The New SAT: Words to Capture Tone – 200 Words

English Words (200 Words) selected in "The New SAT: Words to Capture Tone" will help you study for the SAT,GRE,ACT,TOEFL exams and learn english.

acerbic

sour or bitter in taste

For the uninitiated, Hopkins rose to fame as a villainous contestant on The Apprentice UK, where she drew attention for her acerbic, insulting comments.Time (Mar 5, 2015)
acrid

strong and sharp, as a taste or smell

But that was no moment for futile recrimination, and self-interest served to stay the acrid retort on the tip of his tongue.Douglas, Hudson
admonish

scold or reprimand; take to task

In their opening remarks, they admonished the jury to consider only evidence presented in the trial.New York Times (Jul 8, 2015)
advocate

a person who pleads for a person, cause, or idea

New resources, of course, have long been on the wish list of public education advocates.US News (Sep 8, 2015)
affection

a positive feeling of liking

Far from disrespect, there is great affection for Petersen in the Boise State football complex and throughout the campus.New York Times (Sep 4, 2015)
aggravated

made more severe or intense especially in law

Alonso aggravated his existing back condition Tuesday night, while Norris’ situation was the result of a collision with Beltre at the plate on Tuesday.Washington Times (Sep 3, 2015)
agitated

physically disturbed or set in motion

When a flight attendant tried to calm Schneider, he became more agitated, swearing at the crew member, advancing on him and then pushing him.US News (Aug 7, 2015)
ambitious

having a strong desire for success or achievement

This could be a legacy project for an ambitious local politician with his eyes on bigger things.Los Angeles Times (Sep 2, 2015)
ambivalence

mixed feelings or emotions

Their different responses to the unfolding economic drama underscore the strong ambivalence Americans feel about the Greek crisis.Washington Post (Jul 16, 2015)
amusement

an activity that is diverting and that holds the attention

The most exciting aspect of this field is that we don’t know which robotic sport will ultimately drive the most attention and amusement.Time (Jul 28, 2015)
anxiety

a vague unpleasant emotion in anticipation of a misfortune

She feels like she is no longer as sharp as her colleagues, causing significant anxiety and depression.US News (Sep 3, 2015)
apathetic

showing little or no emotion or animation

No, it’s just something to encourage people to step out and stand up for themselves and not be apathetic.BBC (Aug 5, 2015)
appreciation

understanding of the nature or meaning of something

It takes only one class of art history to learn the basic tools of art interpretation and appreciation.Slate (Sep 1, 2015)
apprehensive

in fear or dread of possible evil or harm

Even so, many people are apprehensive about exercise after experiencing a heart attack.Washington Post (Apr 27, 2015)
artificial

contrived by art rather than nature

And what is true of the biological variety should also be true of its artificial counterpart.Scientific American (Sep 7, 2015)
assertion

a declaration that is made emphatically

The former planned to definitively disprove Cook’s assertions, while the latter intended to defend the explorer’s honor.Time (Aug 31, 2015)
astonishment

the feeling that accompanies something extremely surprising

The other patients died, but Silva’s tumors virtually vanished, to the astonishment of her doctors.Washington Post (Jun 13, 2015)
audacious

disposed to venture or take risks

A maximum security prisoner is back behind bars in Australia after staging an audacious escape.BBC (Aug 18, 2015)
averse

strongly opposed

So averse was she to weapons when her children were young that she wouldn’t let them play with water pistols.Economist (Jul 30, 2015)
befuddled

perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements

He has often seemed befuddled and confused, along with wrong about just about everything.Salon (Jun 22, 2015)
bellicose

having or showing a ready disposition to fight

Lewis is a magnetic and intimidating Henry VIII, accomplishing more with a harsh whisper than he does with a bellicose tantrum.Washington Post (Apr 3, 2015)
bitter

proceeding from or exhibiting great hostility or animosity

A special session on a budget shortfall has so far been characterized by tensions and bitter divisions among legislators.Washington Times (Aug 5, 2015)
bombastic

ostentatiously lofty in style

It’s also not quite so over-the-top and bombastic as Ghosts, though it’s a far cry from what anyone might describe as realistic.Forbes (Nov 3, 2014)
brash

offensively bold

There’s a common perception of entrepreneurs as bold, brash, and exceedingly confident individuals.Forbes (Aug 6, 2015)
brusque

rudely abrupt or blunt in speech or manner

He’d been called a bully, but his brusque manner was seen as the sidecar to his ability to get things done.Slate (Jan 14, 2014)
callous

