Random Vocabulary

abate
Something that _____ becomes fewer or less intense. Your enthusiasm for skiing might ______ after falling off a ski lift and getting a mouthful of snow.
abdicate
Sometimes someone in power might decide to give up that power and step down from his or her position. When they do that, they _________ their authority, giving up all duties and perks of the job.
aberration
An ___________ is a noun that means something that is not normal or is very typical at all. An example of an ___________ is when the temperature hits 90 degrees in January — it’s nice and warm, but it’s really strange.
abstain
She grabbed a little of everything from the plate piled with olives, cherries, and other nibbles, but she had to ________ from the offerings on the wine table. Choosing to _________, or refrain, from drinking alcohol made it safe for her to drive friends home.
adversity
When circumstances or a situation works against you, you face __________.
aesthetic
The adjective ___________, comes in handy when subject is beauty or the arts. A velvet painting of dogs playing poker might have minimal __________ appeal.
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amicable
The adjective __________ means “friendly” — but in particular, use it when describing relations one might otherwise expect to be unfriendly. The end of a romantic relationship that’s less than _________ might involve broken dishes or broken bones.
anachronistic
Something that’s old-fashioned and maybe a little out of place is ______________, like a clunky black rotary-dial telephone sitting on a desk beside a sleek new smart-phone (or whatever the new technology when you read this).
arid
________ is so dry that nothing will grow. Death Valley in California features an ______ climate, which is why it’s called Death Valley and not Life Valley.
asylum
Any mom taking care of the kids day in and day out is probably more than ready to seek ________, or refuge, at a local spa.
benevolent
Choose the adjective _____________ for someone who does good deeds or shows goodwill. If your teacher collects homework with a _____________ smile, she’s hoping that you’ve done a good job.
bias
Use the noun _____ to mean a preference for one thing over another, especially an unfair one.
boisterous
The adjective ____________ is what you would use if you want to call attention in a loud or clamorous way.
brazen
With _______ disregard for the sign that said “no cellphones please” the woman took a long call in the doctor’s office waiting room. _______ refers to something shocking, done shamelessly.
brusque
If you ask a salesperson with help finding something and all you get in response is a _________ “Everything’s out on the shelves,” you’ll probably take your business elsewhere. A _________ manner of speaking is unfriendly, rude, and very brief.
camaraderie
____________ is a spirit of good friendship and loyalty among members of a group. You might not like your job, but still enjoy the ____________ of the people you work with.
canny
If you’re a _________ investor, you know how to spend money to make money — that is, you’re prudent, farsighted, and capable of protecting your own interests, particularly in matters of finance or business.
capacious
When something is really big and holds a lot it is __________, like a woman’s __________ purse that is so big, people mistake it for a piece of luggage.
capitulate
__________ means to give in to something. “The teachers didn’t want to have class outside, but the students begged so hard, she ___________.”
clairvoyant
If you can predict the future, you may want to keep your __________ powers to yourself. Otherwise everyone will be knocking down your door asking for the next winning lotto numbers.
compassion
If someone shows kindness, caring, and a willingness to help others, they’re showing ___________.
compromise
A _____________ is a way of settling differences by everybody making concessions. If you want to stay out until 10 and your friend wants to stay out until midnight, 11 is a good _____________.
condescending
A person who’s being ___________ is arrogant and treats others with a superior attitude. A 10-year-old who says to his sibling “What do you know — you’re only a 6-year-old” is being ____________.
conformist
A ___________ is a person who follows traditional standards of conduct. If you’re a __________, it’s unlikely you’ll join a revolution to overthrow your government; instead you’ll argue that it’s best to keep things the way they are.
convergence
______________ is when two or more things come together to form a new whole, like the ____________ of plum and apricot genes in the plucot.
deleterious
If something is ____________, it does harm or makes things worse. Smoking has obvious ____________ effects on your health, not to mention your social life.
demagogue
A ______________ is someone who becomes a leader largely because of skills as a speaker or who appeals to emotions and prejudices.
digression
When your essay about French cooking starts describing a childhood trip to Disneyland, it’s taken a __________ — it’s strayed from the main topic.
diligent
Someone who is ___________ works hard and carefully. If you want to write the epic history of your family, you’ll have to be very ___________ in tracking down and interviewing all of your relatives.
discredit
___________ means to cause mistrust or cast the accuracy of something into doubt. If you say that schooling is important to you, but you never study, your actions ___________ you and your words.
disdain
If you feel that something isn’t worthy of your consideration, you may disdain it (or treat it with ___________).
divergent
Something ____________ is moving away from what is expected. Two __________ paths are moving in opposite directions — away from each other.
empathy
Use __________ if you’re looking for a noun meaning “the ability to identify with another’s feelings.”
emulate
When you ___________ someone, you imitate them, especially with the idea of matching their success.
ephemeral
Something that is fleeting or short-lived is ___________, like a fly that lives for one day or text messages flitting from cellphone to cellphone.
evanescent
A beautiful sunset, a rainbow, a wonderful dream right before your alarm clock goes off — all of these could be described as _____________, which means “fleeting” or “temporary.”
exemplary
___________ people excel at what they do and are excellent examples to others. Something __________ is so good that it is an example for others to follow.
extenuating
You’ll be furious that your friend didn’t bake the cupcakes she promised for your bake sale — until you learn the ____________ circumstances: her dog climbed onto her kitchen counter and ate all the cupcake batter. ____________ means “making forgivable.”
florid
When people are red-cheeked with good health they are _________. Spending most of the year in the college library can give you a colorless, weary face, but after a mountain vacation, you’ll be ________ with the reddish color that comes from exercise and living well.
forbearance
When a teacher says, “Bear with me for a moment,” while he writes on the board, he is asking for the class’s ____________. He wants them to wait patiently during the delay.
fortitude
___________ refers to strength in the face of adversity or difficulty. Eating fried worms might require a lot of intestinal ___________.
fortuitous
___________ originally meant accidental, but has come to mean lucky. Due to a ___________ coincidence, you and your best friend’s families went on vacation to the same place at the same time.
foster
To _______ is to nurture something for a little while. She fosters creativity by providing crayons to every student. You can also ________ a child, which means she lives in your home for a time.
fraught
_________ means filled with something — often something bad. Your Thanksgiving was ___________ with awkward moments when your family saw your blue hair, and it only got worse when you told them you’d quit law school to join the circus.
frugal
A person who lives simply and economically can be called _______. Buying clothes at a consignment shop would be considered ________. Not getting your mom a gift for her birthday — that’s just cheap.
hackneyed
_________ is a word for language that doesn’t pack a punch since it’s overused and trite. “Roses are red, violets are…” — enough already?! That’s __________ stuff.
haughty
Someone who is __________ is arrogant and full of pride. When you’re __________, you have a big attitude and act like you’re better than other people.
hedonist
Your parents might want to visit the museum while you want to hike in the forest, but your brother, the __________, just wants to lounge by the hotel pool and eat cake. A ____________ values sensual pleasure above all else.
impetuous
Someone __________ acts too hastily or carelessly. Hotheaded, impulsive folks are ____________.
impute
The verb _________ can be used to blame someone for doing something bad, give credit for good work, or just tell it like it is, like when you _________ your lateness to my not telling you where to meet me.
inconsequential
If something is considered of little worth or importance, it is ____________. If astronomers forecast a tremendous meteor shower, it might turn out to be no more than space junk, too ______________ to record.
inevitable
If something is _________, it will definitely happen, like death or tax season.
intrepid
_________ is just a fancy word for describing a person or action that is bold and brave. Super heroes are _________ in their struggle for truth, justice and the American way.
intuitive
If you’re _________, you can probably guess what this word means just by looking at it. No? Maybe you’re not so _________, after all. _________ means having the ability to understand or know something without any direct evidence or reasoning process.
jubilation
_________ is a happy word. Where there is __________, there are laughter, smiles, laughs, joy, and gladness.
lobbyist
A ___________ is someone hired by a business or a cause to persuade legislators to support that business or cause.
longevity
Something with __________ has the ability to last for a long time. While tortoises are not known for their quickness, their __________ is amazing. Just ask the Hare.
mundane
An ordinary, unexciting thing can be called __________: “Superman hid his heroic feats by posing as his __________ alter ego, Clark Kent.”
nonchalant
If your friend is acting cool, unconcerned or in an indifferent manner, call him ___________ — like when he saunters by a group of whispering, giggling girls and just nods and says, “Hey.”
opulent
_______ is a word that you will hear a lot around rich people looking to show off. “Remember the ________ buffet at Carrie’s sweet sixteen? Sixteen chocolate cakes iced in gold leaf!”
orator
A person giving a speech is called an ________, like the gifted _______ who raised excellent points, making everyone in the audience want to join his revolution.
ostentatious
Reach for the adjective _____________ when you want a flashy way to say — well, “flashy” or “showy.”
parched
Something ________ is excessively dry and hot, in extreme need of water, like a desert, a neglected plant, or your throat after a five-kilometer run.
perfidious
If someone accuses you of being _________, you should probably be offended — it means underhanded, treacherous, deceitful — even evil.
pragmatic
To describe a person or a solution that takes a realistic approach, consider the adjective _________. The four-year-old who wants a unicorn for her birthday isn’t being very __________.
precocious
That high school hoops phenom who plays like an NBA pro? The sixth grader who’s already asking questions about organic chemistry? They’re both _____________ — meaning they’re way beyond their years in skill or knowledge.
pretentious
Use the adjective __________ as a way to criticize people who try to impress you as more important or knowledgeable than they really are.
procrastinate
______________ means putting off doing something until a future time. When people sit down to write term papers, they can find all kinds of clever ways to ______________: reorganizing the paperclips, calling everyone they know, typing “I am bored” fifty times in a row.
prosaic
________ means ordinary or dull. Most of us lead a ________ everyday life, sometimes interrupted by some drama or crisis.
prosperity
Use ___________ to refer to the state of being successful. In the US, the decades following World War II were characterized by rising ____________, with large numbers moving into the middle class.
proactive
If something is ____________, it provokes a reaction. A ___________, or low cut blouse might make people think you’re sexy. A provocative statement, such as “I hate babies,” will get another kind of reaction.
prudent
Describe an action as __________ if it is the wise thing to do under the existing circumstances. If you’re getting in trouble, it is probably _________ to keep your mouth closed and just listen.
querulous
_________ means “having a tendency to complain” or, more directly put, “whiny.” Sure, no one can be happy all the time, but that’s no excuse for being _________.
