Flashcards in Quick Quizzes 60 - 67 Deck (99):
obdurate (AHB duh rit) adj stubborn and insensitive
Obdurate contains one of the same roots as durable and endurance; each word conveys a different sense of hardness
The committee's obdurate refusal to listen to our plan was heart-breaking to us since we had spent ten years coming up with it.
obfuscate (AHB fuh skayt) v to darken; to confuse; to make confusing
The spokesman's attempt to explain what the president had meant merely obfuscated the issue further. People had hoped the spokesman would elucidate the issue.
To obfuscate something is to engage in obfuscation.
oblique (oh BLEEK) adj indirect; at an angle
In geometry, lines are said to be oblique if they are neither parallel nor perpendicular to one another. The word has a related meaning outside of mathematics. An oblique statement is one that does not directly address the topic at hand, that approaches it as if from an angle.
oblivion (uh BLIV ee un) n total forgetfulness; the state of being forgotten
To be oblivious is to be forgetful or unaware.
obscure (ub SKYOOR) adj unknown; hard to understand; dark
The comedy nightclub was filled with obscure comedians who stole one another's jokes and seldom got any laughs.
obsequious (ub SEE kwee us) adj fawning; subservient; sucking up to
Ann's assistant was so obsequious that she could never tell what he really thought about anything.
obtuse (ahb TOOS) adj insensitive; blockheaded
The obtuse student couldn't seem to grasp the difference between addition and subtraction.
officious (uh FISH us) adj annoyingly eager to help or advise
The officious salesperson refused to leave us alone, so we finally left without buying anything.
onerous (AHN ur us) adj burdensome; oppressive
We were given the onerous task of cleaning up after the prom.
This word can also be pronounced (OH nur us).
opaque (oh PAYK) adj impossible to see through; impossible to understand
The windows in the movie star's house were made not of glass but of some opaque material intended to keep his fans fro spying on him.
The noun form of opaque is opacity (oh PAS uh tee).
opulent (AHP yuh lunt) adj luxurious
Everything in the opulent palace was made of gold--except the toilet-paper holder, which was made of platinum.
Opulence is often ostentatious.
orthodox (OR thuh dahks) adj conventional; adhering to established principles or doctrines, especially in religion; by the book
Austin's views were orthodox; there was nothing shocking about any of them.
The body of what is orthodox is called orthodoxy.
ostensible (ah STEN suh bul) adj apparent (but misleading); professed
Blake's ostensible mission was to repair a broken telephone, but his real goal was to eavesdrop on the boss's conversation.
ostentatious (ahs ten TAY shus) adj excessively conspicuous; showing off
pacify (PAS uh fye) v to calm someone down; to placate
A parent gives a baby a pacifier to pacify him.
A pacifist is someone who does not believe in war.
painstaking (PAYN stay king) adj extremely careful; taking pains painstaking = pains-taking = taking pains
The jeweler was painstaking i his effort not to ruin the $50 million diamond.
palliate (PAL ee ayt) v to relieve or alleviate something without getting rid of the problem; to assuage; to mitigate
You take aspirin in the hope that it will palliate your headache.
Aspirin is a palliative (PAL yuh tiv).
palpable (PAL puh bul) adj capable of being touched; obvious; tangible
The opposite of palpable is impalpable.
paltry (PAWL tree) adj insignificant; worthless
The lawyer's efforts on our behalf were paltry; they didn't add up to anything.
panacea (pan uh SEE uh) n something that cures everything
Granny believed that her "rheumatiz medicine" was a panacea. No matter what you were sick with, that was what she prescribed.
paradigm (PAR uh dime) n a model or example
Mr. Hufstader is the best teacher in the whole world; his classroom should be the paradigm for all classrooms.
paradox (PAR uh dahks) n a true statement or phenomenon that nonetheless seems to contradict itself; and untrue statement or phenomenon that nonetheless seems logical
Mr. Cooper is a political paradox; he's a staunch Republican who votes only for Democrats.
A paradox is paradoxical.
Pasquale's dislike of ice cream was paradoxical considering that he worked as an ice-cream taster.
parochial (puh ROH kee ul) adj narrow or confined in point of view; provincial
A lot of people think a parochial school is a religious school. Traditionally, a parochial school is just the school of the parish or neighborhood. In other contexts parochial has negative connotations.
parody (PAR uh dee) n a satirical imitation
parsimonious (pahr suh MOH nee us) adj stingy
partisan (PAHR tuh zun) n one who supports a particular person, cause or idea
The mountain village was attacked by partisans of the rebel chieftain.
