The Vocabulary.com Top 1000 – 1000 Words

English Words (1000 Words) selected in "The Vocabulary.com Top 1000" will help you study for the SAT,GRE,ACT,TOEFL exams and learn english.

عودآنلاین - مرجع خرید آنلاین عودهای خوشبو هم HEM

consider

deem to be

At the moment, artemisinin-based therapies are considered the best treatment, but cost about $10 per dose – far too much for impoverished communities.Seattle Times (Feb 16, 2012)
minute

infinitely or immeasurably small

The minute stain on the document was not visible to the naked eye.
accord

concurrence of opinion

The committee worked in accord on the bill, and it eventually passed.
evident

clearly revealed to the mind or the senses or judgment

That confidence was certainly evident in the way Smith handled the winning play with 14 seconds left on the clock.
practice

a customary way of operation or behavior

He directed and acted in plays every season and became known for exploring Elizabethan theatre practices.
intend

have in mind as a purpose

“Lipstick, as a product intended for topical use with limited absorption, is ingested only in very small quantities,” the agency said on its website.
concern

something that interests you because it is important

The scandal broke out in October after former chief executive Michael Woodford claimed he was fired for raising concerns about the company’s accounting practices.
commit

perform an act, usually with a negative connotation

In an unprecedented front page article in 2003 The Times reported that Mr. Blair, a young reporter on its staff, had committed journalistic fraud.New York Times (Feb 15, 2012)
issue

some situation or event that is thought about

As a result, the privacy issues surrounding mobile computing are becoming ever-more complex.
approach

move towards

Spain’s jobless rate for people ages 16 to 24 is approaching 50 percent.New York Times (Feb 15, 2012)
establish

set up or found

A small French colony, Port Louis, was established on East Falkland in 1764 and handed to the Spanish three years later.
utter

without qualification

No one can blame an honest mechanic for holding a wealthy snob in utter contempt.Ingersoll, Robert Green
conduct

direct the course of; manage or control

Scientists have been conducting studies of individual genes for years.
engage

consume all of one’s attention or time

We had nearly two hundred passengers, who were seated about on the sofas, reading, or playing games, or engaged in conversation.Field, Henry M. (Henry Martyn)
obtain

come into possession of

He delayed making the unclassified report public while awaiting an Army review, but Rolling Stone magazine obtained the report and posted it Friday night.New York Times (Feb 11, 2012)
scarce

deficient in quantity or number compared with the demand

Meanwhile, heating oil could grow more scarce in the Northeast this winter, the Energy Department warned last month.New York Times (Jan 21, 2012)
policy

a plan of action adopted by an individual or social group

Inflation has lagged behind the central bank’s 2 percent target, giving policy makers extra scope to cut rates.
straight

successive, without a break

After three straight losing seasons, Hoosiers fans were just hoping for a winning record.Seattle Times (Feb 15, 2012)
stock

capital raised by a corporation through the issue of shares

In other words, Apple’s stock is cheap, and you should buy it.Forbes (Feb 16, 2012)
apparent

clearly revealed to the mind or the senses or judgment

But the elderly creak is beginning to become apparent in McCartney’s voice.
property

a basic or essential attribute shared by members of a class

Owing to these magic properties, it was often planted near dwellings to keep away evil spirits.Parsons, Mary Elizabeth
fancy

imagine; conceive of; see in one’s mind

For a time, indeed, he had fancied that things were changed.Weyman, Stanley J.
concept

an abstract or general idea inferred from specific instances

As a psychologist, I have always found the concept of speed dating fascinating.Scientific American (Feb 13, 2012)
court

an assembly to conduct judicial business

When Brown pleaded not guilty to assaulting Rihanna, their violent past came out in court.Slate (Feb 16, 2012)
appoint

assign a duty, responsibility, or obligation to

In 1863 he was appointed by the general assembly professor of oriental languages at New College.Various
passage

a section of text, particularly a section of medium length

His interpretation of many obscure scriptural passages by means of native manners and customs and traditions is particularly helpful and informing.Sheets, Emily Churchill Thompson
vain

unproductive of success

An attempt was made to ignore this brilliant and irregular book, but in vain; it was read all over Europe.Various
instance

an occurrence of something

In many instances large districts or towns would have fewer representatives than smaller ones, or perhaps none at all.Clarke, Helen Archibald
coast

the shore of a sea or ocean

Martello towers must be built within short distances all round the coast.Wingfield, Lewis
project

a planned undertaking

The funds are aimed at helping build public projects including mass transit, electricity networks, water utility and ports, it said.
commission

a special group delegated to consider some matter

The developers are now seeking approval from the landmarks commission.New York Times (Feb 16, 2012)
constant

a quantity that does not vary

In 1929, Hubble independently put forward and confirmed the same idea, and the parameter later became known as the Hubble constant.Nature (Nov 15, 2011)
circumstances

one’s overall condition in life

The circumstances leading up to the shootings was not immediately available.
constitute

compose or represent

Oil and natural gas constituted almost 50 percent of Russian government revenue last year.
level

a relative position or degree of value in a graded group

Only last month did the men’s and women’s unemployment rates reach the same level.New York Times (Feb 19, 2012)
affect

have an influence upon

The central bank will start distributing low-interest loans in early March to individuals and small- and medium-sized companies affected by the flooding.
institute

set up or lay the groundwork for

Corporations have to be more and more focused on instituting higher labor standards.Washington Post (Feb 7, 2012)
render

give an interpretation of

But authorities had rendered the weapon and the explosive device inoperable, officials said.Chicago Tribune (Feb 17, 2012)
appeal

be attractive to

To get traditional women’s accessories to appeal to men, some designers are giving them manly names and styles.New York Times (Feb 19, 2012)
generate

bring into existence

Qualities such as these are not generated under bad working practices of any sort.Hungerford, Edward
theory

a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the world

Testing that theory begins Saturday night, as the Capitals take on Tampa Bay in another important contest.Washington Post (Feb 18, 2012)
range

a variety of different things or activities

Like American community colleges, admission at an open university is not competitive, but the schools offer a range of programs, including doctoral degrees.
campaign

a race between candidates for elective office

At the same point in 2004 — as an incumbent facing re-election — Mr. Bush had taken in about $145.6 million for his campaign.New York Times (Feb 18, 2012)
league

an association of sports teams that organizes matches

“When I broke into the big leagues until a month ago, Gary kept in touch,” Mets third baseman David Wright said.Seattle Times (Feb 17, 2012)
labor

any piece of work that is undertaken or attempted

More labor is entailed, more time is required, greater delay is occasioned in cleaning up, and the amount of water used is much greater.Hoskin, Arthur J.
confer

have a meeting in order to talk something over

Ms. Stewart said Mrs. Bachmann conferred with her family and a few aides after her disappointing showing on Tuesday evening.New York Times (Jan 4, 2012)
grant

allow to have

He had been granted entry into the White House only for the daily briefing, later that afternoon.New York Times (Feb 17, 2012)
dwell

think moodily or anxiously about something

But it is hardly necessary to dwell on so normal an event.Vinogradoff, Paul
entertain

provide amusement for

The first Super Bowl in 1967 featured college marching bands entertaining the crowds at halftime.
contract

a binding agreement that is enforceable by law

Contracts with utilities will be signed starting next month, he said.
earnest

characterized by a firm, humorless belief in one’s opinions

Too much praise cannot be given to the earnest and efficient missionaries who founded and have maintained this mission.Miller, George A.
yield

give or supply

It is a very important honey plant, as it yields an exceptionally pure nectar and remains in bloom a long time.Parsons, Mary Elizabeth
wander

move or cause to move in a sinuous or circular course

While each animal wandered through the maze, its brain was working furiously.New York Times (Feb 16, 2012)
insist

be emphatic or resolute and refuse to budge

Interior Department officials insisted that they had conducted an extensive scientific inquiry before moving ahead with the spill response plan.New York Times (Feb 17, 2012)
knight

a person of noble birth trained to arms and chivalry

The knight was gallant not only in war, but in love also.Crothers, Samuel McChord
convince

make realize the truth or validity of something

But though he listened he was not convinced.Reade, Charles
inspire

serve as the inciting cause of

His surprising performance inspired an outpouring of fan adoration that has been dubbed “Linsanity.”Chicago Tribune (Feb 19, 2012)
convention

a large formal assembly

Last year, the industry’s main trade convention, the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, organized workshops in Las Vegas focusing on lien laws and auction sales.New York Times (Feb 17, 2012)
skill

an ability that has been acquired by training

He says many new drivers are terrified of motorway driving because they do not have the skills or confidence needed.
harry

annoy continually or chronically

There’s something uplifting about hearing a string instrument when I’m feeling ragged or harried.New York Times (Feb 9, 2012)
financial

involving fiscal matters

Meanwhile, universities have raised tuition every year, putting many students in a financial bind.New York Times (Feb 20, 2012)
reflect

show an image of

Teens ranting over chores and whatnot can often reflect deeper feelings of alienation or perceived uncaring on the part of parents.
novel

an extended fictional work in prose

Before Robert Barr publishes a novel he spends years in thinking the thing out.Anonymous
furnish

provide with objects or articles that make a room usable

Instead, according to court documents, the money went toward furnishing mansions, flying in private jets, and retaining a $120,000-a-year personal hairstylist.BusinessWeek (Feb 1, 2012)
compel

force somebody to do something

But the flames grew too large, compelling firefighters to call off the rescue.New York Times (Feb 18, 2012)
venture

proceed somewhere despite the risk of possible dangers

Clearly he would not venture to descend while his enemy moved.Strang, Herbert
territory

the geographical area under the jurisdiction of a state

On Friday, West Africa regional group Ecowas condemned the rebels, urging them to end hostilities and surrender all occupied territory.
temper

a characteristic state of feeling

Oscar Wilde, to do him justice, bore this sort of rebuff with astonishing good temper and sweetness.Anonymous
bent

fixed in your purpose

The business-oriented constituency of the Republican Party, Jacobs said, has been weakened by a faction bent on lowering taxes and cutting spending.
intimate

marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity

The female spider can choose when to cut off intimate relations by eating her partner, or kicking him out.Scientific American (Jan 31, 2012)
undertake

enter upon an activity or enterprise

An autopsy has reportedly been undertaken but the results are not expected for several weeks.
majority

more than half of the votes in an election

Republicans need just four seats in the Senate to take control as the majority party.
assert

declare or affirm solemnly and formally as true

In your talk you asserted the pill’s risks of blood clotting, lung artery blockage, heart attack and stroke are minimal.
crew

the men and women who man a vehicle

Several pilots and crew members would have to escape at once, while safety divers watched, ready to rescue anyone who became stuck.New York Times (Feb 6, 2012)
chamber

a natural or artificial enclosed space

“Today,” said the old man, “you must push through with me into my most solitary chamber, that we may not be disturbed.”Carlyle, Thomas
humble

marked by meekness or modesty; not arrogant or prideful

“Challenging yourself, playing up against stronger, tougher, and overall better competition will keep you humble.”Washington Post (Jan 17, 2012)
scheme

an elaborate and systematic plan of action

Some companies in the Globe District of Arizona have started extensive underground schemes for mining large tonnages very cheaply by “caving” methods.Hoskin, Arthur J.
keen

demonstrating ability to recognize or draw fine distinctions

Not one of his movements escaped her keen observation; she drank in every shiver.Wingfield, Lewis
liberal

having political views favoring reform and progress

Romney’s actually done well in open primaries where fiscally conservative yet socially liberal independents have backed him over his opponents.
despair

a state in which all hope is lost or absent

There were wounded love, and wounded pride, and despair, and coming madness, all in that piteous cry.Reade, Charles
tide

the periodic rise and fall of the sea level

In the case of mobile connectivity, a rising tide does not lift all boats.Slate (Feb 9, 2012)
attitude

a complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings

“Behaviours have changed and attitudes have changed,” Mr Taylor said.
justify

show to be reasonable or provide adequate ground for

He felt sure that if the circumstances justified it, the necessary proceedings could be taken.”Anonymous
flag

a rectangular piece of cloth of distinctive design

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning and ordered flags flown at half staff.New York Times (Feb 16, 2012)
merit

any admirable or beneficial attribute

Thus far in our inquiry extraordinary merits have been offset by extraordinary defects.Ayres, Harry Morgan
manifest

reveal its presence or make an appearance

A too rapid transformation of existing conditions might very easily lead to an economic crisis, symptoms of which are already beginning to manifest themselves.Vay, P?ter
notion

a general inclusive concept

Does that old notion that defense wins championships still hold up these days?Seattle Times (Jan 13, 2012)
scale

relative magnitude

And there might not be much money, so fashion shows are done on a much smaller scale.Seattle Times (Feb 17, 2012)
formal

characteristic of or befitting a person in authority

A formal decision to call off the search is likely on Wednesday, rescue officials said.New York Times (Jan 31, 2012)
resource

a new or reserve supply that can be drawn upon when needed

“Economists assume that, under normal conditions, markets will allocate resources efficiently,” he added.
persist

continue to exist

Old ideas, long after the conditions under which they were produced have passed away, often persist in surviving.Ingersoll, Robert Green
contempt

lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike

And with his backhanded contempt for all things ordinary, Blake is making some of the catchiest, most difficult music in recent memory.
tour

a route all the way around a particular place or area

He typed in “South Park” and took senior executives on a tour of Web sites offering pirated episodes.New York Times (Feb 8, 2012)
plead

enter a defendant’s answer

Aria pleaded not guilty, but he acknowledged that he had violated some laws.New York Times (Feb 18, 2012)
weigh

be oppressive or burdensome

So far, the political turmoil has not appeared to have discouraged visitors, but prolonged strife could weigh on tourism.New York Times (Feb 11, 2012)
mode

how something is done or how it happens

Speaking of science, he says, in language far in advance of his times: ‘There are two modes of knowing—by argument and by experiment.Adams, W. H. Davenport (William Henry Davenport)
distinction

a discrimination between things as different

But such a distinction is quite external; at heart the men may be very much alike.Anonymous
inclined

at an angle to the horizontal or vertical position

Such an inclined passage following a seam of coal is known as a slope.Hoskin, Arthur J.
attribute

a quality belonging to or characteristic of an entity

The authors found that when the available prospects varied more in attributes such as age, height, occupation and educational background, people made fewer dating proposals.Scientific American (Feb 13, 2012)
exert

make a great effort at a mental or physical task

School boards may come to exert even greater influence over what students read.Forbes (Jan 23, 2012)
oppress

come down on or keep down by unjust use of one’s authority

Those who managed to survive were later oppressed by Poland’s post-war communist authorities.
contend

compete for something

But eight men, however bold and stout-hearted, could not long contend with an enemy at least four times their number.Strang, Herbert
stake

a strong wooden or metal post driven into the ground

His remains were buried in Cannon Street, and a stake was driven through the body.Andrews, William
toil

work hard

He toiled in the sweat of his brow, tilling the stubborn ground, taking out stones, building fences.Adler, Felix
perish

pass from physical life

Simon Wiesenthal’s parents are long since deceased, with his father dying in World War I and his mother perishing in the Holocaust.
disposition

your usual mood

Melancholia — the state of mind — can hide behind seemingly sunny dispositions.Seattle Times (Dec 28, 2011)
rail

complain bitterly

Mr. Gray railed against lengthy stage directions, saying he crossed them out in scripts before he would begin rehearsals with his actors.New York Times (Feb 7, 2012)
cardinal

one of a group of prominent bishops in the Sacred College

Each time he names cardinals he puts his stamp on Roman Catholicism’s future by choosing men who share his views.Chicago Tribune (Feb 18, 2012)
boast

talk about oneself with excessive pride or self-regard

Mr. Estes was also well connected politically, boasting that the president of the United States took his calls.New York Times (Dec 10, 2011)
advocate

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

Well, safety advocates, consumers and the government dragged the automobile industry toward including seat belts, air bags, more visible taillights and other safety features.New York Times (Feb 19, 2012)
bestow

present

He bestowed public buildings and river improvements in return for votes.Gilbert, Clinton W. (Clinton Wallace)
allege

report or maintain

It is being fired into enclosed areas and homes, the human rights group alleges.
notwithstanding

despite anything to the contrary

He seems to have taken things easily enough, notwithstanding the sorrow and suffering that surrounded him on every side.Adams, W. H. Davenport (William Henry Davenport)
lofty

of imposing height; especially standing out above others

He found himself in an enormous hall with a lofty ceiling.Blasco Ib??ez, Vicente
multitude

a large indefinite number

Department store chains in general have been strained in recent years as a ” multitude” of alternatives has emerged, all competing for customers.Chicago Tribune (Dec 28, 2011)
steep

having a sharp inclination

It was narrow and very steep, and had precipices in all parts, so that they could not mount upward except one at a time.Various
heed

pay close attention to

But Cain was already too far gone to heed the warning voice.Adler, Felix
modest

not large but sufficient in size or amount

A healthy person living in an unfashionable city with no student loans to pay off can get by on a fairly modest income.Slate (Feb 17, 2012)
partial

being or affecting only a segment

Generalizations of this sweeping order are apt to contain only partial truth.Clarke, Helen Archibald
apt

naturally disposed toward

Another reason to display beds at an electronics show: consumers are apt to use high-tech devices while tucked in.New York Times (Jan 9, 2012)
esteem

the condition of being honored

Despite being held in the highest esteem by his fellow poets, Redgrove never quite achieved the critical reception or readership he deserved.
credible

appearing to merit belief or acceptance

Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has acknowledged receiving the memo but said he ignored it as not credible.New York Times (Dec 19, 2011)
provoke

provide the needed stimulus for

It provoked a bigger reaction than we could ever have anticipated.
tread

a step in walking or running

The farmer went down, his clumsy boots making no sound on the uncarpeted stairway, so careful was his tread.Woolson, Constance Fenimore
ascertain

learn or discover with confidence

Health care providers and manufacturers can ascertain alternative treatment more effectively by tackling predicted drug shortage incidences early in the process.Forbes (Feb 13, 2012)
fare

proceed, get along, or succeed

A recent study breaks down how graduates with various college degrees are faring in today’s difficult job market.Washington Post (Feb 17, 2012)
cede

relinquish possession or control over

Some militia chiefs say they will only cede command of their fighters once an organized military and security apparatus is in place.
perpetual

continuing forever or indefinitely

The river is a perpetual enjoyment, always something going on.Waddington, Mary King
decree

a legally binding command or decision

While the decree takes effect immediately, it requires Parliament’s approval within 60 days to remain in force.
contrive

make or work out a plan for; devise

The wily Roc, never taken much by surprise, contrived to escape, but old Tributor and his men were all captured.Thornbury, Walter
derived

formed or developed from something else; not original

Modern kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi are all members of the same species, derived from a single prehistoric plant variety.Slate (Feb 21, 2012)
elaborate

marked by complexity and richness of detail

But the tobacco industry and owners of other convenience stores say tribal cigarette manufacturing is just an elaborate form of tax evasion.New York Times (Feb 22, 2012)
substantial