reclusive
The adjective _________ describes a desire for seclusion or privacy. A _________ movie star is the one tabloid photographers dream of capturing on film.
reconciliation
__________ is the act of getting two things to be compatible with one another. You might have a __________ with a former enemy, or your mom might call for a ___________ between your spending habits and your diminishing bank account.
renovation
_________ is the act of improving by renewing and restoring. “They are pursuing a general program of __________ to the entire property.”
restrained
Use the adjective _____________ to describe something that’s kept under control, such as strong emotion or even physical movement. If you’re angry but you don’t want it to show, you might speak in a ___________ manner.
reverence
____________ is a feeling of deep respect or awe — like what you have for a president, a hero, or a favorite football player.
sagacity
If you are wise and prone to evaluating information before making a decision, you possess _______, the trait of solid judgment and intelligent choices. And if that is indeed the case, then good for you! We need more sound thinkers.
scrutinize
If you want to examine something closely and go over every single detail, then you should _________ it. Like the way your mom probably assesses your outfit before you leave the house for school.
spontaneous
Something _____________ happens when you’re least expecting it. ______________ things are natural or instinctive, and they happen without warning.
spurious
Something false or inauthentic is __________. Don’t trust __________ ideas and stories. __________ statements often are lies, just as a __________ coin is a counterfeit coin — a fake.
submissive
When animals live in packs, one animal is usually the dominant leader, while the others fall into more _______ roles. To be submissive is to obey or yield to someone else.
substantiate
To ___________ is to give support to a claim. We’d really like to believe in the Tooth Fairy; however, more evidence is needed to ___________ her existence (besides that quarter in your pocket).
subtle
Something that is _______ is not obvious: a professional food taster might be able to perceive _______ differences of flavor that most people don’t notice.
superficial
Anything ___________ has to do with the surface of something. If you’re judging a book by its cover, you’re being ___________. People who worry too much about their clothes and hair may also be considered ____________.
superfluous
When something is so unnecessary that it could easily be done away with, like a fifth wheel on a car or a fifth person on a double date, call it ___________.
surreptitious
When someone behaves in a ___________ way, they’re being secretive. They’re doing something that they don’t want to be seen doing.
tactful
The adjective _________ describes being sensitive to other people’s feeling so you don’t anger or embarrass them. For example, if you know your friend’s team just lost the championship, what’s the _________ thing to do? Not ask, “How was the game?”
tenacious
Use __________ to mean “not easily letting go or giving up,” like a clingy child who has a ___________ grip on his mother’s hand.
transient
Use the adjective __________ to describe something that always changes or moves around, like how a teenage girl can have a temporary crush on one boy one week and another boy the next week.
venerable
To be __________ is to be admired and respected because of your status or age. You become __________ by achieving great things or just by living long enough.
vindicate
__________ means to justify, prove, or reinforce an idea — or to absolve from guilt. If your family thinks you hogged the last piece of pie on Thanksgiving, you’ll be ____________ when your younger brother fesses up.
wary
Describe yourself as _____ if you don’t quite trust someone or something and want to proceed with caution. Be wary of risky things like wild mushrooms and Internet deals!
fancy
______ can be an adjective, noun, or a verb. As an adjective, it’s the opposite of plain. The noun names something that isn’t real. When someone likes or wants something, the verb can be used: “I ______ a cup of tea.” Doesn’t that sound _________?
commission
The word _____________ has several very different meanings, but in its most basic meaning, ____________ is the act of passing a responsibility to someone else. If you receive a government ____________, that means you have been assigned a task by the government.
intend
If you ________ to do something, you mean to do it or have it in mind as a goal. Do you plan on getting your holiday cards in the mail before February this year? Then you _______ on getting them out early.
evident
If something is _________, it’s visible. If you blush furiously and start shaking every time your crush comes near, your infatuation will be ________ to everyone.
vain
If you spend all day admiring yourself in reflective surfaces — mirrors, pools of water, the backs of spoons — people may think you are conceited or _______.
policy
Did you just come up with a plan for reducing the number of paper clips your department uses at work each month? Then you’ve created a ________, a plan of action.
engage
________ means to bind, catch, or involve. If your sink is stopped up, engage, or hire, a plumber to fix it. Otherwise the smell of rotten food in the garbage disposal will _________ your attention (in a bad way).
constitute
“What ____________ a family?” means “What makes up a family?” To ___________ is to make up a whole from smaller parts, or constituents.
render
________ is a synonym of make–technically it means “cause to become.” An illness might ________ you unable to walk, or a shocking site might ________ you speechless.
confer
If you gab, chat, and talk it up with someone, you have conversation, but if you’re looking for input from each other as you talk, you _______, or consult, together. They had a family meeting to _______ about a schedule for sharing the new laptop.
dwell
To ________ in a home is to live in it. To _______ on something — usually something bad, like a failed romance or terrible service in a restaurant — is to think or speak about it at great length.
earnest
If you are _________, it means you are serious about something. You parents might not want you to drop out of school to follow some fly-by-night dream, but if you’re ________ about wanting a career in show biz, they’ll support you.
convention
A ___________ is a meeting, usually of a particular group. Political parties, teachers, plumbers, gardeners, toymakers and computer designers all hold ___________.
furnish
If you provide something needed, you ________ it. You can ________ an answer to a question in an interview, ________ the snacks at a party, or ________ a room by filling it with couches and chairs.
compel
________ means to force or drive someone to do something. Even if you don’t like toast, when you visit the toast-eating natives of Shrintakook Island, you’ll be _________ to eat it, or they will not trust you.
bent
If you have a knack or aptitude for doing something, you can say you have a _____ for it. Perhaps you have a _____ for woodworking, creating fabulous desserts, or writing poetry, you are good at it.
intimate
________ means being close. A small restaurant is called ________ because you’re sitting close to the other people, and your best friends are considered your __________ friends.
undertake
When you ________ a task or challenge, you attempt to accomplish it. If you want to _________ a verbal challenge right now, try saying “sushi chef” ten times quickly without messing up.
assert
_______ is all about standing up for what you believe. You might _______ an opinion, your innocence, or even your authority over someone else.
keen
If you have a _______ interest in something, you are really, really into it. ______ is an adjective that describes something that is intense and focused.
despair
______ is the feeling of not having any hope left. If you just found out that you’re having a test in math and you hadn’t studied at all, you might feel ______, or ______ of any hope that you can pass it.
justify
To ________ is to make excuses for one’s actions, like the dieter who has to justify the few tiny pieces of chocolate she’s sneaked in between salads.
merit
_______ is another way of saying “deserve.” The National ______ Scholarship program is based on ______–students whose SAT scores are high enough deserve to be in the program. If kids seems to be getting in who hadn’t even taken the SATs–that would ______ an investigation.
manifest
Choose the verb manifest when someone shows something for everyone to notice. You might manifest your dislike of school food by stirring it around into a big pile of slop on your tray.
notion
If you have a ______ that you can swim across the ocean, you are probably wrong. A ______ is an idea, often vague and sometimes fanciful.
persist
When someone _________ they keep going or hang on. If you want finish a marathon, you have to ________ and keep running, no matter how many blisters you have.
contempt
Reserve the noun _________ for an extreme lack of respect: a food snob has nothing but __________ for mass-produced burgers and fries at a fast-food joint.
inclined
If you’re __________ to do something, you want to do it, you like doing it, and you may even have an inherent talent for doing it. Alternatively, if the sidewalk outside your house is _________, that means it slopes upward.
attribute
An __________ is a quality or characteristic given to a person, group, or some other thing. Your best ________ might be your willingness to help others, like when you stopped traffic so the duck family could cross the street.
exert
________ basically means to put forth effort to do something. For example, when you ______ yourself in a workout, you can really feel the burn in your muscles.
oppress
When you _______ someone, you use your authority to keep them down. If you _______ people long enough, they might decide to fight back and then decide to oppress YOU.
contend
To defend a belief or keep affirming that it’s true is to _________. A lot of supporters would contend that the earth was flat, but eventually, when no one dropped off the edge no matter how far they traveled, the “round” theory won.
toil
______ is another word for work. You ______ as a customer service rep all day, but you’d prefer to work as a rock goddess. Unfortunately, there weren’t many ads in the employment section for goddesses — rock or otherwise.
perish
_______ means to die, but it suggests a slow, gradual, nonviolent death. Starving to death is _______. Getting hit by a bus is just plain getting killed.
disposition
Someone’s __________ is their mood or general attitude about life. If your friend woke up on the wrong side of the bed, tell her that she might need a ___________ makeover.
rail
The verb _______ means to criticize severely. When you _______ against increased taxes at a town meeting, you speak openly and loudly about how wrong the increase is and point out the problems it will cause.
boast
When you ________ you are bragging about yourself and your accomplishments (or maybe those of your family), often to the boredom and annoyance of your audience.
advocate
You can refer to a person who’s a public supporter of a cause as an __________.
bestow
When you present an honor or gift to someone, you _________ it, which is the same as giving it, but often classier and more respectful.
allege
If you accuse someone of committing a crime but the proof of the wrongdoing isn’t yet found, use the verb _______. You might _______ that your sister broke a vase, just because no one else was home when you heard the crash.
lofty
________ is a good word for describing something that’s high above the ground, or someone who acts like she’s high above everyone else.
multitude
A ___________ is a very large number or a huge crowd. If you see a __________ of zombies approaching, you’re in trouble.
heed
_______ is an old word, meaning to listen to and follow. It can also be used as a noun: “Take _______ of my instructions, little boy,” said the old bearded man. “My potion will only work for the one who wears the ring.”
modest
A person is _______ if he or she is very successful but does not call attention to this
apt
Something ____ is perfectly appropriate, clever and well-suited to the matter at hand. A “Cinderella story” might be an ____ metaphor for an underdog team that makes it to the championships.
credible
Someone who’s ________ is honest and believable. A pathological liar, for example, might not be the most ________ witness for your case against the bank robber.
provoke
Anything that brings about a strong reaction can be said to __________. You can _______ that lion if you want. But if he responds by attacking, don’t come running to me.
tread
When you ______ on the earth, you walk on it. The next time your pal thinks you have it too easy, you might ask him, “Why don’t you _______ in my shoes for a day?”
ascertain
_________ is a verb that means to find out something. You might have to go to the bank to _________ if there is any money in your account.
fare
It’s not fair that _____ means three unrelated things. Get along: “______ thee well.” Cost of travel: “Train ______ is ten dollars.” Food: “Tatertots is typical cafeteria ______.”