emotionally hardened

Like death, his father’s presence was cold and often callous, but it was real- brutally honest, inescapably dependable.Blood of Olympus
candid

openly straightforward and direct without secretiveness

It’s odd to hear such a candid admission from the chief of a company whose trade has always been exaggeration and excess.The Verge (Sep 5, 2015)
candor

the quality of being honest and straightforward

Her candor and exquisite simplicity framed the rest of my trip and helped me better understand the land I was living in.The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
caustic

harsh or corrosive in tone

Saint-Saëns was on speaking terms with practically all of them, even if his prickly temperament and caustic wit tended to discourage close friendships.New York Times (Jul 20, 2012)
cavalier

given to haughty disregard of others

“The prime minister is cavalier in his disregard of international law and agreements when it comes to the proliferation of nuclear weapons,” she told reporters.Washington Times (Sep 3, 2014)
choleric

characterized by anger

He returned more choleric than before, calling those he met rebels and traitors, in his mad fury.Drake, Samuel Adams
churlish

having a bad disposition; surly

Of course, it’s churlish to speak sourly of a guiltless, newborn child.Time (Jul 24, 2013)
coarse

lacking refinement or cultivation or taste

Ferrell and Hart are two stars with clearly, cleverly designed personalities, but whose films are often lazy and coarse in execution.Time (Mar 25, 2015)
complacent

contented to a fault with oneself or one’s actions

He said his state was prepared for future hurricanes: “Our levies are stronger than they’ve ever been before, but we must not become complacent.”New York Times (Aug 30, 2015)
concern

an anxious feeling

As parental concern mounts, tech companies are eager to prove that they have the best interests of students at heart.US News (Sep 8, 2015)
conciliatory

making or willing to make concessions

In theory a more conciliatory leader might offer some hope for compromise and peace.Economist (Sep 3, 2015)
condescending

characteristic of those who treat others with arrogance

“The owner is rude, condescending, arrogant, and way too full of himself. Not a good representation of the people of southern Utah.”Los Angeles Times (Jun 11, 2015)
conducive

tending to bring about; being partly responsible for

The spacious halls brought again the school feeling, however the atmosphere was not conducive to study but one of uneasiness.Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High
console

give moral or emotional strength to

Even surrounded by family and friend to console you, the world feels empty.New York Times (Jun 26, 2015)
contemplative

deeply or seriously thoughtful

Some people become more contemplative as they age and take the time to reflect on the life they have lived.US News (Jun 26, 2015)
contentious

showing an inclination to disagree

At this moment, the respectful, cordial tenor of the meeting took a noticeably different and more contentious tone.The New Yorker (Aug 27, 2015)
contradictory

not able to be true at the same time

It seems contradictory to say Watson played the match of her life in defeat, but she did.The Guardian (Jul 4, 2015)
creative

having the ability or power to invent or make something

Star Wars was a breakout success for many well-discussed reasons, but one powerful factor was how it easily lent itself to creative backyard play.The Guardian (Sep 3, 2015)
critical

of a serious examination and judgment of something

Yet someone who’s tired or distracted will likely be less critical, and will simply accept what you say as true.Time (Sep 2, 2015)
crude

conspicuously and tastelessly indecent

His male supporters regard his crude sexism not as juvenile behavior but as a transgressive political statement.Slate (Aug 13, 2015)
curious

eager to investigate and learn or learn more

My squid dream got me curious: Can cephalopods—a group that includes squid, octopuses, and cuttlefish—dream?National Geographic (Sep 5, 2015)
curt

brief and to the point

There was no explanation given in the curt, two-paragraph news release that the Dodgers sent out to announce the bizarre move.Los Angeles Times (Aug 17, 2015)
cynical

believing the worst of human nature and motives

While we know children are impressionable, they are also discerning and optimistic, often noting the best in people rather than taking a more cynical view.US News (Jul 27, 2015)
deference

courteous regard for people’s feelings

“I have waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions – absent the full story.”Reuters (Jun 15, 2015)
dejected

affected or marked by low spirits

He has rarely looked so dejected, so beaten, so incapable of the rousing return for which many golfing fans long.The Guardian (Jun 18, 2015)
demure

shy or modest, often in a playful or provocative way

Yes, it was see-through – and there was latex! – but it was oddly demure, covered up, with just a hint of suggestion.New York Times (Nov 21, 2012)
derisive

