspiciously GLIB to the detective.



to prod; urge on

  1. GOADED by his friends into trying out for the football team as a walk-on, Jeff went on to become an all-American linebacker.

Jim's friends GOADED him into joining the Marines.



sheer; light and delicate, like cobwebs

  1. Some experts in NASA believe that what they call a gigantic "GOSSAMER spacecraft" could be constructed in space using extremely lightweight materials.

The pilot assured me that the glider's GOSSAMER wings would support the aircraft just fine, but I still had my doubts.



to tear out; scoop out; overcharge

  1. The store is able to GOUGE its customers because it is the only store in the area that carries that particular line of merchandise.

Engineers GOUGED a new channel for the stream to follow.



pompous; bombastic

  1. The orator abandoned GRANDILOQUENT phrases and instead uses simple and direct language.

The president governs with the adage "GRANDILOQUENT phrases don't house the homeless" always in mind.




  1. A recent anthropological theory is that human beings are GREGARIOUS creatures that are comfortable living in groups of around 150 individuals.

Researchers have found that many primates - such as chimpanzees and humans, for example - are GREGARIOUS, while others, like the orangutan, live largely solitary lives.



to complain

  1. Instead of GROUSING about the policy, do something about it: write to your congressional representative.
  • Grouse is also a noun.
  1. The lieutenant told his men "If you have any GROUSES, take them to the captain."

"Anyone with a GROUSE about my marking can see me in my office after class," the law professor told her class.



free of cunning or deceit; artless

  1. One of the charms of the novel is that the GUILELESS hero manages to defeat the scheming villain.
  • Guile is a noun meaning deception or trickery.
  1. Playing poker well requires GUILE as well as skill.

In Somerset Maugham's story "The Facts of Life" a GUILELESS young man triumphs over a crafty, worldly-wise young woman who tries to steal his money.



outward appearance; false appearance; pretense

  1. In Greek mythology, the god Zeus often appeared to mortal women to whom he was attracted in strange GUISES: as a swan, he made love to Leda of Sparta; with other women he took on the form of a shower of gold, or a bull, or thunder and lightning.

According to Hindu belief, God appears throughout history in many GUISES.



easily deceived

  1. Gullible members of the audience believed the young performer's claim that he had composed "Hey, Jude."

Abraham Lincoln's famous adage - "You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time." - can be paraphrased: "There are a lot of GULLIBLE people in the electorate, but there are also some people who insist on knowing the truth."



affecting the sense of taste

  1. According to scientists, our GUSTATORY sense depends to a large extent on our olfactory sense.

The restaurant critic called the dish "a GUSTATORY triumph."



calm and peaceful; happy; golden; prosperous

  1. The movie evokes the HALCYON years immediately after World War II when America was at peace and the economy was booming.
  • As a noun, halcyon is a genus of kingfisher. It also is the name of a mythological bird identified with the kingfisher taht symbolizes life and renewal.

In retrospect, the prosperous 1950s seem like HALCYON years to many Americans.



holy; sacred

  1. The quiestioning of scientific and religious orthodoxy by scientists such as Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin led to stupendous advances in both geology and biology, as these fields freed themselves from the fetters of HOLLOWED, but fallacious, assumptions about the age and development of the Earth and life.

The field in France is HALLOWED by the graves of the brave soldiers who fought and died for their country.



long, pompous speech; tirade

  1. The football team sat silently listening to their coach's half-time HARANGUE about tackling, dropped passes, and lost opportunities to score.

The professor finished his HARANGUE about student tardiness with the words, "The next time any of you are late, don't bother coming to my class."



extremely distressing; terrifying

  1. The journey "inward" to explore the unconscious mind has been described as more HARROWING than the most dangerous voyage to explore the Earth.

J. R. R. Tolkien's story The Lord of the Rings recounts Frodo Baggin's HARROWING journey to carry the One Ring from Rivendell to the Crack of Doom and destroy it before the evil Sauron could get his hands on it.



relating to a herbivore, an animal that feeds mainly on plants

  1. Most researchers now believe that the common ancestor of apes and humans was a strongly HERBIVOROUS animal.

Many primatologists believe that early human beings were HERBIVOROUS,  living on fruit, seeds, and nuts.



tightly sealed; magical

  1. Scholars have traced many of the HERMETIC traditions of ancient Greece to Egypt.

The "HERMETIC tradition" refers to a number of interrelated subjects such as alchemy, magic, and astrology.



unorthodox; not widely accepted

  1. The orthodox view among scientists is that the ancestors of the great apes and humans evolved solely in Africa; however, recently a competing, HETERODOX view has arisen theorizing that they also may have evolved in Euroasia.

The theologian's HETERODOX conclusions were censured by the Church.



a system of writing in which pictorial symbols represent meaning or sounds; writing or symbols that are difficult to decipher; the symbols used in advanced mathematics

  1. The deciphering of HIEROGLYPHICS on the Rosetta Stone in 1822 was a great step forward in understanding hieroglyphics.

The UFO researcher claims to have found writings inscribed on the side of an alien craft that resemble HIEROGLYPHICS.



covered with hair

  1. One of the most obvious differences between humans and closely related species such as chimpanzees is that the latter are HIRSUTE, while the former have relatively little hair.

Anthropologists believe that early human beings were HIRSUTE.



relating to exaggerated emotional behavior calculated for effect; theatrical arts or performances

  1. Whenever the star of the movie does not get her way on the set, she flies into a HISTRIONIC fit.
  • The noun histrionics mean emotional behavior done for effect.
  1. "Cut the HISTRIONICS and tell me how you really feel," the woman said to her angry husband.

Most mothers are astute at judging whether their child's tears are genuine or merely HISTRIONIC.



automatic maintenance by an organism of normal temperature, chemical balance, etc. within itself

  1. An example of HOMEOSTASIS in mammals is the regulation of glucose levels in the blood, which is done mainly by the liver and insulin secreted by the pancreas.

The removal of waste products by excretory organs such as the lungs and kidneys is an important HOMEOSTATIC process in mammals.



sermon; tedious moralizing lecture; platitude

  1. The pastor's HOMILIES have been published in an anthology.

This Sunday's HOMILY deals with the parable of the Good Samaritan.



composed of identical parts; uniform in composition

Pluralists in America argue that the country's institutions can withstand great diversity, and even be strengthened by it, while those who argue for a more HOMOGENEOUS society believe that such a situation results in unhealthy contention and animosity between groups.

Some educators believe it is best to group students accroding to their ability, while others prefer HOMOGENEOUS grouping.



purposeful exaggeration for effect

  1. The American tradition of the tall tale uses HYPERBOLE to depict a world in which the inhabitants and their deeds are larger than life, as befitting a people inhabiting a vast landscape.

It would be HYPERBOLE to say that scientists have gained a perfect understanding of the process of human evolution; however, it is fair to say that over the last century and a half a reasonably clear idea of it has emerged.



attacking cherished traditions

  1. The linguist and political commentator Noam Chomsky has been described as gleefully ICONOCLASTIC becuase of the zeal with which he attacks many of the central beliefs of American society.
  • An icon is an image or representation.
  1. The internal combustion engine is a ubiquitous feature of modern industrial society, helping the automobile to become an ICON of the twentieth century, loved by many people but loathed by environmentalists.

The ICONOCLASTIC book debunks the belief that all of America's Founding Fathers believed fervently in democracy.



relating to ideology, the set of ideas that form the basis of a political or economic system

  1. Recent social science research suggests that a person's psychological makeup plays a large part in determining his or her IDEOLOGICAL leanings.

It would be IDEOLOGICAL to say that scientists have gained a perfect understanding of the process of huamn evolution; however, it is fair to say that over the last century and a half a reasonabley clear idea of it has emerged.



idol worship; blind or excessive devotion

During the Protestant Reformation images in churches were felt to be a form of IDOLATRY and were banned and destroyed.

Anthropologists, mindful of the danger of ethnocentrism, avoid the use of emotionally charged words such as "IDOLATRY."



produced by fire; volcanic

  1. The presence of IGNEOUS rocks on the beach suggests that there was a volcanic eruption in the area millions of years ago.

Igneous rocks are formed when molten rock cools and solidifies.



complicated situation; an entanglement

  1. The plot of many of Somerset Maugham's stories consists of an unraveling of an IMBROGLIO in which the main character finds himself.

The president warned Congress that the United States should not become involved in the diplomatic IMBROGLIO.




  1. If humanity colonizes Mars, it will become a tabula rasa on which we will inscribe our IMMUTABLE values and beliefs in a new environment.
  • The noun is immutability.
  1. The dogma of creation and the IMMUTABILITY of species was endorsed virtually unanimously by the leading anatomists, botanists, and zoologists of Charles Darwin's day.

The philosopher searches for IMMUTABLE truths, striving to gain a comprehensive view of reality.



showing no emotion

  1. The judge sat, IMPASSIVE, listening to the man's emotional account of the crime.

The judge sat IMPASSIVE through the entire muder trial, carefully considering the evidence presented.



poor; having no money

  1. The businessman's biography tells how he went from being an IMPECUNIOUS student in the 1980s to one of the richest people in America.

The IMPECUNIOUS artist is applying for a grant so that she can continue painting full-time.



hinder; block

  1. The development of the western region of China has been IMPEDED by a lack of trained workers.

This week's essay topic is "War has IMPEDED human progress."



impossible to penetrate

  1. The virus protection software is said to be IMPERMEABLE to attacks by malicious software sent over the Internet.

The plastic coating on the table's surface makes it IMPERMEABLE to water.



not easily disturbed

  1. Buddha counseled that one should try to remain IMPERTURBABLE through life's vicissitudes.

An important attribute of a leader is the ability to remain IMPERTURBABLE in a crisis.



impossible to penetrate; incapable of being affected

  1. We were amazed how Laura could sit at the noisy party studying organic chemistry, IMPERVIOUS to the noise around her.

Joe, IMPERVIOUS to reason, insisted on trying to swim to the island alone.



to strike; encroach

  1. Scientists have found chimpanzees to be a territorial species; individuals that are not members of a group IMPINGING on the territory of that group are normally met with aggression.

When you look at a star that is 50 light-years away, the light that is IMPINGING on your retina forms an image of the star as it was 50 years in the past.



inflexible; incapable of being pleased

  1. Once an IMPLACABLE foe of capitalism, the People's Republic of China in recent years seems, in practice if not in principle, to have embraced it.

Sometimes seen as IMPLACABLE foes of science, many theologians are working to reconcile divergent views of science and religion.



unlikely; unbelievable

  1. To say that Napoleon Bonaparte achieved what he did merely because he was compensating for his shortness is simplistic, reductionistic, and IMPLAUSIBLE.

It seems IMPLAUSIBLE to some people that a complex organ such as the human eye developed purely as a result of the process of evolution through natural selection.



implied; understood but not stated

  1. IMPLICIT in the review is the idea that the writing of serious literature is a moral undertaking.

IMPLICIT in the idea of democracy is the notion of individual liberty.



collapse inward violently

  1. The building was IMPLODED in order to make way for the construction of a new apartment complex.
  • The noun is implosion.

Submarines are pressurized to prevent catastrophic IMPLOSIONS due to the pressure of water on the hull.




  1. The convicted man was taken away by court officers, uttering IMPRECATIONS against the jury that had found him guilty.

Frustrated by his inability to gain revenge on his enemies, all Geroge could do was hurl IMPRECATIONS at them



to relate to a particular cause or source; attribute the fault to; assign as a characteristic

  1. Primatologists generally IMPUTE relatively high intelligence to chimpanzees based on, among other things, the ability of chimpanzees to recognize themselves in a miror.

People often IMPUTE great cleverness to cats.



carelessly; unintentionally

  1. The songwriter says that it is easy to INADVERTENTLY use the melody of another song when composing.

The typesetter INADVERTENTLY omitted a line from the poem.



having bodily form

  1. Christians believe that Jesus Christ was God INCARNATE.

Many people consider Adolf Hitler to have been evil INCARNATE.



imperfectly formed or formulated

  1. In his book Chronicles, Bob Dylan describes the process of how some of his songs went from an INCHOATE state to finished, well-produced songs.

Astronomers believe that the solar system formed out of an INCHOATE mass of dust and gas.



state of not fitting

  1. There is an INCONGRUITY between the poem's solemn tone and its light-hearted theme.
  • The adjective is incongruous.
  1. The assumptions underlying Jonathan Swift's definition of literary style - "The proper words in the proper order" - recognize that there are many effective styles, but that the effectiveness of each is dependent on the context within which it is found: for example, the rambling, exuberant style of Walt Whitman's poem "Song of Myself" would be INCONGRUOUS in Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock, with its dependence on sustained wit and irony.

In retrospect, it seems INCONGRUOUS that a country founded on the principle of liberty condoned slavery.



insignificant; unimportant

  1. The meeting of the two women seemed INCONSEQUENTIAL at the time, but in retrospect it led to one of literature's great collaborations.

In view of the fact that in most elections fewer than half the eligible voters cast their ballot, it would appear that many citizens consider their vote to be INCONSEQUENTIAL.



introduce something into another thing already in existence; combine

  1. According to Bob Dylan in his autobiography, Chronicles, he systematically tried to INCORPORATE what he learned about life and music into the songs he wrote.

