GRE Vocabulary -Page 3 of 3

(n.) one who smashes revered images; an attacker of cherished beliefs

Nietzche’s attacks on government, religion, and custom made him an
iconoclast of
grand dimension.

The iconoclast spoke against the traditions of the holiday.  


(n.) speculation; representative way of thinking

His ideology proved to be faulty.

The ideology of business can be found in the new book.

He joined the religious group because he agreed with their ideology.


(n.) any personal peculiarity, mannerism

Her tendency to bite her lip is an idiosyncrasy.  idyll (n.) a written piece of
describing a peaceful rural scene Reading the idyll made me think of the
family farm.


(adj.) having the nature of fire; volcanic

When the sun shone upon it, the material took on an igneous quality.


(adj.) ordinary; dishonorable;

The king was adamant about keeping his son from wedding an ignoble serf.

Consciously lying to someone is ignoble.

It was ignoble to disgrace the family in front of all of the townspeople.


(adj.) contemptible; disgraced; degrading

The behavior was so ignominious he was ashamed to be associated with it.

She left him because of his ignominious treatment of her.


(v.) make understandable

I asked a classmate to illuminate the professor’s far-ranging lecture for me.


(adj.) deceiving, misleading

It was as illusive as a mirage.


(adj.) unreal; false; deceptive

He was proven guilty when his alibi was found to be illusory.


(v.) to soak or stain; permeate

The wound will imbue the shirt in blood.

The new day imbued him with a sense of optimism.


(adj.) perfectly clean; correct; pure

An immaculate house is free of dust or clutter.


(adj.) likely to happen without delay

The storm clouds warned of the imminent downpour.  immune (adj.) exempt
from or
protected against something Doesn’t everybody wish to be immune from the


(adj.) unchangeable; permanent

The ties that bind alumni to their university are immutable .  The man’s
schedule soon became boring.  impale (v.) pierce through with, or stick on;
pointed The knight was impaled by the sharp lance.


(adj.) unbiased; fair

Exasperated by charges to the contrary, the judge reiterated that he had
bent over
backwards to be impartial in a case that crackled with emotion.  impasse
(n.) a situation
that has no solution or escape The workers and administration were at an
impasse in
their negotiations.


(adj.) showing no emotion

Even when his father died he gave an impassive response and walked out

Her expected announcement was met by an impassive facial expression.


(adj.) poor; having no money

The Great Depression made family after family impecunious.


(v.) to stop the progress of; obstruct

The rain impeded the work on the building.


(adj.) without regret, shame, or remorse

It was obvious after his impenitent remark to the press that the defendant
felt no
remorse for his crime.


(adj.) arrogant; urgent

Her imperious manner cost her her two best friends.

It was imperious that the message reach the police chief.


(adj.) calm; not easily excited

The imperturbable West Point graduate made a fine negotiator.  impervious
impenetrable; not allowing anything to pass through; unaffected The vest
that the
policeman wears is impervious to bullets.  The child was impervious to the
actions of the
adult.  impetuous (adj.) moving with great force; done with little thought The
movement took the art community by storm.  The impetuous teenager spent
her money
without considering what she needed the new purchase for.

Dagmar came to regret his impetuous actions, once he realized what he’d

The pirate’s men boarded the ship with impetuous matter-of-factness.  
impiety (n.)
irreverence toward God; lack of respect The bishop condemned the impiety
of the
celebrity’s assertions.  Impiety is evident in the way many people commit
rude actions.


(adj.) unwilling to be pacified or appeased

The baby was so implacable a warm bottle would not settle her.  The two
year old was
an implacable child; he cried no matter what his parents did to comfort him.  
(v.; n.) to carry into effect; something used in a given activity In case of
implement the evacuation plan immediately.  The rack is an implement of


(n.) suggestion; inference

An implication was made that there might be trickery involved.  implicit (adj.)
but not plainly stated; without doubt The child’s anger was implicit.

Implicit trust must be earned.


(adj.) unwise; imprudent

If you are planning to invest your money, impolitic decisions may be costly.


(v.) to pray for evil; to invoke a curse

A witch may imprecate an enemy with a curse of bad luck.


(adj.) without preparation

Her impromptu speech was well-received, giving her new confidence in her
ability to
speak off the cuff.


(adj.) not providing for the future

An improvident person may end up destitute in latter life.


(adj.) disrespectful and shameless

Impudent actions caused him to be unpopular.  impugn (v.) to attack with
words; to
question the truthfulness or integrity The defense lawyer impugned the
testimony, which set back the prosecution’s case.

If I believe the man is a fraud I will impugn his comments.  imputation (n.) to
charge, to
attribute a fault or misconduct to another The imputation of guilt was made
by the judge.


(adj.) not on purpose; unintentional

It was an inadvertent error, to be sure, but nonetheless a mistake that
correction.  inanimate (adj.) to be dull or spiritless; not animated, not
endowed with life
The boy nagged his father for a real puppy, not some inanimate stuffed


(adj.) speechless; unable to speak clearly

He was so inarticulate that he had trouble making himself understood.


(adj.) not able to be heard

The signals were inaudible when the fans began to cheer.


(adj.) constant and unending

The mother gave in to the child after her incessant crying.

Incessant rain caused the river to flood over its banks.


(adj.) not yet fully formed; rudimentary

The inchoate building appeared as if it would be a fast-food restaurant.  
The outline of
the thesis was the inchoate form of a very complex theory.


(adj.) extraneous; unexpected

The defense lawyer argued that the whereabouts of the defendant’s
sneakers were
only incidental to the commission of the crime.  incisive (adj.) getting to the
heart of
things; to the point His incisive questioning helped settle the matter quickly.


(adj.) apt to; likely; angled

The man’s ear for music indicated he was inclined toward learning an

The hillside was inclined just enough to make for a fairly serious climb.


(adj.) unidentified; disguised; concealed

The federal Witness Protection Program makes its charges permanently


(adj.) illogical; rambling; disjointed

Following the accident, the woman went into shock and became incoherent
as medics
struggled to understand her.


(adj.) inconvenient

The incommodious illness caused her to miss an important interview.  
(adj.) disagreeing; disharmonious not compatible Being incompatible with
each other,
children were assigned to sit on opposite sides of the room.


(n.) failing to meet necessary requirements

The alleged incompetence of the construction crew would later become the
subject of a
class-action suit.


(adj.) not final or of a definite result

The results being inconclusive, the doctors continued to look for a cause of
the illness.


(adj.) not consisting of matter

The apparition appeared to be incorporeal.


(adj.) not capable of correction or improvement The mischievous boy was an
incorrigible practical joker.


(adj.) skeptical

The incredulous look on his face led me to believe he was not convinced of

The reporter was incredulous on hearing the computer executive’s UFO
inculcate (v.) to impress upon the mind, as by insistent urging I will inculcate
directions if people are unsure of them.  incursion (n.) an entry into,
especially when
not desired The incursion by enemy forces left the country shocked.


(adj.) illegible

The scribbling on the paper is indecipherable.  indelible (adj.) that which
cannot be
blotted out or erased The photograph of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the
moon made
an indelible impression on all who saw it.  indemnify (v.) to insure against or
pay for loss
or damage It is important to indemnify your valuables with a reliable
insurance company.


(v.) charge with a crime

The grand jury indicted her and her husband for embezzlement and six
other lesser


(adj.) unconcerned

There he lay, indifferent to all the excitement around him.


(n.) the condition of being poor

The family’s indigence was evident by the run-down house they lived in.


(adj.) native to a region; inborn or innate

These plants are indigenous to all of the western states.

Piranha are indigenous to the tropics.


(adj.) expressing anger to an injustice

He was indignant over the way he was treated.


(adj.) lazy; inactive

If we find him goofing off one more time, we won’t be able to escape the fact
that he’s

An indolent student slept all day.


(adj.) not easily discouraged or defeated

The underdog candidate had an indomitable spirit.


(adj.) unquestionably; surely

The officer was best indubitably the candidate for captain.


(adj.) lenient; patient; permissive

He has indulgent tendencies to eat chocolate when he is happy.


(adj.) something inevitable

They were prepared for the ineluctable disaster.


(adj.) incompetent; clumsy

She would rather update the budget book herself, since her assistant is so


(adj.) not reacting chemically; inactive

Inert gases like krypton and argon can enhance window insulation.


(adj.) sure to happen; unavoidable

A confrontation between the disagreeing neighbors seemed inevitable.


(adj.) having a bad reputation; notorious

After producing machines that developed many problems, the production
became infamous for poor manufacturing.  The infamous gang was known
for robbery.


(n.) a bad reputation

The town had only 98 residents, so all it took was one bad apple to bring
infamy on the
whole place.


(v.) form an opinion; conclude

From the broad outline he supplied it was easy to infer that the applicant
knew a great
deal about trains.


(adj.) clever, resourceful

His ingenious idea made it possible to double production at no extra cost.


(n.) an unworldly young woman

As an ingenue, Corky had no experience outside of her small town.  
ingenuous (adj.)
noble; honorable; candid; also naive, simple, artless, without guile The
doctor had a great bedside manner, especially when it came to laying out
the full
implications of an illness.


(v.) to bring into one’s good graces

The man was hoping to ingratiate himself with his wife by buying a bouquet
of flowers
and candy.


(n.) ungratefulness

When she failed to send a thank-you card, her friend took it as a sign of
ingratitude .  
inherent (adj.) part of the essential character; intrinsic A constant smile is
inherent in
pageant competitors.  The inherent desire to do well is present throughout
the family.


(adj.) hostile, unfriendly

The chess player directed an inimical stare at his opponent to knock him off
his game.


(adj.) wicked; unjust

The verbal abuse towards the man was truly iniquitous.  initiate (v.; n.)
begin; admit into
a group; a person who is in the process of being admitted into a group He
initiated the
dinner discussion by asking his father to borrow the car.  As an initiate to
the Explorers,
George was expected to have a taste for the outdoor life.


(adj.) natural; inborn

Her talent is wondrous: it hardly matters whether it’s innate or acquired.

A lion’s hunting skills are innate.


(adj.) harmless; dull; innocent

The remark was rude but innocuous.

He couldn’t bear to sit through another innocuous lecture.  The teens
engaged in an
innocuous game of touch football.  innovate (v.) introduce a change; depart
from the
old She innovated a new product for the home construction market.


(n.) an indirect remark; insinuation

The student made an innuendo referring to the professor.  The office was
rife with
innuendo that a takeover was in the works.  inquisitive (adj.) eager to ask
questions in
order to learn An inquisitive youngster is likely to become a wise adult.


(v.) to work into gradually and indirectly

He will insinuate his need for a vacation by saying how tired he has been


(adj.) uninteresting, boring flat, dull

Many people left the insipid movie before it was finished.  Declaring the
insipid, the critic grudgingly awarded the restaurant one star.