cede
To ______ is to give up or surrender land, position, or authority. “She reluctantly ceded the coveted position as the baby of the family to her brother when he was born. She would not, however, _____ her bedroom to him.”
perpetual
Use the adjective _________ to describe something that never ends or changes. If you’re a __________ procrastinator, your dilly-dallying ways are never going to improve.
decree
Look carefully! A ________ isn’t something you get when you graduate. That one little letter change makes it something else altogether: a legally binding command or the announcement of such a thing.
contrive
When you _______, you make a plan or a plot. It may take you longer to ________ your way out of doing your homework than would to actually do it.
derived
When something is ________ from something else, it is made from that. Ham is _________ from pork, and the active ingredient in aspirin is ________ from the bark of the willow tree.
substantial
Something _____________ is large in size, number, or amount: If you want to say someone spent a lot of money without being too specific, you could say they spent a ___________ amount of money.
facile
If someone does something easily, or shows ease, it is described as ______ in a good way, but if someone takes the easy way out and shows a lack of thought or care, it is ______ in a bad way.
dense
When woods are ________, the trees grow close together. When fog is _______, you can’t see through it. And if someone calls you _______, they think nothing can get into your thick skull.
afflict
To _________ is to cause suffering, pain, or misery. It’s often associated with medical conditions. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is most likely to ________ someone who spends many hours every day typing on our computers.
flourish
A _________ is an extra touch — a trumpet’s “ta-ta-da!” announcing a king’s entrance, a fancy carving atop an otherwise utilitarian pillar, a wave of a flag or a cheerleader’s pompom.
ordained
An __________ minister is one who’s been appointed to the job by a special church authority. If you’ve ever had to sit through a lecture about the evils of too much TV, you know that a person doesn’t need to be __________ in order to preach.
pious
If someone is deeply religious and visibly follows all the moral and ethical codes of his religion, he is _______. Don’t become a priest if you’re not prepared to live a ______ life.
vexes
If something _______ you, it brings you trouble or difficulty. In other words, it annoys, worries, distresses, irritates, bothers, or puzzles you.
conspicuous
Keep your eye on the adjective ____________ for something that stands out so much you notice it right away — like that zit in the center of your friend’s forehead.
retort
What’s a ________? It’s a reply that’s short. “Why did the monkey fall out of the tree; please give me a report?” I said “The monkey’s dead,” with a dry ______.
assent
_______ means agreement. If you nod your head in _______, you agree to something or you _______ to it. You can ________ in the same contexts as agree, but you’ll seem a bit more serious.
sanction
__________ has two nearly opposite meanings: to __________ can be to approve of something, but it can also mean to punish, or speak harshly to. Likewise, a ___________ can be a punishment or approval. Very confusing–the person who invented this word should be publicly __________!
exalt
You might like your manager, but if you _____ her, it means you really put her on a pedestal and treat her like royalty.
malice
______ is the intention to cause harm. If someone feels _______ toward you, look out! They’ve got bad intentions.
extravagant
___________ is an adjective that means expensive, excessive, and over the top. A chandelier in your dining room is normal. But crystal coated walls and silk plush carpeting? That’s a bit ____________.
throng
A _________ is a crowd of people or animals. On the crowded platform, the __________ of passengers attempted to push their way into the already overcrowded subway car.
venerate
To _________ is to worship, adore, be in awe of. You probably don’t __________ your teacher or boss; however, you may act like you do!
assail
To _________ is to attack or assault — with throwing stars, fists, words or, less tangibly but just as violently, with troubles or doubts.
sublime
In common use, ________ is an adjective meaning “awe-inspiringly grand, excellent, or impressive,” like the best chocolate fudge sundae you’ve ever had.
exploit
An _________ is a heroic act or notable deed. The King Arthur legends are full of stories of the ________ of the Knights of the Round Table, including Sir Lancelot and King Arthur himself.
exertion
_________ is effort. Exercise requires physical _________. Listening to great jazz requires mental _________. What kind of _________ does jazzercise require? Perhaps too much.
kindle
When you start a fire burning, you can say you ______ the fire. Knowing how to _________ a campfire is an important survival skill. It can help keep you warm at night, and keep you from eating cold beans for dinner.
endow
To ________ is to furnish, but not with furniture. If you’ve been ________ with something, it means you’ve been given a gift — most likely a gift that can’t be returned or exchanged, like a sense of humor or athletic ability or trust.
imposed
Something that has been thrust upon you without your wishing for it is said to have been _________ on you. Something that is _________ is usually unwelcome and unpleasant and is expected to be endured — like higher taxes or unwelcome guests.
ensue
If something happens after something else, it will ______, meaning it will follow after or be the result. When a sneeze comes out, and he hears the “Achoo!,” a “Bless you” or “Gesundheit” soon will ______.
satire
_________ is a way of making fun of people by using silly or exaggerated language. Politicians are easy targets for ________, especially when they’re acting self-righteous or hypocritical.
dispatched
Anything that needs to be mailed, sent off, or quickly shipped needs to be _________. Letters, official reports, teams of police — if it has somewhere to be, you can ________ it to get there.
impel
_______ means to force to move forward. A person sleep walking might move as if ________ by a force beyond their control. Loneliness might ________ you to talk to someone you don’t know.
vacate
If someone asks you to _______ the room, you’d better pack up your things and go. When you ________ something, you leave it behind, usually empty.
predecessor
A ___________ is something that came before the current version. The person you replaced at work is your ___________, just like Pac Man is the ___________ of modern video games.
beseech
If you’re begging for something but you want to sound formal and a little old-fashioned, say “I ___________ you!” It really captures how urgent and desperate you are, yet perhaps saves a shred of your dignity.
illustrious
Something that’s __________ is well known or famous, leaving a trail of glory in its wake. An __________ career, for example, is full of impressive achievements and celebrated contributions to society.
propriety
___________ is following what is socially acceptable in speech and behavior. If you are someone who cares about always doing the right and proper thing, your friends might accuse you of being obsessed with ___________ and beg you to loosen up.
fathom
To __________ something is to understand it thoroughly, and is usually used in the negative, as in “I can’t __________ why he doesn’t want to go along with us.”
clad
________ means dressed or covered. You might be ________ in green velvet and leather. A jewelry box might be _______ in ebony with silver carvings.
partisan
If something is prejudicial towards a particular point of view, you can call it _________. You’ll often hear of the _________ politics in the US — since politicians seem to be so devoted to either the Republican or Democratic parties.
contrived
If you see something that seems fake since it was too perfectly planned out, call it _________. If you can easily predict the final minutes of a made-for-TV movie, then call it __________.
venerable
To be __________ is to be admired and respected because of your status or age. You become _________ by achieving great things or just by living long enough.
besiege
To _________ means to attack with an army, or to pester with many requests. When all your teachers ask you to hand in assignments on the same day, you can end up feeling _________.
manifestation
A _____________ is the public display of emotion or feeling, or something theoretical made real.
rebuke
If you receive a ________, it means that you have been reprimanded, or scolded.
insurgent
An __________ is a rebel or a revolutionary, someone who takes up arms against the authorities.
scrupulous
____________ means very careful to do things properly and correctly, such as paying friends back for money borrowed right away, or not returning a pair of shoes after they’ve been worn outdoors.
ratify
To ______ a treaty or contract is to officially approve it by signing or voting for it. You and your brothers and sisters might devise a plan for a family vacation to Disney World, but it would need to be ________ by your parents.
discreet
________ describes someone or something that is appropriately quiet, prudent, and restrained. If you are wearing a _________ gray suit, it is unlikely that anyone at that business meeting will notice you.
imposing
________ is an adjective reserved for those things that are impressive in the sense that they are large or serious, as in the US Capitol Building or even, say, a professional wrestler.
wistful
Only one letter separates the two words, but “wishful” is having hope for something, and wistful is having sadness or melancholy about something. “Wist” isn’t even a word that’s used anymore, but you can still be wistful.
mortify
To ______ someone is to cause them extreme embarrassment. Your mother may not have been trying to ________ you when she showed up at your senior prom with a bunch of unicorn balloons, but she did.
premise
A _________ is what forms the basis of a theory or a plot. When you called 911 on the guy in your back yard, it was on the __________ that he was a thief and not the meter-reader.
caprice
On a whim, he sold everything and left the city for the beautiful wilderness of Alaska, but his act of ________ felt a lot less whimsical when he realized how freezing cold Alaska is.
muster
Originally meaning only to gather soldiers, _________’s definition has been expanded to include gathering up just about anything–you can _______ up some dinner, some friends, or even some ketchup, pickles and mustard.
fervent
Use __________ to describe a person or thing that shows very strong feelings or enthusiasm. If you have a _________ desire to become an actress, you’ll stop at nothing to realize your dream.
cohere
When things _______, they come together in a meaningful way. It wasn’t until we won a game that our team finally _______, and we actually felt like a unit.
exasperate
To ____________ someone is to annoy him or her to the point of impatience, frustration and irritation, like when you ___________ a busy waiter by asking questions like “what are all the ingredients in the salad dressing?” and making him repeat the specials five times.
conjure
If your mom can magically _______ up the most delicious meals from the most random ingredients in the kitchen, she might just be the best cook in the neighborhood.
ominous
If something looks or sounds _________, be careful, a threat or an unpleasant event is at hand. If you see an _________ frown on your boss’s face, you’re in trouble!
elude
_______ means evade, or be hard to grasp. “Tom _______ his captors by hiding under a table. Martha tried to understand chemistry, but the subject continued to _______ her.”
pervade
To ___________ means to be present throughout, to exist in every part of. If you have too many cats, the horrible smell of cat pee will _________ your house.
slew
Of all the many nouns referring to a large group of things, one of the most fun is ______, as in “I saw a whole ______ of birds in the tree by the river.”
sentinel
A _________ is a guard, a lookout, a person keeping watch. It’s often a soldier, but not always. If you’re watching a pot, waiting for it to boil, you’re standing _________ over it. (Incidentally, it won’t boil until you leave.)
precision
Use the noun ________ to describe something that’s exact, such as the work of a carpenter who’s made 100 identical pieces of railing for a grand staircase.
depose
When you force someone in authority out of office — a politician, a king, or a cheerleading captain — you ________ them.
deference
Sure you wear ripped jeans to school every day, but you don’t wear them to your grandmother’s house out of _________ to her. When you show __________ to someone, you make a gesture of respect.
fray
______ is all about friction–a ______ rope has been rubbed so much its fibers are wearing away. People experiencing friction–fighting loudly–are involved in a ________.
candid
Straightforward and truthful talk might be described with the adjective ______. If you’re too ______ in your personal blog, a future employer might discover your penchant for nude skydiving.
