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50 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
Dull, uninteresting, or unsatisfying, devoid of nourishment, substance, or significance.
Synonyms: flat, stale, arid, insipid, vapid (Level 8, Word 37).
Etymology and related word: Latin jejunus, fasting, hungry, barren, dry, the sourcealso of jejunum, the middle section of the small intestine, between the duodenum and theileum, believed to be empty after death.
Usage problem: If you look up jejune in a current dictionary, you will also see another
definition of the word: youthful, childish, immature, puerile. This sense is objected to bycertain usage experts who regard it as having developed through an erroneous analogywith the word juvenile.According to Jacques Barzun, one of the world's foremost authorities on English usage,"the meaning `youthful, childish' for jejune has got into the dictionaries only as aconcession to the misusers."On the other hand, William Safire, the language maven of The New York Times, believesthat "childish, puerile" is the sense in which jejune is most commonly used today. "At acertain point, what people mean when they use a word becomes its meaning," writesSafire. "We should resist its adoption, pointing out the error, for years, mockery helps, ifthe meaning persists, though, it is senseless to ignore the new sense."
2. PAUCITY (PAW-si-tee)
An insufficiency, scarcity, especially a serious or extreme one, a dire lack.
Synonyms: dearth (Level 3, Word 12), shortage, deficiency, exiguity (corresponding
adjective: exiguous).
Antonyms: superabundance, superfluity, plethora.
Etymology: Latin paucitas, fewness, scarcity, from paucus, few.
3. MINATORY (MIN-uh-for-ee)
Threatening, menacing, having a threatening or menacing aspect or nature.
Synonym: minacious.
Etymology and related word: Minatory and minacious come from the Latin minari, tothreaten and are related to the word menace.
4. PUTATIVE (PYOO-tuh-tiv)
Supposed, reputed, commonly considered or regarded as such, deemed to be so but notproved.
Antonyms: certain, definite, unquestionable, indisputable, indubitable, incontrovertible,irrefragable.
Etymology: Latin putare, to consider, believe, think, suppose.
Nocturnal labor, study, writing, or work done late at night.
Etymology: Latin lucubrate, to work by candlelight.
Corresponding adjective: lucubratory, literally "done by candlelight", hence, pertainingto nocturnal study or labor.
Corresponding verb: lucubrate, to work, study, or write into the wee hours.
Usage: Lucubrate may also mean to compose with laborious effort, and especially towrite in a scholarly or pedantic fashion, lucubration has also come to mean anythingproduced by laborious study or effort, especially an elaborate, pedantic, or pretentiouspiece of writing.
(1) A cave dweller.
(2) A person who lives or behaves in a primitive, brutish, or crude manner.
(3) A person who lives in seclusion.
Corresponding adjective: troglodytic.
Etymology: Greek, literally "one who creeps into holes."
Additional useful words: anchorite, eremite (both mean "a hermit, recluse, person wholives in seclusion").
7. ALEATORY (AY-lee-uh-for-ee)
Depending on luck, chance, or on some contingent event, hence, uncertain, unpredictable.
Etymology: Latin aleator, a gamester, thrower of dice, crapshooter, which comes in turnfrom alea, a game of dice. Aleatory means literally depending upon the throw of thedice.
8. FARRAGO (fuh-RAY-goh, also fuh-RAH-goh)
A mixture, especially a confused or jumbled mixture.
Synonyms: conglomeration, medley, mishmash, hodgepodge, miscellany, potpourri,pastiche, salmagundi.
Etymology: Latin, literally "mixed fodder for animals, a jumbled assortment of grains."
Corresponding adjective: farraginous, mixed, jumbled, miscellaneous, heterogeneous.
9. CYNOSURE (SY-nuh-shuur)
A center of attention or interest, focal point.
Etymology: Greek kynosoura, a dog's tail, from kynos, a dog.N.B. This discussion explores the origin of the words cynical, cynic, and cynicism, andtheir relation to Diogenes of Sinope, a Cynic philosopher nicknamed kynos, or kyon, "thedog," for his outrageous behavior.