(adj.) unable to pay debts

The insolvent state of his bank account kept him from writing any checks.


(v.) start; provoke

It was uncertain to the police as to which party instigated the riot.


(adj.) disobedient to authority

The boy’s insubordinate behavior was a constant source of tension
between the school
and his parents.  insular (adj.) having the characteristics of an island;
provincial After walking along the entire perimeter and seeing that the spit
of land was
actually insular, we realized it was time to build a boat.  His insular approach
education makes him a pariah among liberals.


(n.) having the characteristics of an island

The insularity of the country made it a great place to build a resort.  
intangible (adj.)
incapable of being touched; immaterial Intangible though it may be,
sometimes just
knowing that the work you do helps others is reward enough.


(v.) to plead on behalf of another; mediate

The superpowers were called on to intercede in the talks between the two


(adj.) periodic; occasional

Luckily, the snow was only intermittent, so the accumulation was slight.  The
blinking light was distracting.  intractable (adj.) stubborn, obstinate; not
easily taught or
disciplined Every teacher in the school became frustrated with the
intractable student
and sent him to the principal’s office.  An intractable pet can be very


(adj.) uncompromising

With intransigent values, no amount of arguing could change her mind.  
The baseball
owners and players remained intransigent, so a deal was never struck.

(adj.) fearless, bold

The intrepid photographer flew on some of the fiercest bombing raids of the

Her intrepid actions deserved a medal.  inundate (v.) to flood; to overwhelm
with a large
amount of The broken water main inundated the business district with
water.  Surfing
the Internet can inundate you with information: That’s why a web browser
comes in


(adj.) accustomed to pain

Beekeepers eventually become inured to bee stings.  inveterate (adj.) a
practice settled
on over a long period of time The inveterate induction ceremony bespoke
one of the
school’s great traditions.


(v.) ask for; call upon

The parishioners invoked divine help for their troubles.


(n.) a very small piece

There wasn’t one iota of evidence to suggest a conspiracy.


(adj.) prone to anger

The irascible teenager was known to cause fights when upset.  Knowing
that the king
was irascible, the servants decided not to tell him about the broken crystal.


(adj.) contradictory, inconsistent; sarcastic

Is it not ironic that Americans will toss out leftover French fries while people
around the
globe continue to starve?


(adj.) not logical

It would be irrational to climb Mt. Everest without some very warm clothing.  
(adj.) that which cannot be repaired or regained The damage to the house
after the
flood was irreparable.  The head-on collision left the car irreparable.


(adj.) without blame or faults

The honesty of the priest made him irreproachable.


(n.) travel plan; schedule; course

Their trip’s itinerary was disrupted by an unexpected snow storm.


(adj.) worn-out

A person may become jaded if forced to work too many hours.  jargon (n.)
speech; specialized vocabulary in certain fields The conversation was
nothing but
jargon, but then the speakers were nothing but cartoon characters who
specialize in an
oddly bracing form of gibberish.

The engineers’ jargon is indecipherable to a layperson.


(n.) danger; peril

The campers realized they were in potential jeopardy when the bears
surrounded their


(n.) a person employed to amuse

The jester tried all of his tricks to get the girl to laugh.  jettison (v.) to throw
goods to lighten a vehicle; to discard To raise the balloon above the storm
clouds, they
had to jettison the ballast.


(adj.) happy, cheerful, genial, gay

The puppy kept a smile on the jocund boy’s face.

The jocund atmosphere was due to the team’s victory in the playoffs.


(n.) being fun or jolly

The jollity of the crowd was seen in the cheering and laughing.


(adj.) cheery; jolly; playful

She was a jovial person, always pleasant and fun to be with.


(adj.) to have or show sound judgment

Because the elder was judicious, the tough decisions were left to him.

Putting money away for a rainy day is a judicious decision.


(n.) critical point; meeting

When the gas changed into a liquid, they sensed that they’d come to a
critical juncture
in their experimentation.


(v.) place side-by-side

The author decided to juxtapose the two sentences since they each
strengthened the
meaning of the other.


(v.; n.) to recognize; one’s understanding

It was difficult to ken exactly what she had in mind.

My ken of the situation proved to be incorrect.


(v.) ignite; arouse

Being around children kindled her interest in educational psychology.


(n.) family relationship; affinity

Living in close proximity increased the kinship of the family.


(n.) relatives and acquaintances

Our kith will meet at the family reunion.


(n.) a dishonest act

An act of knavery is cause for loss of trust.

The teacher refused to have knavery in his classroom.


(v.) mix; massage

After mixing the ingredients, they kneaded the dough and set it aside to rise.


(adj.) to be puzzling or hard to explain

The mystery was knotty.


(n.) maze

Be careful not to get lost in the labyrinth of vegetation.


(v.) to tear or mangle; to wound or hurt

Sharp knives may lacerate the skin of an unsuspecting user.

Her rejection will lacerate my self-esteem.


(adj.) sparing of words; terse, pithy

After a laconic introduction the program began.  The people enjoyed the
addresses of the laconic queen.  laggard (n.; adj.) a person who has fallen
moving slowly The laggard child was lost in the crowd.

The train was laggard.

Anything can happen in a swim meet: Last year’s leader can become this


(v.) to scold or beat harshly

If the boy broke the lamp his father will surely lambaste him.  lambent (adj.)
gently over surface; flickering The lambent flame lit the dark room as the
breeze wafted
in.  lament (v.; n.) to mourn or grieve; expression of grief or sorrow The boy
lamenting the loss of his pet.

Pedro’s only lament was that his wife didn’t outlive him.


(adj.) lacking vitality; indifferent

The languid student was always late to class.

I have studied so much that I have grown languid to the subject.

During her illness she was so languid she could not leave her bed.


(n.) theft; stealing

After robbing the liquor store, she was found guilty of larceny.


(adj.) indecent; immoral; involves lust

He said it was a harmless pin-up poster, but his mother called it lascivious.

Known as a skirt-chaser, his lascivious ways seemed to all but preclude a


(n.) a state of being tired or listless

Lassitude was evident in the nurses who had been working for 24 hours

Ten days of continual work caused a feeling of lassitude for the worker.


(n.) a period of inactivity

Its latency was small solace for the girl who feared that the cancer would

re-emerge fiercer than ever.


(v.) praise

He lauded his daughter for winning the trophy.


(adj.) careless; irresponsible

She was lax in everything she did and therefore could not be trusted with


(adj.) impure in thought and act

The lecherous Humbert Humbert is Nabokov’s protagonist in Lolita, a novel
sparked great controversy because of Humbert’s romantic attachment to a
young girl.

The lecherous man lurked on the corner.


(adj.) lazy; passive

Feeling very lethargic, he watched television or slept the whole day.


(n.) a landing on the edge of a river or field

The swimmer came ashore on the levee.


(n.) lack of seriousness; instability

The levity with which he faced the destruction hampered the rescue effort.

Levity characterized the first months of his administration.

Levity is a necessary trait for a comedian.


(adj.) lustful; wicked

The comment was so lewd it could not be repeated in front of children.


(n.) connection; link

The student council served as a liaison between the faculty and the student
liberalism (n.) believing in personal freedom (favoring reform or progress) If
you believe
in liberalism, the First Amendment is sacrosanct.  libertine (n.) one who
indulges his
desires without restraint For the libertine, missing his child’s birthday was
not as
significant as missing a football game.


(adj.) morally lacking in restraint

The people of Sodom and Gomorra were known for their licentious lifestyle.


(adj.) having the composition of wood

The ligneous material appeared to be pure maple.


(adj.) flexible; pliant

The dancers must be limber to do their ballet steps.


(adj.) easily bent; pliable; supple

It is best to use a lithe material when constructing a curved object.

A gymnast needs to be lithe in order to do a split.


(v.) to involve a lawsuit

A number of the state attorneys-general are litigating against the tobacco
livid (adj.) discolored, as if bruised; extremely angry; furious After the fall,
her arm was

She became livid when she heard the news.

When she found out she had been robbed, the woman was livid.


(v.) to spend time aimlessly

Many teenagers loiter around the mall when there is nothing else to do.


(adj.) very talkative; garrulous

She was having difficulty ending the conversation with her loquacious

The staff knew the meeting would be long because the administrator was in
loquacious mood.


(adj.) shining; translucent

The flowing garment gave the woman a lucent quality when standing in the


(adj.) shiny; clear minded

He chose a shimmering, lucid fabric for his curtains.

When lucid, the man spoke of vivid memories.


(adj.) profitable; gainful

She entered the pharmaceutical industry in the belief that it would be

br> (adj.) full of sorrow; mournful

The man’s lugubrious heart kept him from enjoying the special occasion.


(adj.) emitting light; shining; also enlightened or intelligent The luminous
quality of the
precious stone made it look like a fallen star.  They found their way through
darkness by heading toward the luminous object in the distance.


(v.) to move suddenly

The owl will lunge at its prey in order to take it off guard.  lurid (adj.) glowing
haze; shocking, sensational A lurid sun shone upon them as they watched
the sun set
on the beach.  The tabloid specialized in lurid stories about celebrities’


(adj.) bright; radiant; shining

Surrounded by rubies, the lustrous diamond looked magnificent.  luxuriant
(adj.) to grow
with energy and in great abundance The luxuriant flowers grew in every
available space.


(v.) to soften by steeping in liquid

It was necessary to macerate the food before the elderly man could eat it.

They placed her foot in the solvent to macerate the cement she had
stepped in.  
maculate (adj.; v.) spotted, blotched; hence defiled, impure (opposite:

to stain, spot, defile

The maculate rug could not be cleaned.

Grape juice maculated the carpet.


(n.; adj.) a quality of nobleness of mind, disdain of meanness or revenge;
unselfish Being full of magnanimity he asked the thief only for an apology
and set him

The magnanimous store owner did not press charges once an apology was

The magnanimity of the professor overcame the rage of the student.  
malediction (n.)
putting a curse on someone; talking negatively about another With the
threat of a
malediction, the man left the fortuneteller’s house.  Never having a nice
word to say
about anyone, her conversations are full of malediction.


(n.) an evil person

The malefactor ordered everyone to work over the holidays.

The prison contains malefactors of all ages.


(adj.) wishing evil (opposite: benevolent)

The man threatened his opponent with threats and malevolent words.

She had malevolent feelings toward her sister.


(adj.) spiteful; vindictive

The malicious employee slashed her tires for revenge.  malign (v.; adj.) to
speak evil of;
having an evil disposition toward others (opposite: benign)

In her statement to the judge she maligned her soon-to-be ex-husband.  
She had such
a malign personality that no one even tried to approach her, mostly out of
malinger (v.) to pretend to be ill in order to escape work He will malinger on
Friday so
he can go to the movies.  The soldier will malinger to avoid fighting.


(adj.) easy to shape or bend; pliable

The malleable material was formed into a U shape.