suppliant
__________ means someone who is asking humbly. You enter church as a ___________, asking God to spare you from illness. You ask in a __________ (humble) manner, because you know God is stern and demands total faith.
languid
Describe a slow-moving river or a weak breeze or a listless manner with the slightly poetic adjective, ________.
rave
If you ______ about a book you just read, you’re telling people you think it’s great, or you’re giving it a _______ review.
headlong
________ describes something done headfirst, rashly, or really quickly. If you’re the star batter on your baseball team, it’s expected that you’ll make a ________ dive for the base.
infallible
“Fallible” means capable of making mistakes — or, easier to remember — capable of failing. _________ means exactly the opposite — incapable of failing.
coax
When you ______ someone, you try to convince him gently, with pleasant words and maybe a little flattery. You’ll have to be patient, as you can’t rush someone you’re trying to _______.
gaunt
You can never be too rich or too thin, but you certainly can be too ________. It means you look skinny like you’re sick, not skinny like you have a personal nutritionist slapping your hand when you reach for a bonbon.
morbid
If the first section of the newspaper you read is the obituaries, you could be considered ______. ______ is a word used to describe anyone who spends too much time thinking about death or disease.
ranging
If you’re driving in the country and have to stop the car to let a bunch of cows slowly cross the road, you’ll be sitting there for a while admiring a herd of _________, or freely wandering, cattle.
pacify
If you are bringing peace or calm to a state of unrest, you are _______ the situation. Just think of the transformation a squalling baby undergoes when a pacifier is placed within his mouth, and you will remember the power of the verb to _______.
appease
_________ means to make or preserve peace with a nation, group, or person by giving in to their demands, or to relieve a problem, as in “the cold drink _________ his thirst.”
stipulate
To _________ something means to demand that it be part of an agreement. So when you make a contract or deal, you can ________ that a certain condition must be met.
recourse
__________ is a source of help. If you’re failing trigonometry in spite of studying until your brain hurts, you may have no _______ but to hire a tutor.
constrained
Something that’s ____________ is forced, unnatural and not very spontaneous — kind of like a linebacker trying to perform the ballet Swan Lake.
bate
To _____ means to hold back or restrain, and you may see it in language that’s either old or meant to sound old. A relative of _____ appears in the phrase “with _______ breath,” which describes what you do when you anxiously wait.
aversion
If you have an _________ to something, you have an intense dislike for it. Commonly its food, but you could have an ________ to black and white movies, driving with the windows open, taking calls from salespeople or being barefoot outdoors.
conceit
If you’re always boasting and can’t stop talking about yourself, you have that character flaw known as _______. Your friends — if you have any — may also complain about your arrogance, vanity, and egotism.
loath
If you are ______ to do something, you really don’t want to do it. If you are reluctant to go swimming, people will say you are ______ to swim, but if they are really mean — they may throw you in anyway.
rampart
If you are building a sand castle and want it to be extra realistic, don’t forget the __________. This protective wall may not keep the ocean away, but it might intimidate a few hostile hermit crabs.
extort
To ________ is to use information or the threat of violence to acquire cash or something else. ___________ is a classic shakedown, a gouge, a squeeze.
tarry
To _______ is to linger and take your time leaving. If you really like going to Sally’s Diner for dessert, you might ______ over coffee and end up leaving after they’ve closed the kitchen.
perpetrate
It’s possible to __________ a good deed, but not likely. That’s because ____________ means to commit or be responsible for something — usually something mischievous or bad.
decorum
_________ is proper and polite behavior. If you let out a big belch at a fancy dinner party, you’re not showing much __________.
luxuriant
You can use the adjective ___________ to describe something really luxurious or full and lush. If you walk through a dense forest after it rains, it’s really __________ with green plants overgrowing the paths.
enjoin
To ________ is to issue an urgent and official order. If the government tells loggers to stop cutting down trees, they are enjoining the loggers to stop.
avarice
_______ is a fancy word for good old-fashioned greed. It’s one of what some call “the seven deadly sins.”
disconcert
To __________ is to unsettle someone, make them feel confused and out of sorts. It’s a mixture of to embarrass and to creep out.
capitulate
________ means to give in to something. “The teachers didn’t want to have class outside, but the students begged so hard, she __________.”
arbitrate
If your two best friends are fighting over the last piece of gum in the pack, you might _________ by telling them to split the last piece. _________ is when a neutral third party helps end a conflict.
cleave
__________, a verb, has two very different meanings. It can describe cutting or splitting something apart with a sharp instrument, or — oddly enough — it can describe sticking to something like glue.
append
To ________ means to add on, usually to the end of something. You might want to ________ a clause onto a contract if you feel something has been left unsaid in it.
horde
Use the word _______ to describe a large crowd: “A _______ of people followed Newman as he left the airport in Helsinki.”
chastise
________ is a fancy word for telling someone something they did that was really bad. If you pick your nose, your mom’s gonna yell at you. If you do it in front of the Queen of England, you mom will _______ you.
foil
You can serve as a ______ to someone if you show them to be better than you by contrast. If you can’t dance but your friend Lisa can, you can be a ______ to Lisa’s grace.
veritable
When something is _________ it is true, or at least feels that way. “The trees and lights turned the campus into a _________ wonderland” means that the campus seemed to be transformed into a true wonderland (if there is such a thing).
grapple
When you wrestle with something — literally or figuratively — you ________ with it, or try to overcome it.
gentry
The _______ are the powerful members of society. In the United Kingdom, where there are still kings and queens and dukes and duchesses, the _______ are the people who rank just below the nobility.
maxim
A _______ is a succinct formulation of a principle, rule, or basic truth about life. Usually clever, _______ are like great sayings everybody knows. Ben Franklin is the author of many, including “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
prowess
_______ means exceptional skill or ability. Your sailing _______ might save your life in a storm, while someone with less experience might make mistakes.
semblance
___________ is all about illusion. Cramming all of your dirty clothes into the closet gives the __________, or false appearance, that you’ve done your laundry — but the stench might give you away.
tout
To _______ means to praise, boast, or brag about. If you like to ______ your skill as a skier, you tell people you can go down expert-level hills.
fortitude
________ refers to strength in the face of adversity or difficulty. Eating fried worms might require a lot of intestinal _________.
asunder
________ is an adverb that means “into separate pieces.” So if you’ve torn ________ the breakup letter from your girlfriend; you’ve forcefully ripped it into separate pieces — and rightly so.
staid
Something that is ______ is dignified, respectable — possibly even boring, like a ______ dinner party that is heavy on the important guests but light on the laughs.
beguile
To ________ is to trick someone, either with deception or with irresistible charm and beauty. You could be ________ by a super model or by a super con artist.
deprave
Use the verb ________ as a more dramatic synonym for corrupt: Some parents in the 1980s feared that heavy metal music would _______ their innocent children.
bequeath
To ________ is to leave your possessions to another person after you die. A man might love his classic cars but would be happy to __________ them to his grandsons when he writes out his last will and testament.
enigma
Take the noun, _________, for something that is a puzzle or a mystery. Why do you have to learn difficult words like this? That is an __________.
assiduous
If you call someone __________, it’s a compliment. It means they’re careful, methodical and very persistent. Good detectives are classically _________ types.
outskirts
Some people like to live downtown. Others prefer the open spaces of the suburbs. But if you live in between the two, you are in the ___________, the place where the city ends and the suburbs begin.
bulwark
A _________ is a wall built for protection or defense. If you and your pals build a secret fort for girls only, you might want to build a ________ to surround it — with a “No Boys Allowed” sign posted prominently.
swerve
The noun _______ means a sudden turn off your path. As a verb, it means to move off your original route, possibly to avoid a collision. You can _______ either toward something or away from it.
gird
“_____ your loins and prepare for battle!” Okay, no one says “_____ your loins” anymore (which basically means “tighten your pants”), but _____ is still used as a verb to mean “get ready for a dangerous situation.”
rudiment
_________, usually used in the plural, means the basics. If you know the alphabet, you have the _________ of reading at your disposal.
ignominy
Walk into class in your underwear is to feel what the word ________ means. ________ is a noun meaning great public shame, disgrace, or embarrassment, or a situation or event that causes this.
pallid
Santa looks a little _______, meaning that he has a pale complexion, from spending too much time at the North Pole. A few days in Hawaii might do wonders to add color to his pale, bearded face.
chagrin
______ is a noun that represents an emotion or feeling and it’s an uncomfortable one. If you feel ______ it means that you are embarrassed or distressed as a result of a failure.
obtrude
If you want to be rude, you’ll _______, or thrust yourself to the front of a line without waiting.
audacious
This adjective is very bold — if you are _________, you are daring and unconventional!
construe
If you interpret something or make sense of it, you ________ its meaning. If the new girl in your class asks to sit with you at lunch, you could ________ that she wants to be friends. You can never have too many friends!
ford
When you’re out hiking in the wilderness, you may have to _____ a river if there’s no bridge. Roll up your pant legs because you’ll have to wade through the water at a shallow point.
hew
If you’re a lumberjack, the word _____ is nothing new. You _____ things every day with one swift swing of the axe, chopping and shaping wood.
affable
If the adjective _______ applies to you, it means that you are friendly and pleasant. A snarling junkyard dog is not _________.
interminable
Use ___________ to describe something that has or seems to have no end. Your math class. Your sister’s violin recital. A babysitting job where five kids are going through your purse and the parents didn’t leave a number.
foreboding
When you get a ___________, you get a sense that something bad is going to happen. A ___________ is a foretelling, a sign or a glimpse, that “something wicked this way comes” — or might come.
rend
The verb _____ means to tear with force or violence. If you are sewing a shirt and haven’t been paying attention, to fix it you will _____ your shirt from collar to hem. The past tense of the verb is rent. Your shirt was rent from collar to hem.
deign
______ means to reluctantly agree to do something you consider beneath you. When threatened with the loss of her fortune, an heiress might ______ to get a job, but she might look down her nose at the people she’d have to work with.
capricious
_________ is an adjective to describe a person or thing that’s impulsive and unpredictable, like a bride who suddenly leaves her groom standing at the wedding altar.
stupendous
________ means amazing or awesome. You just won a million dollars and are donating it to charity? Why that’s stupendous!
crevice
A _______ is a long, tight space often found on the face of a mountain or other geological formation. A _______ can be large or small, but because it is usually hard reach, it is a great hiding place for all things like reptiles, bugs, and lost climbers.
