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179 Cards in this Set

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Abate
To reduce in amount, degree, or severity
As the hurricane's force abated, the winds dropped and the sea became calm.
Abscond
To leave secretly
The patron absconded from the restaurant without paying his bill by sneaking out the back door.
Abstain
To choose not to do something
She abstained from choosing a mouthwatering dessert from the tray.
Abyss
An extremely deep hole
The submarine dove into the abyss to chart the previously unseen depths.
Adulterate
To make impure
The restaurateur made his ketchup last longer by adulterating it with water.
Advocate
To speak in favor of
The vegetarian advocated a diet containing no meat.
Aesthetic
Concerning the appreciating of
Followers of the Aesthetic Movement regarded the pursuit of beauty as the only true purpose of art.
Aggrandize
To increase in power, influence, and reputation
The supervisor sought to aggrandize himself by claiming that the achievements of his staff were actually his own.
Alleviate
To make more bearable
Taking aspirin helps to alleviate a headache.
Amalgamate
To combine; to mix together
Giant Industries amalgamated with Mega Products to form Giant-Mega Products Incorporated.
Ambiguous
Doubtful or uncertain; able to be interpreted several ways
The directions he gave were so ambiguous that we disagreed on which way to turn.
Ameliorate
To make better; to improve
The doctor was able to ameliorate the patient's suffering using painkillers.
Anachronism
Something out of place in time
The aged hippie used anachronistic phrases like groovy and far out that had not been popular for years.
Analogous
similar or alike in some way; equivalent to
In a famous argument for the existence of God, the universe is analogous to a mechanical timepiece, the creation of a divinely intelligent "clockmaker."
Anomaly
Deviation from what is normal
Albino animals may display too great an anomaly in their coloring to attract normally colored mates.
Antagonize
To annoy or provoke to anger
The child discovered that he could antagonize the cat by pulling its tail.
Antipathy
Extreme dislike
The antipathy between the French and the English regularly erupted into open warfare.
Apathy
Lack of interest or emotion
The apathy of voters is so great that less than half the people who are eligible to vote actually bother to do so.
Arbitrate
To judge a dispute between two opposing parties
Since the couple could not come to agreement, a judge was forced to arbitrate their divorce proceedings.
Archaic
Ancient, old-fashioned
Her archaic Commodore computer could not run the latest software.
Ardor
Intense and passionate feeling
Bishop's ardor for landscape was evident when he passionately described the beauty of the scenic Hudson Valley.
Articulate
Able to speak clearly and expressively
She is such an articulate defender of labor that unions are among her strongest supporters.
Assuage
To make something unpleasant less severe
Serena used aspirin to assuage her pounding headache.
Attenuate
To reduce in force or degree; to weaken
The Bill of Rights attenuated the traditional power of government to change laws at will.
Audacious
Fearless and daring
Her audacious nature allowed her to fulfill her dream of skydiving.
Austere
Severe or stern in appearance; undecorated
The lack of decoration makes Zen temples seem austere to the untrained eye.
Banal
Predictable, clichéd, boring
He used banal phrases like Have a nice day, or Another day, another dollar.
Bolster
To support; to prop up
The presence of giant footprints bolstered the argument that Sasquatch was in the area.
Bombastic
Pompous in speech and manner
The dictator's speeches were mostly bombastic; his boasting and outrageous claims had no basis in fact.
Cacophony
Harsh, jarring noise
The junior high orchestra created an almost unbearable cacophony as they tried to tune their instruments.
Candid
Impartial and honest in speech
The observations of a child can be charming since they are candid and unpretentious.
Capricious
Changing one's mind quickly and often
Queen Elizabeth I was quite capricious; her courtiers could never be sure which of their number would catch her fancy.
Castigate
To punish or criticize harshly
Americans are amazed at how harshly the authorities in Singapore castigate perpetrators of what would be considered minor crimes in the United States.
Catalyst
Something that brings about a change in something else
The imposition of harsh taxes was the catalyst that finally brought on the revolution.
