Brian spent years writing lengthy, unsent epistles to his old girlfriend.
2. avid (adjective) enthusiastic; extremely interested
Dori was such an avid reader that I had a hard time recommending a title she had not yet read.
synonyms: voracious; eager
3. gadfly (noun) an irritating and persistent person
I tried to lose Judy, an obnoxious gadfly, in the crowd, but she stuck to me with unbearable closeness.
synonyms: nuisance; pest
4. humility (noun) absence of vanity; humbleness
Even though Jo is a celebrated author, she's the picture of humility and never brags.
antonyms: vanity; arrogance
5. dolorous (adjective) exhibiting sorrow or pain
The song was so dolorous that Dolores found it difficult not to cry.
6. gargantuan (adjective) of huge or extraordinary size and power
Milltown's players were gargantuan compared with the small guys on our team.
synonyms: gigantic; huge
7. arduous (adjective) difficult; requiring much effort
Refinishing the old bookcase proved an arduous task, but the results were well worth it.
synonyms: strenuous; laborious
antonyms: easy; unchallenging
8. affable (adjective) friendly; agreeable; easy to talk to
The affable old man never lacked for visitors.
synonyms: amiable; good-natured
antonyms: disagreeable; irascible
9. grandiloquent (adjective) pompous or high-flown in speech
Marcus gets grandiloquent when speaking of the theatre, assuming no one knows as much or has as refined a taste as he.
10. agrarian (adjective) concerning farms, farmers, or the use of land
The economy of the agrarian nation depending on good crop yields.
antonyms: urban; industrial
11. grimace (noun) a facial expression of fear, disapproval, or pain
Amanda gave a grimace when Mrs. Hind assigned nine pages of algebra homework.
12. harangue (noun) a long, strongly expressed speech or lecture
My wife delivered a lengthy harangue this morning in an effort to get me to quit smoking.
13. formidable (adjective) arousing fear or awe
When the hulking, 250-lb man stepped into the ring, Oscar knew that he had to face a formidable opponent.
14. sycophant (noun) a flatterer; one who fawns on others in order to gain favor
Teri was such a sycophant that she laughed loudly at her supervisor's awful jokes.
15. explicit (adjective) clearly and openly stated; leaving nothing to the imagination
Mom's instructions were explicit: Do not leave the house for any reason.
synonyms: exact; precise
antonyms: ambiguous; vague
1. altercation (noun) a heated argument
The mounting tension finally spawned an altercation between the police and the residents.
synonyms: quarrel; dispute
antonyms: agreement; harmony
2. lexicon (noun) a dictionary; a specialized vocabulary used in a particular field or place
Having grown up in the inner city, Shawn was familiar with the lexicon of the streets
synonyms: jargon; argot; cant
3. hue (noun) a particular shade of a given color
Dad was going to paint the shutters magenta, but Mom hates that hue and nixed the idea.
4. galvanize (verb) to startle into sudden activity
A slight motion of the guard's rifle galvanized the lazy work crew into action.
5. sanction (noun) permission; support
The teacher gave sanction to the student's odd but harmless habit of doing his homework in crayon.
6. hyperbole (noun) extreme exaggeration for effect and not meant to be taken literally
When Susan told her son she was going to kill him, it was only hyperbole.
7. ominous (adjective) threatening; foreboding evil
We went on our picnic despite the ominous rain clouds.
8. audacity (noun) rude boldness; nerve
Kate's father was enraged when she had the audacity to talk back to him.
synonyms: insolence; impudence
9. evince (verb) to demonstrate clearly; to prove
If you evince your theory, the university will fund your further studies.
10. implacable (adjective) unable to be appeased or pacified
Her implacable suspicions were finally put to rest when a private investigator assured her that her husband was faithful.
synonyms: inflexible; relentless
antonyms: pacified; assuaged
11. exhort (verb) to urge on with stirring words
During halftime, the coach exhorted his team to "win one for the Gipper."
