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1007 Cards in this Set

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abashed
indicates a state of embarrassment; a person abashed feels disconcerted and put to shame
abate
to lessen or diminish; Latin abattre (to knock down)
abdicate
to step down, as from a throne, or give something up; Latin abdicare (to renounce, abdicate)
aberrant
meaning is close to unusual or uncharacteristic; Latin aberrare (to wander, lose one's way)
abominate
to loathe, hate, abhor, detest; Latin abominari (to hate)
abrasive
any substance that can be used for polishing or grinding; figuratively, irritatingly or annoyingly harsh and grating; Latin abradere (to scrape off)
abrogate
to repeal, to annul, to cancel; Latin abrogare (to repeal)
abstemious
opposite of glutonous; evokes the image of a think, conservative, and picky person; Latin abstemius "away from drink"
abstinent
self-denying, self-restraining; total abstinence describes a teetotaler; Latin abstinere (to hold back, to keep away from)
abstruse
clear to person explaing but unintelligible to those on the receiving end; Latin abstrusus (hidden, secret)
accolade
great praise, enthusiastic approval; tap on the shoulder with a sword, conferring knighthood; Italian acoolare (to hug around the neck)
acerbic
sour, bitter, harsh; Latin acerbus (bitter)
acme
summit, utmost limit; Classic Greek (highest point)
acolyte
an altar boy; a follower or attendant of an important personage; Greek akolouthos (follower, attendant)
acquiesce
agree with, consent to, comply with; Latin adquiescere (to rest, by extension, to be pleased with)
acrimonious
bitter and cutting; Later acer (sharp, cutting) and acerbus (bitter)
adage
a proverb, or a traditional saying; old saws, maxims, or aphorisms; Latin prefex ad and aio (I say)
admonitory
providing a warning; Latin admonere (to remind, advise)
adroit
skillful, resourceful, quick to seize upon the right move in a situation; French a droit (on the right)
adulation
fawning adoration or devotion; state of idolization, or servile and excessive admiration; Latin adulare (to fawn)
adversity
condition marked by bad luck, troubles, woes, hard times; adversary means opponent; Latin adversitas, opposite of prosperity
aegis
(ee' jis) sponsorship, patronage; shield of Zeus and symbol of protection in Greek mythology
affable
pleasant, friendly, easy to talk to; Latin adfabilis (easy to speak to)
aficionado
a devotee, an ardent follower, a fan; unchanged from Spanish
affinity
a natural liking and feeling of attraction; Latin adfinitas (literally, relationship by marriage; by extension, union)
aggrandize
to magnify, inflate, increase; sometimes takes on the meaning of making people or things greater than they are; Latin grandis (great large) and Middle French aggrandissement
alacrity
used "with alacrity"; completed with cheerful or eager readiness, opposite of reluctance; Latin alacritas (liveliness)
allay
to calm or quiet; to relieve; Middle English alayen
allegory
a symbolic narrative; a tale not to be taken literally, but to present a moral lesson or universal truth; a short allegory with animal characters is a fable; Greek allegorein (to speak figuratively)
alleviate
to relieve or lessen; Latin alleviare (to lighten, diminish)
alliteration
repitition of a sound or letter in two or more words in a sequence; Middle Latin alliteratio
amanuensis
secretary; one who takes dictation or copies a manuscript; Latin manus (hand) as is manuscript
ambience
mood, character, or atmosphere of an environment; the quality of the surroundings or milieu; French ambiance
ambiguous
capable of more than one meaning, thus, unclear; Latin ambiguus (literally, moving rom side to side)
ambivalent
indecisive, unable to make up one's mind, wavering between two courses of action or opposing opinions, favoring, at one and the same time, both yes and no; Latin ambi (both) and valere (to be strong)
ambulatory
able to walk, as opposed to being bedridden; ambulare (to walk)
ameliorate
to improve or make better; Latin melior (better)
amenable
agreeable, willing to be persuaded, to listen to reason, and to follow advice; also means "answerable for", as in a debt incurred; Latin minare (to lead to)
amenity
a noun that connotes pleasantness and agreeableness; amenities can refer to "gracious manners" or "conveniences" like hot and cold running water; Latin amoenitas (pleasantness)
amorous
affectionate; having a tendency to love; obsessed by sexuality; smitten; showing love; Latin amorosus
amorphous
without definite shape or form, formless; Greek amorphos (shapeless)
anachronism
any person, institution, custom, concept, etc. that belongs to another age; Greek anachronismos (wrong time reference)
anagram
a word formed from a rearrangement of the ltters of another word; evil is an anagram of vile; New Latin anagramma
analogy
noun used to describe a resemblance on the similarity between certain features of two things, like the human heart and a mechanical pump; Greek analogos
anathema
noun used to describe a detestable thing or person; literally, a curse laid on by the Church that usually follows with excommunication; figuratively, used to describe anyone or anything detestable or loathsome; Latin anathema (thing accursed)
ancillary
means the same as auxiliary and describes anything that serves as an accessory; Latin ancilla (maidservant)
animus
filled with hostility and antagonism; deep-seated ill will; animosity is derived from animus; Latin animus (soul, feeling, wrath)
annals
historical records; Latin annales (yearly records) and annus (year)
anomaly
deviation from the general rule or type; anything out of keeping with accepted ideas of how things should be; Latin anomalia
antecedents
ancestors or events of one's earlier life; antecedent means preceding or previous; Latin antecedere (to precede)
anthropology
the sutdy of mankind, its origins, development, customs, and racial characteristics; Greek anthropos (man) and logia (study)
anthropomorphic
ascribes human characteristics to gods, animals, and objects; Greek anthropos (man) and morphe (form)
antic
describes odd or eccentric behavior, amusing gestures, pranks, and capers; Latin anticus (in front, by extension, primitive)
antipathy
a strong, settled, unchanging feeling of abhorrence towards a particular person, activity, style, type of food, way of life, race, anything; Greek antipatheia
antiquity
ancient times; denotes the quality of ancientness; Latin antiquitas
antithesis
the direct opposite; intact from Greek
aphorism
a concise statement of a general truth (though only a grain of it); also known as maxims, proverbs, and old saws; Middle Latin aphorismus (definition)
aplomb
self-assurance, poise, imperturbability; A person with aplomb is not fazed or disconcerted under the most trying circumstances; French a plomb (vertical)
apocalypse
describes disaster, cataclysm, the end of the world; literally, apocalypse is a revelation, but because of the bible, it is used to describe any cataclysmic event; Greek word meaning (to disclose)
apocryphal
used to describe things, usually stories or reports, of questionable authenticity; can also be used to indicate spuriousness or falsity; derives from the Apocrypha, 14 books of O.T. with doubtful origin
apogee
in astronomy, the point in the orbit of a planet, satellite, the moon, etc. when it is farthest from the earth; frequently used to mean high point, climax, summit; Greek apogaion (off-earth)
apostate
a person who renounces his faith, party, etc., a renegade or defector; Greek apostates (drawing away)
appelation
a name or designation applied to somebody or something; The name Cassius Clay has been extinguised by the appellation "Muhammad Ali"; Latin appellatio (naming)
apposite
term apllied to something that is to the point, or well put; an apposite answer or remark is exactly right, on the nose; Latin apponere (to put near)
apprehend
formal substitute for catch or arrest, in the sense of "take into custody"; to grasp the meaning of something; to worry about, expect fear and anxiety, dread; Latin apprehendere (to grasp)
appropriate
anything suitable for a particular purpose or occasion (adj.); to set aside for a specific purpose (verb); The Senate appropriated a million dollars for the investigation; Late Latin appropriatus (to make one's own)
apt
inclined; likey; ability to acquire knowledge quickly; suitable, fit for a particular need, purpose, occasion; Latin aptus (fastened, fitting)
arbiter
a final authority, one with the absolute power to decide; intact from Latin
arcane
characterizes something secret or obscure, with a hint of mystery; esoteric; literary word for mysteries; Latin arcanus (literally, shut, closed, and thus secret)
arch
by itself describes people who are mischievous or roguish, playfully saucy; with another used in the sense of outstanding; Hitler was an archvillain; intensive prefix, in the sense of chief or principal; Greek arche (prefix indicating excellence)
arduous
laborious, requiring great strength and perseverance; strenuous; characterize something hard to bear; Latin arduus (high, steep, or difficult)
argot
jargon, the idiom of a particular class or group; applies particularly to the underword; the argot of thieves; but also broader classes; French ar go (slang)
arid
extremely dry; figuratively, means "dull and uninteresting"; Latin aridus
Armageddon
biblical scene of the final battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil at the end of the world; figuratively, any decisive, final conflict
arrant
used to intensify a quality of a person or thing, in the sense of "out-and-out" or "downright"; Al Capone was an arrant knave; Latin errare (to rove, stray)
arrogate
to claim something as one's own without right; Latin rogare (to ask, request) and ad
arsenal
literally, denotes a place for the storage or arms and ammunition; figuratively, describes a supply or collection or repertory of anything
artful
crafty, deceitful, and cunning, opposite of artless; Latin ars (cunning)
ascetic
a self-denying person; self-denyiny, rigorously refraining from the ordinary pleasures of life; Greek asketikos (rigorous, hardworking)
asperity
harshness and acrimony; Latin asperitas
aspersion
aspersons = damaging assertions and slandering vilifications; expression = to cast aspersions; Latin aspersio (sprinkling)
assiduous
denotes perserverence and diligence; Latin assiduus (sitting down to: by extension, settling down to)
assuage
to soothe and relieve; Latin ad and suavis (pleasant, agreeable)
atavistic
exhibiting the characteristics or one's forberas or of a primitive culture; Latin atavus (great-great-great-grandfather)
atrophy
wasting away or degeneration; to waste away, wither away, or decline; Greek atrophos (not fed)
attenuate
to weaken, to thin out, reduce in intensity and value; Latin attenuare (to reduce)
augment
to increase, fill out; Latin augmen (increase)
augur
to foreshadow; an augur in ancient Rome was an official who practiced certain rites of observing omens in order to advise the government; A good start is an augury of a successful finish.