The sculptor uses malleable substances to create complex masterpieces.


(n.) order; charge

The new manager wrote a mandate declaring that smoking was now
prohibited in the
office.  manifest (v.; adj.) to show clearly; to appear; obvious, clear The
image should
manifest itself as the building when the fog lifts.  When the missing
document suddenly
manifested, the search for the person that buried it began.

America’s manifest destiny was to acquire all of the land between the Pacific
Atlantic Oceans.


(v.) damage

The statue was marred by the ravages of time.


(n.) plunderer or raider

The marauder had been traveling for two months searching for the large
materialism (n.) the belief that everything in the universe is explained in
terms of matter;
the belief that worldly possessions are the be-all and end-all in life
Spiritualists will tell
you that materialism is only half the story.  Some said that the prince’s
profligacy gave
materialism a bad name.


(adj.) foolishly and tearfully sentimental

The maudlin affair consisted of three speeches in honor of the benefactor.  
(n.) a person who does not conform to the norm The maverick drove a
large truck as
others were purchasing compact cars.  meander (v.; adj.) wind, wander;
wandering aimlessly The stream meanders through the valley.

Because we took a long, meandering walk, we arrived home well after dark.

They meandered through the woods for the afternoon.


(n.) depression; gloom

The funeral parlor was filled with the melancholy of mourning.


(adj.) having a sweet sound

The flute had a beautifully mellifluous sound.


(adj.) pleasing to hear

The melodious sounds of the band attracted many onlookers.  menagerie
(n.) a place
to keep or a collection of wild or strange animals Little Ryan couldn’t wait to
visit the zoo
to see the menagerie of wild boars.


(adj.) not truthful; lying

The couple was swindled out of their life’s savings by the mendacious con


(n.) teacher; wise and faithful advisor

Alan consulted his mentor when he needed critical advice.  mercenary (adj.;
n.) working
or done for payment only; hired (soldier) Lila was suspicious that Joe had
jumped at the
chance only for mercenary reasons.

A mercenary was hired for a hundred dollars a month, good money in those
days even
if you had to fight a war to get it.


(adj.) quick, changeable, fickle

The mercurial youth changed outfits six times before deciding what to wear.  
meretricious (adj.) deceptive beauty - alluring by attractive appearance A
cubic zirconia
is a meretricious way of impressing others.


(v.) hypnotize

The swaying motion of the swing mesmerized the baby into a deep sleep.


(n.) change of form

A metamorphosis caused the caterpillar to become a beautiful butterfly.


(adj.) exacting; precise

The lab technicians must be meticulous in their measurements to obtain
exact results.


(n.) spirit, courage, ardor

He proved he had the mettle to make it through basic training.


(n.) appearance, being or manner

Her mien was typically one of distress, especially after the mishap.


(n.) imitation

The comedian’s mimicry of the president’s gestures had the audience
rolling in the


(adj.) threatening

The minatory stance of the dog warned the thief of an attack.


(adj.) extremely small, tiny

Being on a sodium-restricted diet, he uses only a minute amount of salt in
his dishes.  
mire (v.) to cause to get stuck in wet, soggy ground The car became mired
in the mud.  
misanthrope (n.) a person who distrusts everything; a hater of mankind
After the man
swindled all of the woman’s savings, she became a misanthrope.

The misanthrope lived alone in the forest.


(adj.; n.) evil; an evil person; villain

Her miscreant actions shocked and surprised her family.

The miscreant thought nothing of taking others’ money and belongings.


(n.) penny pincher, stingy person

The miser made no donations and loved counting his money every night.  
mite (n.) a
very small sum of money; very small creature The mite they pay me is
hardly worth the
aggravation.  The baseball team was made up of such small children they
nicknamed the “Mites”.


(v.) alleviate; lessen; soothe

She tried to mitigate the loss of his pet by buying him a kitten.

The lawyer will attempt to mitigate the sentence probation.


(v.) to regulate or adjust; to vary the pitch

He modulated the color knob on the television set until the picture was

A trained singer knows how to modulate her voice to the desired pitches.


(v.) to soften; to make less intense

We used our hands to mollify the sound of our giggling.


(adj.) melted

Steel becomes molten after heating it to thousands of degrees.  moot (adj.)
subject to
or open for discussion or debate The discussion of extending the girl’s
curfew was a
moot point.


(adj.) cutting; sarcastic

Her mordant remark made me feel unqualified and useless.


(adj.) moody, despondent

He was very morose over the death of his pet.

After the team lost the fans were morose.


(n.) theme

Although the college students lived in Alaska, they decided on a tropical
motif for their
dorm room.

The decorations include a rose motif.


(n.) spontaneous motion

The motility of the car caused the driver to lunge for the brake.


(adj.) ordinary; commonplace

The small town was very mundane.

Going food shopping soon became mundane, losing all of its excitement.


(adj.) giving generously

The civic group made a munificent donation to the homeless shelter.


(v.) to think or speak meditatively

I expect I’ll have to muse on that question for a while.


(n.) a large number

Buying an old house often necessitates fixing a myriad of problems.  Gazing
up on the
clear, dark midnight sky, the astronomer saw a myriad of stars.  narcissistic
egotistical; self-centered; self-love, excessive interest in ones appearance,
abilities, etc.

The narcissistic actor was difficult to get along with.


(adj.) starting to grow or develop

The nascent rage of in-line skating began on the West Coast.  nautical
(adj.) of the
sea; having to do with sailors, ships, or navigation The coastal New England
town had a
charming nautical influence.


(adj.) unclear or vague

The ten page directions were a collection of nebulous words and figures.


(adj.) morally bad; wicked

The nefarious criminal was the scourge of the local police force.


(adj.) being villainous or wicked

The nefariousness of the ruler was apparent when he hoarded all of the


(n.) carelessness

Negligence contributed to the accident: She was traveling too fast for the icy
conditions.  nemesis (n.) a person who inflicts just punishment; retribution; a
rival The
criminal was killed by his nemesis, the brother of the man he murdered.

The football team plays its nemesis on Saturday.


(n.) giving a new meaning to an old word

Bad is a neologism for good.


(n.) beginner; newcomer

Critics applauded the neophyte’s success and speculated how much better
he would
get with age and experience.  The neophyte dancer was overcome by the
fast tempo
and exotic rhythms.


(v.) annoy; irritate

The younger brother nettled his older sister until she slapped him.

The boy will nettle the father into agreeing.


(adj.) impartial; unbiased

The mother remained neutral regarding the argument between her two


(n.) a connection

The nexus between the shuttle and the space station was successful.


(adj.) harmful to health; having a foul odor

The noisome food was the cause of their illness.  The family was forced
from the home
by a noisome odor.  nostalgic (adj.) longing for the past; filled with
bittersweet memories
She loved her new life, but became nostalgic when she met with her old


(n.) a questionable remedy for difficulties

The doctor’s prescription was so unusual that it could be seen as a nostrum.

The nostrum of pine leaves and water did not seem to cure the illness.  
notorious (adj.)
infamous; renowned; having an unfavorable connotation Discovering that
her new
neighbor was notorious for thievery, she decided to purchase an alarm
system for her
home.  The criminal had a notorious reputation.


(adj.) new

It was a novel idea for the rock group to play classical music.


(adj.) harmful to one’s health

The noxious fumes caused the person to become ill.


(adj.) trifling; futile; insignificant

Because the problem was nugatory it was not addressed immediately.


(v.) cancel; invalidate

Drinking alcohol excessively will nullify the positive benefits of eating well
and exercising


(n.) a clumsy, dumb person

The waiter has been called an oaf ever since he dropped the tray.


(adj.) stubborn

The obdurate child refused to go to school.

The obdurate youngster refused to eat the Brussels sprouts.


(n.) a gesture of respect or reverence

As an obeisance, the man took off his hat as the funeral procession drove
past him.


(v.) to darken, confuse, bewilder

The lunar eclipse will obfuscate the light of the sun.


(adj.; n.) open-minded; impartial; goal

It’s hard to set aside your biases and be objective.  The law student
decided that her
primary objective after graduation was to pass the Bar examination.


(v.) to chide vehemently

The girls disliked those boys who objurgated the group.  obligatory (adj.)
necessary; legally or morally binding In order to provide a reliable source of
revenue for
the government, it is obligatory for each citizen to pay taxes.


(v.) destroy completely

Poaching nearly obliterated the world’s whale population.  obloquy (n.)
condemnation or abuse; disgrace or infamy resulting from this.

The child suffered quite an obloquy at the hands of his classmates.  
Lawyers must face
frequent obloquy with their reputation as “ambulance chasers.”


(adj.) not easily understood; dark

The orchestra enjoys performing obscure American works, hoping to bring
them to a
wider audience.


(adj.) servilely attentive; fawning

The man’s attraction to the woman would be obvious if his obsequious
behavior could
be noted.

The princess only seemed to encourage the obsequious behavior of her
court to
enhance her own feeling of superiority.


(adj.) out of date; pass’

Computers have made many formerly manual tasks obsolete.


(adj.) stubborn

Her father would not allow her to stay out past midnight; she thought he was
because he would not change his mind.  obtrude (v.) to force oneself or one’
s ideas
upon another; to thrust forward; to eject The inquisitive coworker obtrudes
into the
conversation often.  obtuse (adj.) dull; greater than 90± but less than 180±;
slow to
understand or perceive The man was so obtuse, he even made the dog
yawn.  The
textbook problem asks the reader to solve for the obtuse angle.

He’s obtuse when it comes to abstract art.


(v.) to make unnecessary

The invention of cars has obviated the use of horse and carriage.  A cure
for the
common cold would obviate the need for shelf after shelf of cold remedies.  
occult (adj.)
hidden; beyond human understanding; mystical; mysterious The occult
meaning of the
message was one of dislike for the authorities.  Some spend years pursuing
the occult,
only to find themselves no closer to the answer.

Relating to the occult world means entering a new realm.


(adj.) hateful; disgusting

Having to chaperone her brother was an odious chore for the girl.  odium
(n.) a hate;
the disgrace from a hateful action Odium could be felt for the man who
destroyed the
school.  oligarchy (n.) form of government in which the supreme power is
placed in the
hands of a small, exclusive group.

The oligarchy took control after the king was overthrown.


(adj.) threatening

Seeing ominous clouds on the horizon, the street fair organizers decided to
fold up their
tent and go home.


(adj.) having knowledge of all things

The future can be told by the omniscient woman.


(adj.) iridescent

Her new nail polish was opalescent making her finger tips look like pearls.


(adj.) dull; cloudy; non-transparent

Not having been washed for years, the once beautiful windows of the
Victorian home
became opaque.

They chose an opaque shade of green for their bathroom walls.


(adj.) abusive

Nobody liked working for him because he was so opprobrious.  optimist (n.)
person who
hopes for the best; sees the good side He’s ever the optimist, always
seeing the glass
as half full.