Usage: Cynosure (capital C) refers to the constellation Ursa Minor or to Polaris, theNorth Star, also called the polestar, which is part of this constellation.
10. BADINAGE (bad'n-AHZH, also BAD'n-azh)
Banter, playful, teasing talk, good-natured joking or gently mocking conversation.
Synonyms: repartee, raillery, persiflage.N.B. This discussion distinguishes the words banter, badinage, persiflage, and raillery,which suggest good-humored jesting.
11. HIERATIC (HY-ur-AT-ik)
Priestly, pertaining to or used by priests, reserved for holy or sacred uses (hieraticwritings, vestments, etc.).
Synonyms: clerical, ministerial, pastoral, ecclesiastical, sacerdotal.
Related words: The prefix hiero- (or hier-) comes from Greek and means sacred, holy,divine. It appears in the words hierocracy, rule by priests, ecclesiastical government,hierarch, a person who rules over sacred things, a high priest, and also a person whooccupies a high position in a hierarchy, and hierarchy, an organized body or systemstrictly arranged in order of rank, power, or class.
Additional useful information: Hieratic may also designate a form of ancient Egyptianwriting in which the traditional hieroglyphics took on a more cursive, or flowing, form.The hieratic style was opposed to the demotic style. Demotic (Greek demos, the people)means of the people, popular. From the same source comes democracy, rule by thepeople. Demotic may also refer to speech or writing that is vernacular, popular, informal.
12. SATURNINE (SAT-ur-nyn)
Gloomy, sullen, or somber in appearance, manner, or temperament.
Synonyms: grave, melancholy, morose, taciturn, phlegmatic (Level 9, Word 33).
Antonyms: mercurial (Level 8, Word 27), sanguine (Level 10, Word 21).
Etymology: Literally, "of or pertaining to the planet Saturn."
13. EXECRATE (EKS-uh-krayt)
To denounce vehemently, declare hateful or detestable, also, to loathe, abhor, detest
utterly. Etymology: Latin, literally "to put under a curse."
Corresponding adjective: execrable, abomi nable, abhorrent, loathsome, utterly
detestable. Corresponding noun: execration, a vehement denunciation or the act ofexecrating, declaring hateful or detestable.
14. VITIATE (VISH-ee-ayt)
To corrupt, spoil, ruin, contaminate, impair the quality of, make faulty or impure, also, toweaken morally, defile, debase.
Etymology: Latin vitium, a fault, vice.
Legal usage: A vitiated contract or a vitiated claim has been corrupted or violated and istherefore invalid, rendered ineffective.
Corresponding noun: vitiation, corruption, spoliation, the act of vitiating or the state ofbeing vitiated.
15. VENIAL (VEE-nee-ul)
Excusable, forgivable, pardonable, able to be overlooked.
Etymology: Latin venia, grace, indulgence.
Religious usage: In theology, venial is opposed to mortal. Venial sins are pardonable,mortal sins exclude one from grace.
Usage tip: Be careful to distinguish venal (Level 9, Word 14) and venial in spelling andmeaning. Venal means corruptible, capable of being bribed or bought off.
16. RISIBLE (RIZ-i-buul)
Provoking or capable of provoking laughter.
Synonyms: laughable, amusing, ludicrous, hilarious, ridiculous, droll (Level 5,Word 36).
Etymology and related words: Risible, ridicule, and ridiculous all come from theLatin ridere, to laugh at.
17. LIONIZE (LY-uh-nyz)
To treat a person as a celebrity or as an object of great interest or importance.
Related word: lion, an important, famous, or celebrated person (a lion in his profession,a lion of industry, a literary lion).
18. CONTRETEMPS (KAHN-truh-ta(n))
An embarrassing, awkward, unexpected situation or event, a sudden mishap or hitch, aninopportune occurrence.
Etymology: French, literally "against the time" or "out of time", first applied in Englishto the sport of fencing to mean (OED) "a pass or thrust ... made at a wrong or inopportunemoment."
Usage and pronunciation tip: The plural is spelled the same, contretemps, butpronounced KAHN-truh-tah(n)z.
Arrogant boasting or bragging.