auspicious
favorable and promising; Latin auspices (name of those watching bird-omens) from avis (bird) and specere (to look at)
autonomous
an independent, self-governing, self-regulating body is said to be autonomous; Greek autos (self) and nomos (law)
avuncular
acting like an affectionate uncle; Latin avunculus (uncle on the mother's side)
awry
amiss, gone haywire; Greek rhoikos (crooked)
axiom
a self-evident truth, a truism, a general principle that is universally acknowledged and need no proof; ex. a straight line is the shortest distance between two points; Greek axioma (something worthy)
badinage
banter, player repartee; French badiner (trifle)
bailiwick
one's field of skill, one's own particular area of expertise; literally, a bailiwick is the district within the jurisdiction of a bailie or bailiff, whose official duties vary according to locality; Latin vicus (village, hamlet)
baleful
threatening or destuctive; Ali often threatened his opponents with a baleful look; Old English bealofull
banal
commonplace, hackneyed, uninspired; intact from French
bastion
a stronghold or bulwark; literally, a projecting section of a fort; the Western world is the bastion of democracy; Italian bastione
bathos
sentimentality, as opposed to true sentiment, a ludicrous, anticlimatic drop from the lofty to the commonplace; Greek bathos (depth)
behemoth
a monster, a gigantic creature; also used with inanimate objects and abstractions, like the federal deficit
beleaguer
to besiege, harass, or beset; literally; it means "to surround with military forces"; commony means to harass in the sense of besetting someone with problems and annoyances
bellicose
describes hostility and belligerence, the attitude of one eager to do battle; Latin bellum (war)
belligerent
as a noun, means a nation at war; as an adj. means "hostile, bellicose"; Latin belligerare (to wage war)
bemused
puzzled, muddled, preoccupied; describes state of lingering puzzlement; Latin be and mussare (to mutter, be at a loss)
bibliophile
a booklover, a collector of books; Greek biblios (book) and philos (dear, beloved)
bibulous
addicted to drink; Latin bibulus (fond of drinking)
blandishment
describes enticing action or speech and usually used in the plural; Latin blanditia (flattery, coaxing)
blatant
completely obvious
bovine
literally, of the ox family; figuratively, means dull, stolid, listless, sluggish; Latin bovis, a form of bos (ox)
bravado
a swaggering show of bold courage; Italian and Spanish bravata
brickbat
a cutting remark, an unkind criticism; literaly, "a piece of broken brick" thrown as a missile; figuratively, a caustic comment;
bromide
literally, a chemical compound involving bromine used as a sedative; figuratively, used to denote a platitude, a commonplace, hackneyed remark, a trite generalization, likewise used as a sedative to soothe someone's nerves; Greek bromos (stench)
brook
to tolerate something, to put up with it; applied not to people, but to their acts, conduct, or attitudes, and to situations; Middle English brouken
brouhaha
a commotion, uproar, ado; intact from French; onomatopoetic invention
bucolic
rustic; Greek boukolikos (ox herder)
burgeon
literally the budding and sprouting of plants; acquired meaning of "developing suddenly", before your eyes; Middle English burjon (bud)
cabal
a group of plotters, but can also describe the group's intrigues and plots; also can mean a clique of coterie; small group of secret plotters
cachet
denotes a stamp of approval from one in a high position; can be applied to a feature that imparts prestige; prestige; intact from French (seal or stamp)
cacophony
strident, discordant noise; Greek kakophonia (bad sound)
cadaverous
haggard and ghastly; implies pallor, gauntness, and emaciation; Latin cadaver which is a synonym for corpse, which comes from corpus (body)
cadge
to get something by begging, with the emphasis on imposing on the other person's good nature; Middle English caggen
cajole
to wheedle, to coax by promises and flattery; Little boys are good at cajoling autographs of famous athletes; French cajoler (to wheedle)
callow
immature, or green. Middle and Old English calu (bald or without feathers)
calumny
slander, smear; the malicious making of false statements in order to damage a reputation; Latin calumnia (false accusation)
canard
a hoax or false rumor; French, figuratively a hoax
candor
label of a fine quality in people: frankness, openness, sincerity;
canon
a rule or general principle; Greek kanon (rule)
cant
insincere talk; used to denote the special argot or jargon of a particular group; term is applied to underworld jargon; Latin cantus (song)
cantankerous
bad-tempered, ill-humored, irritable, quarrelsome, grouchy, and generally difficult to deal with and exasperating
capitulate
to surrender;
capricious
impulsive and tending to be erratic; Latin capri (goat) the word derives from goats who leap and skip in an unpredictable fashion
captious
faultfinding and nit-picking;
carnal
sensual, bodily as opposed to spiritual; Latin carnalis (relating to flesh)
carnivorous
meat-eating; Latin carn (flesh)
carp
to complain, find fault, nit-pick; suggests unreasonable and ill-natured complaining and fussing about minor matters
carrion
unpleasant word that describes dead, decaying fish, unfit for human consumption; can also be used as an adj.; Latin caro (flesh)
castigate
to punish severely with the intent of improving or correcting the one being punished; Latin castigare (to punish)
casuistry
dishonest, specious reasoning; the fallacious application of general principles to particular situations; Spanish casuista
cataclysm
a violent upheavel; literally, a natural disaster that causes changes in the earth's surface; figuratively, a momentous event that affects the social or political order; Greek kataklysmos (flood)
catharsis
relief from pent-up emotion; originally referred to the purging of the emotions, especially pity and fear, through art; Primal scream therapy is said to be highly cathartic; Greek katharsis (cleaning)
catholic
applies to people having universal sympathies and appreciation; Greek katholikos (general)
caveat
warning; Latin for "Let him beware!"
cavil
to quibble, to raise nit-picking, picayune objections; to find fault with, in an irritating manner; Latin cavillare (to jest or joke; by extension, to quibble)
celibacy
bachelorhood, the unmarried state; can also apply to abstention from sex, whether one is married or not; Latin caelebs (unmarried)
champion
to support, defend, argue in favor of something; Latin campus (battlefield)
charlatan
a quack, anyone who claims more skill than he possesses; Italian cairlare (to prate)
chary
cautious or wary; also means sparing; Literary critics seems generally chary of granting praise.
