DEFINITION: to cut short, reduce, or limit something; also, to cut off a part of
SENTENCE: Try as he might, Matt couldn't curtail the embarrassing story that his dad decided to tell to celebrate his sixteenth birthday.
SYNONYMS: lessen, abridge, diminish
ANTONYMS: elongate, extend, increase
DEFINITION: completely without harm; not likely to give offense or to arouse strong feelings or hostility
SENTENCE: Though they seem innocuous, many tiny spiders bite with venom powerful enough to cause death.
SYNONYMS: safe, unoffending, harmless
ANTONYMS: destructive, harmful, hurtful
DEFINITION: and angry speech or piece of writing that severely criticizes something or someone; a bitter abusive denunciation
SENTENCE: Paul could not help but share his feelings about the terrible movie that he had just seen, though he knew that the diatribe was useless.
SYNONYMS: denunciation, harangue, criticism
ANTONYMS: praise, recommendation, accolade
DEFINITION: a prolonged outburst of bitter, outspoken criticism, usually marked by harsh language
SENTENCE: Lin winced multiple times at his mother's tirade, which was still frightening to him even if it was aimed at his little sister.
SYNONYMS: diatribe, harangue, rant
DEFINITION: a person who falsely pretends to know or be something in order to deceive people
SENTENCE: Amazing things do happen every once in a while, but if someone tries to tell you that they know how to change your life, he or she is almost certainly charlatan.
SYNONYMS: swindler, con, phony
DEFINITION: a person who doubts; a skeptic asks questions and lacks faith; One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions
SENTENCE: When Max didn't applaud at his teacher's science trick that seemed to defy gravity, Mr. Williams jokingly told him to get out of the class, saying, "There's no room in my class for a skeptic."
SYNONYMS: disbeliever, doubter, cynic
ANTONYMS: believer, devotee, disciple
DEFINITION: a master or teacher of the art of spoken language; an eloquent and often accomplished speaker or writer
SENTENCE: Martin Luther King Jr. remains possibly the greatest rhetorician in living memory, as his eloquent speeches inspired and continue to inspire millions of people.
SYNONYMS: elocutionist, orator, speaker
DEFINITION: a person whose life is devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification; someone who believes that the sole purpose of life is to derive pleasure
SENTENCE: Aurora rejoined the ranks of the majority of people who work hard so that they can enjoy some time by themselves or with friends, because she said she had hated the life of a hedonist.
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 the extreme life of an ascetic.
SYNONYMS: hermit, recluse
ANTONYMS: hedonist, pleasure-seeker, epicurean
DEFINITION: a person who excels in telling stories; usually someone who is skilled at being funny and interesting
SENTENCE: Brandon is a fabulous raconteur, who can make even the most boring trip to the grocery store seem a thrilling, amusing story.
SYNONYMS: storyteller, narrator
DEFINITION: a person who criticizes or opposes beliefs and practices that are widely accepted; someone who attacks and ridicules cherished figures, ideas, and institutions
SENTENCE: No one can tell if Eve refuses to do her homework or to sing any songs because she's shy, or if she is trying to be an iconoclast.
SYNONYMS: nonconformist, dissident, rebel
ANTONYMS: follower, conformist, traditionalist
DEFINITION: a person who takes up an art, activity, or subject merely for amusement, especially without being dedicated; a dabbler.
SENTENCE: As a dilettante, Wayne dabbles in the arts and in various philanthropic causes, thus appearing to be superficial and self-absorbed.
SYNONYMS: dabbler, amateur
DEFINITION: a person with strong and therefore biased beliefs; someone who is loyal to a certain person, principal, or faction
SENTENCE: Many people accuse congress of being slow or ineffectual because no one is willing to overcome their partisan beliefs in order to agree on anything.
SYNONYMS: biased, prejudiced, partial
ANTONYMS: disinterested, impartial, neutral
DEFINITION: a wise and trusted counselor or teacher; someone who guides and gives advice
SENTENCE: Jos's mentor Dante showed him a number of tricks that let him use his calculator more efficiently and helped him ace his calculus class.
SYNONYMS: coach, counselor, tutor
ANTONYMS: student, tutee, pupil
DEFINITION: a leader who appeals to the fears, emotions, and prejudice of the populace; a figure who excites emotions to gather a following rather than giving reasons
SENTENCE: Our ultimate Frisbee coach was a demagogue who only told us to run, threatening that the other team would exhaust us if we were out of shape, and we never got around to learning the strategy of the game.
