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- to make or become less in degree, intensity,value, or amount
- We waited for the storm to abate before weheaded out.
- Synonyms: decrease, diminish, reduce, subside
ab dica te(AB-di-keyt)
to give up a right or responsibility, especially formally
- Elizabeth II of England would probably not have become queen if her uncle, King EdwardVIII, had not abdicated.
- Synonyms: relinquish, renounce, resign
ab erran t(ah-BER-uhnt)
- going off the usual, normal, or right way;deviating from the usual or normal type
- The aberrant weather during that rainy summerleft many feeling as though there had not beenany summer at all.
- Synonyms: abnormal, atypical, deviant, unusual
ab eyanc e(uh-BEY-uhns)
- a temporary state of inactivity
- We kept our travel plans in abeyance anddid not go until we were certain that we hadenough money for the trip.
- Synonyms: inactivity, recess, suspension
- completely hopeless
- They lost everything when their house burneddown and have since lived in abject conditions,often homeless.
- Synonyms: downtrodden, miserable, wretched
- to formally reject, often under oath
- Though she had completely changed herways, she could not abjure her former friends.
- Synonyms: forswear, renounce
- to leave secretly and suddenly
- One minute the children were underfoot; thenext minute, they absconded with all thecookies.
- Synonyms: disappear, escape, vanish
- restrained, especially with food and alcohol
- Since she began to do yoga, she has also beenabstemious with both alcohol and junk food.
- Synonyms: frugal, moderate, restrained, temperate
- like an abyss: immeasurably great or low;hopelessly bad
- He wrote the term paper all in one night, andthe results were abysmal.
- Synonyms: bottomless, vast, wretched
acc ola de(A-kuh-LEYD)
- an award or other expression of honor orpraise
- Given the number of accolades she hasreceived for her work on stage and in film, it issurprising just how humble she is.
- Synonyms: award, honor
- sour or harsh in taste, mood, or temperament
- He tried to hide his bad mood, but his acerbic reply gave his anger away.
- Synonyms: acidic, caustic, harsh, sharp
- to grow through additions
- As the years accrue, so does wisdom.
- Synonyms: accumulate, collect, increase
- insight or shrewdness, especially in practicalmatters
- Due to the combination of her personalwarmth and business acumen, her newcompany was an instant success.
- Synonyms: discernment, insight, judgment,perception
- insistent, immovable
- Though the child protested, his parentswere adamant: he had to be in bed by eighto’clock.
- Synonyms: determined, inflexible, resolute,stubborn, unyielding
- to advise against something; to gently scoldor warn
- The teacher admonished the children fortracking mud down the hallways of the school.
- Synonyms: advise, reprimand, warn
- excessive admiration, praise, or devotion;flattery
- The football star enjoyed the adulation ofthousands of fans until it was revealed that he had cheated.
- Synonyms: devotion, fawning, flattery, worship
- to make impure by adding foreign or inferiorelements, materials, or ingredients
- Do not adulterate this cake batter by usingflour of such poor quality!
- Synonyms: cheapen, corrupt, dilute, weaken
- having to do with beauty or the arts
- Though the morality of the movie is questionable,its aesthetic qualities are admirable: it was beautifully filmed.
- Synonym: artistic
- an attraction, especially one based on asimilarity in interests
- Countless young women have read and rereadJane Eyre, feeling an affinity for its fierce heroine.
- Synonyms: affection, fondness, sympathy
agg ran dize(uh-GRAN-dahyz)
- to make greater in size, power, or honor; toenhance the appearance of greatness
- The dictator aggrandized his power by takingcontrol of the press and all other media.
- Synonyms: glorify, hype, inflate, strengthen
agg rega te(A-gre-guht or A-gre-GEYT)
- (adj.) formed by grouping elements into onelarger body
- The aggregate power of the teammates wasfar greater than you might imagine based ontheir individual talents.
- Synonyms: accumulated, collective(v.) to group elements into one larger body
- We need to aggregate the survey results inorder to have a clear picture of the overall data.
