N. length of time something lasts. Because she wanted the children to make a good impression on the dinner guests, Mother promised them a treat if they'd behave for the duration of the meal.
N. forcible restraint, especially unlawfully. The hostages were held under duress until the prisoners' demands were met.
ADJ. respectful; obedient. When Mother told Billy to kiss Great-Aunt Hattie, the boy obediently gave the old woman a dutiful peck on her cheek.
V. cause to seem small. The giant redwoods and high cliffs dwarfed the elegant Ahwahnee Hotel, making it appear a modest lodge rather than an imposing hostelry.
V. shrink; reduce. The food in the life boat gradually dwindled away to nothing; in the end, they ate the ship's cook.
ADJ. energetic; vigorously active. The dynamic aerobics instructor kept her students on the run; she was a little dynamo.
ADJ. unrefined; coarse. His earthy remarks often embarrassed the women in his audience.
V. recede; lessen. Sitting on the beach, Mrs. Dalloway watched the tide ebb: the waters receded, drawing away from her as she sat there all alone. also N.
ADJ. showing excitement; overflowing with enthusiasm. Amy's ebullient nature could not be repressed; she' was always bubbling over with excitement. ebullience, N.
ADJ. irregular; odd; whimsical; bizarre. The comet veered dangerously close to the earth in its eccentric orbit. People came up with some eccentric ideas for dealing with the emergency: someone even suggested tieing a knot in the comet's tail!
N. oddity; idiosyncrasy. Some of his friends tried to account for his rudeness to strangers as the eccentricity of genius.
ADJ. pertaining to the church. The minister donned his ecclesiastic garb and walked to the pulpit. also N.
ADJ. composed of elements drawn from disparate sources. His style of interior decoration was eclectic: bits and pieces of furnishings from widely divergent periods, strikingly juxtaposed to create a unique decor. eclecticism, N.
V. darken; extinguish; surpass. The new stock market high eclipsed the previous record set in 1995.
N. a person concerned with the interrelationship between living organisms and their environment. The ecologist was concerned that the new dam would upset the natural balance of the creatures living in Glen Canyon.
N. efficiency or conciseness in using something. Reading the epigrams of Pope, I admire the economy of his verse: in few words he conveys worlds of meaning. (secondary meaning)
N. rapture; joy; any overpowering emotion. When Allison received her long-hoped-for letter of acceptance from Harvard, she was in ecstasy. ecstatic,ADJ.
N. swirling current of water, air, etc. The water in the tide pool was still, except for an occasional eddy.
N. decree (especially issued by a sovereign); official command. The emperor issued an edict decreeing that everyone should come see him model his magnificent new clothes.
V. instruct; correct morally. Although his purpose was to edify and not to entertain his audience, many of his listeners were amused rather than enlightened.
ADJ. weird. In that eerie setting, it was easy to believe in ghosts and other supernatural beings.
V. rub out. The coin had been handled so many times that its date had been effaced.
ADJ. able to produce a desired effect; valid. Medical researchers are concerned because of the development of drug-resistant strains of bacteria; many once useful antibiotics are no longer effectual in curing bacterial infections.
N. inner excitement or exuberance; bubbling from fermentation or carbonation. Nothing depressed Sue for long; her natural effervescence soon reasserted itself. Soda that loses its effervescence goes flat. effervescent, ADJ. effervesce,V.
N. power to produce desired effect. The efficacy of this drug depends on the regularity of the dosage. efficacious,ADJ.
N. dummy. The mob showed its irritation by hanging the judge in effigy.
N. shameless boldness. She had the effrontery to insult the guest.
ADJ. pouring forth; gushing. Her effusive manner of greeting her friends finally began to irritate them. effusion, N.
N. excessive interest in one's self; belief that one should be interested in one's self rather than in others. His egoism prevented him from seeing the needs of his colleagues.
ADJ. excessively self-centered; self-important; conceited. Typical egotistical remark: "But enough of this chit-chat about you and your little problems. Let's talk about what's really important: Me!"
ADJ. notorious; conspicuously bad or shocking. She was an egregious liar; we all knew better than to believe a word she said. Ed's housekeeping was egregious: he let his dirty dishes pile up so long that they were stuck together with last week's food.
N. exit. Barnum's sign "To the Egress" fooled many people who thought they were going to see an animal and instead found themselves in the street.
