I am fascinated by those "second string" words that enable one to express very fine shades of meaning.
I will endeavor to build this area up with new words every now and then. Anyone reading this page is most
welcome to help. I think that it's helpful to give a lot of examples for each word. The example sentences
given here are only occasionally original to me. Some I found on the Web, others in dictionaries. Some of
the ones that I didn't make up are reproduced here exactly as I found them, and others are modified slightly.
abut - verb - (1) To be adjacent; touch or join at the edge or border (often fol. by on, upon,
or against): This piece of land abuts on a street.
(2) To be adjacent to; border on; end at.
(3) To support as an abutment.
Examples: (1) Allice Millern, 76, a lifelong resident whose property abuts the proposed
site applauded the governor's decision.
(2) Hidden on a small residential street in the Old City, this quaint four-story
hotel abuts the Chao Phraya river and offers views of Wat Arun, the 19th-century
Temple of the Dawn, from its open lobby.
(3) The New Orleans central business district includes Canal Street, the Louisiana
Superdome, an Amtrak station and nearly all of the city's skyscrapers. One of
its borders abuts the French Quarter.
abutment - noun - The part of a structure that bears the weight or pressure of an arch. b. A structure
that supports the end of a bridge. c. A structure that anchors the cables of a
acumen - noun - Quickness, accuracy, and keenness of judgment or insight, especially in practical
Examples: (1) He had remarkable acumen in business matters.
(2) One of the charity's wealthiest supporters, John urged his own sales department to
lend their business acumen.
(3) Although he believes the terrorists have lost key sanctuaries, logistical
capabilities and the leadership acumen it once had, the network still maintains
the ability to launch "vicious attacks."
alight - verb - (past: alighted or alit)
(1) To come down and settle, as after flight: a sparrow alighting on a branch.
(2) To dismount from a horse, descend from a vehicle, etc.: The queen alighted
from the carriage.
(3) To come by chance, encounter or notice something accidentally: alight on a
(4) Burning; lighted: The discarded match was still alight.
Examples: (1) Both turkeys then alighted onto their personal three-vehicle motorcade, complete
with blaring sirens and police motorcycles, en route to Dulles airport.
(2) Services are not expected to be disrupted, but passengers alighting in
Paris will be unable to make connections.
(3) The governer rolled up in front of the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan in a black
luxury SUV and alighted for a "photo op" down a media-lined red carpet.
(4) Cars, trucks and buses were being hijacked and set alight so regularly
that roads were closed and motorists urged to stay at home.
allay - verb - 1. To reduce the intensity of; relieve: allay back pains.
2. To calm or pacify; set to rest: allayed the fears of the worried citizens.
Examples: (1) British Prime Minister Theresa May is visiting Belfast on a trip designed to
allay Northern Irish concerns about Britain's vote to leave the European Union.
(2) I relaxed, thinking to allay his doubts with the plans I had discussed
in secret with Nicholas.
ancillary - adj - (1) subordinate; subsidiary.
(2) Auxiliary; helping:
Examples: (1) "We do think there are going to be some ancillary benefits from having the
Walmart in town," the council president said.
(2) Until there is a widespread demand by consumers for fuel efficiency, automakers
and their ancillary support industries will keep producing powerful gas
(3) Overall airlines racked up $4.6 billion in ancillary fees, which include
items like reservation fees.
assiduous - adj - marked by careful, unremitting attention or persistent
application; dilligent (an assiduous stamp collector)
Examples: (1) He has been assiduous at all the work of an archdeacon,
sitting through all the committees, inspecting all the churches,
making sure parish assessments are paid, seeing the clergy for
their annual reviews.
(2) To uncover how taxpayers' money was spent, the reporter was
methodical in his examination of public records and assiduous
in his cultivation of inside sources.
(3) the new law has primarily hampered the work of regional newsmen,
since the regional authorities are particularly assiduous in
assuage - verb - (1) To make (something burdensome or painful) less intense or severe: assuage her grief.
(2) To satisfy or appease; relieve (hunger or thirst, for example).
(3) To soothe or calm: assuage their chronic insecurity.
Examples: (1) He hopes that his clarification will assuage the worries of the voters.
(2) The governor's statement did little to assuage concerns of some people that his
administration was hiding information.
(3) The Malaysian government will intensify efforts to assuage any doubt that investors
may have on the political situation in the country lately.
austere - adj - 1. Severe or stern in manner or appearance; somber and grave: the austere figure
of a Puritan minister.
2. Strict or severe in discipline; ascetic: a desert nomad's austere life.
3. Without excess, luxury, or ease; simple; limited; severe: an austere life.
4. Having no adornment or ornamentation; severely simple; bare: an austere style.
5. Lacking softness; hard: an austere bed of straw.
Examples: (1) Not three miles away, on one of New Canaan’s most estate-studded thoroughfares,
lies the austere glass-and-concrete house that Johnson called his “little jewel
box,” built in 1953 for Alice Ball, a single woman with apparent passions for
pink stucco and ruthless spatial efficiency.
(2) Visitors may explore the impressive church, delicate cloisters and refectory
(where the monks ate in austere silence), and then climb down into the dark,
damp Romanesque foundations.
(3) He is said to be highly intelligent, though somewhat mechanical in personality.
BBC News Sydney correspondent Rick Nye described him as "austere, cerebral and
self-disciplined, who is easy to respect but harder to like."
(4) The priest performed quiet prayers under pelting rain before an austere stone
memorial honoring the 65 victims.
(5) The area was more akin to the austere prairies of Nebraska and Kansas than the
majestic Rockies to the West .
(6) House leaders will unveil a "cautious and austere" state budget plan.
benighted - adj - (1) overtaken by darkness or night.
(2) existing in a state of intellectual, social, or moral darkness;
unenlightened; ignorant; backward
Examples: (1) Insensitive politicians, however, should regard the bully-pulpit
as a venue for considerate, well-informed thought rather than an
open-microphone for all -- including the severely benighted -- to
make use of.
(2) I was appalled by the benighted editorial submitted by John Smith
in the April 19th edition of The Times.
(3) intellectuals are benighted by prejudices and politicians are
blinded by partisan frenzy
(3) Church had replaced empire," and then ruled for a thousand
benighted years, "until the monarchies of France and England had
restored the primacy of civil society."
bumptious - adj - (1) Self-assertive or proud to an irritating degree.
Examples: (1) Our European allies may bristle at our presumption. Some still think of us as a
(2) Trump has mocked this political platitude, repeatedly. If anything, one of the
bumptious billionaire’s most reliable applause lines is his frequent declaration
that the media are "terrible," "among the most dishonest groups of people" he’s
canard - noun - (1) An unfounded or false, deliberately misleading story; especially a fabricated
report. b. a groundless rumor or belief.
(2) a. A short winglike control surface projecting from the fuselage of an aircraft, such
as a space shuttle, mounted forward of the main wing and serving as a horizontal
stabilizer. b. An aircraft whose horizontal stabilizing surfaces are forward of
the main wing.
Examples: (1) We cite this overlooked bit of hard-knocks progress not just to puncture the canard
that government is always the problem, not the solution.
(2) It is ridiculous to say he doesn't believe in the United Nations. This is a canard
spread by journalists who haven't bothered to read his stuff and by crafty politicians
who aren't willing to say what the debate is really about.
canonical - adj - (1) Of, relating to, or required by canon law.
(2) Of or appearing in the biblical canon.
(3) Conforming to a general rule or acceptable procedure.
(4) Of or belonging to a cathedral chapter.
(5) Music. Having the form of a canon.
(6) Authorized; recognized; accepted
Examples: (1) ...there is a constant rush of people into the discipline,
making for themselves the three canonical discoveries of the
field: It's terribly important; it's easy and lots of fun to
do badly; and finally, it's very hard indeed to do well.
(2) This online summary of the paper summarizes the study's
findings, but the printed edition remains canonical.
(3) While the texts of canonical authors like Longfellow are
constantly available, scholars are laboring at a disadvantage
in the case of artists who illustrated ephemeral publications.
(4) ...such as employees of a particular company (to choose a
droll canonical example)
(5) In my own Catholic tradition, all those volumes of Canonical
Law, Encyclicals, Papal Bulls and theological debate....
circumspect - adj - (1) Heedful of circumstances and potential consequences; cautious; prudent: circumspect
(2) well-considered: circumspect ambition.
Examples: (1) Even if the film is more circumspect than Lonnigan's reckless book, it still
ends up implicating Merril on purely circumstantial evidence.
(2) The state of the investigation is rather difficult to quantify, because he was
very circumspect in naming names and giving precise details.
(3) The President said that he hoped to get the relationship off to a good start,
but he was circumspect. "Like everything else, the devil is always in the details,
So I want to talk to the ambassador about it and see what he has in mind."
(4) Well I dont think concern about crime is a mind over matter issue. It is bad out
there right now and you are right to be circumspect.
(5) The two presidents were circumspect but optimistic.
cogent - adj - a. Appealing forcibly to the intellect or powers of reasoning; convincing:
a cogent argument.
b. pertinent, relevant: a cogent analysis.
Examples: (1) In addition to showing that the executive’s statements were misleading,
the court wrote in the case that a shareholder’s claim that the
executive had wrongful intent had to be “more than merely plausible or
reasonable — it must be cogent and at least as compelling as any opposing
inference of nonfraudulent intent.”
(2) Last week, I spent most of an afternoon trying to get a cogent explanation
of a confusing news release issued late on the Friday before by an agency
called the United States Department of Transportation Pipeline and
Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
concomitant - adj - Accompanying, especially in a subordinate or incidental
way. Existing or occurring concurrently.
Example: (1) Warning: This medicine causes a decrease in the
coagulation time of blood with concomitant increases in
the red blood cell count.
(2) Given the current lack of congressional turnover and
the concomitant increase in the length of time legislators
are in office, there are few new ideas being introduced.
(3) This administration has failed to address the presence
of widespread poverty and the concomitant prevalence of
conjoin - verb - To join or become joined together; unite; combine for a common purpose.
Examples: (1) It's a distinctly cross-cultural experience as virtuoso musicians
from Greece, Wales and the Middle East conjoin to see where such
exploration takes them.
(2) Additionally, you can conjoin individual MailMergeFilterCriterion
objects to create a single, complex filter criterion.
(3) There are two people in a marriage. They have two separate agendas
that should conjoin as one. If they don't, they should both
graciously take the responsibility for what went wrong.
(4) We tested fish in the same task and found that they were able to
conjoin geometric and non-geometric (landmark) information to
contravene - verb - (1) To act or be counter to; violate: contravene a direct order.
(2) To oppose in argument; contradict: contravened the proposal.
Examples: (1) Iran's actions contravene its own stated policy, and are dangerous
for the region because they can produce widespread instability.