Partisan can also be used as an adjective meaning biased, as in partisan politics. An issue everyone agrees on regardless of the party he or she belongs to is a nonpartisan issue. Bipartisan means supported by two (bi) parties.
patent (PAYT unt) adj obvious
To say that the earth is flat is a patent absurdity since the world is obviously spherical.
paternal (puh TUR nul) adj fatherly; fatherlike
Doug is paternal toward his niece.
Maternal (muh TUR nul) means motherly or momlike.
pathology (puh THAHL uh jee) n the science of diseases
Pathology is the science or study of diseases, but not necessarily in the medical sense. Pathological means relating to pathology, but it also means arising from a disease. So if we say Brad is an inveterate, incorrigible, pathological (path uh LAHJ uh kul) liar, we are saying that Brad's lying is a sickness.
patriarch (PAY tree ahrk) n the male head of a family or tribe
The adjective is patriarchal (pay tree AHRK ul)
A female head of a family is a matriarch, and such a family would be described as matriarchal.
patrician (puh TRISH un) n a person of noble birth; an aristocrat
Patrician can also be an adjective. Polo is a patrician sport.
patronize (PAY truh nyze) v to treat as an inferior; to condescend to
Our guide at the art gallery was extremely patronizing, treating us as though we wouldn't be able to distinguish a painting from a piece of sidewalk without her help.
Patronize also means to frequent or be a regular customer of. To patronize a restaurant is to eat there often, not to treat it as an inferior.
paucity (PAW suh tee) n scarcity
peccadillo (pek uh DIL oh) n a minor offense
pedantic (puh DAN tik) adj boringly scholarly or academic
pedestrian (puh DES tree un) adj unimaginative; banal
A pedestrian is someone walking, but to be pedestrian is to be something else altogether.
pejorative (pi JOR uh tiv) adj negative; disparaging
"Hi, stupid" is a pejorative greeting. "Loudmouth" is a nickname with a pejorative connotation.
penchant (PEN chunt) n a strong taste or liking for something; a predilection
Dogs have a penchant for chasing cats and mailmen.
penitent (PEN uh tunt) adj sorry; repentant; contrite
pensive (PEN siv) adj thoughtful and sad
peremptory (puh REMP tuh ree) adj final; categorical; dictatorial
Someone who is peremptory says or does something without giving anyone a chance to dispute it.
perennial (puh REN ee ul) adj continual; happening again and again or year after year
Flowers called perennials are flowers that bloom year after year without being replanted.
Biennial (bye EN ee ul) and centennial (sen TEN ee ul) are related words. Biennial means happening once every two years (biannual means happening twice a year). Centennial means happening once every century.
perfidy (PUR fuh dee) n treachery
I was appalled at Al's perfidy. He had sworn to me that he was my best friend, but then he asked my girlfriend to the prom.
To engage in perfidy is to be perfidious (pur FID ee us).
perfunctory (pur FUNGK tuh ree) adj unenthusiastic; careless
Sandra's lawn mowing was perfunctory at best: She skipped all the difficult parts and didn't rake up the clippings.
peripatetic (per uh pet TET ik) adj wandering; traveling continually; itinerant
Groupies are a peripatetic bunch, traveling from concert to concert to follow their favorite rock stars.
periphery (puh RIF uh ree) n the outside edge of something
perjury (PUR jur ee) n lying under oath
permeate (PUR mee ayt) v to spread or seep through; to penetrate
A horrible smell quickly permeated the van after Kinsey farted.
Something that can be permeated is said to be permeable.
pernicious (pur NISH us) adj deadly; extremely evil
Lung cancer is a pernicious disease.
perquisite (PUR kwuh zit) n a privilege that goes along with a job; a "perk"
Free access to a photocopier is a perquisite of most office jobs.
A perquisite should not be confused with a prerequisite (pree REK wuh zit), which is a necessity.
pertinent (PUR tuh nunt) adj relevant; dealing with the matter at hand
The suspect said that he was just borrowing the jewelry for a costume ball. The cop said he did not think that was pertinent.