(n.) wealth; fortune

A 40-room mansion on 65 wooded acres is only the most visible sign of her


(adj.) elaborate; lavish; decorated

The courthouse was framed by ornate friezes.


(adj.) traditional; accepted

The gifted child’s parents concluded that orthodox methods of education
would not do
their son any good, so they decided to teach him at home.  oscillate (v.) to
move back
and forth; to have a wavering opinion The oscillating sprinkler system
covered the
entire lawn.  The couple often oscillates between going out and staying


(v.) to turn to bone; to harden

Over time, the plant matter has ossified.

The tablet will ossify when left in the sun.


(adj.) apparent

The ostensible reason for choosing the girl was for her beauty.


(adj.) being showy

Sure he’d won the lottery, but coming to work in a stretch limo seemed a bit
ostentatious .


(v.) to exclude

The students tend to ostracize the children they dislike from their games.


(v.) drive out; eject

The dictator was ousted in a coup detat.


(adj.) mocking; cynical

He has a wry sense of humor which sometimes hurts people’s feelings.


(n.) a song of praise or triumph

A paean was written in honor of the victorious warrior.


(adj.) polytheistic

Moses, distraught over some of his people’s continuing pagan ways,
smashed the
stone tablets bearing the Ten Commandments.


(adj.) thorough, careful, precise

Helga’s painstaking research paid off with a top grade on her essay.


(adj.) large and ornate, like a palace

The new palatial home contained two pools and an indoor track for jogging.  
(n.) a word or phrase which reads the same backwards and forwards Bob,
“Dad,” and
“Madam” are examples of palindromes.  palliate (v.) to alleviate or ease
pain but not
cure; to make appear less serious The medication will help palliate the pain.

The lawyer attempted to palliate the offense to the jury.


(adj.) pale in color

The visitor left the hospital room with a pallid face.


(n.) lack of facial color

The more vivid the testimony grew, the more the witness seemed to take on
a ghostly


(adj.) touchable; clear, obvious

The palpable decision was to discontinue the use of drugs.  On a flight that
included a sudden 5,000-foot drop, the passengers’ relief upon landing was
palpable .


(n.) high praise

Upon his retirement, he received a great panegyric from many of his

His panegyric to his opponent stood in sharp contrast to the harsh tenor of


(n.) model, prototype; pattern

The machine could no longer be produced after the paradigm was

The Massachusetts gubernatorial race was considered a paradigm of
campaign civility.  
paradox (n.) a tenet seemingly contradictory or false, but actually true The
seemed so unlikely though it was true.  At first blush, the company’s results
were a
paradox: Sales were down, yet profits were up.  parapet (n.) a wall for
protection; a low
wall or railing The parapet protected the kingdom from the raging army.  
The parapet
kept the child from falling into the river.


(n.) equipment; accessories

She looked guilty since the drug paraphernalia was found in her apartment.


(n.) an outcast

The pariah of the group sat by himself under the tree.  parity (n.) state of
being the
same in power, value, or rank When the younger brother was promoted to
with the elder son, it established parity between the two.


(v.) to speak with another; to discourse

I will parley the information to the appropriate person.


(adj.) religious; narrow-minded

Devout Christians, the Chesterfields enrolled their children in a parochial

Governor Kean urged Republicans to rise above parochial interests and be
the party of
inclusion.  parody (n.) a piece of work imitating another in a satirical
manner; a poor
imitation The play was a parody of the Prince and Princess’s marital
difficulties.  Ugh!
This is a parody of a fashionable dress!


(v.) to avoid; to ward off

I dislike talking to the woman so I will attempt to parry her by ducking around
corner.  parse (v.) to separate (a sentence) into parts and describe the
function of
each An English teacher may ask a student to parse a sentence.


(adj.) very frugal; unwilling to spend

The owner was so parsimonious he refused to purchase new curtains when
the old
ones fell off the window.

The parsimonious individual argued that twenty-five cents was much too
expensive for
a pack of gum.  parsimony (n.) to be unreasonably careful when spending
parsimony of the wealthy woman was uncalled for.  partisan (n.; adj.)
follower; biased; one-sided The union president is a partisan of minimum-
legislation.  A partisan for the incumbent mayor will not support the


(adj.) submissive; unassertive

He is so passive that others walk all over him.


(n.) scarcity

The described feast was actually a buffet with a paucity of food.  pavilion
(n.) a large
tent or covered area, usually used for entertainment The wedding pavilion
was not only
beautifully decorated, but also served as welcome protection from a sudden


(n.) a slight fault or offense

The child was embarrassed when he was caught committing the peccadillo
of eating
chocolate before dinner.


(adj.) pertaining to money

The retiring employee was delighted when he received a pecuniary gift.


(n.) a teacher

Seeing the way she worked with children there was no doubt she was a true
pedagogue.  pedantic (adj.) emphasizing minutiae or form in scholarship or
Professor Jones’s lectures were so pedantic that his students sometimes
had a tough
time understanding the big picture.  It is important to understand pedantic
before beginning a lecture.


(adj.) mediocre; ordinary

We expected the meal to be exceptional, but it was just pedestrian.


(adj.) making things worse

The pejorative comment deepened the dislike between the two families.


(adj.) transparent

The pellucid material was not an adequate shield from the sun.


(n.) a liking for

I have a penchant for all flavors of ice cream.


(adj.) feeling sorry for what one has done

The burglar expressed his penitent feelings during his confession.


(adj.) reflective; contemplative

She was in a pensive mood, just wanting to be alone to think.  My hours
alone are often
more pensive than the time I spend with friends.

The pensive mood was broken by a witty joke.


(adj.) stingy, miserly

The penurious man had millions of dollars, but lived in a cottage to save

Charles Dickens’ Scrooge is the most penurious character in any of his


(adj.) full of insight; aware

The perceptive detective discovered that the murder weapon was hidden in
a safe
under the floor.


(n.) striking one object against another

The loud percussion of the hunter’s gunshot startled the birds.


(n.) ruination

The perdition of the building was caused by the strong quake.  peremptory
barring future action; that cannot be denied, changed, etc.  The peremptory
means of
defense was satisfactory to keep out the intruders.

The wildcat strike was a peremptory move on the part of the workers.


(adj.) faithless; treacherous

The trust between the business associates was broken after the perfidious
actions by
one of the partners.  perfunctory (adj.) done in a routine, mechanical way,
interest Change in career is a good cure for someone who has become
bored with their
occupation and is currently performing their duties in a perfunctory fashion.

The girl will not improve unless she changes her perfunctory attitude.


(adj.) marginal; outer

Those are peripheral problems; let’s look at the central challenge.

The peripheral shrubs were used to create a fence-like blockade.  He
thought he was
my best friend, when in fact, he was a peripheral acquaintance.


(n.) the practice of lying

The already sensational trial of a star athlete turned all the more so when it
turned out
that a police detective had committed perjury.  Lying while on the witness
stand is


(adj.) porous; allowing to pass through

Because the material was permeable, the water was able to drain.


(adj.) dangerous; harmful

Standing oil combined with a fresh rain on the asphalt can have a
pernicious impact on
a driver’s control of the road.  The pernicious fire engulfed four blocks of


(adj.) never ceasing; continuous

Perpetual pain keeps the woman from walking.


(n.) extra payment; a tip

After working overtime, I had enough money to make a perquisite on my


(adj.) related to the matter at hand

During a trial everyone should concentrate on the same subject, stating
only pertinent


(v.) to read carefully; to study

A vast majority of time was spent perusing the possible solution to the


(v.) to occupy the whole of

Her perfume was so strong that it pervaded the whole room.


(adj.) spreading throughout

The home was filled with the pervasive aroma of baking bread.  pessimism
(n.) seeing
only the gloomy side; hopelessness After endless years of drought,
pessimism grew in
the hearts of even the most dedicated farmer.


(adj.) unimportant; of subordinate standing

With all of the crime in the world, stealing bubble gum is considered petty


(adj.) peevish; cranky; rude

The long illness put the boy in a petulant mood.  The tone of his voice and
the things
that he says become quite petulant when he has not gotten enough sleep.  
phenomenon (n.) exceptional person; unusual occurrence Not for nothing
do they call
Yankee Stadium “The House that Ruth Built”-the Babe was a phenomenon.

The northern lights are a rare phenomenon for those not living near the
Arctic Circle.


(n.) charity; unselfishness

After years of donating time and money to the children’s hospital, Mrs.  
Elderwood was
commended for her philanthropy.  phlegmatic (adj.) without emotion or
sluggish and dull The playwright had hoped his story would take
theatergoers on an
emotional roller coaster, but on opening night they just sat there,
stonefaced and

The phlegmatic child rarely went outside to play.


(n.) morbid fear

Fear of heights is a not uncommon phobia.


(adj.) colored, blotched together

The extreme heat caused the colors to become pied.


(adj.) bound fast

The two rafts were pinioned by steel wire.


(adj.) religious; devout; dedicated

The religious couple believed that their pious method of worship would
bring them
eternal life.

The statues of the saints have pious symbolism.  Many people think of this
land as
pious territory.  pique (n.; v.) resentment at being slighted; to provoke Being
over for the promotion aroused his pique.  The more he piqued her, the
redder she


(adj.) terse and full of meaning

Columnist William Safire, a former presidential speech writer, has a way with
words that
often yields pithy comments.


(n.) a small amount

The reward money was only a pittance compared to the money lost.  The
little girl
received a pittance every week for keeping her room clean.


(v.) to appease or pacify

The entire family attempted to placate the stubborn child.  With a soothing
voice and
the promise of a juicy steak, the trainer placated the escaped lion so that
he wouldn’t
hurt anyone.


(adj.) undisturbed and calm

The placid lake’s water was completely motionless.


(adj.) being mournful or sad

His wife’s death made Sam plaintive.


(adj.) idealistic or impractical; not amorous or sensual The platonic advice
of the doctor
was to stay away from all odors.  Our relationship is platonic now, but I hope
it will
someday be otherwise.


(adj.) probable; feasible

After weeks of trying to determine what or who was raiding the chicken
coop, the farmer
came up with a plausible explanation.  After scrimping and saving for a
decade, it was
now plausible to send his daughter to college.


(adj.) full; entire; complete

A plenary class of students staged the protest.


(n.) a superabundance

There was a plethora of food at the royal feast.


(adj.; v.) perfectly straight down; to solve

The two walls met plumb at the corner.

I was able to plumb the riddle in a few seconds.


(adj.) controversial

The polemic decision caused a stir in the community.


(n.) a person skilled in argument

The polemicist could debate any case skillfully.  pommel (n.) the rounded,
projecting front of a saddle The woman was so nervous about being on the
horse she
would not let go of the pommel.


(adj.) unwieldy from weight; dull or labored

The ponderous piano posed a serious challenge to having it pulled up to
the 16th floor.