(2) His government has halted all live broadcasts in the country as part of an
effort to bring tensions down. The opposition called the order a "direct
curtailment of freedom of expression rights that contravenes provisions of
(3) North Korea's further act of defiance shows its disregard for the concerns of
its neighbors and the wider international community, and contravenes DPRK's
commitments under the Non Proliferation Treaty and UN Security Council
(4) The London Metropolitan Police could face a fine if found to have contravened
the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
(5) I told the prime minister not to undertake any activity that contravenes our
mutual policy, or prejudices negotiations, said Mr. Bush.
(6) Bashir admitted guilt to five charges of contravening the Nuclear Energy Act.
controvert - verb - To raise arguments against; dispute; voice opposition to: controvert a
point in a discussion.
Examples: (1) The defense also has the opportunity to counter this evidence if it
wishes. However, the defendant may already have conceded some of the
facts in his guilty plea or facts may be impossible to controvert
given the jury's trial verdict.
(2) Moving forward with the plan would controvert a legal understanding
dating from the Kennedy Administration that even the smallest steps
would be considered to constitute a breach of the treaty.
(3) They pointed to the significant amount of direct evidence in the
record that controverts the claims made in the article, most notably
the consistent statements by Miss Wingate that no one ever asked,
suggested, or encouraged her to lie.
(4) It is practically impossible for a person to be absolutely and
completely convinced of any controverted fact which by its nature
cannot be proved to a mathematical certainty.
(5) It would have been a full vindication of the much-controverted
article he had written so long ago.
defenestration - n - (1) a throwing of a person or thing out of a window
(2) a usually swift dismissal or expulsion (as from a political party or office)
dell - n. - A small, usually wooded, secluded valley.
Examples: (1) Thus chatting pleasantly the band turned back into the woodland
and sought their secluded dell, where the trees were the
thickest, the moss was the softest, and a secret path led to a
cave, at once a retreat and a stronghold.
(2) At the bottom of the field, cross the road to enter into the
ferned glade, and follow the clear grass path down the dell until
you reach a more solid path
demure - adj - (1) Modest and reserved in manner or behavior.
(2) Affectedly or coyly shy, modest, or reserved.
Examples: (1) In an unexpected twist, however, his new girlfriend turned out to be
not another in the mold of the demure, publicity-shy former partner,
but a loud, heavily made up rock chick.
(2) Her stage personality is demure verging on prim.
(3) Mr. Heinz and the academy opened their concert on Monday night at Mellon
Hall with an understated and somewhat demure rendition of Stravinsky's
(4) After her last song, she bestowed demure pecks on the cheek to the
musicians as she left the stage.
deportment - noun - (1) The manner in which one conducts oneself; behavior.
(2) The conduct or obedience of a child in school, as graded by a teacher.
Examples: (1) Johnson's deportment while holding that position also created a favorable
opinion, managers say.
(2) Leaving air marshals wide discretion, under the law, as to their conduct and
deportment only aggravates the problems: Not only do they have little training,
they also have little legal guidance as to when a suspicion can become an arrest.
(3) He was of sterling character, dignified and modest in deportment, an able
officer and a gallant soldier.
(4) All along the route the reporters were met with the kindest treatment, and the
deportment of the troops toward them was always of the most courteous character.
devolve - vt - To pass on or delegate to another: The senator devolved the duties of office upon
a group of aides.
- vi - (1) To be passed on or transferred to another: The burden of proof devolved upon
the defendant. The estate devolved to an unlikely heir.
(2) To degenerate or deteriorate gradually: After several hours the discussion had
devolved into a shouting match.
Examples: (1) A long-awaited government proposal to devolve power to the Tamil-majority
north and east has met with widespread criticism, even from onetime Tamil
backers of the administration.
(2) The Republican Party has championed a series of reforms designed to devolve
power to the individual, through tax cuts, private pensions and medical
(3) Emergency funds have been devolved to the states to deal with the problem.
(4) The U.N. retains overall control and responsibility for key areas such as
security but substantial powers are devolved to Kosovo's new institutions.
didactic - adj - (1) Intended to instruct.
(2) Teaching or intending to teach a moral lesson.
(3) Inclined to teach, lecture others, or moralize too much: a boring, didactic speaker.
Examples: (1) His whole point, he says, was making the story of gunpowder into an entertaining
tale, instead of a scientific or didactic analysis.
(2) It's very important right now to have a message or meaning in your music. I don't
really believe in being didactic or standing on a soapbox, but I do believe in
using one's cultural power and seeing music as a populist medium and one that
inherently reaches a lot of people.
(3) The play was always a bit didactic, providing definitions for poison pills, white
knights, greenmail and other tactics that New England Wire and Cable, an
old-fashioned concern, might use to fend off the advances of Larry, formally known
as Lawrence Garfinkle.
(4) The mind of a child is made for learning, and even movies that have no explicit
didactic intention can teach a lot.
(5) The book is often didactic, with author Wilkens using the character of Peter Stark,
a millionaire historian, as a mouthpiece for his views.
dilatory - adj - (1) tending or intended to cause delay
(2) characterized by procrastination
Examples: (1) When ministers use bureaucrats for political purposes, it is not
surprising that the latter become dilatory and defiant.
(2) When decisive and speedy action was necessary he was not the
least averse or dilatory in taking it.
(3) ..are spared the expense and the hassle of retaining lawyers and
other dilatory procedures normally associated with legal battles.
(4) The U.S. has been dilatory and dithering when it comes to doing
something about airport security.
dissemble - verb - to disguise the real meaning of; to put on a false appearance:
conceal facts, intentions, or feelings under some pretense; feign.
Example: (1) Not unless he continues to dissemble and withhold the truth, in
which case I believe the House Democrats should begin an ethics
(2) Wordplay is part of the armory of any successful politician.
Politicians use words to their convenience, sometimes to cover
their tracks, sometimes to dissemble and sometimes to suggest
something which is the opposite of their real beliefs and
(3) Roger was too authentic to be suited to political life, and
in an ABC Television Corporation which made the scheming of the
Medicis seem innocent, he never did learn to dissemble. He lived
as if he had nothing to hide, so if you crossed or disappointed
him, you certainly knew it.
dogged - adj - marked by stubborn determination; tenacious.
Examples: (1) De Graaf defines affluenza as "a painful, contagious, socially
transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste
resulting from the dogged pursuit of more."
(2) Through it all two qualities have appeared, over and over again,
in Mr. Faubus -- monumental patience and a dogged slogging manner.
(3) I once called him America's most dogged street detective of
political corruption, and no one disputed that label.
(4) The authors recount the inspired scientific research of Soto and
Sonnenschein, whose dogged efforts uncovered the fact that endocrine
disrupting compounds leach from plastic test-tubes made by the Paxon
doleful - adj - (1) Full of or expressing grief; mournful.
(2) Causing grief: a doleful loss.
(3) Expressing grief; sad: a doleful melody.
Examples: (1) It is worth noting how Tevye's life becomes increasingly doleful from
story to story.
(2) Prices were generally lower, the bears improving their opportunity to set
afloat a choice collection of disquieting rumors. They talked of called loans
and took a generally doleful view of conditions.
(3) An owl, puffed up with pride and vanity, sings his doleful song at
midnight from the hollow of an old oak.
ebullient - adj - 1. Zestfully enthusiastic; exuberant.
2. Boiling or seeming to boil; bubbling.
Examples: (1) Jones sounds like an ebullient teen-ager: "Got my guitar/Got my
girl/I Got everything!"
(2) He still has the ebullient, ingratiating manner, the apparently
intense interest in other people, that made him a charismatic
(3) Researchers cautioned that they still don't know whether the new
medication will cure the disease, or simply hold it in check,
but the results have left scientists ebullient.
(4) There was an ebullient reaction in the oil and gas sector to
Devon Energy's $4.6 billion friendly takeover offer for Canada's
encomium - noun - 1. Warm, glowing praise. 2. A formal expression of praise; a tribute.
Examples: (1) His praise of an American future under the the new president was unstinting, if
a shade uninspired compared to the encomium he had spent 25-odd minutes lavishing
on America's recent past.
(2) What was worded as an encomium contained subtle elements of rebuke.
(3) The book concludes with an encomium to the leader of New York City’s new
academy for principals.
(4) The only thing louder than his own fans’ encomium were the whistles from the
endemic - adj - (1) Natural to or characteristic of a specific people or place; native;
(2) Belonging exclusively or confined to a particular place.
Examples: (1) Borneo is particularly important for biodiversity because the island has
a high number of endemic species - creatures which only occur in that one
(2) The virus starts to appear at this time of the year, not just in this
region where it's endemic, but in other parts of southern Africa as well.
enervate - verb - 1. to deprive of force or strength; destroy the strength or vigor of; weaken.
Examples: (1) He argued that devoting scarce public money to the charter school alternative
will further enervate our public schools, which are already seriously
(2) Had this been a ploy by the wily Harrison to enervate the opponent?
(3) it turns out that he harbors high ideals for art in general and fiction in
particular, despite the fear of ridicule that enervates the work of many of
epithet - n. - an adjective added to a person's name or a phrase used instead of
it, usually to criticize or praise him.
Examples: (1) These days, any candidate who dares to change position on an issue
during a two-year campaign risks being labeled a "flip-flopper."
(2) Everyone interested in the Greek goddess Athena would benefit greatly
by the knowledge of these epithets. In many ways, they reveal the nature
of the goddess as it was perceived by the ancient Hellenes. Indeed these
epithets demonstrate that Athena was a much more complex being than the
"Goddess of Wisdom" that she is often labeled with.
(3) François-Joachim-Pierre de Bernis spent the last three years of his life
in Rome in comparative poverty, devoting himself to the French exiles
and fully justifying the epithet, "Protector of the Church of France,"
bestowed upon him by Pope Pius VI.
equanimity - n. - Evenness of mind especially under stress; balance; being
not easily disturbed.
Examples: (1) I know that was stressful. I'll give you a few minutes
to regain your equanimity.
(2) If on one occasion it is permissible to make a suggestion to
the enemy, we would urge the leaders of the imperial power to
be calm, act with equanimity, and not be dragged by moments of
anger or hatred into wanting to hunt people, tossing bombs all
over the place.
erstwhile - adj - former, previous.
Example: His erstwhile students kept calling him with algebra questions.
eschew - vt - to avoid or shun habitually, particularly on moral or
Example: Mr Rogge has said he will eschew the trappings of luxury normally
associated with the IOC presidency and live among the athletes at
next year's Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
evansecent - adj - Vanishing or likely to vanish like vapor. Having limited duration.
Example: (1) ...wonderful to look at, and signifying something as evanescent as the smile
of the Cheshire cat.
(2) Despite the evanescent world of advertising to which he devoted his life,
one of Stanton's proudest achievements was being named senior associate at
excoriate -verb - (1) to wear off the skin of; abrade
(2) to censure scathingly; denounce
Examples: (1) Almost three decades later, some environmentalists continue to
treat the annual event as a time to excoriate others for shameful
neglect or destructive greed.