real; having a material or factual existence

Defence lawyers said the large number of forensic tests which had been carried out had failed to find any substantial evidence linked to the accused.
frontier

a wilderness at the edge of a settled area of a country

Adding to the precarious security situation, tribesmen kidnapped 18 Egyptian border guards along the frontier with Israel in Sinai Peninsula.New York Times (Feb 9, 2012)
facile

arrived at without due care or effort; lacking depth

As one teacher remarks about a troubled student, “There is no facile solution.”New York Times (Oct 11, 2011)
cite

make reference to

The Federal Reserve has pledged low interest rates until late 2014, citing in part the weakness of the job market.
warrant

show to be reasonable or provide adequate ground for

In the United Kingdom and Europe the devices are not used unless the need is warranted by the patient’s medical condition.
sob

weep convulsively

He cried and trembled, sobbing, while they spoke, like the child he was.Weyman, Stanley J.
rider

a traveler who actively sits and travels on an animal

In horseback riding, a rider will give commands by squeezing or lengthening the reins and altering the position of his legs.
dense

permitting little if any light to pass through

Dense black smoke rose in the distance as demonstrators burned tires in Shiite villages.
afflict

cause physical pain or suffering in

Melanoma globally afflicts nearly 160,000 new people each year.
flourish

grow vigorously

His business had been all along steadily flourishing, his patrons had been of high social position, some most illustrious, others actually royal.Petherick, Horace William
ordain

invest with ministerial or priestly authority

One of the present bishops was consecrated when quite a young boy, and deacons are often ordained at sixteen, and even much earlier.Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy)
pious

having or showing or expressing reverence for a deity

Mother, you see, is a very pious woman, and she attributes it all to Providence, saying that it was the Divine interference in her behalf.Various
vex

disturb, especially by minor irritations

There are vexing problems slowing the growth and the practical implementation of big data technologies.Forbes (Oct 21, 2011)
gravity

the force of attraction between all masses in the universe

Once captured, the combined object will have a new center of gravity and may be spinning in an uncontrolled way.
suspended

supported or kept from sinking or falling by buoyancy

Frustrating enough at ground level, but can you imagine the agony about a stranded, ever-soggier Oreo being suspended 11 feet above the ground?Washington Post (Feb 21, 2012)
conspicuous

obvious to the eye or mind

Its bright scarlet fruits are conspicuous in late autumn.Anonymous
retort

a quick reply to a question or remark

Having put him in ill humour with this retort, she fled away rejoicing.Coster, Charles Th?odore Henri de
jet

an airplane powered by gas turbines

Typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts will also be on duty to guard against security threats.Seattle Times (Feb 20, 2012)
bolt

run away

The blare of bugles was heard, and a few seconds afterwards Jackson, still facing the enemy, shouted: “By Jupiter, they’re bolting, sir.”Strang, Herbert
assent

agree or express agreement

His two companions readily assented, and the promise was mutually given and received.Keightley, Thomas
purse

a sum spoken of as the contents of a money container

She watched over her husband, kept his accounts, held the family purse, managed all his affairs. Shorter, Clement K.
plus

the arithmetic operation of summing

The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus four percentage points.
sanction

give authority or permission to

The Securities and Exchange Commission said last year it had sanctioned 39 senior officers for conduct related to the housing market meltdown.
proceeding

a sequence of steps by which legal judgments are invoked

Chu attended the special court-martial proceeding on Monday in Hawaii, Hill said.
exalt

praise, glorify, or honor

Some exalt themselves by anonymously posting their own laudatory reviews.New York Times (Jan 26, 2012)
siege

an action of an armed force that surrounds a fortified place

Rebellion broke out, and finally the aged Caliph, after enduring a siege of several weeks, was murdered in his own house.Nicholson, Reynold
malice

feeling a need to see others suffer

He viewed the moths with malice, their fluttering wings fanning his resentment.Lyman, Olin L.
extravagant

recklessly wasteful

Advisers say new millionaires are prone to mistakes, like making extravagant purchases or risky deals with friends.
wax

increase in phase

Carols had existed for centuries, though their popularity waxed and waned as different governments and religious movements periodically declared them sinful.
throng

press tightly together or cram

Deafening cheers rent the air as he landed; hundreds thronged around him to clasp his hand.Strang, Herbert
venerate

regard with feelings of respect and reverence

He venerated me like a being descended from an upper world.Blasco Ib??ez, Vicente
assail

attack someone physically or emotionally

His campaign even issued a press release assailing other rivals for, in Mr. Paul’s view, taking Mr. Romney’s quote about firing people out of context.New York Times (Feb 16, 2012)
sublime

of high moral or intellectual value

He was uneven, disproportioned, saying ordinary things on great occasions, and now and then, without the slightest provocation, uttering the sublimest and most beautiful thoughts.Ingersoll, Robert Green
exploit

draw from; make good use of

As humans increasingly exploit the deep seas for fish, oil and mining, understanding how species are dispersed is crucial, Copley said.Scientific American (Jan 3, 2012)
exertion

use of physical or mental energy; hard work

One day overcome by exertion, she fainted in the street.Ingersoll, Robert Green
kindle

catch fire

Then a match was kindled and fire applied.Warner, Susan
endow

furnish with a capital fund

The grammar school here, founded in 1533, is liberally endowed, with scholarships and exhibitions.Various
imposed

set forth authoritatively as obligatory

The Arab League has already suspended Syria and imposed economic sanctions.
humiliate

cause to feel shame

The letter claims pensioners are too often patronised, humiliated, denied privacy or even medical treatment.
suffrage

a legal right to vote

There has been a great deal said in this country of late in regard to giving the right of suffrage to women.Ingersoll, Robert Green
ensue

take place or happen afterward or as a result

An uproar ensued months after the approval, when opponents realized the online gambling measure had been slipped in.New York Times (Feb 16, 2012)
brook

a natural stream of water smaller than a river

He walked across the little bridge over the brook and at once his mood changed.Mason, A. E. W. (Alfred Edward Woodley)
gale

a strong wind moving 45-90 knots

The gale was accompanied, as usual, by incessant rain and thick weather, and a heavy confused sea kept our decks always flooded.Fitzroy, Robert
muse

reflect deeply on a subject

Musing about the Big Picture may be a lot more gratifying than focusing on the details of the specific policies that aren’t working.
satire

witty language used to convey insults or scorn

There’s plenty of humor on Russian television, though not much political satire; Mr. Putin put a stop to that long ago.New York Times (Feb 13, 2012)
intrigue

cause to be interested or curious

Designing and building models that intrigue and educate without overwhelming has been challenging.Science Magazine (Nov 24, 2011)
indication

something that serves to suggest

Authorities said an autopsy found no indications of foul play or obvious signs of trauma on Houston.Seattle Times (Feb 15, 2012)
dispatch

send away towards a designated goal

More than one assassin was dispatched by the Turkish authorities to murder Napoleon.Various
cower

crouch or curl up

The knaves lowered their weapons and shrank back cowering before him.Weyman, Stanley J.
wont

an established custom

He made his customary slick feeds to open teammates, but as is their wont, the Nets struggled at times to convert points on his passes.New York Times (Feb 20, 2012)
tract

a system of body parts that serves some specialized purpose

When probiotics flourish in the digestive tract, nutrients are better absorbed and bad bugs are held at bay, research suggests.Seattle Times (Jan 10, 2012)
canon

a collection of books accepted as holy scripture

For me, all novels of any consequence are literary, and they take their place, high and low, in the canon of English literature.
impel

cause to move forward with force

Some power beyond his comprehension was impelling him toward the neighboring city.Blasco Ib??ez, Vicente
latitude

freedom from normal restraints in conduct

Great employees often get more latitude to bring up controversial subjects in a group setting because their performance allows greater freedom.
vacate

leave behind empty; move out of

Their number diminished sharply after Villaraigosa announced last week that he wanted protesters to vacate the grounds by Monday or be forcibly removed.Chicago Tribune (Nov 30, 2011)
undertaking

any piece of work that is attempted

“Let my epitaph be, Here lies Joseph, who was unsuccessful in all his undertakings.”Marvin, Frederic Rowland
slay

kill intentionally and with premeditation

“It were shame,” said Lancelot, “for an armed to slay an unarmed man.”Unknown
predecessor

one who precedes you in time

Heller fills in the blanks about Taft, overshadowed by colorful predecessor Teddy Roosevelt.Seattle Times (Feb 22, 2012)
delicacy

the quality of being exquisitely fine in appearance

This refinement appears in his works, which are full of artistic grace and dainty delicacy.Drake, Samuel Adams
forsake

leave someone who needs or counts on you; leave in the lurch

“I’m surprised,” said Philip, cautiously opening fire, “that you were ever allowed to forsake your native land.”Hay, Ian
beseech

ask for or request earnestly

Utterly distraught, he ran up and down the bank, hunting for his clothes, calling, crying out, imploring, beseeching help from somewhere.Frank, Ulrich
philosophical

relating to the investigation of existence and knowledge

His arguments, like Einstein’s, were qualitative, verging on highly philosophical.Scientific American (Jan 30, 2012)
grove

a small growth of trees without underbrush

Soon after we came to Pasadena, father bought an orange grove of twenty-five acres.Chamberlain, James Franklin
frustrate

hinder or prevent, as an effort, plan, or desire

Frustrated after two years of missed budget targets, finance chiefs demanded Greek officials put their verbal commitments into law.
illustrious

widely known and esteemed

She will be joining an illustrious list of recipients that include Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II and Princess Diana.
device

an instrumentality invented for a particular purpose

You’ve probably also noticed that the telephone and computer are no longer the only devices on your employees’ desks.Forbes (Feb 26, 2012)
pomp

cheap or pretentious or vain display

Throughout U.S. history, Americans have been fascinated by royal pomp — even on a movie screen.
entreat

ask for or request earnestly

“Let me go now, please,” she entreated, her eyes unable to meet his any longer.Hope, Anthony
impart

transmit, as knowledge or a skill

Long before writing and books were in common use, proverbs were the principal means of imparting instruction.Preston, Thomas
propriety

correct behavior

I felt a trifle doubtful about the propriety of taking a short cut across private grounds, and said as much.Sutphen, Van Tassel
consecrate

render holy by means of religious rites

The building was consecrated as a Protestant Episcopal church in May, 1814.Faris, John T. (John Thomson)
proceeds

the income or profit arising from a transaction

His own share in the proceeds was about a hundred thousand dollars.Stark, James H.
fathom

come to understand

But after flying for so many years, the idea of hanging up his sparkling wings is hard for him to fathom.New York Times (Mar 17, 2012)
objective

the goal intended to be attained

The objective was to mobilize students from 18 high schools across the city to provide community services and inspire others.New York Times (Feb 5, 2012)
clad

wearing or provided with clothing

A few of the villagers came behind, clad in mourning robes, and bearing lighted tapers.Various
partisan

devoted to a cause or party

But given the bitter partisan divide in an election year, Democrats said they would never be able to get such legislation passed.Chicago Tribune (Mar 30, 2012)
faction

a dissenting clique

One faction declared it would begin an armed struggle against the government of the United States.Slate (Feb 29, 2012)
contrived

artificially formal

In lesser hands the story about a young man who discovers life among the dead could be impossibly cute and contrived.New York Times (Mar 25, 2012)
venerable

impressive by reason of age

Thus, after much more than two hundred years, the venerable building looks almost as it did when the first students entered its doors.Faris, John T. (John Thomson)
restrained

not showy or obtrusive

By contrast, Mr. Pei’s restrained design took time to claim my attention, particularly since it sat quietly next door to Saarinen’s concrete gull wings.New York Times (Oct 6, 2011)
besiege

harass, as with questions or requests

He can’t trot down the street without being besieged by paparazzi.New York Times (Mar 18, 2012)
manifestation

a clear appearance

Singing and dancing are manifestations of what many Syrians describe as a much broader cultural flowering.New York Times (Dec 19, 2011)
rebuke

an act or expression of criticism and censure

Afterward, the leaders fought court orders to release records showing what they had done, drawing an uncommonly sharp rebuke from a federal judge.Washington Post (Mar 14, 2012)
insurgent

in opposition to a civil authority or government

The Free Syrian Army, an insurgent group made of defecting soldiers and based in southern Turkey, claimed responsibility for both attacks.New York Times (Nov 20, 2011)
rhetoric

using language effectively to please or persuade

His fiery rhetoric in support of limiting cuts to projected defense spending has surprised and impressed some of Obama’s toughest Republican critics.
scrupulous

having ethical or moral principles

The reason is that the vast majority of businesses are scrupulous and treat their employees well.
ratify

approve and express assent, responsibility, or obligation

Company officials at Safeway said those replacement workers will remain on standby until the agreement is ratified by union members.Washington Post (Mar 29, 2012)
stump

cause to be perplexed or confounded

Though family members long suspected Evans, a local handyman who frequently hired local youths, the case stumped investigators for years.Washington Post (Aug 30, 2011)
discreet

marked by prudence or modesty and wise self-restraint

Sarkozy has attempted to tone down his image, becoming more discreet about his private life.
imposing

impressive in appearance

These buildings were grand and stylized with intricate details and a bit of an imposing presence.Scientific American (Mar 5, 2012)
wistful

showing pensive sadness

She turned toward him, her face troubled, her eyes most wistful.Mason, A. E. W. (Alfred Edward Woodley)
mortify

cause to feel shame

Intensely mortified at this humiliation, the king fell sick, and henceforth his health failed rapidly.Various
ripple

stir up so as to form small waves

That could precipitate higher interest rates that would ripple across the economy.Washington Post (Jul 27, 2011)
premise

a statement that is held to be true

Success, real success, comes to the jack of all trades, a major premise handed down from pioneer days.Gilbert, Clinton W. (Clinton Wallace)
subside

wear off or die down

Affliction is allayed, grief subsides, sorrow is soothed, distress is mitigated.Webster, Noah
adverse

contrary to your interests or welfare

High doses can have adverse effects and even cause death.Seattle Times (Mar 26, 2012)
caprice

a sudden desire

Nobody is really in charge, and decisions are made on whim and caprice.”New York Times (Apr 10, 2011)
muster

gather or bring together

Yet Fox needed all the strength that he could muster.Rosebery, Archibald Phillip Primrose
comprehensive

broad in scope

The United States Army developed a comprehensive plan to address problematic race relations in the 1970s, recognizing that they were hampering military effectiveness.New York Times (Feb 6, 2012)
accede

yield to another’s wish or opinion

Therefore he made up his mind to accede to his uncle’s desire.Streckfuss, Adolph
fervent

characterized by intense emotion

But, to fervent applause and scattered fist pumps from two sets of worshipers, he pledged to legally challenge the claims against him.New York Times (Sep 26, 2010)
cohere

cause to form a united, orderly, and consistent whole

Two antagonistic values may cohere in the same object.Anderson, Benjamin M. (Benjamin McAlester)
tribunal

an assembly to conduct judicial business

The military has historically been protected from civilian courts, with any crimes committed by soldiers being decided in closed military tribunals.
austere

severely simple

A certain austere simplicity was noticeable all over Longfellow’s house.Anonymous
recovering

returning to health after illness or debility

“The recovering economy is bringing more people back into the market.Washington Post (Mar 22, 2012)
stratum

people having the same social or economic status

She belonged to the upper stratum of the profession, and, knowing it, could not sink.George, Walter Lionel
conscientious

characterized by extreme care and great effort

A conscientious hostess would be very much mortified if she served chicken out of its proper course.Reed, Myrtle
arbitrary

based on or subject to individual discretion or preference

Sandra Nurse, a member of Occupy’s direct action working group, said police treated demonstrators roughly and made arbitrary arrests.Time (Mar 18, 2012)
exasperate

irritate

Shopkeepers, exasperated at the impact of higher taxes and reduced consumer spending, are planning to close down for the day.New York Times (Feb 7, 2012)
conjure

summon into action or bring into existence

Vacation homes typically conjure up dreams of blue skies, pristine sand and crystalline waters.Wall Street Journal (Feb 28, 2012)
ominous

threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments

The Count’s words were so ominous, so full of sinister meaning that for the moment he felt like crying out with fear.Hocking, Joseph
edifice

a structure that has a roof and walls

They are here erecting a fine stone edifice for an Episcopal Church.Clark, John A.
elude

escape, either physically or mentally

But despite racking up world titles, Olympic gold was eluding him.
pervade

spread or diffuse through

An air of intense anticipation pervaded the General’s dining room.Burnett, Carolyn Judson
foster

promote the growth of

Mr. Horne accused the district’s Mexican-American studies program of using an antiwhite curriculum to foster social activism.New York Times (Mar 19, 2012)
admonish

scold or reprimand; take to task

“Children, children, stop quarrelling, right here in public!” admonished Mrs. Dering, in a low, shocked tone.Perry, Nora
repeal

cancel officially

If Republicans repeal the law, Ms. Schakowsky said, they would be “taking away benefits that seniors are already getting.”New York Times (Mar 19, 2012)
retiring

not arrogant or presuming

Foster was an extremely modest, unworldly, retiring gentleman.Rosenbach, A. S. W.
incidental

not of prime or central importance

The models themselves are incidental on “Scouted,” merely empty planets around which revolve some fascinating characters and plenty more dull ones.New York Times (Nov 27, 2011)
acquiesce

agree or express agreement

American officials initially tried to resist President Karzai’s moves but eventually acquiesced.New York Times (Mar 9, 2012)
slew

a large number or amount or extent

In fact, intense focus may be one reason why so-called savants become so extraordinary at performing extensive calculations or remembering a slew of facts.Scientific American (Mar 3, 2012)
usurp

seize and take control without authority

More than anything, though, officials expressed concern about reigniting longstanding Mexican concerns about the United States’ usurping Mexico’s authority.New York Times (Mar 15, 2011)
sentinel

a person employed to keep watch for some anticipated event

The prisoners undressed themselves as usual, and went to bed, observed by the sentinel.Drake, Samuel Adams
precision

the quality of being reproducible in amount or performance

At this time, home ranges of small rodents can not be measured with great precision, therefore any such calculations are, at best, only approximations.Douglas, Charles L.
depose

force to leave an office

Late Wednesday, Mr. Touré, the deposed president, spoke out from hiding for the first time.New York Times (Mar 30, 2012)
wanton

unprovoked or without motive or justification

I am not a sentimentalist by any means, yet I abominate wanton cruelty.Stables, Gordon
odium

state of disgrace resulting from detestable behavior

This was one of the men who bring odium on the whole class of prisoners, and prejudice society against them.Henderson, Frank
precept

rule of personal conduct

The law of nature has but one precept, “Be strong.”Williams, C. M.
deference

a courteous expression of esteem or regard

Other rules, as indicated in Mr. Collins’ book, concerned deportment, and demanded constant deference to superiors.Faris, John T. (John Thomson)
fray

a noisy fight

Armed rebels have joined the fray in recent months.
candid

openly straightforward and direct without secretiveness

The actor was candid about his own difficult childhood growing up with alcoholic parents.Seattle Times (Feb 17, 2012)
enduring

unceasing

What makes the galumphing hubby such an enduring stock character?Slate (Mar 26, 2012)
impertinent