chasm
a deep gap, ravine, or gorge; figuratively, denotes a deep difference of opinion of attitude
chicanery
trickery, deception by sophistry, subterfuge, and artful quibbling to obtain an advantage; sharp practice; intact from French chicaner (to use tricks, to quibble)
chide
to scold, with the implication that the scolding is on the mild side
chimera
a figment of the imagination, an illusion; from mythology where a chimera was a fire-breathing monster, part lion, goat, and serpent; commonly used in the expression "dream up a chimera", to describe a vain illusion or utopian wish-dream
churlish
a churlish person is a boor; churl, in the medieval English social order was the lowest caste of freeman, and come to mean "peasant" or "rustic", and was then applied to any boorish person
cipher
zero; a person with a minimum of personality, a nonentity; a code, a secret method of communication in writing or otherwise; Arabic cifr (zero)
circuitous
roundabout, direct; Latin circuitus (a going round in a circle)
circumlocution
a roundabout way of phrasing something, the use of more words to express a thought or describe something than are necessary; e.g. "Male parent" for "father"; Latin circum (around) and loqui (to speak)
circumspect
watchful, cautious, looking out for pitfalls, looking before leaping; Latin circum (around) and spectare (to observe carefully)
clamorous
vociferous and demanding; Latin clamor (loud shouting)
clandestine
undercover; describes acts, usually meetings, arranged very carefully and executed with the utmost secrecy
claptrap
pretentious nonsense, primarily to win praise; anything contrived to impress, but without substance
clemency
mercifulness and leniency; Latin clemens (gentle, merciful)
cloy
to become distasteful through excess
cogent
convincing; usually associated with reason or argument; Latin cogere (to compel)
cognizant
to be aware of something; cognizance means awareness; Latin cognoscere (to become acquainted with)
collation
the verification of numbering of the pages of a book; more commonly refers to a light meal, with the implication that it is served at some time other than one of the normal mealtimes; Latin conferre (to bring or put together)
colloquy
conversation or dialogue; Latin cum (together with) and loqui (to talk)
compendium
a brief, concise treatise on a subject; a summary; intact from Latin (shortening)
complacent
self-satisfied and quite pleased with oneself; Latin complacere (to please exceedingly)
complaisant
agreeable and obliging; French complaire (to please)
complement
to complete, fitt out, make a necessary addition to; Latin complere (to complete)
compliant
submissive and yielding; Spanish cumplir (to perform what is due)
concomitant
something that accompanies another thing or an event; as an adj. means accompanying or concurrent; Latin concomitari (to accompany)
concrete
real, actual (as opposed to abstract); specific, particular (as opposed to general); Latin concrescere (to grow together)
conduit
a channel for the conveyance of liquids, or a protective pipe of tube covering electrical wiring; figuratively, any means of transmission of anything, such as information or financial benefits; Latin conducere (to connect)
congenital
describes something existing at birth; another meaning is "by nature"; Latin con (with) and gignere (to give birth to)
consensus
a general agreement or majority view; intact from Latin
consortium
an associate, particularly of banks or companies, blending together to combine their capital in an enterprise, often for the purpose of gaining control of the industry; Latin consortium (partnership)
consummate
to accomplish, to bring to completion; as an adj., complete, top, superb; Latin consummare (to bring to perfection)
contentious
quarrelsome, hard to deal with, enjoying dispute
context
the circumstances in which an event occurs; the part of a statement that affects the meaning of the rest of the statement; Latin contextus (joining together, connection)
contiguous
touching, bordering upon, and is followed by "to"; New York and Connecticut are contiguous states; Latin contingere (to touch)
contretemps
an unfortunate occurance, a mischance that results in discomfort, especially embarrassment
contrite
to repent, to be penitent, to suffer from a sense of guilt; Latin conterere (to wear down, crush)
contumacious
stubbornly disobedient; Mules are typically contumacious; Latin contumax (stubborn, defiant)
conundrum
a puzzle or riddle, especially to the type of riddle with an answer based on a play on words; figurativley, a problem hard to solve
co-opt
preempt; to commandeer; literally, to be elected or appointed as a member of a group by those who are already members; Latin cooptare (to elect)
copious
plentiful, abundant
corollary
a natural consequence or the inevitable result of something
corporeal
physical, material, as opposed to spiritual; tangible; Latin corpus (body)
correlate
to connect in a systematic relationship; also used to describe the bringing together of various activities and organizing them for the most effective action
coruscate
to sparkle, either physically or abstractly; Latin coruscare (to flash)
cosset
to pamper and coddle; German kussen (to kiss)
coterie
a clique, a select group, intimate and exclusive and united by a commmon interest of purpose; intact from French
craven
highly uncomplimentary word for cowardly, faint-hearted to a contemptible degree, cringing
craw
a bird's crop or an animal's stomach; frequently used figuratively in the expression "stick in one's craw", meaning "be intolerable"
credible
believable, convincing; Latin credere (to trust)
creditable
deserving of praise
credulous
gullible
crestfallen
disappointed and dejected; Latin cresta (crest of an animal)
culpable
blameworthy; Latin culpa (fault, guilt)
curmudgeon
anyone quick to anger, to complain, to bark
cursory
hasty, superficial, without attention to details, opposite of thorough; Latin cursor (runner)
curt
rudely abrupt; Latin curtus (shortened)
cynosure
the center of attraction; usually found in the expression "cynosure of all eyes";
dalliance
to dawdle; refers to time-wasting, but its commonest use is in the phrase amorous dalliance, which means flirtation, and dalliance all by itself usually has that implication; Low German dallen (to talk foolishly)
daub
to smear, to coat (something) with soft adhesive matter; Latin dealbare (to plaster)
dauntless
fearless; Latin domitare (to tame)
dearth
scarcity; a negative word that describes the lack of something
debacle
a sudden collapse, a disastrous breakdown; French debacle (a breaking up) and figuratively (a collapse)
debase
to lower (someone or something) in quality, rank, worth, etc.; Late Latin bassus (low)
debilitate
to weaken a person or thing; Latin debilis (weak)
debunk
to show something as false or exaggerated and strip it of its pretensions
decimate
to destroy a large proportion of number (of a group); originally, the killing of every tenth man of a group (like a village) chosen by lot, as punishment for an offense like sabotage or insurrection; Latin decimus (tenth)
declasse
of an inferior class or quality; borrowed from the French, where it means "come down in the world"
decorous
well-mannered, seemly, observant of the proprieties
decorum
dignity of behavior, observance of the proprieties
decry
to disparage, to call attention to defects;
deduce
to draw a conclusion from given data; Latin deducere (to lead down, derive)
deem
believe, judge, considere
deferential
acting respectfully; Latin deferre (to hand over)
definitive
authoritative, the last word on the subject; A definitive work on the subject is a final, unchallengeable authority; can also take on the meaning of final, in the sense of conclusive
delectation
delight and enjoyment
deleterious
harmful, injurious; commonly means "injurious to health"; Latin deletrix (something destructive)
demonic
anything like a demon, or as though possessed or activated by a demon
denigrate
to defame; to blacken a reputation; to speak disparagingly of something; Latin denigrare (to blacken)
denizen
inhabitants, residents; Latin de intus (from within)
deprecate
to express disapproval, to belittle
deracinate
to uproot; figuratively, to separate a person from his native culture and environment; Latin radix (root)
derelict
adj. abandoned; neglectful of duty; noun, implies something abondoned by its owner; a vagrant or bum; Latin derelinquere (to forsake)
deride
to scoff at or mock someone or something; to laught at or ridicule; Latin ridere (to laugh)
derisive
describes the state one is in when deriding someone
derogatory
disparaging and belittling; Latin derogare (to detract from)
descry
to make something out, catch sight of it, with the implication that the thing is far way; Middle English descrier (to proclaim)
desecrate
to treat irreverently, to profane, to defile; to violate something's sanctity; Latin consecrare (to consecrate)
desicate
to dry up; dehydrated; figuratively, dried up in the sense of "dull, listless"; Latin desiccare (to dry thoroughly)
desuetude
disuse; the state of no longer being used
desultory
describes anything fitful and lacking in steadiness; Latin desultor (literally, a circus rider who jumps from one horse to another; figuratively, an inconstant person)
detrimental
harmful, injurious; Latin detrimentum (loss, damage)
detritus
debris, waste matter; Latin deterere (to rub away)
dexterous, dextrous
skillful and clever; describes any form of skill or adroitness; Latin dexter (right)
diaphanous
sheer, almost transparent; see-through; Greek diaphaienein (to show through)
diatribe
a bitter attack in words; Greek diatribe (discourse) and diatribein (to rub away)
dichotomy
a division into two parts, generally for the purpose of differentiation between two contrasting concepts, as in the dichotomy between theory and practice
didactic
instructive, intented to teach
diffident
shy and lacking in self-confidence; opposite of brash; Latin diffidere (to lack confidence)
digress
to depart temporarily from the main topic; Latin digredi (to depart)
dilettante
a dabbler, one who takes up an activity, particularly in the arts, for his own amusement rather than seriously, and goes into it in a rather superficial way; intact from Italian
diminution
a lessening, a decrease; Old age causes a gradual diminution of the hearing faculty.