(2) He used the occasion to excoriate the broadcast community for its
abject failure in this area.
exigent - adj - (1) Requiring immediate action or remedy; pressing.
(2) Requiring much effort or expense, or more than is reasonable; demanding.
Examples: (1) The suggested changes would require the Secretary to obtain a search warrant
in exigent cases where documents might be hidden or destroyed.
(2) Familiarity with such codes might well serve as a guide to engineers even in
(3) Chairman Nare authorized exigent approval of the contract under the
provisions of the Procurement Law.
(4) While there we debate the most exigent issues of our time.
expiate verb - To atone for; make amends or reparation for: expiate one's sins by acts of penance.
Examples: (1) By burying the innocent victims we want to expiate the sins of our ancestors.
(2) And with every dollar the grandfather gives her to expiate his guilt, she
becomes more deeply in his debt.
(3) VH-1 is selling this series as a form of community service, almost as if to
expiate past excesses.
(4) So it comes as no surprise to find him taken off the investigation into the
murder of an Edinburgh art dealer and dispatched to he Scottish Police
College, for an attitude overhaul. There he becomes one of six officers
enrolled in a remedial course to expiate their sin of insubordination.
expostulate - verb - to reason with earnestly in an effort to dissuade or correct;
Examples: (1) Ever since your Editorial by Thomas Mitchell stating that
editorials did not have to be factual, since they were just
expressions of a Proprietary Right to raise heck and generally
expostulate, I have found it difficult to get seriously
exercised over the RJ's editorials -- since they may or may
not be related to facts, by your own published admissions.
(2) Rather than to hijack your message thread in order to expostulate
my own complex views, I should instead take this opportunity to
address several questions to the experts here assembled, which have
been plaguing me for quite some time.
(3) Those who have dared to expostulate on this matter have usually been
very effectively silenced in short order.
(4) I noted, in your editorial, the suggestion to, and I quote,
"promote streetcar, bike and taxi-only zones." This inspires
me to expostulate with increased vehemence, "Huh?!"
faithless - adj - (1) Not true to duty or obligation; disloyal.
(2) Having no religious faith.
(3) Unworthy of faith or trust; unreliable.
Examples: (1) Eventually Diego pours his heart out in a weepy, drunken tirade about his
(2) The film is also a snapshot of a modern South Korea bordering on social anarchy, one
in which a fatalistically obedient old-timer and his three preternaturally immature
adult children face down a rampaging beast along with clueless doctors, Keystone
Kops, faithless friends and even hordes of paparazzi.
(3) The sad thing is that, from an objective point of view, King John was really no worse
than his contemporaries. His father Henry II had a reputation for untrustworthiness,
matched only by the utter faithlessness of the French kings Louis and Philip Augustus.
(4) He has essentially pitted the faithful against the faithless while attempting to merge
Mormonism in mainstream Christianity.
fatuous - adj - (1) Foolish or inane, esp. in an unconscious, smug, complacent manner; silly.
(2) Delusive; unreal: fatuous hopes.
Examples: (1) He produced the most fatuous allegations, plucked straight out of the air.
(2) Now, from my hours spent battered and half brain dead listening to the
fatuous, self-important commentators of our nation, I learn that I've been
wrong all along.
(3) Assorted Europeans, celebrities and the New York Council worked themselves
into a fatuous lather over the arrogance of American power.
(4) It would be fatuous if I said we had solved the problem and that every
officer in the agency was inspired to put the interests of the agency above
the interests of his or her office.
(5) I hope that this desperate and fairly dangerous summit does not try to
patch together anything fatuous, on Jerusalem or any of the other problems
(refugees, water rights, and the rest).
febrile- adj - (1) Having or showing the symptoms of a fever: a febrile illness
(2) Having or showing a great deal of nervous excitement or energy: a febrile imagination
feckless - adj - 1. innefectual, weak 2. worthless, irresponsible
Example: 1. What the Administration calls a policy of containment has become
an embarrassment as our friends and allies in the region and
elsewhere ignore our feckless imprecations and reposition themselves
for Saddam's triumph over the United States.
2. They cared for the sick, helped and instructed the feckless newcomer,
and rescued the stranded.
3. Like most of the small time criminals I had met, he was young,
reckless, and feckless, and was in his criminal profession due to
equal parts of stupidity and desperation.
4. The Second Circuit applied the Maryland factors and concluded
that the sheer breadth of the evidence made the precautions taken
by the trial court feckless in preventing jury confusion.
fervid - adj - (1) Marked by great fervor, passion or zeal: a fervid crusader.
(2) Extremely hot; burning.
Examples: (1) If astronomical sales of her debut album and the fervid adulation of her teen
audience are any indication, she's well on her way.
(2) Brown says stores with passionate customers and loyal customer bases, such as
high-end department stores and discounters Target and Wal-Mart, tend to do well.
The midlevel stores, such as J.C. Penney's and Kohl's, don't tend to have the
same kind of fervid followers, he says.
frenetic - adj - frantic; frenzied.
Examples: (1) All the major film festivals are conducted at a frenetic pace.
(2) Lawson, a slight, frenetic woman, arrives in her office at 7 AM
(3) Citing the frenetic pace of the Chinese capital and the anticipated
crowds that will flock to the Summer Games, British authorities have
decided to house its team in Macau.
fulsome - adj - (1) Exceeding the bounds of good taste; overdone: the fulsome chromium glitter of
the escalators dominating the central hall
(2) Excessively complimentary or flattering; effusive: an admiration whose extent
I did not express, lest I be thought fulsome.
(3) a. Characterized by abundance; copious: describes in fulsome detail
b. Generous in amount, extent, or spirit: the passengers were fulsome in
praise of the plane's crew.
(4) Aesthetically, morally, or generally offensive: fulsome lies and nauseous
Usage: Sense 4, which was a generalized term of disparagement in the late 17th century, is
the least common of these. Fulsome became a point of dispute when sense 3, thought
to be obsolete in the 19th century, began to be revived in the 20th. The dispute was
exacerbated by the fact that the large dictionaries of the first half of the century
missed the beginnings of the revival. Sense 3 has not only been revived but has spread
in its application and continues to do so. The chief danger for the user of fulsome is
ambiguity. Unless the context is made very clear, the reader or hearer cannot be sure
whether such an expression as “fulsome praise” is meant in sense 3b or in sense 2.
Examples: (1) He escorts readers through the fast and fulsome world of high-stakes wine
collecting, where $1,000 bottles of grand cru Burgundy are guzzled like lemonade
and conversations revolve around trophy wines in home cellars that can be the
size of a high school gymnasium.
(2) Is it really necessary to introduce each dance with fulsome prose, not to speak
of endless encomiums to the company's own history and board, however generous?
(3) It probably that explains why the speeches accompanying the bill were less a
debate than a fulsome whitewash.
heterodox - adj - (1) Not in agreement with established or accepted beliefs, especially in
church doctrine or dogma.
(2) Holding unorthodox opinions or doctrines.
Examples: (1) At least with respect to certain topics, a prevailing orthodoxy exerts
undue pressure, stigmatizing dissident positions to such an extent
that people holding heterodox ideas either silence themselves or speak
out knowing that they will pay a frightful price with their
(2) And what happens when art responds quickly and critically to that
disaster? You get the paintings in “Manet and the Execution of
Maximilian,” a small, taut historical show that puts the Museum of
Modern Art back on the experimental, heterodox track that it began to
explore six years ago in its “MoMA2000” project, and then all but
(3) The official powers in that era were profoundly intolerant of
heterodoxy in any form.
imbroglio - noun - (1) a. A difficult or intricate situation; an entanglement; an embroilment;
a scandal. b. A confused, complicated, or embarassing disagreement.
(2) A confused heap; a tangle.
Examples: (1) Mr. Emerson's woes are not limited to his imbroglio with the city.
(2) President Sarkozy was conveniently on a trip to French Guiana on Monday,
and when asked about the political imbroglio, replied: ''No, no, no comment
for the moment. Take advantage of Guiana!''
(3) Jenkins is now at the center of a spy mystery and diplomatic imbroglio
impassive - adj - not showing or not feeling emotion; not subject to
Example: Despite the flood of bad news he was hearing, Bertram
remained impassive, showing no hint of the emotions he must be
implacable - adj - not capable of being appeased or dissuaded. Having or
showing uncompromising determination.
Example: an implacable enemy.
imprecate - vt - to invoke evil on, - vi - to utter curses
imprecation - noun - curse; a prayer or invocation for harm to befall someone.
Example: (1) What the Administration calls a policy of containment has
become an embarrassment as our friends and allies in the
region and elsewhere ignore our feckless imprecations and
reposition themselves for Saddam's triumph over the United
(2) The savages had by this time discovered that I was alone and
I was pursued with imprecations, arrows, and rifle balls. The
fact that it is difficult to aim anything but imprecations
accurately by moonlight, that they were upset by the sudden
and unexpected manner of my advent, and that I was a rather
rapidly moving target saved me from the various deadly
projectiles of the enemy and permitted me to reach the shadows
before an orderly pursuit could be organized.
impute - verb - (1) To relate to a particular cause or source; to attribute the responsibility
or blame for something, often falsely or unjustly: imputed the rocket failure to
a faulty gasket; kindly imputed my clumsiness to inexperience.
(2) To assign as a characteristic; credit: the gracefulness so often imputed to cats.
Examples: (1) They knew him as Peaches, a nickname some impute to a rough similarity
with his name, and others to the youth’s lack of facial hair.
(2) I always advise patients to try ice cream or, if the patient is worried
about gaining weight, sherbet. Now, before anyone begins to impute bias,
let me announce that I have nothing to do with the ice cream industry.
(3) It seems to me that the Senator, like many people, is prone to impute wrong
motives to those who in any way take different views of this vital question.
inchoate - adj - (1) In an initial or early stage; incipient; immature.
(2) Imperfectly formed or developed .
Examples: (1) ...misty, inchoate suspicions that all is not well with the
(2) As CEO, Dawkins gave us a corporate entity. Before then, we were
an inchoate mass held together only by a vague sense of our
(3) So it's a somewhat unformed, inchoate kind of situation now, but
I think that events will soon set us on one course or the other.
(4) Yet this sentiment remains largely inchoate.
(5) If we wish to win this election, our task will be to clarify the
people's deeply-held yet inchoate feelings on this topic.
(6) Gandhi gave voice and provided organization to what might have
otherwise been just an inchoate sense of dissatisfaction.
indemnify - verb - (1) To make compensation to for damage, loss, or injury suffered,
expense incurred, etc.
(2) to guard or secure against anticipated loss; give security against
(future damage or liability).