The study of human evolution INCORPORATES the latest research from primatology, anthropology, and related fields.



sudden invasion

  1. At first, the Native Americans were not too concerned about the INCURSIONS of European settlers, but their anxiety grew with the relentless flow of people, until, finally, calamitous wars were fought between the two sides.

During an ice age, the polar ice caps make INCURSIONS into regions that are temperate at other times.



uncertain; indefinite

  1. The novel describes the main character as "being of an INDETERMINATE age, somewhere between 50 and 60."

The writer is approaching that INDETERMINATE age at which one cannot accurately be described either as young or middle-aged.




  1. Most economists believe that the best way to prevent INDIGENCE is to expand employment opportunities.
  • The adjective is indigent.
  1. For approximately 20 percent of the world's population, nearly all of whom are INDIGENT, malnutrition is the main impediment to achieving good health.

The new welfare program is targeted to help the truly INDIGENT in the population.



habitually lazy; idle

  1. An argument against welfare is that it encourages people to be INDOLENT.

In societies that place a high value on hard work, people who  spend most of the day sitting around chatting are often considered to be INDOLENT.



not to be avoided or escaped; inevitable

  1. No one can escape the INELUCTABLE truth that every creature that is born will one day die.

We cannot escape the INELUCTABLE truth that someone in the group has betrayed our cause.



unable to move; sluggish

The teacher was frustrated by his inability to get an answer to his question from his INERT class.

The noun is inertia, meaning disinclination to action or change.

The fact that industrialization occurred in Europe hundreds of years before it did in China, which had reached a similar level of technology, is perhaps attributable to cultural factors such as bureaucratic INERTIA in China and a culture that placed high value on the status quo.

Scientists are still studying the question of how life arose from INERT matter.



naive and trusting; lacking sophistication

  1. The conman could not bring himself to take advantage of the INGENUOUS boy.

The Internet "scam" relies on INGENUOUS people to sign up and spend money for which they get essentially nothing in return.



firmly established by nature or habit

  1. Some studies of random numbers generated by computers suggest that an INHERENT order exists in nature, since certain patterns appear that one would not expect in a random system, but skeptics dismiss such patterns as either artifacts of imperfectly designed experiments, or as the attempt of the human mind to impose a pattern where there is no intrinsic order.

The judicious doctor knows that sometimes the best therapy is not physical but emotional, reassuring the patient that the illness will run its course as a result of the body's INHERENT powers of self-healing.




  1. The bodyguard looked INNOCUOUS enough, but under his jacket were several weapons that could kill an attacker in seconds.

The toxic chemical is present in the drug in such minute amounts that it is INNOCUOUS.



unconscious; unresponsive

  1. The gas is intended to render enemy soldiers INSENSIBLE.

The referee stopped the bout after one boxer was rendered INSENSIBLE.



to suggest; say indirectly; imply

  1. If you read his speech carefully you will see that the senator is INSINUATING that his party has taken the wrong path.

The lawyer apologized to the judge for INSINUATING that she was biased.



lacking in flavor; dull

  1. Ironically, the book about how to write lively, engaging prose is an INSIPID piece of writing.

Indonesians who travel to America sometimes find the food so INSIPID that they add chili to it.



indifferent; lacking concern or care

  1. Considering the gravity of the situation, Nancy's colleagues could not understand her INSOUCIANT attitude.

The "cool" look that many fashion models affect seems meant to convey a look of INSOUCIANCE.



narrow-mindedness; isolation

  1. The INSULARITY of many tribes in New Guinea allows anthropologists to study cultures that have been relatively uninfluenced by the modern world.

The country's INSULARITY makes it difficult for its people to accept ideas from different cultures.



insurmountable; unconquerable

  1. Attempts by the United States to develop an antiballistic missile system have met with limited success because of the almost INSUPERABLE difficulties presented by the speed of the approaching warhead taht must be intercepted.

Since, according to the theory of relativity, an object traveling at the speed of light would have infinite mass, astronauts traveling at that speed would, presumably, face INSUPERABLE difficulties.



not material

  1. When considering what occupation to pursue it is prudent to consider INTANGIBLE rewards as well as financial ones.

In addition to providing a salary, a job often provides INTANGIBLE benefits such as camaraderie with colleagues.



to forbid; prohibit; to confront and halt the activities, advance, or entry of

  1. Under U.S. law, INTERDICTED goods can be seized by customs officials.

Military intelligence officers played a major role in INTERDICTING spies attempting to pass top-secret intelligence to the enemy.



deadly to both sides

  1. The U.S. Civil War (1861-1865) was an INTERNECINE conflict that lead to the deaths of 620,000 soldiers out of the 2.4 million who fought in the war.

The book analyzes the INTERNECINE struggles within Christianity throughour its history.




to insert; change by adding new words or material

  1. The book The FIve Gospels was produced by having leading Bible scholars vote on which sayings ofJesus they believe to be authntic and which they  believe to have been INTERPOLATED by other writers.

Scholars disagree on whether the text is entirely the work of the original author or contains passages INTERPOLATED by later writers.



interval between reigns; gap in continuity

  1. Those who believe that Western culture represents the culmination of history are not disheartened by considering the fall of previous dominant civilizations, believing that these were merely INTERREGNUMS in the march of humanity from the cave to a united world founded on Western principles.

The INTERREGNUM between the two empires was a period of near anarchy.



marked by close acquaintance

  1. During the 1990s Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia became good, though not INTIMATE, friends.
  • The noun is intimacy.
  1. The American artist Grandma Moses, although considered by art experts to be deficient in technique, achieved an admirable INTIMACY with her subject matter.
  • The verb intimate means to make known subtly and indirectly.
  1. The editor INTIMATED that substantial changes would have to be made in the book.

Over the years the boss and her assistant have become INTIMATE friends as well as colleagues.



not easily manages

  1. General practitioners are equipped to deal with most psychosomatic disorders, but in INTRACTABLE cases a psychiatrist is consulted.

Although the majority of Americans are members of what has been called the "affluent society," poverty remains an INTRACTABLE problem, with a sizable minority of people living below what is considered to be an acceptable standard of living.



stubbornness; refusal to compromise

  1. Each side in the negotiations accused the other of INTRANSIGENCE, so talks broke down.

The INTRANSIGENCE of both sides means that there will be no progress in the peace talks.



contemplating one's own thoughts and feelings

  1. In many ways William Wordsworth's great poem The Prelude is an INTROSPECTIVE work, retrospectively exploring his thoughts and feelings as he matured.

The injunction "Know Thy Self," which was inscribed over the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, suggests that for spiritual advancement it is necessary to engage in INTROSPECTION.



to cover with water; overwhelm

  1. Farmers in the arid areas called for the government to build a dam to provide water to irrigate their crops and provide hydroelectric power; however, this plan was opposed by environmentalists, who dislike INUNDATION of land because it would have an adverse effect on wildlife.

Some developing countries argue that they lack the capacity to compete in a completely free world market, and that in such a situation their domestic market would be INUNDATED with foreign goods to the dtriment of local manufacturers.



hardened; accustomed; used to

  1. After 20 years in the army, the chaplain had not become INURED to the sight of men dying on the battlefield.

War had raged for so long in the country that people have become INURED to violence.



verbal abuse

  1. The debate judge cautioned participants not to engage in INVECTIVE, but rather in reasoned and decorous discourse.

The talk show host uses INVECTIVE to anger his guests so that they say things they ordinarily would not.



to disapprove; protest vehemently

  1. The conservative writer INVEIGHED against the school board's decision to exclude moral education from the curriculum.

The country's leaders regularly INVEIGH against "the corrupting influence of Western decadence."



to win by flattery or coaxing

  1. The students INVEIGLED their professor into postponing the test for a week.

I was amazed how Charlie, Doris, and Marcia managed to INVEIGLE Fred into playing bridge, a game he finds completely boring.



confirmed; long-standing; deeply rooted

  1. The columnist is an INVETERATE iconoclast who continually questions conventional wisdom.

An INVETERATE gambler, every year Tom offers his family a choice of two vacation destinations- Las Vegas, Nevada, or Atlantic City, New Jersey.



likely to provoke ill will; offensive

  1. Most publications in the United States prohibit their writers from making INVIDIOUS comparisons between racial groups.

The book makes INVIDIOUS comparisons between French and American culture.



easily angered

  1. The IRASCIBLE old man complains every time someone makes a little noise.

The IRASCIBLE young man gets into a fight practically every weekend.



unsure of how to act; weak

  1. The president admonished Congress, saying that although it faced difficult choices it must not be IRRESOLUTE.

The president warned the nation that we must not be IRRESOLUTE in our determination to prevent terrorism.



wandering from place to place; unsettled

  1. According to  state law, companies hiring ITINERANT workers must provide adequate housing for them.

The writer spent his twenties as an ITINERANT salesperson traveling throughout the Midwest.



route of a traveler's journey

  1. We planned our ITINERARY to be flexible, so that if we especially enjoyed a particular place we could stay there longer.

The ITINERARY for our visit to Edinburgh, Scotland included a visit to Edinburgh University and Edinburgh Castle.



having a yellowish discoloration of the skin; affected by envy, resentment, or hostility

  1. Norman's experience as an infantryman during the war has given him a JAUNDICED view of human nature.
  • The noun jaundice refers to a medical condition due to liver disease and characterized by yellowness of the skin.

Infectious hepatitis is a viral form of hepatitis that causes fever and makes a person's skin JAUNDICED.



to be in agreement

  1. The author checked the company's account books to make sure that they JIBED with the tax return it filed.

Listening to the witness' testimony, the judge discovered that it did not JIBE with the account of the incident he had given to the police.



fond of joking; jocular; playful

  1. The English words JOCOSE, jocular, and joke all come from derivatives of the Latin noun jocus, which means "jest" or "joke," but the etymology of the word jocund is unrelated to these. Jocose (fond of joking; jocular; playful) is from Latin jocosus (humorous, merry, sportive), from jocus. Jocular (fond of joking; playful; speaking in jest) is from Latin jocularis (jocular; laughable), also from jocus. Jocund (mirthful; merry; light-hearted; delightful) is from jocundus (pleasant, agreeable), from juvare (to delight).

Dr. Taylor's considerable girth and JOCOSE manner made him the obvious choice to play Santa Claus in the faculty Christmas play.



huge force destroying everything in its path

  1. Some people in Britain regard American English as a JUGGERNAUT sweeping through the British Isles, destroying British English.

During the first several years of World War II, the German army was a JUGGERNAUT, easily defeating any force that tried to stop it.



group of people united in political intrigue

  1. The country's ruling JUNTA consists of a general, an admiral, and the mayor of the capital city.

A military JUNTA seized power in the country in 1988.



place side by side

  1. To illustrate their case, opponents of functionalism JUXTAPOSE the products of modern architecture and those of classical architecture, such as the Parthenon, or those of medieval architecture, such as the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.
  • The noun juxtaposition means a side-by-side placement.

The textual scholar JUXTAPOSED the two translations in order to compare them.



fame; glory; honor

  1. KUDOS won by Bob Dylan include an honorary doctorate in music from Princeton University.

Most scientists regard the Nobel Prize as the highest KUDOS they can receive.



likely to change

  1. Blood pressure in human beings is, to varying degrees, LABILE.

The psychologist's diagnosis was that Eric was emotionally LABILE.



using few words

  1. The LACONIC actor seemed to be a good choice to play the strong, silent hero in the western.

It is difficult for a person who tends to be LACONIC to learn how to speak anew language.



to thrash verbally or physically

  1. The critic LAMBASTED the movie in her column, calling it "the most insipid, jejune film made in our generation."

To everyone's suprise, the 14-point underdog LAMBASTED the reigning champions 42-0.




  1. The court ruled that the movie could be censored because its sole aim was to promote LASCIVIOUS thoughts.

The bikini-clad young woman attracted LASCIVIOUS stares from a group of men.



lethargy; sluggishness

  1. After the death of his wife, Steven suffered a three-month period of LASSITUDE and depression.

Suddenly overcome by LASSITUDE in the afternoon, Jill decided to take a nap.



present but hidden; potential

  1. Some experts in human psychology believe that we are just beginning to explore the LATENT powers of the human mind.

The goal of the course is to help people develop their LATENT abilities.



to praise

  1. The literary critic LAUDED Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, calling it a novel that "explores the tension between a person's life as a social being and his or her individual consciousness."

The former president was LAUDED for his indefatigable efforts to bring peace to the war-torn area.




  1. After the 18-hour flight from New York to Singapore, the passengers were LETHARGIC.

After the long winter layoff, many of the baseball players were LETHARGIC at the first day of spring training.



an embankment that prevents a river from overflowing

  1. An extensive system of LEVEES is the only way to prevent the river from flooding the area during periods of heavy rain.