disaffection
disloyalty, with the implication that loyalty once felt no longer exists; Latin dis and affectio (favorable state of mind, goodwill)
disconsolate
hopelessly unhappy; gloomy; Latin dis and consolari (to console)
discursive
rambling from subject to subject; Latin discurrere (to run to and fro)
disdain
to scorn and despise something, to look upon it with contempt or to think it beneath one's dignity; Latin dis and dignare (to consider worthy)
disingenuous
insincere, lacking candor or frankness
disparate
distinctly different in kind; Latin disparare (to separate)
dissemble
to give a false appearance; Latin disumulare (to disguise, conceal)
dissertation
a formal essay or discourse, especially a treatise required for the degree of Ph.D.; used ironically to describe a long-winded treatement of a subject
dissimulate
to disguise, hide under a false exterior; Latin dissimulare (to disguise, conceal)
dissolute
having no morals and shamelessly uninhibited by any rules of conduct; a strong word of condemnation; Latin dissolvere (to break up)
distraught
greatly upset, deeply troubled
doff
to take off; A man should doff his hat on entering a church; to lay aside, get rid of
dogged
persistent, determined, stubbornly tenacious; Dogged students often wind up first in their class
doggerel
a noun that describes trivial, poor verse
dogmatic
opinionated and describes the asserting of opinions in an arrogant manner with an air of authority; Gree dogma (a philosophical doctrine; literally, that which one thinks is true)
doleful
mournful and sorrowful; Latin dolor (sorrow)
dolt
a blockhead or nitwit; numbskull; Middle English dollen (to dull)
don
to put on; contraction of "do on"
dormant
temporarily inactive, in abeyance; French dormier (to sleep)
dossier
a record; literally, an accumulation of documents containing data relating to someone or something, but used loosely to mean record, in the ense of background information; intact from French
doughty
stout-hearted, resolute, unafraid; intact from Middle English
dour
severe and stern; harsh, sullen, forbidding; Latin durus (hard)
doyen
the senior member (in the sense of leading representative) or dean of a group; interchangeable with the word dean; an especially skilled or knowledgeable person who is outstanding in his field; intact from French senior or oldest member)
draconian
expresses the concept of extreme harshness or severity and is most often found in the term draconian measures, describing harsh laws or procedures, the kind beloved of dictators; Greek Draco (an Athenian lawgiver who flourished around 620 B.C. and was responsible for lawas that were strict to the point of cruelty)
droll
oddly amusing; Droll people make you laught by whimsical, eccentric conduct or words
dudgeon
resentment and indignation, and is practically always found in the expression "in high dudgeon", meaning "very resentful and full of indignation"
duplicity
a noun that expresses deceitfulness, double-dealing, bad faith; describes the acts of one who pretends to feel one way and acts the opposite way, and cheats
ebullient
high-spirited, exuberant; Latin ebullire (to boil up)
eclectic
selective, choosing from various sources; Greek eklektikos (selective)
edify (vb); edifying (adj.); edification (n)
to instruct and to uplift; adj., reflects the uplifting aspect; as a noun, refelcts the instructing or enlightening aspect; Latin aedificare (to build)
effective
describes situations where something is helpful in producing an effect, where something goes into effect, where something is actual, where something or somebody is impressive or striking
effectual
covers the concept of answering the purpose; A machine may not be the most efficient one but can still be effectual
effecuate
to bring something about, make it happen, bring it to pass; Middle Latin effectuare (to bring to pass)
efficacious
productive of the desired result; used where a specific result is attained; Aspirin is efficacious in bringing down body temperature; Latin facere (to make)
efficient
describes a method, machine, substance or person producing a result with the least waste
efflorescence
a flowering or blossoming; used to describe the growth and development of one's art or the blossoming of a culture or civilization; Latin efflorescere (to blossom)
effrontery
describes impudent boldness, shameless audacity; Latin ad frontem (at the face) and Old French esfront (shameless)
effulgent
Latin effulgere (to glitter)
egregious
intensely pejorative adj., applied to things that are exceptionally, glaringly bad. Latin e grege (out of the (common) herd, exceptional), yet came to mean the opposite, outstandingly bad)
egress
an exit, Latin egressus (departure)
elegy
a mournful poem; can also apply to a musical composition in a melancholy vein
elicit
to draw something out, in a way which persistent questioning by the police results in a disclosure; Latin elicere (to entice out)
elide
to omit, and the word is most often applied to the omission of one or more ltters, whether in pronunciation or in writing, as in can't for cannot; also applies to the omission or cutting out of things other than letters; Latin elidere (to strike out)
elucidate
to make something clear or lucid, to throw light upon something; Latin elucidare (to enlighten) and lux (light)
emblazon
to adorn richly, deck in brilliant colors; originally described the decoration of anything with heraldic ornaments; sometimes used to mean "proclaim" or "extol"
emend
to correct or edit; Latin emendare (to correct, based on e- (away from) and mendum (mistake))
emeritus
applies to a person who has retired while retaining his honorary title and is usually found in the expression professor emeritus; Latin emerere (to earn by service and veteran in the miltary sense)
emote
to act emotionally; somtimes used pejoratively, to indicate theatrical behavior; Latin emovere (to move out)
empirical
something based on observation and experience, as opposed to theory; Latin empiricus (an unscientific doctor)
emulate
to imitate, with the implication of an attempt to equal or surpass; sometimes takes on the implication of successful rivalry; Latin aemulari (to rival)
encomium
high praise; implies a certain degree of formality, as in an official speech or situation
endemic
characteristic, peculiar to a particular place, race, nation, sect; this word is used, e.g., of diseases that flourish regularly in certain parts of the world; Greek endemos and demos (people)
enervate
to weaken and lessen one's vitality; Latin enervare (literally, to remove the sinews)
enigmatic
puzzling and obscure; Greek aenigma (riddle)
enmity
hostility, antagonism; Latin inimicus (enemy), based on the negative -in and amicus (friend)
ennui
boredom; French, expresses world-weariness and emptiness of feeling, often felt by the "man who has everything"
entity
an elevated synonym for thing; anything having a distinct existence
enure, inure
to accustom, to habituate; in law, it has the effect of "operate"; Middle English enuren
envisage
to visualize something or imagine it; can also imply foresee
ephemeral
short-lived, soon over and done with; Greek emphemeros (short-lived)
epicure
a gourmet, a fastidious diner who understands and lays great stresss upon the refinements of cooking and relishes the best of food and drink; Greek Epicurus, philosopher who held that pleasure was the highest good, which came from modest living, whihc led to calm of mind and body
epigram
witticisms, witty sayings, wisecracks, tersely expressed, often in verse; applies particularly to a brief satirical poem, usually ending with a terse, witty observation
epitaph
literally, a tomb inscription; but the word is used more generally to cover any written praise of one who has passed on; Greek epitaphion (over a tomb)
epitome
an embodiment, typical representation; intract from Greek via Latin
equable
even-tempered, unvarying
equanimity
composure, calmness of temperament
equitable
fair and just; Latin aequitas (faitness, justice)
equivocal
uncertain, undetermined, or questionable; Late Latin aequivocus (ambiguous)
errant
describes conduct that amounts to misbehaving; also, can mean "wandering aimlessly", as in an errant breeze, and in this use errant is a gentle, poetic word; Latin errare (to wander)
ersatz
applies to anything that is synthetic, artificial, substitute; not the genuine article; something else, generally of inferior quality; can be used as a noun to describe anything artificial used as a substitute for a natural product; intact from German (substitute)
erudite
learned, scholarly; Latin erudire (to instruct)
eschew
to shun or avoid something; the avoiding is not casual, but determined; Middle English scheowe (shy)
esoteric
describes anything obscure, far out, beyond the grasp of most people; can apply to ideas, works of art, doctrines, systems of thought, philosophies, and the like; Greek esoterikos (inner)
ethereal
light, delicate, airy; Greek, ether
etymology
derivation, in the sense of the specific derivation of a particular word; Greek etymos (true) and logos (word)
eulogy
a specific speech or writing in praise of a person (usually deceased) or thing, as in a flowery eulogy that keeps a funeral service going for hours, or "praise" generally; Late Latin eulogia (praise)
euphemism
applied to a mild or indirect word or phrase substituted for one considered too harsh or indelicate; ex. to pass away; can apply to a specific case or to the general practice of resorting to such substitutes; Greek euphemismos (use of words of good omen)
euphonious
pleasant-sounding
euphoric
expresses the mood of a person enjoying an exaggerated feeling of well-being; its slang equivalent is "high"; the word usually implies that the feeling is unjustified by the circumstances, or is entirely without a basis in reality; Greek euphoria (state of well-being)