As if being grainy wasn’t bad enough, the film’s ponderous story made it
tough to get


(v.) to be an omen of; signify

The distant roll of thunder portends of an oncoming storm.  potable (adj.;
n.) drinkable;
a beverage that is drinkable The liquid was not potable, but rather
poisonous.  Sea
water isn’t potable.  potent (adj.) having great power or physical strength He
took very
potent medication and felt better immediately.


(adj.) matter-of-fact; practical

Since they were saving money to buy a new home, the pragmatic married
decided not to go on an expensive vacation.  A pragmatic solution to the car’
s continual
repairs would be to purchase a new car.


(v.) talking foolishly; chatter

It is not uncommon for people to prate when they become nervous about
speaking to a
superior.  prattle (n.; v.) childish babble; to babble while speaking I’ve
listened to his
prattle for far too long.

The toddler does more prattling than talking.  precarious (adj.) depending
another; risky, uncertain The precarious plans fell through when the second
changed their plans.

My position in the negotiations was precarious at best.


(n.) a rule or direction of moral conduct

The organization believed their members should abide by certain precepts.  
(v.; adj.) to cause to happen; happening quickly A rude comment may
precipitate an
argument.  The precipitating flood caught the village off-guard.


(v.) inhibit; make impossible

A healthy diet and lifestyle will not preclude you from getting ill, although it
your immune system.

Exercise may help to preclude heart disease.  precocious (adj.) developed
or matured
earlier than usual The precocious eight year-old wanted to read the
romance novel.  
predecessor (n.) one who has occupied an office before another Although
predecessor did not accomplish any goals that would help the poor, the
new mayor was
confident that she could finally help those in need.


(adj.) coming before

The prefatory comments informed the audience of what was to come.


(n.) the basis for an argument

The prosecutor claimed that the defense lawyer’s premise was shaky, and
thus his
whole argument was suspect.  preponderate (adj.) to outweigh; to be
superior in
amount, weight, etc.  His positive qualities are the preponderate ones over
occasional rudeness.  presage (n.) an omen; a foreshadowing
characteristic They
considered the rainbow at their wedding a presage for a happy life.  Bright
sun in the
morning was a good presage that it was going to be a good day.  
prescience (n.)
knowing about something before it happens The morning of the big game I
had a
prescience that we would win.


(adj.) done by custom; unbending

At the heart of the Australian aborigines’ prescriptive coming-of-age rite for
men is a


(adj.) generally occurring

Rain is usually more prevalent than snow during April.  prevaricate (v.) to
equivocally or evasively, i.e., to lie The mayor’s desperate attempt to
prevaricate about
the scandal was transparent to the voters.

His mother knew no one else could have done it, but the child foolishly
about the stain on the rug.


(adj.) primitive, pure, uncorrupted

The pristine lake had not been marred by pollution.  She had such a
pristine look about
her, you would have thought she was an angel.


(adj.) private; confidential

He was one of a handful of people privy to the news of the pending merger.

Only the woman’s best friend was privy to her secret.


(n.) honesty

The young man’s probity was reassuring to the fearful parent.  problematic
(adj.) being
hard to deal with; unsolved situation The constant squeak of the door was
The tense political struggle remains problematic.


(adj.) wasteful; lavish

The actor’s prodigal lifestyle ultimately led to his undoing.  Spending his
rent money on
your birthday present was more than generous, it was prodigal.

The prodigal gift by the poor woman was truly a thoughtful gesture.


(adj.) wonderful; enormous

The prodigious festivities lasted until the wee hours of the morning.

The Empire State Building required a prodigious amount of steel to erect.


(adj.) deep; knowledgeable; thorough

It was with profound regret and sorrow that the family had to leave their
homeland for a
more prosperous country.  profusion (n.) great wastefulness; a large
abundance of The
profusion of the food-fight was unforgivable considering the worldwide
hunger problem.

The profusion of uneaten food was sent to the shelter.

The wet winter brought about a profusion of mosquitoes.


(n.) children; offspring

It is through his progeny that his name shall live on.  The princes were the
progeny of
royalty.  program (n.) the parts of entertainment; a plan for dealing with a
matter; coded
instructions The free-form music program on Sunday nights is virtually
unique in
commercial radio.

The program for better health is to eat more vegetables and fruits.  The
computer program allows sale information to prompt at the register for
certain items at
certain hours.


(v.) to reproduce quickly

Gerbils are known to proliferate quickly.


(adj.) fruitful

The merger resulted in a prolific business which became an asset to the
promontory (n.) a piece of land jutting into a body of water The boat hit the
promontory, splitting the bow.


(v.) to reproduce or multiply

Rabbits and gerbils are said to propagate quickly.


(n.) a natural tendency towards; bias

I have a propensity to talk too fast.

She has a propensity to hire men over women.  propinquity (n.) closeness
in time or
place; closeness of relationship The propinquity of the disasters put the
community in
chaos.  The propinquity of the two stories was the basis of the teacher’s


(v.) to win the goodwill of

If I try my best I will hopefully propitiate my new supervisor.


(adj.) tiresome; ordinary

He wanted to do something new; he was tired of the prosaic activities his
suggested each day.

The only entertainment would be a prosaic game of cards.  proselytize (v.)
to convert
from one belief or religion to another The preacher often attempts to
wayward travelers.  protocol (n.) an original draft or record of a document
The protocol
was given to the president once it was completed.  proverbial (adj.) well-
known because
it is commonly referred to King Solomon’s proverbial wisdom has been
admired through
the ages.


(adj.) prudent; economical

It was provident, in his opinion, to wait and buy the new car when he was


(adj.) regional; unsophisticated

After living in the city for five years, he found that his family back home on
the farm was
too provincial for his cultured ways.  proviso (n.) A clause stating a
condition or
stipulation The governor began the conference with a proviso stating the
results of the flood.


(adj.) tempting; irritating

In the movie Roger Rabbit, the animated Jessica Rabbit demurs when she’s
told she’s
provocative, saying that she’s only drawn that way.  The U.S. considered
the invasion
of Kuwait a provocative action.


(v.) to stir action or feeling; arouse

By calling him names, he was provoking a fight.


(v.) drinking deeply

A dog will quaff if he becomes overheated.


(n.) marshy land

The vehicle became stuck in the quagmire.


(adj.) old-fashioned; unusual; odd

One of the best qualities of the bed-and-breakfast was its quaint setting in
the charming
English village.


(adj.) experienced, indefinite

She was well qualified for the job after working the field for ten years.


(n.) sudden feeling of uneasiness or doubt

His qualms about flying disappeared once the plane landed softly.


(n.) dilemma

Joe and Elizabeth were caught in a quandary: Should they spend
Thanksgiving with his
parents or hers?

Unable to make a firm decision, I’ve been in this quandary for weeks.  When
the car
broke down the commuter was left in a quandary.  quarantine (n.) isolation
of a person
or persons to prevent the spread of disease To be sure they didn’t bring
contagions back to Earth, the astronauts were put under quarantine when


(n.) state of being at rest or without motion

After a tough day on the shipping dock, one needs quiescence.

A period of quiescence is useful to calm the nerves.


(adj.) inactive, at rest

Everyone deserves a day off and should remain quiescent on Sundays.  
The Bible says
that the Lord created the Earth in six days and on the seventh He was


(n.) the pure essence of anything

This story is the quintessence of American fiction.


(n.) peculiar behavior; startling twist

Nobody’s perfect-we all have our quirks.

Our vacation went smoothly save for one quirk-a hurricane that came
barreling into the
coastline as we were preparing to head home.  The plot of that movie had
so many
quirks that it became very hard to follow.

Always needing to put the left shoe on first is a peculiar quirk.  quixotic
(adj.) foolishly
idealistic; romantically idealistic; extravagantly chivalrous He was popular
with the ladies
due to his quixotic charm.  She had a quixotic view of the world, believing
that humans
need never suffer.  rabid (adj.; n.) furious; with extreme anger; a disease
animals The insult made him rabid.

Discovering that the dog was rabid, the mail carrier knew he’d have to get a

He’s been a rabid sports fan for as long as I have known him.


(n.) a person skilled at telling stories

Our entertainment was a raconteur who told a story of talking animals.  
ramification (n.)
the arrangement of branches; consequence One of the ramifications of
driving fast is
getting a speeding ticket.


(adj.) growing unchecked; widespread

Social unrest was rampant because of the lack of food available to the


(n.; v.) a defense; to defend

The ramparts where beginning to crumble.


(adj.) having a bad odor

Left out too long, the meat turned rancid.


(n.) strong ill will; enmity

Her rancor for the man was evident in her hateful expression.  Sure they
had their
disagreements, but there was no rancor between them.  rant (v.) to speak
in a loud,
pompous manner; rave He disputed the bill with the shipper, ranting that he
was dealing
with thieves.


(adj.) using force to take

Rapacious actions were needed to take the gun from the intruder.


(v.) to make valid; confirm

The Senate ratified the new law that would prohibit companies from
according to race in their hiring practices.  Hunters were called in to rarefy
the deer
population.  rationalize (v.) to offer reasons for; account for on rational
grounds His
daughter attempted to rationalize why she had dropped out of college, but
she could
not give any good reasons.  raucous (adj.) disagreeable to the sense of
harsh; hoarse The raucous protesters stayed on the street corner all night,
their disdain for the whale killers.  raze (v.) to scrape or shave off; to
obliterate or tear
down completely The plow will raze the ice from the road surface.  It must be
time to
give the cat a manicure; she razed my skin last night.  They will raze the old
Las Vegas
hotel to make room for a $2.5 billion gambling palace.


(n.) an area; sphere of activity

In the realm of health care, the issue of who pays and how is never far from
the surface.

The bounding islands were added to the realm of the kingdom.


(n.) a blunt refusal to offered help

The rebuff of her aid plan came as a shock.


(n.) refutation

The lawyer’s rebuttal to the judge’s sentencing was to present more
evidence to the


(adj.) stubbornly rebellious

The boy became recalcitrant when the curfew was enforced.  The
recalcitrant youth
dyed her hair purple, dropped out of school, and generally worked hard at
whatever others did not want her to do.


(n.) withdrawal; economic downturn

Oscar’s gum recession left him with sensitive teeth.  Soaring unemployment
in the
nation’s industrial belt triggered recession.  recidivism (n.) habitual or
chronic relapse of
criminal or antisocial offenses Even after intense therapy the parolee
several episodes of recidivism, and was eventually sent back to prison.  
(adj.) mutual; having the same relationship to each other Hernando’s
membership in
the Picture of Health Fitness Center gives him reciprocal privileges at 245
health clubs
around the U.S.  Although his first child was adopted, she had a reciprocal
with her father.  recluse (adj.; n.) solitary; a person who lives secluded His
recluse life
seems to make him happy.