Engineers worked to reinforce the LEVEE after the prediction of an unprecedented amount of rain.



light manner or attitude

  1. The comedian has a gift for finding an element of LEVITY in the most serious of subjects.

The speaker decided to tell a joke to introduce some LEVITY into the solemn occasion.



tolerant; broad-minded; generous; lavish

  1. Bankruptcy laws should not be too stringent, or not enough people well venture their capital; on the other hand, they should not be too LIBERAL, or entrepreneurs will take unreasonable risks and waste capital.

In the view of some commentators, a paradox of modern LIBERAL democracy is that a;though people have more freedom than ever, they often are unable to use this freedom to find meaningful values and goals.



one without moral restraint

  1. Don Juan is a legendary, archetypal LIBERTINE whose story has been told by many poets, such as Lord Byron.

James Boswell, the eighteenth -century Scottish writer best remembered for his biography of the eminent literary figure Samuel Johnson, was a heavy drinker and a LIBERTINE.



sexual desire

  1. According to psychologists, the LIBIDO of human males peaks at around the age of 18.

The study's hypothesis is that the low birthrate is a result of a reduction in many people's LIBIDO.



extremely small

  1. Microbiologists study Lilliputian organisms.

After his experiences in the war, the problems Howard encountered in civilian life seemd positively LILLIPUTIAN.



to draw; describe

  1. The artist based his painting on a sketch he had LIMNED several years earlier.

The writer Somerset Maugham had a gift for LIMNING a character perfectly in a few paragraphs.



clear; transparent

  1. At the bottom of the LIMPID pond we could see hundreds of fish swimming.

The critic praised the novel for its LIMPID prose and original characters.



pertaining to language

  1. Humans are at the acme of their LINGUISTIC proficiency in the first several years of life, during which they master thousands of complex grammatical operations.
  • Linguistics is the scientific study of language.
  • A linguist is someone who studies language.
  1. LINGUISTS such as Noam Chomsky believe that what people come to know and believe depends on experiences that evoke a part of the cognitive system that is latent in the mind.

Applied LINGUISTICS takes the findings of theoretical linguistics and applies them to such areas as language learning.



lengthy recitation; repetitive chant

  1. The student listened intently to his teacher's LITANY of the grammatical errors committed by the class.

The United Nations Human Rights Commission outlined a LITANY of the rights regularly being abused in the country.



scholarly or learned persons

  1. "Any test that turns on what is offensive to the community's standards is too loose, too capricious, too destructive of freedom of expression to be squared with the First Amendment. Under that test, juries can censor, suppress, and punish what they don't like, provided the matter relates to 'sexual impurity' or has a tendency 'to excite lustful thoughts.' This is community censorship in one of its worst forms. It creates a regime where in the battle between the LITERATI and the Philistines, the Philistines are certain to win." -U.S. Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas, dissenting in the case of Roth v. United States, 1957.

According to the historian Richard J. Hofstadter, there has been a strong feeling of suspicion of the LITERATI throughout American history.



legal proceedings

  1. The radio amateur's neighbor resorted to LITIGATION in an attempt to have her neighbor dismantle his 100-foot-high antenna tower.

The threat of LITIGATION was enough to induce the company to settle the claim against it.



record of a voyage; record of daily activities

  1. Although no longer required to do so by the Federal Communications Commission, many amateur radio operators nevertheless keep a meticulous record of stations they communicate with, LOGGING the details of each contact.

The LOG of the eighteenth-century ships' captains provide an interesting perspective on that time.




  1. Eighty meters is a portion of the radio spectrum where a shortwave listener can often hear LOQUACIOUS "hams" chatting ("chewing the rag" in amateur radio parlance) for hours.

The judge warned the LOQUACIOUS attorney to stop digressing and "cut to the chase."



bright; clear; intelligible

  1. The eminent surgeon Dr. Christian Barnard, who performed the first human heart-transplant operation in 1967, made his views on euthanasia clear in this LUCID injunction: "The prime goal is to alleviate suffering, and not to prolong life. And if your treatment does not alleviate suffering, but only prolongs life, that treatment should be stopped."

The magazine Scientific American can be relied on to provide LUCID discussions of complex scientific toopics.



money or profits

  1. Many religions regard the pursuit of LUCRE for what it can do to help others as laudable.

The lure of LUCRE draws many people to speculate in the stock market.



bright; brilliant; glowing

  1. The Moon is the most LUMINOUS object in the night sky.
  • The noun is luminosity.
  1. A supernova can suddenly increase its LUMINOSITY to as much as a billion times its normal brightness.

The Sun is by far the most LUMINOUS object in the daytime sky.




  1. On the clear night we gazed up in awe at the LUSTROUS stars.

The soldiers marched toward battle under the LUSTROUS Moon.



crafty; double-dealing

  1. One theory of the evolution of high intelligence in primates is that it evolved largely as a result of MACHIAVELLIAN calculations on the part of apes.

We could only imagine the MACHIAVELLIAN maneuvering that allowed Stan to replace his boss as the company's manager.



plots or schemes

  1. The mayor resorted to behind-the-scenes MACHINATIONS to try to win his party's nomination for governor.

No one outside a few powerful party leaders could say by what MACHINATIONS they had managed to have their crony nominated to run for governor.



whirlpool; turmoil

  1. Nearly everyone in Europe was caught up in the MAELSTROM that was World War II.

The book tells the story of a young British soldier thrust into the MAELSTROM of the Napoleonic Wars.



generosity; nobility

  1. The senator showed his MAGNANIMITY when he conceded defeat to his opponent in the disputed election, saying that further uncertainty would be harmful to public confidence in the political system.

Harriet Beecher Stowe described saintliness as "a certain quality of MAGNANIMITY and greatness of soul that brings life within the circle of the heroic."



to speak evil of

  1. Lawyers are sometimes MALIGNED as greedy and dishonest.

Tired of MALIGNED as a coach who "can't win the big games," Coach Butler resolved that his team would be ready for the Super Bowl.



to feign illness to escape duty

  1. In order to discourage MALINGERING, the company decided to require employees taking sick leave to produce a doctor's certification of their illness.

One of a military commander's most difficult tasks is to separate soldiers who are seriously battle-stressed from those who are merely MALINGERING.



capable of being shaped by pounding; impressionable

  1. Behaviorists such as B. F. Skinner believe that human nature is MALLEABLE, and that people's behavior can be changed by changing their environment.

For many years the prevailing view among social scientists was that human nature is essentially MALLEABLE; however, recent thinking in the field has placed more emphasis on the part played by genes in human nature.




  1. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has a reputation as a MAVERICK; he is one of only two members of the United States Congress who is independent (that is, not a member of the Republican or Democratic Party).

The World Wide Web has made it easier for MAVERICKS to have their views on controversial issues heard.



delusions of power or importance

  1. In his farewell speech the retiring trial judge warned his colleagues to beware of MEGALOMANIA as they exercise their power in the courtroom.

It is hard to escape the feeling that it requires at least a touch of MEGALOMANIA to run for the office of President of the United States.



a variety of animals kept together

  1. Linda seems to take home every abandoned pet in the town; she now has an incredible MENAGERIE of dogs, cats, turtles, rabbits, and other animals.

The local SPCA shelter has a MENAGERIE of animals - parrots, cats, dogs, and many others.




  1. The judge ruled the testimony inadmissible because he considered it MENDACIOUS.

The writer's biographer could not escape the conclusion that her subject had given MENDACIOUS testimony on various occasions.




  1. In Thailand it is traditional for young men to become monks for a year, a period during which they become MENDICANTS.

Tom spent one year as a MENDICANT monk before becoming a priest.



gaudy; plausible but false; specious

  1. One of the allures of jargon is that it can make a poor idea appear worthwhile, or something MERETRICIOUS easier to accept because it is dressed in fancy language.

The judge ruled that the defendant's argument was rejected as disingenuous and MERETRICIOUS.



to hypnotize

  1. The audience sat, MESMERIZED, listening to the retired soldier's account of hand-to-hand combat against the Japanese in New Guinea during World War II.

The students, MESMERIZED by the professor's fascinating lecture, did not realize the class had run overtime.



change; transformation

  1. In recent years, many areas of China have been undergoing a METAMORPHOSIS, transforming themselves from predominantly agricultural areas to industrial ones.

We were amazed when we saw Lionel after ten years; he had METAMORPHOSED from a lazy, carefree young man into a hard-working and responsible member of the community.



a branch of philosophy that investigates the ultimate nature of reality

  1. To skeptics, METAPHYSICS is an arbitrary search for a chimerical truth.
  • Metaphysical is an adjective meaning pertaining to metaphysics.
  1. Some critics of evolution object to its implication that human thought is reduced to a peripheral phenomenon; they find itt implausible that the ability to conceptualize - to write a sonnet, a symphony, a "METAPHYSICAL treatise - would have evolved in early hominids solely as a secondary effect.
  • Metaphysician is a noun meaning a person who is an expert in metaphysics.
  1. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all METAPHYSICIANS in the sense that we all have beliefs about what things are the most real; for example, a person who believes in God may believe that God is the "ultimate reality."

Realist novelists such as Charles Dickens seem to have had little interest in METAPHYSICAL questions; rather, they seem to have been interested mainly in analyzing social and psychological reality.



concerned with the weather

  1. Some experts believe that reports of UFOs are attributable to natural astronomical or METEOROLOGICAL phenomena.
  • Meteorology is a science that deals with weather and atmospheric phenomena.
  • Meteorologists are those who study meteorology or forecast weather conditions.
  1. The term "butterfly effect" to refer to the process driving chaotic systems was first used in 1979 by METEOROLOGIST E. M. Lorenz in an address entitled, "Predictability:Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?"

METEOROLOGICAL data collected from around the world helps scientists to get an accurate picture of the world's weather patterns.



very careful; fastidious

  1. Science is an empirical field of study based on the belief that the laws of nature can best be discovered by METICULOUS observation and experimentation.

In the retired general's memoirs, he says that most of the battles he fought were won through a combination of courage on the part of soldiers, METICULOUS planning, and luck.



courage; endurance

  1. In many cultures, young men are expected to test their METTLE by performing difficult and dangerous tasks.

After a month of inter-squad scrimmage, the members of the football team were eager to test their METTLE against another team.



full of courage and fortitude; spirited

  1. The METTLESOME young officer was well regarded by all the senior officers.

The METTLESOME horse can only be controlled by a very skillful rider.



a small system having analogies to a larger system; small world

  1. For many years the atom was seen as a sort of MICROCOSM of the larger universe, with electrons - analogous to the planets of a solar system - orbiting the nucleus, or "sun."

Political pollsters keep a close watch on the town because they view it as a reppresentative MICROCOSM of American society.



to work against

  1. The manager asked all of his employees to think of any factors that might MILITATE against the project's success.

The student's laziness MILITATES strongly against the likelihood of his success.



threatening; menacing

  1. Intelligence information suggests MINATORY troop concentrations on the border.

The student stood silent as the teacher scolded him, her hand making MINATORY gestures.



very small

  1. Ancient geological processes are beyond the scope of carbon-14 dating (which is at most 120.000 years) because the amount of carbon-14 in material from such processes that has not decayed is MINUSCULE.

Engineers decided that the anomaly was so MINUSCULE that it could safely be ignored.



petty details

  1. President Ronald Reagan said that a president should concentrate on the formulation and execution of broad policy and leave the MINUTIA of running the country to subordinates.

The general's factotum deals with the MINUTIA of everyday life, leaving hom free to do his job as commander of the Third Division.



one who hates humanity

  1. One of the most famous MISANTHROPES in literature is the protagonist of the seventeenth century French writer Molier's play Le Misanthrope (The Misanthrope).

In many of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories the detective reveals quite strong MISANTHROPIC tendencies.



mixture of writings on various subjects

  1. The book is a fascinating MISCELLANY collected from the writer's life work.

The volume contains a MISCELLANY of the writings of Walt Whitman.



villain; criminal

  1. The public execution of MISCREANTS was common in Great Britain in the eighteenth century.

The judge said she had no alternative but to sentence the MISCREANT to 20 years imprisonment.



one who hates women

  1. Some people have called the philosopher Freidrich Nietzsche a MISOGYNIST because of the numerous negative comments he made abot women.

The writer was able to offer constructive criticism of the feminist movement without being called a MISOGYNIST.



to cause to become less harsh, severe, or painful; alleviate

  1. Although the Supreme Court under the leadership of Chief Justice Warren Burger did not rescind any of the fundamental rulings of the Warren Court that preceded it, its decisions did MITIGATE the effects of some of the rulings of the Warren Court.
  • Mitigation is a noun meaning the act of reducing the severity or painfulness of something.
  1. Before sentencing the woman, the judge asked if she had anything to say in MITIGATION.

In the nineteenth century, accurate prognosis based on the history of disease began to be possible, but it was not until the twentieth century that doctors were able to actually cure a number of diseases rather than merely MITIGATE their effects.



related to memory; assisting memory

  1. In the introduction to a collection of poetry, By Heart, the British poet Ted Hughes says that "the more absurd, exaggerated, grotesque" the images used as a MNEMONIC device to help remember a poem, the easier it will be to recall.
  • Mnemonics is a system that develops and improves the memory.
  1. Symbolic languages - the second generation of computer languages - were developed in the early 1950s, making use of MNEMONICS such as "M" for "multiply," which are translated into machine language by a computer program.

