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- DEFINITION: to cut short or reduce
- SENTENCE: My mother told me, "You'd better curtail your daily 3-hour marathon phone calls to your boyfriend or we're taking the car away." Oops.
- SYNONYMS: lessen, abridge, diminish
- ANTONYMS: elongate, extend, increase
- DEFINITION: harmless; not likely to give offense or to arouse strong feelings or hostility
- SENTENCE: If you've ever invited your significant other to meet your parents, you'll know that there is no such thing as an innocuous question or answer.
- SYNONYMS: safe, unoffending, harmless
- ANTONYMS: destructive, harmful, hurtful
diatribe and tirade
- DEFINITION: a bitter abusive denunciation; a thunderous verbal attack
- SENTENCE: What did I say that unleashed THAT diatribe? I knew you hated the Germans, but how did that turn into the crazy screaming speech at the top of your lungs that lasted fifteen long minutes?
- SYNONYMS: denunciation, harangue, criticism
- ANTONYMS: praise, recommendation, accolade
- DEFINITION: a fake; fraud; imposter; cheat
- SENTENCE: The Wizard of Oz was a charlatan who tried to trick Dorothy and her friends.
- SYNONYMS: swindler, con, phony
- DEFINITION: a person who doubts; a skeptic asks questions and lacks faith
- SENTENCE: Alyssa is frequently skeptical when Max tries to change the schedule at the last minute for some fly-by-night reason that she believes MAY be solely self-eggrandizement.
- SYNONYMS: disbeliever, doubter, cynic
- ANTONYMS: believer, devotee, disciple
- DEFINITION: an eloquent writer or speaker; a master of rhetoric (the art of speaking and writing)
- SENTENCE: Alyssa interviewed someone for the position of assistant instructor who had majored in rhetoric at Berkley - believe it or not, he studied the art of making a point in an articulate way. Other than asking, "How will this get you a job??", she was in awe.
- SYNONYMS: elocutionist, orator, speaker
- DEFINITION: a person who believes that pleasure is the chief goal of life
- SENTENCE: In ancient Greece, the hedonists urged their followers to "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die."
- SYNONYMS: pleasure-seeker, epicurean, libertine
- ANTONYMS: ascetic, realist, hermit
- DEFINITION: a person who give sup material comforts and leads a life of self-denial, especially as an act of religious devotion
- SENTENCE: Prince Siddhartha Gautama left the luxuries of his father's palace and adopted an extreme ascetic life.
- SYNONYMS: hermit, reculse
- ANTONYMS: hedonist, pleasure-seeker, epicurean
- DEFINITION: a person who excels in telling anecdotes
- SENTENCE: Sitting around late into the night in a circle, snifters of brandy before them, Rhett, an accomplished raconteur, delighted them with tales of his exploits in the Mexican War in which he always emerged the hero - knife fights, guerilla warfare, and stolen infants.
- SYNONYMS: storyteller, narrator
- DEFINITION: a person who attacks and ridicules cherished figures, ideas, and institutions
- SENTENCE: Could you argue Nietzsche, in his famous statement "God is dead", was an iconoclast? Probably.
- SYNONYMS: nonconformist, dissident, rebel
- ANTONYMS: follower, conformist, traditionalist
- DEFINITION: an amateur or dabbler; a person with a superficial interest in an art or a branch of knowledge
- SENTENCE: As a dilettante, Wayne dabbles in the arts and in various philanthropic causes, thus appearing to be superficial and self-absorbed.
- DEFINITION: a person with strong and therefore biased beliefs
- SENTENCE: It's irritating that Congress is so partisan: Because they divide so strongly along party lines, doing whatever the other Republicans and Democrats do, rather than listening to their constituency, they frequently don't get done what the people want - or anything at all.
- SYNONYMS: biased, prejudiced, partial
- ANTONYMS: disinterested, impartial, neutral
- DEFINITION: an advisor; teacher; guide
- SENTENCE: My dad's company asked for volunteers to mentor in local schools - people to keep in touch with the kids, check in with them about homework and their standardized tests, and talk to them about what's going on at home - basically just serve as role models and a thoughtful, sympathetic, listening ear.
- SYNONYMS: coach, counselor, tutor
- ANTONYMS: student, tutee, pupil
- DEFINITION: a leader who appeals to the fears, emotions, and prejudice of the populace
- SENTENCE: Hitler was perhaps the greatest example of a demagogue: The Germans were so poor and downtrodden after WWI that they were willing to scapegoat the Jews as being the center of the economic problems of their country, which matched up nicely with the centuries of anti-Semitic feeling that pervaded Europe.
- DEFINITION: a self-operating machine; a mindless follower, a person who acts in a mechanical fashion
- SENTENCE: Frequently people don't question what they're told - they just execute the tasks they're given or what they're told. These people live like automatons.
- SYNONYMS: computer, robot, tool
- DEFINITION: a person who leads a secluded or solitary life
- SENTENCE: Harper Lee was a recluse who rarely appeared in public.
- SYNONYMS: hermit, ascetic, solitaire
- ANTONYMS: extrovert, socialite
- DEFINITION: someone who is clumsy or inept; a person who makes mistakes because of incompetence
- SENTENCE: The Three Stooges were a trio of bunglers whose inept blunders and madcap antics never failed to leave their fans laughing.
- SYNONYMS: blunderer, fool, klutz
- DEFINITION: having the supposed power to see objects and events that cannot be perceived with the five traditional sense; a seer
- SENTENCE: Mrs. McGowan was positively clarivoyant - she told me I was pregnant before I even knew myself.
- SYNONYMS: fortune-teller, psychic, soothsayer
- DEFINITION: a person who makes predictions based upon current information and data
- SENTENCE: Weather forecasters are prognosticators who use information and data to make predictions and forecasts.
- SYNONYMS: forecastor, prophet, visionary
- DEFINITION: an expert commentator; an authority who expresses his or her opinion usually on political issues
- SENTENCE: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are probably two of the best political pundits America has ever seen.
- SYNONYMS: intellectual, scholar, expert
- ANTONYMS: amateur, novice, neophyte
- DEFINITION: a very enthusiastic person; a champion; a true believer
- SENTENCE: In the face of logical argument and scientific fact, the zealot clings notwithstanding to his existing beliefs. It's not usually a good thing.
- SYNONYMS: enthusiast, fanatic, maniac
neophyte, novice, greenhorn
- DEFINITION: beginner
- SENTENCE: I worked with a computer helpdesk guy whose standard answer, "The scope of the problem lies between chair and keyboard," targeted all the technology neophytes who called him on a regular basis.
- SYNONYMS: amateur, apprentice
- ANTONYMS: expert, professional, veteran
benefactor and patron
- DEFINITION: a person who makes a gift or bequest
- SENTENCE: In Spanish, your patron is your boss, but in English, it's the guy that paid Mozart's bills so he could write amazing music.
- DEFINITION: the recipient of funds, titles, property, and other benefits
- SENTENCE: She was the beneficiary of $10,000 in scholarships.
dissembler and prevaricator
- DEFINITION: liars and deceivers
- SENTENCE: Regina George was a cunning dissembler who deliberately lied to her friends and to her enemies.
- SYNONYMS: perjurer, phony, fabricator
- ANTONYMS: truth-teller