Example: (1) You agree to indemnify, defend and hold harmless this company, its
parent and affiliated companies, its and their licensees, successors
(2) Davis Novelty Stores spent $23.1 million to merge with rival Ace
Novelties in 2007, knowing that one of its former subsidiaries,
Party Favors Inc., was the target of manifold legal claims from
customers. Halliburton officials believed that Ace was indemnified.
But when Party Favors Inc. filed for Chapter 11, tort lawyers came
indemnity - noun - (1) Security against damage, loss, or injury.
(2) A legal exemption, as by insurance, from liability for damages.
(3) Compensation for damage, loss, or injury suffered.
Examples: If signed by President Clinton, the bill aims to provide companies
with indemnity from lawsuits based on statements concerning the
Y2K readiness of their products.
indolent - adj - (1) Disinclined to exert oneself; habitually lazy; slothful: an indolent
(2) Pathology - Causing little or no pain; inactive or relatively benign:
an indolent ulcer that is not painful and is slow to heal.
Examples: (1) She sat brushing her hair in indolent strokes.
(2) I sat watching coddled, indolent, overly indulged children complain
and issue demands.
(3) The program was designed to outsmart human nature and its marked
tendency toward indolence.
(4) The evening he generally dedicated to a serene, though rather indolent
sort of enjoyment by the parlour fireside.
ineffable - adj - 1.a. incapable of being expressed in words; indescribable
< ineffable joy > b. unspeakable < ineffable disgust >
2. not to be uttered. taboo
Example: He located his new computer company in California's Silicon
Valley, for reasons as practical as proximity to customers and
as ineffable as the quality of life.
ineluctable - adj - not to be avoided, changed, or resisted; inevitable
Examples: (1) Thus, the ineluctable conclusion must be that the whole
concept is flawed.
(2) It is an ineluctable fact that where we go is profoundly
influenced by where we have already been.
(3) Truth is whatever we have the will, power and willpower to
make it (except for those two majestic and ineluctable
mysteries, Love and Death).
(4) This is the ineluctable result of two premises...
(5) The battle today is against a foreign power that is a palpable
and ineluctable presence alongside us, and no single, drastic
act will eliminate their hostility.
inimical - adj - (1) tending to produce an adverse effect, harmful. (2)hostile
Example: (1) The plaintiff's company has produced conditions inimical
to public health and safety.
(2) His cruel and inimical gaze
insipid - adj - (1) Without distinctive, interesting, or stimulating qualities;
dull: an insipid personality.
(2) Without sufficient taste to be pleasing, as food or drink;
bland: a rather insipid soup.
inure - verb - (1) To become accustomed to something undesirable (hardship,
difficulty, pain, etc.), especially by prolonged subjection.
(2) To become of advantage: policies that inure to the benefit of
Examples: (1)Their activities shocked even a country as inured to crime as this
(2) Corporation are exempt from taxes if they are organized and
operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, or
educational purposes, and no part of their net income inures to
the benefit of any private stockholder or individual.
inveigh - verb - To give vent to angry disapproval; protest bitterly or vehemently.
Examples: (1) Repelled by that sort of poisonous atmosphere, I used to inveigh
against writing workshops -- right up until the day I started teaching
(2) The press will inveigh against the nefarious role of money in politics
(without explaining how candidates are supposed to communicate,
cost-free, with millions of voters).
(3) I will not inveigh here again about headline-writing, but the copy desk
may have been thinned out too much.
(4) He goes on to inveigh the dearth of songs about substance abuse.
invective - noun - Vehement denunciation or abusive language; vituperation.
- adj - Of, relating to, or characterized by vehemently denunciatory or abusive
Examples: (1) Just as Mr. Jin opened the three-month show, North Korea ended an
eight-year suspension of cross-border invective, launching a salvo at
the newly inaugurated President Lee, who had promised to take a
tougher stance against North Korea.
(2) Every day, more cars venture onto Baghdad’s dust-choked streets,
adding to epic traffic jams and sending blood-pressure levels through
the roof, as drivers spew invective, gesticulate wildly and steadfastly
ignore any and all driving laws.
(3) In one string of purple invective last week, North Korea's state media
threatened to turn Seoul into a "sea of fire," called Americans
"infinitely greedy and beastly to the bone" and said the country's
"unshakable revolutionary stand" called for answering "a hard line
with the toughest line and a bullet with a shell."
inveterate - adj - (1)Having a particular habit, activity, or interest that is firmly
established by long persistence and unlikely to change.
(2)(of a feeling or habit) Long-established and unlikely to change.
invidious - adj - tending to cause discontent, animosity, or envy; of a kind to
cause harm or resentment.
Example: (1) subtle and invidious criticism
(2) The defendant maintains that he acted purely in self-defense, and
not out of invidious jealousies or animosity as the plaintiff's
irreducible - adj - (1) a. Impossible to transform into or restore to a desired or simpler
condition; b. Impossible to separate into component parts.
(2) specifically : incapable of being factored into polynomials
of lower degree with coefficients in some given field (as the
rational numbers) or integral domain (as the integers)
Examples: (1) But there is an irreducible military element to Colombia's
plight; the country needs to restore governmental control over
all its territory, and it needs the capability to put enough
heat on the FARC--and its sources of drug money--so that the
guerrillas have no choice but to bargain in good faith.
(2) ...despite the convergences, there remain irreducible
cultural differences everywhere...
(3) ...thus signifying the image of an irreducible unity and an
indispensable solidarity amongst all the inhabitants of our
(4) the conviction that he understood the irreducible logic of
jeremiad - noun - (1) a prolonged lamentation, complaint or harangue
(2) a righteous, or angry prophecy of doom
Examples: (1) Dr. Heger has been pointing to the problem for years, long
before tragic events brough the issue into the public
spotlight. Dismiss Heger's jeremiad at your own risk.
(2) A lot of big-shot journalists didn't like this book, a
systematic jeremiad about the current sad state of American
(3) It was Patrick Buchanan who drafted Nixon's famous outburst
against the Senate for rejecting his 1970 nomination of the
conservative Florida Judge G. Harrold Carswell to the
Supreme Court, a jeremiad in which Nixon blasted the
Senate's "discrimination" against the South.
(4) I'm not trying to stir the political Jeremiad, but it was
pointed out to me that the former Bush appointee...
(5) In Tallahassee, Chief Justice Wells's dissenting jeremiad
warned of "havoc" if the count goes on.
knoll - noun - A little round hill or mound; a small elevation of earth; the top or
crown of a hill.
Examples: (1) Ten years ago, from the top of a 63-foot knoll at Etowah Indian
Mounds of Atlanta, Georgia, you could see rolling pastures, cotton
and soybean fields, the tree-lined foothills of the Appalachian
Mountains and the Etowah River to the south.
(2) We sat on a knoll as a powerful storm roared through the mountains to
laconic - adj - sparing of words; terse; brief and concise
Examples: (1) "Just the facts, Ma'am, just the facts!" This is the famous
laconic sentence repeated by "Sgt.Friday" of Dragnet. Dragnet was
a television series some years ago.
(2) The list can be endless though I prefer to note only a few
laconic and pithy ones.
(3) The Times perhaps consciously echoed the promise of its book
review a lifetime earlier, describing Hemmingway's "lean and sinewy
prose," and his "laconic, understated dialogue."
(4) Hemingway's style is characterized by crispness, laconic dialogue,
and emotional understatement.
(5) We asked the senator why there were so many congressmen being jailed
for corruption, and his reply was laconic: "Well, I think it's part
of a general trend, don't you?"
languid - adj - (1) Lacking energy or vitality; sluggish; dull; listless: a languid
wave of the hand.
(2) Showing little or no spirit or animation; listless: .
(3) Lacking vigor or force; slow: languid breezes.
Examples: (1) Bertram was troubled by the revelation, even if his distress was
not obvious through the languid haze of barbecue smoke.
(2) Although he is happy in the United states, he has never been
able to recapture the languid pace of Amazon life.
(3) The admiration of Jensen's elegant, languid power has long been
matched by deep-rooted suspicions of his lack of footwork which,
critics say, makes him vulnerable to younger, faster players.
(4) Up the coast lay Exeter Academy's bitter rival school, snobby
Le Rosey, filled with the scions of Europe's royalty, teenage
Arab oil sheiks, sultans-in-waiting, and languid Iranian princes.
lugubrious - adj - Mournful, dismal, or gloomy, especially to an exaggerated or ludicrous
degree, or in an in an affected manner.
Examples: (1) The director thought Harrison was the best actor in the film, he
felt Layton's performance suffered because he tried too hard, and
he loved Wallace because he looked so lugubrious most of the time.
(2) Even the snow could not hide a lugubrious mood as the vacation
neared an end.
lurid - adj - 1. Causing shock, horror, or revulsion; gruesome.
2. Melodramatic; marked by sensationalism: a lurid account of the crime.
3. Glowing or shining with the glare of fire through a haze: lurid flames.
4. Sallow or pallid in color; wan and ghastly pale in appearance.
Examples: (1) Prosecutor Mark Ellison said they had demanded £50,000 ($99,000)
from a member of the royal family, identified only as "Witness A,"
for tapes in which one of his employees made lurid claims about him.
(2) The allegations bearing down on New York's governor didn't start
this year -- despite recent, lurid details in a federal affidavit.
(3) The report said the panel could find no evidence that Carter sent
explicit messages to assistants, only that he initiated contact
while they were assistants and that the exchanges turned lurid
after they had left the company.
(4) The couple blamed media intrusion for the marriage breakdown, but
Paley now finds herself the target of a barrage of criticism and
lurid allegations in Britain's tabloid newspapers.
megalomaniac - noun - (1) A psychopathic mental disorder characterized by delusional fantasies of
personal wealth, power, or omnipotence.
(2) An obsession with grandiose or extravagant things or actions.
Examples: (1) The new spy movie's villain is a a banker looking for profit, not a
megalomaniac thirsting for world domination.
(2) These radio megalomaniacs preach to their own narrow-minded choirs in
their own cathedrals.
(3) Whenever I'm in an airport these days, I resent the uniformed megalomaniacs
suffering from delusions of grandeur and paranoia, posing as security. Most
of their actions make no sense at all to anyone with half a brain. All this
causes is resentment.
(4) There's no question in my mind that the number one problem with mankind is
the spread of nuclear knowledge. Thousands of years ago we had psychotics
and we had religious fanatics and we had megalomaniacs. But about the most
they could do was throw a stone at somebody if they wished evil on them.
mendacious - adj - given to deception, or falsehood, or deviation from absolute
Example: mendacious tales of his adventures
meretricious - adj - (1) Attracting attention in a vulgar manner; tawdrily and falsely
attractive: meretricious ornamentation.
(2) Plausible but false or insincere; based on pretense; specious: a
(3) Pertaining to or characteristic of a prostitute; having the nature
of prostitution: meretricious relationships.