expressing contempt or ridicule

In the darkness, the players spent Saturday morning as punching bags for the coaches’ derisive comments.Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, And A Dream
despair

a state in which all hope is lost or absent

If we truly stopped to think about what each such death meant for victims and their families we would surely become overwhelmed by despair.The Guardian (Aug 24, 2015)
despondent

without or almost without hope

Tiger’s despondent press conferences will persist, and the press will hang on his words to see if there’s even a glimmer of hope.Golf Digest (Oct 16, 2013)
didactic

instructive, especially excessively

The Newsroom is a didactic show, by which I mean, when it presents an argument, it hints pretty clearly which side it believes is right.Time (Dec 7, 2014)
diffident

showing modest reserve

His manner is diffident and reserved, but the music-making is intense, full of character and rendered on the highest technical level.
— Washington Post (Mar 30, 2015)
dire

fraught with extreme danger; nearly hopeless

The library’s executive team testified before Congress in the spring about the dire need for more storage space for its ­ever-increasing collections.Washington Post (Sep 3, 2015)
disdain

lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike

But that didn’t stop the haters, who seized the new forum to rally their disdain.Los Angeles Times (Sep 2, 2015)
disgruntled

in a state of sulky dissatisfaction

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released thousands of complaints Thursday from disgruntled customers of banks, credit card companies and other providers of financial services.Los Angeles Times (Jun 25, 2015)
disgust

strong feelings of dislike

He rolled his eyes and walked away in disgust.US News (Aug 28, 2015)
dismay

the feeling of despair in the face of obstacles

“I can’t help but cry … because I thought people would defend me and say something. Some people just shook their heads in dismay.”Washington Times (Jun 1, 2015)
disparagement

a communication that belittles somebody or something

The opera is no masterpiece, but disparagement of the score as uninspired has never seemed justified on the rare occasions we hear it.The Guardian (Jun 4, 2013)
domination

power to defeat

Of course football has its celebrated chess-like aspects, but the game’s primal appeal is in the physical domination of some men by some other men.Slate (May 18, 2015)
dubious

fraught with uncertainty or doubt

Some of the claims are dubious, though startling if true.Forbes (May 20, 2015)
eager

having or showing keen interest or intense desire

The good news for veterans is that, because of their service, most Americans are eager to help them succeed in their job searches and careers.US News (Sep 1, 2015)
earnest

characterized by a firm, humorless belief in one’s opinions
[He] seemed overly slow and overly earnest, like a man explaining the government to toddlers.Washington Post (Jun 24, 2015)
ecstatic
feeling great rapture or delight

In photographs taken just after the baby was born, she cuddles the infant, looking ecstatic and proud.Los Angeles Times (Mar 6, 2015)
effusive

uttered with unrestrained enthusiasm

It’s being called both a “comedy smash” and “really funny,” among other effusive compliments.Salon (Jul 20, 2015)
elated

exultantly proud and joyful; in high spirits

She ended the class elated and high-fived Victoria: “I built a website!Slate (Aug 31, 2015)
elegiac

resembling or characteristic of a lament for the dead

It’s an elegiac message of farewell—whether to a romantic partner who is leaving or do life itself is subject to the listener’s interpretation.Los Angeles Times (Jun 29, 2015)
empathetic

showing ready comprehension of others’ states

“I can feel your pain without going through it myself,” says the empathetic person.The Guardian (Jun 17, 2015)
emphasize

stress or single out as important

“It is important to emphasize that this study is insufficient to draw any firm conclusions regarding cause and effect,” he added.US News (Sep 1, 2015)
engaging

attracting or delighting

It is seductive, engaging, and lit, despite the odds, by a vitality that is in itself a form of hope.Slate (Sep 9, 2015)
enthusiastic

having or showing great excitement and interest

As enthusiastic as he was to climb in the Himalaya, Chin didn’t know the first thing about launching an international expedition.National Geographic (Aug 10, 2015)
exuberant

joyously unrestrained

He had been his father’s exuberant companion, who had, Emerson wrote, “touched with his lively curiosity every trivial fact & circumstance in the household.”The New Yorker (Sep 7, 2015)
facetious

cleverly amusing in tone

“We have a very facetious Liverpool sense of humour, laughing at things which are stupid,” says Wells.The Guardian (Jul 21, 2012)
fanciful

indulging in or influenced by the imagination

Despite first being proposed more than a century ago, the idea of a space elevator has always appeared fanciful.Reuters (Sep 3, 2015)
fatuous