ostensible
When something is __________ it appears to be the case but might not be. Research for a role is the __________ reason for Nat’s drinking. But I think it’s because he just likes to drink.
craven
A ______ man is no Superman or Spiderman, nor is he a firefighter or a soldier. A _______ man is the opposite of those guys: he has not an ounce of courage.
reticent
_______ means either quiet or restrained. If you remain ______ about your feelings, you like to keep them to yourself, and you’re probably quiet in rowdy groups where everyone is talking over each other.
propensity
A _________ is a natural tendency to behave in a certain way. We all have ___________ — things we tend to do. Dogs have a ___________ to bark, and many people have a ___________ for getting annoyed by it.
intrepid
________ is just a fancy word for describing a person or action that is bold and brave. Super heroes are ________ in their struggle for truth, justice and the American way.
allay
The verb _______ is used when you want to make something better or eliminate fears and concerns.
fitful
An adjective that sounds a little like what it means, _____ means stopping and starting, on-again off-again, switching suddenly. I had a _____ night’s sleep: I woke up several times throughout the night.
docile
If someone is ______, he is easily taught or handled. If you suddenly became a trouble-maker in class, your teachers would long for the days when you were sweet and ______.
teem
If your neighborhood seems to _______ with cats, that means there are a lot of cats running around. ______ refers to a large number.
spat
You probably recognize the word _____ from the phrase “lover’s spat,” which describes a minor squabble between a couple. The _____ is usually over something as silly as which partner has to do the laundry, and the relationship usually recovers quickly, with no long-term harm done.
warble
To _______ is to sing in an uneven, quavering voice. You won’t win any singing contests if you _______ the songs.
sate
Sometimes you’re so hungry you feel like you could eat a ten-course meal. Other times it takes just a small salad to _____ your appetite, or to satisfy your hunger.
parry
Here comes someone who only ever talks to you when he needs a favor. Quick, ______! When you _____, you avoid doing things. As the needy friend approaches, say, “I wish I had time to catch up!” and hurry off. Or, hide under a table.
actuate
To _______ is to put into motion. The “act” in _______ can remind you of this word’s meaning — to put into action. A lever might _______ a pump, or malice might ________ a crime.
surly
_____ describes behavior nobody wants to be around. Think of the irritable old guy who lives on your street and always seems to be simmering with some sullen nasty anger, whose every utterance he spits out with a rude snarl. He’s the poster boy for _____.
demoralize
The verb ________ describes the actions of someone or something that makes you feel bad or hopeless, like the horrible loss to the last-place team that seemed to _______ everyone — from players to coaches to fans.
alacrity
Someone with ________ shows cheerful willingness and eager behavior, like a kid whose mother has told him he can buy anything in a candy store.
waive
To _______ is to give up one’s right to do something. If you _______ your right to help name your family’s new puppy, you can’t complain if he ends up being called “Mr. Tinkerbell Sweetheart Lovey-Face.”
seethe
If a liquid _______, it is boiling, but if it’s a person who’s _______, watch out! He or she is really angry!
diffident
The adjective ___________ describes someone who is shy and lacking in self-confidence. If you are shy and have a ___________ manner, you should probably not choose one of these professions: substitute teacher, stand-up comic, or lion-tamer.
implacable
An ___________ person just can’t be appeased. If you really offended your best friend and tried every kind of apology but she refused to speak to you again, you could describe her as ____________.
encumber
To ___________ is to weigh someone or something down with a physical or psychological burden. You may find yourself ____________ by a heavy backpack or with anxieties. Either way, it’s a heavy load to bear!
uncouth
When you’re at a fancy dinner party, if you burp after you eat, use your fingers to spread butter on your bread, and hang spoons from your nose, people will probably say you are _________, meaning vulgar and ill-mannered.
petulant
Choose the adjective, _________, to describe a person or behavior that is irritable in a childish way.
expiate
In the fairy tale, the baker must __________ his father’s sins by bringing the witch three ingredients for a magic potion: a cow, a cape and a slipper. __________ means to make amends or atone for a wrong you or someone else has committed.
banter
Good friends usually __________ back and forth easily, like they’re trying to keep a step ahead of each other in witty responses. This type of __________ is their special language of friendship.
bluster
If you tell the captain of the basketball team that you’re going to beat him at a game of hoops even though you’ve never played, you’re speaking with a lot of ____________ or false confidence and bravado.
subjugate
If you say you won’t be kept down by the man, you are saying that you won’t let the man subjugate you. To ____________ is to repress someone, or to make them subservient to you.
extol
If you have a crush on a guy who likes your best friend, it can be very depressing to listen to him ______ your friend’s virtues, while you just nod and smile. If you ______ something, you praise it very highly.
inculcate
To _________ is to teach through frequent instruction. If you repeatedly tell your brother how important it is to be responsible, then you’re trying to ________ in him a sense of responsibility.
blanch
To ________ is to turn pale, usually as the result of a physical or psychological shock. Nineteenth century literary heroines were frequently __________ — before they fainted, that is.
inscrutable
Any person or thing that’s mysterious, mystifying, hard to read, or impossible to interpret is ___________. You ever notice how it’s hard to tell what some people are thinking? Those folks are ___________.
exigency
Think of a mix of excitement and emergency, and you have ___________, a sudden, urgent crisis. The very word conjures up danger and intrigue that demand a cool head and an immediate effort at a solution.
disconsolate
If you are sad and can’t be cheered up, you’re _____________. Why are you _____________ after scoring a touchdown? Oh . . . for the other team.
sonorous
Used to describe sound or speech that is full, rich, and deep, ___________ is a great word for snoring, for bass voices, and for low notes on the tuba.
bane
The noun _____ refers to anything that is a cause of harm, ruin, or death. But we often use it for things that aren’t that bad, just feel like it. You might say mosquitoes are the ______ of your existence.
onset
When something is at its ______, it’s at the beginning, just getting started, and it’s often something that’s not so pleasant. The ______ of hurricane season is probably not the best time to visit the beach.
zenith
_______ means the high point–it comes from astronomy, where it describes the highest point in an arc traveled by a star or a planet or another celestial body. The sun reaches its _______ when it is as high in the sky as it is going to go on that day.
voluble
_______ describes someone who talks a lot, like your aunt who can’t stop telling you to cut your hair or a political candidate who makes twenty speeches on the day before the election.
levity
Joking that your dead grandmother “never looked better” could inject some ______, or frivolity, into her funeral, but your relatives might find your joke inappropriate to the occasion.
rapt
To be ____ is to be carried away, caught up or otherwise engrossed in something. If a performer is really good or particularly mesmerizing, the audience will be totally _____.
sultry
Stifling, humid and downright oppressive, ______ is an adjective that has everything to do with sweltering heat and a definite need for a tall glass of iced tea.
retinue
A _________ is an entourage, a crew, a posse. It’s the group of people that accompany an important person.
grudging
If you do something in a _________ manner (or ___________), you do it with reluctance. Doing homework, paying taxes, and saying sorry are all commonly done in a __________ manner.
wry
A _____ sense of humor is a sarcastic one. You were late for work, stepped into a mud puddle, and you forgot your lunch. If your co-worker asks how your morning is going, you can reply with a _____ tone, “Perfectly perfect.”
permeate
When you live in a big city like New York, you know all too well how the smells of spices and cooking meats can ________ a hallway, easily passing through those thin apartment doors to make your mouth water.
propitious
When the timing of something is __________ or you’ve got __________ circumstances for something, it’s likely to turn out well. A __________ time for taking a big test is when you’ve studied hard and gotten a good night’s sleep.
salient
If something stands out in a very obvious way, it can be called _______. It’s time to find new friends if the differences between you and your current friends are becoming more and more ________.
propitiate
If you forgot flowers on your Mom’s birthday, you can still __________ her by sending a bouquet the next day. __________ means to appease someone or make them happy by doing a particular thing. Handy strategy for lovers, too.
excise
An ______ tax is a special tax levied on specific products sold within a country. To _______ something can also mean to get rid of it. Say, wouldn’t it be nice if they would ______ the ______ taxes?
betoken
A dark sky full of clouds might _______ a thunderstorm. In other words, the clouds indicate or point to the fact that a thunderstorm is on its way.
renegade
A __________ is a person who has deserted their cause or defied convention; they’re rebels and sometimes outlaws, or even traitors.
hoary
Use the adjective _______ to describe something that is old and worn out — like the _______ jokes your great uncle Albert clings to.
coy
Take the adjective, ______, for a person who pretends to be shy but really isn’t, or someone who could give a definite answer but won’t. _____ behavior can be playful or just plain annoying.
armada
If an ________ is looking for you, that’s not good news — it’s a fleet of warships.
imperturbable
If you’re ___________ you are not easily upset. If your goal is to be ___________, then you can’t let things bother you or get you stressed, confused, or angry.
knack
If you have a _______ for doing something, you do it well. You may have a _______ for baking cakes or a _______ for cracking jokes. These things come easy to you.
accentuate
To _____________ something is to emphasize it. If you use a lot of emphasis to describe part of a meal, as in “the steak was SOOO good, and I liked the salad too,” you “accent” what “-u” “-ate,” or ____________, the highlight of the meal — the steak.
divulge
If you’ve been sneaking around with your best friend’s boyfriend, that’s probably one secret you don’t want to ________, because revealing that tidbit of information will probably cut your friendship short.
brawn
______ means muscular strength. If the math team and the football team compete on field day, chances are the math team’s brains will be less useful than the football team’s _______.
burnish
That seductive gleam on that Porsche behind the dealer’s window? It’s called a __________, a gloss only achieved by loads of polishing. Likewise, you can _________ resume, by polishing it until it’s perfect.
palpitate
When you watch scary movies, do you ever feel your heart __________? This means it beats quickly.
dissemble
To ____________ is to hide under a false appearance, to deceive. “When confronted about their human rights record, the Chinese government typically ___________.”
invective
__________ is harsh, abusive language, like, “you dirty rotten scoundrel.” I’m sure you can think of harsher and more obscene examples, but we won’t get into them here.
despoil
_________ is to spoil, only worse. You may spoil a dinner party by being late, but we all ________ the earth with pollution and over-consumption.
sully
To _______ is to attack someone’s good name and to try to ruin his reputation. If you spread false rumors that there’s chicken stock in the vegetarian entree at Joe’s Diner, you would _______ Joe’s good reputation.
malevolent
If someone is ___________, they wish evil on others. If you find yourself approaching someone with a __________ look in her eye, best to run the other way.
irksome
If your little brother keeps saying the same phrase over and over again, you might find it __________ — that is, annoying in a tiresome way.