Many people find it useful to use MNEMONIC devices to memorize information.



limited quantity

  1. The scientist Carl Sagan wrote about astronomy and other scientific subjects in a way that enabled a reader with even a MODICUM of knowledge of science to understand what he was saying.

"I'm not looking for adulation, just a MODICUM of respect," the angry teacher told his class.



to soothe

  1. The prime minister tried to MOLLIFY people protesting the tax increase with a promise that she would order a study of other means to raise revenue.

To MOLLIFY war "hawks," the president ordered a one-week bombing campaign against the country.



solid and uniform; constituting a single, unified whole

  1. In the fifteenth century, there was a significant movement to revitalize the Church from within; however, it ahd become so MONOLITHIC over the centuries and contained so many vested interests that piecemeal reform was difficult and ineffective.

Socialists tend to view big business as MONOLITHIC; however, many large corporations are in direct competition with one another, and thus collusion is usually not to their advantage.



ill-humored; sullen

  1. The assessment of  some skeptical critics of existentialism is that it is generally a view of life created by a group of thinkers whose distinguishing characteristic is that they are MOROSE.

Mr. Samuels was MOROSE for over a month following the death of his beloved wife.



many colored; made up of many parts

  1. The new political party is made up of a MOTLEY group of people who are unhappy with the existing parties.

The protest began with a MOTLEY group of people from virtually all occupations.




  1. Modern technology is so complex and MULTIFARIOUS that it requires thousands of soecialists ro devise and operate; thus, even a brilliant engineer could not by himself fabricate a sophisticated radio or computer without the help of existing black boxes and expertise.

The head football coach at a Division I college has MULTIFARIOUS duties, such as supervising the coaching staff, recruiting players, and talking to the media.



worldly as opposed to spiritual; concerned with the ordinary

  1. Fundamentalists contend that the Bible's account of the creation is literally true, while others believe that it is the retelling of a powerful myth current in the Middle East that sought to explain the MUNDANE in spiritual language.

Some theologians regard attempts to prove God's existence logically valuable largely as pointers toward God, helping to turn a person's attention from the MUNDANE to the spiritual.



black magic

  1. Television might seem like NECROMANCY to a time traveler from the fifteenth century.

A colorful term used to belittle something regarded as nonsense is "voodoo"; another one is "NECROMANCY."



to cancel out; nullify

  1. The soldiers' poor treatment of the prisoners NEGATED the goodwill they had built up among the population.

A number of commentators have argued that the benefits offered by television are NEGATED by its nacrotic effect on viewers.



new word or expression

  1. The word "anesthesia" was the NEOLOGISM of the American physician and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, who used it in 1846 in a letter to Dr. William Morton, who had recently demonstrated the use of ether; the word is derived from the Latin word anaisthesia, meaning "lack of sensation."

Dr. Robert Burchfield, chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, has estimated that approximately 90 percent of English NEOLOGISM originate in the United States.



novice; beginner

  1. The school provides extensive support and guidance for NEOPHYTE teachers.

The NEOPHYTE novelist was fortunate to have the advice of an established older writer.



a means of connection; a connected group or series; a center

  1. Wall Street is the NEXUS of America's financial system.

Although intelligence agents have identified parts of the terrorist organization around the world, they are still working to locate its NEXUS.




  1. The members of the football team were NONPLUSSED by the presence of a female reporter in the locker room.

Even the normally unflappable police officer was NONPLUSSED when confronted by the armed suspect.



sentimental longing for a past time

  1. The product's marketing is centered on NOSTALGIA for the 1950s.
  • The adjective is nostalgic.
  1. The idea of an extended family existing in nineteenth-century America consisting of loving uncles and doting aunts has been shown to be largely a product of a NOSTALGIC and romanticized view of the past.

The advertisement is based on NOSTALGIA for an America that probably never existed.



medicine or remedy of doubtful effectiveness; supposed cure

  1. Although there are many NOSTRUMS urged on obese consumers, the only effective remedy for this condition is prosaic but nonetheless valid: eat less and exercise more.

Many NOSTRUMS for "correcting" English to make it more consistent and "rational" have been proposed, but the language is robust and has survived such attempts.



trifling; invalid

  1. The historian has a knack for focusing on information that appears NUGATORY but that, upon examination, illuminates the central issue.

After the judge ruled the evidence he had presented to the court to be NUGATORY, the lawyer muttered jocularly to his partner, "Negatory."




  1. Coach Knight is OBDURATE about one thing: the offensive line is the heart of his football team.

The president is OBDURATE about the issue; he will not negotiate with terrorists.



overly submissive

  1. Tom's tendency to submit meekly to any  bullying authority is so great that his wife suggested he overcome this OBSEQUIOUSNESS by taking an assertiveness training course.

The assertiveness-training course helped Jeremy go from being OBSEQUIOUS to being assertive and confident.



funeral ceremony (often used in the plural, obsequies)

  1. Solemn OBSEQUIES were held for President John F. Kennedy following his assassination on November 22, 1963.

Solemn OBSEQUIES were held for Pope John Paul II after his death in 2005.



to make unnecessary; to anticipate and prevent

  1. An experienced physician can often discern if a patient's symptoms are psychosomatic, thus OBVIATING the need for expensive medical tests.

Nuclear power has OBVIATED needs for submarines to refuel frequently, allowing long undersea voyages.



to shut; block

  1. One of the primary uses of solar cells is in spacecraft to provide electric power; this is because space is an environment uniquely suited to these devices since it has no weather to OCCLUDE the Sun and it is not susceptible to interruptions in sunlight caused by the rotation of the Earth.

Astronomers welcome an eclipse of the Sun because when the Moon OCCLUDES the light of the Sun, observation of that body becomes easier.



relating to practices connected with supernatural phenomena

  1. In his book Supernature the biologist Lyell Watson explores what he regards as phenomena on the border between natural and OCCULT phenomena.

The OCCULT has been described as what does not fit into a rationalistic view of the world.



a long, adventurous voyage; a quest

  1. Steve's quest for enlightenment took him on a spiritual ODYSSEY that helped him to gain an understanding of many philosophers and religions.

In the television show Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Enterprise embarks on an ODYSSEY to explore the Universe.



too helpful; meddlesome

  1. Some of us on the tour found the guide OFFICIOUS, but others thought she was helpful and courteous.

The director of the government agency encouraged workers to provide efficient service without being OFFICIOUS.



concerning the sense of smell

  1. Wine connoisseurs say that the OLFACTORY senses play as important a part in appreciating good wine as the sense of taste.

Sometimes an OLFACTORY stimulus can trigger a memory associated with that particular smell.



form of government in which power belongs to only a few leaders

  1. In 411 B.C., democratic government was overthrown in Athens and a conservative OLIGARCHY called the Four Hundred came to power.

The country is ruled by OLIGARCHY consisting of senior military officers.




  1. The duty the judge considers most ONEROUS is sentencing convicted criminals.

The physician faced the ONEROUS task of telling the patient that the disease was terminal.



formation or use of words that imitate sounds of the actions they refer to

  1. One theory of the origin of language is that it began as a sort of ONOMATOPOEIA as early humans imitated sounds they heard.

The word "ping-pong" arose from ONOMATOPOEIA; the sound of the words is similar to the sound of a table tennis ball hitting first one paddle and then another.



disgrace; contempt

  1. It is difficult to imagine the OPPROBRIUM heaped on a person who is a traitor to his or her group.

The country incurred global OPPROBRIUM for its poor treatment of prisoners of war.



scientist who studies birds

  1. ORNITHOLOGISTS believe that there currently exist only about twenty individuals of a bird called the Balinese sparrow.

ORNITHOLOGISTS are studying a bird that can fly without stopping from Scotland to Africa.



to move back and forth

  1. The teacher OSCILLATES between a student-centered approach to teaching and subject-centered approach.

Over the last few days, the weather has been OSCILLATING between sunny and cloudy.



showy; trying to attract attention; pretentious

  1. A member of the bourgeoisie might purchase a vacation home on Maui or Capa Cod that some would regard as an OSTENTATIOUS display of wealth, but that the person regards as simply a pleasant place to go on vacation.

An argument for the wearing of school uniforms is that it discourages OSTENTATIOUS displays of wealth through the wearing of expensive jewelry and clothing.



presumptuous; arrogant; overbearing

  1. The ancient Greeks believed that OVERWEENING pride - what they called hubris - would be punished, eventually, by the gods.

The manager's OVERWEENING ambition led her to do something she regretted for the rest of her life; she told a lie about a vice-president to help her get his job.



song of joy or triumph; a fervent expression of joy

  1. Fundamentally, the poem is a PAEAN of joy, celebrating the coming of democracy to the country.

After the end of the war, churches across the country rang out PAEANS of joy.



study of past geological eras through fossil remains

  1. Primatology, together with anthropology, PALEONTOLOGY, and several other fields, has given scientists a fairly accurate picture of the evolution of homo sapiens.
  • A paleontologist is an expert in the field of paleontology.
  1. The attempts of the Jesuit priest and PALEONTOLOGIST Teilhard de Chardin to reconcile evolution and the Catholic dogma of original sin were regarded by Church authorities as nearly heretical, and he had to abandon his position in 1926.

The system of gathering, identifying, dating and categorizing fossils allows PALEONTOLOGISTS to place newly discovered fossils in their proper place, making their picture of the past progressively more accurate.



lacking color or liveliness

  1. Archeological evidence indicates that women have been using makeup to give color to a PALLID face for millennia.

According to archeologists, Roman tiles were not the PALLID objects we see today; rather, they were painted a variety of vivid colors.



elaborate praise; formal hymn of praise

  1. Many PANEGYRICS were written to Abraham Lincoln in the years after his death, and he has become one of the most revered figures in American history.

No funeral PANEGYRIC for the slain general was as eloquent as the looks of grief on the faces of the mourners at his funeral.



model of excellence or perfection

  1. The epic poet Homer was regarded by the ancient Greeks as a PARAGON of literary excellence.

The business professor assigned her students to select the three firms they would consider PARAGONS for other companies to imitate.



one-sided; committed to a party, group, or cause; prejudiced

  1. Supporters of constitutional monarchy believe that while in this system, as it is generally practiced today, virtually all power is vested in popularly elected assembles, the institution of the monarchy continues to serve a purpose as a focus of national unity above the furor of PARTISAN politics.

The job of political scientists is the objective study of government and politics; thus they are expected to be aloof from PARTISAN politics.



departing from normal condition

  1. People sometimes confound psychology and psychiatry: the former is the science that studies cognitive and affective functions, both normal and PATHOLOGICAL, in human beings and other animals, whereas the latter is a branch of medicine that deals with mental disorders.
  • Pathology is the noun.
  1. Some of the most spectacular examples of spin-off in the twentieth century are the advances that have been made in medicine as an unforeseen result of pure biiological research; an example of this is diagnostic testing for defective genes that predispose a person to certain PATHOLOGIES.
  • Pathos is a quality that causes a feeling of pity or sorrow.

Subtle differences in symptoms between one patient and another one with a similar condition allow a competent doctor to diagnose the nature of the underlying PATHOLOGY.



a regional dialect; nonstandard speech; jargon

  1. In Singapore the lingua franca is increasingly becoming Singapore English, widely regarded as a PATOIS.

The people of the area speak a PATOIS based on English, Spanish, and French.




  1. An argument sometimes advanced for enthanasia is that the amount of money spent on prolonging a person's life for several months is exorbitant in relation to the PAUCITY of funds available for preventive health programs and child health, both of which are highly cost-effective.

The historian is unable to reach a definite conclusion about when the battle began because of a PAUCITY of evidence.



showing off learning

  1. The Sophists have acquired a reputation as being learned but rather PEDANTIC entertainers who gave didactic talks on every subject under the Sun; the truth, however, is that some of the Sophist philosophers (notably Protagoras) were very able thinkers.
  • The noun pedant means an uninspired, boring academic.

Academic writing should be erudite without being PEDANTIC.



transparent; translucent; easily understood

  1. Two writers often mentioned as having an admirably PELLUCID style are Bertrand Russell and George Orwell.

The textbook was so well written and edited that students describe it as "wonderfully PELLUCID."




  1. Sue has a PENCHANT for science, while her brother is more interested in the arts.

In his later years Lewis was able to indulge the PENCHANT for performing music that he had as a young man.



extreme poverty

  1. The autobiography tells the story of the billionaire's journey from PENURY to riches beyond his imagining.

The great expense of his continual legal battles has practically reduced the man to PENURY.



a wandering from place to place

  1. Swami Vivekanada's PEREGRINATIONS took him all over India.

The rock band's PEREGRINATIONS have taken it to over fifty cities around the world.



imperative; leaving no choice

  1. The general's words were spoken in the PEREMPTORY tone of a man who is used to having his commands obeyed without question.