Synonyms: bluster, braggadocio, vainglory, gasconade, fanfaronade, jactitation.
Etymology: The character Rodomont, a boastful warrior king in Boiardo's OrlandoInamorato and Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, from Italian rodomonte, literally "one whorolls away mountains."
20. HEBETUDE (HEB-i-t(y)ood)
Stupidity, dullness, obtuseness, lethargy of mind or spirit.
Corresponding verb: hebetate, to make or become dull, blunt, or obtuse.
Corresponding adjective: hebetudinous, dull, stupid, obtuse.
Etymology: Latin hebes, blunt, dull.
21. SANGUINE (SANG-gwin)
Confident, cheerful, hopeful, optimistic.
Etymology: (Latin sanguis, blood) Sanguine originally meant having blood as thedominant humor in one's system, hence, having a ruddy, healthy complexion and a warm
temperament. Eventually this sense evolved into the current meaning: confident,cheerfully optimistic.N.B. This discussion distinguishes the words sanguine and sanguinary, which aresometimes confused.
22. DEIPNOSOPHIST (dyp-NAHS-uh-fist)
An adept conversationalist, especially one who enjoys conversing at the table.
Etymology and related words: Deipnosophist (noun), deipnosophistic (adjective), anddeipnosophism (noun) come from the Greek deipnon, a meal, and sophistes, a wise man.The Deipnosophistai by Athenaeus details the conversation of a group of learned menwho are dining together.
Additional useful words: Symposium, which means literally "a drinking party," comesfrom the title of a Platonic dialogue, preprandial, before dinner, postprandial, afterdinner.
23. FRANGIBLE (FRAN-ji-buul)
Breakable, fragile, frail, delicate, easily damaged or destroyed.
Additional useful word: friable, easily crumbled, crushed, or pulverized.
24. APODICTIC (AP-uh-DIK-tik)
Absolutely certain, necessarily true, proved or demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Synonyms: incontestable, incontrovertible, irrefragable.
25. FULMINATE (FUHL-mi-nayt)
To explode, especially to explode with invective and denunciations, to shout forthcondemnation and censure.
Corresponding noun: fulmination, an explosion, detonation, also (especially) athundering verbal explosion, loud denunciation or condemnation.
Etymology: Latin fulminare, to strike with lightning, from fulmen, a stroke of lightning,thunderbolt.
26. SCARIFY (SKAR-i-fy)
(1) To wound the feelings of, make cutting remarks about, distress by criticizing sharply.
(2) (medicine) To make a series of shallow cuts or punctures in the skin, as invaccinating.
(3) (agriculture) To cut into the ground, loosen or break up the soil either to aerate it or inpreparation for planting.
Synonyms: lacerate (Level 1, Word 35), flay, castigate, vituperate, excoriate (Level 9,Word 40).
Corresponding noun: scarification.
Etymology: Literally, "to scratch," from Greek skariphos, a pencil or stylus.
Usage: Scarify and scare are similar in spelling and sound but entirely unrelated inderivation and meaning.
27. HEBDOMADAL (heb-DAHM-uh-dul)
Weekly, pertaining to a week or seven-day period.
Corresponding noun: hebdomad, a group of seven or a seven-day period, a week.
Etymology: Latin and Greek words for the number 7.
28. DIVAGATE (DY-vuh-gayt)
To wander, ramble, or drift about hence, to digress.
Corresponding noun: divagation, a digression or the act of wandering or rambling.
Etymology: Latin divagari, to wander about, from dis-, "apart," and vagari, to wander,ramble, roam.
29. IATROGENIC (eye-AT-truh-JEN-ik)
Caused by medical examination or treatment.
Antonym: pathological, pertaining to or caused by disease.
Etymology and related word: Iatric, pertaining to medicine or medical doctors, andiatrogenic begin with the combining form iatro- (Greek iatros, a physician), which means"medical" or "medicine." The combining form -genic means "producing" or "generating."
30. TERGIVERSATION (TUR-jiv-ur-SAY-shin)
Desertion, specifically, the act of deserting something to which one was previously loyal,such as a cause, a party, or a religious faith.