devoid of intelligence

“This is a fatuous show with nothing fresh to say about popular culture and our fixation with fame,” his one-star write-up continued.BBC (Dec 12, 2012)
fervent

characterized by intense emotion

Mr. Elwes said it has attained such a large and fervent following thanks largely to pre-Internet word-of-mouth raves and home video rentals.Washington Times (Jun 21, 2015)
fleeting

lasting for a markedly brief time

Much work goes into the ceremonies, market officials said, though they only last a fleeting few minutes.Wall Street Journal (Sep 3, 2015)
flippant

showing an inappropriate lack of seriousness

“Any reprimand has to be taken seriously, so I don’t want to come across as flippant about it,” he said.Washington Post
foreboding

a feeling of evil to come

But something else bothered him – a cold sense of foreboding, as if he hadn’t heard the worst news yet.Blood of Olympus
forlorn

marked by or showing hopelessness

The image of forlorn bears on small rafts of ice has become a symbol of the dangers of climate change.New York Times (Sep 22, 2014)
frank

characterized by directness in manner or speech

She suggests that its appeal lies in its frank treatment of topics usually left undiscussed.New York Times (Jun 19, 2015)
genuine

not fake or counterfeit

A finance ministry official said both genuine and forged passports were in the packets intercepted in the post.BBC (Sep 4, 2015)
grave

causing fear or anxiety by threatening great harm

In an open letter, the coalition says Twitter’s ban “holds grave consequences for free expression and transparency around the world.”The Verge (Sep 4, 2015)
gregarious

temperamentally seeking and enjoying the company of others

Aren’t entrepreneurs supposed to be gregarious and commanding—verbally adept and able to inspire employees, clients and investors with the sheer force of their personality?Wall Street Journal (Aug 24, 2015)
haughty

having or showing arrogant superiority

What we can do is hopefully have a detached perspective, without being pompous and haughty.BBC (May 29, 2013)
heroic

having qualities appropriate for brave figures

He said it was heroic of the officer to put himself in danger to protect the children, who were unhurt.Washington Times (Aug 27, 2015)
histrionic

characteristic of acting or a stage performance

The mildness of Dellavedova’s provocations only makes the histrionic local reaction to them – the impassioned denunciations, the drippingly earnest think pieces – all the more hilarious.The Guardian (Jun 1, 2015)
hollow

devoid of significance or point

Speaking about political dialogue, Assad said any initiative that is not based on fighting “terrorism” will be “ hollow” and “meaningless.”Washington Times (Jul 26, 2015)
hopeful

having or manifesting optimism

“A socially inclusive Singapore that is prosperous because it is innovative, and where people always feel hopeful about making progress in their lives.”US News (Sep 8, 2015)
hostile

characterized by enmity or ill will

There are four months left for the neighbors to patch things up, but for now the mood is hostile.Reuters (Sep 3, 2015)
idealistic

of high moral or intellectual value

Today’s foreign-policy thinkers must also test their idealistic notions of American possibility on a geo­political landscape littered with the wreckage of ideals past.New York Times (Sep 1, 2015)
imposing

befitting an important, distinguished, or powerful person

Porter is imposing enough physically — he is stocky and more than 6-foot tall — but he can be soft-spoken.Washington Post (Sep 3, 2015)
imprudent

not sensible, responsible, or wise

Clearly that was unwise, and to bail out management and investors, let alone reward them for imprudent decisions, is not proper.Forbes (Apr 7, 2015)
incisive

demonstrating ability to recognize or draw fine distinctions

But anyone who relishes elegant and incisive writing and speech will be glad that Vidal was fated to explain, rather than practise, politics.The Guardian (Aug 1, 2012)
incredulous

not disposed or willing to believe; unbelieving

In the case of Guzmán, many Mexicans are particularly incredulous as this was his second escape from a supposedly high-security prison.The Guardian (Aug 7, 2015)
indignant

angered at something unjust or wrong

I seethed with envy, indignant that they enjoyed the honest freedom I had denied myself.The Guardian (May 17, 2014)
inflammatory

arousing to action or rebellion

But as representatives of the National Socialist Front show up to offer support, the town is plastered with neo-Nazi flags, swastikas and other inflammatory material.New York Times (Sep 8, 2015)
inquisitive

given to questioning

He was very inquisitive — he kept asking and I kept answering.Washington Post (May 7, 2015)
insincere

