100 Words Every Middle Schooler Should Know – 100 Words

adversary

someone who offers opposition

The students are united by shared suffering, and by a common adversary.New York Times (Nov 10, 2014)
aplomb

great coolness and composure under strain

I wish I had handled it with aplomb.New York Times (May 18, 2014)
apprehensive

in fear or dread of possible evil or harm

Virga still feels apprehensive when visiting an unfamiliar zoo.New York Times (Jul 3, 2014)
aptitude

inherent ability

I was recently asked in an interview, what is more valued by companies – aptitude or attitude? Forbes (Sep 12, 2014)
attentive

taking heed

You make sure to be extra attentive to your friend.Time (Oct 2, 2014)
banish

send away from a place of residence, as for punishment

Napoleon loses so big that he is banished to an island.New York Times (Dec 5, 2014)
barricade

block off with barriers

The Secret Service ordered nearby streets and parking lots barricaded for security.Washington Times (Dec 1, 2014)
bluff

frighten someone by pretending to be stronger than one is

Sporting a pith helmet, Nixon observed that “whoever is talking the loudest is pretty sure to be bluffing.”New York Times (Sep 19, 2014)
brackish

slightly salty

Brackish water can be used, but freshwater is easier and less costly.New York Times (May 14, 2014)
brandish

move or swing back and forth

Hart brandished a “Free Hugs” sign as he stood alone in front of a police barricade.MSNBC (Nov 30, 2014)
circumference

the size of something as given by the distance around it

That’s almost 10 times the circumference of the Earth, which is a surprisingly small 24,859.82 miles.BBC (Dec 1, 2014)
commotion

confused movement

Moments later came commotion, followed by shouts of “Stop pushing me!”MSNBC (Sep 26, 2014)
concoction

any foodstuff made by combining different ingredients

There are some food combos that blend beautifully with each other to create truly tasty concoctions.US News (Sep 4, 2014)
conspicuous

obvious to the eye or mind

Today, the link is more conspicuous: highlighted in blue, it appears directly beneath the site’s login form.New York Times (Oct 23, 2014)
contortion

a tortuous and twisted shape or position

There was tumbling, human pyramids and bodies stretched into extraordinary contortions.BBC (Aug 25, 2013)
counter

speak in response

The seller can then accept, counter or reject the offer.US News (Dec 9, 2014)
cunning

shrewdness as demonstrated by being skilled in deception

Moreover, it was no secret that Cleopatra had ruthless cunning and superior intelligence.Sterling Biographies®: Cleopatra: Egypt’s Last and Greatest Queen
debris

the remains of something that has been destroyed

The blast rattled their homes and sent debris flying onto nearby properties, they said.Washington Times (Dec 4, 2014)
defiance

a hostile challenge

Schools still could expel students for violating school rules or laws and could suspend students for willful defiance of authorities in grades 4 through 12.Washington Times (Sep 27, 2014)
deft

skillful in physical movements; especially of the hands

To make it work requires a deft hand.Forbes (Sep 25, 2014)
destination

the place designated as the end, as of a race or journey

Airports get stacked up with planes that can’t take off for their destinations.Forbes (Dec 9, 2014)
diminish

decrease in size, extent, or range

By Friday morning, most of the heavy rain is expected to diminish.Los Angeles Times (Dec 10, 2014)
disdain

lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike

In the visage of Grumpy Cat, it seems, her fans found the perfect holy expression of indifferent disdain for all things.Washington Post
dismal

causing dejection

It’s been a pretty dismal month, as far as world events go, but the news wasn’t all bad thanks to some very entertaining on-air mishaps.Time (Aug 28, 2014)
dispel

force to go away

For most of us, dispelling the darkness is as simple as turning on a light.Time (Oct 23, 2014)
eavesdrop

listen without the speaker’s knowledge

They eavesdrop on the noises that other birds make while hiding food in order to steal the stash later, new research shows.Science Magazine (Nov 21, 2014)
egregious

conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible

Prosecutors questioned him about killings and other egregious human rights abuses perpetrated by his regime.Los Angeles Times (Oct 4, 2014)
ember

a hot, smoldering fragment of wood left from a fire

“Every hot spot is an ember that, if not contained, can become a new fire,” Obama said.Los Angeles Times (Dec 2, 2014)
emerge

come out into view, as from concealment

They say that program has helped them emerge from the shadows, making possible a work permit, a Social Security number and enhanced self-respect.Washington Post
engross

consume all of one’s attention or time

I don’t know how long I was reading; I was so engrossed in the paper that I did not hear any footsteps.Long Walk to Freedom
exasperation

a feeling of annoyance

Like many a teenager on his school holidays, Parys is in bed, his mother explains with exasperation.The Guardian (Aug 2, 2014)
exhilarate

fill with sublime emotion

“To see Yosemite Falls coming to life this morning is truly exhilarating,” Park Superintendent Don Neubacher said in a statement. Los Angeles Times (Dec 3, 2014)
falter

move hesitatingly, as if about to give way

“The rocket has faltered, but it won’t crash,” he said.New York Times (Nov 20, 2014)
foresight