12. incarcerate (verb) to put into prison; to confine
We were shocked when the police incarcerated Rafael for something as minor as stealing hubcaps.
synonyms: imprison; constrain
antonyms: liberate; free
13. incisive (adjective) sharp; keen; cutting straight to the heart of the matter
I had thought the meeting would run for hours, but Sharon made a few incisive comments that settled matters without wasting time or words.
synonyms: piercing; acute
antonyms: superficial; dull
14. expedient (adjective) practical; providing an immediate advantage (especially when serving one's self-interest)
Lying, while not admirable, did prove to be the most expedient way to obtain the information.
15. pertinent (adjective) having to do with the subject at hand; relevant
The lecturer took questions as long as they were pertinent and enriched the discussion.
antonyms: unrelated; extraneous
1. inert (adjective) unable to act or move; inactive; sluggish
All dangerous components have been removed from the inert missile on display at the science center.
synonyms: dormant; passive
antonyms: dynamic; active
2. circumvent (verb) to get around; to bypass
Though she did not lie, the defendant circumvented the question by claiming she could not remember she she was at the time.
3. clandestine (adjective) secret
Romeo and Juliet were forced to hold clandestine meetings because of their parents' feuding.
synonyms: covert; furtive
antonyms: open; aboveboard
4. acquit (verb) to find not guilty of a fault or crime
The jury acquitted the man, and he was free to go.
5. deprecate (verb) to express strong disapproval of
Doug stopped offering new ideas after the other workers deprecated his first suggestion.
antonyms: approve; praise
6. barrister (noun) lawyer (British)
The barrister questioned the witness as to his familiarity with a certain London pub.
7. adulation (noun) excessive praise or adoration
Kim despised the adulation headed on rock stars by young fans.
synonyms: flattery; adoration
8. culinary (adjective) having to do with the kitchen or cooking
The famous chef had been a life-long student of the culinary arts.
9. bawdy (adjective) indecent; humorously obscene
When some called the new sitcom bawdy, the toy company quickly withdrew its sponsorship.
synonyms: risque; lewd
antonyms: innocent' clean
10. chastise (verb) to punish severely
Brother Jacques chastised Archie for skipping Latin by grounding him for the semester.
11. jocose (adjective) joking; humorous
Gary's jocose manner often led people to say he should become a stand-up comedian.
synonyms: witty; funny; playful; jocund
12. myriad (adjective) too numerous to be counted
The biologist spent her entire career categorizing the myriad plant species of the rain forest.
synonyms: countless; innumerable
antonyms: few; limited
13. latent (adjective) present, but not active; hidden
After retiring, Nat took up painting and found that he had had latent artistic talents all along.
14. pernicious (adjective) destructive; deadly
The pernicious plague wiped out half the country's population.
synonyms: malignant; harmful
15. frugal (adjective) thrifty; economical in money matters
My frugal father buys only day-old bread and marked-down fruit.
antonyms: wasteful; profligate
1. levity (noun) lightness of disposition; lack of seriousness
Kent brought an air of levity to the otherwise somber proceedings by cracking a few jokes.
antonyms: sobriety; somberness
2. hoax (noun) a practical joke; a trick
The sighting of Elvis at the Bowl-O-Rama turned out to be a hoax.
synonyms: fraud; fake
3. amicable (adjective) friendly; peaceable
Commerce will suffer until the two nations establish amicable relations
synonyms: agreeable; amiable
antonyms: quarrelsome; warlike
4. obstreperous (adjective) aggressively boisterous; stubborn and defiant
The obstreperous mob of looters was finally subdued by an icy blast from the fire hose.
antonyms: meek; tractable
5. enraptured (adjective) delighted beyond measure
Sasha was enraptured by the performance of the visiting ballet troupe.
6. marital (adjective) having to do with marriage
Marital problems can sometimes be solved by a session with a marriage counselor.
7. bask (verb) to expose oneself to pleasant warmth
During the Florida vacation, all she did was bask in the sun.
8. genial (adjective) friendly; amiable
Our new neighbors were so genial that we felt we had known them for years
9. charlatan (noun) one who pretends to have knowledge in order to swindle others
The supposed doctor endorsing the fat-burning "miracle drug" was actually a charlatan.
synonyms: quack; fraud
10. mundane (adjective) commonplace; earthly and not spiritual
Virginia thought herself too good an artist to be expected to deal with mundane things like earning a living.