exacerbate
to worsen, to aggravate, in the sense of increasing bitterness
excoriate
to upbraid scathingly, reprimand harshly; literally, to flay, to strip the skin off (someone); figuratively, merciless reprimand; Latin excoriare (to skin)
excrement
feces; describes any bodily waste, but it almost always refers to fecal matter
exculpate
to free someone from blame; synonymous with exonerate; Latin exulpare (to free from blame)
execrable
detestable, abominable, hateful
exegesis
interpretation, especially of Scripture, but applicable generally; intact from the Greek
exemplary
commendable, setting a high standard, an example worth imitating; Latin exemplary (serving as a copy)
exhort
to urge, to advise with great emphasis; Latin exhortari (to urge)
exigency
urgency; in the plural, "urgent needs, demands"; Latin exigere (to demand)
exonerate
to free from blame; synonymous with exculpate; Latin ex (from) and onus (burden, charge)
exorcise
to expel, to free
expatiate
to dwell upon something at great length, going into it in great detail; exspatiari (to walk about, wander, deviate)
expiate
to atone or make amends for; Latin expiare (to atone for)
expostulate
to argue vigorously with someone in order to talk him out of doing something or to remonstrate against something he has done; Latin expostulare (to demand urgently)
expropriate
to take something away without the owner's consent
expunge
to wipe out, erase, delete; Latin expungere
extempore
impromptu, done on the spur of the moment; Latin ex tempore (literally, out of time; freely, at the moment)
extenuate
to lesson the seriousness of an offense, or someone's guilt, or to make it seem less serious; Latin extenuare (to reduce, diminish)
extirpate
to root out, destroy, eradicate, extirminate; Latin exstirpare (to tear up by the roots), ex (from) and stirps (roots))
extrapolate
to make a future estimate pased on past data; sometimes has the meaning of "conjecture" or "predict"
exuberant
in high spirits, full of enthusiasm; can also have the meaning of "lavish, profuse"; Latin exuberare (to grow thickly, abound)
facet
literally, one of the many polished "faces" of a gem; figuratively, aspect, phase, or angle of a situation; French facette (little face)
facile
performing and acting with ease; can imply superficiality; intact from French, Latin facilis (easy)
facilitate
to make easy, to help along
fallacious
unsound and misleading; Latin fallacia (deceit)
fallow
literally, plowed and unseeded; metaphorically, dormant, inactive, unproductive; also, "pale, yellow, dun", derived from the color of unplowed land; avoid this last use
falter
to waver, vacilate; to stumble, tooter, to give way; usually means waver or stumble; Icelandic, faltrast means (to be uncertain)
farrago
without change from Latin; literally, "mash" (mixed cattle fodder); figuratively, any "mixture" or "medley"; a hodgepodge or mishmash; synonyms are olio and gallimaufry
fatuous
inane or foolish, with a strong implication of complancency and smug self-satisfaction; silly, but has the implication of stupid; Latin fatuus (silly)
feasible
a "can do" word; describes something that can be accomplished, a goal that is not beyond wild dreams, something workable; another shade of meaning is "plausible, likely"; Latin facere (to do)
feckless
untrustworthy due to being incompetent, feeble, or irresponsible, lazy without spirit or energy, or all of these unpleasant things; Scotland feck (effect or value)
fecund
productive, fertile; Latin fecundus (fruitful)
feisty
full of spirit, lively, ready for anything; can also imply "short-tempered and quarrelsome"; American dialects a feist is an ill-tempered mutt
fellicitate
to congratulate; Latin felicitas (success, good fortune)
felicity
great happiness, as in marital felicity
felicitous
Latin felicitas (success, good fortune); applies to things, concrete or abstract, that are well-suited, appropriate, well-chosen, such as a well-chosen remark
feral
an untamed animal that has escaped from the zoo is often referred to as feral; wild or savage; may be used in the place of uncivilized; Latin ferus (wild)
ferret
usually followed by "out"; to rummage around and eventually find something; from ferret, an animal that can be domesticated and trained to smell and drive out rabbits and rats; Latin furritus (small thief)
festoon
a chain of flowers or ribbons hung in a loop as a decoration; to festoon something is, literally, to decorate it with festoons; verb can be used figuratively as a vivid description of situations where something or someone is adorned or surrounded in a smothering sort of way; Italian festone, decoration for a feast)
fetid, foetid
describes a very unpleasant state of affairs; it means "stinking" or "melodorous"; can also be applied, figuratively, to odious or hateful people
fey
eccentric, in a whimsical way, unworldly, appera to be a little bit "touched," and tend to behave irresponsibly; originally applied to anyone believedd to be conscious of impending doom, even death; Icelandic feigr (doomed)
fiasco
a total and humiliating failure; Italian, literally, "straw-covered wine bottle" and figuratively, "disastrous failure"
fiat
a decree, and comes directly from the Latin fiat, which means "Let it be done"; less technically, a fiat is an order, whether issued under authority or arbitrarily, like some of those laid down by the big boss
fiduclary
applies to a person or firm handling assets of a third party, like a trustee, executor, guardian or anyone else in a position of trust; Latin fiduciarius "entrusted"
figurative
word of phrase that involves a figure of speech, especially a metaphor; something other than the literal use of the term; Latin fugurare (to form, shape)
finite
limited in some way, whether in time, space, numerically, or otherwise. Latin finire (to limit, to end)
flaccid
literally, limp and flabby; figuratively, weak, ineffectual, unimpressive
flagellate
to whip or flog; figuratively, to punish, especially with severe criticism; can also be used in the sense of "driving" or "urging" someone or oneself, for instance, to fulfull his duty; Latin flagellare (to whip)
flamboyant
describes anyone or anything outstandingly showy or striking; intact from French (to flame, flare up)
flatulent
describes an unpleasant condition, meaning "suffering from gas" or "causing gas" (in the digestive tract); figuratively used to describe writing that is bombastic, pompous, turgid, and overwritten
flay
synonymous with excoriate; literally, to strip off the skin, hide or any out covering (usually) of a living creature, to skin alive; figuratively, to criticize scathingly;
fledgling
literally, very young birds, who are bald, without feathers; figuratively, applied to inexperienced yougn people who are immature
flippant
frivolous or disrespectful, not taken seriously; a pejorative, disparaging word suggestive of a somewhat flighty, disrespectful attitude towards the subject matter or athe person addressed
flout
to scorn, mock, scoff at, disdain; Middle English flouten (to play the flute)
foible
describes the French word faible, meaning weak; describes a minor, relatively harmless weakness in a person's character, and is especially appropriate when the character is otherwise a strong one; more general than peccadillo (a minor offense, a trivial fault)
foment
to instigate, promote, in the sense of get something moving or going and is usually applied in an unfavorable way; Latin fovere (to warm or keep warm)
font
a church basin, usually of stone, for holding baptism water, a holy water receptable; figuratively, source of fountainhead; also, "set type"; Latin fons (fountain) and fundere (to pour)
foray
a sudden raid, usually to take plunder; to foray is to make such a raid
force majeure
taken over bodily from the French, meaning "superior force"; in other words, an unforeseeable, uncontrollable event that makes it impossible to perform one's obligations (under a contract) and exempts him, in most cases, from liability for failure to live up to his agreement; commonly known as "an act of God" (who gets blamed for everything)
forensic
describes things having to do with the law and the courts; Latin forensis, relating to forum (open square where judicial business was conducted)
formidable
something feared or dreaded; intimidating; can also mean "awe-inspiring"; can also mean "powerful"; Latin formidare (to dread)
fortuitous
happening by chance; accidental; Latin forte (by chance)
founder
when a ship founders, it's all over; to sink; when plans founder, they fail, fizzle out; applied to animals, can mean "to become ill by overeating"; Middle English foundren (to plunge, to the bottom)
fractious
peevish and irritable; unruly; hard to manage; Latin frangere (to break, shatter)
fruition
fulfillment, attainment, realization, results achieved; Latin frui (to enjoy, have the benefit of)
fulminate
usually followed by against; to send forth denunciations and condemnation; fulminare (to lighten - from fulmen, and thuderbolt)
fulsome
offensively excessive; most common use is in the phrase fulsome praise, which is exaggerated and insincere and smacks of the sycophant or toady; Middle English fulsom (foul, disgusting)
furtive
describes the qualities of stealth, slyness, shiftiness, sneakiness; Latin fur (thief)
fusillade
a military term signifying a "simultaneous discharge of arms", the sort of bombardment the enemy keeps up from across the river in war stories; figuratively, describes an explosive atmosphere; fusil is French for gun
gadfly
a species of fly that annoys cattle; figuratively, any pest or anyone who annoys people by continual carping, or persistently pesters others with schemes, demands for action, etc.