seeing ahead; knowing in advance; foreseeing

But nobody had the wherewithal or foresight to think that day would actually happen.MSNBC (Jul 3, 2014)
fragrance

a distinctive odor that is pleasant

After 30 minutes in the oven, what hits you first is the enticing, warm fragrance that fills your kitchen.Washington Post
furtive

secret and sly or sordid

What muffled whispers do they share, what furtive games are they playing?The Guardian (Dec 18, 2012)
grueling

characterized by effort to the point of exhaustion

As of Dec. 19, 22 students will have made it through a grueling curriculum that requires about 700 hours of computer code.Washington Times (Dec 10, 2014)
gusto

vigorous and enthusiastic enjoyment

They each approach their tasks with gusto that can only be admired, even if the results can’t.Washington Times (Aug 21, 2014)
habitation

the act of dwelling in or living permanently in a place

Although the area is not fit for human habitation, many poor people who work in the coal mines live here.BBC (Aug 13, 2013)
hasten

speed up the progress of; facilitate

Rather than wait for that day, he set out to hasten its arrival.Scientific American (Sep 3, 2014)
headway

forward movement

At times, you feel like you’re struggling to run forward, going through the motions but making no headway, frozen in place.Washington Post
ignite

cause to start burning

Firefighters say the blaze started when stain-soaked rags ignited on the front porch.Washington Times (Dec 10, 2014)
illuminate

make free from confusion or ambiguity

The problem is that for illuminating answers, you need to ask the right questions.New York Times (Dec 6, 2014)
impending

close in time; about to occur

First, he gives the enemy 12 days of warning about impending air attacks.Washington Post
imperious

having or showing arrogant superiority

It was a little scary how quickly he flipped from friendly to imperious.New York Times (Sep 4, 2013)
jabber

talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner

A parrot jabbered atop its cage and a monkey squealed and battered at its bronze ring, until its owner brought bananas.Bartlett, Paul Alexander
jargon

technical terminology characteristic of a particular subject

Steer clear of jargon, me-too claims, and statements without substance.Forbes (Dec 5, 2014)
jostle

make one’s way by pushing or shoving

In Jerusalem, great religions have crowded and jostled their way down through millenniums.Los Angeles Times (Nov 21, 2014)
jut

extend out or project in space

From its long beak juts a fearsome tooth.New York Times (Nov 10, 2014)
kindle

call forth, as an emotion, feeling, or response

Recently in class I saw the fire of an idea flicker in a first-year student’s eyes—and so to kindle it I cold-called him.Forbes (Sep 16, 2014)
knoll

a small natural hill

The home, set on a quarter-acre knoll, has views of the city, the Hollywood Reservoir and the Hollywood sign.Los Angeles Times (Aug 9, 2014)
luminous

softly bright or radiant

It was briefly one of the most luminous stars in the galaxy.New York Times (Sep 3, 2014)
malleable

easily influenced

“Memory is so malleable or volatile that each time we see something, the memory is actually influenced and re-created.”Washington Times (Oct 18, 2014)
materialize

come into being; become reality

By the time people reach their 70s, they’re beginning to look back at the plans they made and dreams they had that never materialized.Time (Nov 25, 2014)
meander

move or cause to move in a sinuous or circular course

Instead of straight paths and noisy throngs, the new park will have meandering walkways and quiet places for picnicking nestled in gently sloping “lawn valleys.”Chicago Tribune (Jul 26, 2014)
meticulous

marked by extreme care in treatment of details

It’s a six-page scene and very meticulous, step by step.Los Angeles Times (Aug 24, 2014)
misgiving

uneasiness about the fitness of an action

Quite a few said they had come despite the misgivings of parents who wanted them to focus on studying.New York Times (Sep 26, 2014)
momentum

an impelling force or strength

Mitchell believed that a song’s momentum should always push upward, ascending like the slope of a mountain into the unknown.Washington Post
monotonous

sounded or spoken in a tone unvarying in pitch

Unfortunately, their monotonous verbiage reminds me of Charlie Brown’s teacher in the “Peanuts” TV shows.Washington Post
multitude

a large indefinite number

They surround you in their multitudes – hundreds, maybe thousands of them, swooping and stinging and injecting venom into your flesh.BBC (Oct 9, 2014)
muster

gather or bring together

Fans chanted and hollered and enriched the arena with as much life as they could possibly muster.New York Times (Dec 10, 2014)
narrate

give a detailed account of

Standing amid bags of garbage, he starts sorting, tearing open plastic bags and narrating his finds.Los Angeles Times (Oct 15, 2014)
obscure

not clearly understood or expressed

The book contains little plot, an abundance of obscure poetry and the untimely death of three protagonists.Los Angeles Times (Dec 5, 2014)
ominous

threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments

“Evil forces around the world want to harm Americans every day,” an ominous voiceover states.Time (Oct 7, 2014)
outlandish

conspicuously or grossly unconventional or unusual

Not everything in the show is outlandish; some events are all too realistic.New York Times (Nov 16, 2014)
persistent

stubbornly unyielding

It says, “together, if we face obstacles and counter the negative with a persistent positive, we might just change the world.”Seattle Times (Dec 1, 2014)
pertinent