Synonyms: abandonment, defection.
Corresponding verb: tergiversate (TUR-jiv-ursayt). Tergiversate and Apostatize aresynonmous.
Etymology: Latin, literally "to turn one's back."
Usage: Tergiversate and tergiversation may also be used figuratively of language that isshifty and evasive, that does not take a firm stand. In this sense, tergiversate is a synonymof equivocate and tergiversation is a synonym of equivocation.
31. NACREOUS (NAY-kree-us)
Pearly, consisting of or resembling mother-ofpearl.
Synonyms: iridescent, margaritaceous.
Corresponding noun: nacre (NAY-kur), a synonym of mother-of-pearl.
32. FAMANT (FAY-nee-int)
Lazy, idle, sluggish, good-for-nothing.
Synonyms: do-nothing, shiftless, slothful,, lackadaisical, lethargic, indolent,somnolent, torpid, otiose, hebetudinous.
Pronunciation tip: There is no lax in lackadaisical, say LAK-uh-DAY-zuh-kul.
Etymology: French, literally "to do nothing."
Corresponding nouns: faineant, a lazy person, an idler, sluggard, faineance, idleness,inactivity, indolence, or the lazy, do-nothing attitude of a faineant person.
Pronunciation tip: If you look up faineant in a current dictionary, you may find theFrench pronunciation, fay-nay-A(N), listed first or even listed alone. Despite what thesesources say, the French pronunciation is not recommended because evidence shows thateducated speakers have anglicized the word (made it sound English) since at least the 1920s. Two of the 20thcentury's most respected arbiters on pronunciation, the secondedition of Webster's New International Dictionary (1934), and Kenyon and Knott'sPronouncing Dictionary of American English (1949), both prefer FAY-nee-int.
33. HISPID (HIS-pid)
Covered with stiff hairs, bristles, or small spines, rough and bristly.
Etymology: Latin hispidus, rough, hairy, bristly.N.B. This discussion distinguishes hispid and hirsute, which means extremely hairy orcovered with hair.
Long-suffering patience, the ability to calmly endure hardship or suffering.
Synonym: forbearance.
Etymology: Latin longus, meaning "long," and animus, spirit, mind.
35. SCIOLIST (SY-uh-list)
A person who has only superficial knowledge of a subject, or who pretends to haveknowledge.
Etymology: Latin, literally "a smatterer," ultimately from the Latin scire, to know.
Corresponding noun: sciolism, superficial or pretended knowledge.
36. PROPINQUITY (pro-PING-kwi-tee)
(1) Nearness in place or time, proximity.
(2) Nearness or similarity in nature, kinship, close relation.
Etymology: Latin propinquitas, nearness, proximity, or friendship, relationship.N.B. This discussion distinguishes proximity and propinquity.
37. FACTITIOUS (fak-TISH-us)
Not natural or genuine, produced artificially.
Synonyms: sham, contrived, bogus, fraudulent, spurious (Level 8, Word 18).
Etymology: Latin facticius, made by art, artificial, from facere, to make.N.B. This discussion distinguishes artificial and factitious.
38. PLEXIFORM (PLEK-si-form)
In general, complicated or elaborate, specifically, like a plexus or network.
Related word: plexus, "a network" or "any complex structure containing an intricatenetwork of parts" (Random House Webster's College Dictionary).
Etymology: Latin plectere, to braid, intertwine, interweave.
39. SUSURRUS (suu-SUR-us)
A soft, subdued sound, a whispering, murmuring, muttering, or rustling sound.
Synonym: susurration (SOO-suh-RAY-shin).
Corresponding verb: susurrate (suu-SUR-ayt), to whisper, murmur.
Corresponding adjective: susurrant (suuSUR-int), softly whispering, rustling, or murmuring.
Etymology: Latin susurrare, to whisper, murmer, mutter.
40. TRITURATE (TRICH-ur-ayt)
To grind, crush, or pound into fine particles or powder.
Synonyms: pulverize, comminute, levigate.
Etymology: Latin, "to thresh grain" or "tread out corn."N.B. This discussion distinguishes the verbs to pulverize and to triturate.