The boss dismissed her employee's suggestion with a PEREMPTORY laugh.



present throughout the years; persistent

  1. PERENNIAL warfare has left most of the people of the country in poverty.

Once again, Congress debated the PERENNIAL problem of the budget deficit.



faithless; disloyal; untrustworthy

  1. The novel tells the story of the hero's PERFIDIOUS lover.

While its diplomats were negotiating a peace settlement with the enemy, its PERFIDIOUS leaders were planning a full-scale invasion.



superficial; not thorough; performed really as a duty

  1. The PERFUNCTORY inspection of the airplane failed to reveal structural faults in the wing.

A proverb says that time heals everything; it might be commented, however, that its healing is rarely complete and is often PERFUNCTORY.



point in an orbit that is closest to the Earth

  1. The Earth observation satellite reaches a PERIGEE of 320 miles above the Earth's surface.

Scientists calculate that the satellite will have a PERIGEE of 120 miles from Earth.




  1. Wetsuits, used by divers in cold water, are PERMEABLE to water but designed to retain body heat.

Our well draws water from a PERMEABLE rock layer (an aquifer) in which the water is under pressure, so we generally do not have to use a pump.



to disturb greatly; make uneasy or anxious; cause a body to deviate from its regular orbit

  1. The findings that violence is increasing in schools greatly PERTURBED government officials.
  • The noun perturbation means disturbance.
  1. Scientists believe that the Earth has undergone alternating periods of relatively cooler and wwarmer climate, and that this is due largely to fluctuations in the intensity of the greenhouse effect and PERTURBATIONS in the Earth's orbit around the Sun.

Military leaders were PERTURBED by the report that important classified information had fallen into enemy hands.



spread throughout every part

  1. It is a plausible hypothesis that the atheistic and materialistic philosophy of Marxism was readily accepted in China because of its similarities with Confucian views on spiritual matters, which had a PERVASIVE influence in China for many centuries.
  • The noun is pervasiveness.
  1. An indicator of the PERVASIVENESS of psychotropic drugs in American society is the fact that approximately 50 percent of adults have used tranquilizers at some time in their lives.
  • The verb is pervade.

Caricature is PERVASIVE in the work of the English novelist Charles Dickens.



rude; peevish

  1. The boy's father worried that his disobedient and PETULANT child would grow up to be a bitter and annoying man.

The PETULANT child will not stop complaining that he does not like the present he has been given.



calm in temperament; sluggish

  1. "PHLEGMATIC natures can be inspired to enthusiasm only by being made into fanatics." (Friedrich Nietzche)

The emergency room doctor trained herself to be PHLEGMATIC despite the great suffering she witnessed every day.



mythical, immortal bird that lives for 500 years, burns itself to death, and rises from its ashes; anything that is restored after suffering great destruction

  1. The captain believed the battalion had been destroyed by the enemy and was amazed to see it arise, PHOENIX-like, its men still fighting valiantly.

Japan rose like a PHOENIX from the destruction of World War II to become one of the world's leading industrial nations.



facial features

  1. The art teacher assigned her students to make drawings of people with a wide variety of PHYSIOGNOMY.

Studies show that a person's PHYSIOGNOMY has an effect on his or her life; for example, people considered to have attractive features are more likely to be successful than those considered to be unattractive.




  1. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux was a medieval French monk revered for his PIETY.

The monk is admired for his PIETY.



appealingly stimulating; pleasantly pungent; attractive

  1. Many of the guests enjoyed the PIQUANT barbecue sauce, but others found it too spicy for their taste.

The chef is known throughout Texas for his wonderfully PIQUANT sauces.



fleeting feeling of hurt people

  1. Sally left the restaurant in a fit of PIQUE after her date called to say he couldn't come because he was working late.
  • As a verb, pique means to provoke or arouse.
  1. The geologist's curiosity was PIQUED by the unusual appearance of the rock formation.

The teacher PIQUED the students' interest in geology by taking them on a field trip to look at rock formations.



to lessen another's anger; to pacify

  1. After his team's third consecutive winless season, the Big State football coach opened his address to the irate alumni with a barrage of clichés and euphemisms to try to PLACATE them: "Gentlemen, it is not my intention today to pull the wool over your eyes. Heaven only knows I have given my all. I have truly made the old college try. Unfortunately, however, by any reasonable criteria we have been less than completely successful in our endeavors, but I assure you that hope springs eternal in the human breast and next year we will rise to the occasion, put our noses to the grindstone and emerge triumphant in the face of adversity. I certainly admit that we have had a run of bad luck but that is nothing that can't be cured by true grit and determination."

The restaurant manager apologized for the poor service and PLACATED the customer by saying that the meal was on the house.




  1. We were amazed how the monk was able to remain PLACID despite the fire that was raging through the building.

Rebecca is a quiet person, but beneath a PLACID exterior lies a continual ferment of emotion.



melancholy; mournful

  1. After the battle all that could be heard was the PLAINTIVE cries of women who had lost their husbands.

The only sound after the battle was the PLAINTIVE cry of a soldier who had been disemboweled.



condition of being able to be shaped or formed; pliability

  1. The sociologist is continually amazed by the PLASTICITY of social institutions.

A compelling body of evidence has been built up by scientists suggesting that the PLASTICITY of human nature if more limited than was generally believed by social scientists for much of the twentieth century.



stale, overused expression

  1. Though Sarah's marriage didn't seem to be going well, she took comfort in the PLATITUDE that the first six months of a marriage were always the most difficult.

The motivational speaker is full of PLATITUDES, such as "Nothing succeeds like success."



spiritual; without sensual desire; theoretical

  1. Gradually what had been a PLATONIC relationship bewteen Tim and Kyoko became a romantic one.

Scholars are not certain whether Socrates' relation with his student Plato was only PLATONIC.



excess; overabundance

  1. Because it deals with death and grieving, the funeral business has produced a PLETHORA of euphemisms such as "slumber room" for the place where the corpse is placed for viewing.

The PLETHORA of excellent rock bands makes it difficult for new bands to gain an audience.



to determine the depth; to examine deeply

  1. A recurrent theme of mystical experience is "the dark night of the soul," in which a person PLUMBS the depths of despair before finding a transcendent reality that brings the person closer to what he or she regards as God.

The poet William Wordsworth PLUMBED his own psyche in his masterpiece, The Prelude, or Growth of a Poet's Mind.



to fall; plunge

  1. The fighter jet, struck by an enemy missile, PLUMMETED to earth.

Scientists predict that the orbit of the satellite will decay over the next few days and it will PLUMMET to Earth.



society ruled by the wealthy

  1. It has been argued that modern democracies are PLUTOCRACIES to the extent that wealth allows certain people to have a disproportionately large influence on political decision-making.

Some commentators have likened the United States more to a PLUTOCRACY than a democracy because of the great power held by the rich.



full of holes; permeable to liquids

  1. If you go camping, make sure to spend enough money to buy a tent with a roof that is not POROUS.

The POROUS clay allows the track to dry quickly.



person who affects an attitude or identity to impress others

  1. The critic labeled the writer a POSEUR who was more interested in getting the public's attention than in writing good books.

The members of the stage club finally realized that Anthony was a POSEUR who enjoyed acting like an actor more than doing all the work necessary to be a real actor.




  1. The cult of romantic love was a major factor in making a marriage for love, rather than for more PRAGMATIC reasons, a ubiquitous phenomenon in the West by the nineteenth century.
  • Pragmatism means a practical way of approaching situations or solving problems.
  1. PRAGMATISM is similar to Positivism in rejecting lofty metaphysical conceptions and in asserting that the main role of philosophy is to help clarify phenomena experienced.
  • A pragmatist is someone who approaches situations in a practical way.
  1. The word "PRAGMATIST" is often used to refer to someone who is willing to sacrifice his principles to expediency.

A PRAGMATIC leader is not constrained by ideological preconceptions and continually adjusts his plans to conform to reality.



to talk idly; chatter

  1. The "talk radio" program allows people to call in and PRATE about their pet peeves.

The retired couple PRATED all eveing about their latest trip to Europe, oblivious to the fact that no one had the slightest interest in what they were talking about.



meaningless, foolish talk

  1. The sociologist theorizes that what may seem like PRATTLE often has an important socail function: what might be labeled "gossip" is an important means for people to communicate valuable information about themselves and others.

Tired of the gossip's PRATTLE, Alicia said she was late for an appointment so she could end the conversation.



preliminary statement

  1. Along with the opening words of the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address, the PREAMBLE to the Constitution of the United States contains some of the most memorable language in American history: "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty, to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

The PREAMBLE to the bill describes the background of the legislation and explains how it relates to existing laws.




  1. The prime minister's PRECARIOUS hold on power ended when she lost a vote of confidence in Parliament.

Steve earns a PRECARIOUS living as a part-time waiter.



principle; law

  1. A good PRECEPT to follow in writing is to avoid redundancies such as "track record" (unless the record was set on a racecourse), "revert back," "free gift," and "general consensus."

Moral PRECEPTS vary from society to society, but all societies have sanctions against certain acts, such as murder.



to cause to happen; throw down from a height

  1. Full-scale American entry into World War II remained unpopular with the vast majority of Americans until a delaration of war was PRECIPITATED by the Japanese attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, a day that President Roosevelt predicted, in a memorable phrase, would "live in infamy."

The increased tariffs in the 1930s PRECIPITATED a collapse in world trade, exacerbating the Great Depression.



rash; hasty; sudden

  1. The secretary of state advised the president not to take PRECIPITATE action.
  • Precipitous is another adjective meaning hasty; quickly with too little caution
  • Precipitation is water droplets or ice particles from atmospheric water vapor that falls to Earth.
  1. It would be helpful if the atmosphere could be induced to deposit its PRECIPITATION more evenly over the Earth's surface, so that some land areas are not inundated while others remain arid.

The commander said he would not be pressured into making a PRECIPITATE decision.



forerunner; predecessor

  1. The PRECURSOR to the theory of plate tectonics was the theory of continantal drift.

Thomas Edison's famous laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey, was a PRECURSOR to the great laboratories later created by corporations such as AT&T and IBM, out of which have poured a torrent of new techniques and devices.



to supersede; appropriate for oneself

  1. The movie was PREEMPTED for the president's emergency address to the nation.

All TV and radio broadcasts have been PREEMPTED by an emergency announcement by the president.



capable of grasping

  1. Many more animals in South America have PREHENSILE tails than those in Southeast Asia and Africa, possibly because the greater density of the forest there favored this adaptation over the ability to glide through the trees.

PREHENSILE tails help many arboreal animals to find and eat food as they move through the trees.



forewarning; presentiment

  1. Shortly after his reelection in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln had a PREMONITION of his impending death, and on April 14, 1865, he was shot and died the next day.

Ruth's dream contained a PREMONITION that war would break out.



to foretell; indicate in advance

  1. The English poet William Blake believed his work PRESAGED a new age in which people would achieve political, social, psychological, and spiritual freedom.

Air strikes against military bases PRESAGE a full-scale invasion.



rude; improperly bold; readiness to presume

  1. The new employee did not offer her advice to her boss because she was afraid he might consider it PRESUMPTUOUS for a recent graduate to make a suggestion to someone with 30 years experience in the field.
  • The verb presume means assume or act with impertinent boldness.
  1. Proponents of the view PRESUME that there exist only two antithetical positions, with no middle ground between thier opponent's view and their own (eminently more reasonable) position.
  • The noun is presumption.
  1. Anti-Semitism originated in the PRESUMPTION that Jews were responsible for Jesus' crucifixion, and was responsible for periodic persecutions such as the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492.

The math student decided that it would be PRESUMPTUOUS of her to correct the error in the eminent mathematics professor's calculations.



beyond the normal course of nature; supernatural

  1. Most scientists believe that putative PRETERNATURAL phenomena are outside the scope of scientific inquiry.

Scientists are investigating Edna's clim to having a PRETERNATURAL ability to predict the future.



to quibble; evade the truth

  1. Journalists accused government leaders of PREVARICATING about the progress of the war.

The president told the senator to stop PREVARICATING on the issue and give him her decision by Monday on whether she had his support.



original; existing from the beginning

  1. Scholars are divided as to whether polytheism represents a degeneration from a PRIMORDIAL monotheism, or was a precursor to a more sophisticated view, monotheism.

The museum exhibition allows visitors to experience what a PRIMORDIAL forest was like.



untouched; uncorrupted

  1. The bank's hermetically sealed vault has kept the manuscript in PRISTINE condition for 50 years.

Tom keeps his pride and joy, a 1966 Triumph, in PRISTINE condition in his temperature-controlled garage.



honesty; high-mindedness

  1. No one questioned the PROBITY of the judge being considered for elevation to the U.S. Supreme Court; what was at issue was his controversial views on several important issues.

The senator's unquestioned PROBITY and incisive intelligence made her a unanimous choice to lead the sub-committee investigating official misconduct.



posing a problem; doubtful; unsettled

  1. The idea of the universe originating at a certain point in time seems PROBLEMATIC to many scientists.

One of the considerations that makes a return to a military draft PROBLEMATIC is that gender equality would almost certainly require the equal participation of males and females.



wasteful; extravagant; lavish

  1. Bettu warned her husband that he must stop his PRODIGAL spending on sports cars and expensive clothing.

Bruce's PRODIGAL spending on luxuries left him nearly bankrupt.



deep; not superficial

  1. There is an adage in philosophy that everyone is born either a Platonist or an Aristotelian, meaning that everyone has a predisposition to believing either that reality is completely "here and now," or that there exists a more PROFOUND, hidden reality.
  • The noun profoundity means the quality of being profound.