Howard Hughes, among the most famous and enigmatic figures of the 20th
ultimately retreated to a life as a recluse.


(adj.) hard to understand; concealed

The students were dumbfounded by the recondite topic.  Many scientific
theories are
recondite, and therefore not known at all by the general public.


(v.) correct

The service manager rectified the shipping mistake by refunding the
customer’s money.


(adj.) resting

The recumbent puppy stirred.


(adj.) disobedient of authority

Recusant inmates may be denied privileges.  redolent (adj.) sweet-smelling;
having the
odor of a particular thing The redolent aroma of the pie tempted everyone.  
restaurant was redolent with the smell of spices.  redundant (adj.) wordy;
unnecessary to the meaning The redundant lecture of the professor
repeated the
lesson in the text.  Her comments were both redundant and sarcastic.  With
millions of
transactions at stake, the bank built a redundant processing center on a
power grid.


(v.) to make new; renovate

The Newsomes are refurbishing their old colonial home with the help of an


(v.) challenge; disprove

He refuted the proposal, deeming it unfair


(adj.) royal; grand

The regal home was lavishly decorated and furnished with European

The well-bred woman behaves in a regal manner.


(v.) to repeat again

Rose found that she had to reiterate almost everything, leading her to fear
husband was going deaf.

If you did not hear me the first time, I will reiterate the directions for you.


(v.) banish; put to a lower position

With Internal Affairs launching an investigation into charges that Officer
Wicker had
harassed a suspect, he was relegated to desk duty.


(adj.) of concern; significant

Asking applicants about their general health is relevant since much of the
job requires
physical strength.


(v.) to let go; abandon

House Speaker Jim Wright had to relinquish his position after an ethics
undermined his authority.


(v.) to protest or object to

The population will remonstrate against the new taxes.


(n.) guilt; sorrow

The prosecutor argued that the defendant had shown no remorse for his


(n.) a new life; rebirth

The renascence of the band resulted in a new recording contract.  rend (v.)
to rip or
pull from; to split with violence; to disturb with a sharp noise The kidnapper
rent the
newborn baby from the arms of its mother as she was leaving the hospital.

A freakish water spout rent the fishing boat in half.  Every morning, the 5:47
local out of
New Brunswick rends the dawn’s silence with its air horn.


(v.) deliver; provide

The Yorkville First Aid Squad was first on the scene to render assistance.  
(n.) a person who abandons something, as a religion, cause or movement;
a traitor
Benedict Arnold remains one of the most notorious renegades in American


(n.) food that is eaten

The repast consisted of cheese, wine, and bread


(adj.) well supplied

The kitchen came replete with food and utensils.


(n.) copy; representation; reproduction

The equine sculpture was a replica of a Remington.


(v.) to reprimand; to find fault with

Finding the need to reprehend the student’s actions, she gave her
detention.  reproach
(v.) to blame and thus make feel ashamed; to rebuke The major
reproached his troops
for not following orders.


(v.) to condemn; to reject

The teacher will reprobate the actions of the delinquent student.

His assertions were reprobated as inappropriate.


(n.) a rebuke

For all his hard work, all he got was a reproof of his efforts.  repudiate (v.)
to disown; to
deny support for; reject; cancel The man will repudiate all claims that he
was involved in
the deal.  Although his party supported the bill, this senator repudiated it.

The offer was repudiated because of its cost.


(adj.) inconsistent; resistance

The repugnant actions of the man made others lose trust in him.

Despite their efforts to convince her, she remained repugnant.


(n.) quitting; submission

He submitted his resignation because he found a new job.  You could see
resignation on his face: Things just weren’t working out as he’d expected.  
(adj.) flexible; capable of withstanding stress The elderly man attributed his
health to a good diet and frequent exercise.


(n.) proposal; promise; determination

Former U.S. Senator George Mitchell journeyed to Ireland to help bring
about a
peaceful resolution to years of strife.


(adj.) resounding; re-echoing

Beautiful resonant music escaped from the cathedral’s windows.


(n.) recess; rest period

The workers talked and drank coffee during the respite.

The team was given a respite from the long practice schedule.


(adj.) dazzling and shining

Her new diamond was resplendent in the sunshine.


(adj.) rising or tending to rise again

A resurgent wave of enthusiasm erupted from the once quiet crowd.


(adj.) silent; reserved; shy

The reticent girl played with her building blocks while the other children
played tag.

It was difficult to get the reticent boy to join the conversation.


(v.) to draw or take back

Once you say something, it’s hard to retract.


(n.) a reverse action

The retroaction of the car sent those standing behind it fleeing.  The bill’s
stood to save taxpayers an average of $500 a head.  reverent (adj.)
respectful; feeling
or showing deep love, respect, or awe The congregation was very reverent
of its
spiritual leader.  reverie (n.) the condition of being unaware of one’s
trance; dreamy thinking or imagining, especially of agreeable things As their
anniversary neared, Lisa fell into a reverie as she recalled all the good
times she and
Roscoe had had.

After spending the morning in reverie, I decided to work in the afternoon.


(v.) to be abusive in speech

It is not appropriate for a teacher to revile a student.  rhapsodize (v.) to
speak or write
in a very enthusiastic manner Hearing the general rhapsodize about his
time as a plebe
sent a wave of recognition through the academy grads.  rhetorical (adj.)
having to do
with verbal communication; artificial eloquence In posing a rhetorical
question, he
hoped to get people thinking.  The perception that Gary Hart was spouting
flourishes enabled fellow Democrat Walter Mondale to score debate points
by asking,
“Where’s the beef?”


(adj.) vulgar joking or mocking

Some people find the comedian’s ribald act offensive.

The ribald story proved an embarrassment to its audience.


(n.) severity

She criticized the planning board’s vote with rigor.


(v.) to secure; to hold firmly, as in eyes

We can rivet the boat to the dock.

She could not look away from the morbid scene; she was riveted to it.


(adj.) rose-colored

The roseate sunset faded into the sky.


(n.; v.) a noisy or disorderly crowd; a retreat or terrible defeat; to dig up The
rout kept
the police busy all morning with crowd control.  The Scarlet Knights beat the
Irish in a rout, 56-14.

I need to rout the backyard in order to put in the pipes.


(adj.) elementary

Adding two plus two is a rudimentary activity.


(n.) tough person or a hoodlum

Contrary to popular opinion, ruffians are nothing new in the city.


(v.) to consider carefully

The doctor will ruminate on his diagnosis.

Facing a tough decision, he decided to ruminate before making his
thoughts known.


(v.) search thoroughly

Determined to find his college yearbook, he rummaged through every box
in the
garage.  rustic (adj.) plain and unsophisticated; homely; of or living in the
country The
president enjoyed spending weekends at Camp David, a rustic retreat in
the Catoctin
Mountains of Maryland.  saga (n.) a legend; any long story of adventure or
heroic deed
The saga of King Arthur and his court has been told for generations.


(adj.) wise

Many of her friends came to her with their problems because she gave

The old man gave sagacious advice.


(adj.) noticeable; prominent

What’s salient about the report is its documentation of utter despair in the
heartland of
the richest nation on Earth.  His most salient feature is his nose.

His salient bruise will alert his mother to the altercation.


(adj.) promoting good health

Salubrious food helps maintain an ideal weight.

Exercising frequently and eating healthy foods are salubrious habits.


(adj.) of or containing greetings

Two messengers were sent to the new neighbors with a salutatory letter.


(v.) rescue from loss

The family tried to salvage their belongings after their home was destroyed
by a
tornado.  sanction (v.; n.) an act of giving authoritative permission; to give
encouragement; a blockade The government has sanctioned the meetings
as a worthy
cause.  He did more than tolerate her actions, he sanctioned them.  Before
troops to war, the president wanted to give the sanctions a chance to work.


(adj.) optimistic; cheerful; red

Even when victory seemed impossible, the general remained sanguine.

The dress was sanguine with a bright green border stripe.

With a sanguine nod the interviewee entered the office.


(adj.) having a pleasant taste

Yellow and blue icing covered the sapid pastry.


(n.) ironic; bitter humor designed to wound

The teacher did not appreciate the student’s sarcasm and gave him


(adj.) having a sarcastic quality

H.L. Mencken was known for his sardonic writings on political figures.  satire
(n.) a novel
or play that uses humor or irony to expose folly The new play was a satire
that exposed
the President’s inability to lead the country.


(v.) soak thoroughly; drench

She saturated the sponge with soapy water before she began washing the


(adj.) gloomy, sluggish

The never-ending rain put everyone in a saturnine mood.


(v.) to walk at a leisurely pace; stroll

The loving couple sauntered down the wooded path.


(n.) one who is intelligent

The savant accepted his award of excellence.  savor (v.) to receive
pleasure from; to
enjoy with appreciation; dwell on with delight After several months without a
day off, she
savored every minute of her week-long vacation.


(adj.) inadequate; sparse

The malnutrition was caused by the scanty amount of healthy food eaten
each day.


(n.) a division in an organized group

When the group could not decide on a plan of action, a schism occurred.


(v.) to whip severely

The trainer will scourge the animal if it attacks someone.


(adj.) honorable; exact

After finding a purse with valuable items inside, the scrupulous Mr.

Prendergast returned everything to its owner.

A scrupulous cleaning was conducted before the family moved.


(v.) examine closely; study

After allowing his son to borrow the family car, the father scrutinized every
section for


(adj.) vulgarity

The scurrilous language made the mother twinge.


(adj.) to be narrow minded or limited

A sectarian precluded him from listening to the other side.  sedentary (adj.)
characterized by sitting; remaining in one locality The sedentary child had
not moved
after two hours.  The old woman who never left her home town has led a
sedentary life.


(n.) a revolt

The sedition by the guards ended with their being executed for treason.


(adj.) working diligently; persistent

The sedulous habits of the team will surely conclude in victory.

Only the most sedulous salespeople will succeed.


(v.) to be violently disturbed

By the time I arrived, she was seething with anger.

He seethed at the prospect of losing the business to his conniving uncle.


(v.) to separate or segregate

The jury was sequestered at the local inn.


(n.) an apparent aptitude for making fortunate discoveries accidentally
seemed to follow the lucky winner where ever he went.


(adj.) having a saw-toothed edge

While camping, the family used a serrated band saw to cut firewood.


(adj.) slavish; groveling

He knew they both possessed equal abilities, and yet he was always treated
as a
servile underling.

His servile leadership forced her to take over.

The servile nurse did everything the doctor told her to do.


(adj.) a character of questionable honesty

A shady person would not be trusted with a sensitive secret.


(n.) a large group or crowd

Shoals of grain were stored in the barn.


(adj.) of inferior quality; cheap

The state’s attorney said many homes, as they were built with shoddy
materials, were
bound to just blow apart even in winds of 60 or 70 miles per hour.

The shoddy homes were blown over in the storm.