Corresponding noun: trituration
41. PROTEAN (PROH-tee-in)
Highly variable or changeable, readily assuming different shapes, forms, characters, ormeanings.
Etymology: Proteus, a sea god in ancient Greek mythology who could change hisshape at will.
42. CREPITATE (KREP-i-tayt)
To crackle, make a crackling, snapping, or popping noise.
Etymology and related word: Latin crepitare, to crackle, creak, rattle, or clatter, thesource also of decrepit and the unusual word crepitaculum, the rattle or rattling organ ofthe rattlesnake.
Corresponding adjective: crepitant, crackling or creaking.
Corresponding noun: crepitation, a crackling or creaking sound, in medicine, thegrating sound or sensation produced by rubbing together the fractured ends of a brokenbone.
43. NOCTIVAGANT (nahk-TIV-uh-gint)
Wandering at night.
Etymology and related words: Latin noctivagus, wandering by night, from nox, night,and vagari, to wander about. Vagari is also the source of vague, vagabond, a wanderer,and vagary (properly vuh-GAIR-ee, now usually VAY-guh-ree), an odd, whimsical ideaor an unpredictable, capricious action or event (the vagaries of the stock market).
Corresponding noun: noctivagation, the act of wandering in the night.
44. FULIGINOUS (fyoo-LIJ-i-nus)
Sooty, smoky, pertaining to, resembling, or consisting of soot or smoke.
Etymology: Latin fuligo, soot.
45. HORTATORY (HOR-tuh-for-ee)
Encouraging or urging to some course of action, giving earnest counsel or advice.
Related words: exhort, to urge or advise earnestly to do what is deemed right or proper,exhortation, a statement that exhorts, "language intended to incite and encourage"(Webster 2).
Etymology: Latin hortari, to encourage, incite.
46. HELIOLATRY (HEE-lee-AHL-uh-tree)
Worship of the sun.
Etymology and related words: Greek helios, the sun, and latreia, worship. The Englishcombining form hello- means "the sun" and appears in heliotherapy, a form of medicaltreatment involving exposure to sunlight, heliocentric, regarding the sun as the center ofour planetary system, as opposed to geocentric, and heliotropism (HEE-lee-AH-truhpiz'm),the tendency of plants to bend or move toward-or in some cases, away from-asource of light.
Corresponding noun: heliolater, a sun worshiper.
Corresponding adjective: heliolatrous, sun worshiping.
47. SCIAMACHY (sy-AM-i-kee)
Shadow-boxing, the act of fighting a shadow or an imaginary enemy.
Etymology and related words: Greek skia, a shadow, and mache, a battle, contest,struggle. The English combining form -machy denotes a battle, contest, or struggle, as intheomachy, a battle against or between gods, gigantomachy, a war or battle betweengiants or superhuman beings, and logomachy (Greek logos, word), a battle of words.
Smooth and bald.
Etymology: Latin glaber, without hair, bald.
A mean, tricky lawyer, especially, a lawyer who handles petty cases in an unethical,unscrupulous way.
Synonym: shyster.
Corresponding verb: pettifog, to carry on a law practice in a petty, tricky, unscrupulousway, by extension, to engage in chicanery or unethical practices in a business of any sort.
Corresponding noun: pettifoggery, legal tricks or chicanery.
50. EPICENE (EP-i-seen)
(1) Having characteristics or qualities of both sexes.
(2) Not having the characteristics or qualities of either sex, sexless, neuter.
(3) (of style) lacking appeal or potency, feeble, flaccid.
(4) (of a man) not virile, effeminate.
Etymology: Greek, literally "in common."
Related words: hermaphroditic (adjective) and hermaphrodite (noun), which comefrom Hermaphroditus, in Greek mythology the son of Hermes, the messenger of thegods, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Hermaphroditus was united in onebody with the water nymph Salmacis.
Usage: Epicene does not usually suggest having both male and female reproductiveorgans but rather having a range of characteristics of both sexes, emotional as well asphysical.
Corresponding noun: epicene (an epicene person).