improperly forward or bold

Imagine calling a famous writer by his first name—it seemed impertinent, to say the least.Watkins, Shirley
bland

lacking stimulating characteristics; uninteresting

Many critics were less than enamored with the kind of “easy listening” Mr. Williams embodied, deriding his approach as bland and unchallenging.New York Times (Oct 9, 2011)
insinuate

suggest in an indirect or covert way; give to understand

“Good heavens, do you mean to insinuate that I did anything crooked?” said Bojo loudly, yet at the bottom ill at ease.Johnson, Owen
nominal

insignificantly small; a matter of form only

He sought nominal damages of one dollar from each defendant.
suppliant

humbly entreating

The colonists asked for nothing but what was clearly right and asked in the most respectful and even suppliant manner.Judson, L. Carroll
languid

lacking spirit or liveliness

Many viewers, bored by the languid pace of the show, tuned out early.New York Times (Dec 30, 2011)
rave

praise enthusiastically

I have heard lots of women simply rave about him.Kauffman, Reginald Wright
monetary

relating to or involving money

A hundred years ago, monetary policy – control over interest rates and the availability of credit – was viewed as a highly contentious political issue.New York Times (Mar 29, 2012)
headlong

in a hasty and foolhardy manner

“They may not be wishing to rush headlong back into the same sort of risks just yet.”
infallible

incapable of failure or error

But conductors are no more infallible than other people, and once in a blue moon in going through a train they miss a passenger.Lynde, Francis
coax

influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering

He used his most enticing manner and did his best to coax the little animal out again.Kay, Ross
explicate

elaborate, as of theories and hypotheses

He urged judges to resist the rigid guidelines and to write opinions explicating their reasons for doing so.New York Times (Jan 22, 2010)
gaunt

very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold

Gaunt, starved, and ragged, the men marched northwards, leaving the Touat country upon their left hand.Mason, A. E. W. (Alfred Edward Woodley)
morbid

suggesting the horror of death and decay

Earlier in the day, however, his demise was watched by spectators with a morbid fascination.New York Times (Aug 16, 2010)
ranging

wandering freely

His detective work is fascinating and wide ranging.Seattle Times (Feb 1, 2012)
pacify

ease the anger, agitation, or strong emotion of

How they pacified him I don’t know, but at the end of two hours he had cooled off enough to let us go aboard.Quincy, Samuel M.
pastoral

idyllically rustic

He made a considerable reputation as an accomplished painter of quiet pastoral subjects and carefully elaborated landscapes with cattle.Various
dogged

stubbornly unyielding

Some analysts expect Mr. Falcone, who is known for his dogged determination, to just continue to limp along while slashing costs.New York Times (Feb 15, 2012)
ebb

fall away or decline

Although Gardner’s competitive appetite ebbed after 2004, other cravings did not.New York Times (Jan 28, 2012)
aide

someone who acts as an assistant

She later found work as a teacher’s aide in a Head Start program in Harlem.New York Times (Jan 12, 2012)
appease

cause to be more favorably inclined; gain the good will of

The king also has tried to appease public anger over corruption.New York Times (Feb 9, 2012)
stipulate

make an express demand or provision in an agreement

The mayor has an executive order in place stipulating that all top officials, except those granted a waiver, live in the city.New York Times (Sep 22, 2011)
recourse

something or someone turned to for assistance or security

Bargain hunters and holiday shoppers are bad guys’ favorite targets and have little or no recourse when shoddy or fake merchandise arrives.Forbes (Nov 22, 2011)
constrained

lacking spontaneity; not natural

All his goodness, however, will be of a forced, constrained, artificial, and at bottom unreal character.Hyde, William De Witt
bate

moderate or restrain; lessen the force of

“You called her ‘an interfering, disagreeable old woman’!” whispered Bertha with bated breath, glancing half fearfully at the door as she spoke.Vaizey, George de Horne, Mrs.
aversion

a feeling of intense dislike

Already my passive dislike had grown into an active aversion.Oppenheim, E. Phillips (Edward Phillips)
conceit

an artistic device or effect

An urban panorama is viewed from a high vantage point, a conceit used in topographic art to render vast perspectives.New York Times (Sep 30, 2011)
loath

strongly opposed

Friends and political allies are loath to talk about her, knowing the family’s intense obsession with privacy.New York Times (Aug 14, 2011)
rampart

an embankment built around a space for defensive purposes

The night was gloomy, dark, and wet; the soldiers, wearied with watching at the ramparts, dozed, leaning on their weapons.Sienkiewicz, Henryk
extort

obtain by coercion or intimidation

The owners, in turn, have called the lawyers shakedown artists bent on ruining their good reputations to extort money.New York Times (Jan 27, 2012)
tarry

leave slowly and hesitantly

For two days I tarried in Paris, settling my little property.Ford, Paul Leicester
perpetrate

perform an act, usually with a negative connotation

Come on it’s just a cruel joke perpetrated by the airline industry.”Forbes (Dec 11, 2011)
decorum

propriety in manners and conduct

Wishing to observe the rules of decorum she invited him to stay for supper, though absolutely nothing had been prepared for a guest.Sudermann, Hermann
luxuriant

produced or growing in extreme abundance

Her luxuriant curly hair, restrained by no net, but held together simply by a flowering spray, waved over her shoulders in all its rich abundance.Elisabeth Burstenbinder (AKA E. Werner)
cant

insincere talk about religion or morals

It was the familiar cant of the man rich enough to affect disdain for money, and Wade was not impressed.Day, Holman
enjoin

give instructions to or direct somebody to do something

He turned to beckon the others forward with one hand, while laying the other over his mouth in a gesture enjoining silence.Breckenridge, Gerald
avarice

extreme greed for material wealth

The old man’s fears were assailed with threats, and his avarice was approached by bribes, and he very soon capitulated.Abbott, John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot)
edict

a formal or authoritative proclamation

An edict was issued by him forbidding any Christian to give instruction in Greek literature under any circumstances.Lightfoot, J. B.
disconcert

cause to lose one’s composure

Perplexed and disconcerted, I found no words to answer such an amazing sally.Chambers, Robert W. (Robert William)
symmetry

balance among the parts of something

Even the staging displays symmetry, with actors lined up on either side in formal precision.New York Times (Jan 24, 2011)
capitulate

surrender under agreed conditions

“Alas, no,” said Bergfeld, mournfully, “the day after the battle our brave soldiers were surrounded by overwhelming forces and obliged to capitulate.”Meding, Johann Ferdinand Martin Oskar
arbitrate

act between parties with a view to reconciling differences

The Scottish throne was now disputed by many claimants, and the Scots asked Edward to arbitrate between them.Various
cleave

separate or cut with a tool, such as a sharp instrument

Instead someone shouts “Go” and he is bearing down on me and almost cleaves my shield in two with his first blow.
append

add to the very end

Some specimens will appear in the papers appended to this report.Various
visage

the human face

An honest, quiet laugh often mantled his pale earnest visage.Turnbull, Robert
horde

a moving crowd

Hordes of puzzled tourists, many with rolling suitcases attached, poured down the staircases.New York Times (Jan 1, 2012)
parable

a short moral story

In most instances, I have closed my visits by reading some interesting story or parable.Frothingham, Octavius Brooks
chastise

censure severely

She remembers an upsetting incident when a headmistress chastised her for working too much.
foil

hinder or prevent, as an effort, plan, or desire

On March 1st, a Turkish newspaper reported that the country’s intelligence service had foiled an attempt by Syrian agents to kidnap the colonel.
veritable

being truly so called; real or genuine

The heavy rain had reduced this low-lying ground to a veritable quagmire, making progress very difficult even for one as unburdened as he was.Putnam Weale, B. L. (Bertram Lenox)
grapple

work hard to come to terms with or deal with something

But, he said, all coastal communities will have to grapple with rising seas.New York Times (Mar 24, 2012)
gentry

the most powerful members of a society

The mode of travel of the gentry was riding horses, but most people traveled by walking.Reilly, S. A.
pall

a sudden numbing dread

Residents who fled in recent days spoke of the smell of death and piles of garbage drifting like snowbanks, casting a pall over the city.New York Times (Mar 7, 2012)
maxim

a saying that is widely accepted on its own merits

The maxim “All is fair in love and war” was applied literally.Thomson, Basil
projection

a prediction made by extrapolating from past observations

Volume is down 25 percent from five years ago, and projections show even further declines, said Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe.New York Times (Mar 22, 2012)
prowess

a superior skill learned by study and practice

While our engineering prowess has advanced a great deal over the past sixty years, the principles of innovation largely have not.
dingy

thickly covered with ingrained dirt or soot

Though composed amid the unromantic surroundings of a dingy, dusty, and neglected back room, the speech has become a memorable document.Herndon, William H.
semblance

an outward appearance that is deliberately misleading

He was perceptibly older, in the way in which people look older all at once after having long kept the semblance of youth.King, Basil
tout

advertise in strongly positive terms

Testing is being touted as the means of making the U.S. education system competitive, even world-class.Washington Post (Mar 23, 2012)
fortitude

strength of mind that enables one to endure adversity

Leigh Hunt bore himself in his captivity with cheerful fortitude, suffering severely in health but flagging little in spirits or industry.Colvin, Sidney
asunder

into parts or pieces

In 1854, as I have already remarked, Nicaragua was split asunder by civil war.Powell, E. Alexander (Edward Alexander)
rout

an overwhelming defeat

It’s how Seattle won Sunday’s game in Chicago, scoring 31 consecutive second-half points as an impressive comeback became an overwhelming rout.Seattle Times (Dec 19, 2011)
staid

characterized by dignity and propriety

He was prim and staid and liked to do things in an orderly fashion.Doyle, A. Conan
beguile

influence by slyness

I can no longer remain silent in the presence of the schemers who seek to beguile you.Bolanden, Conrad von
purport

have the often specious appearance of being or intending

Of course, none of these purported medical benefits have any grounding in science.Scientific American (Jan 28, 2012)
deprave

corrupt morally or by intemperance or sensuality

The people who make up this typical Gorky offering are drunkards, thieves, depraved creatures of every kind.Kilmer, Joyce
bequeath

leave or give, especially by will after one’s death

No matter how often she changed her will, she told me, that diamond pin was always bequeathed to me.Wells, Carolyn
enigma

something that baffles understanding and cannot be explained

Tails are often an enigma; many creatures have them, but scientists know little about their function, particularly for extinct species.
assiduous

marked by care and persistent effort

He’s an assiduous diary-keeper and regularly rereads ancient entries to check up on himself.
vassal

a person holding a fief

And what was of still greater importance, he could only obtain taxes and soldiers from among the vassals, by the consent of their feudal lords.Freytag, Gustav
quail

draw back, as with fear or pain

He quailed before me, and forgetting his new part in old habits, muttered an apology.Weyman, Stanley John
outskirts

outlying areas, as of a city or town

Ms. Waters talked about how she had spent the day at an organic farm on the outskirts of Beijing looking at vegetables for the dinner.New York Times (Nov 14, 2011)
bulwark

a protective structure of stone or concrete

The cliffs are of imposing height, nearly three hundred feet: a formidable bulwark.White, Walter
swerve

an erratic turn from an intended course

However, I was not going to swerve from my word.Johnstone, James Johnstone, chevalier de
gird

prepare oneself for action or a confrontation

Protesters are girding for another police raid as several City Council members have called on protesters to leave.Washington Post (Nov 11, 2011)
betrothed

pledged to be married

We are not betrothed’—her eyes filled with tears,—’he can never marry me; and he and my father have quarrelled.Fleming, George
prospective

of or concerned with or related to the future

Most prospective homesteaders make the same mistake I did in buying horses, unless they are experienced.Micheaux, Oscar
advert

make reference to

In the family circle it was rarely adverted to, and never except when some allusion to the approaching separation had to be made.Werner, E. T. C. (Edward Theodore Chalmers)
peremptory

not allowing contradiction or refusal

This time it was not a request but a peremptory order to go at once to Cuba and undertake the work.Johnson, Willis Fletcher
rudiment

the elementary stage of any subject

He retraced his steps, and came to Cape Girardeau, in Missouri, where he remained some time, acquiring the rudiments of the English language.Anonymous
deduce

reason from the general to the particular

They then used models of global wind circulation to deduce which dust sources have become stronger and which weaker.
halting

proceeding in a fragmentary, hesitant, or ineffective way

“I so much love cricket,” he said, shyly, in halting English.New York Times (Feb 22, 2012)
ignominy

a state of dishonor

After all, we love nothing better than seeing the powerful and formerly smug dragged across the front pages in ignominy.
ideology

an orientation that characterizes the thinking of a group

Bill O’Reilly and others picked up on the theme, summing up left-wing ideology as “San Francisco values.”Slate (Jan 19, 2012)
pallid

lacking in vitality or interest or effectiveness

But too often the music sounded thin and pallid.New York Times (Apr 25, 2010)
chagrin

strong feelings of embarrassment

But he was feeling deeply chagrined and mortified over his last escapade.White, Fred M. (Fred Merrick)
obtrude

thrust oneself in as if by force

She had no right to obtrude herself into his life and to disturb it.Packard, Frank L. (Frank Lucius)
audacious

disposed to venture or take risks

In an audacious operation that unfolded like a Hollywood thriller, the Navy Seals executed a daring raid deep into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden.New York Times (Sep 4, 2011)
construe

make sense of; assign a meaning to

But nothing that was said Tuesday can be construed as good news.Washington Post (Sep 14, 2011)
ford

cross a river where it’s shallow

Sometimes they drive their teams through unsettled country, without roads, swimming and fording streams, clearing away obstructions, and camping where night overtakes them.Folsom, William Henry Carman
repast

the food served and eaten at one time

Fragrant coffee, light rolls, fresh butter, ham and eggs, fried crocuses and soft crabs, formed the repast.Reid, Mayne
stint

an unbroken period of time during which you do something

He found his unionized warehouse job after a stint working for his father, an accountant.New York Times (Mar 21, 2012)
fresco

a mural done with watercolors on wet plaster

The little church has an ancient fresco of St. Christopher, placed, as usual, opposite the entrance.Conybeare, Edward
dutiful

willingly obedient out of a sense of respect

Perhaps he thinks an engaged young lady should be demure and dutiful, having no eyes or ears for any one except her betrothed.Harland, Marion
hew

make or shape as with an axe

They bought a log chain, and lumber for a door; the window frames were hewed from logs.Daughters of the American Revolution. Nebraska
parity

functional equality

How many of the world’s problems would be solved, or at least greatly reduced, if women had true parity with men?New York Times (Dec 15, 2011)
affable

diffusing warmth and friendliness

He was well liked and respected in these islands, for his affable manners had obtained for him much popularity.Various
interminable

tiresomely long; seemingly without end

All was going well, but slowly, the time taken for the last few feet seeming to be interminable.Cumberland, Barlow
pillage

steal goods; take as spoils

In addition great material losses were inflicted: seven hundred houses were destroyed, six hundred stores pillaged, and thousands of families utterly ruined.Straus, Oscar S.
foreboding

a feeling of evil to come

Mr. Harding had strong forebodings that the trouble, so far from being ended, was only just beginning.Marsh, Richard
rend

tear or be torn violently

In the distance heavy artillery was growling, and high explosive shells were bursting with a violence that seemed to rend the sky.Tracy, Louis
livelihood

the financial means whereby one lives

With businesses shut, fields untended and fishing abandoned many have lost their livelihoods as well as their homes, our correspondent says.
deign

do something that one considers to be below one’s dignity

To Mr. Gompers’ courteous letter Czar Gary did not deign to reply.Foster, William Z.
capricious

determined by chance or impulse rather than by necessity

Her admirers were capricious, returning to her at times, and then holding aloof again; and as for suitors, they entirely disappeared.Schubin, Ossip
stupendous

so great in size, force, or extent as to elicit awe

The fact was so stupendous that Terry felt almost frightened over the great good fortune.Sabin, Edwin L. (Edwin Legrand)
chaff

material consisting of seed coverings and pieces of stem

The wheat, being heavy, falls, while the chaff is blown away.Starr, Frederick
innate

not established by conditioning or learning

In other words, one of our most essential abilities as humans–reading–is the product of a combination of innate and learned traits.
reverie

an abstracted state of absorption

He stood still, seemingly lost in reverie, and quite oblivious to the group about him.Frey, Hildegard G. (Hildegard Gertrude)
wrangle

quarrel noisily, angrily, or disruptively

Here were many fierce and bitter wrangles over vexed questions, turbulent scenes, displays of sectional feelings.Raymond, Evelyn
crevice

a long narrow opening

The disruptive power of tree roots, growing in the crevices of rocks, is well known.Various
ostensible

appearing as such but not necessarily so

This already-exhaustive book is studded with diary entries, academic papers and other ostensible evidence that its fictitious stories of destruction are true.New York Times (Jun 6, 2010)
craven

lacking even the rudiments of courage; abjectly fearful

Was it for them to follow the craven footsteps of a cowardly generation?Robinson, Victor
vestige

an indication that something has been present

Now, there was no vestige of vegetation; no living thing.Hopkins, William John
plumb

examine thoroughly and in great depth

Tellingly, Ms. Liao said she had great difficulty finding three actors willing to plumb their own personalities.New York Times (Jun 1, 2011)
reticent

temperamentally disinclined to talk

No questions were asked, and few indeed were the words spoken, his reticent manner preventing any undue familiarity.Maclean, John
propensity

an inclination to do something

A longtime colleague, Gate Theatre director Michael Colgan, noted Kelly’s old-school charms, punctuated by his propensity for bow ties and smart suits.Seattle Times (Feb 15, 2012)
chide

censure severely or angrily

He chided reporters as having “stalked” family members, demanding that his relatives be left alone.New York Times (Nov 8, 2011)
espouse

choose and follow a theory, idea, policy, etc.