Defenders of philosophy say that, far from being a superfluous and self-indulgent activity, it is one of the most PROFOUND of human enterprises, having given humankind such useful fields of thought as science, and conceived of such noble ideas as freedom, democracy, and human rights.



so high as to prevent the purchase or use of; preventing; forbidding

  1. Most people in poor countries are unable to purchase a computer because of its PROHIBITIVE price.
  • Prohibition is the noun.
  1. The word taboo was taken from Polynesia (tabu in Tongan) and broadened to mean any culture's PROHIBITION of a particular object or activity.

According to some scientists, the technology exists for establishing a base on Mars, but the cost of doing so would be PROHIBITIVE.



to increase rapidly

  1. With the pervasive influence of American culture, "fast-food" restaurants are PROLIFERATING in many countries.
  • Proliferation is the noun.
  1. A problem with the PROLIFERATION of jargon is that it impedes communication between different fields of knowledge.

As Russ grew older, he found his intellectual interests PROLIFERATING rather than narrowing, as he had expected.



inclination; tendency

  1. There is a natural PROPENSITY to stress the importance of what one is saying by exaggerating it.

In her article the anthropologist suggests that homo sapiens is a species with an inmate PROPENSITY for violence.



to win over; appease

  1. M.E.W. Sherwood, an author alive at the time of the U.S. Civil War, eloquently expressed the sacrifice made by soldiers on both sides of that great conflict: "But for four years there was a contagion of nobility in the land, and the best blood of North and South poured itself out a libation to PROPITIATE the deities of Truth and Justice. The great sin of slavery was washed out, but at what a cost!"

A belief in angry gods who must be PROPITIATED to prevent them from venting their wrath on human beings is pervasive in human cultures.



correct conduct; fitness

  1. Judges are expected to conduct themselves with PROPRIETY, especially in the courtroom.

PROPRIETY in that country demands that young single women be accompanied in public by an adult female.



to condemn; forbid; outlaw

  1. The expert in English believes that since the tendency to use hyperbole is natural and often enriches the language, it should not be PROSCRIBED.
  • The adjective proscriptive means relating to prohibition.
  1. Proponents of the view that dictionaries should be PROSCRIPTIVE, dictating what correct usage is, believe that without such guides the standard of language will decline; however, advocates of descriptive dictionaries argue that dictionary makers have no mandate to dictate usage and therefore should merely record language as it is used.

In 1972, the United States Supreme Court voided all state and federal laws specifying the death penalty on the basis that they are unconstitutional, since they violate the eighth amendment of the Constitution, which PROSCRIBES "cruel and unusual punishment."



providing for future needs; frugal

  1. Most people have heard the story of the prodigal grasshopper and the PROVIDENT ant that spends the summer saving food for the winter.

The PROVIDENT housekeeper insists on buying everything when it is on sale.




  1. The article analyzes the similarities and differences between the Roman Empire and the British Empire when each was at its most PUISSANT.
  • The noun is puissance.

American cultural influence in the world has been described as a force more PUISSANT than any army.



careful in observing rules of behavior or ceremony

  1. The prime minister reminded his staff that they must be PUNCTILIOUS in following protocol during the visit by the foreign head of state.

Sharon is PUNCTILIOUS in doing her homework; every evening she reviews all of the day's classes and carefully completes the written tasks.



strong or sharp in smell or taste; penetrating; caustic; to the point

  1. Slang frequently expresses an idea succinctly and PUNGENTLY.

During our tennis match we smelled the PUNGENT odor of lamb curry being cooked.



to profess; suppose; claim

  1. The United States is generally considered to be a secular society in which church and state are separate; however, religion plays a large role, since nearly everyone PURPORTS to believe in God and many people are members of churches.
  • Purport is also a noun. Its definition is meaning intended or implied.

The PURPORTED alien craft turned out to be an experimental aircraft performing unusual maneuvers.




  1. Traditionally, a ship captain is considered PUSILLANIMOUS if he abandons his ship before everyone else has.
  • The noun is pusillanimity, which means cowardice.

The senator argued that it would be PUSILLANIMOUS for Congress to simply rubber-stamp every bill proposed by the president.



marsh; difficult situation

  1. The federal government's antitrust suit in the 1990s against Microsoft created a legal QUAGMIRE.

The Nissan Patrol sank halfway into the QUAGMIRE.



to cower; lose heart

  1. The defendant QUAILED when the judge entered the room to announce the sentence.

The bank teller QUAILED as the masked robber threatened her with a gun.



limited; restricted

  1. In indian philosophy a position between monism at one extreme and dualism at the other is QUALIFIED nondualism, a philosophy in which reality is considered to have attributes of both dualism and monism.
  • Qualification is a noun meaning limitation or restriction.
  1. So many QUALIFICATIONS had been added to the agreement that Sue was now reluctant to sign it.
  • The verb qualify means to modify or limit.

The student's essay asserts that "Humanity made great progress in the twentieth century"; however, when her teacher asked her what she meant by "progress" she QUALIFIED her statement by specifying that she meant that humanity made great economic and scientific progress.



sudden feeling of faintness or nausea; uneasy feeling about the rightness of actions

  1. The judge had no QUALMS about sentencing the thief to five years imprisonment.

The soldier said he has no QUALMS about killing the enemy since it was his duty.



to question

  1. Until widespread industrialization caused massive pollution in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the ability of the biosphere to dissipate and assimilate waste created by human activity was not QUERIED.
  • Query is also a noun meaning a question.
  1. The history professor answered the student's interesting QUERY about the inlfluence of Arabic thought on Western civilization.

The fortune-teller answered her customer's QUERY with an ambiguous "It will come about if Fate wills it."



to argue over insignificant and irrelevant details

  1. The lawyers spent so much time QUIBBLING over details that they made little progress in reaching an agreement on the central issue.
  • Quibble is also a noun.

When asked by reporters which of the starting pitchers he thought was better, the manager replied, "I'm not going to QUIBBLE about which is better, They're both superb."



inactive; still

  1. Although malignant tumors may remain QUIESCENT for a period of time, they never become benign.
  • The noun is quiescence.

The patient's emotional disturbance appeared to be QUIESCENT, but the psychologist feared that it would manifest itself again.



number of members necessary to conduct a meeting

  1. The U.S. Senate's majority leader asked three members of his party to be available to help form a QUORUM.

Unable to obtain a QUORUM, leaders of the majority party had no choice but to postpone the vote on the legislation.



witty, skillful storyteller

  1. Former president BillClinton is known as an accomplished RACONTEUR who can entertain guests with amusing anecdotes about politics all evening.

The RACONTEUR was the lifeo of the party, telling hilarious jokes long into the evening.



to scold with bitter or abusive language

  1. The critic of globalization RAILED against its effect on the poor people of the world.

Every week the newspaper columnist RAILS against what he calls the "unprecedented stupidity of our age."




  1. It took two hours for the princess' handmaidens to help her put on her splendid RAIMENT for her coronation as queen.

As a girl Sheila dreamed of being dressed in the golden RAIMENT of a princess.



implication; outgrowth; consequence

  1. The full RAMIFICATION of the invention of the laser did not become apparent for many years; now it is used in a great variety of applications, from DVD players to surgery.

Carl Sagan's novel Contact explores the RAMIFICATIONS for humanity of contact with an advanced alien civilization.




  1. Many scholars flourish in the RAREFIED intellectual atmosphere of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey.
  • The verb rarefy means to make thinner, purer, or more refined.

Saint Thomas Aquinas combiined an acute, practical intellect and the most RAREFIED spirituality.



fundamental reason

  1. The philosophy of "enlightened self-interest" justifies acting in one's own interest by asserting that this is not selfish or motivated by a "beggar thy neighbor" RATIONALE, but is simply the best way to ensure the welfare of the entire community.

The RATIONALE offered for invading the country was that it posed a threat to peace in the region.



puzzle in which pictures or symbols represent words

  1. Egyptian writing uses the principle of the REBUS, substituting pictures for words.

The fourth-grade class project was to design a REBUS incorporating pictures of animals.



resisting authority or control

  1. The officer had no choice but to recommend that the RECALCITRANT soldier be court-martialed.

A counselor was called in to talk to the RECALCITRANT student.



to retract a statement or opinion

  1. The bishop told the theologian that he must RECANT his heretical teaching or risk excommunication.

The company said it would drop its lawsuit for defamation if the journalist agreed to publicly RECANT his false statement about its products.



person who lives in seclusion and often in solitude

  1. The monk spent three years of his life as a RECLUSE, praying and meditating.
  • The adjective is reclusive.
  1. John is a RECLUSIVE person who enjoys reading more than anything else.

Edith's friends are concerned that she is becoming a RECLUSE; she does not go out with them anymore and rarely leaves her house.



abstruse; profound

  1. Many classical and biblical references known to educated nineteenth-century readers are now considered RECONDITE by most readers.

The book God and the New Physics by the Australian physicist Paul Davies succeeds in making RECONDITE area of physics more comprehensible in the general public.



formidable; arousing fear; worthy of respect

  1. As a result of winning 95 percent of her cases, the prosecutor has earned a reputation as a REDOUBTABLE attorney.

The prospect of being interviewed for admission by the REDOUBTABLE dean of the law school was a daunting one.



stubborn; unmanageable; resisting ordinary methods of treatment

  1. The general practitioner called in specialists to help determine the cause of the patient's REFRACTORY illness.
  • The verb refract means to deflect sound or light.
  1. Intermittently the ionosphere REFRACTS radio waves of certain frequencies, allowing transmissions between distant points on the Earth.

The school has announced plans to deal with the REFRACTORY students.



brightly shining; resplendent

  1. On the queen's neck was a necklace of jewels, in the middle of which was a large, REFULGENT diamond.

Astronomers are studying the REFULGENT object that suddenly appeared in the sky.



to contradict; disprove

  1. The eighteenth-century English author Samuel Johnson claimed to have REFUTED the philosophy of idealism by kicking a large stone.
  • The noun is refutation.
  1. Fundamentalism arose in Protestantism as a REFUTATION of the liberal theology of the early twentieth century, which interpreted Christianity in terms of contemporary scientific theories.

One way to REFUTE an argument is to show that one or more of the premises on which it is based is false.



to entertain

  1. Former U.S. presidents Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton often REGALED visitors with amusing political anecdotes.

The guest speaker REGALED the audience with hilarious anecdotes from her childhood.



to consign to an inferior position

  1. Idealist philosophers are a common target of satire; however, instead of RELEGATING them all to the garbage can, one should reflect that thinkers such as Plato and Kant have given humanity some of its most profound ideas.

Students of religion have discerned a pattern in many religions in which some gods gradually attain prominence and others are RELEGATED to an inferior status.



to object or protest

  1. Minority members of the committee REMONSTRATED with the majority members, saying that the proposal was unjust; nevertheless, it was approved.

The conservative and liberal REMONSTRATED with each other over the issue long into the night.



to go back on one's word

  1. Generally, if one party to an agreement RENEGES on its contractual obligations, it must provide appropriate compensation to the other party.

Tim RENEGED on his bet with Harry, claiming it had just been a joke.



amends; compensation

  1. The judge said she would not sentence the man to jail on the condition that he pay full REPARATION to the family hurt by his crime.

The court ordered the convicted woman to make RREPARATIONS to the family that she had done so much harm to.



fret; complain

  1. The president told the congressional representative he should stop REPINING over the lost opportunity and join the majority in exploring new ones.

The employee did not REPINE at being assigned to do the arduous task, but rather, accepted it as a challenge.



repetition, especially of a piece of music

  1. The stnading ovation at the end of the set meant that the band had little choice but to REPRISE a few of their most popular tunes.
  • The verb is also reprise.

The New Year's Eve revelers demanded a REPRISE of 'Auld Lang Syne."



to find fault with; blame

  1. The speaker in Andrew Marvell's poem "To His Coy Mistress" REPROACHES his beloved for ignoring the passing of time and for not being willing to physically express her love for him.

Janet REPROACHED her friend for being lazy.



morally unprincipled person

  1. The social worker refused to give up hope of reforming the criminal who was generally regarded as a REPROBATE.

The judge warned the convicted man that he was beginning to consider him a hopeless REPROBATE who should be kept in prison away from innocent people.



to reject as having no authority

  1. In the 1960s, many black leaaders such as Malcolm X and Stokely Carmicael REPUDIATED integration and nonviolence in favor of black separatism and passive resistence in the fight for civil rights.

The gangster REPUDIATED all his past associations with criminals in the city.



to cancel

  1. The salesperson said he would RESCIND his offer to sell the goods at a 10 percent discount unless he received full payment within 24 hours.

The company RESCINDED its job offer when it was found that the candidate had provided falsified documents.



determination; resolve

  1. Fred's RESOLUTION to succeed is unshaken despite the many setbacks he has suffered.

Every year Joanne makes a firm RESOLUTION to work harder.



determination; firmness of purpose

  1. President Abraham Lincoln displayed remarkable RESOLVE in preventing the Confederate states from seceding.
  • The verb is also resolve.