garrulous
talkative and rambling on, usually about trivial matters
gauche
crude, uncouth, and awkward, lacking in social grace and inssensitive
generic
general, common, in the sense of applicable to a whole class; in medicine, an untrademarked product that is identical, and normally costs substantially less; Latin genus (kind, type)
genesis
origin or source; intact from Greek
gentry
upper-class people (well-born and well-bred); also used to describe the people of any particular class or group
germane
relevant, pertinent; Latin germanus (from the same parents)
googol
an astronomical number, the largest that can be expressed in words, used primarily to measure the unimaginable distances of outer space; technically, it is 1 followed by 100 zeros
gormandize
to eat gluttonously
gossamer
technically, the filmy cobweb left by spiders on grass or bushes; commonly used to describe any thin, delicate fabric
grandiloquence
high-flown, bombastic speech; Latin grandis (great, large) and loqui (to speak)
gratuitous
given free of charge; uncalled for, unprovoked; ex. a gratuitous insult
gratuity
terms covers anything given voluntarily, i.e., not legally required, like a tip or gift over and above the regular price for something or payment due to services; Latin gratum (favor)
gravamen
issue that weighs most heavily in an accusation or legal action; Latin gravare (to load, weigh down)
gregarious
sociable, fond of company; Latin gregarius (belonging to a herd or flock)and grex (herd, flock)
gulse
semblance, assumed appearance, style of dress
habituate
to get accustomed to, used to, gradually get to accept as normal; Latin habituatus (conditioned)
hackneyed
trite, made stale from overuse
halcyon
carefree and happy; can mean tranquil and peaceful, but usually evokes the image of past joyous, carefree times; Greek halkyon (a mythical bird alleged to have the power of calming the sea while it nested on its waters)
harbinger
someone or something that signals the approach of things to come; a forerunner; Crocuses are a habinger of spring. Middle English herbenger (host)
harridan
a forceful word for a scolding hag, an ill-tempered old woman; the Queen of Hearts in Alice and Wonderland is a fine prototype
hedonist
one who believes that pleasure is the chief aim in life and lives thay way; Greek hedone (pleasure)
hegemony
dominant influence, especially of one nation or state over others; Greek hegemonia (supremacy)
hegira
a journey to a pleasanter place; the original hegira was Muhammad's flight from Mecca to Medina in 622
heinous
excessively evil, positively hateful; French haine (hatred)
herbivorous
plant-eating; Latin herba (plant) and vorare (to eat greedily, gulp)
hermaphrodite
a living organism with both male and female organs of sex; the adj. means bisexual; Greek mythology, Hermaphroditus became merged in bodies and became both male and female
heterogeneous
composed of different kinds; Greek hetero (different) and genos (kind or type)
homogeneous
composed of the same kind; Greek homo (same)
heuristic
helping to learn, encouraging (students) to find out for themselves; Greek heuriskein (to find out)
hiatus
synonymous with lacuna; may be abstract as well; applies to any case where there is a break in a sequence, such as four, six, eight; intact from Latin (opening)
hie
to hasten; evokes a pleasant nostalgic atmosphere
homily
a sermon, a moralizing talk, usually with the implication of tedious length and dullness
honorarium
literally, a voluntary payment for services when there is no legal obligation to pay; euphemistic substitute for fee; Latin honorarius (done or given as an honor)
hubris
arrogance, insolent pride (the kind the goeth before a fall); opposite of modesty; intact from Greek, one of the common sins in Greek tragedy
hyperbole
exaggeration, intentionally used as a figure of speech; extravagent assertions that are not meant to be taken literally; intact from Greek
hypothesis
a supposition or theory to explain an occurrence in the absence of actual proof; hypothetical adj. Meaning "unsupported by truth"; intact from Greek
iconoclast
one who challenges accepted beliefs; Greek eikon (image, idol) and klaste (breaker); literally, an image-breaker;
idyllic
happily peaceful or charmingly romantic; Greek eidyllion (short pastoral poem); idyll is a poem or prose piece about pastoral scenes or sweet charming happenings
ignominy
applies to either the disgrace resulting from a shameful act of the dishonorable conduct itself; ignominious means shameful, humiliating
illicit
unlawful; forbidden; Latin licere (to be allowed)
illusory
describes things that are deceptive, that cause a false impression, an illusion; Latin illudere (to mock, deceive)
imbibe
to drink; figuratively, drink in, absorb; Latin imbibere (to drink in)
imbroglio
confused situation; bitter misunderstanding; violent disagreement; intact from Italian (entanglement)
immemorial
describes things that extend back beyond memory;
immutable
unchangeable; Latin mutare (change)
impassive
neither feeling nor showing emotion; Latin passivus (submissive)
impecunious
describes the unfortunate state of being penniless; Latin pecuniosus (wealthy) and pecunia (money, wealth)
impede
to hinder; Latin impedire (literally, to entangle the feet)
imperious
domineering, bossy, dictatorial; Latin imperiosus (commanding, tyrannical)
imperturbable
calm, not easily excited, impassive, unlikely to be easily disconcerted; Latin perturbare (to disturb utterly, throw in confusion)
implacable
relentless and unable to be pacified
implement
to put something into effet; to carry it out; Late implere (to fill up)
implicate
when you implicate someone in a crime, you involve him it in, or show him to be involved; Latin implicare (to entwine, entangle; figuratively, to involve)
implicit
implied, taken for granted; unquestioning, absolute; implicare (to entwine, entangle)
imponderable
a noun that indicates something difficult to estimate; a matter that cannot be determined by decision; Latin ponderare (literally, to weigh; by extension, to weigh mentally, to ponder)
importunate
persistent in making requests; Latin importunus (assertive, inconsiderate)
importune
to press urgently and request something persistently
impugn
to challenge, to call something into question, to discredit something; Latin impugnare (to attack)
impute
to attribute or ascribe a result or quality to anything or anybody; impute often implies unjust accusation; Latin putare (to think, believe)
inauspicious
unfavorable, gloomy, ill-omened
incarnate
personified; expresses the concept of embodiment; Latin carnis a form of caro (flesh)l
inchoate
just begun, undeveloped and unorganized; Latin incohare (to begin)
icipient
just beginning, in the initial stage of development; Late incipere (to begin)
inclement
harsh, severe; applied to people, means cruel, without mercy
incognito
usual use is in the adverb expression traveling incognito; the assumed identity is also known as an incognito; Latin incognitus (unrecognized)
incongruous
out of keeping with one another; superstition is incongruous with intelligence; Latin incongruus (inconsistent)
increment
an increase, growth or gain, something added; a raise in salary is an increment
incredulous
skeptical, inclined not to believe; Latin credere (to believe)
incubus
a male demon believed to swoop down on sleeping women and have sex with them in their sleep; has come to mean nightmare, whether literally or figuratively
inculcate
to teach by persistent urging, to implant (ideas, habits) through constant admonition; Latin inculcare (to impress upon)
incumbent
as an adj. Followed by on or upon, means obligatory; can also mean "holding office"; as a noun, it means "office-holder"; Latin incubare (to lie upon)
indecorous
the opposite of decorous
indigenous
native, in the sense of characteristic, inherent; Latin indigenus (native)
indigent
needy, impoverished, lacking the necessities of life; Latin indigere (to need)
indolent
lazy and slothful, willing to do anything to avoid exertion; evokes the image of someone having a nice, easy time; Latin indolentia (freedom from pain)
ineffable
inexpressible, in a positive sense; unspeakable, in a negative sense; Latin ineffabilis (unutterable)
ineluctable
inescapable, cannot be avoided and must happen; Latin eluctari (to struggle out of, surmount a difficulty)
ineptitude
can denote unfitness generaly, or lack of skill or aptitude for a particular job; can also mean unsuitable, inappropriate, tasteless; Latin ineptus (unsuitable, inappropriate, tasteless)
ingénue
name assigned, in the theatre, to the role of an artless, unsophisticated girl; French ingénu (naïve, unsophisticated, ingenuous, without artifice)
ingenuous
free from deceit, artless; ingenuous people shouldn't play poker
innate
inborn; inherent, built in; Latin natus (born)
innocuous
harmless; harmless, in the sense of inoffensive; unexciting, vapid; Latin nocuus (harmful)
innuendo
a veiled intimation or insinuation of a derogatory nature, an equivocal or ambiguous allusion, reflecting on someone's character, honesty, ability, etc.
inordinate
excessive; disorderly; irregular; inordinatus (disorderly, confused)
inscrutable
unfathomable, mysterious; Latin scrutari (to investigate)
insouciant
unconcerned and carefree; intact from French, based on soucier (to trouble) and souci (care)
insular
literally, means "of or pertaining to islands"; figuratively, describes people who are narrow-minded, like isolated island people with resulting narrow, parochial views; Latin insula (island)
intangible
describes things that cannot be perceived by touch, but can also mean "vague" or "elusive"
integument
literally, a natural covering, such as an animal's skin, or the rind or husk of a plant of vegetable; but by extension, it has been broadened to include any covering; Latin integumentum (covering)
interdict
to forbid, especially with the implication of an authoritative prohibition, as by a church or civil authority; as a noun, certain civil and church prohibitory decrees; Latin interdicere (to forbid)
interlocutor
anyone participating in a conversation, but the term implies that the conversation or dialogue is of an official nature and on a high level;
interpolate
to insert, especially with th eimplication that the new material is spurious and has been inserted without authorization and for purposes of deception; Latin interpolare (to polish up, and by extension, to falsify
intractable
stubborn, hard to manage, obstinate; Latin trahere (to drag, pull)
intransigent, intransigeant
stubborn, unbending, inflexible, unwilling to compromise; stronger word than intractable; as a noun, can denote a person adamant in his convictions, especially in politcs; Latin transigere (to come to an understanding)
intrepid
fearless, bold, ready to take recognized risks; Latin trepidus (anxious, worried)
intuit
to know something instinctively, i.e., through direct insight without any reasoning, without having to think or be told about it; Latin intueri (to contemplate)
inundate
literally, to flood or overthrow; figuratively, to overwhelm or deluge; Latin inundare (to flood) and unda (wave)
inure, enure
to accustom, to habituate; in law, used in the phrase "inure to the benefit of", where it means to operate
invective
as a noun, denotes a violent, abusive attack in words, written or oral; as an adj., describes that sort of attack; the verb is inveigh, which means to use invective, to rail; Latin invehere (to attack)
inviolable
secure (from invasion, destruction, corruption, etc.)