prattling
If your little sister won’t stop talking about her latest crush and you don’t want to hear it, you might say, “Stop __________ on about that loser!” To _________ is go on and on about something unimportant.
inimitable
Use the adjective ________ to describe someone or something that is so special or unique, it is impossible to duplicate, like that superstar tennis player with the _________ serve no other player can copy.
depredation
The horrors of war include ____________ — the plundering and ransacking of the defeated and their homes, the terrible, unrestrained preying on the conquered. The word ___________ entails all of the pain humans inflict upon each other.
doted
Who doesn’t love to be _______ on? Showered with love and affection, smothered by attention and compliments — sounds like the life.
rationalism
____________ is a doctrine that prioritizes reason over emotion. If you’re scared of the dark and convinced there’s a monster in your closet, your parents will beg you to be __________, and rely on what you know (empty closet) instead of what your fear (monster!).
disembark
Use the verb _________ to describe leaving a ship, airplane or other type of vehicle, like making sure you haven’t left anything in the plane’s overhead compartment before you ___________.
clandestine
Pick the adjective, ___________, to describe something that is done in secret, like your ___________ attempts to steal your brother’s Halloween candy.
glib
A hiring manager might think you’re being ______, or slick and insincere, if you say you’ve led a successful multinational corporation when you were actually in charge of flipping burgers for a fast-food restaurant chain.
pucker
________ is a verb for what happens when something smooth or flat gets folded up into little wrinkles, like how you ________ your lips when you go to kiss someone — you, wild flirt, you!
blighted
Use the adjective _________ to describe something that has a condition that makes it weak or unable to grow, like a __________ lawn with more brown patches than green.
urbane
_________ people are sophisticated, polished, cultured, refined. Spend enough time in an urban setting–going to concerts, museums, spending time in crowds–and you’ll be _________ too.
spectral
When something is _________, it has a ghostlike quality; it seems to vanish or disappear. You may have heard of ghosts referred to as “specters”: that means that they’re _________.
munificent
If you give your best friend a bracelet for her birthday, then you’re a good friend. If you give her a diamond bracelet, a racehorse, and an oil well, then you’re a __________ friend, meaning you are very lavish when it comes to giving gifts. (And it’s possible you may also be broke.)
adulterate
If you ________ something, you mess it up. You may not want to _________ the beauty of freshly fallen snow by shoveling it, but how else are you going to get to work?
beleaguer
__________ means to pester or badger with persistence. A babysitter might find annoying the children who __________ her with requests for candy, cookies, games, and piggyback rides all at the same time.
gripe
The word _____, as both noun and verb, refers to a minor complaint. Why ______ about the size of the portions when the food is so awful?
hurtle
If you forcefully throw or fling something, you _______ it. In a food fight, you may ________ chocolate pudding across the room, but be prepared for someone to launch peas at you in retaliation. Duck!
unanimity
When there is ___________, everyone agrees. When it comes to opinion, __________ is the opposite of disagreement.
mettle
_________ is the courage to carry on. If someone wants to “test your __________,” they want to see if you have the heart to follow through when the going gets tough.
dissimulate
Your wife gave you socks for Christmas and you smiled happily and kissed her? You, my friend, know how to ______________ — that is, cover up your true feelings. Unless you happen to really, really like socks.
ruse
Movie bank robbers always seem to pull some kind of ______, a deceptive trick or tactic like hiding the money underneath the bank while they drive off in the getaway car to avoid capture by the police.
revulsion
___________ means an intense, violent, sometimes physical, dislike of something. People feel _________ to different things. You may feel _________ at the thought of seeing a horror movie, but other people can’t wait to be scared by the latest zombie or slasher flick.
hale
If you’re _____, you’re strong and in good health. Think “_____ and hearty,” the well-known phrase to describe someone who can lift a piano or work ten hours in a field without blinking an eye.
palliate
When you _________ something, you try to make something less bad: “City leaders tried to _________ effects of the trash haulers’ strike by distributing extra large garbage cans with tight-fitting lids.”
vagary
A ________ is an unexpected and unpredictable change, and the word is usually used in the plural. You might know from experience that the _________ of winter weather make planning a vacation in February a risky proposition.
incipient
__________ means something is in an early stage of existence. In its __________ form, basketball was played with a soccer ball and peach baskets for goals. Bouncy orange balls and nets came later.
obdurate
_________ is a formal word meaning stubborn. If you want to major in English, but your parents are __________ that you should go premed, they might go so far as to threaten not to pay your tuition.
grovel
To ______ is to beg like a hungry dog. You don’t have to be a canine, though, you might _______ for a better grade (please don’t).
dregs
Those little grains of tea or coffee left at the bottom of the cup are known as the ______. The ______ are the least wanted portion, or the residue.
supercilious
___________ people think very highly of themselves, more highly than of others. Think of them as a “super silly ass,” and you’ll remember the basic sense of ___________.
parochial
If an issue or a matter is _________, it is trivial or only concerns a local area. Likewise, a person with a __________ mentality is narrow-minded, or not open to new ideas.
ornate
If something is ________ — whether it’s a ball gown, a set of dishes, or a poem — it seems to be covered in ornaments. It’s lavish, flowery, or heavily adorned.
inflammatory
In medical terms, something that is ____________ causes a local reaction that shows up by swelling, heat, pain, and redness. If you are stung by a bee, you may have an acute ______________ reaction to the sting.
machination
When a James Bond villain comes up with a plan to destroy the world, he doesn’t use a simple plan. No, he uses a _____________ — a complex plot that relies on numerous elements coming together to work.
meander
To ________ means to wander aimlessly on a winding roundabout course. If you want some time to yourself after school, you might ________ home taking the time to window shop and look around.
makeshift
If you have to use a garbage can lid as a sled or a set of drapes as a ball gown, then you know what it means to put together a __________ creation. Something _________ has been improvised, thrown together with whatever is around.
dearth
If there is a ________ of something, there is not enough of it. A ________ of affordable housing is bad, but a ________ of bed bugs is a blessing.
whet
To ______ is to sharpen. You could ______ a knife’s blade with a whetting stone, or you could _______ your appetite by having some Doritos.
imposture
_________ is the act of pretending to be someone else. Everyone knows the Elvis impersonator isn’t really Elvis himself, but your _________ as Elvis’s long-lost daughter might actually fool some people.
hubbub
________ is a fun, rhyming word for an uproar, a brouhaha, or another crazy situation that has gone completely higgledy-piggledy.
harrowing
Being attacked by a hungry shark or being chased by an unruly mob on the streets can be described as ___________, which means “provoking feelings of fear or horror.”
rankle
_______ is a cranky-sounding verb that means to eat away at or aggravate to the point of causing anger. If you want to ________ a cat, try splashing it with water and then putting it in the bathtub.
ramify
The verb ________ describes something that branches off or spreads, like the new subway lines that _______ across your city and reach even the neighborhoods farthest from the center.
gainsay
_________, a verb, means “contradict” or “speak out against.” When you challenge authority, you _________, as in teachers don’t like it when unruly students _________ them.
credence
_________ means truthfulness, or believability. A video of a funnel cloud entering Central Park would give __________ to rumors of a tornado in Manhattan.
ingratiate
To _________ is to make obvious efforts to gain someone’s favor, in other words — to kiss up to someone.
passe
________ describes something that’s out of style or “so yesterday!” What your parents think is cool is usually very ________, but sometimes their old stuff is stylish again, like the Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt you borrow from your mom.
whittle
To ________ is to pare or carve away. Wood carvers _______ pieces of wood, removing bit by bit until what’s left is a sailor with a yellow raincoat or a lone wolf howling at the moon.
repine
The verb _______ describes expressing gloom or discontent. Brooding, fretful, and sad — these are the traits of people who _______ at their circumstances in life.
flay
Nasty word, ____. It means to peel or beat the skin of a person or animal, and not necessarily a dead one, either. Nowadays it more commonly means to criticize harshly someone or something, usually in public, leaving them raw and wounded.
threadbare
Those jeans you wear every day that have holes in the knees and thin patches in the rear? They’re ___________. ____________ means thin from overuse.
grisly
_______ means disgusting and bloody, absolutely repulsive and horrible. There is a wonderful movie about a man who suffers a _______ death at the hands of the grizzly bears he was studying.
untoward
The adjective ___________ describes something offensive or inappropriate, like the rumors of ___________ behavior that can shatter a Hollywood icon’s reputation.
idiosyncrasy
If a person has an ___________, he or she has a little quirk, or a funny behavior, that makes him or her different. If you only say goodbye in French, never in English, that would be an ___________.
stanch
Use the verb ________ to describe stopping a liquid from spreading, like a bandage that _________ bleeding or thick towels that ________ the flow of water across the kitchen floor when you drop a full glass of water.
incongruity
___________ means out of place — something that doesn’t fit in its location or situation. The art show patrons couldn’t help but chuckle at the ___________ of a toilet sitting in the middle of an exhibition of Renaissance paintings.
platitudes
If an executive gives a speech that begins, “This business is all about survival of the fittest. You need to burn the midnight oil and take one for the team,” his employees might get sick of listening to these meaningless clichés and tell him to cut the _________.
revelry
_________ is a wild, fun time. If you enjoy the _________ of a New Year’s Eve party, you might pay for partying hard the next day.
delve
The verb ______ means to dig into, loosen, or investigate. She ______ into her family’s history and discovered an inventor, a checkers champion, and a circus equestrian in her ancestry.
extenuate
To __________ is to make less of something or try to minimize its importance. The fact that you walked your little sister to school because she missed the bus might __________ your teacher’s response when you show up late.
enrapture
To ___________ someone is cast an irresistible spell over them, to make them feel “rapture.” I was ___________ by her gorgeous voice and stunning way of interpreting a song.
glower
If you see someone ________ at you, you might consider __________ back, but no one likes an angry staring contest. To glower is not only to stare, it’s to stare angrily, as if you’re going to throttle someone.
fatuous
_______ means lacking intelligence. When your mother outlaws calling your brother stupid, use _______ instead.
gist
When you need a quick summary of the essentials, rather than the whole story or a thorough explanation, you’re looking for the ____.
vociferous
__________ describes loudmouths, such as the vociferous mob at the soccer game.
baleful
_________ means the foreshadowing of tragic or evil events. If no one’s listening in class and your teacher reprimands you with a _________ glance, expect a pop quiz.
gibe
“Loser! Bonehead!” the kids shouted, tossing those words and other _______ at the kids who offered themselves up to the annual humiliation of the harvest-fest dunk-tank. A _______ is an insulting comment. To gibe is to insult.