He said Islam should not be equated with terrorism or the kind of violence espoused by Bin Laden.
raiment

especially fine or decorative clothing

Clothed in fine raiment and faring sumptuously every day, he soon developed into a handsome lad.Oxley, J. Macdonald (James Macdonald)
intrepid

invulnerable to fear or intimidation

There are some very courageous and intrepid reporters in Afghanistan, including some who work for American media outlets.
seemly

according with custom or propriety

The Baron was less conscientious, for he ate more beefsteak than was seemly, and talked a great deal of stupid nonsense, as was his wont.Hoffmann, Ernst Theordor Wilhelm
allay

lessen the intensity of or calm

Our boy was scared and confused; we tried to allay his fears.New York Times (Mar 30, 2012)
fitful

occurring in spells and often abruptly

She had lost her composure, her breath came in fitful, uneven gasps, and as she sat there she pressed one hand over her heart.Davis, Owen
erode

become ground down or deteriorate

Another report today showed home prices fell more than forecast in November, eroding the wealth of families as they seek to rebuild savings.
unaffected

free of artificiality; sincere and genuine

His conversation was unaffectedly simple and frank; his language natural; always abounding in curious anecdotes.Conway, Moncure Daniel
canto

a major division of a long poem

Folengo’s next production was the Orlandino, an Italian poem of eight cantos, written in rhymed octaves.Various
docile

easily handled or managed

Time and again humans have domesticated wild , producing tame individuals with softer appearances and more docile temperaments, such as dogs and guinea pigs.Scientific American (Jan 25, 2012)
patronize

treat condescendingly

Ms. Paul herself noted that “glib talk about appreciating dyslexia as a ‘gift’ is unhelpful at best and patronizing at worst.”New York Times (Feb 6, 2012)
teem

be abuzz

The coast, once teeming with traffic, is now lonely and deserted.Mahaffy, J. P.
estrange

arouse hostility or indifference in

An atmosphere of distrust, suspicion and fear can cause workers to feel estranged from one another, Dr. Wright has written.New York Times (Jan 28, 2012)
spat

a quarrel about petty points

Public spats are rare in the asset-management industry, where companies typically resolve disputes behind closed doors.
warble

sing or play with trills

Meadow larks, as you have undoubtedly noticed, warble many different songs.Barrett, R. E.
mien

a person’s appearance, manner, or demeanor

Nevertheless, before going to meet Samuel, she assumed a calm and dignified mien.Kraszewski, Jo?zef Ignacy
sate

fill to contentment

His appetite was not sated by any means, but he knew the danger of overloading his stomach, so he stopped.Dewey, Edward Hooker
constituency

the body of voters who elect a representative for their area

Each posited that the blue-collar Democratic constituency rooted in the New Deal had grown increasingly conservative, alienated from “big government.”New York Times (Jan 14, 2012)
patrician

characteristic of the nobility or aristocracy

Respectable ladies, long resident, wearing black poke bonnets and camel’s-hair shawls, lifted their patrician eyebrows with disapproval.Brooks, Charles Stephen
parry

avoid or try to avoid fulfilling, answering, or performing

The boys asked a few guarded questions, but gained no information whatever, their questions being parried in every instance.Mears, James R.
practitioner

someone who carries out a learned profession

In particular, modern medical practitioners are coming around to the idea that certain illnesses cannot be reduced to one isolatable, treatable cause.Nature (Dec 21, 2011)
ravel

disentangle

Overcasting is done by taking loose stitches over the raw edge of the cloth, to keep it from ravelling or fraying.Ontario. Ministry of Education
infest

occupy in large numbers or live on a host

Many lived in dilapidated apartments with leaky pipes, broken windows, rooms full of mold, and walls infested with cockroaches and rats.New York Times (Jul 28, 2011)
actuate

give an incentive for doing something

He knew that men were actuated by other motives, good and bad, than self-interest.Blease, Walter Lyon
surly

unfriendly and inclined toward anger or irritation

But Blake, being surly and quarrelsome even when sober, gave the lapel a savage jerk, and reached out with his other hand.Chisholm, A. M. (Arthur Murray)
convalesce

get over an illness or shock

Patients convalescing from pneumonia were evacuated to England or given Base Duty.Jahns, Lewis E.
demoralize

lower someone’s spirits; make downhearted

The storm clobbered many communities still recovering from the flooding two months ago caused by Hurricane Irene, leaving weary homeowners exhausted and demoralized.Washington Post (Nov 1, 2011)
devolve

grow worse

As the rhetoric heated up inside, the violence outside devolved into chaos.
alacrity

liveliness and eagerness

Every one exerted himself not only without murmuring and discontent, but even with an alacrity which almost approached to cheerfulness.Kippis, Andrew
waive

do without or cease to hold or adhere to

Low rates have also led retail brokerages to waive fees on money market funds to avoid negative returns for their clients.
unwonted

out of the ordinary

He must rush off to see his people, who no doubt were quite confounded by his unwonted energy.Speed, Nell
seethe

be in an agitated emotional state

Outwardly quite calm and matter-of-fact, his mind was in a seething turmoil.Douglas, Hudson
scrutinize

look at critically or searchingly, or in minute detail

Fans and commentators are scrutinizing every blemish: his turnovers, his weak left hand, his jump shot.New York Times (Mar 5, 2012)
diffident

lacking self-confidence

Shyly diffident in the presence of strangers, her head was lowered.Packard, Frank L. (Frank Lucius)
execrate

curse or declare to be evil or anathema

When all Great Britain was execrating Napoleon, picturing him as a devil with horns and hoofs, Byron looked upon him as the world’s hero.Hubbard, Elbert
implacable

incapable of being appeased or pacified

This man was a savage in his implacable desire for revenge.Kelly, Florence Finch
pique

a sudden outburst of anger

A talented youngster who smashes his guitar in a fit of pique finds it magically reassembled just in time for a crucial concert.
mite

a slight but appreciable amount

I never saw anybody so pleased with monkeys as she is, and not one mite afraid.Raymond, Evelyn
encumber

hold back, impede, or weigh down

Two others were making slower progress for the reason that each was encumbered by supporting a disabled man.Westerman, Percy F. (Percy Francis)
uncouth

lacking refinement or cultivation or taste

He had not stopped to consider her rough speech and uncouth manners.Johnston, Annie F. (Annie Fellows)
petulant

easily irritated or annoyed

The black eyes emitted an angry flash, the voice that answered was sharp and petulant.Fleming, May Agnes
expiate

make amends for

Wulphere was absolved on condition that he should expiate his crime by founding churches and monasteries all over his kingdom.Clifton, A. B.
cavalier

given to haughty disregard of others

Some would have given Nicklaus a cavalier response: polite nod while thinking, “Yeah, whatever.”New York Times (Jun 18, 2011)
banter

light teasing repartee

Our easy banter had suddenly been replaced by strained and awkward interaction.Slate (Feb 15, 2012)
bluster

act in an arrogant, overly self-assured, or conceited manner

Slade, despite his swaggers and blustering, was at heart a coward.Landon, Herman
debase

corrupt morally or by intemperance or sensuality

Long oppression had not, on the whole, either blunted their intellects or debased their morals.Adler, Felix
retainer

a person working in the service of another

This faithful and trusted retainer is greatly valued by his employers.Black, Helen C.
subjugate

make subservient; force to submit or subdue

The Confederacy was led by thoroughgoing racists who wanted to keep blacks subjugated for all time because of the color of their skin.Slate (Apr 7, 2010)
extol

praise, glorify, or honor

How I praised the duck at that first dinner, and extolled Madame’s skill in cookery!Warren, Arthur
fraught

filled with or attended with

But the ocean remains an unpredictable place, fraught with hazards.Scientific American (Apr 5, 2012)
august

profoundly honored

At all times reserved in his manner and his bearing full of dignity, never before had she realized the majesty of General Washington’s august presence.Madison, Lucy Foster
fissure

a long narrow depression in a surface

The brown bark is not very rough, though its numerous fissures and cracks give it a rugged appearance.Step, Edward
knoll

a small natural hill

Opened in 2008, the park serves as a true public space; elderly couples stroll around the artificial lake as toddlers roll down grassy knolls.New York Times (May 7, 2010)
callous

emotionally hardened

Outwardly merry and good-humoured, he was by nature coldly fierce, calculating, callous.Wingfield, Lewis
inculcate

teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions

But instruction in history has been for a long time systematically used to inculcate certain political sentiments in the pupils.Liebknecht, Karl Paul August Friedrich
nettle

disturb, especially by minor irritations

Lincoln began these remarks by good-humored but nettling chaffing of his opponent.Various
blanch

turn pale, as if in fear

He is silent, as if struck dumb, his face showing blanched and bloodless, while she utters a shriek, half terrified, half in frenzied anger.Reid, Mayne
inscrutable

difficult or impossible to understand

The fashion industry is notoriously opaque and often inscrutable for outsiders, even ones as well connected as him.Seattle Times (Oct 1, 2011)
tenacious

stubbornly unyielding

She was a tenacious woman, one who would even hold fast a thing which she no longer valued, simply because it belonged to her.Morris, Clara
thrall

the state of being under the control of another person

Then Kiss commenced in earnest, and quickly held his audience in thrall.Farjeon, Benjamin Leopold
exigency

a pressing or urgent situation

The exigency of the situation roused Mr. Popkiss’ sluggish faculties into prompt action.Magnay, William
disconsolate

sad beyond comforting; incapable of being soothed

Was there a bereaved mother or disconsolate sister weeping over their dead?Steward, T. G. (Theophilus Gould)
impetus

a force that makes something happen

Critics say it has known mixed success at best, although supporters hope the U.S. drawdown could provide just the impetus it needs to thrive.
imposition

an uncalled-for burden

On that far-away day he had considered the little, lost girl a nuisance and an imposition.Chisholm, A. M. (Arthur Murray)
auspices

kindly endorsement and guidance

In March 2009, negotiations between Israel and Hamas were held in Cairo, under the auspices of the Egyptian intelligence agency.New York Times (Nov 9, 2011)
sonorous

full and loud and deep

His voice rang out firmly now, a deep and sonorous bass.Bedford-Jones, H.
exploitation

an act that victimizes someone

In a scathing report released last year, Amnesty International found there was widespread exploitation of migrants in Malaysia.
bane

something causing misery or death

Knee pain is the bane of many runners, sometimes causing them to give up altogether.Seattle Times (Jun 7, 2010)
dint

force or effort

If only certain puzzles could be solved by dint of sheer hard thinking!Marsh, Richard
ignominious

deserving or bringing disgrace or shame

The great Ottawa chief saw his partially accomplished scheme withering into ignominious failure.Rudd, John
amicable

characterized by friendship and good will

After a short colloquy the two men evidently came to an amicable understanding, for they shook hands.Kraszewski, Jo?zef Ignacy
onset

the beginning or early stages

Thousands of families are living in makeshift camps as temperatures fall to freezing with the onset of winter.New York Times (Nov 10, 2011)
conservatory

a schoolhouse with special facilities for fine arts

The young instrumental talent that is coming out of local music schools and conservatories is as amazingly good as you are going to find anywhere.
zenith

the point above the observer directly opposite the nadir

In other words it never reaches the zenith, a point directly overhead.George H. Lowery.
voluble

marked by a ready flow of speech

I find him charming: shy – yet easy to talk to – voluble and funny once he gets going.
yeoman

a free man who cultivates his own land

On one extreme was the well-to-do yeoman farmer farming his own land.Reilly, S. A.
levity

a manner lacking seriousness

The same balance of seriousness and levity runs through her plays, which put an absurdist spin on everyday problems.New York Times (May 7, 2010)
rapt

feeling great delight and interest

She was watching the development of the investigation with rapt, eager attention.Mitford, Bertram
sultry

characterized by oppressive heat and humidity

New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics arrive just as school sports ramp up in sultry August temperatures.Washington Post (Aug 9, 2011)
pinion

bind the arms of

The prisoners having dismounted, were placed in a line on the ground facing the guillotine, their arms pinioned.Various
axiom

a proposition that is not susceptible of proof or disproof

The fundamental axiom of scientific thought is that there is not, never has been, and never will be, any disorder in nature.Huxley, Thomas H.
descry

catch sight of

Looking off seaward, I could descry no sails.Drake, Samuel Adams
retinue

the group following and attending to some important person

Despite his retinue of security personnel, Atambaev had been poisoned during his short tenure as prime minister.
functionary

a worker who holds or is invested with an office

He was the functionary of the assize court, impaneling its juries, bringing accused men before it, and carrying out its penalties.Reilly, S. A.
imbibe

take in liquids

“We’re cornered at last,” he said suddenly, as the old man set the bottle down after having imbibed the best half of its contents.Douglas, Hudson
diversified

having variety of character or form or components

Funds in both categories tend to be highly diversified, typically with 100 or more stocks across at least 10 industries.Wall Street Journal (Feb 24, 2012)
maraud

raid and rove in search of booty

Its reporter says armed gangs and looters are marauding the streets.
grudging

petty or reluctant in giving or spending

Expect delays, scattered outages and surly, grudging customer service in the interim.
partiality

a predisposition to like something

She still showed a partiality for bright colors, by her gown of deep crimson.Sage, William
philology

the humanistic study of language and literature

I had determined to study philology, chiefly Greek and Latin, but the fare spread out by the professors was much too tempting.Müller, F. Max (Friedrich Max)
wry

humorously sarcastic or mocking

She also has a very understated but very wry sense of humour; watch out for it.
caucus

meet to select a candidate or promote a policy

Representative Ron Paul of Texas isn’t campaigning in Florida, instead focusing on Maine, which will caucus in late February.
permeate

spread or diffuse through

Florida’s summertime heat permeates almost every scene, becoming something like a character.New York Times (Mar 13, 2012)
propitious

presenting favorable circumstances

With the Athens stock market down nearly 30 percent so far this year, it would not seem a propitious time for initial public offerings.New York Times (Jun 2, 2010)
salient

conspicuous, prominent, or important

Bullying has become an increasingly salient problem for school-age children, and in rare cases has ended tragically with victims committing suicide.
propitiate

make peace with

King Edward, having subdued the Welsh, “endeavoured to propitiate his newly acquired subjects by becoming a resident in the conquered country.Frith, William Powell
excise

remove by cutting

Wielding a razor, Jefferson excised all passages containing supernaturalistic elements from the gospels, extracting what he took to be Jesus’s pure ethical teachings.
betoken

be a signal for or a symptom of

The haggard face and sombre eyes betokened considerable mental anguish.Young, F.E. Mills
palatable

acceptable to the taste or mind

If nicely cooked in this way, cabbage is as palatable and as digestible as cauliflower.Ronald, Mary
upbraid

express criticism towards

When Kahn warned of a serious economic “depression”, he was upbraided by the White House for using such language.
renegade

someone who rebels and becomes an outlaw

If he went off to another people he lost all standing among the Sioux and was thereafter treated as an outlaw and a renegade.Robinson, Doane
hoary

ancient

The device of the trapped young person saved by books is a hoary one, but Ms. Winterson makes it seem new, and sulfurous.New York Times (Mar 8, 2012)
pedantic

marked by a narrow focus on or display of learning

The reader is treated to pedantic little footnotes, and given a good deal of information which is either gratuitous or uninteresting.Hay, Ian
coy

showing marked and often playful evasiveness or reluctance

It was funny watching such a solid person, based in faith and education, grow a trifle coy about the year of his birth.New York Times (Jul 11, 2010)
troth

a solemn pledge of fidelity

She had pledged to him her troth, and she would not attempt to go back from her pledge at the first appearance of a difficulty.Trollope, Anthony
encroachment

entry to another’s property without right or permission

The move may mark yet another attempt by France to rein in what it sees as the encroachment of online services on the country’s culture.BusinessWeek (Jan 8, 2010)
belie

be in contradiction with

“It is a fine morning,” he said, taken aback by my sudden movement, but affecting an indifference which the sparkle in his eye belied.Weyman, Stanley John
armada

a large fleet

An armada of three hundred ships manned by eighteen thousand marines assembled in the bay on their way to the conquest of Algiers.Douglas, Frances
succor

assistance in time of difficulty

Given his health woes, succession worries and persistent isolation, Mr. Kim may simply be seeking succor from what may be his last friend on earth.New York Times (May 5, 2010)
imperturbable

marked by extreme calm and composure

Ordinarily imperturbable, even in the face of unexpected situations, he was now visibly agitated.Griggs, Sutton E. (Sutton Elbert)
irresolute

uncertain how to act or proceed

I stood for a moment before I entered on my arduous undertaking, irresolute and hesitating, swayed by two conflicting impulses.Waugh, Joseph Laing
knack

a special way of doing something

He had a special knack of hunting out farm houses, engaging madame in conversation, and coming away with bread, eggs, or cheese in his knapsack.Price, Lucien
unseemly

not in keeping with accepted standards of what is proper

The square mile’s upbeat mood may strike some as unseemly at a time of national gloom.
accentuate

stress or single out as important

This sparkling marvel lies modestly nestled among the law courts, whose plainer modern buildings serve but to accentuate its wonderful beauty.Sherrill, Charles Hitchcock
divulge

make known to the public information previously kept secret

She hectors her children not to divulge personal information like phone numbers online.Seattle Times (Nov 15, 2011)
brawn

the trait of possessing muscular strength

He believes Hollywood has often have had an over-reliance on physical brawn as the deciding factor for portraying a strong man.
burnish

polish and make shiny

Great cleanliness is enforced in all that belongs to a lighthouse, the reflectors and lenses being constantly burnished, polished, and cleansed.Whymper, Frederick
palpitate

beat rapidly

After supper my heart started racing, palpitating like a tick.Isaacson, Lauren Ann
promiscuous

not selective of a single class or person

A promiscuous assembly had gathered there—men of all creeds and opinions—and an “open-air” meeting was in progress.Whitney, Orson F.
dissemble

make believe with the intent to deceive

Pictures have always dissembled – there are millions of snaps of miserable families grinning bravely – but now they directly lie.
flotilla

a fleet of small craft

She was guarded by a flotilla of boats equipped with satellites, Global Positioning System devices, advanced navigation systems and shark shields.New York Times (Aug 11, 2011)
invective

abusive language used to express blame or censure

There’s much more name-calling, shouting and personal invective in American life than anywhere I’ve ever traveled outside the United States.Washington Post (Jan 15, 2011)
hermitage

the abode of a recluse

All the rest of their time is passed in solitude in their hermitages, which are built quite separate from one another.Various
despoil

destroy and strip of its possession

Wherever his lordship’s army went, plantations were despoiled, and private houses plundered.Campbell, Charles
sully

make dirty or spotty

Why sully the reputation of an otherwise fascinating online community with really deeply questionable, troubling content?Forbes (Feb 13, 2012)
malevolent

having or exerting a malignant influence

So you don’t believe in evil, as an actual malevolent force?New York Times (Oct 28, 2011)
irksome

tedious or irritating

It was pretty irksome passing the time in his enforced prison, and finally Andy went to sleep.Webster, Frank V.
prattle

speak about unimportant matters rapidly and incessantly

She prattled on about the gossip of the town until Penny and her father were thoroughly bored.Clark, Joan
subaltern

inferior in rank or status

The careful commanding officer of a regiment discourages his young subalterns from taking leave to Hill Stations.Casserly, Gordon
welt

a raised mark on the skin

But red, itchy welts typically appear within 24 to 48 hours of being bitten.
wreak

cause to happen or to occur as a consequence

The burden of paying for college is wreaking havoc on the finances of an unexpected demographic: senior citizens.Washington Post (Apr 1, 2012)
tenable

based on sound reasoning or evidence

First, it is no longer really tenable – and in fact a bit disrespectful – to call a country like China an emerging economy.
inimitable

matchless

Leave aside Spain, where Barcelona breeds its own, inimitable style, and the answer might be that we are rushing toward uniformity.New York Times (Sep 26, 2010)
depredation

a destructive action

Wild elephants abound and commit many depredations, entering villages in large herds, and consuming everything suitable to their tastes.Various
amalgamate

bring or combine together or with something else

Where two weak tribes amalgamated into one, there it exceptionally happened that two closely related dialects were simultaneously spoken in the same tribe.Engels, Friedrich
immutable