- Synonyms: assemble, collect, combine(n.) a body of associated elements
- In the aggregate, her small daily effortsresulted in a gorgeous book of poems.
- Synonyms: combination, mass, whole
- cheerful readiness
- He replied to the invitation with alacrity; he was eager for the opportunity to travel toPuerto Rico.
- Synonyms: liveliness, promptness, willingness
- the power or process that can change somethingordinary into something valuable; amedieval pseudoscience with the purpose ofchanging lead into gold
- The alchemy that transformed him into a dashinglyhandsome man in her eyes was love.
- Synonyms: enchantment, magic, sorcery
- to put to rest; to decrease in strength ordifficulty
- After they heard the coyotes howling, nothingbut the dawn could allay their fears.
- Synonyms: alleviate, calm, ease, lessen, relieve
- to lessen the burden, make easier
- Her calm support did much to alleviate hisdifficulties with the task.
- Synonyms: allay, ease, lighten, relieve
- a mixture of two or more different things;literally, a mixture of two or more metals orof a metal and nonmetal
- Even sterling silver is actually an alloy of silverwith another metal, usually copper.
- Synonyms: blend, combination, composite,compound
- (v.) to attract
- Only the possibility that his favorite singermight perform could allure him to attend theconcert.
- Synonyms: charm, entice, tempt
- (n.) that which attracts
- Easily nauseated, she could not see the allure of a roller coaster.
- Synonyms: appeal, charm
- unoriginal, trite
- The musical was unbelievably banal; thecharacters, plot, and music completely lackedoriginality.
- Synonyms: bland, conventional, hackneyed
- obscene, often in a boisterous or humorousway
- Shakespeare’s language can be as bawdy as itis beautiful.
- Synonyms: coarse, indecent, lewd, vulgar
- something enormous in size or power
- The company was a behemoth, associatedwith about 1,000 brands, some of them evencompeting with each other.
- Synonyms: beast, giant, leviathan, mammoth
- to reveal the falsehood of, contradict
- His blushing face belied his claim that he didnot care.
- Synonyms: disprove, negate, repudiate
- inclined or eager to fight
- The bellicose young man picked fights on theplayground nearly every day.
- Synonyms: belligerent, combative, hostile,warlike
- doing good
- Every fall, they celebrated the beneficent Earth for its rich harvest.
- Synonyms: benevolent, generous, kind
- flattery intended to persuade
- The blandishments of the salesperson got thebetter of her judgment, and she purchased thestereo, only to return it the next day.
- Synonyms: coaxing, fawning, wheedling
- to give support
- The coach bolstered their spirits after theyplayed a poor first half, and ultimately theywon the game.
- Synonyms: brace, sustain, uphold
- obnoxiously pretentious in speech or writing
- After an evening of listening to bombastic speeches, I left the award ceremony with aheadache.
- Synonyms: pompous
- rude in a way that reveals insensitivity to others
- He lost several friends because of his boorish behavior at the party that night.
- Synonyms: bad mannered, coarse, crude
- shamelessly bold
- He was so brazen as to interrupt the guestspeaker in the middle of her remarks.
- Synonyms: audacious, cocky, impudent
- to mention for the first time
- Though he loved her dearly, he was too timidto broach the topic of marriage.
- Synonyms: introduce, propose, suggest
- having to do with shepherds or rural life
- He enjoyed their vacation in bucolic northernNew England; she longed to return to the city.
- Synonyms: pastoral, rural, rustic
- to sprout, bloom, and grow
- She burgeoned into an eager reader shortlyafter beginning first grade.
- Synonyms: blossom, flourish
- to polish, especially by rubbing
- The carpenter burnished the surface of thetable until it was smooth and glossy.
- Synonyms: brighten, rub, shine
- to support, prop up
- She listened to the anthem again and again, tobuttress her courage.