lacking the quality of being open and truthful

Of course, if used poorly, the suggested questions can come across like bad pickup lines, rehearsed and insincere.New York Times (Oct 15, 2014)
insolent

marked by casual disrespect

“You are insolent. I suppose that is only to be expected of a wildling. We must find you a husband who can teach you courtesy.”A Dance with Dragons
inspiring

stimulating or exalting to the spirit

But it was exciting, and inspiring, to live in a country where people had fought and won the fight for democracy and openness.US News (Aug 31, 2015)
intense

possessing a distinctive feature to a heightened degree

“If you don’t want a session that is too competitive you can choose one that is less intense.The Guardian (Sep 7, 2015)
intentional

done or made or performed with purpose and intent

The police said they did not yet know if the shooting was accidental or intentional.New York Times (Aug 24, 2015)
irate

feeling or showing extreme anger

Horns honked, and an irate motorist yelled, “Get out of the street so people can get to work!”The New Yorker (Aug 10, 2015)
irreverent

showing lack of due respect or veneration

She continues with a irreverent speech that blends slightly off-color jokes with sincere praise and gratitude.Time (Jan 26, 2015)
jealous

suspicious or fearful of being displaced by a rival

When they travel, rich 20-somethings are drawn toward gregarious pleasures that can be shared on social media to make their friends jealous.Economist (Aug 27, 2015)
jejune

lacking interest or significance or impact

But in their translation into the bald language of reality—the jejune prose of fact—our dreams have a way of losing their finer essence.Broughton, Rhoda
jovial

full of or showing high-spirited merriment

“We’re not pushing a hardcore agenda. The events tend to be very friendly and jovial, but safety is our No. 1 concern.”Los Angeles Times (Aug 20, 2015)
judgmental

relating to an assessment of a person, situation, or event

Thus began one of West’s familiar monologues on the fashion industry’s judgmental nature — its bullying and mean-girl tendencies and refusal to recognize his brilliance.Washington Post (Jun 2, 2015)
laudatory

full of or giving praise

And yes, as we’ve read in laudatory profiles and seen in TV spots, the rookie is smart, studious, humble, and looks fantastic in denim.Slate (Oct 16, 2012)
lyrical

expressing deep emotion

Supreme Court rulings are typically dry legalistic documents, but Friday’s decision recognizing gay marriage nationwide was more lyrical than most.Time (Jun 26, 2015)
malicious

having the nature of threatening evil

China’s Internet police issued warnings against those who sought to point fingers or spread malicious rumors online.Washington Post (Jun 3, 2015)
melancholic

characterized by or causing or expressing sadness

As a child she was a shy, melancholic loner riddled with very early-onset teenage angst.The Guardian (Aug 2, 2014)
mercurial

liable to sudden unpredictable change

But though his aesthetic has been mercurial, his theme has arguably stayed the same.New York Times (Feb 4, 2015)
methodical

characterized by orderliness

But the decision we came around to was that it was editorially important to show how methodical, planned and deliberate this was.Washington Times (Aug 27, 2015)
mocking

expressing contempt or ridicule

Others found ways of mocking it, calling it – not so politely – a waste of time.Washington Times (Mar 30, 2015)
momentous

of very great significance

The Supreme Court is on the verge of a momentous decision that could legalize gay marriage across the country.US News (Jun 23, 2015)
mordant

harshly ironic or sinister

The amiable Brian takes refuge in mordant humor: “Bad luck. Good luck. It’s all chance,” he says, then adding darkly, “Rotten sort of lottery, life.”New York Times (May 1, 2015)
morose

showing a brooding ill humor

Eeyore, the morose donkey in Winnie-the-Pooh, at one point complains: ‘A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.’Salon (May 23, 2015)
motivated

given incentive for action

To feel motivated to clean something, you’ve first got to notice, and care, that it’s dirty.The Guardian (Sep 4, 2015)
negative

characterized by denial or opposition or resistance

Often disruptive behaviors involve major negative interactions, like screaming at a nurse or harshly insulting a colleague.Time (Aug 21, 2015)
negligent

characterized by undue lack of attention or concern

“Leaving a child unattended in a car or a house is negligent conduct,” Judge Mary Catherine Cuff wrote.US News (Aug 20, 2015)
neutral

having no personal preference

If I have strong views, I’m probably not going to be a good editor: it’s hard for me to write in a neutral way.”The Guardian (Sep 6, 2015)
novel