11. fickle (adjective) likely to change on a whim or without apparent reason
Because she never kept one boyfriend for long, her friends said Keisha was fickle.
synonyms: vacillating; capricious
12. juggernaut (noun) a terrible destructive or irresistible force
The Nazi juggernaut swept through Belgium and into France.
13. naïve (adjective) simple in outlook; not affected or worldly; especially innocent
Old movies usually portray country girls in the city as naïve and vulnerable.
synonyms: unsophisticated; unsuspecting
antonyms: sophisticated; cunning
14. nocturnal (adjective) having to do with the night; occurring at night
Owls are nocturnal creatures; they sleep during the day.
15. novice (noun) a beginner; one who is inexperienced
The older lawyer took the novice under her wing and showed him the ropes.
synonyms: apprentice; tyro
1. noxious (adjective) harmful to the health
We opened a window to remove the noxious fumes of the paint thinner.
2. connive (verb) to cooperate secretly in wrongdoing
The corrupt judge connived with crooked politicians in order to make himself rich.
3. chutzpah (noun) nerve; audacity
I cannot believe Michael had the chutzpah to claim that no one could sing that song as well as he could.
synonyms: brazenness; effrontery
4. liege (noun) a lord, master, or sovereign
While the servants pledged their loyalty to the liege, they did not always like or respect him.
antonyms: commoner; servant
5. odium (noun) hatred
The rebels had only odium for the ruling party.
antonyms: love; adoration
6. crass (adjective) coarse; tasteless
Ben made a crass comment about the length of the waitress's skirt.
7. hypercritical (adjective) overcritical; too severe in judgment
In his inspection of the barracks, the sergeant was so hypercritical that no one passed.
8. fallacy (noun) a mistaken notion; a misconception
My grandmother still clings to the fallacy that the world is flat.
9. complacent (adjective) self-satisfied; smug
The former heavyweight champion became complacent after easily defeating several amateur boxers.
synonyms: assured; confident
10. befuddle (verb) to confuse; to perplex
Street maps always befuddle me, so my girlfriend navigates when we take road trips.
synonyms: bewilder; fluster
antonyms: clarify; elucidate
11. pandemonium (noun) a wild disorder, noise, or confusion
Feeding time at the zoo could be pandemonium if not done slowly and carefully.
synonyms: chaos; tumult; din
antonyms: order; calm
12. parsimonious (adjective) excessively thrifty; stingy
Ebenezer Scrooge was a parsimonious old man.
synonyms: cheap; frugal
13. verbose (adjective) using more words than are needed; wordy
Some find Charles Dickens so verbose that they swear he must have been paid by the word.
antonyms: terse; concise; succinct
14. laudable (adjective) worthy of praise; commendable
The city has made laudable efforts to reduce crime by introducing after-school programs.
15. indiscreet (adjective) not wise or judicious; imprudent, as in speech or action
Ron was fired shortly after his indiscreet actions at the office party.
1. pique (verb) to cause resentment; to provoke
The old gentleman was piqued because he was not given a seat at the head table.
2. linguistics (noun) the scientific study of the structure, sounds, and meaning of language
The professor of linguistics explained how English evolved from a number of other languages.
3. plebian (noun )a commoner; one from the lower class
Seniors treated the freshman as though they were plebian.
synonyms: peon; peasant
4. precocious (adjective) showing early development, especially mental
Anthony was such a precocious three-year-old that he could already play the violin well.
5. predatory (adjective) inclined to prey on others
The buzzard is a scavenger, but the hawk is a predatory animal.
synonyms: pillaging; despoiling
6. prowess (noun) superior skill or ability
Ty's physical prowess was matched by his superior mental; ability.
synonyms: strength; dominance; power
7. pugnacious (adjective) eager and ready to fight; quarrelsome
Because he was so pugnacious, he had few friends.
synonyms: combative; belligerent
antonyms: placid; pacific
8. purloin (verb) to steal
They had not planned to purloin the jewels,but the temptation was too great.