John RESOLVED to study hard so he would get an "A" in chemistry.



not speaking freely; reserved; reluctant

  1. Many people in the west are RETICENT to criticize science, which in the view of many has become a sacred cow.

The counselor was finally able to get the RETICENT boy to talk about the problems in his family.



expressing deep respect; worshipful

  1. The biologist Loren Eisely had what could be described as a REVERENT attitude toward nature.
  • The verb is revere.

In Chinese culture children are expected to REVERE their parents.



a retaliatory action or retort

  1. The commander decided that the enemy attack must be countered with a quick RIPOSTE.

The talk show host is always ready with a clever RIPOSTE to the barbs of her guests.



excessively ornate; highly decorated; style of architecture in eighteenth-century Europe

  1. In music, the ROCOCO period (1730-1780) comes between the preceding Baroque period and the subsequent Classical period. The highly ornamented style of the Rococo period created new forms of dissonance that to listeners in previous eras would have sounded cacophonous.

The ROCOCO furniture seems out of place in the ultramodern building.



title or heading; category; established mode of procedure or conduct; protocol

  1. The data from the experiment was so diverse that the scientist decided to design a new RUBRIC to organize it.

The author decided to discuss forced sterilization under the RUBRIC of eugenics.



to regret

  1. The judge told the convicted man that he would come to RUE his decision to commit the crime.

The defendant told the members of the jury that they would RUE the day they had convicted him.



trick; crafty stratagem; subterfuge

  1. In July, 1999, a group of Christians from the United Kingdom traveled to various countries in which Crusaders had massacred people to apoplogize; however, many of the Moslems spurned this overture, believing it to be another Crusade in the form of a RUSE.

As a RUSE, the president's press secretary opened the news conference with the statement that the government would guarantee everyone in America a minimum salary of $100,000 per year.




  1. Samuel Johnson gave this SAGE, albeit hard, advice to writers wishing to improve their style: "Read over your compositions, and whenever you meet with a passage that you think is particularly fine, strike it out."
  • Sage is also a noun meaning a wise older person.

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was a SAGE who believed that everyone must engage in his or her own search for truth.



lascivious; lustful

  1. The school board decided that the book is too SALACIOUS to be in the school library.

The movie was given an "R" rating because of its SALACIOUS content.




  1. The SALUBRIOUS effects of exercise on both physical and mental health have been well documented.

Many people from the Midwest retire to Arizona because of the SALUBRIOUS climate.



expecting an improvement; favorable to health

  1. "The system of universal education is in our age the most prominent and SALUTORY feature of the spirit of enlightenment..." - President Benjamin Harrison, 1892

Advocates of Prohibiton believed that it would have a SALUTARY effect on people who enjoyed drinking alcoholic beverages.



to approve; ratify; permit

  1. The establishment of the state of Israel from Palestinian territory in 1948 was the realization of a hallowed dream for Zionists, but for many Palestinians it meant the SANCTIONING of continued domination of their land by Europeans.
  • Snction is also a noun meaning approval; ratifiction; permission.
  1. In the West, the institution of marriage is traditionally given formal SANCTION by both the Church and the State, which has the social function of reinforcing its importance and the seriousness of the duties it entails.
  • The noun sanction can also mean penalization.
  1. The United Nations has the power to compel obedience to international law by SANCTIONS or even war, but there must be unanimity for such action among the five permanent members of the Security Council.
  • The verb sanction can also mean to penalize.

Economic SANCTIONS against the country have made life difficult for tis people; even everyday necessities are becoming scarce.



pertaining to tailors

  1. Off-screen, the glamorous actress' SARTORIAL style runs more to jeans and T-shirts than to elaborate gowns.

The book claims to give advice that solves men's SARTORIAL problems easily and cheaply.



to satisfy

  1. The bully SATIATED his fury by pummeling the helpless little boy.

A fried chicken dinner should be enough to SSATIATE the hungry student's appetite.



to soak thoroughly; imbue throughout

  1. The writer's recollection of her childhood is SATURATED with sunshine and laughter.

The company decided to try to sell another product because the market for personal computers had become SATURATED.




  1. When the long list of casualties from the battle were announced, the mood in the room was SATURNINE.

June is one of those people whose mood can suddenly become SATURNINE and then just as quickly become sunny and cheerful.



a creature that is half-man, half-beast with the horns and legs of a goat; it is a follower of Dionysos; a lecher

  1. One of the best-known SATYRS is Pan, the god of the woods in Greek mythology.

Hugh has a peputation as a bit of a SATYR among the women in the office.



to enjoy; have a distinctive flavor or smell

  1. The coach gave his team a day off practice to SAVOR their big victory.

Celebrating the end of her diet, Tina SAVORED every mouthful of the ice cream sundae.



relating to or in the form of an outline or diagram

  1. The engineer outlined the workings of the factory in SCHEMATIC form.

The electrical engineer made a SCHEMATIC diagram of the circuit.



produce and release substance into organism

  1. The pancreas gland SECRETES a fluid that helps fat, carbohydrates, and protein to be digested in the small intestine.

Cells in the mucous membrane of the stomach SECRETE hydrochloric acid to help in the digestion of food.



cynical; scornfully mocking

  1. Satire that is too SARDONIC often loses its effectiveness.

The satirist's unremittingly SARDONIC tone left the reviewer feeling that here was a man of great talent who had, sadly, retreated to a bitterly cynical, even misanthropic attitude toward the world.



behavior prompting rebellion

  1. The federal prosecutor argued that the journalist's article could be interpreted as an act of SEDITION since it strongly suggested that the government should be overturned.

SEDITION is treated so seriously because it is a threat to the very existence of the state.




  1. The Nobel Prize-wiinning scientist attributed his success to what he termed "curiosity, a modicum of intelligence, and SEDULOUS application."

The detective was SEDULOUS in collecting evidence to prove his client's innocence.



relating to earthquakes; earthshaking

  1. The study of SEISMIC waves enables scientists to learn about the Earth's structure.

According to geologists, in its early history the Earth was continually shaken by massive SEISMIC disturbances.



relating to the senses; gratifying the physical senses, especially sexual appetites

  1. The yogi teaches his students that attachment to SENSUAL pleasure is one of the great hindrances to spiritual advancement.

The book describes a society almost entirely dedicated to SENSUAL delight.



relating to the senses; operating through the senses

  1. The American painter Georgia O'Keeffe is known especially for her SENSUOUS paintings of plants and flowers and for her landscapes.

The philosopher Plato believed that a process of reason, independent of SENSUOUS information, could help a man arrive at the true nature of reality.



aware; conscious; able to perceive

  1. Charles Darwin regarded many animals as being SENTIENT and as having intelligence.
  • The noun is sentience.
  1. An analgesic relieves pain but unlike an anesthetic, does not cause loss of sensation or SENTIENCE.

The book explores the question of how SENTIENT beings that evolved differently from huamns would regard the world.



submissive; obedient

  1. None of the dictator's SERVILE citizens dared question his decree.

Most of the population of the occupied country behaved in a SERVILE manner toward the foreign soldiers.



navigation tool that determines latitude and logitude

  1. Because it enabled precise determination of position, the SEXTANT quickly became an essential tool in navigation after its invention in 1731.

Because it is not dependent on electricity for power, the SEXTANT is still used as a backup navigation tool on many ships.



a piece of broken glass or pottery

  1. Archeologists were able to reconstruct the drinking vessel from SHARDS found around the ancient campsite.

SHARDS found at the site suggest that there was human habitation in the area 5,000 years ago.



relating to the stars

  1. A SIDEREAL year is longer than a solar year by 20 minutes and 23 seconds.

The science fiction novel describes a SIDEREAL adventure.



apelike; relating to apes

  1. Many people in the nineteenth century denied the evolutionary significance of the SIMIAN characteristics of human beings.

Before Charles Darwin proved the close biological relation between human beings and apes, many people saw human SIMIAN characteristics as comical and inconsequential.



comparison of one thing with another using "like" or "as"

  1. In his autobiographical book Chronicles, Volume 1, Bob Dylan uses two SIMILES in succession to try to convey the experience of writing a song: "A song is like a dream, and you try to make it come true. They're like strange countries you have to enter,"

We often use SIMILES in expressions like "as old as the hills" and "as sharp as a tack" without being consciously aware that they are similes.



well-paying job or office that requires little or no wrok

  1. The company established the high-paying position of senior advisor as a SINECURE for the man who had been instrumental in the company's success for so many years.

The governor awarded his advisor with a SINECURE as a reward for 20 years of service to the party and the state.



unique; extraodinary; odd

  1. The defendant's SINGULAR appearance made it easy for the witness to identify him as the person at the scene of the crime.

"Money is a SINGULAR thing. It ranks with love as man's greatest source of joy. And with death as his geatest source of sorrow." -John Kenneth Galbraith



winding; intricate; complex

  1. The students had trouble following the philosopher's SINUOUS line of reasoning.

The SINUOUS road curves along the mountainside.



one who doubts

  1. Like the nihilist, a comprehensive philosophic SKEPTIC can be a difficult person to debate: if you tell him you know you exist, he is likely to ask you to prove it - and that can be harder than it first appears.
  • The adjective is skeptical.
  1. A good scientist is SKEPTICAL about inferences made from data; however, he must not be dogmatic about the possible implications the data might have.

The SKEPTIC argued taht the purported exhibition of occult powers was created by the use of conjurer's tricks.




  1. The student approaches her studies with commendable SOBRIETY.

The judge recommended her law clerk for the position in the law firm as "a young person of probity and SOBRIETY."



thoroughly soaked; saturated

  1. The SODDEN field makes it difficult for the soccer players to move effectively.

Looking at the SODDEN field, the football coach realized he would have to adapt his game plan to wet conditions.



concerned; attentive; eager

  1. The nurse is extremely SOLICITOUS of the health of every patient in the ward.

Mary complains that when they were young her husband was very SOLICITOUS of her, but now he practically ignores her.



literary or dramatic speech by one character, not addressed to others

  1. The nineteenth-century English poet Robert Browning used the dramatic monologue - which is essentially a SOLILOQUY in a poem - successfully in many of him poems.

In Act III of Hamlet, Shakespeare has Hamlet speak a SOLILOQUY on the question of "To be, or not to be."



able to meet financial obligations

  1. During the financial crisis several large banks had difficulty remaining SOLVENT.

Economists are concerned that some of the poorest countries will have difficulty remaining SOLVENT as interest rates rise and the amount of their debt repayments increase.



relating to or affecting the body; corporeal

  1. A psychosomatic disorder is a malady caused by a mental disturbance that adversely affects SOMATIC functioning.

In recent years, medicine has placed greater emphasis on how psychological factors contribute to SOMATIC disorders such as heart disease and cancer.



sleep producing

  1. For some people the best SOPORIFIC is reading a boring book.

The long car ride was a SOPORIFIC for the family's small children; soon they were fast asleep in the back of the car.



filthy; contemptible and corrupt

  1. The Monica Lewinsky scandal, which led to President Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1988, must certainly rank as one of the most SORDID affairs in American history.

The governor issued a complete and public apology to put the SORDID affair behind him.



seeming to be logical and sound, but not really so

  1. The article systematically rebuts the SPECIOUS ar0gument advanced by the so-called expert in the field.

Newspapers sometimes publish stories with SPECIOUS claims to increase sales.



band of colors produced when sunlight passes through a prism; a broad range of related ideas or objects

  1. The political science course deals with the whole SPECTRUM of political ideologies.

The various portions of the electromagnetic SPECTRUM are allocated to broadcasters, commercial operators, amateur hobbyists, and other users.



person who spends money recklessly

  1. A Chinese proverb describes a paradox: Rich SPENDTHRIFTS never save enough, but the poor always manage to save somehting.
  • The adjective spendthrift means wasteful and extravagant.
  1. Tom's SPENDTHRIFT habits resulted in his accumulating a huge amount of credit debt.

A SPENDTHRIFT most of his life, Alex has only recently begun to save for his retirement.




  1. Despite the ceasefire, there have been SPORADIC outbreaks of violence between the warring factions.

SPORADIC outbreaks of violence marred the ceasefire.



filthy, wretched condition

  1. The family lives in SQUALOR in the slums of Mexico City.

Many towns have an area where people live in SQUALOR.



marked by abrupt, clear-cut sounds

  1. We listened to the STACCATO steps of the woman in high heels running down the street.

The salesperson has a sort of machine-gun way of speaking, fast and STACCATO.



to stop or check the flow of

  1. The country's government has put controls on currency movement to STANCH the flow of money out of the country.

The medic used a tourniquet to STANCH  the woman's bleeding wound.



extremely loud

  1. The STENTORIAN speaker prefers not to use a microphone so that the audience can appreciate what he calls "the full effect of my powerful oratory."