not subject or susceptible to change or variation

We are mistaken to imagine a work of literature is or should be immutable, sculpted in marble and similarly impervious to change.
proxy

a person authorized to act for another

Ideally, everybody over 18 should execute a living will and select a health care proxy — someone to represent you in medical matters.New York Times (Jan 17, 2011)
dote

shower with love; show excessive affection for

He doted on him, just dearly loved him, and thought he could do no wrong,” Kredell said.Washington Post (Oct 17, 2011)
reactionary

extremely conservative

Old people are often accused of being too conservative, and even reactionary.Chinard, Gilbert
rationalism

the doctrine that reason is the basis for regulating conduct

Offering a religious rationale for policy goals threatens what for many has become the cherished principle of secular rationalism in public life.
endue

give qualities or abilities to

To say the least of it, he was endued with sufficient intelligence to acquire an ordinary knowledge of such matters.Various
discriminating

showing or indicating careful judgment and discernment

Jobs’ Apple specializes in delighting the most discriminating, hard-to-please customers.Forbes (Oct 12, 2011)
brooch

a decorative pin

Upon her breast she wore a brooch of gold set with many precious stones.Butler, Pierce
pert

characterized by a lightly saucy or impudent quality

Her pert, lively manner said she hadn’t taken any wooden nickels lately.Schoenherr, John
disembark

exit from a ship, vehicle, or aircraft

The immigrants disembarked from their ships tired and underfed—generally in poor health.Hughes, Thomas Proctor
aria

an elaborate song for solo voice

Ms. Netrebko sang an elegantly sad aria with lustrous warmth, aching vulnerability and floating high notes.New York Times (Sep 27, 2011)
trappings

ornaments; embellishments to or characteristic signs of

They were caparisoned in Indian fashion with gay colors and fancy trappings.Roy, Lillian Elizabeth
abet

assist or encourage, usually in some wrongdoing

“Since YouTube, digital culture has aided and enhanced — or maybe the better word is abetted — the celebrity meltdown,” said Wired magazine senior editor Nancy Miller.
clandestine

conducted with or marked by hidden aims or methods

For Jordan, this is a clandestine relationship it would much prefer to have kept secret.BBC (Jan 5, 2010)
distend

swell from or as if from internal pressure

Some kids said LaNiyah’s distended abdomen looked like she was carrying a baby.Seattle Times (Apr 7, 2011)
glib

having only superficial plausibility

The other sort of engineer understands that glib comparisons between computers and humans don’t do justice to the complexities of either.
pucker

gather something into small wrinkles or folds

Godmother,’ she went on, puckering her forehead again in perplexity, ‘it almost feels like feathers.Molesworth, Mrs. (Mary Louisa)
rejoinder

a quick reply to a question or remark

“Not at all!” was Aunt Susannah’s brisk rejoinder.Various
spangle

adornment consisting of a small piece of shiny material

Magdalen’s garments are rich with spangles; her mantle is scarlet; she has flowers in her luxuriant tresses, and looks a vain creature.O’Shea, John Augustus
blighted

affected by something that prevents growth or prosperity

Hudec, whose career has been blighted by knee injuries and operations, won for the first time in more than four years.New York Times (Feb 4, 2012)
nicety

conformity with some aesthetic standard of correctness

They accepted the invitation; but Mrs. Rowlandson did not appreciate the niceties of Indian etiquette.Abbott, John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot)
aggrieve

infringe on the rights of

Some fallout appears evident in donations from Wall Street executives, who feel particularly aggrieved by Mr. Obama’s criticisms and policies.New York Times (Feb 20, 2012)
vestment

a gown worn by the clergy

And then a priest, arrayed in all his vestments, came in at the open door, and the prince and princess exchanged rings, and were married.Glinski, A. J.
urbane

showing a high degree of refinement

Polished, urbane and gentlemanly—his manners were calculated to refine all around him.Judson, L. Carroll
defray

bear the expenses of

The legislation also calls for $1.6 billion in spending cuts to help defray the disaster costs.Washington Post (Sep 26, 2011)
spectral

resembling or characteristic of a phantom

Hawthorne’s figures are somewhat spectral; they lack flesh and blood.Merwin, Henry Childs
munificent

very generous

They have shown themselves very loving and generous lately, in making a quite munificent provision for his traveling.Carlyle, Thomas
dictum

an authoritative declaration

In other words, they seemed fully subscribed to Andy Warhol’s dictum that business art is the best art.New York Times (Dec 10, 2011)
fad

an interest followed with exaggerated zeal

According to Chinese media, the hottest new fad in China involves selling small live-animal key chains.Time (Apr 5, 2011)
scabbard

a sheath for a sword or dagger or bayonet

Drawing his own sabre from its scabbard, he pointed to a stain on it, saying, “This is the blood of an Englishman.”Reed, Helen Leah
adulterate

make impure by adding a foreign or inferior substance

Shady dealers along the supply chain frequently adulterate olive oil with low-grade vegetable oils and add artificial coloring.New York Times (Dec 7, 2011)
beleaguer

annoy persistently

Rock concert ticket sales dropped sharply last year, sounding another sour note for the beleaguered music industry.
gripe

complain

If America is going to gripe about the yuan’s rate, then China will complain about the dollar’s role.
remission

an abatement in intensity or degree

After a few hours there is a remission of the pain, slight perspiration takes place, and the patient may fall asleep.Various
exorbitant

greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderation

Soon, stories began trickling across the Atlantic of crazed fans paying exorbitant sums to get into London gigs.Slate (Oct 10, 2011)
invocation

the act of appealing for help

These dances are prayers or invocations for rain, the crowning blessing in this dry land.Roosevelt, Theodore
cajole

influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering

Hamilton, however, was not to be cajoled into friendliness by superficial compliment.Fisher, Harrison
inclusive

encompassing much or everything

We are going to adhere to our basic programing strategy of nonpartisan information inclusive of all different points of view.
interdict

command against

Failing to satisfy his examiners, he was interdicted from practice, but ignored the prohibition, and suffered more than one imprisonment in consequence.Worley, George
abase

cause to feel shame

Ashamed, abased, degraded in his own eyes, he turned away his head.Caine, Hall, Sir
obviate

do away with

Comfortable sleeping-cars obviate the necessity of stopping by the way for bodily rest, provided the traveller be physically strong and in good health.Ballou, Maturin Murray
hurtle

move with or as if with a rushing sound

The hurricane was expected to hit Washington in the early hours of Sunday before hurtling toward New York City.
unanimity

everyone being of one mind

On all other points of colonial policy, Mackenzie declared, people would be found to differ, but as regards the post office there was absolute unanimity.Smith, William, Sir
mettle

the courage to carry on

The deployment will also test the emotional mettle of soldiers and their families.New York Times (Jun 26, 2010)
interpolate

insert words into texts, often falsifying it thereby

Most scholars agree that these lines are interpolated, since they do not fit in with the rest of the poem.Various
surreptitious

marked by quiet and caution and secrecy

He noticed that the peddler was eying the bag Scotty had picked up, and was trying to be surreptitious about it.Goodwin, Harold L. (Harold Leland)
dissimulate

hide feelings from other people

From infancy these people have been schooled to dissimulate and hide emotion, and ordinarily their faces are as opaque as those of veteran poker players.Kephart, Horace
ruse

a deceptive maneuver, especially to avoid capture

Overseas criminals use elaborate ruses, including phony websites, to trick job-seekers into helping transfer stolen funds.BusinessWeek (Aug 4, 2011)
specious

plausible but false

You might be tempted to think of the biggest airline as the one with the most aircraft, but capacity differences make this reasoning specious.
revulsion

intense aversion

After a first instinctive cry of horrified revulsion, the men reached down under water with their hands and drew out—a corpse.Livingston, Arthur
hale

exhibiting or restored to vigorous good health

From a hearty, hale, corn-fed boy, he has become pale, lean, and wan.Adams, Abigail
palliate

lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of

Divisions and inequalities persist, but government can palliate their effects with hard cash.
obtuse

lacking in insight or discernment

The affair had been mentioned so plainly that it was impossible for the most dense and obtuse person not to have understood the allusion.Brazil, Angela
querulous

habitually complaining

He was, at times, as querulous as a complaining old man.Williams, Ben Ames
vagary

an unexpected and inexplicable change in something

Today such acquisitions are more likely to stay put, destined to survive both market fluctuations and the vagaries of style.New York Times (Sep 29, 2010)
incipient

only partly in existence; imperfectly formed

Above all, medical teams will need to establish quick surveillance to identify health needs and pinpoint incipient outbreaks before they explode.Time (Jan 13, 2010)
obdurate

stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing

Several appeared deeply affected, with tears of repentance standing in their eyes, others sullen and obdurate.Huth, Alexander
grovel

show submission or fear

The two young men who drove them had fallen flat and were grovelling and wailing for mercy.Mitford, Bertram
refractory

stubbornly resistant to authority or control

Beyond them the gardener struggled with a refractory horse that refused to draw his load of brush and dead leaves.Bacon, Josephine Dodge Daskam
dregs

sediment that has settled at the bottom of a liquid

“Right got to go,” Ali says, draining the dregs of his beer.
ascendancy

the state when one person or group has power over another

But in a few days he had secured an almost incredible ascendancy over the sullen, starved, half-clothed army.Various
supercilious

having or showing arrogant disdain or haughtiness

A supercilious, patronizing person—son of a wretched country parson—used to loll against the wall of your salon—with his nose in the air.Pinero, Arthur Wing, Sir
pundit

someone who has been admitted to membership in a field

Pundits of agricultural science explore the sheds, I believe, the barns, stables, machine-rooms, and so forth, before inspecting the crops.Boyle, Frederick
commiserate

feel or express sympathy or compassion

We had spent countless hours together drinking wine and commiserating about child-rearing, long Wisconsin winters and interrupted sleep.New York Times (Mar 24, 2011)
alcove

a small recess opening off a larger room

They showed him where he would sleep, in a little closet-like alcove screened from the big room by a gay curtain.Wilson, Harry Leon
assay

make an effort or attempt

He decided to assay one last project before giving up.New York Times (Mar 30, 2012)
parochial

narrowly restricted in outlook or scope

But Republicans in Pennsylvania also have narrower and more parochial things to worry about.New York Times (Sep 17, 2011)
conjugal

relating to the relationship between a wife and husband

They even had conjugal visits for prisoners — five hours in a private room every three months with your wife.New York Times (Nov 23, 2010)
abjure

formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief

The caste abstain from liquor, and some of them have abjured all flesh food while others partake of it.Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane)
frieze

an ornament consisting of a horizontal sculptured band

All the doorways mentioned above have cornices, and in those at Palmyra and Baalbec richly carved friezes with side corbels.Various
ornate

marked by complexity and richness of detail

Unlike his literary icon, Herman Melville, he doesn’t adorn his writing with ornate flourishes or complicated scaffolding.Scientific American (Dec 20, 2011)
inflammatory

arousing to action or rebellion

We don’t know whether inflammatory language or images can incite the mentally ill to commit acts of violence.Time (Jan 13, 2011)
machination

a crafty and involved plot to achieve your ends

He was continued a member of Congress until 1777 when his enemies succeeded in their long nursed machinations against him.Judson, L. Carroll
mendicant

a pauper who lives by begging

In others are the broken-down mendicants who live on soup-kitchens and begging. Ritchie, J. Ewing (James Ewing)
meander

move or cause to move in a sinuous or circular course

They paused beside one of the low stone walls that meandered in a meaningless fashion this way and that over the uplands.Vance, Louis Joseph
bullion

gold or silver in bars or ingots

In times of economic turmoil, more people tend to invest in bullion gold.Washington Post (Mar 30, 2012)
diffidence

lack of self-assurance

His grave diffidence and continued hesitation in offering an opinion confirmed me in my own.Froude, James Anthony
makeshift

done or made using whatever is available

The house was still under construction, so he climbed up a ladder being used as a makeshift stairway, fell and injured his leg.New York Times (Apr 12, 2012)
husbandry

the practice of cultivating the land or raising stock

The U.S. can take a lesson from Denmark, which has efficiently raised livestock without hurting farmers, by using better animal husbandry practices.Scientific American (Mar 22, 2011)
podium

a platform raised above the surrounding level

Leyva beamed as he stood atop the podium, nodding as the American flag was raised and “The Star-Spangled Banner” played in his honor.New York Times (Oct 22, 2011)
dearth

an insufficient quantity or number

A continuing dearth of snow in many U.S. spots usually buried by this time of year has turned life upside down.Washington Post (Jan 5, 2012)
granary

a storehouse for threshed grain or animal feed

Here is where he does his husking, and the “clear corn” produced is stored away in some underground granary till It is needed.Seton, Ernest Thompson
whet

make keen or more acute

While he described the fishing as “pretty good,” the silver salmon running in the creek only whetted his appetite to return to Alaska.Washington Post (Aug 17, 2011)
imposture

pretending to be another person

He got somebody to prosecute him for false pretences and imposture, on the ground that Madame was a man. Leland, Charles Godfrey
diadem

an ornamental jeweled headdress signifying sovereignty

I dethrone monarchs and the people rejoicing crown me instead, showering diadems upon my head.Tilney, Frederick Colin
fallow

undeveloped but potentially useful

Several new prostate cancer drugs have been approved in the last couple of years, after a long fallow period, and others are in advanced development.New York Times (Nov 3, 2011)
hubbub

loud confused noise from many sources

There was some good-humoured pushing and thrusting, the drum beating and the church bells jangling bravely above the hubbub.Weyman, Stanley J.
dispassionate

unaffected by strong emotion or prejudice

The commission sitting by, judicial, dispassionate, presided with cold dignity over the sacrifice, and pronounced it good.Candee, Helen Churchill Hungerford, Mrs.
harrowing

causing extreme distress

Belgium found itself in turmoil as hundreds of people came forward to offer harrowing accounts of abuse over several decades.New York Times (Jan 16, 2012)
askance

with suspicion or disapproval

A secret marriage in these days would be looked upon askance by most people.Wood, Mrs. Henry
lancet

a surgical knife with a pointed double-edged blade

His left arm was held by the second physician, while the chief surgeon bent over it, lancet in hand.Hay, Marie, Hon. (Agnes Blanche Marie)
rankle

make resentful or angry

He was feeling more like himself now, though the memory of the bully’s sneering words rankled.Chadwick, Lester
ramify

have or develop complicating consequences

Cometary science has ramified in unexpected ways during the last hundred years.Various
gainsay

take exception to

That Whitman entertained a genuine affection for men and women is, of course, too obvious to be gainsaid. Rickett, Arthur
polity

a governmentally organized unit

China needs a polity that can address its increasingly sophisticated society, and to achieve that there must be political reform, Mr. Sun said.New York Times (Mar 21, 2012)
credence

the mental attitude that something is believable

“Well-known brand names that promote new products receive more credence than newcomers that people don’t know about.”
indemnify

make amends for; pay compensation for

She put her affairs in order and left instructions that those whom she had unwittingly wronged should be indemnified out of her private fortune.Butler, Pierce
ingratiate

gain favor with somebody by deliberate efforts

He became kindly and coaxing, leaning across the table with an ingratiating smile.King, Basil
declivity

a downward slope or bend

In this frightful condition, the hunter grappled with the raging beast, and, struggling for life, they rolled together down a steep declivity.Goodrich, Samuel G. (Samuel Griswold)
importunate

making persistent or urgent requests

The young man was then passionately importunate in the protestations of his love.Barr, Amelia Edith Huddleston
passe

out of fashion

My friend is very keen on the new crowd; everything else he declares is ” passe.”Holliday, Robert Cortes
whittle

cut small bits or pare shavings from

Tad followed, whittling on a stick with his knife and kicking at the shavings as they fell.Kjelgaard, James Arthur
repine

express discontent

Those poor fellows above, accustomed to the wild freshness and freedom of the sea, how they must mourn and repine!O’Shea, John Augustus
flay

strip the skin off

Once at the moose and hastily flaying the hide from the steaming meat my attention became centered on the task.Sinclair, Bertrand W.
larder

a small storeroom for storing foods or wines

Mr. Goncalves’s larder holds staples like beefsteak, salt cod, sardines, olives, artichokes, hot and sweet peppers and plenty of garlic.New York Times (Feb 18, 2011)
threadbare

thin and tattered with age

They were all poor folk, wrapped in threadbare cloaks or tattered leather.Brackett, Leigh Douglass
grisly

shockingly repellent; inspiring horror

Television video showed a heavily damaged building and a grisly scene inside, with clothing and prayer mats scattered across a blood-splattered floor.New York Times (Aug 19, 2011)
untoward

not in keeping with accepted standards of what is proper

Responding to criticism that cash payments are a classic means of tax evasion, he said he had done nothing untoward.New York Times (Aug 2, 2011)
idiosyncrasy

a behavioral attribute peculiar to an individual

One of his well-known idiosyncrasies was that he would never allow himself to be photographed.Le Queux, William
quip

make jokes or witty remarks

“I could have joined the FBI in a shorter period of time and with less documentation than it took to get that mortgage,” she quipped.
blatant

without any attempt at concealment; completely obvious

There was no blatant display of wealth, and every article of furniture bore signs of long though careful use.Bull, Charles Livingston
stanch

stop the flow of a liquid

She did not attempt to stanch her tears, but sat looking at him with a smiling mouth, while the heavy drops fell down her cheeks.Stockley, Cynthia
incongruity

the quality of disagreeing

Hanging out wet clothes and an American flag at the North Pole seemed an amusing incongruity.Cook, Frederick A.
perfidious

tending to betray

The perfidious Italian at length confessed that it was his intention to murder his master, and then rob the house.Billinghurst, Percy J.
platitude

a trite or obvious remark

But details are fuzzy and rebel leaders often resort to platitudes when dismissing suggestions of discord, saying simply that “Libya is one tribe.”Wall Street Journal (Jun 20, 2011)
revelry

unrestrained merrymaking

But all this revelry — dancing, drinks, exuberant youth — can be hard to manage.New York Times (Jun 3, 2010)
delve

turn up, loosen, or remove earth

So she did what any reporter would do: she delved into the scientific literature and talked to investigators.New York Times (Dec 27, 2010)
extenuate

lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or degree of

Prosecutors often spend time weighing mitigating and extenuating circumstances before deciding to seek the death penalty.Washington Post (Oct 15, 2011)
polemic

a verbal or written attack, especially of a belief or dogma

Would it be a polemic that denounced Western imperialism for using cinema to undermine emerging nations like Kazakhstan?New York Times (Oct 4, 2010)
enrapture

hold spellbound

I was delighted, enraptured, beside myself–the world had disappeared in an instant.Spielhagen, Friedrich
virtuoso

someone who is dazzlingly skilled in any field

Each of the seven instrumentalists was a virtuoso in his own right and had ample opportunity to prove it, often in long, soulful solos.New York Times (May 3, 2010)
glower

look angry or sullen as if to signal disapproval

A moment later he would collapse, sit glowering in his chair, looking angrily at the carpet.Hecht, Ben
mundane