(adj.) full of curves; twisting and turning

Sinuous mountain roads at night present extra danger at night when it’s
harder to see
the road’s edge.


(n.) doubter

Even after seeing evidence that his competitor’s new engine worked, the
remained a skeptic that it was marketable.


(v.) to move secretly, implies sinister

The thief skulked around the neighborhood hoping to find his next target.

They found the boy skulking in the bushes.

The woman attempted to skulk away from cleaning the house by hiring a


(v.) defame; maliciously misrepresent

Orville said he’d been slandered, and he asked the court who would-or
could- give him
his name back.


(n.) disinclination to action or labor

Employers want to guard against hiring sloths as new employees.


(adj.) lazy

The slothful actions of the player led to his benching.


(adv.) sloppy

His mother-in-law did not approve of his slovenly manner.  sodden (adj.)
soggy; dull in
action as if from alcohol The flowers were sodden after the rain.

The sodden reaction of the man caused the accident.


(v.) to stay temporarily

The family will sojourn at their summer home.  The guest remained only for
a sojourn;
she was going to leave in the afternoon.


(n.) hope; comfort during a time of grief

When her father passed away, she found solace amongst her friends and
solemnity (n.) a deep, reverent feeling often associated with religious
occasions The
church service was full of solemnity.

The solemnity of the funeral procession stood in stark contrast to the young
splashing with delight in a nearby pool.


(v.) ask; seek

The jobless man solicited employment from many factories before he was
able to find
work.  soliloquy (n.) a talk one has with oneself (esp. on stage) Imagine T.S.
poem The Waste Land performed on stage as a kind of soliloquy!

The soliloquy by the man standing alone on the cliff sent a message of
solubility (n.) that can be solved; that can be dissolved The solubility of
sugar causes it
to disappear when put in water.


(adj.) dark and depressing; gloomy

The sad story had put everyone in a somber mood.


(adj.) causing sleep

The soporific medication should not be taken when you need to drive.


(adj.) filthy; base; vile

The sordid gutters needed to be cleaned after the long, rainy autumn.  The
thought patterns were so sordid that he was not granted parole.


(adj.) superior

The power was given to the sovereign warrior.  specious (adj.) plausible,
but deceptive;
apparently, but not actually, true The jury forewoman said the jury saw
through the
defense lawyer’s specious argument and convicted his client on the weight
of the

I was unsure of the meaning of the specious statement.


(n.) one who studies caves

The spelunker made a startling discovery in the old mine.  spendthrift (n.) a
person who
spends money extravagantly The spendthrift bought two new necklaces and
three pairs
of shoes.


(adj.) marked by hostility

The splenetic warriors advanced with no thought of what they were
sporadic (adj.) rarely occurring or appearing; intermittent In the desert there
is usually
only sporadic rainfall.


(adj.) not genuine, false; bogus

Spurious claims by the importer hid the fact that prison labor had been
used in the
garments’ fabrication.

The newspaper was notorious for spurious information.


(v.; n.) to push away; a strong rejection

The woman spurned the advances of her suitor, saying she wasn’t ready
for a

Unlucky enough to be the ninth telemarketer to call Jane that evening, he
caught her


(adj.) filthy; wretched (from squalor)

The lack of sanitation piping caused squalid conditions.  He makes good
money, but I
would never want to work in those squalid crawl spaces.


(adj.) motionless, uncirculating

The stagnant water in the puddle became infested with mosquitoes.


(adj.) marked by self-control

The horse was staid as it entered the stable.


(n.) endurance

Anybody who can finish the New York Marathon has lots of stamina.


(v.) to stop or check the flow of; staunch

It is necessary to stanch the bleeding from the wound as soon as possible.  
stanza (n.)
group of lines in a poem having a definite pattern The poet uses an odd
simile in the
second stanza of the poem.


(adj.) inactive; changeless

The view while riding in the train across the endless, flat landscape
remained static for

The static water of the lake reflected the image of the trees.


(adj.) loyal

The secret service agents are steadfast to their oath to protect the


(n.) a mark of disgrace

The “F” on his transcript is a stigma on his record.


(v.) to characterize or make as disgraceful

The gross error will stigmatize the worker as careless.


(n.) payment for work done

She receives a monthly stipend for her help with the project.  The bank will
pay the
woman a stipend of a hundred dollars a week.  stoic (adj.) detached;
unruffled; calm;
austere indifference to joy, grief, pleasure, or pain The soldier had been in
week after
week of fierce battle; nonetheless, he remained stoic.

With stoic obedience the child sat quietly on the chair.


(v.) to feed fuel to; especially a fire

With the last embers dying, he stoked the fire one more time.


(adj.) showing little emotion

With a stolid expression, the man walked away from the confrontation.


(adj.) having lines or grooves

The striated road was ready for traffic.


(n.) harshness or shrillness sound

The stridency of the whistle hurt the dog’s ears.


(adj.) creaking; harsh, grating

Her strident voice hampered her chances of getting the announcer position.


(n.) a stunned or bewildered condition

He was in a stupor after being hit on the head.


(v.) to hinder or obstruct

Large amounts of snowfall will stymie the rescue effort.


(adj.) effortlessly gracious

She was a suave negotiator, always getting what she wanted without
anyone feeling
they’d lost anything.

The elegant woman entered the room with a suave walk.


(v.) to dominate or enslave

The bully will attempt to subjugate the remainder of the class.  The royal
subjugated the peasants, making them perform hard labor.


(adj.) below the level of consciousness

Critics of advertising say that it’s loaded with subliminal messages.  
subsidiary (adj.)
giving a service; being in a subordinate position The function of the
subsidiary was to
oversee the bank’s commercial loans.

He acknowledged the importance of the issue, but called it subsidiary to a
host of other
concerns.  substantive (adj.) existing independently of others; a large
quantity The only
company not acquired in the merger retained its substantive existence.

A substantive amount of money will be needed to fund the project.


(v.) to include within a larger group

The AFL was subsumed by the NFL in the 1960s.  subtlety (n.) propensity of
understatement; so slight as to be barely noticeable There was no subtlety
in the
protest; each person carried a sign and yelled for civil rights.

With great subtlety we slipped away from the boring party.  succinct (adj.)
stated; characterized by conciseness The speech was succinct yet

Usually, the most succinct definition is the right one.  Articles in USA Today
are so
succinct that some observers nicknamed the newspaper “McPaper.”


(n.) aid; assistance

Succor was given to the fire victim in the form of clothes and temporary


(v.) give in; yield; collapse

When dieting, it is difficult not to succumb to temptation.


(v.) to overspread

The rain will suffuse the spilled sand around the patio.


(adj.) involving great expense

A sumptuous spread of meats, vegetables, soups and breads was prepared
for the


(v.) break; split in two

The Civil War threatened to sunder the United States.  Management seeks
to sunder
the workers’ connections to the union.  sundry (adj.) various;
miscellaneous; separate;
distinct This store sells many sundry novelty items.

Sundry items may be purchased as a single item.  superficial (adj.) on the
narrow minded; lacking depth The victim had two stab wounds, but luckily
were only


(adj.) unnecessary; extra

Although the designer considered the piece superfluous, the woman
wanted the extra
chair in her bedroom.

Only the first sentence is necessary; all of these details are superfluous.  
After they
finished their seven-course meal, a large dessert seemed superfluous.


(adj.) of the highest kind or degree

The Golden Gate Bridge is a superlative example of civil engineering.


(v.) to take the place of

Can you supplant my position if I cannot play?


(adj.) asking earnestly and submissively

Her suppliant request of wanting to know the name of the man was met with
a laugh.


(v.) to bring to an end; hold back

The illegal aliens were suppressed by the border patrol.  surfeit (v.; n.)
indulging; overindulgence The teenagers were warned not to surfeit at the
party.  The
result of her surfeit was a week of regret.


(n; v) a guess; to guess

Was my surmise correct?

I surmise that we will not

He surmised how the play would end before the second act began.


(v.) go beyond; out do

After recovering from a serious illness, the boy surpassed the doctor’s
expectations by
leaving the hospital two days early.


(adj.) done secretly

The surreptitious maneuvers gave the advancing army an advantage.


(adj.) easily imposed; inclined

She gets an annual flu shot since she is susceptible to becoming ill.


(v.) to wrap around something; envelop

Soft blankets swathe the new born baby.


(n.) flatterer

Rodolfo honed his skills as a sycophant, hoping it would get him into Sylvia’
s good

The sycophant is known for attending many parties.  syllogism (n.)
reasoning in order
from general to particular The syllogism went from fish to guppies.


(n.) correspondence of parts; harmony

The roman columns give the building a symmetry.


(adj.) not real, rather artificial

The synthetic skin was made of a thin rubber.


(n.) a systematic list of details

The train schedule was set up as a table.


(adj.) not voiced or expressed

The National Security Agency aide argued, in effect, that he had received
the president’
s tacit approval for the arms-for-hostages deal.  taciturn (adj.) inclined to
speaking little; dour, stern The man was so taciturn it was forgotten that he
was there.


(v.) to tempt; to torment

The desserts were tantalizing, but he was on a diet.


(v.) to go or move slowly; delay

She tarried too long, and therefore missed her train.


(adj.) stretched tightly

They knew a fish was biting, because the line suddenly became taut.


(adj.) tastelessly ornamented

The shop was full of tawdry jewelry.


(adj.) wearisome, tiresome

Cleaning the house is a tedious chore for some people.  With so many new
precautions instituted, flying has become a tedious affair.  teem (v.) to be
stocked to
overflowing; to pour out; to empty The new plant seemed to be teeming with
insects.  It
is healthier to teem the grease from the broth before serving it.


(n.) foolhardiness

Temerity can result in tragedy if the activity is dangerous.  temper (v.) to
moderate, as
by mingling with something else; to bring to the proper condition by
treatment She drew
a hot bath, but then realized she’d have to temper it with a little cool water
or end up

The craftsman tempered the steel before being able to twist it to form a
table leg.


(n.) one’s customary frame of mind

The girl’s temperament is usually very calm.


(adj.) holding; persistent

With a tenacious grip, the man was finally able to pull the nail from the wall.

After his tenacious pleas, she finally conceded.

His hold on his dreams is as tenacious as anyone I know.


(n.) a principle accepted as authoritative

The tenets of socialism were explained in the book.


(adj.) undergoing or exerting tension

The pipeline was capable of flexing to withstand the tremendous tensile
strain that
might accompany an seismic movement.


(adj.) not confirmed; indefinite

Not knowing if he’d be able to get the days off, Al went ahead anyway and
tentative vacation plans with his pal.


(adj.) thin, slim, delicate; weak

The hurricane force winds ripped the tenuous branches from the tree.  The
panicked as they watched the cement block dangle from one tenuous piece
of twine.  
tepid (adj.) lacking warmth, interest, enthusiasm; lukewarm The tepid bath
water was
perfect for relaxing after a long day.