Caustic
Biting in wit
Dorothy Parker gained her reputation for caustic wit from her cutting, yet clever, insults.
Chaos
Great disorder or confusion
In most religious traditions, God created an ordered universe from chaos.
Chauvinist
Someone prejudiced in favor of a group to which he or she belongs
The attitude that men are inherently superior to women and therefore must be obeyed is common among male chauvinists.
Chicanery
Deception by means of craft or guile
Dishonest used car salesmen often use chicanery to sell their beat-up old cars.
Cogent
Convincing and well reasoned
Dishonest used car salesmen often use chicanery to sell their beat-up old cars.
Condone
To overlook, pardon, or disregard
Some theorists believe that failing to prosecute minor crimes is the same as condoning an air of lawlessness.
Convoluted
Intricate and complicated
Although many people bought A Brief History of Time, few could follow its convoluted ideas and theories.
Corroborate
To provide supporting evidence
Fingerprints corroborated the witness's testimony that he saw the defendant in the victim's apartment.
Credulous
Too trusting; gullible
Although some four-year-olds believe in the Easter Bunny, only the most credulous nine-year-olds also believe in him.
Crescendo
Steadily increasing volume or force
The crescendo of tension became unbearable as Evel Knievel prepared to jump his motorcycle over the school buses.
Decorum
Appropriateness of behavior or conduct; propriety
The countess complained that the vulgar peasants lacked the decorum appropriate for a visit to the palace.
Deference
Respect, courtesy
The respectful young law clerk treated the Supreme Court justice with the utmost deference.
Deride
To speak of or treat with contempt; to mock
The awkward child was often derided by his "cooler" peers.
Desiccate
To dry out thoroughly
After a few weeks of lying on the desert's baking sands, the cow's carcass became completely desiccated.
Desultory
Jumping from one thing to another; disconnected
Diane had a desultory academic record; she had changed majors 12 times in three years.
Diatribe
An abusive, condemnatory speech
The trucker bellowed a diatribe at the driver who had cut him off.
Diffident
Lacking self-confidence
Steve's diffident manner during the job interview stemmed from his nervous nature and lack of experience in the field.
Dilate
To make larger; to expand
When you enter a darkened room, the pupils of your eyes dilate to let in more light.
Dilatory
Intended to delay
The congressman used dilatory measures to delay the passage of the bill.
Dilettante
Someone with an amateurish and superficial interest in a topic
Jerry's friends were such dilettantes that they seemed to have new jobs and hobbies every week.
Dirge
A funeral hymn or mournful speech
Melville wrote the poem "A Dirge for James McPherson" for the funeral of a union general who was killed in 1864.
Disabuse
To set right; to free from error
Galileo's observations disabused scholars of the notion that the Sun revolved around the earth.
Discern
To perceive; to recognize
It is easy to discern the difference between butter and butter-flavored topping.
Disparate
Fundamentally different; entirely unlike
Although the twins appear to be identical physically, their personalities are disparate.
Dissemble
To present a false appearance; to disguise one's real intentions or character
The villain could dissemble to the police no longer--he admitted the deed and tore up the floor to reveal the body of the old man.
Dissonance
A harsh and disagreeable combination, often of sounds
Cognitive dissonance is the inner conflict produced when long-standing beliefs are contradicted by new evidence.
Dogma
A firmly held opinion, often a religious belief
The dictator was dogmatic--he, and only he, was right.
Dupe
To deceive; a person who is easily deceived
Bugs Bunny was able to dupe Elmer Fudd by dressing up as a lady rabbit.
Eclectic
Selecting from or made up from a variety of sources
Budapest's architecture is an eclectic mix of eastern and western styles.
Efficacy
Effectiveness
The efficacy of penicillin was unsurpassed when it was first introduced; the drug completely eliminated almost all bacterial infections for which it was administered.
Elegy
A sorrowful poem or speech
Although Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" is about death and loss, it urges its readers to endure this life, and to trust in spirituality.
Eloquent
Persuasive and moving, especially in speech
The Gettysburg Address is moving not only because of its lofty sentiments but also because of its eloquent words.