having precise or logical relevance to the matter at hand

You write about things that feel pertinent and urgent to you, and that varies depending on what stage of life you are going through. MSNBC (Jul 11, 2014)
plenteous

affording an abundant supply

“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.”Wilson, J. M. (James Maurice)
potential

existing in possibility

What potential global threat should policymakers pay more attention to?US News (Dec 11, 2014)
precipice

a very steep cliff

“Every minute of every day, we were on the precipice of failure, which is an exciting place to be,” Marsh says.Los Angeles Times (Nov 25, 2014)
pristine

completely free from dirt or contamination

Back at the jail, Snow White is getting under Anna’s skin a bit — shaking her once pristine view of the princess.Los Angeles Times (Dec 8, 2014)
quell

overcome or allay

The White House has tried to quell anxieties about the danger of Ebola spreading in the United States.Washington Post
recluse

one who lives in solitude

Long before his days as the world’s most famous recluse, Howard Hughes flew planes fast and far.New York Times (Jul 14, 2014)
recuperate

restore to good health or strength

Sleep is the time when your body recuperates and rebuilds from the day’s stress.US News (Jun 24, 2014)
replenish

fill something that had previously been emptied

They bring in dredged sand to replenish the beach.Washington Post
repugnant

offensive to the mind

The truth is that we need only look at recent human history to find real, live, utterly repugnant evil.Salon (Sep 4, 2014)
restitution

a sum of money paid in compensation for loss or injury

While restitution is paid to the victim, criminal fines and felony assessments are paid to a crime victims’ fund.Washington Times (Nov 21, 2014)
sabotage

destroy property or hinder normal operations

“We want at least a district that won’t sabotage the dreams of its youths.”Los Angeles Times (Nov 21, 2014)
scarcity

a small and inadequate amount

Water—its scarcity, quality and the regulations affecting it—is becoming a new corporate headache.Economist (Nov 6, 2014)
scurry

move about or proceed hurriedly

Ever wonder how cockroaches scurry around in the dark while you fumble to switch on the kitchen light?Science Magazine (Dec 3, 2014)
serenity

the absence of mental stress or anxiety

The surrounding waters and beautiful pools that surround the hotel create a real sense of calm and luxurious serenity.Forbes (Jul 25, 2014)
sociable

friendly and pleasant

Running with others is really sociable and great fun.BBC (Apr 10, 2014)
somber

grave or even gloomy in character

It was also the day before one of the most somber of American anniversaries: Pearl Harbor was bombed 73 years ago Sunday.Washington Post
specimen

an example regarded as typical of its class

The researchers detected it in older starfish samples, museum specimens from as early as 1942.Reuters (Nov 17, 2014)
stamina

enduring strength and energy

A 6-year-old might not want to walk the mile into Petra, but teenagers have enough physical and intellectual stamina to appreciate going to these places.­New York Times (Dec 5, 2014)
subside

wear off or die down

The virus has a history of subsiding, then flaring up again.Washington Post
swagger

a proud stiff pompous gait

The Giants had arrived here with the swagger of a team that had won two of the last four World Series titles.New York Times (Oct 3, 2014)
swarm

move in large numbers

In “ Swarm” mode, the robots instead follow one another, like children chasing a soccer ball.New York Times (Dec 1, 2014)
tactic

a plan for attaining a particular goal

Technology has been used as a crime-fighting tactic, but not as a tool to determine what happens during a police action.New York Times (Dec 4, 2014)
terse

brief and to the point

It’s a request to which Dipper responds, with terse eloquence, “Weird.”New York Times (Nov 21, 2014)
translucent

allowing light to pass through diffusely

It comes in several colors, including attractive translucent ones.Washington Times (Jul 30, 2014)
uncanny

surpassing the ordinary or normal

The Dark Sky App tells you the weather where you are with an uncanny accuracy. Forbes (Jun 26, 2014)
unsightly

unpleasant to look at

But that’s just a quibble, an unsightly pimple on what is a greater problem.The Guardian (Oct 14, 2014)
versatile

able to move freely in all directions

Eggs are among the most versatile foods and the proteins change when you heat them, beat them or mix them with other ingredients.US News (Dec 10, 2014)
vigilant

carefully observant or attentive

Because there are so many scammers out there, banks are vigilant about verifying that you are who you say you are.Washington Post
vulnerable

capable of being wounded or hurt

Second, older cells are more vulnerable to this damage—or less able to repair themselves.Scientific American (Dec 9, 2014)
waft

be driven or carried along, as by the air

The birds were chirping, and a warm breeze wafted through the screens.Washington Post
waver

pause or hold back in uncertainty or unwillingness

He is tough as nails, never wavers, speaks the truth and stays focused.New York Times (Oct 13, 2014)
weather

face and withstand with courage

You even get subjected to ridicule, and you have to weather that storm.Los Angeles Times (Dec 10, 2014)
zeal

a feeling of strong eagerness

The enthusiasm has caught on among his regulars, who come often, linger and talk about pumpkins with the zeal of converts.Washington Post

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