prude
Use ______ to describe someone who is too concerned with being proper or modest. It is a derogatory label affixed most often to girls or women who are not forthcoming romantically–it’s not very nice.
amendable
If your friends want to try sky diving and you’re _________ to the idea, sounds like you’re going to be jumping out of a plane. If a person or thing is _________ to something, they are ready, willing, or responsive.
overbearing
____________ means domineering. You might find it difficult to play the piano as your _____________ instructor criticizes every key you touch.
wheedle
To __________ is to sweet talk, or flatter someone in the hopes of getting something in return. You might try to _________ a meter maid into not giving you a parking ticket. Good luck with that.
gusto
Whether you are eating a steak, playing table tennis, or cheering on your favorite team, you can use the word ______ to describe something you do with great enthusiasm.
omniscient
To be ____________ is to know everything. This often refers to a special power of God.
carrion
The noun _________ refers to the dead and rotting flesh of an animal. Ever seen a dead opossum or cat in the road? You can call that road kill ___________.
ungainly
_________ is the opposite of graceful, convenient or easy. A clumsy dancer boogies in an __________ or awkward fashion.
decadence
Whether in reference to chocolate cake for breakfast or wild all-night parties, ___________ means extravagance, luxury, and self-indulgence with a sense of moral decline.
circumvent
To ____________ is to avoid. Someone who trains elephants but somehow gets out of picking up after them has found a way to ____________ the cleaning of the circus tent.
haggle
If you want a great deal on a used TV, then you can try to __________ with the sellers to see if they’ll bring the price down. To haggle is to negotiate or argue over something, usually a price.
waylay
When you _________ someone, you stop them from doing what they were going to do, either by using violence or some other tactic.
adjure
The verb _______ is a heavy-duty synonym of the word “ask,” with more of a demanding tone. For example, you might have to _________ someone to tell the truth.
acrimony
_________ is bitterness, or ill will. __________ is a spiteful word. It sounds bitter, like acid.
clarion
If you hear the ________ call of the stage, it means you want to be an actor. _________ means loud and clear, and a clarion call is a call to something that is hard to ignore.
turbid
If a liquid is dark and murky and you can’t see through it, it’s _________. Usually used as a criticism — a _______ river is generally a polluted one, but then again a good pint of real ale should be _______. Go figure.
preternatural
___________ describes something that seems oddly abnormal and out of sync with everything else. If you hear a ___________ dog’s barking, maybe it sounds like a police siren instead of a howl.
expatiate
The verb __________ means “to add details to in order to clear up.” If your story is confusing to everyone who hears it, certain key parts must be missing. Better __________ so that people can understand it.
sinuous
_________ means winding or curvy. If you get lost on a _________ mountain path, you’ll need a compass or a GPS to figure out which direction leads back to camp.
rancor
The word _________ is best when you’re not just talking about anger, you’re talking about deep, twisted bitter type of anger in your heart. The open _________ in political discussion prevents cooperation between political parties.
embroil
To _________ is to drag someone in to a mess. If you’re _________, you’re in … DEEP. It’s far worse, far messier, and generally far more long-term, than simply being “involved” with something. Nothing good can come of being __________.
resonant
_________ describes sound that is deep and rich. It also can mean deeply evocative. A __________ speech moves you by bringing to mind all that is good in the world: family, friends, laughter.
flail
To ______ means to wave around wildly. If you are stranded on a deserted island and you see a ship in the distance, it’s a good idea to ______ your arms in the air to get the captain’s attention.
upshot
The _________ of an action is the end result, whatever happens last as a consequence of the original action. The ________ of reading this sentence is that you will understand what the word ________ means.
corpulent
_________ is a formal word that describes a fat person. If you are trying to be respectful when describing a fat man, you might refer to him as a “__________ gentleman.”
benighted
Being called ____________ is much like being called naive. It means lacking in knowledge or understanding—the kind you might have if you were older or more sophisticated.
sententious
If you speak in ____________ phrases, your listeners are probably falling asleep, as your speech is pompous and pretentious, and full of moralistic babble.
cabal
A ______ is a secret plot, or a small group of people who create such a plot. Some conspiracy theories are based on the idea that governments worldwide are in the hands of a powerful ______.
vitiate
As some sneaky five-year-olds know, crossing one’s fingers while making a promise is an effective way to ________, or destroy the validity of, an agreement.
quaff
To ______ is to gulp. You’re in a desert; you haven’t had water in days; you’re wicked thirsty. Then you find an oasis! You lean over and ______ the water.
libertine
If you drink a lot, eat a lot, and live a wild and unrestrained life, you might be called a _______.
maul
_____ is both the name of a heavy hammer, and also a verb meaning beating and scratching. Tigers, lions, bears–animals with powerful paws and sharp claws, will ______ their victims.
tawdry
________ means cheap, shoddy, or tasteless. It can be used to describe almost anything from clothes to people to even events or affairs.
ensconce
If you _________ yourself somewhere, you settle in for quite a while, such as when you’re home with the flu and _________ yourself on the couch with the remote control, tissues, your phone, and a big glass of orange juice.
incisive
The adjective ________ describes something that is sharp, decisive, and direct. A comment that cuts right to the bone can be just as ________ as an actual knife.
sedulous
A ________ person is someone who works hard and doesn’t give up easily. If you make repeated and ________ attempts to fix a leaky pipe and it only makes things worse, it might be time to go online and find the number of a plumber.
incandescent
When heated, coals become ____________, which means that they glow red-hot. When you’re heated up by an argument, chances are you’re ____________ with, or characterized by the intense emotion of frustration.
execrable
If something’s ___________ it’s really and truly, unbelievably, absolutely the worst.
dapper
A neatly and stylishly dressed man can be described as ____________. If you like to wear a well-made fedora, you appreciate clothes. Place a brightly colored feather in the brim and you’re ____________.
asperity
___________ is the harsh tone or behavior people exhibit when they’re angry, impatient, or just miserable. When your supervisor’s “Late again!” greeting causes your entire future to pass before your eyes, he is speaking with ____________.
gruel
________ is a truly unpleasant food — weak and runny, consisting of oatmeal or cornmeal boiled in milk or water. It’s the kind of “slop” prisoners and other inmates of institutions were historically forced to eat.
gentility
Anyone can be nice. Many people have good manners. But __________ is that rare kind of graciousness that is handed down from one elegant generation to the next.
disapprobation
If you show up for Thanksgiving dinner an hour late and covered in mud from a tag football game, your parents will give you a look of _______________. This means they seriously disapprove of your actions, despite the fact that you scored the winning touchdown.
inclement
________ usually refers to severe or harsh weather that is cold and wet. When packing for a trip to the Caribbean bring tank tops and shorts, but don’t forget a raincoat in case of __________ weather.
squalor
If something is extremely dirty, filthy or just plain disgusting, it falls into the territory of the noun _________. We’re not just talking about a messy room. We’re talking about a dungeon riddled with rats and roaches.
stricture
One meaning of _________ is a nasty criticism, while the other is a sharp contraction of a tube or canal in the body. Either meaning can mean great pain to the person experiencing the _________.
fiasco
A _______ is a disaster. It’s not a natural disaster — like an earthquake or a volcano; a ________ is usually the result of human failure.
foolhardy
If you decide you are going to scale Mt. Everest next weekend without any training or experience, that would be a _________ decision. Use the adjective ________ when someone rushes into action without considering the consequences.
equable
The adjective ________ means “not easily irritated” or “steady,” like someone’s _________ manner that makes everyone instantly feel comfortable.
inured
If you have gotten so many mosquito bites in your life that they no longer bother you, you have become ________ to them. This means you have become accustomed to tolerating them.
cozen
To _____ is to mislead, defraud, or fool someone through lies. ______ rhymes with dozen, and if you say you had two wrong answers on your math test, but you really had a dozen, you might be trying to ______ your parents.
improvident
Someone who is __________t doesn’t worry about the future — or plan wisely for it. If you spend all your money on video games even though you know you have to buy your mom a birthday present next week, you have made an __________ decision.
placate
When a husband shows up with flowers after he’s fought with his wife, he’s trying to ________ her. If you ________ someone, you stop them from being angry by giving them something or doing something that pleases them.
pacifist
A person who opposes the use of war or violence to settle a dispute is called a ______. If you are a ______, you talk through your differences with others instead of fighting.
buxom
Marilyn Monroe and the triple loop roller coaster: What do they have in common? Some serious curves. But you could only call the lady _______, or totally voluptuous.
herculean
Things that take great strength — like throwing a boulder or finishing math homework — are sometimes called _________ in honor of the Greek god Hercules.
burgeon
Use the verb _________ to describe something that is growing, expanding, and flourishing. If you have a green thumb, in the spring your flower gardens will __________ in a cacophony of color. If you don’t have a green thumb, your collection of plastic plants will __________.
crone
The haggard old woman who lives down the street in a ramshackle house, shaking her fist while chasing children out of her yard? You might call her a _____, if you’re brave. (But be careful: the term is insulting.)
lout
A lout is a clumsy, awkward oaf. If you want to insult the person who just stepped on your toes and belched, say, “Watch where you’re going, you _____!”
rile
To ____ is to stir up, like water that becomes muddy when you ____, or to bother or disturb, especially with little annoyances. For example, if you bring up an unpleasant subject, this might ____ your friend’s mood, or a noisy neighbor might ____ your nerves.
garish
Use the adjective _____ to describe something that is overly vivid, bright, showy, and in bad taste — like the DJ’s _____ outfit that is a flashback to the disco era.
bilious
If an unpleasant meal has left you feeling grumpy and looking green, you’re ______ in several senses of the word. This adjective can mean both “troubled by indigestion” and “irritable,” and it can also be used to suggest a sickly green shade.
gawk
When you stare in amazement at something, you _____ at it. You might stand frozen in one position with your mouth and eyes wide open and _____ when you see a famous movie star on the street.
emboss
_______ means to carve with a design. A silver tray might be ________ with your initials and wedding date. You might give your teacher a plaque with “World’s Best Teacher” ________ under their name.
careen
Whether it’s an unsteady ship, a speeding bus, or a person who is woozy, use the verb _______ to describe something that’s teetering from side to side.
cryptic
“White bunny. Moon. Square.” Do you understand what that means? Of course not! It’s totally _____. _____ comments or messages are hard to understand because they seem to have a hidden meaning.
penchant
A ___________ is a strong preference or tendency. If you have a __________ for pizza, you either eat it daily, or wish you did.