inviolate
free from attack, desecration, or outrage; freedom from alteration; Latin inviolatus (unhurt)
irascible
short tempered and easily roused to anger; Latin erasci (get angry) and ira (anger)
issue
offspring, descendants; Middle French issir (to go out)
iterate
to say or do something repeatedly; Latin iterare (to repeat)
jejune
insipid, childish; literally, unnourishing; Latin jejunus (literally, fasting, by extension, hungry, and then on to poor, mean, meager)
jettison
the act of throwing cargo overboard to lighten a vessel, and Is also the verb that describes such action; by extension, to jettison is to get rid of any burden, anything unwanted, to discard; Latin jacere (to throw)
jingoism
describes excessive chauvinism, combined with a bellicose attitude toward foreign countries;
jocular
joking, facetious, tongue-in-cheeck, jesting, not to be taken seriously; jocular implies kidding, rather than unkindness; Latin jocari (to joke)
journeyman
a reliable worker, competent but not exceptional; originally applied to a person hired to work for a day, or by the day; has come to be used where one wants to indicate that the worker in question is capable but far from outstanding
juxtapose
to place two or more things side by side; the implication of this word is to call attention to the combining; Latin juxta (close by, near) and ponere (to put or place)
karma
this poetic word, borrowed from Buddhist and Hindu theology, is loosely and commonly used to mean "fate" or "destiny"; technically, the word denotes the sum total of one's deeds in one life which decide his fate in the next incarnation
keen
to wail, used as a noun, a keen is an Irish funeral song characterized by wailing, and to keen, in Irish folkways, is to utter such a keen; Irish caoinim (to lament)
ken
a range of knowledge; found in expressions, beyond my ken, within my ken, outside my ken; range of sight or recognition; German kennen (to know, be acquainted with)
kinetic
describes anything having to do with motion, caused by motion or characterized by motion; Greek kinein (to move)
kite
a bad check, promissory note, or other piece of negotiable commercial paper that has nothing behind it and is worthless; as a verb, kite is to issue such a check, note, etc.
kitsch
borrowed from German, describes trashy art, without taste or aesthetic value, usually pretentious, intended to appeal to the popular taste, marked by slick sensationalism or sentimentality or both; German kitsch (rubbish, trash)
knell
describes the sound of a bell, rung in a slow beat, usually to mark a death or a funeral
kowtow
to act with servility, show exaggerated respect, behave obsequiously; the verb is usually followed by th preposition to or before; Chinese, describes the former custom of kneeling and touching the ground with the forehead as a mark of submission or worship
kudos
praise, honor, glory; Greek kydos
lachrymose
tearful, mournful; Latin lacrima (tear)
laconic
terse, using few words and opposite of garrulous, talkative; Laconia was a region in ancient Greece dominated by Sparta whose inhabitants were noted for their terse and pithy way of speaking
lacuna
a gap, a missing part; Latin lacuna (hollow, cavity, and by extension, any gap)
lagniappe
describes a bonus of one sort or another given to a customer as a token of goodwill, whether extra weight or measure, or a little something different; more loosely, used as a synonym for any tip or gratuity; American Spanish la napa (the addition)
lambent
flickering; softly radiant; brilliantly playful; generates the feeling of light, graceful movement; Latin lambere (to lick)
lament
an expression of grief, especially a vivid or passionate one; as a verb, to lament is to feel deep sorrow and regret
languish
to droop, "take on a melancholy air"; to pine; to suffer neglect; Latin languescere (to become faint)
lascivious
lewd and lustful; describes anything intended to arouse lustful thoughts or sexual desires; Latin lascivus (playful, and wanton, licentious)
lassitude
describes either the unpleasant state of weariness, physical or mental, that results from malnutrition, strain, or oppressive climatic conditions, or a condition of languor, listlessness, and indifference; that seems to prevent certain people from accomplishing anything; Latin lassus (weary) and lassare (to tire)
latent
describes things that are in existence, but not yet active or apparent, things that are potential but noy yet brought to the surface; Latin latere (to be concealed)
laudatory
lavishing praise; Latin laudare (to praise)
lax
showing a lack of interest in doing something either well or on time; the implication is that they know better, but just don’t' give a damn; negligent, lacking in strict observance; Latin (loose, slack)
lay
an adj. Applicable to one who is not a member, or connected with, a particular profession, especially law or medicine, but it can apply in its negative sense to any profession, e.g. accounting or architecture; Greek laikos (of the people)
lethargic
sluggish, listles, without pep or energy, having the morning-after feeling;
leviathan
a monster, any thing of wondrous size or vast power; biblical name for a sea monster typifying power
lexicon
a dictionary; intact from Greek, and most completely applied to Greek, Latin, and Hebrew dictionaries; also used to describe the special vocabulary of a person, profession, or field of knowledge; figuratively, it can mean record
licentious
lewd and immoral, disregarding the proprieties, the rules of human conduct; used to describe sexual excess and immorality; Latin licentia (freedom)
limn
to portray or describe something; Latin inluminare (to light up, to make clear)
linchpin
literally, this word applies to a pin through the end of an axle to keep the wheel on; figuratively, characteruzes anybody or anything deemed vital to keep a situation together
limpid
clear; lucid; serene, untroubled
lissome, lissom
supple, agile, lithe; Latin lentus (supple, pliant)
litany
a form of prayer consistenting of a serious of supplications to God, each followed by the same response by the worshipers; by extension, it has come to be applied to any monotonously repititious recital; often used in the expression litany of complaints
lithe
lissome, pliant
litigious
inclined to litigate (sue), acting for a lawsuit; by extension, argumentative, eager to pick a fight; Latin litigiosus (quarrelsome, full of strife)
logy
sluggish and lethargic; Dutch log (heavy)
loquacious
talkative, garrulous; the opposite of laconic; Latin loqui (to talk)
lothario
a rake, a seducer of women; Lothario was a seducer in the tragedy The Fair Penitent
lugubrious
gloomy, mournful; implies unrelieved gloom, and even more of it than the occasion justifies; Latin lugere (to mourn) and lugubris (mournful)
lurid
gruesome, shockingly vivid; often has the flavor of "sensational";
macrocosm
the great world around us, the entire universe, and by extension, the whole of something, any great whole, a whole world in itself; Greek makros (large) and kosmos (order, and by extension, universe)
microcosm
a miniature world, anything seen as a miniature sample of the whole world, or as resembling something else on a small scale; Greek mikros (small) and kosmos
maladroit
awkward, bungling, the opposite of adroit; Latin male (badly) and adroit
malaise
a noun that describes a general feeling of uneasiness, physical or mental or both; intact from French
malapropism
a ridiculous misuse of words; Latin male (badly) and apropros (appropriately)
malfeasance
wrongdoing, especially misconduct in public office; French malfaisance (evildoing)
malign
to slander, defame; as an adj., it means harmful or malicious; Latin malignus (ill-disposed, wicked)
malleable
impressionable; applied to material in manufacture or sculpture, it means "workable, shapable"; figuratively, used to describe people who can be influenced, those with impressionable or tractable mentalities; Latin malleus (hammer)
manqué
this word, taken from the French, follows the noun it modifies, and means "unfulfilled, fallen short"; French manquer (to miss, fail, lack)
martinet
a strict disciplinarian, one who demands obedience without question; named after the French General Jean Martinet, who invented a new military drill system
masticate
to chew, to reduce to a pulp; Latin masticare (to chew)
matriculate
to enroll; Middle Latin matriculatus (person listed)
maw
a mouth, jaws, throat, gullet, or the stomach or an animal; figuratively, any great opening resembling an animal's jaws;
mawkish
cloyingly, insipidly sentimental
megalomania
describes delusions of grandeur, exaggerated ideas of one's own importance; Greek megalo (indicating exaggeration or extravagance) and mania (madness)
mélange
a mixture or medley; the implication is that the mixture is a mixed bag of diverse and heterogeneous elements; French méler (to mix)
mellifluous
sweet and smooth (literally, flowing with honey); usually found in the expression mellifluous voice; Latin mel (honey) and fluere (to flow)
mendacious
false, lying, untruthful; Latin mendax (lying)
mendicant
beggar; as an adj., begging; Latin mendicare (to beg)
mercurial
lively and sprightly or changeable, fickle, erratic; Greek mythology, Mercury (identified as Hermes who had quick wit, and sharp dealing and thievishness)