Emulate
To copy; to try to equal or excel
The graduate student sought to emulate his professor in every way, copying not only how she taught, but also how she conducted herself outside of class.
Enervate
To reduce in strength
The guerrillas hoped that a series of surprise attacks would enervate the regular army.
Engender
To produce, cause, or bring about
His fear and hatred of clowns was engendered when he witnessed the death of his father at the hands of a clown.
Enigma
A puzzle; a mystery
Speaking in riddles and dressed in old robes, the artist gained a reputation as something of an enigma.
Enumerate
To count, list, or itemize
Moses returned from the mountain with tablets on which the commandments were enumerated.
Ephemeral
Lasting a short time
The lives of mayflies seem ephemeral to us, since the flies' average life span is a matter of hours.
Equivocate
To use expressions of double meaning in order to mislead
When faced with criticism of his policies, the politician equivocated and left all parties thinking he agreed with them.
Erratic
Wandering and unpredictable
The plot seemed predictable until it suddenly took a series of erratic turns that surprised the audience.
Erudite
Learned, scholarly, bookish
The annual meeting of philosophy professors was a gathering of the most erudite, well-published individuals in the field.
Esoteric
Known or understood by only a few
Only a handful of experts are knowledgeable about the esoteric world of particle physics.
Estimable
Admirable
Most people consider it estimable that Mother Teresa spent her life helping the poor of India.
Eulogy
Speech in praise of someone
His best friend gave the eulogy, outlining his many achievements and talents.
Euphemism
Use of an inoffensive word or phrase in place of a more distasteful one
The funeral director preferred to use the euphemism "sleeping" instead of the word "dead."
Exacerbate
To make worse
It is unwise to take aspirin to try to relieve heartburn; instead of providing relief, the drug will only exacerbate the problem.
Exculpate
To clear from blame; prove innocent
The adversarial legal system is intended to convict those who are guilty and to exculpate those who are innocent.
Exigent
Urgent; requiring immediate action
The patient was losing blood so rapidly that it was exigent to stop the source of the bleeding.
Exonerate
To clear of blame
The fugitive was exonerated when another criminal confessed to committing the crime.
Explicit
Clearly stated or shown; forthright in expression
The owners of the house left a list of explicit instructions detailing their house-sitter's duties, including a schedule for watering the house plants.
Fanatical
Acting excessively enthusiastic; filled with extreme, unquestioned devotion
The stormtroopers were fanatical in their devotions to the Emperor, readily sacrificing their lives for him.
Fawn
To grovel
The understudy fawned over the director in hopes of being cast in the part on a permanent basis.
Fervid
Intensely emotional; feverish
The fans of Maria Callas were unusually fervid, doing anything to catch a glimpse of the great opera singer.
Florid
Excessively decorated or embellished
The palace had been decorated in an excessively florid style; every surface had been carved and gilded.
Foment
To arouse or incite
The protesters tried to foment feeling against the war through their speeches and demonstrations.
Frugality
A tendency to be thrifty or cheap
Scrooge McDuck's frugality was so great that he accumulated enough wealth to fill a giant storehouse with money.
Garrulous
Tending to take a lot
The garrulous parakeet distracted its owner with its continuous talking.
Gregarious
Outgoing, sociable
She was so gregarious that when she found herself alone she felt quite sad.
Guile
Deceit or trickery
Since he was not fast enough to catch the roadrunner on foot, the coyote resorted to guile in an effort to trap his enemy.
Gullible
Easily deceived
The con man pretended to be a bank officer so as to fool the gullible bank customers into giving him their account information.
Homogenous
Of a similar kind
The class was fairly homogeneous, since almost all of the students were senior journalism majors.
Iconoclast
One who opposes established beliefs, customs, and institutions
His lack of regard for traditional beliefs soon established him as an iconoclast.
Imperturbable
Not capable of being disturbed
The counselor had so much experience dealing with distraught children that she seemed imperturbable, even when faced with the wildest tantrums.
Impervious
Impossible to penetrate; incapable of being affected
A good raincoat will be impervious to moisture.