9. pusillanimous (adjective) cowardly; fearful
The Wizard of Oz granted the pusillanimous lion his wish to have courage.
synonyms: fainthearted; timid
antonyms: brave; bold
10. quell (verb) to put an end to; to allay or quiet
The police were called in to quell the riot.
antonyms: foment; incite
11. quixotic (adjective) very idealistic; impractical; caught up in romantic notions
As a young man, he had the quixotic notion that he could single-handedly end poverty in the country.
antonyms: realistic; practical
12. rabble (noun) a disorderly crowd, a mob
The guards had to protect the president from the rabble in the streets.
13. rabid (adjective) raging; fanatical
After working out, Chrissy had a rabid thirst and drank two gallons of water.
synonyms: uncontrollable; fervid
14. raconteur (noun) a person skilled at telling stories
An exceptional raconteur, Lorna held the whole audience spellbound with her stories.
15. vindictive (adjective) seeking revenge; bearing a grudge
Out of some vindictive urge, Steve slashed his ex-girlfriend's tires.
1. circumspect (adjective) careful; heedful; attentive to all points
Although I tried to be circumspect when packing for camp, I never guessed that I should have packed an extra clock.
synonyms: judicious; prudent
antonyms: rash; foolhardy
2. zephyr (noun) a gentle breeze (sometimes specifically the West Wind)
A sweet-smelling zephyr ruffled the laundry on the line.
3. renegade (noun) one who deserts one side in favor of another; traitor; outlaw
The members of the old party called him a renegade; the members of his new party called him a patriot.
synonyms: turncoat; defector
4. retribution (noun) something justly deserved, especially a punishment
The boys had to spend the weekend picking up litter in retribution for having spray-painted graffiti on the bus.
5. hurtle (verb) to move or to swing swiftly and with great force
The big fullback hurtled his way through the defensive line and scored the winning touchdown.
6. scourge (noun) a person or thing that causes great trouble or misfortune
Cancer remains one of the worst scourges of mankind.
synonyms: torment; bane; curse
antonyms: boon; blessing
7. caustic (adjective) biting; stingingly sharp or sarcastic
Because of his caustic comments, his wife finally left him.
synonyms: acidic; harsh
antonyms: mild; pleasant
8. taciturn (adjective) not fond of talking; usually silent
We were amazed when the taciturn young man signed up for public speaking.
synonyms: reticent; reserved
antonyms: garrulous; loquacious; talkative
9. agnostic (noun) one who believes that the existence of God can neither be proved nor disproved
Although he did not officially believe in God, the agnostic sometimes prayed "just in case."
10. terse (adjective) brief and to the point
Julia didn't give me any details about her break-up, just a terse "it's over."
synonyms: abbreviated; curt
antonyms: verbose; rambling
11. uncanny (adjective) weird; strange; so keen or acute as to seem bizarre
Tess had an uncanny memory for details; she knew exactly what she had worn on any given day in the past eleven years.
12. exodus (noun) a mass departure or emigration
The many defeated tribes made a speedy exodus from the war-torn valley.
13. penitent (adjective) remorseful; sorry for having done wrong
Seeing the boy's penitent expression, the judge was easier on him than he might otherwise have been.
14. vindicate (verb) to clear of suspicion or accusations
Darren sued for libel in order to vindicate his reputation.
synonyms: exonerate; acquit
antonyms: besmirch; implicate
15. raillery (noun) good-humored ridicule or teasing
James much prefers Carson's raillery to the cynical slurs of other comedians.
1. impregnable (adjective) not able to be conquered; impenetrable
The Greek warriors were unable to conquer the impregnable Trojan fortress.
2. xenophobia (noun) an intense dislike or fear of strangers or foreigners
Tim's xenophobia gave him an unwarranted hatred for immigrants coming to America.
3. inherent (adjective) essential
Exhaust and air-pollution are inherent features and drawbacks of the automobile.
antonyms: extrinsic; extraneous
4. irreverent (adjective) disrespectful
John's irreverent attitude toward his pastor embarrassed and angered his mother.