- Synonyms: bolster, brace, strengthen
- harsh, discordant sound
- To her, it was powerfully stirring music; to herparents, it was unbearable cacophony.
- Synonyms: discord, noise
- false charges made with the intention ofharming the reputation of another
- Despite the falseness of the charges, thecalumny ended her career in politics.
- Synonyms: defamation, slander
- a body of fundamental rules or standards; a setof sacred texts or other comprehensive list oftexts
- Many of the books we take as part of thecanon today may be forgotten in the nextcentury.
- Synonyms: dogma, law, principle
- the use of trite or stock language, especiallyfor insincere expressions of enthusiasm orpiety
- We were disgusted with the empty cant of thepoliticians, who had done nothing to preventthe disaster.
- Synonyms: hypocrisy, sanctimoniousness
- impulsive, tending to act according to whim
- He was so capricious that he rarely kept a joblonger than a few months.
- Synonyms: arbitrary, erratic, unpredictable
- tending to find fault; designed to confuse
- The teacher’s feedback was more captious than instructive.
- Synonyms: cantankerous, faultfinding, finicky,nit-picking
ca stiga tion(kas-ti-GEY-shuhn)
- severe criticism or punishment
- The children did not expect such castigationfrom their gentle teacher, who later apologizedfor reprimanding them so harshly.
- Synonyms: chastisement, discipline, invective
ca taly st(KA-tuh-luhst)
- an agent that causes or speeds up a changeor activity; literally, a substance that causes orspeeds up a chemical reaction
- They had talked about moving for years; herpregnancy was the catalyst that finally spurredthem to take action.
- Synonyms: impetus, stimulus
- relating to a cause
- She understood the causal relationship betweenthe care she took with her studies and her grades
- able to burn or corrode; sarcastic
- Her caustic tone and sarcastic words saideverything we needed to know about herthoughts about getting fired.
- Synonyms: acerbic, biting, harsh
to raise minor objectionsHis tendency to cavil at new ideas made him apoor manager, and he was soon fired.Synonyms: criticize, quibble
- blame, formal condemnation
- The censure of her colleagues did nothing tocurb her illicit behavior.
- Synonyms: criticism, disapproval, reprimand
- She was chary of auditioning for another playafter the last production ended in a debacle.
- Synonyms: careful, restrained, wary
- to correct through punishment
- The children were thoroughly chastened afterthey spent their weekend cleaning the playgroundthey had damaged.
- Synonyms: discipline, humiliate, subdue
- deception through trickery
- He won the competition through chicanery,not talent.
- Synonyms: artifice, cheating, subterfuge
- a terrible illusion, an imagined monster
- The chimera that haunts him at night is hisidea of himself in the future.
- Synonyms: delusion, mirage
- going in a winding, indirect way
- Though it may have been quicker to go by thehighway, we enjoyed the circuitous drive tothe lake.
- Synonyms: rambling, roundabout
- to thicken; to gather in a mass
- The milk became sour and began to coagulate.
- Synonyms: congeal, clot, curdle, solidify
- the conclusion of a work of music, literature,drama, or film, often formally different fromthe rest of the work
- We knew how the story was going to turn outlong before the play reached its coda.
- Synonyms: conclusion, ending, finale
- very convincing and appealing to reason;relevant
- The senator was not able to give a cogentargument in favor of his re-election.
- Synonyms: apt, compelling, persuasive, telling
- equal or corresponding in measure, degree,intensity, or duration
- If your effort is commensurate with yourdesire, you are likely to succeed.
- Synonyms: comparable, equivalent, proportionate
- a summary of a larger work or body of knowledge;a complete list of items
- The thin volume included a compendium of allthe different kinds of birds he had seen visitingthe woods in his backyard.
- Synonyms: abstract, digest, overview, survey
- satisfied with one’s own condition
- It is easy to be complacent with one’s owngood fortune rather than to use it to better thelives of others.
- Synonyms: self-satisfied, smug, unconcerned
compla isan t(kuhm-PLEY-suhnt)
- inclined to please
- The girl was shy but complaisant, and soonwarmed up to the company.