DEFINITION: a self-operating machine or mechanism; a mindless follower, a person who acts in a mechanical or machine-like way
SENTENCE: Bernie is a brilliant kid, but he shows so little of his personality that he sometimes seems like an automaton, who can't do anything but math and reading.
SYNONYMS: computer, robot, tool
DEFINITION: a person who leads a secluded or solitary life, often for reasons of religious meditation; a person who has withdrawn from society
SENTENCE: Orin lives away from the city as a recluse in order to get photographs that he thinks are perfect, and only comes into town to get food and more film.
SYNONYMS: hermit, ascetic, solitaire
ANTONYMS: extrovert, socialite
DEFINITION: someone who is clumsy or inept; a person who makes mistakes because of incompetence
SENTENCE: The football team constantly has to forgive Noah for being a bungler on the field, but he's such a nice guy that it's hard to ever blame him.
SYNONYMS: blunderer, fool, klutz
DEFINITION: a person who has or claims to have the power of seeing objects or actions beyond the range of natural vision; a person who can see what the average person cannot
SENTENCE: Ariel wanted to go to a clairvoyant for his birthday and get his fortune told, but all he learned for his thirty dollars was that he would one day visit a place and call it "charming."
SYNONYMS: fortune-teller, psychic, soothsayer
DEFINITION: a person who makes predictions based upon current information and data; someone who gives judgments on what is likely to happen
SENTENCE: Victor had never done well in school, but his acute sense for what the weather would do led him to become the Weather Channel's top prognosticator.
SYNONYMS: forecaster, prophet, visionary
DEFINITION: an learned person or expert commentator; an authority who expresses his or her opinion about a subject
SENTENCE: Barry is a pundit for stem cell research, and he is great at his job because he spent six years in a lab working on stem cells.
SYNONYMS: intellectual, scholar, expert
ANTONYMS: amateur, novice, neophyte
DEFINITION: a person who has very strong opinions about something and tries to make others share those opinions; an especially enthusiastic person
SENTENCE: Graham argues and fights so loudly tenaciously for women prisoners to be freed abroad that people at home usually ignore him and call him a zealot.
SYNONYMS: enthusiast, fanatic, maniac
DEFINITION: a person who has just started learning or doing something
SENTENCE: At the pool hall for the first time with her friends, Sarita blushed every time she missed a shot and complained that she hated being a neophyte.
SYNONYMS: amateur, apprentice
ANTONYMS: expert, professional, veteran
DEFINITION: a person who lacks experience and knowledge; sometimes, a naive or gullible person
SENTENCE: Kaley's such a greenhorn, she's the only one who fell for Zelda's April Fools joke all day.
SYNONYMS: amateur, apprentice
DEFINITION: a person who has just started doing something, esp. someone who is learning about a religious order before taking vows
SENTENCE: Ken was thinking of entering the seminary as a novice because he loved the idea of all the studies and devotion that he would be expected to perform there.
SYNONYMS: apprentice, student,
DEFINITION: a person who gives money to help an organization, society, or person
SENTENCE: Barbara felt so lucky that her uncle was willing to act as her benefactor and pay her way through college.
SYNONYMS: angel, donor, patron
DEFINITION: a person who gives money to support and artist, cause, or organization
SENTENCE: Amanda is a great patron of the arts, and has commissioned two plays to be performed and five pieces of public art from local artists already this year.
SYNONYMS: donor, benefactor
DEFINITION: a person, organization, etc., that is helped by something; someone or something that benefits from something, esp. a gift of money
SENTENCE: Jett felt uncomfortable taking money from people, so he declined to be the beneficiary of a generous grant that a nonprofit offered him.
DEFINITION: one who hides facts or his or her intentions and feelings; one who hides under a false appearance
SENTENCE: The dissembler was discovered because he could not hide his height among the group, all of whom were tiny of stature.
SYNONYMS: perjurer, phony, fabricator
DEFINITION: one who speaks or acts falsely or evasively in order to deceive; one who avoids telling the truth by not answering a question directly
SENTENCE: The FBI agents investigating a case grew frustrated with the prevaricator after she had implied things that led them on four false trails in an attempt to shield the truth.