(4) superficially significant; pretentious: scholarly names to provide
fig-leaves of respectability for meretricious but stylish books
Examples: (1) I'm not one of those snob dissenters who say, "Well, I don't actually
watch the show, but..." Not me: I want to be able to know exactly how
meretricious "American Idol" is by watching every silly second of it.
(2) There's the temptation to search for the meaning of America in its
popular culture (God help us) -- in its movies, for example. I
mentioned "American Beauty," and wondered aloud whether that
meretricious piece of work said anything useful about America, or
whether it simply represented a stab at profundity by slightly stupid
movie makers living over privileged lives in places like Santa Monica
(3) Even in superficially respectable areas of Hong Kong, meretricious
glamour and horrific poverty, filth and squalor intertwine
(4) He was polling at the bottom of the presidential candidates now. One
good scandal -- say, a $500,000 ad-buy with enough completely
meretricious controversy to it to draw the attention of the national
media -- and Winstead's presidential aspirations would have been down
for the count.
metier - noun - (1) A profession, a trade, or a vocation.
(2) Work or activity in which one excels or for which one is
particularly suited; one's specialty.
Etymology: French, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin misterium, alteration of
Latin ministerium work, ministry
Examples: (1) In the early years of the Labor governments he was shunted
through a series of portfolios without making much mark in any,
but in 1988 he was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs,
found his metier and became possibly the greatest Foreign
Minister in Australian history.
(2) Kumortuli, a place preeminently famous for its marvelous clay
pottery, is in a state of embracing winds of change, as the
younger generation of potters is showing less interest in its
hereditary metier and opting for different taste of life.
(3) Any time he spoke Harry was in his element, and when he was in
his element, everyone knows after eight years, he shines. These
were his people, this was his metier, this was his night.
misanthrope - noun - One who hates or mistrusts humankind.
misanthropic - adj - (1) Of, relating to, or characteristic of a misanthrope.
(2) Characterized by a hatred or mistrustful scorn for humankind.
Examples: (1) Many IT workers today sometimes feel browbeaten by their employers. Most
of the time, however, they merely become cynics who infect co-workers with
their misanthropic view and undertake career-long, one-person work slowdowns.
(2) The dive bars, pawnshops and flophouses for the misanthropic, misbegotten
and mostly down-and-out have disappeared.
(3) Looking at the list of rules and regulations in the code of conduct on New
York subways, it seems that every form of misanthropic and annoying behavior
has been imagined and banned: spitting, drinking or carrying open containers
of liquid onboard, taking more than one seat and riding while inebriated.
morass - noun - (1) An area of low-lying, soggy ground.
(2) Something that hinders, traps, oroverwhelms: a morass of
Examples: (1) Today's record unemployment is creating a social injustice
and an internal rift that is becoming a morass.
(2) Out of the morass of historical details, he finds larger
themes that can be traced throughout five centuries.
(3) We hope that this is not some token attempt at tackling
corruption aimed at cosmetic public relations advantage,
but that it is a solid start in exposing the larger
morass of corruption that lies beneath the glittering
veneer of public and political office.
(4) And it most certainly should give Levy second thoughts
about offering a beneficial English-only curriculum to just
some students while consigning others to the bilingual
(5) This month, we're going to look at the rhythm section,
the backbone of jazz that transforms a seeming morass of
frenetic noodling into a seeming morass of frenetic
noodling with a beat.
nascent - adj - Coming or having recently come into existence; emerging; beginning to
exist or develop: the nascent republic.
Examples: (1) The U.S. has provided small planes to the nascent Freedonian air force,
which has about 1,500 personnel and 50 aircraft — mostly small propeller
planes and helicopters.
(2) The European Commission said it had to order EU nations to favor Digital
Video Broadcasting to create economies of scale and get the nascent
technology off the ground.
(3) It is my impression that the management has made a decision to try to
take, upfront, the potential losses that it believes may be nascent.
nescience - n - absence of knowledge or awareness; ignorance.
Example: (1) Being a true scientist, pretense of all kinds was hateful to
him. He wished to know the reality of our nescience as well
as of our science.
(2) Appalled at the nescience of his suggestion, I asked Mr.
Wilson if he would put me in touch with a superior or
someone who handles customer complaints.
(3) One result is derived from the culture of knowledge, and a
different result is obtained from the culture of nescience.
obdurate - adj - (1) a. Stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing b. hardened in feelings
(2) Resistant to persuasion or softening influences
Examples: (1) The book exposes the maddeningly irrational and obdurate
thinking of the airlines when it comes to taking security
measures that cost money.
(2) ...obdurate conscience of the old sinner
(3) The same old obdurate hard-liner was back
(4) If they have not been sufficiently discouraged by their idol
finding himself in dire straits, they should be so by one more
obdurate fact - he lied about it.
(5) ...like a creek, to the obdurate outcrop over which it flows,
falling and gathering in pools, and flowing on again...
officious - adj - (1) Marked by excessive eagerness in offering unwanted or unneeded
services or advice to others: an officious host; officious
(2) Informal; unofficial.
Example: I have a special name for third-party know-it-alls who interfere in the
best-laid estate plans.I refer to people who act like they have legal
standing but don't as "officious intermeddlers."
onerous - adj - (1) involving, imposing, or constituting a burden : TROUBLESOME (an
(2) Law: entailing obligations that exceed advantages (onerous
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French onereus, from Latin onerosus,
from oner-, onus burden; akin to Sanskrit anas cart
Example: (1) On September 23 Canada's governing party announced that in a few
years time, it would begin freeing the citizens of its country
from an onerous debt.
(2) But while Queensland Labor figures fall victim to strict party
rules requiring local branch members to live locally, the Liberals
are not encumbered by such an onerous standard.
(3) To have the local governments bear the costs of expanding public
transit, let alone just maintaining the status quo is onerous.
(4) Before becoming adept at using a computer and a word processing
program, writing was an onerous task, because editing and rewriting
meant, more or less, having to "type the whole thing over."
palliate -verb - (1) to moderate the intensity of (trying to palliate the boredom)
(2) To make (an offense or crime) seem less serious; extenuate.
(3) to cover by excuses and apologies
(4) to relieve the symptoms of a disease or disorder.
Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin palliatus, past participle of palliare
to cloak, conceal, from Latin pallium cloak
Examples: (1) ...tried unsuccessfully to palliate the widespread discontent...
(2) He killed 23 individuals and he did so with no provocation to
palliate the atrocious crime.
(3) ...and give each one some sweet-sounding words to palliate
(4) Patients with stage IIIb disease with poor performance status are
candidates for chest irradiation to palliate pulmonary symptoms.
(5) Extraditing Pinochet would palliate the aging left's strongest
remaining passion, which is for nostalgic vengeance.
(6) To pardon really means to create new attitudes, to provoke
change inside people and between people, not just to palliate the
violence and the hurt that remains.
palliative - adj - (1) Tending or serving to palliate.
(2) Relieving or soothing the symptoms of a disease or disorder
without effecting a cure.
- noun - One that palliates, especially a palliative drug or medicine
Examples: (1) It was one of the palliative measures for fighting the
misery of the popular masses.
(2) The union must now be persuaded that the latest set of
negotiations has produced a total turnaround, rather than
just another set of palliative measures.
(3) It is plain that, however drastic the decree laws may be,
they are after all only palliative measures; there is
nothing in them that can fundamentally solve the
contradictions of the crisis
pedant - noun - (1) One who pays undue attention to book learning and formal rules.
(2) One who exhibits one's learning or scholarship ostentatiously.
pedantic - adj - (1) Ostentatious in one's learning.
(2) A person excessively concerned with minor detail or with displaying technical
knowledge, esp. in teaching.
(3) Unimaginative, pedestrian.
Examples: (1) The debate was polite and uninteresting. After a brief, failed attempt to force
his opponent to concede that he would not intervene abroad, even to prevent genocide,
Watson essentially gave up trying to draw sharp distinctions between them,
apparently reasoning that deploying his immensely superior knowledge of the world might
make him seem pedantic rather than seasoned.
(2) The irritatingly pedantic security guards' constant clearing of the aisles certainly
didn't help matters.
(3) For a new evening of work, the choreographer, Jennifer Wood, struck out on her own to
produce a pair of dances vastly different in tone but similar in their adherence to
binding structure and exacting details. The approach is less pedantic than it sounds.
(4) The translation, by Kathleen Ross, is splendid - inventive, idiomatic and precise
without being pedantic.
(5) Her guidebook is a perfect walking-tour accompaniment to help New Yorkers and visitors
find, identify and better appreciate statues famous and obscure (honoring, among
others, the general who had an unremarkable military and business career but composed
taps, the bugle call). While the tone is sometimes preachy and pedantic (the book
concludes with a tutorial on how to read a sculpture), Ms. Durante winsomely places 54
monuments in historical and artistic perspective.
peremptory - adj - (1) Putting an end to all debate or action: a peremptory decree.
(2) Leaving no chance for denial or refusal; imperative: The officer issued peremptory
(3) Having the nature of or expressing a command; urgent: The teacher spoke in a
(4) Offensively self-assured; dictatorial: a swaggering, peremptory manner.
Examples: (1) Bill resolved that on his first few days as manager in a new department, he would
carefully avoid being too decisive and peremptory, and to be cautious until he
understood the situation.
(2) At the first sound of her peremptory voice and clickety stiletto heels,
people dart behind doors and douse the lights.
(3) Peremptory challenges - which permit a lawyer to eliminate a prospective juror
without having to state a reason - have been a feature of the American jury
system for nearly 200 years.
(4) MacPherson, who did not know who Jim was, asked him rather peremptorily when
they met if he knew any of the facts of the case.
perfidy - noun - (1) Deliberate breach of faith; calculated violation of trust;
treachery: (the fink, whose perfidy was equaled only by his
(2) The act or an instance of treachery.
Examples: (1) There was a time,when a Daily Tribune broadside against a
leading conservative congressman would have activists scurrying
to his or her defense. Conservatives would regale one another
with tales of Tribune perfidy, going back to the Davison Affair
which so unhinged the Republican Party 14 years ago.
(2) Hoping for more support in fighting what they see as their own
government's perfidy in reneging on promised no-fee, lifetime
medical benefits for military retirees, local veterans unveiled
a new billboard Saturday that's likely to turn heads.
(3) One of the stock excuses rolled out by Marxists for acts of
timidity or perfidy was that "the conditions were not right"
for this particular policy to be implemented or that specific
approach to be adopted.
(4) The election was widely regarded as having been fixed by the
party machine. I'm surprised that Congressman Bailey didn't
order the ballots burned, so that evidence of his perfidy was
(5) General Ramos has tarnished himself and the presidency itself
with his lies, his cover-ups, his spurious invocations of
"national security" to cover his perfidy, and perhaps crimes.
perforce -adv- By necessity. By force of circumstance. Without regard to desire or
inclination: helplessly, involuntarily, willy-nilly.