meretricious
applies to anyone or anything tawdry and insincere, though showily attractive; Latin meretrix (prostitute); figuratively, expresses dishonest, cheap, flashy allure, like that of a harlot, with no real feeling behind it
messianic
adj. Applied to a leader (or would-be leader) claiming to be a liberator or deliverer; more loosely, to anyone or any theory claiming or expected to solve whatever the crisis of the moment happens to be; Hebrew mashiah (annointed)
metamorphosis
a transformation; Greek meta (change) and morphe (form); in zoology, it is the term describing changes like caterpillar into butterfly;
metaphor
a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is used not literally, but in a way that suggests a comparison of the thing described with something else;
metaphysics
philosophy, particularly in the abstruse variety; in PHL, denotes the branch dealing with first principles, the nature of existence and knowledge; its common use, however, often pejorative, it to characterize an argument or theory as too far-fetched and abstruse to prove the point contended for; Greek meta (after, beyond) and physike (the science of nature)
mete
to mete something out is to distribute or allot it; German messen (to measure)
miasma
literally, noxious air or unwholesome exhalations, as from a swamp or any rotting matter; more broadly, the word is used to describe a pervasive atmosphere that tends to harm or corrupt, or an emanation of foreboding and decay; Greek miasma (stain, pollution)
mien
bearing, air, especially as an indication or a person's character or mood; French mine (expression, appearance)
millieu
intact from French, means environment, surroundings
militate
to operate or serve as an important influence in favor of or against something; Latin militare (to serve as a soldier, but by extension, to serve generally)
minutiae
the smallest details of something; Latin minutia (smallness)
misanthrope
a people-hater, a person who dislikes just about everybpdy; Greek misos (hate) and anthropos (man)
misapprehension
mistake
misappropriate
to take or apply (property of funds) dishonestly, especially for one's own use; steal
miscreant
a villian; as an adj., villianous; Middle English miscreaunt (unbelieving), in the Middle Ages, unbelievers were considered villianous
misnomer
a wrong name of something, or the use of a wrong name; Middle French mis (indicating error) and nomer (to name)
misogyny
hatred of women; adj. Misogynous; Greek misos (hatred) and gyne (woman)
mitigate
to lessen, make less intense or severe; Latin mitigare (to make mild or soft)
mnemonic
anything that aids memory; Greek mnemon (mindful)
modicum
a bit, a small quantity; commonly found in negative expressions; Latin modicus (moderate, limited)
molt
to molt (speaking of animals) is to shed the outer covering (skin, feathers, etc.); Latin mutare (to change)
morass
a marsh or bog; figuratively, anything that bogs you down; German marsch (marsh)
mordant
sarcastic, biting; often used in the expression mordant wit; Latin mordere (to bite)
moribund
literally, approaching death; generally used to depict something that is on the verge of collapsing, "going fast", "on the way out"; Latin mori (to die)
motif
the theme of a work of art, whether literary, musical or other, is usually called a motif; taken over from French
mottled
describes anything splotched with spots of different colors and sizes;
moutebank
a charlatan and swindler; originally applied to a pitchman hawking quack medicines; Italian montinbanco (literally, a person who climbs up on a bench)
mulct
to bleed or milk something from something; to mulct something (usually money) is to obtain it by fraud or extortion
mundane
dull, ordinary or routine; less commonly, wordly; Latin mundus (world)
munificent
describes anything or anyone extremely generous, bountiful, lavish; Latin munificentia (generosity)
nadir
the lowest point of something; Arabic nazir (opposite the zenith)
nascent
just beginning to exist; Latin nasci (to be born)
nebulous
describes anything hazy, indistinct, foggy (in the figurative sense); Latin nebula (mist, cloud)
nefarious
wicked, execrable; Latin ne (not) and fas (divine command)
nemesis
someone's downfall or undoing; also denotes an unbeatable rivalry; Nemesis was the goddess of retribution
neophyte
a beginner; in church circles, a new convert, or a novice in a religious order; Greek neo (new) and phyton (plant)
nether
lower; German nieder (low); The Netherlands are sometimes referred to as "the Low Countries", because it lies lower than sea level
niggardly
niggardly people are stingy, loath to part with even the smallest contribution; niggardly things are meanly small or scanty
niggling
petty; from niggle, to fuss or carp; can also describe details of work requiring excessive effort
nihilism
a philosophy that preaches the total rejection of all restraint, all laws, all social and political institutions; Latin nihil (nothing)
nirvana
perfect bliss, the state of freedom from all the pain and suffering of the world; in eastern religions, the state attained through the extinction of one's personal passions and delusions; in Buddhism, the end of the cycle of reincarnation; generally, perfect peace, heavenly bliss
nomenclature
a system of names such as those used in a particular branch of science, philosophy, art, etc.; Latin nomenclature (list of names)
non sequitur
Latin for it does not follow; describes an unwarranted, unsupported conclusion, a statement made as though logically connected with what has gone before, but which in reality has nothing to do with it;
nostrum
a quack medicine; by extension, a panacea, a pet scheme recommended for the cure of the ills of the world; Latin nostrum (our, evoking the image of a pitchman selling "our" medicine)
noxious
harmful, physically or morally; Latin noxius (injurious)
nuance
a shade of meaning, a delicate gradation, a subtle difference in expression, feeling, color, etc.; intact from French
nubile
applies only to girls and young women and means "marriageable, ready for marriage"; Latin nubere (to marry)
nugatory
worthless, ineffective, futile; Latin nugari (to talk nonsense, be frivolous, to trifle)
obdurate
unyielding, inflexible, persistent, especially in the context of resistance to attempts at moral uplifting, as in an obdurate sinner; Latin durus (hard)
obeisance
homage, deep respect; literally, a bow or curtsy showing deference to a superior; obeissance in French means obedience, and by extension, submission
obfuscate
to make obscure, to becloud something; Latin fuscus (dark, and by extension, indistinct)
oblivion
actively, describes a state of forgetting, having forgotten, being unaware; passively, describes the state of being forgotten; Latin oblivisci (to forget)
obloquy
disgrace and bad repute resulting from public discredit or denunciation; can also be used in the sense of censure; Latin obloqui (to speak against)
obscurantism
the deliberate avoidance of clarity; Latin obscurare (to darken, cover)
obsequies
funeral services
obsequious
excessively deferential and sickeningly servile; Latin obsequi (to comply with)
obstreperous
unruly and boisterous; Latin obstrepere (to make a noise)
obtrude
to force (something, or oneself) on others
obtrusive
describes people who obtrude themselves (and their opinions) on others, and can be used to mean "disagreeably noticeable"; Latin obtrudere (to thrust upon)
obtuse
slow-witted, insensitive, thick-skinned, and thick-headed; Latin obtusus (dull)
obviate
to make something unnecessary, to make it possible to do without; Latin obviare (to prevent)
occlude
to close, stop up; Latin occludere (to close up)
odious
hateful; Latin odi (to hate)
offal
the term applied to the parts of a butchered animal considered inedible waste; by extension, it has become a term for refuse or garbage in general; figuratively, can be applied to people considered outcasts;
Olympian
majestic, incomparable, lofty; the name of a mountain in Greece, the home of the greater Greek gods; by extension, applicable to anyone or anything incomparably superior
ombudsman
an official appointed to look into complaints by individuals against public bodies and authorities; Swedish word meaning commissioner
omniscient
adj. That describes people who know everything; Latin omnis (all) and scire (to know)
omnivorous
describes both meat and plant eaters; figuratively, describes one who reads just about anything that comes his way - an omnivorous reader
onerous
burdensome; Latin onus (load)
onomatopoetic
ex. Are boom and sizzle; Greek onoma (name) and poiein (to make)
opprobrium
describes a disgrace or infamy suffered as a result of shameful conduct; intact from Latin
ordure
dung, excrement; by extension, anything disgusting or degrading; can be used as an equivalent of filth in the extended use
ostensible
adj. Applies to things that are pretended, put forward as the reason for something, apparent but not real; Latin ostendere (to hold out, display)
ostentatious
showy and intended to impress; Latin ostendere (to show, display)
ostracize
to exclude someone from society or companionship; Greek ostrakon (a fragment of broken pottery)
otiose
depending on the context, can mean either "idle, at leisure" or "futile, useless"; the first is the most common use; Latin otium (leisure)