Impetuous
Quick to act without thinking
It is not good for an investment broker to be impetuous, since much thought should be given to all the possible options.
Implacable
Unable to be calmed down or made peaceful
His rage at the betrayal was so great that he remained implacable for weeks.
Inchoate
Not fully formed; disorganized
The ideas expressed in Nietzsche's mature work also appear in an inchoate form in his earliest writing.
Ingenuous
Showing innocence or childlike simplicity
She was so ingenuous that her friends feared that he innocence and trustfulness would be exploited when she visited the big city.
Inimical
Hostile, unfriendly
Even though the children had grown up together they were inimical to each other at school.
Innocuous
Harmless
Some snakes are poisonous, but most species are innocuous and pose no danger to humans.
Insipid
Lacking interest or flavor
The critic claimed that the painting was insipid, containing no interesting qualities at all.
Intransigent
Uncompromising; refusing to be reconciled
Inundate
To overwhelm; to cover with water
Irascible
Easily made angry
Laconic
Using few words
Lament
To express sorrow; to grieve
Laud
To give praise; to glorify
Lavish
To give unsparingly (v.); extremely generous or extravagant (adj.)
Lethargic
Acting in an indifferent or slow, sluggish manner
Loquacious
Talkative
Lucid
Clear and easily understood
Luminous
Bright, brilliant, glowing
Malinger
To evade responsibility by pretending to be ill
Malleable
Capable of being shaped
Metaphor
A figure of speech comparing two different things; a symbol
Meticulous
Extremely careful about details
Misanthrope
A person who dislikes others
Mitigate
To soften; to lessen
Mollify
To calm or make less severe
Monotony
Lack of variation
Naive
Lacking sophistication or experience
Obdurate
Hardened in feeling; resistant to persuasion
Obsequious
Overly submissive and eager to please
Obstinate
Stubborn, unyielding
Obviate
To prevent; to make unnecessary
Occlude
To stop up; to prevent the passage of
Onerous
Troublesome and oppressive; burdensome
Opaque
Impossible to see through; preventing the passage of light
Opprobrium
Public disgrace
Ostentation
Excessive showiness
Paradox
A contradiction or dilemma
Paragon
Model of excellence or perfection
Pedant
Someone who shows off learning
Perfidious
Willing to betray one's trust
Perfunctory
Done in a routine way; indifferent
Permeate
To penetrate
Philanthropy
Charity; a desire or effort to promote goodness
Placate
To soothe or pacify
Plastic
Able to be molded, altered, or bent
Plethora
Excess
Pragmatic
Practical as opposed to idealist
Precipitate
To throw violently or bring about abruptly; lacking deliberation
Prevaricate
To lie or deviate from the truth
Pristine
Fresh and clean; uncorrupted
Prodigal
Lavish, wasteful
Proliferate
To increase in number quickly
Propitiate
To conciliate; to appease
Propriety
Correct behavior; obedience to rules and customs
Prudence
Wisdom, caution, or restraint
Pungent
Sharp and irritating to the senses
Quiescent
Motionless
Rarefy
To make thinner or sparser
Repudiate
To reject the validity of
Reticent
Silent, reserved
Rhetoric
Effective writing or speaking
Satiate
To satisfy fully or overindulge
Soporific
Causing sleep or lethargy
Specious
Deceptively attractive; seemingly plausible but fallacious
Stigma
A mark of shame or discredit
Stolid
Unemotional; lacking sensitivity
Sublime
Lofty or grand
Tacit
Done without using words
Taciturn
Silent, not talkative
Tirade
Long, harsh speech or verbal attack
Torpor
Extreme mental and physical sluggishness
Transitory
Temporary, lasting a brief time
Vacillate
To sway physically; to be indecisive
Venerate
To respect deeply
Veracity
Filled with truth and accuracy
Verbose
Wordy
Vex
To annoy
Volatile
Easily aroused or changeable; lively or explosive
Waver
To fluctuate between choices
Whimsical
Acting in a fanciful or capricious manner; unpredictable
Zeal
Passion, excitement