found in the ordinary course of events

Now, it would seem, that the Chinese are getting back to their everyday concerns, paying attention to events more mundane and less cataclysmic.New York Times (Mar 20, 2012)
fatuous

devoid of intelligence

They’re too stupid, for one thing; they go on burning houses and breaking windows in their old fatuous way.McKenna, Stephen
incorrigible

impervious to correction by punishment

She scolded and lectured her sister in vain; Cynthia was incorrigible.Various
postulate

maintain or assert

In fact, when Einstein formulated his cosmological vision, based on his theory of gravitation, he postulated that the universe was finite.Scientific American (Jul 26, 2011)
gist

the central meaning or theme of a speech or literary work

The syntax was a little off, even comical at times, but I got the gist of what was going on.Time (May 6, 2010)
vociferous

conspicuously and offensively loud

The complaints grew so loud and vociferous that even President Obama was forced to address the backlash from Lisbon on Saturday.New York Times (Nov 23, 2010)
purvey

supply with provisions

And we will agree also to purvey food for these horses and people during nine months.Villehardouin, Geoffroi de
baleful

deadly or sinister

“But he is dead,” put in Fanning, wondering at the baleful expression of hatred that had come into the man’s face.Burnham, Margaret
gibe

laugh at with contempt and derision

So much did their taunts prey upon him that he ran away from school to escape their gibes.Hubbard, Elbert
dyspeptic

irritable as if suffering from indigestion

One may begin with heroic renunciations and end in undignified envy and dyspeptic comments outside the door one has slammed on one’s self.Wells, H. G. (Herbert George)
prude

a person excessively concerned about propriety and decorum

Criticising high-profile programmes about teenage sex education often means risking being written off as a prude.
luminary

a celebrity who is an inspiration to others

Founded in 1947, the group’s members have included such luminaries as Walt Disney, Spencer Tracy and another American president, Ronald Reagan.Seattle Times (Apr 11, 2011)
amenable

disposed or willing to comply

He, Jean Boulot, being so amenable to sensible argument, would at once fall in with his views.Wingfield, Lewis
willful

habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition

I crossed my arms like a willful child.New York Times (Aug 18, 2011)
overbearing

having or showing arrogant superiority to

“True; but——” “Just so,” interrupted Mr. Fauntleroy, in his decisive and rather overbearing manner.Wood, Mrs. Henry
dais

a platform raised above the surrounding level

The throne was elevated on a dais of silver steps.Tracy, Louis
automate

operate or make run by machines rather than human action

And because leap seconds are needed irregularly their insertion cannot be automated, which means that fallible humans must insert them by hand.
enervate

weaken mentally or morally

The reviewers have enervated men’s minds, and made them indolent; few think for themselves.Rossetti, William Michael
wheedle

influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering

On one level, I expected incessant flattery in attempts to wheedle equipment or even money from American forces.New York Times (Aug 16, 2010)
gusto

vigorous and enthusiastic enjoyment

The audience, surprisingly large given the inclement weather, responded with gusto, applauding each song, including those within the Shostakovich cycle.New York Times (Mar 2, 2010)
bouillon

a clear seasoned broth

The meat soups are called broths, bouillon, or consommé, according to their richness.Ronald, Mary
omniscient

infinitely wise

Robbe-Grillet responds that his work is in fact far less objective than the godlike, omniscient narrator who presides over so many traditional novels.
apostate

not faithful to religion or party or cause

They are atheist conservatives — Mr. Khan an apostate to his family’s Islamic faith, Ms. Mac Donald to her left-wing education.New York Times (Feb 18, 2011)
carrion

the dead and rotting body of an animal; unfit for human food

Habitually his diet is not carnivorous, but he will eat at times either carrion or living flesh.Reid, Mayne
emolument

compensation received by virtue of holding an office

As the TUC has pointed out, those incomes – except for senior executives, whose emoluments seem to know few bounds – are rising more slowly than prices.
ungainly

lacking grace in movement or posture

Thomas looked up furtively and saw that an ungainly human figure with crooked legs was being led into the church.Gogol, Nikolai Vasilievich
impiety

unrighteousness by virtue of lacking respect for a god

That, however, is unbelief, extreme impiety, and a denial of the most high God.Bente, F. (Friedrich)
decadence

the state of being degenerate in mental or moral qualities

But there are people who really do not want to import what they regard as Western decadence, especially public drunkenness.BBC (Jun 11, 2011)
homily

a sermon on a moral or religious topic

In his New Year’s homily, the pope said “words were not enough” to bring about peace, particularly in the Middle East.
avocation

an auxiliary activity

Unlike many retired doctors, whom he says often have no life outside their profession, he always knew sailing would become his avocation.Newsweek (Nov 17, 2010)
circumvent

avoid or try to avoid fulfilling, answering, or performing

Mr. Bloomberg said he would take several steps to circumvent obstacles to his proposals posed by city labor unions.New York Times (Jan 12, 2012)
syllogism

reasoning in which a conclusion is derived from two premises

The conclusions arrived at by means of syllogisms are irresistible, provided the form be correct and the premises be true.Webster, W. F. (William Franklin)
collation

assembling in proper numerical or logical sequence

In the case of early printed books or manuscripts, which are often not paged, special knowledge is needed for their collation.Rooke, Noel
haggle

wrangle, as over a price or terms of an agreement

Obama said while officials can haggle over the makeup of spending cuts, the policy issues have no place in the measure.
waylay

wait in hiding to attack

Sir Samuel Clithering was not, of course, a member of it; but he lurked about outside and waylaid us as we went in.Birmingham, George A.
savant

a learned person

Frank had studied something of almost everything and imagined himself a savant.Roussel, John
cohort

a group of people having approximately the same age

The current cohort of college students is, as many have pointed out, the first truly digital generation.Washington Post (Dec 1, 2011)
unction

excessive but superficial compliments with affected charm

“You couldn’t ask too much of me,” he returned, with no unction of flattery, but the cheerfully frank expression of an ingenuous heart.Ogden, George W. (George Washington)
adjure

command solemnly

“I adjure thee,” she said, “swear to me that you will never go near those Christians again or read their books.”Pennell, T. L. (Theodore Leighton)
acrimony

a rough and bitter manner

Relations with India have been slowly improving, although talks ended in acrimony last July with the two sides indulging in a public spat over Kashmir.
clarion

loud and clear

“He has been the single, clarion voice for commuter rail in central Florida for 20 years,” said Mayor Ken Bradley of Winter Park.New York Times (Jun 27, 2011)
turbid

clouded as with sediment

The thick turbid sea rolled in, casting up mire and dirt from its depths.Reynolds, Mrs. Baillie
cupidity

extreme greed for material wealth

Well educated, but very corrupt at heart, he found in his insatiable cupidity many ways of gaining money.Kraszewski, Jozef Ignacy
disaffected

discontented as toward authority

The financial crisis, largely caused by banker incompetence, has created legions of disaffected customers.Forbes (Sep 15, 2011)
preternatural

surpassing the ordinary or normal

In fact, they regarded the Spaniards as superior beings endowed with preternatural gifts.Gilson, Jewett Castello
eschew

avoid and stay away from deliberately

Morrissey is among those seniors who are eschewing nursing homes in favor of independent living.Washington Post (Mar 23, 2012)
expatiate

add details, as to an account or idea

He then expatiated on his own miseries, which he detailed at full length.Manzoni, Alessandro
didactic

instructive, especially excessively

Let us have a book so full of good illustrations that didactic instruction shall not be needed.Various
sinuous

curved or curving in and out

In origami parlance, Mr. Joisel was a wet-folder, dampening his paper so that he could coax it into sinuous curves.New York Times (Oct 20, 2010)
rancor

a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will

The current session of Parliament has so far produced only rancor, as opposition parties have shut down proceedings with angry, theatrical protests against corruption.New York Times (Aug 14, 2011)
puissant

powerful

The ship was not fighting now, but yielding—a complacent leviathan held captive by a most puissant and ruthless enemy.Tracy, Louis
homespun

characteristic of country life

His rural, homespun demeanor ordinarily might elicit snickers from India’s urban elite.New York Times (Aug 18, 2011)
embroil

force into some kind of situation or course of action

But Mr. Marbury, often embroiled in controversy during his N.B.A. days, seems to have found some measure of peace in China.New York Times (Apr 1, 2012)
pathological

caused by or evidencing a mentally disturbed condition

“Fixated individuals” — mentally ill people with a pathological focus on someone, often a stranger — make up the first group.
resonant

characterized by a loud deep sound

His eyes were piercing but sad, his voice grand and resonant, suiting well the wrathful, impassioned Calvinism of his sermons.Barr, Amelia Edith Huddleston
libretto

the words of an opera or musical play

In many great operas, composers have had to whittle down an epic literary work into a suitable libretto.New York Times (Mar 6, 2010)
flail

thrash about

Exercise is prescribed, but when she joins an aqua aerobics class, she flails embarrassingly.New York Times (Apr 12, 2012)
bandy

discuss lightly

Hillary Clinton’s name has been bandied about, but she’s made it clear she’s not interested.
gratis

costing nothing

“Would you admit them gratis?” asked Mr. Castlemaine with a smile, “or would they have to pay, like ordinary residents in an hotel?”Hocking, Joseph
upshot

a phenomenon that is caused by some previous phenomenon

The inevitable upshot of their growing social power was that brands wanted an expanded visual presence.
aphorism

a short pithy instructive saying

General Sherman’s famous aphorism that “War is Hell,” has become classic.Fletcher, Samuel H.
redoubtable

worthy of respect or honor

Captain Miles Standish was a redoubtable soldier, small in person, but of great activity and courage.Mann, Henry
corpulent

excessively fat

Obesity is very common, but chiefly among the women, who while still quite young often become enormously corpulent.D’Anvers, N.
benighted

lacking enlightenment or knowledge or culture

I alone was magnificently and absurdly aware—everyone else was benightedly out of it.James, Henry
sententious

abounding in or given to pompous or aphoristic moralizing

He is the village wise man; very sententious; and full of profound remarks on shallow subjects.Irving, Washington
cabal

a clique that seeks power usually through intrigue

Supposedly, see, there’s this global cabal of scientists conspiring to bring about socialist one-world government.
paraphernalia

equipment consisting of miscellaneous articles

It’s outfitted with cricket bats and other antique sports paraphernalia.Seattle Times (Sep 27, 2011)
vitiate

make imperfect

His talent in writing is vitiated by his affectation and other faults.Blair, Emma Helen
adulation

exaggerated flattery or praise

And celebrities get all this adulation for something that is not about character, it’s about talent.
quaff

swallow hurriedly or greedily or in one draught

Meanwhile the officers under the tree had got served, and, cups in hand, were quaffing joyously.Reid, Mayne
unassuming

not arrogant

Parr’s conduct after his most heroic actions was thoroughly modest and unassuming.Greely, Adolphus W.
libertine

a dissolute person

Still, Mr. Awlaki was neither among the most conservative Muslim students nor among the libertines who tossed aside religious restrictions on drinking and sex.New York Times (May 8, 2010)
maul

injure badly

Hundreds of concert goers were mauled as they left by what The New York Times called “bands of roving youths.”New York Times (Aug 17, 2011)
adage

a condensed but memorable saying embodying an important fact

So he focuses on the fans and embraces the adage, “Living well is the best revenge.”New York Times (Mar 25, 2011)
expostulation

the act of expressing earnest opposition or protest

He even believed he saw visions with his own bodily eyes, and no expostulations of his friends could drive this belief out of his head.Hoffmann, E. T. A. (Ernst Theodor Amadeus)
tawdry

tastelessly showy

It was a tawdry affair, all Cupids and cornucopias, like a third-rate wedding cake.Wilde, Oscar
trite

repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse

The subject—a deathbed scene—might seem at first sight to be a trite and common one.Lancey, Magdalene de
hireling

a person who works only for money

Why should I?—a mere police detective, who had been hired to do a service and paid for it like any other hireling.Hanshew, Thomas W.
ensconce

fix firmly

Though she is firmly ensconced in a writing career, Ms. Freud, 48, said that in the early days she missed acting terribly.New York Times (Oct 30, 2011)
egregious

conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible

“These offenses are very serious, even egregious,” the judge said.Washington Post (Sep 12, 2011)
cogent

powerfully persuasive

His thesis was too cogent, and appealed too powerfully to all classes of the Upper Canada community, to be anything but irresistible.Morison, J. L. (John Lyle)
incisive

demonstrating ability to recognize or draw fine distinctions

A half-hour of informed and incisive questioning by Mr. Russert would have demolished Mr. Trump.New York Times (May 1, 2011)
errant

straying from the right course or from accepted standards

As the crowd voiced its displeasure, the referees made sure Wisconsin got the ball, but pass was errant and rolled out of bounds at midcourt.Seattle Times (Feb 28, 2012)
sedulous

marked by care and persistent effort

Sedulous attention and painstaking industry always mark the true worker.Calhoon, Major A.R.
incandescent

characterized by ardent emotion, intensity, or brilliance

Kirkwood’s anger cooled apace; at worst it had been a flare of passion— incandescent.Vance, Louis Joseph
derelict

in deplorable condition

Others are clustered under a tin awning by a derelict railway station or in similarly run-down school buildings.
entomology

the branch of zoology that studies insects

From the department of entomology you expect to learn something about the troublesome insects, which are so universal an annoyance.Latham, A. W.
execrable

unequivocally detestable

But minds were so overexcited at the time that the parties mutually accused each other, on all occasions, of the most execrable crimes.Imbert de Saint-Amand, Arthur Léon, baron
sluice

pour as if from a conduit that carries a rapid flow of water

At 4:15 p.m., as the rain was sluicing off roofs in sheets, the firemen moved the trucks to higher ground.New York Times (Aug 31, 2011)
moot

of no legal significance, as having been previously decided

The statement from Hermitage said even in the Soviet period no defendant had been tried after death, when charges were generally considered moot.New York Times (Feb 7, 2012)
evanescent

tending to vanish like vapor

Time seems stopped but it is moving on, and every glimmer of light is evanescent, flitting.
vat

a large open vessel for holding or storing liquids

The cream remains in the large vat about twenty-four hours before it is churned.Chamberlain, James Franklin
dapper

marked by up-to-dateness in dress and manners

Thoroughly dapper, he took off his black-and-white pinstriped suit jacket — with its pocket-square flair — and weaved in and out among them, his voice ever rising.New York Times (Jan 22, 2011)
asperity

harshness of manner

All this proceeds from the old man, whose proper character it is to be angry and bitter, and to exhibit rancor and asperity.Arndt, Johann
flair

a natural talent

In fact, while Lamarr qualified as an inventive genius for her artistic flair, she fell somewhat short on her scientific acumen.Slate (Nov 28, 2011)
mote

a tiny piece of anything

He took his discharge out of his pocket, brushed every mote of dust from the table, and spread the document before their eyes.Auerbach, Berthold
circumspect

careful to consider potential consequences and avoid risk

Obama administration officials argue that new regulations are forcing insurers to be more circumspect about raising rates.New York Times (Sep 27, 2011)
inimical

not friendly

The Hindu idea is that so long as justice and equity characterise a king’s rule, even beasts naturally inimical are disposed to live in friendship.Kingscote, Mrs. Howard
apropos

of a suitable, fitting, or pertinent nature

I found myself thinking vaguely about things that were not at all apropos to the situation.Stockley, Cynthia
gruel

a thin porridge

He says, keep them on just two pints of Indian-meal gruel—by which he appears to mean thin hasty pudding—a day, and no more.Alcott, William A. (William Andrus)
gentility

elegance by virtue of fineness of manner and expression

This was no rough bully of the seas; Carew’s bearing and dandified apparel bespoke gentility.Springer, Norman
disapprobation

pronouncing as wrong or morally culpable

Mr Ruthven shook his head and declared that he regarded the conduct of her persecutors with grave moral disapprobation.Wheeler, E.J.
cameo

engraving or carving in low relief on a stone

The trinket was a small round cameo cut out of mother-of-pearl and set in gold; it represented St. George and the dragon.J?kai, M?r
gouge

swindle; obtain by coercion

Shortages also have raised concerns about higher prices and gouging by wholesale drug companies that obtain supplies of hard-to-get drugs and jack up the costs.Seattle Times (Jan 20, 2012)
oratorio

a musical composition for voices and orchestra

Mendelssohn had no sooner completed his first oratorio, “St. Paul,” than he began to think about setting another Bible story to music.Edwards, Frederick George
inclement

severe, of weather

Be prepared for inclement weather and possible ice and snow on park roads.Seattle Times (Oct 16, 2011)
scintilla

a tiny or scarcely detectable amount

Gardner “never expressed one scintilla of remorse for his attack upon the victim” despite overwhelming evidence, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo.
confluence

a flowing together

And indeed, before the 13th century, there was an extraordinary confluence of genius and innovation, particularly around Baghdad.New York Times (Dec 28, 2010)
squalor

sordid dirtiness

What can be expected of human beings, crowded in such miserable habitations, living in filth and squalor, and often pinched with hunger?Field, Henry M. (Henry Martyn)
stricture

severe criticism

While gratefully accepting the generous praises of our friends, we must briefly reply to some strictures by our critics.Stanton, Elizabeth Cady
emblazon

decorate with heraldic arms

His coat of arms was emblazoned on the cover.Mason, A. E. W. (Alfred Edward Woodley)
augury

an event indicating important things to come

This is always an encouraging sign, and an augury of success.Alger, Horatio
abut

lie adjacent to another or share a boundary

It depicts a mountain landscape near Kingston, a historic town abutting the Hudson River.New York Times (Jan 8, 2010)
banal

repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse

Highly dramatic incidents are juxtaposed with comparatively banal ones; particular attention is given to tales of doomed love affairs.New York Times (Dec 4, 2011)
congeal

solidify, thicken, or come together

Boil down the syrup to half its original quantity, but take care that it does not boil long enough to congeal or become thick.Baru?, Sulpice
pilfer

make off with belongings of others

Many young people scavenge for reusable garbage, living on proceeds from pilfered construction material and other recyclables.Seattle Times (Feb 8, 2012)
malcontent

a person who is unsatisfied or disgusted

Now, unfortunately, some malcontents among the hands here have spread their ideas, and a strike has been called.Maitland, Robert
sublimate

direct energy or urges into useful activities

They might instead have passionate friendships, or sublimate their urges into other pursuits.New York Times (Jun 4, 2010)
eugenic

causing improvement in the offspring produced

Eugenics was aimed at creating a better society by filtering out people considered undesirable, ranging from criminals to those imprecisely designated as “feeble-minded.”Washington Post (Aug 1, 2011)
lineament

the characteristic parts of a person’s face

The tears stood in Muriel’s eyes, and her face was very pale, but serenity marked every lineament.Davidson, John
firebrand

someone who deliberately foments trouble

But Hassan is not some teenage firebrand hurling rocks; he’s a slight, graying scholar committed to peace.New York Times (Jun 9, 2011)
fiasco

a complete failure or collapse

The Stuttgart protests became a national fiasco in late September, when protesters clashed with police wielding batons and water cannons.Newsweek (Dec 14, 2010)
foolhardy