Example: (1)The weariest nights, the longest days, sooner or later must
perforce come to an end.
(2)Twelve days the wind continued at north, which kept the fleet
perforce within the bay.
pernicious - adj - (1) Tending to cause death or serious injury; deadly: a pernicious disease.
(2) Causing great harm; destructive: pernicious rumors; a pernicious lie.
Example: (1) I had a common but pernicious belief that success is all about
money -- the more, the better.
(2) This pernicious habit must end and disappear for good.
pithy - adj - 1. Forceful, meaningful, and brief in expression; having substance and
point: a pithy comment.
2. Consisting of or resembling pith.
Examples: (1) Grayson had made a name for himself defending celebrities in trouble
and offering pithy legal analyses of the case of the moment on shows
like "Larry King Live."
(2) For the irrational and long-winded whining fits sometimes used by her
4-year-old son, she simply declares, "I'm ready to listen when you're
ready to talk," and then leaves the room.
(3) Chief Justice Rehnquist's opinion for a 7-2 majority of the Court was
characteristically brief and pithy -- and, also characteristically, it
simultaneously decided a number of important issues.
(4) Here's the standard drill: read hundreds of lines of information from
various sources. Decide what's most important. Sum it all up in five or
six pithy sentences.
(5) What is modern particle physics--or, for that matter, Sheldon Glashow -- all
about? Glashow gives a pithy, if somewhat superficial account in the
introduction to his Oct. 1, 1975 article in Scientific American, "Quarks
with Color and Flavor."
(6) Minow's "Vast Wasteland" speech is more than just a stinging censure of
television programming — it carried the promise of change. The big stick
Minow planned to wield to effect that change was bulleted in the pithy
phrase: "The people own the air."
plenary - adj -
polemics - noun - (1) a. An aggressive attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of
b. The practice of disputing or controverting religious, philosophical, or
A polemic text on a topic is often written specifically to dispute or refute
a position or theory that is widely viewed to be beyond reproach.
(2) The practice of theological controversy to refute errors of doctrine.
Examples: (1) Eighty-nine Republicans are co-sponsoring the bill introduced in response to
the television mini-series "The Reagans," which one bill sponsor described as
"a wildly sophomoric polemic aimed at tarnishing the reputation of our 40th
president and his devoted wife."
(2) "All of this is ridiculous. Politics is not a permanent settlement of scores.
Faced with such human tragedies, the time is for solidarity, not for sterile
polemic," he said.
(3) "We cannot allow the painful polemics that shook the European Parliament
debate to weigh on any future work," said Bruni.
precept - noun - (1) A rule or principle prescribing a particular course of action or
conduct, and intended as a general rule.
(2) Law An authorized direction or order; a writ or warrant.
Example: Clinging to demonstrably false economic precepts is understandable
when you benefit from them, but at some point reality does intervene.
preternatural - adj - Surpassing the normal or usual; extraordinary; Differing from the natural.
Transcending the natural or material order; supernatural.
Example: Below his preternatural affability there is some acid and steel.
prevaricate - verb - (1) To avoid giving a direct or truthful answer.
(2) To equivocate, to be intentionally misleading by making up a false account.
(3) To lie cagily or elaborately.
Examples: (1) "Is Iran going to suspend uranium enrichment activity? Is Iran going to return
to the negotiations?" Arliss said. "Or is Iran going to continue, as we think
they have, to stall, prevaricate and extend things in a meaningless way in order
to avoid censure?"
(2) "Knowing Ted, I'm sure that he examined every bit of evidence and came out with
what he saw as the truth," said one colonel, referring to Captain Daniels.
"Having worked with the him so long, I know he would not purposely mislead or
prevaricate on something like this."
(3) As disturbing as Mr. Carter's convenient memory lapses and apparent prevarications
was his unwillingness to engage the moral seriousness of this scandal.
prolix - adj - 1. Tediously prolonged or drawn out; wordy: editing a prolix manuscript.
2. Marked by or using an excess of words .
Examples: (1) His detractors have long bewailed his prolix descriptions of the weapons of war,
combat systems and all manner of related hardware.
(2) Many novelists are producing these gigantic, prolix books that seem to say,
"Little reader, I'm smarter than you, so sit down and be dazzled by me."
(3) Where Anderson's music was urgent and prolix, Heller's is cool and concise.
(4) Troy West is absolutely lovable in the play as the feckless, pompously prolix Micawber.
(5) The language is unnecessarily prolix, but the points are reasonably valid.
promontory - n. - (1) A high point of land or rock jutting out into the sea or other
water beyond the line of coast; a headland.
(2) A prominent mass of land or plateau, overlooking a lowland.
propitious - adj -(1) Presenting favorable circumstances; auspicious: propitious weather.
(2) Favorably inclined; disposed to bestow favors or forgive.
Example: (1) It might be intrepreted as a propitious sign that the elderly Indian
leader and the younger Pakistani general could hold such a long meeting
and are scheduled to meet again.
(2) Poverty, unemployment, and crime create an all too propitious
environment for drug trafficking.
proscribe - verb - (1) To condemn or forbid as harmful or unlawful; prohibit .
(2) a. To banish or outlaw (a person). b. To publish the name of (a person) as
"You recommend something when you prescribe it, but you forbid it when you
Examples: (1) The mountain camp was run by Harakat ul-Mujahideen, a militant Pakistani
Islamic group proscribed in the UK as a terrorist organization.
(2) He invokes religion frequently, but does not live by any of the tenets
proscribed by the church he professes to admire.
(3) It appears no proscribed weapons or potential weapons have got through
(4) for a time, it appeared as if the Council of Trent's reforming principles might
proscribe anything but the simplest musical styles.
(5) But the isolationist Tokugawa shoguns eventually proscribed Christianity and
expelled all missionaries
(6) He said there is no need for fund holders to panic, because the proscribed
practices presumably have been stopped.
(7) If a legislature wishes to proscribe a particular behavior not already
covered by statute or regulation or precedent in common law, it must pass
legislation in order to outlaw that behavior.
protean - adj - (1) of or resembling Proteus in having a varied nature or ability to
assume different forms
(2) displaying great diversity or variety; having many aspects, uses,
or abilities; multifaceted; versatile
Etymology: In Greek mythology, Proteus was an aged God of the sea who tended
the seals of Poseidon. He was looked on as possessed of prophetic
power and the secrets of witchcraft. Proteus would not be persuaded
to exercise this power except by deceit or under threat of violence.
He made every effort to evade his questioners, changing himself
into a great variety of shapes and guises, but if he were nevertheless
seized and held, he would foretell the future. The word protean is
derived from his name.
Examples: (1) He loved to show off his protean talents
(2) This album, taken from the conductor's years with the New York
Philharmonic, goes a long way toward recapturing at several
aspects of his protean musical career.
(3) The protean dynamics of HIV management can make guidelines
(4) Johnson believes that the annual change in guest editors is part
of what makes the collection work. The essay is in such a protean
state that a single editorial viewpoint could not possibly
consistently represent the whole of so rich an outpouring of
(5) The journal encourages submissions from everyone who reads its
pages: the intention is to create a lively and intellectually
challenging journal which in some degree reflects the protean
spirit of the man to whom it is dedicated.
pungent - adj - (1) Having an intense or acrid flavor or odor.
(2) a. Penetrating, biting, or caustic: pungent satire. b. To the point;
sharp: "pungent talks during which the major issues were confronted."
(3) Botany, ending in a sharp point: "a pungent leaf."
Examples: (1) If you're up early, head to the docks where the quayside is filled
with fisherwomen collecting the day's -- usually pungent -- catch.
(2) Yet the movie has a catchy, pungent spirit, with an invention that
seldom lets up.
putative - adj - supposed or apparent. The emphasis is on the fact that it is
apparent, not proven.
Example: (1) The newspaper, despite its well earned reputation as scandal
sheet, was forced, as a putative seeker of truth, to give the
appearance of impartiality.
(2) Although several people witnessed the robbery, none was able
to identify the putative culprit.
quail - verb - (1) a. - Chiefly dialect: wither, decline b. - to give way, falter.
(2) To recoil in dread or terror : cower
Example: His courage never quailed
querulous - adj 1. Complaining in a petulant or whining manner.
2. Full of complaints; complaining.
3. Characterized by or uttered in complaint; peevish:
Example:At a key moment in the movie, someone’s cellphone rings. A voice in the dark goes,
"You were supposed to turn that off," followed by a querulous, "My dog is dying!"
quixotic - adj - (1) Caught up in the romance of noble deeds and the pursuit of unreachable goals;
idealistic without regard to practicality; marked by rash lofty romantic ideas
or extravagantly chivalrous action
(2) Capricious; impulsive: "At worst his scruples must have been quixotic, not
Examples: (1) The tourists range from bored young drifters to anxiety-stricken
middle-agers, motivated by the quixotic hope that cutting loose will
stimulate the mind and heal the soul.
(2) The museum's new presentation testifies to the wide-ranging intellectual
curiosity of Fuller, who inspired several generations of architects with
his quixotic vision, and belief in the liberating power of technology.
(3) Jameson, who wrote songs in her spare time and had never had a play produced,
began a quixotic project to adapt the "Gone With the Wind" to the stage
recondite - adj - (1) Difficult or impossible for one of ordinary understanding or
rapacious - adj -
knowledge to comprehend; abstruse.
(2) Concerned with or treating something abstruse or obscure:
(3) Concealed; hidden.
Examples: (1) Thus those book publishers too are giving in to market pressure,
dumping recondite monographs in favor of trendier academic fare
or, better yet, whatever sells at Borders -- which, presumably,
means few footnotes.
(2) The answer is at once obvious and recondite, trivial and
(3) Although Jameson was fairly recondite as to methodology, his
purpose was plain enough.
(4) I came to respect him for his opinions in the recondite area
of the interpretation of quantum mechanics.
(5) These teachings may seem recondite when first heard, and so
indeed they are. But, like all our theosophical teachings, there
is one aspect of them which is very simple and contains the
principal idea of each thought.
redoubtable - adj -
redound - v -
remit - verb - (1) To transmit (money) in payment.
(2) a. To refrain from exacting (a tax or penalty, for example);
b. To pardon; forgive: remitted their sins.
(3) To restore to a former condition or position.
(4) Law a. To refer (a case) to another court for further consideration
b. To refer (a matter) to a committee or authority for decision.
(5) To allow to slacken: The storm remitted its fury.
(6) To desist from; give up.
(7) To put off; postpone.
intransitive verb: (1) To transmit money.
(2) To diminish; abate.
noun: (1) The act of remitting, especially the referral of a case to another
(2) A matter remitted for further consideration.
Examples: (1)...then remit the proper amount of property tax required.