- Synonyms: agreeable, gracious, obliging
- something that completes or perfects
- For her, coffee is a necessary complement to breakfast.
- Synonyms: counterpart, enhancement,supplement
- conforming, submissive
- Stand firmly on your ground—don’t be socompliant!
- Synonyms: docile, obedient, obliging, yielding
- tending to gain goodwill, overcome distrust
- Upon hearing her conciliatory words, no onewas in the mood to argue anymore.
- Synonyms: appeasing, civil, placating
- to confuse thoroughly
- The directions confounded her so completelythat she ended up on the wrong side of town.
- Synonyms: baffle, bewilder, frustrate, perplex
- one who understands, appreciates, and canmake judgments of an art or matter of taste
- Though he claimed to be a connoisseur oftwentieth century art, he could not even tell aPicasso from a Pollock.
- Synonyms: aficionado, expert, specialist
- opposition, strife; an idea proposed and heldin debate or argument
- The constant mishaps of her lackadaisicalbrother became a source of contention withher husband.
- Synonyms: conflict, discord, quarrel
- in contact, adjoining
- The state of Alaska is contiguous with Canadabut not with the United States.
- Synonyms: adjacent, bordering, neighboring, touching
feeling or showing sorrow for wrongdoingThough he was contrite after their argument,she was not easily willing to forgive.Synonyms: apologetic, penitent, remorseful,sorry
- stubbornly rebellious
- The contumacious little girl refused to listen toreason and to wear a jacket or shoes.
- Synonyms: headstrong, obstinate
- a complicated problem; literally, a riddle with apun or wordplay in its answer
- The disorder in his bedroom every morningwas a conundrum, until they realized that hewas sleepwalking at night.
- Synonyms: puzzle, riddle, trick
- a meeting; an agreement; the standard orusual way of doing things
- As e-mail has become the main form of writtencorrespondence, many people are forgettingthe conventions of letter writing.
- Synonyms: custom, habit
- enjoying company, food, and drink
- A convivial person, she looks forward to theholidays even though they mark the beginningof winter.
- Synonyms: agreeable, friendly, jovial
conv olu ted(KON-vuh-loo-tuhd)
- full of twists and turns, complicated
- His convoluted directions were unnecessary;all that he needed to say was, “Turn left at thecorner.”
- Synonyms: complex, intricate, puzzling
- numerous, plentiful
- She took copious notes and filled severalnotebooks every term.
- Synonyms: abundant, extensive, generous
- completely lacking in courage
- Please tell me you are not so craven as toforfeit the game rather than face your fiercestopponent.
- Synonyms: cowardly, fearful, timid
- willing to believe; originating in credulity
- As a teacher, he was far too credulous, and hisstudents could get away with almost anything,so long as they could tell a story to explain it.
- Synonyms: believing, gullible, unsuspecting
cul pabl e(KUHL-puh-buhl)
- deserving blame
- Though she was clearly culpable, she wasnever even charged for the crime.
- Synonyms: blameworthy, guilty, liable
- a complete lack of faith, especially in thevalues and motives of humans
- Despite his cynicism, he was also charming,and soon everyone was seduced by hisgloomy outlook.
- Synonyms: bitterness, negativism, pessimism,sarcasm
- center of attraction
- The movie star is an unapologetic cynosure;she always expects all eyes to be on her.
- Synonyms: hotshot
narrow-minded, prejudiced person
give voting rights
harmful, poisonous, lethal
payment for work done
recoil in fear of servility, shrink away from
noisy, attacking speach
petitioner (in court of law)
cancel, deny, repeal
statement giving strong praise
shameful, very bad
can be believed, reasonable
of little value, gaudy
deliberate make something difficult to understand
flexible, not stubborn
self denying, refraining from indulging
self indulgence, pleasure-seeking
stubborn, holding firm to a purpose
informal words and phrases (i.e. to pull off, in a bind...)