marked by defiant disregard for danger or consequences

Many mistakes—extravagant purchases, foolhardy investments—are made in the first months after a windfall.Wall Street Journal (Feb 24, 2012)
retrench

tighten one’s belt; use resources carefully

But there was only one way open to me at present—and that was to retrench my expenses.Caine, Hall, Sir
ulterior

lying beyond what is openly revealed or avowed

Shop window displays may help prettify shopping thoroughfares, but any savvy retailer has the ulterior motive of self promotion.BBC (Feb 3, 2010)
equable

not varying

His must have been that calm, equable temperament not easily ruffled, which goes with the self-respecting nature.Hurll, Estelle M. (Estelle May)
inured

made tough by habitual exposure

But he had become inured to the rush and whirr of missiles, and now paid no heed whatever to them.Mitford, Bertram
invidious

containing or implying a slight or showing prejudice

“After an old-fashioned, all-round team performance … it might seem invidious to single out one player,” admits the paper before singling out one player.
unmitigated

not diminished or moderated in intensity or severity

In order to be well directed, sympathy must consider all men, and not the individual alone; only then is it an unmitigated good.Williams, C. M.
concomitant

an event or situation that happens at the same time

The conclusion must be drawn that every epidemic of bubonic plague is caused by the concomitant rat plague.Scientific American (Jan 21, 2011)
cozen

cheat or trick

Dicing-houses, where cheaters meet, and cozen young men out of their money.Various
phlegmatic

showing little emotion

Humanity, when surfeited with emotion, becomes calm, almost phlegmatic.Tracy, Louis
dormer

a gabled extension built out from a sloping roof

Other features, such as the front French doors and two roof dormers with curved-top windows and operable shutters, give this home a pleasing, well-balanced presence.Southern Living (Apr 14, 2010)
pontifical

denoting or governed by or relating to a bishop or bishops

The high priest made no resistance, but went forth in his pontifical robes, followed by the people in white garments, to meet the mighty warrior.Lord, John
disport

occupy in an agreeable, entertaining or pleasant fashion

Straightway the glade in which they sat was filled with knights, ladies, maidens, and esquires, who danced and disported themselves right joyously.Spence, Lewis
apologist

a person who argues to defend some policy or institution

Tories, and apologists for Great Britain, have written much about a justification for this action, but there is no real justification.Barce, Elmore
abeyance

temporary cessation or suspension

My feelings of home-sickness had returned with redoubled strength after being long in abeyance.Boldrewood, Rolf
enclave

an enclosed territory that is culturally distinct

And its suburban schools, rather than being exclusive enclaves, include children whose parents can’t afford a house in the neighborhood.Washington Post (Jan 11, 2011)
improvident

not supplying something useful for the future

He was industrious but improvident; he made money and he lost it.Hubbard, Elbert
disquisition

an elaborate analytical or explanatory essay or discussion

Cumulatively, what emerges from To Kill a Mockingbird is a thoughtful disquisition that encompasses – and goes beyond – the question of racial bias at its worst.
categorical

not modified or restricted by reservations

“European leaders were united, categorical and crystal clear: Gaddafi must go,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said.
placate

cause to be more favorably inclined

The East India Company was placated by the concession of further exemptions in its favour.Smith, A. D.
redolent

serving to bring to mind

Here, however, are congregated a vast number of curious and interesting objects, while the place is redolent of vivid historical associations.Ballou, Maturin Murray
felicitous

exhibiting an agreeably appropriate manner or style

The first book is the finest, sparkling with felicitous expressions and rising frequently to true poetry.Dennis, John
gusty

blowing in puffs or short intermittent blasts

Winds could get gusty, occasionally blowing at more than 30 miles per hour.
natty

marked by up-to-dateness in dress and manners

He wore a checked suit, very natty, and was more than usually tall and fine-looking.Green, Anna Katharine
pacifist

opposed to war

He was, furthermore, a real pacifist, believing that war is debasing morally and disastrous economically.Seymour, Charles
buxom

healthily plump and vigorous

Mrs. Connelly—a round, rosy, buxom Irishwoman, with a mellow voice, laughing eye, and artist-red hair—was very much taken with their plan.Douglas, Amanda Minnie
heyday

the period of greatest prosperity or productivity

Playboy’s most popular years are well behind it – the magazine enjoyed its heyday in the 1970s.Washington Post (Jan 10, 2011)
herculean

displaying superhuman strength or power

He made herculean efforts to get on terms with his examination subjects, and worked harder than he had ever done in his life before.Marshall, Archibald
burgeon

grow and flourish

Brooklyn’s burgeoning dining scene has even developed a following among Manhattan food lovers.
crone

an ugly, evil-looking old woman

The aged crone wrinkled her forehead and lifted her grizzled eyebrows, still without looking at him.Myrick, Frank
prognosticate

make a prediction about; tell in advance

How strange it is that our dreams often prognosticate coming events!Huth, Alexander
lout

an awkward stupid person

But this question was beyond the poor lout’s intelligence; he could only blubber and fend off possible chastisement.Williams, J. Scott (John Scott)
simper

smile affectedly or derisively

Mrs. Barnett’s mouth simpered at the implied flattery; but her eyes, always looking calculatingly for substantial results, were studying Reedy Jenkins.Hamby, William H. (William Henry)
iniquitous

characterized by injustice or wickedness

This was some piece of wickedness concocted by the venomous brain of the iniquitous Vicar, more abominable than all his other wickednesses.Trollope, Anthony
rile

disturb, especially by minor irritations

The prospect of seeing Ms. Palin tour Alaska’s wild habitats may rile some people who oppose her opinions about climate change.New York Times (Mar 25, 2010)
sentient

endowed with feeling and unstructured consciousness

The money fluttered from his hand to the floor, where it lay like a sentient thing, staring back as if mocking him.Hitchcock, Lucius W.
garish

tastelessly showy

With its opulently garish sets and knee-jerk realism, the production dwarfed the cast, no matter what stars were singing.New York Times (Jan 2, 2011)
readjustment

the act of correcting again

While earpieces are not uncomfortable, they do sometimes come loose, requiring readjustment.Slate (Apr 17, 2012)
erstwhile

belonging to some prior time

Sony, whose erstwhile dominance in consumer electronics has been eroded by the likes of Samsung, could beat rivals to a potentially new generation of devices.
aquiline

curved down like an eagle’s beak

The nose slightly aquiline, curving at the nostril; while luxuriant hair, in broad plaits, fell far below her waist.Various
bilious

irritable as if suffering from indigestion

But his sleep had not refreshed him; he waked up bilious, irritable, ill-tempered, and looked with hatred at his room.Garnett, Constance
vilify

spread negative information about

The trial was televised and the victim’s identity became known, resulting in her being vilified by almost the entire town.
nuance

a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitude

By working so hard to simplify things, we lose any nuance or ability to deal with folks’ individual circumstances.Washington Post (Oct 3, 2011)
gawk

look with amazement

He speaks mainly of his humiliation at lying on the sidewalk as hipsters gawked.New York Times (Apr 9, 2012)
refectory

a communal dining-hall, usually in a monastery

Meanwhile, the soup was getting cold in the refectory, so that the assembled brotherhood at last fell to, without waiting any longer for the Abbot.Scheffel, Joseph Victor von
palatial

suitable for or like a large and stately residence

The house was very large; its rooms almost palatial in size, had been finished in richly carved hardwood panels and wainscoting, mostly polished mahogany.Hitchcock, Frederick L. (Frederick Lyman)
mincing

affectedly dainty or refined

She went, carrying her little head very high indeed, and taking dainty, mincing steps.Banks, Nancy Huston
trenchant

having keenness and forcefulness and penetration in thought

They are written in a serio-comic tone, and for sparkling wit, trenchant sarcasm, and dramatic dialectics surpass anything ever penned by Lessing.Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim
emboss

raise in a relief

Requests may also be made of the stationer to use an embossed plate so that the letters stand out in relief.Eichler, Lillian
proletarian

a member of the working class

As yet, the true proletarian wage-earner, uprooted from his native village and broken away from the organization of Indian society, is but insignificant.Stoddard, Lothrop
careen

pitching dangerously to one side

I turned the steering wheel all the way to one side, and found myself careening backward in a violent arc.Vogel, Nancy
debacle

a sound defeat

The Broncos are coming off their worst season in franchise history, a 4-12 debacle that included issues on and off the field.Newsweek (Jan 9, 2011)
sycophant

a person who tries to please someone to gain an advantage

The people around the king are sycophants who are looking after their own personal advantage.Coffin, Charles Carleton
crabbed

annoyed and irritable

He grew crabbed and soured, his temper flashing out on small provocation.Weyman, Stanley J.
archetype

something that serves as a model

Newport, R.I., looks like a perfect archetype of a small, seaside New England town.
cryptic

of an obscure nature

The authorities, beyond some cryptic language about the death being sudden but not suspicious, have released no details.New York Times (Aug 24, 2011)
penchant

a strong liking

But sometimes, old Wall Street habits — including a penchant for expensive luxuries — are hard to break.New York Times (Mar 31, 2012)
bauble

cheap showy jewelry or ornament

But men were buying Valentine’s baubles for their honeys long before the first Zales ever opened its doors in a suburban shopping mall.Slate (Feb 14, 2012)
mountebank

a flamboyant deceiver

They are singularly clever, these Indian mountebanks, especially in sleight of hand tricks.Ballou, Maturin Murray
fawning

attempting to win favor by flattery

“As any cult leader, he was extremely good at milking the rich, at flattering and fawning,” Ms. Gordon said.New York Times (Apr 16, 2010)
hummock

a small natural hill

Captain Bill leaned back on a hummock of earth, his arms folded behind his head.Grayson, J. J.
apotheosis

model of excellence or perfection of a kind

Contrary to popular belief, however, she said Ms. Deen’s fat-laden cooking does not in fact represent the apotheosis of Southern cuisine.New York Times (Jan 17, 2012)
discretionary

not earmarked; available for use as needed

Steeper prices for basic necessities have forced many to cut back on more discretionary purchases.Washington Post (Oct 19, 2011)
pithy

concise and full of meaning

As Moore isolated finer points of the passing game, Keller in neat penmanship jotted down pithy phrases and punchy quotes, basic ideas and specific concepts.New York Times (Dec 10, 2011)
comport

behave in a certain manner

Ironically, the one man on stage who did comport himself with dignity, John Huntsman, is now being dismissed as having not made an impact.
checkered

marked by changeable fortune

Both restaurants have checkered histories with the health department; they were temporarily shut down for sanitary violations that included evidence of rodents.New York Times (Aug 22, 2010)
ambrosia

the food and drink of the gods

“Frieda represents the lovely goddess, Hebe, who served nectar and ambrosia to the high gods on Mount Olympus,” she explained.Vandercook, Margaret
factious

dissenting with the majority opinion

Will it be answered that we are factious, discontented spirits, striving to disturb the public order, and tear up the old fastnesses of society?Stanton, Elizabeth Cady
disgorge

cause or allow to flow or run out or over

There are telephone poles and cinder blocks and living room chairs and large trash bins, overturned and disgorging their soggy contents.New York Times (Oct 28, 2011)
filch

make off with belongings of others

Then, in place of the real site, it displays a fake site created to filch account numbers, login names and passwords.New York Times (Jul 13, 2010)
wraith

a mental representation of some haunting experience

Whichever way he turns there loom past wraiths, restless as ghosts of unburied Grecian slain.Lee, Carson Jay
demonstrable

capable of being proved

The linkage between deposits and trade is definite, causal, positive, statistically demonstrable.Anderson, Benjamin M.
pertinacious

stubbornly unyielding

His temper, though yielding and easy in appearance, was in reality most obstinate and pertinacious.Kavanagh, Julia
emend

make corrections to

The following were identified as spelling or typographic errors and have been emended as noted.Hopper, James
laggard

someone who takes more time than necessary

Corporate data centers are the slowpoke laggards of information technology.New York Times (Apr 10, 2012)
waffle

pause or hold back in uncertainty or unwillingness

A few days of waffling back and forth and I ended up going out to a mediocre bistro with my parents.Scientific American (Feb 8, 2011)
loquacious

full of trivial conversation

Pan soon found it needful to make conversation, in order to keep the loquacious old stage driver from talking too much.Grey, Zane
venial

easily excused or forgiven

The confidence of ignorance, however venial in youth, is not altogether so excusable, in full grown men.School, A Sexton of the Old
peon

a laborer who is obliged to do menial work

For the most part, the men were wiry peons, some toiling half naked, but there were a number who looked like prosperous citizens.Bindloss, Harold
effulgence

the quality of being bright and sending out rays of light

Then, all at once, in a way that seemed to frighten her, the sunshine had burst the clouds, and dazzled her with its effulgence.Fenn, George Manville
lode

a deposit of valuable ore

Such local perturbations are regularly used in Sweden for tracing out the position of underground lodes of iron ore.Gilbert, William
fanfare

a gaudy outward display

It opened a month ago to considerable fanfare, with television cameras trailing government officials meandering proudly around the bright new stores filled with imported goods.New York Times (Aug 22, 2010)
dilettante

showing frivolous or superficial interest; amateurish

They dabbled in politics and art in the same dilettante fashion.Cannan, Gilbert
pusillanimous

lacking in courage, strength, and resolution

He was described by his friends as pusillanimous to an incredible extent, timid from excess of riches, afraid of his own shadow.Motley, John Lothrop
ingrained

deeply rooted; firmly fixed or held

The narrow prejudices of his country were ingrained too deeply in his character to be disturbed by any change of surroundings.Fuller, Robert H.
quagmire

a soft wet area of low-lying land that sinks underfoot

The heavy rain had reduced this low-lying ground to a veritable quagmire, making progress very difficult even for one as unburdened as he was.Putnam Weale, B. L. (Bertram Lenox)
reprobation

severe disapproval

Mr. Conway denounced this scheme as “utterly and flagrantly unconstitutional, as radically revolutionary in character and deserving the reprobation of every loyal citizen.”Blaine, James Gillespie
mannered

having unnatural behavioral attributes

Nothing was mannered or pretentious; the texts came through with utter naturalness.New York Times (May 29, 2011)
squeamish

excessively fastidious and easily disgusted

But please note that this gunfire-fueled film is for mature audiences; given its content, young and/or squeamish viewers should avoid this one.Washington Post (Aug 6, 2010)
proclivity

a natural inclination

She received, under her father’s supervision, a very careful education, and developed her proclivities for literary composition at an early age.Adams, W. H. Davenport
miserly

characterized by or indicative of lack of generosity

Now, my uncle seemed so miserly that I was struck dumb by this sudden generosity, and could find no words in which to thank him.Stevenson, Robert Louis
vapid

lacking significance or liveliness or spirit or zest

How vapid was the talk of my remaining fellow-passengers; how slow of understanding, and how preoccupied with petty things they seemed!Dawson, A. J. (Alec John)
mercurial

liable to sudden unpredictable change

Wind energy is notoriously mercurial, with patterns shifting drastically over the course of years, days, even minutes.Scientific American (Jan 4, 2012)
perspicuous

transparently clear; easily understandable

The statements are plain and simple, a perfect model of perspicuous narrative.Smith, Uriah
nonplus

be a mystery or bewildering to

I shook my head and rushed from his presence, completely nonplussed, bewildered, frantic.Cole, E. W. (Edward William)
enamor

attract

Young Indian audiences are so enamored with reality television that they will not watch the soap operas and dramas that their parents or grandparents watch.New York Times (Jan 9, 2011)
hackneyed

repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse

Many speakers become so addicted to certain hackneyed phrases that those used to hearing them speak can see them coming sentences away.Lewis, Arthur M. (Arthur Morrow)
spate

a large number or amount or extent

French authorities are already reporting a rising spate of calls to emergency services by homeowners whose once-frozen water mains have now burst.
pedagogue

someone who educates young people

His old pedagogue, Mr. Brownell, had been unable to teach him mathematics.Pierce, H. Winthrop
acme

the highest level or degree attainable

Scientifically speaking, it is the acme of absurdity to talk of a man defying the law of gravitation when he lifts his arm.Huxley, Thomas H.
masticate

bite and grind with the teeth

Food should be masticated quietly, and with the lips closed.Cooke, Maud C.
sinecure

a job that involves minimal duties

He would have repudiated the notion that he was looking for a sinecure, but no doubt considered that the duties would be easy and light.Trollope, Anthony
indite

produce a literary work

She indited religious poems which were the admiration of the age.Brittain, Alfred
emetic

a medicine that induces nausea and vomiting

The juice of this herb, taken in ale, is esteemed a gentle and very good emetic, bringing on vomiting without any great irritation or pain.Smith, John Thomas
temporize

draw out a discussion or process in order to gain time

So he temporized and beat about the bush, and did not touch first on that which was nearest his heart.Erskine, Payne
unimpeachable

beyond doubt or reproach

Whether we agree with the conclusions of these writers or not, the method of critical investigation which they adopt is unimpeachable.Huxley, Thomas H.
genesis

a coming into being

He found himself speculating on the genesis of the moral sense, how it developed in difficulties rather than in ease.Miller, Alice Duer
mordant

harshly ironic or sinister

Even Morgan himself, intrepid as he was, shrank from the awful menace of the mordant words.Crawford, Will
smattering

a small number or amount

Only a smattering of fans remained for all four ghastly quarters.Washington Post (Sep 24, 2011)
suavity

the quality of being charming and gracious in manner

His combativeness was harnessed to his suavity, and he could be forcible and at the same time persuasive.Windsor, William
stentorian

very loud or booming

If a hundred voices shouted in opposition, his stentorian tones still made themselves heard above the uproar.J?kai, M?r
junket

a trip taken by an official at public expense

Mr. Abramoff arranged for junkets, including foreign golfing destinations, for the members of Congress he was trying to influence.New York Times (Feb 26, 2010)
appurtenance

a supplementary component that improves capability

In the center of this space stood a large frame building whose courtyard, stables, and other appurtenances proclaimed it an inn.Madison, Lucy Foster
nostrum

patent medicine whose efficacy is questionable

Just here a native “medicine man” dispenses nostrums of doubtful efficacy, and in front a quantity of red Moorish pottery is exposed for sale.Meakin, Budgett
immure

lock up or confine, in or as in a jail

Political prisoners, numbering as many as three or four hundred at a time, have been immured within its massive walls.Boyd, Mary Stuart
astringent

sour or bitter in taste

There was something sharply astringent about her then, like biting inadvertently into a green banana.McFee, William
unfaltering

marked by firm determination or resolution; not shakable

Still unfaltering, the procession commenced to trudge back, the littlest boy and girl bearing themselves bravely, with lips tight pressed.Sabin, Edwin L. (Edwin Legrand)
tutelage

attention and management implying responsibility for safety

It will do so under German leadership that grows less hesitant with each crisis, and without the American tutelage it enjoyed for so many decades.Newsweek (Jan 23, 2011)
testator

a person who makes a will

This will was drawn up by me some years since at the request of the testator, who was in good health, mentally and bodily.Henty, G. A. (George Alfred)
elysian