(2) The Philippines' sagging economy still hopes to get a boost from
overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who are expected to remit some
$600 million by December, raising the total OFW remittance to
about $8 billion this year.
(3) we've got every reason to presume that the prosecutor intends to
put Grigory Pasko away for life and for this purpose is ready to
solicit judges to remit the case for further inquiry.
(4) Thousands of Sri Lankan expatriates in West Asia are perturbed
over the long delay in cashing bank drafts they send to their
family members in Sri Lanka due to the "go slow" campaign of
state banks. Those affected include dependants of housemaids
who eagerly await their monthly remittances and dependants of
workers who had received drafts to celebrate Avurudda and Vesak
in a fitting manner.
(5) Voters who disagree with the tax cut can both register the
sincerity of their opposition and solve the state revenue
shortage by simply endorsing their 2001 federal rebate check over
to the state of Washington General Fund and remitting future
annual tax-reduction amounts directly to the state. Those who
do not remit their rebate to the state can be assumed to agree
with the Bush tax policy.
(6) Peasants were duty bound to remit a certain amount of produce
each year to the landowner.
(7) We believe that writers should be paid for their work. We will
attempt to remit a small gratuity (usually in the $5-10 range)
for each accepted submission when funds are available, but as we
are a non-profit magazine and dependent upon the persistent
vagaries of existence, there is no guarantee of payment.
(8) In August 1999 Napier University established our research centre
in partnership with BT Scotland. Its remit is to research and
apply advanced information and communication technologies to
enhance and support the democratic decision-making process.
remonstrate - adj - To reason or plead in protest; present and urge reasons in opposition;
present an objection.
Examples: (1) When a member of the audience threw a tomato at the podium,
narrowly missing the speaker, he looked at the culprit and
remonstrated: "Don't throw your dinner at me -- I've already eaten."
(2) This interference with his plans annoyed Harrison exceedingly, and
he ventured to remonstrate with the judge.
(3) "What's the use of making a fool of yourself, Bill?" remonstrated
Carter, as Bill sat down behind his desk. "You're acting like a
child. If Ted wants to play the fool, why should you help him out?"
(4) The jury heard that Mr. Harrison, 24, had gone to remonstrate with
Barnes, who had thrown his friend Stuart Warren out of a hotel in
reproof - noun - An expression of censure or rebuke; criticism for a fault.
Examples: The reproof was contained in a message from the Attorney General advising him
that his offense could have been prosecuted and admonishing him to be more careful
in the future.
reprove - verb - (1) to scold or correct usually gently or with kindly intent: to reprove a pupil for making a mistake.
(2) to express disapproval of; rebuke; censure
Examples: (1) A good manager should criticize or reprove employees in private. This may seem
obvious, but managers forget to do it every day in hundreds of organizations.
(2) If he makes a mistake, don’t reprove, but. encourage him.
(3) To reprove him for lack of technical data or "proofs" is therefore akin to
reprimanding Shakespeare for historical inaccuracies in Julius Caesar.
restive - adj - (1) Uneasily impatient under restriction, delay, coercion, or opposition;
resisting control; difficult to control.
(2) Unwilling to go on; obstinate in refusing to move forward; stubborn.
(3) Refusing to move. Used of a horse or other animal.
Restive is properly applied to a feeling of impatience or uneasiness induced by
external coercion or restriction, and is not a general synonym for restless: The
government has done nothing to ease export restrictions, and domestic manufacturers
are growing restive (not restless). The atmosphere in the office was congenial, but
after five years I began to grow restless (not restive).
Examples: (1) A Chinese citizen who sold carpets in Thailand's restive deep south was killed
on Tuesday, when his car strayed into a battle between insurgents and government
(2) Grange predicted that the sheik's killing - most likely by al Qaeda in
Iraq - will backfire and will mobilize more citizens to come out against the
insurgent group. Such attacks could actually be a measure of the success the
United States is having in the restive province, Grange said.
(3) An Air France flight from Paris to Chicago was diverted to Milwaukee,
Wisconsin, where passengers became restive while being forced to wait on the
plane for seven hours, CNN affiliate WISN reported.
(4) China has cracked down on Tibet and neighboring provinces. It sent more troops
into restive regions and made scores of arrests in Lhasa.
rubric - noun - (1) a. A class or category. b. A title; a name.
(2) A part of a manuscript or book, such as a title, a heading, or an
initial letter, that appears in decorative red lettering or is
otherwise distinguished from the rest of the text.
(3) A title or heading of a statute or chapter in a code of law.
(4) Ecclesiastical. A direction in a missal, hymnal, or other
(5) An authoritative rule or direction.
(6) A short commentary or explanation covering a broad subject.
(7) Red ocher.
- adj - (1) Color. Red or reddish.
(2) Written in red.
Example: (1) In addition, because these arrangements come under the rubric
of "professional service" contracts, many are exempt from laws on
(2) You can evaluate your students’ writing by using the following
(3) Many people believed the National Security Agency's primary
rubric, export controls, wouldn't stand up to a constitutional
challenge, but it was never tested.
(4) Judges customarily employ a statutory construction device
that teaches courts to avoid reaching constitutional issues
when they need not. The rubric is dubiously applied here,
however since it is designed primarily to respect the
presumption of constitutionality, not becloud it.
sallow - adj - (1) Of a sickly grayish greenish yellow color or complexion.
(2) Any of several broad-leaved European willow (as Salix caprea)
including important sources of charcoal and tanbark
Example: (1) He looked as though his end was near - his complexion was
sallow; his speech was slow, and his left arm immobile.
sardonic - adj - Scornfully, disdainfully, bitterly, or cynically mocking: a sardonic
comment. Sneering: a sardonic grin.
Examples: (1) The author cleverly directs the reader away from himself and his
feelings and toward a sardonic vision of humanity more or less
trapped in recurring cycles of cruelty and stupidity.
(2) They were married inside a florist’s leaky old greenhouse, where
the resident parrot seemed to mock their vows with what sounded like
(3) The new editor, tall and distinguished-looking and known for a
sardonic wit, hired a fresh generation of young, anti-establishment
reporters and sent them to cover stories around the world.
(4) "Oh, yes?" she said and gave him a sardonic look. "And you're going
to avenge his death, are you?"
stalwart - adj - marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind, or spirit; firm
Examples: (1)Inserts, like the Trade Fair flyer, were an important source of
revenue for the newspaper. On Fridays, a group of stalwart helpers
gathered to do the stuffing and then have lunch together.
(2) Stalwart consumer advocate Ted Cantor's Fair Sales Practices
Foundation maintains a most useful and informative Web site
dedicated to protecting your right's as a consumer.
(3) ...statement made by the same political stalwart...
(4) SIA (Society for Industrial Archaeology) stalwart Victor Darnell
leads off with his study of
(5) To many across the country, New York State sounds like the perfect
locale for Hillary Clinton to launch a race for the U.S. Senate.
The Empire State is, after all, the home of cosmopolitan liberals
who have been the most stalwart supporters of her husband.
stolid - adj - Having or revealing little emotion or sensibility; unemotional; impassive:
“the incredibly massive and stolid bureaucracy of the Soviet system.”
Examples: (1) President Sarkozy's fizzing theatricality and headline grabbing does not
sit easily with the stolid step-by-step incrementalism of Chancellor
(2) He had abandoned himself to his love, and she, stolid, matronly, received
this adoration with simple grandeur, like a socialist-realist statue of a
woman taking up sheaves of wheat.
(3) His face and stolid stare into the camera became his trademark.
(4) My grandmother, stolid in temper and solid in bulk, kept up a long and
subdued grumble, while she stirred the stock-pot methodically over the
stygian -adj - (1) a. Gloomy and dark; forbidding.
b. Infernal; hellish.
(2) Of or relating to the river Styx
Etymology: In Greek mythology, the river Styx was the "hateful" river that
circled the realm of the dead. The ferryman Charon transported human
souls to Hades. The gods swore their most dread and unbreakable oaths
by invoking the name of the river Styx. Stygian describes something
to be linked with the infernal regions of hell - something gloomy, or
Examples: (1) Since then he had received serious complaints regarding the
non lighting of the streets. Workers and others found it very
difficult to get to their places of employment.Mr Keyes said
that it was a shame to have the city cast into Stygian gloom.
(2) L.A. Times series on kids living in stygian apartments with
crack-head parents in Long Beach.
(3) After this chat I will return to the stygian depths of Hell whence
(4) Again and again, observers resorted to the imagery of darkness
and light to characterize the transformation from the Stygian
gloom of Hoover's final winter to the bright springtime of FDR's
First Hundred Days.
(5) The only chink of light in the stygian gloom of the report was
an observation by Mr Justice Hamilton that his Supreme Court
colleague had been motivated by "a spirit of humanitarian
sub rosa - adj - (1) in confidence; privately or confidentially; secretly
Etymology: New Latin, literally, under the rose; from the ancient association
of the rose with secrecy.
Examples: (1) He was 80 years old and still editing the magazine sub rosa,
sending copy back and forth to the writers by secret courier.
(2) It is called "soft" money and in no matter what amount, soft
money is pliable enough to be slipped, sub rosa - under the
counter - to a particular candidate.
(3) The investigators said that a major purpose of the sub rosa
activities was to create so much confusion, suspicion and
dissension that the Labor Party would be incapable of uniting
after choosing a presidential nominee.
(4) The year since then has seen (actually "seen" is the wrong word,
since most of the conflict resolution has been done sub rosa)
the development of a final agreement, with the help of an
ad hoc committee that included Democratic state Sen....
sultry - adj - (1)a. Very humid and hot: sultry July weather. b. Extremely hot; torrid:
the sultry sands of the desert.
(2)a. hot with passion or anger. b. Expressing or arousing desire:
a sultry look; a sultry dance.
Examples: (1) I emerged into the thick, sultry air of a Southern summer day.
(2) Her pieces have featured prominently in Gucci's new advertisements, a
solitary shoe or leather purse replacing the sultry models who used to
sulk on billboards.
sundry - adj - Various; miscellaneous: diverse, not of the same kind.
(1) Making roads, minor irrigation projects and sundry other civil
works is all very well, but major construction will have to be
specifically allocated in next year's budget.
Example: (2) ...a purse containing keys, wallet, and sundry items.
(3) In addition to its beautiful fauna, flora and scenery it offers
activities that will suit all and sundry from soul inspiring walks to
board sailing, diving and much more.
superannuated - adj - (1) retired or ineffective because of age or infirmity.
(2) too old for use, work, service, or a position.
(3) antiquated, outmoded, or obsolete: superannuated ideas.
Examples: (1) How could Hitchcock help but feel a bit superannuated when the "joltier"
"Clouzot" and "Les Diaboliques" won the prestigious Delluc Prize in
France for highest achievement in originality?