By the way, impertinent means disrespectful.
perturb (pur TURB) v to disturb greatly
Ivan's mother was perturbed by his aberrant behavior at the dinner table. Ivan's father was not bothered. Nothing bothered Ivan, Sr. He was imperturbable.
peruse (puh ROOZ) v to read carefully
This word is misused more often than it is used correctly. To peruse something is not to skim it or read it quickly. To peruse something is to study it or read it with great care.
To peruse something is to engage in perusal.
prerequisite (pree REK wuh zit) n a necessity
Chemistry is a prerequisite to Physics; you must take Chemistry before you can take Physics.
pervade (pur VAYD) v to spread throughout
A terrible smell pervaded the apartment building after the sewer explosion.
Something that pervades is pervasive.
petulant (PECH uh lunt) adj rude; cranky; ill-tempered
The petulant waiter slammed down our water glasses and spilled a tureen of soup onto Roger's kilt.
To be petulant is to engage is petulance, or rudeness.
philanthropy (fi LAN thruh pee) n love of mankind, especially by doing good deeds
A charity is a philanthropic (fi lun THRAH pik) institution. An altruist is someone who cares about other people. A philanthropist (fi LAN thruh pist) is actively doing things to help, usually by giving time or money.
philistine (FIL i steen) n a smugly ignorant person with no appreciation of intellectual or artistic matters
pious (PYE us) adj reverent or devout; outwardly (and sometimes falsely) reverent or devout; hypocritical
This is a sometimes confusing word with meaning that are very nearly opposite each other.
A pious Presbyterian is one who goes to church every Sunday and says his prayers every night before bed. Pious in the sense means something like religiously dutiful.
Pious can also be used to describe behavior or feelings that aren't religious at all but are quite hypocritical.
The adulterous minister's sermon on marital fidelity was filled with pious disregard for his own sins.
pivotal (PIV uh tul) adj crucial
Pivotal is the adjective form of the verb to pivot. To pivot is to turn on a single point or shaft. A basketball player pivots when he turns while leaving one foot planted in the same place on the floor.
A pivotal comment is a comment that turns a discussion. It is an important comment.
placate (PLAY kayt) v to pacify; to appease; to soothe
The tribe placated the angry volcano by tossing a few teenagers into the raging crater.
plaintive (PLAYN tiv) adj expressing sadness or sorrow
You could also say that there was plaintiveness in that bird's song.
don't confuse plaintive with plaintiff. A plaintiff is a person who takes someone to court--who makes a legal complaint.
platitude (PLAT uh tood) n a dull or trite remark; a cliche
The principle thinks he is a great orator, but his loud, boring speech was full of platitudes.
plebeian (pluh BEE un) adj common; vulgar; low-class
Plebeian is the opposite of aristocratic.
plethora (PLETH ur uh) n an excess
We ate a plethora of candy on Halloween and a plethora of turkey on Thanksgiving.
poignant (POYN yunt) adj painfully emotional; extremely moving; sharp or astute
The words poignant and pointed are very closely related, and they share much of the same range of meaning.
A poignant scene is one that is so emotional or moving that it is almost painful to watch.
Poignant can also man pointed in the sense of sharp or astute. A poignant comment might be one that shows great insight.
polarize (POH luh ryze) v to break up into opposing factions or groupings
The issue of what kind of sand to put in the sandbox polarized the nursery school class; some students would accept nothing but wet, while others wanted only dry.
polemic (puh LEM ik) n a powerful argument often made to attack or refute a controversial issue
The book was a convincing polemic that revealed the fraud at the heart of the large corporation.
ponderous (PAHN dur us) adj so large as to be clumsy; massive; dull
The wedding cake was a ponderous blob of icing and jelly beans.
portent (POR tent) n an omen; a sign of something coming in the future
Portentous (por TENT uhs) is the adjective form of portent, meaning ominous or filled with portent. But it is very often used to mean pompous, or self-consciously serious or ominous sounding. It can also mean amazing or prodigious.
postulate (PAHS chuh lut) n something accepted as true without proof; an axiom
A postulate is taken to be true because it is convenient to do so. We might be able to prove a postulate if we had the time, but not now. A theorem is something that is proven using postulates.
Postulate (PAHS chuh layt) can be used as a verb too.
Sherlock Holmes rarely postulated things, waiting for evidence before he made up his mind.
pragmatic (prag MAT ik) adj practical; down to earth; based on experience rather than theory
A pragmatic person is one who deals with things as they are rather than as they might be or should be.