of such excellence as to suggest inspiration by the gods

Life seemed an elysian dream, from which care and sorrow must be for ever banished.Hentz, Caroline Lee
fulminate

criticize severely

But with people looking for almost any excuse to fulminate against airlines these days, there’s a certain risk of embellishment.
fractious

easily irritated or annoyed

He was a fractious invalid, and spared his wife neither time nor trouble in attending to his wants.Brazil, Angela
pummel

strike, usually with the fist

Another, with rubber bands wrapped tightly around his face, is pummelled by a plastic boxing kangaroo.
manumit

free from slavery or servitude

Moreover, manumitted slaves enjoyed the same rights, privileges and immunities that were enjoyed by those born free.Various
unexceptionable

completely acceptable; not open to reproach

All cowboys are from necessity good cooks, and the fluffy, golden brown biscuits and fragrant coffee of Red’s making were unexceptionable.Mayer, Frank
triumvirate

a group of three people responsible for civil authority

This triumvirate approach has real benefits in terms of shared wisdom, and we will continue to discuss the big decisions among the three of us.
sybarite

a person addicted to luxury and pleasures of the senses

He was not used to travelling on omnibuses, being something of a sybarite who spared nothing to ensure his own comfort.Wallace, Edgar
jibe

be compatible, similar, or consistent

Contemporary art has never quite jibed with mainstream media.
magisterial

offensively self-assured or exercising unwarranted power

“Now look here,” he said, making believe to take down my words and shaking his pencil at me in a magisterial way.Fenn, George Manville
roseate

of something having a dusty purplish pink color

Behind the trees rough, lichened rock and stony slopes ran up to a bare ridge, silhouetted against the roseate glow of the morning sky.Bindloss, Harold
obloquy

abusive, malicious, and condemnatory language

This is the real history of a transaction which, by frequent misrepresentation, has brought undeserved obloquy upon a generous man.Purchas, H. T. (Henry Thomas)
hoodwink

influence by slyness

The stories of the saints he regarded as preposterous fables invented to hoodwink a gullible and illiterate populace.
striate

mark with stripes of contrasting color

The body is striated with clearly defined, often depressed lines, which run longitudinally and sometimes spirally.Calkins, Gary N. (Gary Nathan)
arrogate

seize and take control without authority

Japanese manufacturers were accused of arrogating American technologies to churn out low-cost electronics.New York Times (May 25, 2010)
rarefied

of high moral or intellectual value

The debate over climate science has involved very complex physical models and rarefied areas of scientific knowledge.New York Times (Apr 9, 2011)
chary

characterized by great caution

There was no independent verification of the figure; the authorities have been chary of releasing death tolls for fear of inflaming further violence.New York Times (Apr 24, 2011)
credo

any system of principles or beliefs

She preferred to hang out with everyone but was best friends with no one, holding to the credo: “You should be nice to people.”New York Times (Jan 21, 2011)
superannuated

too old to be useful

Civil servants are superannuated at fifty-five years of age and are sent home on a pension, seldom enjoying life longer than two years afterward.Hunt, Eleonora
impolitic

not marked by artful prudence

Bill Maher has always been a vocal critic of Islam, even at times making impolitic statements about the religion.
aspersion

a disparaging remark

Lord Sanquhar then proceeded to deny the aspersion that he was an ill-natured fellow, ever revengeful, and delighting in blood.Thornbury, Walter
abysmal

so deep as to be immeasurable

After all, many Americans regard this Congress as dysfunctional, with abysmal approval ratings.New York Times (Dec 28, 2011)
poignancy

a quality that arouses emotions, especially pity or sorrow

They were curious about the “near loss” experience—specifically the feelings of poignancy that occur when what we cherish disappears.Scientific American (Jan 17, 2011)
stilted

artificially formal

But thanks to the stilted writing and stiff acting, the characters still feel very much like one-dimensional figures from a dutiful fable.New York Times (Jul 12, 2011)
effete

excessively self-indulgent, affected, or decadent

John Bull was an effete old plutocrat whose sons and daughters were given up to sport and amusement.Moffett, Cleveland
provender

food for domestic livestock

“Fools!” she cried, looking in her magic crystal, “he was in the big sycamore under which you stopped to give your horses provender!”Housman, Laurence
endemic

of a disease constantly present in a particular locality

Mean-spirited chants and songs are also endemic in British soccer.New York Times (Jan 27, 2012)
jocund

full of or showing high-spirited merriment

Her jocund laugh and merry voice, indeed, first attracted my attention.Lever, Charles James
procedural

of or relating to processes

In other words, the rejection was a bureaucratic/ procedural decision.Scientific American (Feb 1, 2012)
rakish

marked by a carefree unconventionality or disreputableness

She wore her red cap in a rakish manner on the side of her head, its tassel falling down over her forehead between her eyes.Sage, William
skittish

unpredictably excitable, especially of horses

That combined with his calm and reassuring tone made me think of an animal trainer trying to woo skittish wild animals.
peroration

a flowery and highly rhetorical address

He had little hope that Gallagher, once embarked on a peroration, would stop until he had used up all the words at his command.Birmingham, George A.
nonentity

a person of no influence

Was he such a nonentity in every way that she could remain unconcerned as to any fear of danger from him?Woolson, Constance Fenimore
abstemious

marked by temperance in indulgence

Raw, boozy, untethered performances are heralded as real; the abstemious professional is yawned off the stage.
viscid

having the sticky properties of an adhesive

Roads were quagmires where travellers slipped and laboured through viscid mud and over icy fords.Buck, Charles Neville
doggerel

a comic verse of irregular measure

He sang, with accompanying action, some dozen verses of doggerel, remarkable for obscenity and imbecility. Ritchie, J. Ewing (James Ewing)
sleight

adroitness in using the hands

The trick was performed Tuesday by Russell Fitzgerald, an amateur magician known to open meetings with a little sleight of hand.Washington Post (Sep 29, 2011)
rubric

category name

Ms. Moss took issue, not surprisingly, with the notion that grouping the performances under the rubric of spirituality was a marketing ploy.New York Times (Nov 22, 2010)
plenitude

a full supply

Of course at that season, amid the plenitude of seeds, nuts, and berries, they were as plump as partridges.Reid, Mayne
rebus

a puzzle consisting of pictures representing words

They wrote at times with pictures standing for sounds, as we now write in rebus puzzles.Park, Robert Ezra
wizened

lean and wrinkled by shrinkage as from age or illness

Kim Jong Il may be increasingly wizened and frail, with fingernails white from kidney disease, but his propaganda apparatus is as vigorous as ever.Wall Street Journal (Mar 26, 2010)
whorl

a round shape formed by a series of concentric circles

The flowers are waxy, tubular, fragrant, turning their yellow petals backward in a whorl.Rogers, Julia Ellen
fracas

noisy quarrel

Other cops were battling each other, going after the kids and clutching empty air, cursing and screaming unheard orders in the fracas.Freas, Kelly
iconoclast

someone who attacks cherished ideas or institutions

Jobs is a classic iconoclast, one who aggressively seeks out, attacks, and overthrows conventional ideas.BusinessWeek (Oct 12, 2010)
saturnine

bitter or scornful

Only when Bill Lightfoot spoke did he look up, and then with a set sneer, growing daily more saturnine.Dixon, Maynard
madrigal

an unaccompanied partsong for several voices

Nevertheless we learn from Malvezzi’s publication that the pieces were all written in the madrigal style, frequently in numerous voice parts.Henderson, W. J. (William James)
discursive

tending to cover a wide range of subjects

“Tabloid,” like his previous films, consists largely of long, discursive conversations — in effect monologues directed at an unseen, mostly unheard interlocutor.New York Times (Jul 22, 2011)
zealot

a fervent and even militant proponent of something

“The public is going to just think of us as these zealots who want to ban smoking everywhere,” he said.Seattle Times (Feb 20, 2011)
moribund

not growing or changing; without force or vitality

The entertainment sector there is booming, while Pakistan’s is moribund.Seattle Times (Dec 3, 2011)
modicum

a small or moderate or token amount

He volunteered a modicum of advice, limited in quantity, but valuable.Bolderwood, Rolf
connotation

an idea that is implied or suggested

In Arabic, the word “bayt” translates literally as house, but its connotations resonate beyond rooms and walls, summoning longings gathered about family and home.New York Times (Feb 18, 2012)
adventitious

associated by chance and not an integral part

The derivation of the word thus appears to be merely accidental and adventitious.Stace, W. T. (Walter Terence)
recondite

difficult to penetrate

The mystery of verse is like other abstruse and recondite mysteries—it strikes the ordinary fleshly man as absurd.Gosse, Edmund
zephyr

a slight wind

The dwellings and public buildings throughout Cuba are planned to give free passage to every zephyr that wafts relief from the oppressive heat.Various
countermand

cancel officially

In the midst of executing this order, he got another order countermanding it, and proceeding directly from his direct superior.Belloc, Hilaire
captious

tending to find and call attention to faults

Miss Burton had been very irritable and captious in class, more so even than usual, and most of her anger was vented upon Gerry.Chaundler, Christine
cognate

having the same ancestral language

The synonyms are also given in the cognate dialects of Welsh, Armoric, Irish, Gaelic, and Manx, showing at one view the connection between them. Jenner, Henry
forebear

a person from whom you are descended

His forebears were Greek immigrants who opened a small sandwich shop in Brooklyn, then moved, one after another, to Providence, to sell distinct, delectable wieners.New York Times (Sep 24, 2010)
cadaverous

very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold

He looked gaunt and cadaverous, and much of his old reckless joyousness had left him, though he brightened up wonderfully on seeing an old friend.Doyle, A. Conan
foist

force onto another

Mr. Knoll added that the 3-D “Star Wars” movies are not “going to be foisted on anybody against their will.”New York Times (Sep 29, 2010)
dotage

mental infirmity as a consequence of old age

He is, as you say, a senile old man in his dotage.Wilcox, Ella Wheeler
nexus

a connected series or group

Numerous innovators are also worrying away at this nexus of problems.
choleric

characterized by anger

Jonathan, choleric with indignation, stood by his desk, clenching his hands.Mills, Weymer Jay
garble

make false by mutilation or addition

But the fact remains that the contradictory and inconsistent things said do reach the public, and usually in garbled and distorted form.Unknown
bucolic

idyllically rustic

Forty-four years ago, Bill Sievers moved into his neo-Colonial house in Douglaston, Queens, on bucolic Poplar Street, lined with stately trees and equally stately homes.New York Times (Mar 26, 2012)
denouement

the outcome of a complex sequence of events

Suppose the truly apocalyptic denouement happens — no deal is reached, and taxes rise for everyone.
animus

a feeling of ill will arousing active hostility

The youthful savages had each an armful of snowballs, and they were pelting the child with more animus than seemed befitting.Murray, David Christie
overweening

unrestrained, especially with regard to feelings

He had overweening ambitions even then, along with a highly developed sense of his own importance.New York Times (Apr 19, 2010)
tyro

someone new to a field or activity

As yet he was merely a tyro, gaining practical experience under a veteran Zeppelin commander.Westerman, Percy F. (Percy Francis)
preen

dress or groom with elaborate care

He preened on fight nights in a tuxedo, a bow tie and no shirt, and he favored showy rings and bracelets.New York Times (Jul 24, 2011)
largesse

liberality in bestowing gifts

After being saved by government largesse, they say, big banks then moved to thwart reforms aimed at preventing future meltdowns caused by excessive risk-taking.New York Times (Jul 14, 2011)
retentive

good at remembering

The child was very sharp, and her memory was extremely retentive.Rowlands, Effie Adelaide
unconscionable

greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderation

For generations in the New York City public schools, this has become the norm with devastating consequences rooted in unconscionable levels of student failure.New York Times (Nov 4, 2011)
badinage

frivolous banter

It was preposterous to talk to her of serious things, and nothing but an airy badinage seemed possible in her company.Maugham, W. Somerset (William Somerset)
insensate

devoid of feeling and consciousness and animation

Men also are those brutal soldiers, alike stupidly ready, at the word of command, to drive the nail through quivering flesh or insensate wood.Stowe, Harriet Beecher
sherbet

a frozen dessert made primarily of fruit juice and sugar

“One person said it looks like a big lime sherbet ice cream cone!”Southern Living (Apr 28, 2010)
beatific

resembling or befitting an angel or saint

She dozed at last, her face serene and beatific.Beach, Rex Ellingwood
bemuse

cause to be confused emotionally

They were marching in the middle of the street, chanting and singing and disrupting traffic while countless New Yorkers looked on, some bemused, others applauding.
microcosm

a miniature model of something

The building, he said, is “a microcosm of what Shanghai was all about.”Wall Street Journal (Apr 30, 2010)
factitious

not produced by natural forces; artificial or fake

Indeed, the Chinese make a factitious cheese out of peas, which it is difficult to discriminate from the article of animal origin.Cameron, Charles Alexander, Sir
gestate

have the idea for

Mr. Lucas’s most recent project, still gestating, is a collaboration with Cuban musicians.New York Times (May 9, 2011)
traduce

speak unfavorably about

For Grover Cleveland there were no longer enemies to traduce and vilify.Straus, Oscar S.
sextant

an instrument for measuring angular distance

For example, a sextant could be used to sight the sun at high noon in order to determine one’s latitude.Scientific American (Mar 8, 2012)
coiffure

the arrangement of the hair

They sat down, and Saint-Clair noticed his friend’s coiffure; a single rose was in her hair.M?rim?e, Prosper
malleable

easily influenced

“The Americans are seen as naïve malleable tools in the hands of the Brits.”New York Times (Nov 30, 2011)
rococo

having excessive asymmetrical ornamentation

The upper part of the case is decorated with elaborately carved and gilt rococo motifs.Bedini, Silvio A.
fructify

become productive or fruitful

Thence they grow, expand, fructify, and the result is Progress.Stanton, Elizabeth Cady
nihilist

someone who rejects all theories of morality

“He’s a loner nihilist who believes in nothing,” Mr. Lu said.New York Times (Nov 6, 2011)
ellipsis

omission or suppression of parts of words or sentences

He speaks in ellipses, often leaving sentences hanging, and fiddles apologetically with his BlackBerry.
accolade

a tangible symbol signifying approval or distinction

The Nobel Prize, considered one of the highest accolades in literature, is given only to living writers.Seattle Times (Oct 6, 2011)
codicil

a supplement to a will

The codicil to her will, which she had spoken of with so much composure, left three hundred pounds to Stella and me.Fothergill, Jessie
roil

be agitated

Like thousands of fellow students, he was roiled with emotions, struggling to come to grips with an inescapable reality.New York Times (Nov 26, 2011)
grandiloquent

lofty in style

A large part of his duties will be to strut about on the stage, and mouth more or less unintelligible sentences in a grandiloquent tone.Smith, Arthur H.
inconsequential

lacking worth or importance

But as the months went by, Mr. Kimura had an unexpected epiphany: His business, which he thought was inconsequential, mattered to a lot of people.
effervescence

the property of giving off bubbles

Both were in the very sparkle and effervescence of that fanciful glee which bubbles up from the golden, untried fountains of early childhood.Stowe, Harriet Beecher
stultify

deprive of strength or efficiency; make useless or worthless

Far from being engines of economic growth, Egypt’s leading cities are stultified.
tureen

large deep serving dish with a cover

Soups are presented in big tureens and can be quite good.New York Times (Apr 13, 2012)
pellucid

transparently clear; easily understandable

Caribou Island is a scant 300 pages, and written in prose as pellucid as the rivers he used to fish as a boy.
euphony

any pleasing and harmonious sounds

It depends somewhat on usage and on euphony or agreeableness of sound.Hamilton, Frederick W. (Frederick William)
apocryphal

being of questionable authenticity

We’re reminded of the story, possibly apocryphal, that they used to play the Beach Boys’ Smiley Smile in psychiatric wards to calm patients.
veracious

precisely accurate

For proof, we cite the following veracious narrative, which bears within it every internal mark of truth, and matter for grave and serious reflection.Roby, John
pendulous

hanging loosely or bending downward

And all around, far out of reach, the trees of the forest were swaying restlessly, their long, pendulous branches, like tentacles, lashing out hungrily.Bates, Harry
exegesis

an explanation or critical interpretation

Its musical significance has been presented with illuminating exegesis by more than one commentator.Forkel, Johann Nikolaus
effluvium

a foul-smelling outflow or vapor

However, acting on my best judgment, I struck a downward course, and then suddenly a horrible effluvium was wafted to my nostrils.Mitford, Bertram
apposite

being of striking appropriateness and pertinence

He was quite capable of meaningful, apposite phrases about the game, even though distant sports editors did not encourage them enough.
viscous

having the sticky properties of an adhesive

Sluggish, blind crawling things like three-foot slugs flowed across their path and among the tree trunks, leaving viscous trails of slime behind them.Various
misanthrope

someone who dislikes people in general

And shaking his head like a misanthrope, disgusted, if not with life, at least with men, Patout led the horse to the stable.Dumas père, Alexandre
vintner

someone who makes wine

The question remains, he said, whether established vintners will change their winemaking practices or “continue to sell their schlock.”New York Times (Oct 27, 2010)
halcyon

idyllically calm and peaceful; suggesting happy tranquility

He now seemed to have entered on a halcyon period of life—congenial society, romantic and interesting surroundings.Kennard, Nina H.
anthropomorphic

suggesting human features for animals or inanimate things

The same anthropomorphic fallacy that accords human attributes to giant corporations like BP distorts clear thinking about how to limit their political influence.
turgid

ostentatiously lofty in style

His waspish wit can make him entertaining company at a party, but there is little evidence of that in his largely turgid prose.
malaise

a general feeling of discomfort, uneasiness, or depression

Initially, many doctors discounted sufferers’ feelings of generalized malaise as nothing more than stress or normal fatigue.
polemical

of or involving dispute or controversy

His works include several dogmatic and polemical treatises, but the most important are the historical.Various
gadfly

a persistently annoying person

Mr. Phelps is regarded here as the ultimate example of an irritating local gadfly.New York Times (Oct 9, 2010)
atavism

a reappearance of an earlier characteristic

Criminal atavism might be defined as the sporadic reversion to savagery in certain individuals.Symonds, John Addington
contusion

an injury in which the skin is not broken

My falling companion, being a much stouter man than myself did not fare so well, as his right shoulder received a severe contusion.Bevan, A. Beckford
parsimonious

excessively unwilling to spend

Pill-splitting is catching on among parsimonious prescription-takers who want to lower costs.
dulcet

pleasing to the ear

Ever and anon the dulcet murmur of gurgling streams broke gently on the ear.Madison, Lucy Foster
reprise

repeat an earlier theme of a composition

The live set reprises material from this remarkable group’s earlier Aurora CD.
anodyne

capable of relieving pain

But philosophy failed, as it will probably fail till some far-off age, to find an anodyne for the spiritual distresses of the mass of men.Dill, Samuel
bemused

perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements

They were marching in the middle of the street, chanting and singing and disrupting traffic while countless New Yorkers looked on, some bemused, others applauding.