original and of a kind not seen before

Finally, highly-math-anxious parents may become flustered when their children’s teachers use novel strategies that parents themselves never learned.Time (Sep 9, 2015)
objective

undistorted by emotion or personal bias

It is important as a scientist, irrespective of belief, to be as objective as possible and steer clear of overtly political, advocacy, or activist stances.Forbes (Aug 3, 2015)
obsequious

attempting to win favor from influential people by flattery

Their representative assemblies passed obsequious resolutions expressing loyalty and gratitude to the King, and the people; and erected his statue in a public place.Stark, James H.
obstinate

marked by tenacious unwillingness to yield

An obstinate captive raven nearly brought photographer Vince Musi to tears last week when the bird refused to stand still for a picture.National Geographic (Aug 8, 2015)
ominous

threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments

Ominous foreshadowings at the film’s beginning hint how that story ends, but the derring-do along the way is something to see.New York Times (May 28, 2015)
opposition

being against something that you disapprove or disagree with

Growing up, she played football with brothers and cousins and rushed to join the team, despite opposition from relatives.The Guardian (Sep 9, 2015)
optimistic

hopeful that the best will happen in the future

Physicists are optimistic the mystery will be sorted out soon with more data.Scientific American (Sep 9, 2015)
outspoken

given to expressing yourself freely or insistently

Still, it’s the outspoken, go-for-broke honesty that has helped him with audiences.Los Angeles Times (Aug 29, 2015)
passive

lacking in energy or will

To see it otherwise, he said, “implies that the media are passive observers rather than active participants who can do something about it.”New York Times (Aug 16, 2015)
patronizing

characteristic of those who treat others with arrogance

The term “tolerance” itself is problematic for its patronizing implications, for the “tolerant” one is always the one in the dominant position.New York Times (Jan 24, 2015)
pedantic

marked by a narrow focus on or display of learning

They speak in an over-precise way with much pedantic insistence on letters not generally sounded, especially Hs.The Guardian (Jul 17, 2013)
perceptive

having the ability to understand

Perry is extremely socially perceptive, a quality that has helped him connect with people from many different backgrounds.Slate (Jun 5, 2015)
pernicious

exceedingly harmful

So, while there is pressure on young men and women to look like models there is another equally pernicious trend emerging – the normalisation of obesity.BBC (May 30, 2015)
persuasive

intended or having the power to induce action or belief

While the judge’s ruling is not binding on other states, it’s forceful and it might be persuasive from one judge to another. MSNBC (Jul 1, 2015)
pervasive

spreading or spread throughout

What I resist most is the insistent, pervasive, inescapable message that we all must be happy.The Guardian (Aug 19, 2015)
pessimistic

expecting the worst possible outcome

“But lawyers are trained to always look for the worst-case scenario. They benefit more from being pessimistic, and that takes a toll.”New York Times (May 12, 2015)
petulant

easily irritated or annoyed

Nick Saban, the Alabama coach, stamped out of one news conference last week like a petulant child, all because reporters dared to do their jobs.New York Times (Sep 15, 2013)
placid

not easily irritated

She clasped her hands in her lap and her face was placid, the worries from a few moments ago having transformed to a deep calm.New York Times (Jul 9, 2015)
poignant

keenly distressing to the mind or feelings

But a series of poignant, heart-wrenching tweets from Parker’s boyfriend laid bare the tragic human consequences of the horrific episode.Salon (Aug 26, 2015)
positive

characterized by or displaying affirmation or acceptance

Moviegoers had an overwhelmingly positive response toward the film, giving it an average A grade, according to audience polling firm CinemaScore.Los Angeles Times (Aug 30, 2015)
profound

showing intellectual penetration or emotional depth

For the Hawaiians, who invented the sport, surfing was no mere pastime but a profound expression of their religion and culture.Wall Street Journal (Aug 13, 2015)
provocative

serving or tending to excite or stimulate

She’s not afraid to push buttons and be the provocative journalist she should be.”The Guardian (Aug 8, 2015)
puerile

displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity

Such puerile charges remind me rather of the tricks of children than actions of men.Fowler, Charles H.
quarrelsome

given to arguing

He’s quarrelsome on Twitter, always ready to tussle with any old nobody who’s talking trash.Washington Post (Apr 8, 2015)
quizzical

perplexed

Perhaps it is because patients fear the quizzical look and follow-up question: “You’re eating what?”Washington Post (May 14, 2012)
rancorous