(2) I'm being polite. What my mother actually said was that Tom Robbins
panders to superannuated hippies.
supercilious - adj - cooly and patronizingly haughty;
Example: He somehow managed to be arrogant and supercilious, without
revealing any symptoms of intelligence.
surreptitious - adj - (1) Obtained, done, or made by clandestine or stealthy means; clandestine: a
(2) Acting with or marked by stealth.
Examples: (1) Officials said the surreptitious copying is believed to have occurred when a
laptop belonging to someone in the U.S. trade delegation was left unattended.
(2) He surreptitiously transferreed funds to the terrorist group.
taciturn - adj - Habitually untalkative; temperamentally disinclined to talk.
Examples: (1) Mr. Mundruczo’s deft use of sound and music in the film suggests emotions
that his characters are too taciturn to articulate.
(2) You will find there many tributes to a young soldier who was so taciturn
while going about his business that his fellows called him "the Robot."
tenacious -adj - (1) Holding or tending to hold persistently to something, such as a point
(2) Holding together firmly; cohesive:
(3) Clinging to another object or surface; adhesive:
(4) Tending to retain; retentive:
Examples: (1) a most tenacious and threatening problem
(2) By the way, although Acetone is pretty good at removing lubricants,
Dalembeck’s lubricant is pretty tenacious and may require extra
elbow grease or even a buffing job to remove…that’s one reason it
so popular and effective.
tendentious - adj - strongly favoring a particular point of view in a way that may cause argument:
expressing a strong opinion. Marked by or favoring a particular point of view; partisan: a tendentious account of the recent elections.
tenet - noun - An opinion, doctrine, especially one held as true by members of a profession,
group, or movement.
Examples: (1) These reforms are also built on the most fundamental of medical tenets: do
(2) Supply-side economics, as it was called — first with derision but then as a
label embraced by its supporters — has become a central tenet of Republican
political and economic thinking.
torpid - adj - (1) Having lost the power of motion or feeling; sluggish.
(2) Dormant; hibernating.
(3) Lethargic; apathetic.
Examples: (1) Because these animals are so small, it is difficult for them
to stay warm in very cold weather, so they stay inactive, or
torpid, for a few weeks at a time in winter to save energy.
(2) The torpid economy is making the consumer lending industry a
tough one to navigate.
(noun form - torpor)
torrid - adj - (1) Parched with the heat of the sun; intensely hot.
(2) Scorching; burning: the torrid noonday sun.
(3) Passionate; ardent: a torrid love scene.
(4) Hurried; rapid: set a torrid pace; torrid economic growth.
Examples: (1) With the exception of a slight breeze which stirred the heated atmosphere
shortly after noon, there was no diminution in the torrid heat which poured
down upon us this day.
(2) The Lambada, a torrid new dance, Is Not for the bashful or the modest.
(3) The movie was a disappointing, half-hearted effort, and except for a torrid love
scene toward the end it contented itself with just being feeble and disjointed.
(4) Seldom in the history of the State camp have troops drilled under a more torrid
sun than that which blazed down on the Twenty-third during the early morning and
forenoon exercises to-day.
tortuous - adj - (1) Full of twists, turns, or bends; twisting, winding, or crooked: a tortuous
road through the mountains.
(2) Not straightforward; circuitous; devious: a tortuous plot; tortuous reasoning.
(3) Highly involved; intricate; complex: tortuous legal procedures.
Examples: (1) He absolutely despises buying from car dealerships and enduring the often
tortuous negotiations with a car dealer sales team.
(2) These past few days at Heathrow (where I work), I have witnessed mums and
dads with toddlers, and elderly people subjected to the most tortuous processes
just to get themselves onto an aircraft.
(3) No parent who was dragged to the cinema to see this tortuous piece of
overlong tedium will ever forgive their children.
touchstone - noun - (1) A high quality example of something that is used to test the excellence
or genuineness of others: “the qualities of courage and vision that are
the touchstones of leadership.”
(2) A hard black stone, such as jasper or basalt, formerly used to test the
purity of gold or silver by comparing the color of the streak produced
on it by rubbing it with either metal.
Examples: (1) Cinema’s fascination with human locomotion during the art’s first 50 years
seems to have been supplanted in the last 50 by a fascination with rigor
mortis. The touchstone for this shift is probably Hitchcock’s masterpiece
“Psycho,” in which the camera is more vibrantly alive than any of the
characters, including that dead blonde in the shower.
(2) His self-produced third album, Continuum, was taut, melodic, well sung,
and impeccably played. The touchstones are Sting, along with latter-day
Eric Clapton and the '70s blue-eyed soul of the Doobie Brothers and Boz
(3) Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" (1927) and Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the
Will" (1935), are also obviously major touchstones for Conran's sense of
(4) Some years ago "CSI" was the touchstone, but now there are dozens of
process driven TV crime shows, including even other "CSI" versions.
tractable - adj - (1) Easily managed or controlled; governable; docile; yielding.
(2) Easily worked, shaped, or otherwise handled; malleable.
Examples: (1) According to this treaty, each side would acknowledge each other's existence
without resolving less tractable issues of sovereignty.
(2) Even so, researchers worldwide are still working toward an exact and
tractable formulation of the theory's equations.
(3) He seemed so unnaturally passive and tractable that I wondered for a moment
if I might get him to agree.
(4) The president's announcement came as members of the slightly less tractable
lower house of Parliament said they might open their own investigation.
traduce - verb - (1) To lower or disgrace the reputation of; expose to shame or blame by utterance of
falsehood or misrepresentation .
(2) Violate; betray (traduce a principle of the law)
Etymology: Latin traducere: to lead as a spectacle, dishonor
Examples: (1) Being a senior minister does actually require more than a cranky
disposition and a willingness to blackguard and traduce other people.
(2) I suggest that when reporting unfavorably on a play, the critic for
the Times devote more than three lines to his explanation, and forgo the
sort of cheap pun he used to traduce the memory of a great artist.
(3) To secure the nomination, Johnson was willing to misrepresent the honest
convictions of his opponent's lifetime, and to traduce the characters of
his opponent's dearest friends.
(4) Partly this can be laid at the door of the incumbent president, but mainly
it lies with those people who don’t bother giving reasons, don’t explain or
give arguments, who prefer to traduce the people with whom they disagree by
attacks on their characters.
truculent - adj - (1) feeling or displaying ferocity; cruel, savage
(2) deadly, destructive
(3) scathingly harsh; vitriolic
(4) aggressively self-assertive; belligerent; pugnacious.
Examples: (1) Murphy has often been a tough opponent of the Davis
administration, without being truculent - and that's much to be
(2) While Ministers may have been obliged to descend to the engine
room occasionally in order to twist the arms of truculent trade
unionists, this has been the most un-Labour-like of Labour
Governments since the party was born 100 years ago.
(3) He has adopted a truculent, "put up or shut up" attitude.
(4) He is brash, truculent, in your face and pushes his luck.
(5) However, Harden's writings, inspired by a blind and truculent
nationalism, are unacceptable here.
(6) Mr. Adams said that if he tried to do the same in a truculent
city like Los Angeles, four million people would have showed up.
vacuous - adj - (1) Devoid of matter; empty.
(2) a. Lacking intelligence or ideas; stupid.
b. Devoid of substance or meaning; inane: a vacuous comment.
c. Devoid of expression; vacant: “The narrow, swinelike eyes were
open, no more vacuous in death than they had been in life.”
(3) Lacking serious purpose or occupation; idle: a vacuous way of life.
Examples: (1) The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive
result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate,
and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate,
pander-filled contests that preceded it.
(2) His goal was to persuade the singers to adopt his ideas, and
thereby rescue this repertory from its reputation as a junkyard of
vacuous, formulaic clatter
vapid - adj - (1) Lacking liveliness, animation, or interest; dull or tedious: vapid
(2) Lacking taste, zest, or flavor; flat: vapid beer.
Examples: (1) Often willfully vapid, the lyrics nonetheless produce an emotional
(2) The author invests almost all his storytelling capital in the contrast
between lavishly staged scenes of vapid New York high life and a dark
American melodrama of loneliness that turned one man into a killer.
vitiate - verb - (1) To reduce the value or impair the quality of.
(2) To corrupt morally or aesthetically; to debase.
(3) To make ineffective; invalidate; spoil.
Examples: (1) Under Tunisian law, a confession obtained from a person against
his will may not be used as evidence against him. Any factors
that vitiate consent also vitiate the confession.
(2) The Prime Minister today defended the arrest of some reporters
and charged former Foreign Minister and opposition party
president M. Hassimi with attempting to vitiate cordial
relations and goodwill between his Government and the press.
(3) The court held that the Speaker’s findings were vitiated and
found that he acted in a partisan manner which affected his
assessment of the material presented to him.
(4) The Judge found evidence of irregularities during the elections
but these were not of such significance as to affect the
outcome of the elections. He, therefore, could not vitiate the
elections, as the Socialist Labor Party had expected, on this
(5) A sessions court Wednesday disallowed British lawyers from
examining the approver in the Singh murder case, as it would
vitiate the trial, which has yet to commence three years after
the banking mogul was gunned down in Bombay.
vituperate - verb tr - To rebuke or criticize harshly or abusively; berate; revile.
- verb in - To use harshly abusive language; rail.
Examples: (1) Many people seem to either glorify the president, or else vituperate
(2) I recall several painfully unfunny afternoons spent sitting listening
to him alternately expectorate and vituperate all over our favorite
(3) His supporters point out that the vituperative nature of this campaign has
reminded many voters what they disliked about election campaigns.
(4) Guess which manager we vituperate for being arbitrary and unstable?
(5) I don't recall any of these being vituperative at the mayor during his
first months in office.
voluble - adj - (1) Characterized by a ready and continuous flow of speech; fluent; glib;
(2) Turning easily on an axis; rotating.
Examples: (1) Mr. Selenkov, a voluble commentator on the country's struggles, would have
kept the president up late talking about how corruption drains so much
from a country and its people.
(2) More cerebral and less voluble than his older brother, Jensen has kept his
public involvement in the imbroglio to a minimum
(3) Some of the most vocal and voluble participants enjoy themselves but don't
necessarily make the best contributions.
(4) Anything short of outright and voluble condemnation of terrorism
(5) It is therefore, all the more surprising that even the most vociferous,
voluble and articulate of such widespread critics have refrained from
criticizing the mayor since his accident.
(6) The little boy chattered volubly in French too.
wrought - verb- A past tense and a past participle of work.
- adj - (1) Put together; created: a carefully wrought plan.
(2) Produced by hammering with tools. Usually said of of metals or
(3) Made delicately or elaborately.
Examples: (1) The foreign minister's firsthand look at the devastation wrought by the
storm left him shaken Tuesday, even though the areas to which he was
taken were far from the worst-hit.
(2) He takes great pride in the changes he has wrought in the city council
during his tenure.