The speaker's STENTORIAN voice rang through the hall.



mark of disgrace or inferiority

  1. A problem with giving formal psychological treatment to a child who is believed to be poorly adjusted to society is that he may acquire a STIGMA as a result of officially being labeled as deviant, and he may act to corroborate society's expectation.
  • The verb is stigmatize.
  1. The civil rights movement helped to STIGMATIZE racism, augmenting legal efforts to desegregate American society.

In most societies there is a  STIGMA attached to mental illness.



to be sparing

  1. Stinting on funding for education strikes many people as shortsighted.
  • Stint is also a noun meaning a period of time spent doing something.
  1. Isaac Asimov did a short involuntary STINT in the army as a conscript during the 1950s.

A two-year STINT in the navy allowed Janet to visit 22 countries.



to specify as an essential condition

  1. The president's lawyer STIPULATED that he would appear before the investigative committee, but would answer only questions directly relevant to the issue at hand.
  • The noun is stipulation.
  1. Stipulations in a contract should be clear in order to obviate the need for parties to resort to litigation.

The baseball stadium's ground rules STIPULATE that a batter who hits a ball that bounces off the ground into the left field bleachers gets a double.



having or showing little emotion

  1. Behind the professor's STOLID appearance is a fun-loving, gregarious character.

Luke was one of those STOLID individuals who rarely show their feelings.



arranged in layers

  1. One of the implications of an increasingly STRTIFIED economy for America might be increased social unrest.
  • The noun stratum means a layer.
  1. In the English-speaking world many members of the upper classes historically have had a deprecatory attitude toward slang, a form of language they regard as indecorous and thus suitable only for the lowest STRATUM of society.
  • The plural of stratum is strata.
  1. As it matured as a science, geology began to complement biology, a process that helped it to gain a more comprehensive view of the history of life on Earth by allowing fossils to be dated and identified (paleontology), often using knowledge gained from stratigraphy - the study of the deposition, distribution, and age of rock STRATA.
  • The noun stratification is used in the sociological term social stratification. It refers to the hierarchical arrangement of individuals in a society into classes or casetes.

Modern societies tend to be STRATIFIED into classes determined by such factors as wealth and occupation.



marked with thin, narrow grooves or channels

  1. The STRIATED surface suggested to the geologist that he was walking over an area in which there once had been a torrent of water.
  • Striation is the noun.
  1. The geologist examined STRIATIONS in the rock to learn about the glacier that had made them 10,000 years ago.

The geologists examined STRIATED rocks left by the retreating glaciers.



something that restrains; negative criticism

  1. As professionals, lawyers are expected to abide by a set of ethical STRICTURE in their practice of the law.

Perhaps the central paradox of poetry is that the STRICTURES imposed by form on a poet of talent can help produce works of great power.



loud; harsh; unpleasantly noisy

  1. Calls for the prime minister's resignation became more STRIDENT after it was discovered that he had strong connections to organized crime.

They sat silently in the room, listening to the telephone's STRIDENT ringing.



to swagger; display to impress others

  1. The star quarterback STRUTTED around campus the entire week after he led his team to a 42-0 win over the country's top-ranked team.

The drill team STRUTTED into the stadium to perform the half-time show.



to impair or reduce to uselessness

  1. The professor of education believes that overreliance on rote learning STULTIFIES students' creativity.

Businesses complained that government regulations are STULTIFYING free competition and innovation.



to dull the senses of ; stun; astonish

  1. After drinking three glasses of wine, Linda was STUPEFIED.

Several people at the party were STUPEFIED from overdrinking.



dark and gloomy; hellish

  1. Wilfred Owen's famous poem "Duke Et Decorum Est" describes an unfortunate soldier who was unable to get his gas mask on in time, seen through the STYGIAN gloom of poison gas: GAS! Gas! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling, Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time; But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And floundering like a man in fire or lime,- Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

The news that the country was being invaded plunged it into a STYGIAN gloom.



notice ordering someone to appear in court

  1.  The judge issued a SUBPOENA for the man but the prosecutor had little hope that he would appear because he was living abroad.

The prosecution SUBPOENAED three witnesses it considered vital to its case.



to settle down; grow quiet

  1. Army personnel told the civilians to wait for the violence to SUBSIDE before reentering the town.

The engineers waited for the floodwaters to SUBSIDE before assessing the damage.



to support with proof or evidence

  1. The validity of fossil identification is SUBSTANTIATED by data from geology and carbon-14 dating.

Advocates of the theory that Atlantis existed more than 6,000 years ago sometimes use evidence of dubious authenticity to SUBSTANTIATE their claims.



essential; pertaining to the substance

  1. The judge cautioned the attorney to present only information that was SUBSTANTIVE to the case at hand.

The experiment provided such SUBSTANTIVE evidence for the new theory that most scientists now accept it.



to include; incorporate

  1. The philosopher described his work as an attempt to arrive at a final generalization that will SUBSUME all previous generalizations about the nature of logic.

The scientist was able to formulate a general principle that SUBSUMES five more specific principles.



intended to undermine or overthrow, especially an established government

  • The verb is also subvert.
  1. Anything that SUBVERTS the market mechanism is believed to cause anomalies in prices, making the economy less efficient.
  • Subversive is also a noun meaning a person intending to undermine something.

The critic called Emily Bronte's novel Wuthering Heights SUBVERSIVE because it attacks capitalist beliefs.



relief; help in time of distress or want

  1. The woman was accused of providing SUCCOR to the enemy in the form of food and medical help.

The depressed man found SUCCOR by going inside the church to pray.



the right to vote

  1. The pivotal feminist goal of SUFFRAGE was not obtained in the United States until 1920, and in Britain not until 1928.

The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution extended SUFFRAGE to both men and women from the age of 18 years, largely because of the fact that many men younger than 21 were being conscripted to fight in the Vietnam War but had no vote.




  1. The main character in the novel returns home safely after his SUNDRY adventures.

The book tells the story of the protagonist's adventures in Africa over the last 20 years.



to replace, especially to displace as inferior or antiquated

  1. Malay was the linguag franca of the Malay peniinsula for centuries, but in many parts of that region it is being SUPERSEDED in that role by a European interloper, English.

Some experts predict that books made from paper will one day be SUPERSEDED by electronic books.



lying on the back; marked  by lethargy

  1. The captured robbery suspects were held SUPINE on the floor.

After eating our picnic lunch, we all lay SUPINE on the ground, looking at the clouds.



to replace; substitute

  1. The "Frankenstein monster" fear of some people is that AI machines will eventually SUPPLANT biological life forms, making such life redundant or even subservient.

The first generation of digital computers based on vacuum tube technology were SUPPLANTED by a second generation of transistorized computers in the late 1950s and 1960s that could perform millions of operations a second.




  1. The worshippers raised their SUPPLIANT votes to God, praying for forgiveness.

The painter portrays a SUPPLIANT sinner begging for forgiveness.



one who asks humbly and earnestly

  1. The mother of the man sentenced to be executed appeared as a SUPPLICANT before the governor, asking him to grant her son clemency.

The SUPPLICANTS approached the king, begging him to forgive their offences.



the act of assuming to be true or real

  1. Science proceeds on the SUPPOSITION that knowledge is possible.

The astronomers searching for extraterrestrial life are proceeding on the SUPPOSITION that life requires water.



a form of deductive reasoning that has a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion

  1. The following SYLLOGISM is often taught in logic courses: "All Xs are Ys, all Ys are ZS; therefore, all Xs are Zs."

The logic instructor asked her class to consider whether the following SYLLOGISM was true: Some A are B, some B are C. Therefore, some A are C.



related to the wods or forest

  1. The house's SYLVAN setting provides the family with beauty and tranquility.

The poet lives in SYLVAN seclusion, writing about the beauty of nature.



silently understood; implied

  1. During the Cold War, there was a TACIT assumption on the part of both the Soviet Union and the United States that neither side would launch an unprovoked nuclear attack against the other side.

By TACIT agreement no one in the group talked about the controversial subject of the war.



habitually untalkative

  1. The teacher couldn't get the TACITURN child to tell her what activities he enjoyed during recess.

Alice is TACITURN, whereas Amy is garrulous.



charm to bring good luck and avert misfortune

  1. The soldier's mother gave him a TALISMAN to protect him from harm during battle.

Archeologists have discovered objects they believe were used as TALISMANS by warriors to ward off death.



peripheral; digressing

  1. The judge ruled that the evidence had only a TANGENTIAL bearing on the case and directed the lawyer to present only a brief summary of it.

The judge asked everyone involved in the hearing to avoid introducing information TANGENTIAL to the main issue.



unnecessary repetition

  1. Unless the phrase "repeat again" is being used to refer to something that has occurred more than twice, it is a TAUTOLOGY.

The English teacher asked the class to consider whether the phrases "past history" and "old adage" are TAUTOLOGY.



science of classification; in biology, the process of classifying organisms in categories

  1. In the late seventeenth century and the eighteenth century accurate observation of organisms developed, leading to the development of the science of TAXONOMY and morphology (the study of the form and structure of organisms.)

Linnaean TAXONOMY, used in biology, classifies living things into a hierarchy, assigning each a unique place in the system.



belief; doctrine

  1. In his novel Walden II, the psychologist B. F. Skinner depicts a brave new world based on the TENETS of a behavioral psychology that frees human beings form the inhibitions and preconceptions of traditional society.

A central TENET of democracy is that the law should treat everyone equally, regardless of his or her race, gender, or social status.



weak; insubstantial

  1. Study of the historical evidence has shown that there is only a TENUOUS connection between the country Plato describes in The Republic and the legendary land of Atlantis.

The study has established a relationship, albeit a TENUOUS one, between brain size in mammals and intelligence.



government by priests representing a god

  1. All Islamic fundamentalists are opposed to secularism, and some of them support THEOCRACY.

The aim of the revolutionaries was to establish a THEOCRACY in the country run by senior clergy.



an actor or actress

  1. Every year the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland gives THESPIANS from around the world the opportunity to perform before a diverse audience.

The college THESPIANS plan to perform three of Shakespeare's comedies this year.



the characteristic quality of sound produced by a particular instrument or voice; tone color

  1. The audience was delighted by the rich TIMBRE of the singer's soprano.

The musician has a special affinity for the guitar because of its beautiful TIMBRE.



long, violent speech; verbal assault

  1. The students had no choice but to sit and wait for the principal's TIRADE about poor discipline to end.

Every day the talk show host launches into a TIRADE against the failings of modern society.



flatterer; hanger-on; yes-man

  1. The boss had no respect for the employee because he considered him a TOADY who would do anything he said.

Yes, the TOADY won his promotion, but at what cost to his self-respect?



book, usually large and academic

  1. Despite being an abridged edition of the twenty-volume Oxford English Dictionary, the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary consists of two TOMES that define over half a million words.

This 800-page TOME called Biology contains most of the information students need to learn for the introductory biology course.



lethargy; dormancy; sluggishness

  1. After returning home from his coast-to-coast trip, the truck driver sank into a peaceful TORPOR, watching TV and dozing.

In his Malayan Trilogy, the British novelist Anthony Burgess describes the TORPOR induced by hot Malaysian afternoons



a turning or twisting force; the moment of a force; the measure of a force's tendency to produce twisting or turning and rotation around an axis.

  1. Internal combustion engines produce useful TORQUE over a rather circumscribed range of rotational speeds (normally from about 1,000 rpm to 6,000 rpm).

The diesel model of the Nissan Patrol is popular in Australia because it develops sufficient TORQUE to drive through steep, muddy terrain.



having many twists and turns; highly complex

  1. Only the world's leading mathematicians are able to follow the TORTUOUS line of reasoning used by the English mathematician Andrew Wiles to prove Fermat's Last Theorem via the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture.

The book describes the author's TORTUOUS journey from cynicism and despair to faith and hope.



to promote or praise energetically

  1. The critic TOUTED Moby Dick as the greatest book in American literature.

The café TOUTS its cappuccino as the best in town.



obedient; yielding

  1. The country's leader found that the people became more TRACTABLE when he made them believe there was a great threat facing them that only he could overcome.

The violent prisoner became TRACTABLE after he was given a sedative.



act of trespassing or violating a law or rule

  1. The teacher made it clear on the first day of the term that she would not countenance any TRANSGRESSION of classroom rules.
  • The verb is transgress.
  1. Western medicine TRANSGRESSED Hippocrates' prescriptions for medicine when doctors debilitated patients through the administration of purges and bloodletting.

The judge in the most recent of the many times Dr. Jack Kervorkian was tried for murder for assisting a terminally ill person to kill himself held that the law is sacrosanct and cannot be TRANSGRESSED by an individual, even for reasons of conscience.



temporary; short-lived; fleeting

  1. A hypothesis to explain the fact that American states in which the population is composed of a large number of recently settled people (California, for example) tend to have high rates of crime, suicide, divorce, and other social problems is that anomie is higher in TRANSIENT populations than in more stable populations, resulting in more antisocial behavior.

This afternoon's solar eclipse will be a TRANSIENT phenomenon, so make sure you are ready to observe it as soon as it begins.



partially transparent

  1. The architect decided to install a TRANSLUCENT door in the room to allow outside light to shine in.

A prism is a TRANSLUCENT piece of glass or crystal that creates a spectrum of light separated according to colors.