showing deep-seated resentment

The brothers had a rancorous split and have essentially not talked since.New York Times (Sep 5, 2013)
receptive

open to arguments, ideas, or change

Sometimes she seems receptive to advice, but more often she just has an answer for everything and gets really defensive.Washington Post (Sep 9, 2015)
reckless

marked by defiant disregard for danger or consequences

It came after a night of drinking and reckless stunt driving at a construction site in which he and a passenger could have been killed.New York Times (Sep 2, 2015)
rejection

the state of being turned down

When he talked of the pain of rejection, the heartbreak of grief, he knew exactly what he was talking about, both personally and politically.The Guardian (Aug 17, 2015)
reluctant

not eager

Montgomery officials are proceeding slowly in addressing the problem sidewalks, reluctant to move forward until they have more laboratory findings.Washington Post (Aug 30, 2015)
reservation

an unstated doubt that prevents you from accepting something

In a statement, Booker voiced deep reservations but concluded: “It is better to support a deeply flawed deal, for the alternative is worse.Time (Sep 3, 2015)
resignation

the act of giving up, as a claim or office or possession

They are so overwhelmed by juggling demands that many have moved from frustration and anxiety to resignation and despair, which is worse.New York Times (Jul 31, 2015)
reverent

feeling or showing profound respect or veneration

And while typically you speak in a reverent voice in respect for the dead, tonight, feel free to speak up and ask questions.Washington Times (Sep 6, 2015)
rigid

incapable of or resistant to bending

When you’re too rigid or strict or hard on yourself, willpower becomes white-knuckling, and there’s nothing fun or inspiring about that.Wall Street Journal (Sep 4, 2015)
sanguine

confidently optimistic and cheerful

As the sanguine reaction from investors indicates, amid the gloom there may be some reason to be optimistic.BusinessWeek (May 2, 2014)
sardonic

disdainfully or ironically humorous

Humor must lie beneath the surface, ready to materialize in the form of a sardonic quip, or a quick dose of withering wit.Los Angeles Times (May 28, 2015)
saturnine

bitter or scornful

He was, in short, what is called a deep designing villain, and the saturnine and sinister expression of his countenance at once proclaimed this.Various
scandalous

giving offense to moral sensibilities

The spy agency had a scandalous reputation in the years before South Korea embraced democracy in the 1980s, and was involved in abductions and killings.BBC (Jul 19, 2015)
scornful

expressing extreme contempt

A deep, scornful hatred, like black syrup pumping thick through my heart.Salon (May 24, 2012)
seductive

tending to entice into a desired action or state

He finds pleasure in thinking itself, surrendering to the seductive pull of creative association.New York Times (Aug 12, 2015)
seemingly

from appearances alone

All around us, seemingly happy celebrity couples are calling it quits, prompting many people to declare that “love is dead.”Time (Sep 8, 2015)
serious

of great consequence

But there is one area students can accidentally get into some serious trouble: their finances.US News (Sep 9, 2015)
severe

unsparing and uncompromising in discipline or judgment

Before sentencing Holmes, Samour tried to reassure victims who were upset at the lack of a death penalty that Holmes’ punishment would still be severe.US News (Aug 27, 2015)
sincere

open and genuine; not deceitful

It is real and sincere, a reflection of the authentic desires and feelings of the People.Salon (Jun 14, 2015)
sinister

wicked, evil, or dishonorable

More sinister are the nameless, faceless critics lurking on social media and comments sections, giving voice to a society’s most hateful impulses.The Guardian (Jul 12, 2015)
skeptical

marked by or given to doubt

OpenDaylight’s success comes as a shock to those of us that were initially skeptical of its legitimacy and relevance.Forbes (Aug 2, 2015)
smug

marked by excessive complacency or self-satisfaction

Perhaps they would have pulled it off, had it not been for the smug, self-satisfied expressions on their faces as they pretended to be offended.Salon (Jun 23, 2015)
solemn

dignified and somber in manner or character

One step at a time, in solemn synchrony, the casket team carried the coffin up the grassy hill on Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery.Washington Post (Aug 25, 2015)
somber

grave or even gloomy in character

The commemoration of this event provides a somber occasion to take stock of losses.National Geographic (Aug 7, 2015)
solidarity

a union of interests or purposes among members of a group

Elsewhere in the Hungarian capital, thousands marched in solidarity with the migrants, and demanded the government do more to help them.BBC (Sep 2, 2015)
stability