discretionary
___________ means it’s up to you to decide. Bathing regularly is a ___________ act, so you can opt not to do it if you want; note, however, that your friends might disagree with us on this.
pithy
A ______ phrase or statement is brief but full of substance and meaning. Proverbs and sayings are _____; newspaper columnists give _____ advice.
disgorge
There’s really no way to put this delicately. _________ is just a fancy word for “puke.” You know… “Barf.” “Spew.” “Upchuck.” Usually applied to birds or animals rather than people.
wraith
If you have a vision of your grandfather just before he passes away, you have seen a ______ or a ghostly image. _______ can also mean something thin, wispy, or ghost-like.
laggard
Hey pokey! Yeah you, Mr. Slow Pants. Quit your dawdling! This is no time to be a _________, or someone who’s always lagging behind.
loquacious
A ________ person talks a lot, often about stuff that only they think is interesting. You can also call them chatty or gabby, but either way, they’re __________.
quagmire
A ___________ is a dangerous place, like the muddy shoreline of a pond. The more you try to climb out of a __________, the more you seem to slip. That’s because as you step on the mud, it oozes everywhere.
mannered
If your grandmother describes you as __________, she means you are very formal, observing all society’s mandates. She might mean this positively, approving of your actions, or negatively, thinking you too formal.
squeamish
If you fainted or threw up at the sight of frog intestines in biology class, you’re __________ — easily nauseated or shocked by unpleasant, icky things. No horror movies for you!
proclivity
A _____________ is a natural tendency to like something, such as your sister’s ______________ for restaurants that serve hot, spicy food.
vapid
Reserve the adjective _______ for the airhead in your office that brings nothing to the table, except maybe the doughnuts. (And be careful to mutter it behind her back; it’s much too vicious for a casual dig.)
mercurial
___________ describes someone whose mood or behavior is changeable and unpredictable, or someone who is clever, lively, and quick. With a ___________ teacher, you never know where you stand.
enamored
When you are _________ by something or someone, you love it. It attracts you. You might say that you’re __________ with your new car, or __________ of the new kid in school.
pedagogue
______________ is another name for “teacher,” but one who is strict, stiff or old-fashioned, as in a ______________ who stands in the front of the room and lectures for the entire class period, boring the students to tears.
masticate
To ____________ is to chew your food or to bite and grind stuff with your teeth.
emetic
An ________ is a medicine or potion that makes you vomit, which you might be given if you’ve taken poison or some other harmful substance.
temporize
The verb ____________ describes stalling in order to gain time in the hopes of avoiding or preventing something. Your class might ______________ so your teacher won’t have time to give the pop quiz you all think she’s going to give.
unimpeachable
______________ describes someone or something that is totally, completely, without any doubt, innocent and good, like an ________________ role model who avoids bad influences and sketchy situations.
mordant
If you like Edgar Allan Poe and “The Addams Family,” you have a taste for ________ entertainment — that is, anything particularly grim or dark in nature.
smattering
A smattering is a small but inexact amount of something. If you know a ________ of things about Australia, then you don’t know much.
suavity
_______ is the art of making people like and want to be around you, like the celebrity whose _______ helped him land great movie roles — even though he wasn’t the most talented actor to audition.
immure
When you _________ someone or something, you put it behind a wall, as in a jail or some other kind of confining space.
unfaltering
_________ means unwavering, not changing. As an adult, you might thank your mother for her _________ support of your education, never letting you skip a night of homework. Now, not so much.
elysian
The adjective ________ describes a blissful state, like the one most people hope to enjoy on a Hawaiian vacation.
fulminate
Watch a bomb ___________ or explode and hope you’re under safe cover. Have your parents __________ or blow up at you for coming home past curfew and hope you’re not grounded for too long.
pummel
The best _____________ in the world are probably boxers, as to _____________ means to repeatedly beat someone down, especially with fists.
jibe
A _____ is an insulting remark or “dis.” If someone directs a _____ at you, the best response is to remain quiet and walk away (unless, of course, you think of really good comeback).
magisterial
A person who is ____________ can be distinguished and grand, or possibly just conceited and bossy. You will learn a lot if you listen to a _____________ presentation of early American history.
roseate
As its sound might suggest, ________ has to do with “rosy.” Anything that’s ________ is rose colored or pinkish. It’s often used in the term “_________ glow,” typically to describe a sunset.
hoodwink
To ___________ someone means to trick or mislead them. Beware of fake ATMs that try to __________ you into giving over your bank card and your code, only to keep them both and steal all your money.
striated
If a field is plowed into furrows, it’s ________–or, technically, it’s marked with striae, which are stripes or grooves.
chary
Being _____ (pronounced CHAIR-ee) is being wary or cautious. _____ is the word “char” with an added “y” and to char is to burn, so if you’re careful and don’t want to get burned by a person or situation, you’re _____.
aspersion
An ___________ is a disparaging remark. It almost invariably appears as a plural, following the word “cast” — when you cast __________ on someone, you are questioning their abilities or doubting them.
poignancy
The noun _________ refers to something that is deeply touching, especially something that brings forth strong emotions like sympathy, sadness, or sorrow. The ___________ of the movie may bring you to tears. Bring tissues. Lots of tissues.
endemic
If you want to underscore just how commonly found and present something is within a particular place, try the word ________. Tight pants are _________ in my lunch room!
jocund
You know that teacher who always has a goofy smile on his face and a bad pun for the kids? He’s got a _______ personality, meaning he’s merry and cheerful.
rakish
Ladies, the _______ fellow you met last night with the suave dance moves, smoothly rehearsed lines, and your number listed as “Goddess #14” in his phone is fine for a flirt, but probably isn’t meet-the-parents material.
skittish
If you’re ________, you’re unpredictable and excitable. You’ve probably seen ________ horses in parades — the loud noises and crowds of people make them very nervous and jumpy.
peroration
If you attend a political convention, be prepared to hear a __________ — a long, lofty speech. If the speech really drags on, you might find yourself hoping for its ___________, as ___________ can also refer to a speech’s conclusion.
nonentity
The noun _________ refers to a person of no significance or importance. If you are a member of a sports team, but spend all your time sitting on the bench watching the rest of the team play, you will probably feel like a __________.
viscid
The adjective _______ is used to describe something that is sticky or a thick, slow-moving liquid. If bake bread and you get flour all over your counters, clean it up carefully because adding water can turn the flour into a _______ paste, and then you’ll really have a mess!
sleight
The noun _______ refers to being able to use your hands with ease, especially when doing a trick. _______ is often used in the phrase “________ of hand.” If you are a good magician, you can make a coin disappear with _______ of hand.
plentitude
The noun __________ means the state of being full or complete; also, an abundance. After the thirty inches of snow your town got over the weekend, you may joke that you have a __________ of snow.
fracas
If your marching band gets into a fight with another school’s pep squad, your principal might say the ______ was uncalled for and undignified. A ______ is a noisy quarrel.
saturnine
Medieval alchemists ascribed to the planet Saturn a gloomy and slow character. When people are called __________, it means they are like the planet–gloomy, mean, scowling. Not exactly the life of the party.
discursive
If people accuse you of rambling from topic to topic in your speech or writing, they may say you have a _________ style — with changes in subject that are hard to follow. But it’s okay because unicorns are shiny.
moribund
Something that is __________ is almost dead, like the _________ plant you didn’t water for months, or so without change or growth that it seems dead, like a ________ town that seems trapped in the 1950s.
modicum
If you want to describe a small amount of something, try ____________. If you have a ____________ of interest in something, you are a little bit interested.
recondite
It’s rather difficult to penetrate the meaning of ________. Fitting, because it’s an adjective that basically means hard for the average mind to understand.
forbear
Your father, grandmother, and great grandfather are all your _______. A _______ is an ancestor, or someone you are descended from.
cadaverous
_________ means looking corpse-like, from being sick or too skinny, like an aging rock star or a Halloween ghoul.
foist
Did your parents ______ your baby sister on you when they went out? It means they forced her on you. Anything — a person or object or idea — can be _______ if it’s done by force upon an unwilling party.
dotage
The noun ______ describes the mental decline that many elderly people eventually experience. Those in their ______ sometimes act silly or forgetful.
garble
When you _______ something, you warp or distort it, making it hard to understand. Talking with marbles in your mouth is one sure way of _______ your speech.
animus
Saying you have ____ toward a person is a fancy way of saying that you hate their guts. You could also say that an ____ exists between two people. That’s when they hate each others’ guts.
preen
When a bird or a cat _____, it smooths its feathers or cleans its fur. When you _____, you primp and pay careful attention to how you’re dressed and groomed, as if you’re inviting the whole world to watch you.
unconscionable
Something that is almost unimaginably unacceptable is _____________. Think of it as being something that no reasonable person would even think of doing or saying — something unbelievable, outrageous, and often horrible.
beatific
That blissful grin on your face? It could be described as ________, meaning it projects a peaceful sense of joy.
bemuse
To _______ means to confuse or puzzle. You might be _______ opening a box of candy from a “secret admirer.” Your teacher might give you a ________ smile if you write your essay as a series of haikus.
malleable
A ______ personality is capable of being changed or trained, and a _______ metal is able to be pounded or pressed into various shapes. It’s easier to learn when you’re young and _______.
accolade
A knight being honored with the tap of a sword-blade was the earliest form of ________. Today, an ________ is more than a way to bestow knighthood, it is a form of praise or an award.
roil
To ____ means to stir up or churn. A stormy ocean might ____, or even a restless crowd.
tureen
If a waiter brought a big, deep serving dish to your table, removed its lid, and began ladling soup into your bowl, you could confidently call the dish a _______.
veracious
Someone who is __________ speaks the truth — like your brutally honest friend who always lets you know what she thinks about your outfits, your hairstyle, your lasagna recipe, and your taste in movies.
apposite
Something _______ is fitting or relevant. It is ________ that radio stations play Christmas carols on Christmas Eve, and that your tax accountant takes vacation after April 15th. It all makes sense.
malaise
If you are experiencing _________, chances are you are feeling blue or looking green. _________ is a slump; you’re not feeling your best — either mentally or physically.
contusion
_______ is really just a fancy word for a bad bruise. Professional athletes are often benched suffering from _______. After all, if they’re being paid millions, it sounds kinda wimpy to pull them because they’re suffering from a…bruise.
dulcet
Use the adjective ______ to describe a sound that is soothing and soft, like “the ______ harmonies in a 70s pop song” or “the dulcet tones of a harp.”
anodyne
When your back is killing you from helping your friend move furniture into his new apartment, you need to take an ________, a painkiller.