N. exclamation. He could not repress an ejaculation of surprise when he heard the news.
N. addition of details; intricacy. Tell what happened simply, without any elaboration. elaborate,V.
ADJ. overjoyed; in high spirits. Grinning from ear to ear, Bonnie Blair was clearly elated by her fifth Olympic gold medal. elation, N.
N. poem or song expressing lamentation. On the death of Edward King, Milton composed the elegy "Lycidas." elegiacal,ADJ.
V. draw out by discussion. The detectives tried to elicit where he had hidden his loot.
N. cure-all; something invigorating. The news of her chance to go abroad acted on her like an elixir.
N. omission of words from a text. Sometimes an ellipsis can lead to a dangling modifier, as in the sentence "Once dressed, you should refrigerate the potato salad."
ADJ. oval; ambiguous, either purposely or because key words have been left out. An elliptical billiard ball wobbles because it is not perfectly round; an elliptical remark baffles because it is not perfectly clear.
N. expressiveness; persuasive speech. The crowds were stirred by Martin Luther King's eloquence. eloquent,ADJ.
V. explain; enlighten. He was called upon to elucidate the disputed points in his article.
ADJ. evasive; baffling; hard to grasp. Trying to pin down exactly when the contractors would be finished remodeling the house, Nancy was frustrated by their elusive replies. elude,V.
ADJ. thin and wasted. His long period of starvation had left him emaciated.
V. issue forth. A strong odor of sulphur emanated from the spring.
V. set free. At first, the attempts of the Abolitionists to emancipate the slaves were unpopular in New England as well as in the South.
N. ban on commerce or other activity. As a result of the embargo, trade with the colonies was at a standstill.
V. commence; go on board a boat or airplane; begin a journey. In devoting herself to the study of gorillas, Dian Fossey embarked on a course of action that was to cost her her life.
V. enclose; place in something. Tales of actual historical figures like King Alfred have become embedded in legends.
V. adorn; ornament. The costume designer embellished the leading lady's ball gown with yards and yards of ribbon and lace.
N. stealing. The bank teller confessed his embezzlement of the funds.
V. personify; make concrete; incorporate. Cheering on his rival Mark McGwire's efforts to break Roger Maris's home run record, Sammy Sosa embodied the spirit of true sportsmanship.
V. hug; adopt or espouse; accept readily; encircle; include. Clasping Maid Marian in his arms, Robin Hood embraced her lovingly. In joining the outlaws in Sherwood Forest, she had openly embraced their cause.
V. decorate with needlework; ornament with fancy or fictitious details. For her mother's birthday, Beth embroidered a lovely design on a handkerchief. When asked what made her late getting home, Jo embroidered her account with tales of runaway horses and rescuing people from a ditch. embroidery, N.
V. throw into confusion; involve in strife; entangle. He became embroiled in the heated discussion when he tried to arbitrate the dispute.
ADJ. undeveloped; rudimentary. The evil of class and race hatred must be eliminated while it is still in an embryonic state; otherwise, it may grow to dangerous proportions. emend V. correct; correct by a critic. The critic emended the book by selecting the passages which he thought most appropriate to the text.
N. correction of errors; improvement. Please initial all the emendations you have made in this contract.
ADJ. high; lofty. After his appointment to this eminent position, he seldom had time for his former friends.
N. agent; messenger. The secretary of state was sent as the president's special emissary to the conference on disarmament.
N. soothing or softening remedy. The nurse applied an emollientto the inflamed area. alsoADJ.
N. ability to identify with another's feelings, ideas, etc. What made Ann such a fine counselor was her empathy, her ability to put herself in her client's place and feel his emotions as if they were her own. empathize,V.
ADJ. based on experience. He distrusted hunches and intuitive flashes; he placed his reliance entirely on empirical data.
V. imitate; rival. In a brief essay, describe a person you admire, someone whose virtues you would like to emulate.
ADJ. in love. Narcissus became enamored of his own beauty.
V. encode; convert a message into code. One of Bond's first lessons was how to encipher the messages he sent to Miss Moneypenny so that none of his other lady friends could decipher them.
N. territory enclosed within an alien land. The Vatican is an independent enclave in Italy.
N. high praise; eulogy. Uneasy with the encomiums expressed by his supporters, Tolkien felt unworthy of such high praise.
V. surround. Although we were encompassed by enemy forces, we were cheerful for we were well stocked and could withstand a siege until our allies joined us.
N. gradual intrusion. The encroachment of the factories upon the neighborhood lowered the value of the real estate.