Pragmatism (PRAG muh tiz um) is the belief or philosophy that the value or truth of something can be measured by its practical consequences.
precedent (PRES uh dunt) n an earlier example or model of something
Precedent is a noun form of the verb to precede, or go before. To set a precedent is to do something that sets an example for what may follow.
To be unprecedented is to have no precedent, to be something entirely new.
precept (PREE sept) n a rule to live by; a principle establishing a certain kind of action or behavior; a maxim
precipitate (pri SIP uh tayt) v to cause to happen abruptly
The police were afraid that arresting the angry protestors might precipitate a riot.
precipitous (pri SIP uh tus) adj steep
Precipitous means like a precipice, or cliff.
portentous (por TENT uhs) is the adjective form of portent, meaning ominous or filled with portent. But it is very often used to mean pompous, or self-consciously serious or ominous sounding. It can also mean amazing or prodigious.
preclude (pri KLOOD) v to prevent something from ever happening
presursor (pri KUR sur) n forerunner; something that goes before and anticipates or paves the way for whatever it is that follows
A sore throat is often the precursor of a cold.
predilection (pred uh LEK shun) n a natural preference for something
Joe's predilection for saturated fats has added roughly a foot to his waistline in the past twenty years.
preeminent (pree EM uh nunt) adj better than anyone else; outstanding; supreme
preempt (pree EMPT) v to seize something by prior right
A preemptive action is one that is undertaken in order to prevent some other action from being undertaken.
When the air force launched a preemptive strike against the missile base, the air force was attacking the missiles in order to prevent the missiles from attacking the air force.
premise (PREM is) n an assumption; the basis for a conclusion
Based on the premise that two wrongs don't make a right, I forgave him for insulting me rather than calling him a nasty name.
prepossess (pree puh ZES) v to preoccupy; to influence beforehand or prejudice; to make a good impression on beforehand
This word has several common meanings. Be careful.
When a person is prepossessed by an idea, he or she can't get it out of his or her mind.
Unprepossessing means unimpressive, but the word is only mildly negative.
prerogative (pri RAHG uh tiv) n a right or privilege connected exclusively with a position, a person, a class, a nation, or some other group or classification
Giving traffic tickets to people he didn't like was one of the prerogatives of Junior's job as a policeman.
prevail (pri VAYL) v to triumph; to overcome rivals; (with on, upon, or with) to persuade
When justice prevails, it means that good defeats evil.
My mother prevailed on me to make my bed. She told me she would punish me if I didn't, so I did.
The adjective prevailing means most frequent or predominant.
pristine (PRIS teen) adj original; unspoiled; pure
An antique in pristine condition is one that hasn't been tampered with over the years. It's still in its original condition.
prodigal (PRAHD uh gul) adj wastefully extravagant
The chef was prodigal with his employer's money, spending thousands of dollars on ingredients for what was supposed to be a simple meal.
prodigious (pruh DIJ us) adj extraordinary; enormous
The little boy caught a prodigious fish--it was ten times his size and might more easily have caught him had their situations been reversed.
prodigy (PRAHD uh jee) n an extremely talented child; an extraordinary accomplishment or occurrence
Barry was a mathematical prodigy; he had calculated pi to 100 decimal places almost before he could walk.
profane (proh FAYN) adj not having t do with religion; irreverent; blasphemous
Profane is the opposite of sacred. Worshiping the almighty dollar is profane. Profane can also mean disrespectful of religion. Cursing in class would be profane.
profess (pruh FES) v to declare; to declare falsely or pretend
Jason professed to have taught himself calculus.
proficient (pruh FISH unt) adj thoroughly competent; skillful; good (at something)
Proficiency is the state of being proficient.
profligate (PRAHF luh git) adj extravagantly wasteful and, usually wildly immoral
profound (pruh FOUND) adj deep (in several senses)
To say something profound is to say something deeply intelligent or discerning.
profuse (pruh FYOOS) adj flowing; extravagant
The grieving widow's tears were profuse. She had tears in profusion.
proletariat (proh luh TER ee ut) n the industrial working class
The proletariat is the laboring class--blue-collar workers or people who roll up their shirtsleeves to do an honest day's work.
proliferate (proh LIF uh rayt) v to spread or grow rapidly