the quality or attribute of being firm and steadfast

Seeking stability in an unsteady economy, investors had begun parking their money in Washington real estate.Washington Post (Sep 4, 2015)
substantiate

establish or strengthen as with new evidence or facts

Photographic, video and eyewitness accounts have been assembled to substantiate the allegations, officials said.Los Angeles Times (Aug 6, 2015)
supercilious

having or showing arrogant disdain or haughtiness

Except for their accents, these people are identical to a certain class of spoiled, supercilious New Yorkers who exude a smug sense of entitlement.New York Times (Jun 26, 2014)
superficial

of, affecting, or being on or near the surface

Alongside the superficial changes, more fundamental shifts are under way as rebel leaders seek to eliminate European influences and align their region with Russia.The Guardian (Aug 16, 2015)
superior

of high quality or performance

Rugby league people insist, in all seriousness, that rugby league is the greatest game of all, that it’s superior to all other games.The Guardian (Sep 6, 2015)
surly

unfriendly and inclined toward anger or irritation

Managers who were perceived as kind and caring, and who could inspire and coach employees would do better than bosses who were mean and surly.Forbes (Jun 22, 2015)
sympathetic

expressing compassion or friendly fellow feelings

Government officials and others have called for compassion and tolerance, and the overwhelming reaction to the migrants has been sympathetic.New York Times (Aug 13, 2015)
tactful

having a sense of what is considerate in dealing with others

Other of my friends seem to pity me, although they are usually tactful enough to not say it out loud.Salon (Mar 17, 2013)
tentative

hesitant or lacking confidence; unsettled in mind or opinion

Apologizing often makes you seem tentative and unsure — and that’s definitely not a plus in the workplace.Time (Aug 3, 2015)
timid

showing fear and lack of courage

Where the U.S. could have been aggressive in its pursuit of additional bi- and multi-lateral trade agreements, it has been timid.US News (Jun 10, 2015)
traditional

consisting of or derived from a practice of long standing

Classicists insist the only syrup to use is Fox’s U-bet, chocolate being the most traditional flavor, though vanilla and strawberry are certainly not unheard of.Wall Street Journal (Sep 3, 2015)
unanticipated

not expected

“It’s unpredictable, unanticipated, and it’s simply an unfortunate accident when it happens.”New York Times (Jun 20, 2015)
unctuous

unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating

When singing about searing indignities, that unctuous and unbothered voice of his makes it sound as if he’s just buttering up his adversary.New York Times (Jun 13, 2011)
undermine

weaken or impair, especially gradually

Bypassing the system of checks and balances would only cause chaos and undermine the legitimacy of the state.Wall Street Journal (Sep 8, 2015)
unprecedented

novel; having no earlier occurrence

In an unprecedented show of military might Beijing has promised never-before-seen firepower on display.BBC (Sep 1, 2015)
urgency

an earnest and insistent necessity

While the process can often take up to a year or more, the outbreak created a sense of urgency that could speed things up.Washington Times (Sep 8, 2015)
vehement

marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions

Folks tend to be either hardcore cloud “fans” or vehement cloud “detractors”, and often there is not much middle ground between them.Forbes (Jul 17, 2015)
vexed

troubled persistently especially with petty annoyances

These are questions that for years have vexed the courts, which have struggled to define the difference between permissible and illegal computer use.Washington Times (Sep 9, 2015)
vibrant

vigorous and animated

We know these cities, at their best, can all be inviting, vibrant, and dynamic destinations.Time (Aug 31, 2015)
vituperative

marked by harshly abusive criticism

If you read the online versions of newspaper columns you can click over to the reader comments, which are often critical, vituperative and insulting.Seattle Times (Feb 7, 2015)
vivacious

vigorous and animated

“Patients today are unyielding in their desire to continue to be active and maintain a physically vivacious life,” Grossman said.US News (Sep 2, 2015)
wistful

showing pensive sadness

At age 40, most men can take a wistful look back and think of a few things they wish they had done in their youth.Washington Times (Aug 7, 2015)
witty

combining clever conception and facetious expression

The whole evening was a strange yet fluid mix of witty comments and funny anecdotes with thoughtful reflection about literature and poignant personal disclosures.Newsweek (Feb 28, 2015)
zealous

marked by active interest and enthusiasm

A zealous prosecutor, Elizabeth Scheibel, went on a crusade, bringing criminal charges against six teenagers that held them directly responsible for causing…death.Slate (Apr 10, 2014)