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The New SAT: Words to Capture Tone – List #3 – 25 Words

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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
serious

of great consequence

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

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