(n.) a constantly quarrelsome woman

Agreement with the termagant was an impossibility.


(adj.) pertaining to the earth

Deer are terrestrial animals; fish are aquatic.


(adj.) concise; abrupt

She believed in getting to the point, so she always gave terse answers.  
The terse
speech contained only the essential comments.  tether (n.) the range or
limit of one’s
abilities; rope or chain used to keep a boat from drifting or an animal from
My tether of playing basketball is shooting air balls.  The bulldog was
tethered to his


(n.) a slave

The worker was treated like a thrall, having to work many hours of overtime.


(adj.) frugal, careful with money

Being thrifty, the woman would not purchase the item without a coupon.

The thrifty couple saved money by taking the bus to work.


(n.) spasm or pang; agony

A particularly violent throe knocked her off her feet.  The wounded soldier
squirmed in
throes of agony.  thwart (v.) prevent from accomplishing a purpose;
frustrate Their
attempt to take over the country was thwarted by the palace guard.  timbre
(n.) the
quality of sound which distinguishes one from another The timbre of guitar
music is
different from that of piano music.


(adj.) lacking courage; timid

The timorous child hid behind his parents.

Hillary came to accept him as a timorous soul who needed succor.


(adj.) being dormant; slow, sluggish

When we came upon the hibernating bear, it was in a torpid state.

A torpid animal does not act with energy.

The old, torpid dog spent most of his time sleeping.  tortuous (adj.) full of
twists and
turns; not straight forward; possibly deceitful The suspect confessed after
confused by the tortuous questioning of the captain.


(adj.) poisonous

It’s best to store cleansing solutions out of children’s reach because of their
contents.  tractable (adj.) easily managed (opposite: intractable) The boat
was so
lightweight it was tractable by one person.

Having a tractable staff made her job a lot easier.


(v.) to defame or slander

His actions traduced his reputation.


(n.) peace; stillness; harmony

The tranquillity of the tropical island was reflected in its calm blue waters
and warm
sunny climate.


(n.) a changed form

Somewhere in the network’s entertainment division, the show underwent a
transmutation from a half-hour sitcom into an hour-long drama.


(v.) to transform

Decorators transmute ordinary homes into interesting showcases.


(v.) to take place; come about

With all that’s transpired today, I’m exhausted.


(adj.) causing a violent injury

It was a traumatic accident, leaving the driver with a broken vertebra, a
smashed wrist,
and a concussion.


(n.) very hard work; intense pain or agony

The farmer was tired after the travail of plowing the fields.

The analgesic finally ended her travail.


(v.) to make a journey

They had to trek through the dense forest to reach the nearest village.


(adj.) cutting; keen or incisive words

Without a trenchant tool, they would have to break the branches rather
than cut them.

The trenchant words hurt the man deeply.


(n.) apprehension; uneasiness

Her long absence caused more than a little trepidation.

With great trepidation, the boy entered the water for the first time.


(n.) the seat of judge

The tribunal heard the case of the burglary.


(n.) expression of admiration

Her performance was a tribute to her retiring teacher.


(adj.) commonplace; overused

The committee was looking for something new, not the same trite ideas.

Eating tomato salads became trite after their excessive popularity.


(adj.) unimportant; small; worthless

Although her mother felt otherwise, she considered her dish washing chore


(n.) belief; faith; fidelity

The couple pledged troth to each other through their vows.


(adj.) fierce, savage, cruel

Truculent fighting broke out in the war-torn country.  The truculent beast
the crowd with wild eyes and sharpened claws.


(v.) to shorten by cutting

With the football game running over, the show scheduled to follow it had to


(adj.) swollen; pompous

The tumid river washed away the homes built on the shore.

After he earned his high-school diploma, he became insufferably tumid.

The tumid balloon floated, but the empty one did not.


(n.) a noisy commotion; disturbance

The tumult was caused by two boys wanting the same toy.

After the tumult, I found it difficult to resume my studies.


(adj.) thick and dense; cloudy

The turbid green waters of the lake prevented them from seeing the
turbulence (n.) condition of being physically agitated; disturbance Everyone
on the
plane had to fasten their seat belts as the plane entered an area of


(n.) unrest; agitation

Before the country recovered after the war, they experienced a time of
great turmoil.


(n.) vileness

The turpitude of the action caused a rage among the people.  tutelage (n.)
condition of being under a guardian or a tutor Being under the tutelage of a
musician is a great honor.


(n.) wealthy leader

The business tycoon prepared to buy his fifteenth company.


(n.) absolute power; autocracy

The people were upset because they had no voice in the government that
the king ran
as a tyranny.


(adj.) omnipresent; present everywhere

A ubiquitous spirit followed the man wherever he went.

Water may seem ubiquitous, until a drought comes along.


(adj.) buried; concealed; undisclosed

She was usually very selfish, so when she came bearing gifts he suspected
that she
had ulterior motives.

My ulterior concerns are more important than my immediate ones.  The man’
s ulterior
motive was to spy on the lab, though he said he wanted a job.


(n.) offense or resentment

The candidate took umbrage at the remark of his opponent.


(adj.) pure, of high quality

An unalloyed chain is of greater value than a piece of costume jewelry.


(adj.) of a strange nature; weird

That two people could be so alike was uncanny.


(adj.) uncultured; crude

The social club would not accept an uncouth individual.


(v.) to weaken; often through subtle means

The attempts to undermine the merger were unsuccessful.  The supervisor
the director’s power and began controlling the staff.


(adj.) clear and unambiguous

The 50-0 vote against the bill was an unequivocal statement against the

His response was unequivocal, which seemed unusual for a politician.


(adj.) genuine; real; sincere

Her unfeigned reaction of surprise meant she had not expected the party.


(adj.) clumsy and unattractive

The ungainly man knocked over the plant stand.  uniform (adj.) never
changing, always
with the same standard The marching band moved in uniform across the
field.  Patrons
of fast-food chains say they like the idea of a uniform menu wherever they


(adj.) without equal; incomparable

The jeweler assured him that the dubloon was unique, as it was part of the
long lost
treasure of the Atocha.  universal (adj.) concerning everyone; existing
Pollution does not affect just one country or state- it’s a universal problem.  
(adj.) out of the way; remaining quietly in the background The shy man
found an
unobtrusive seat in the far corner of the room.  It was easy to miss the
plaque above the fireplace.


(adj.) unheard of; exceptional

Weeks of intense heat created unprecedented power demands, which the
utilities were
hard pressed to meet.


(adj.) simple; plain; modest

He was an unpretentious farmer: An old John Deere and a beat-up Ford
pick-up were
all he needed to get the job done.  unruly (adj.) not submitting to discipline;
The unruly boys had to be removed from the concert hall.


(adj.) improper; unfortunate

Asking guests to bring their own food would be an untoward request.

All of their friends expressed sympathy about their untoward separation.


(adj.) rare

The unwonted raise would be the only one received for a few years.  The
migratory habits of the Canada geese, though unwonted, is unwanted
because of the
mess they make.


(n.) the final act or result

The upshot of the debate was that the bill would be released to the floor.


(adj.) cultured; suave

The gala concert and dinner dance was attended by the most urbane

The English businessman was described by his peers as witty and urbane.  
(n.) art of taking something for oneself; seizure During the war, the
usurpation of the
country forced an entirely new culture on the natives.  usury (n.) the lending
of money
with an excessively high interest rate An interest rate 30 points above the
prime rate
would be considered usury in the United States.

Loan sharks frequently practice usury, but their debtors usually have little
choice but to
keep quiet and pay up.  utopia (n.) imaginary land with perfect social and
systems Voltaire wrote of a utopia where the streets were paved with gold.


(v.) move gently by wind or breeze

The smoke wafted out of the chimney.


(v.) to give up; to put off until later

I will waive my rights to have a lawyer present because I don’t think I need

As hard as he tried, he could only waive his responsibility for so long.


(adj.) lacking color; sickly pale

Her face became wan at the sight of blood.


(v.) to gradually become less; to grow dim

After time, interest in the show will wane and it will no longer be as popular.

The full moon waned until it was nothing but a sliver in the sky.  wanton
unmanageable; unjustifiably malicious My wanton hunger must be satiated.

With wanton aggression, the army attacked the defenseless village.

It is hard to lose weight when one has a wanton desire for sweets.


(v.) justify; authorize

The police official warranted the arrest of the suspect once enough proof
had been


(n.) a confused mass; turmoil

When the emergency alarm sounded, a welter of shivering office workers
formed in the
street as people evacuated the site.  The welter moved from street to street
to escape
the fire.


(v.) to influence or persuade

The crook may attempt to wheedle the money from the bank.

He tried hard to wheedle his father into buying him a car.


(v.) to sharpen by rubbing; to stimulate

Before carving the turkey, you must whet the blade.

The smell of cooking food has whet my appetite.

The smell of dinner cooking whetted her appetite.


(adj.) fanciful; amusing

Strolling down Disney World’s Main Street is bound to put child and grown-
up alike in a
whimsical mood.


(adj.) concealing; sly

The wily explanation was meant to confuse the investigator.


(adj.) charming; sweetly attractive

His winsome words moved the crowd to love him even more.


(v.) wilt; shrivel; humiliate; cut down

The plant withered slowly since it received little light and little water.


(adj.) shriveled; withered

The wizened face of the old man was covered by his hat.


(adj.) to be expressionless or dull

The wooden expression of the man made him look like a statue.


(adj.) commonplace

The workaday meal was not exciting to the world class chef.


(n.) violent or unrestrained anger; fury

Do not trespass on his property or you will have to deal with his wrath.


(v.) to give vent; to inflict

The dragon will wreak havoc upon the countryside.  wrest (v.) to pull or
force away by a
violent twisting The warriors wrest the power from the king.  wretched (adj.)
miserable or
unhappy; causing distress Brought up in an orphanage, Annie led a
existence.  The continual rain made for a wretched vacation.


(adj.) mocking; cynical

He has a wry sense of humor which sometimes hurts people’s feelings.


(n.) fear of foreigners

Xenophobia kept the townspeople from encouraging any immigrants to
move into the


(n.) harness; collar; bond

The jockey led her horse by the yoke around its neck and face.


(n.) former period of time

When he sees his childhood friends, they speak about the days of yore.


(n.) believer; enthusiast; fan

The zealot followed whatever rules the cult leader set.  zenith (n.) point
overhead in the sky; highest point The astronomer pointed her telescope
straight up
toward the zenith.  The Broncos seemed to be at the zenith of their power
just as their
rivals on the turf were flagging.

The sun will reach its zenith at noon.

The zenith of her career occurred during her time as chairperson.


(n.) a gentle wind; breeze

It was a beautiful day, with a zephyr blowing in from the sea.

The zephyr blew the boat slowly across the lake.