5. subjugate (verb) to dominate, conquer, or bring under control
Plantation owners subjugated their slaves and forced them to do manual labor.
6. expedite (verb) to increase the rate of progress
More construction workers were brought on to the project to help expedite the construction of the new bridge.
synonyms: hurry; hasten; streamline
antonyms: retard; hinder
7. filibuster (verb) to attempt to block a bill from becoming law by speaking at length against it
The Senator from Mississippi gave an eight-hour speech to filibuster the new tax bill.
8. pristine (adjective) pure; completely clean and uncontaminated
The vast, pristine wilderness of northern Alaska is too cold and remote for most people to inhabit.
antonyms: defiled; spoiled; sullied
9. pithy (adjective) full of meaning; concise
The pithy statements in greeting cards are often short and sweet.
10. invective (noun) an insult or abuse in speech
Scott's invective, aimed at his teacher, resulted in an immediate trip to the principal's office.
11. prodigal (adjective) reckless, wasteful, and extravagant
The prodigal actor was notorious for his lavish, excessive, and unruly lifestyle.
synonyms: wastrel; libertine
12. pliable (adjective) easily bent or flexible
NASA had to devise a new, more pliable spacesuit for the astronauts working on the space station.
13. torpid (adjective) losing motion, feeling, or power; lacking in energy
The sleeping gas caused the hero's mind to become torpid.
synonyms: apathetic; lethargic
14. tenuous (adjective) not dense or thick; having little substance
Even though it was published, the dissertation put forth a very tenuous theory on intelligence.
synonyms: thin; unconvincing; fragile
antonyms: strong; cogent
15. discordant (adjective) being in disagreement
The angry and discordant voices echoed throughout the conference room.
1. mellifluous (adjective) having a rich, smoothly flowing sound
The singer's mellifluous voice contributed to the relaxed atmosphere of the lounge.
antonyms: strident; discordant
2. epicurean (adjective) taking pleasure in food and drink
The epicurean chef taught his students not only how to cook food, but also how to enjoy it.
synonyms: hedonistic; gourmet
3. oeuvre (noun) the complete work of an artist, composer, or writer
Shakespeare's oeuvre is one of the most respected groups of literary works ever written.
4. arbiter (noun) a person with the ability to resolve a disagreement; a judge
The principal ended the conflict by acting as an arbiter between the two angry students.
5. verdant (adjective) fresh and green, referring to plant life
The verdant landscape reminded the O'Connells of their native Ireland so much that they decided to build a home there.
antonyms: arid; sere
6. vagary (noun) unpredictable action or behavior
Kristin's vagaries prevented her from holding a job as an air traffic controller.
synonyms: whim; caprice
7. vacuous (adjective) lacking intelligence
The student's vacuous expression revealed his failure to study for the test.
antonyms: brilliant; shrewd
8. attrition (noun) a wearing down over time
The company faced a severe attrition of its stock prices because of bad publicity.
antonyms: buildup; accretion
9. archetype (noun) a prototype or original model
The archetype for the first airplane was only a toy model, but it had led to jets and supersonic fighter planes.
10. approbation (noun) formal approval of an act
The president gave his approbation for the rescue of ten citizens who were being held hostage at a foreign embassy.
antonyms: disapproval; opprobrium
11. burgeon (verb) to grow, expand, or bloom
Increased colonization caused the island city to burgeon.
antonyms: shrink; diminish
12. commensurate (adjective) ab equal measure; corresponding in size and measurement
Though Margie and Liz attended different universities, they received commensurate educations.
synonyms: equivalent; comparable
13. confluence (noun) a meeting or gathering together
The United Nations General Assembly is a confluence of world thought.
synonyms: convergence; concourse
14. coup (noun) a surprising, brilliant, and usually successful act
The rebels planned a coup to overthrow the current Prime Minister and install a new leader.
15. secular (adjective) not spiritual or religious; worldly
Many religions warn of the dangers of the secular world because they believe it is full of sin.
1. insouciant (adjective) not concerned; free from care
Jenna's insouciant attitude made her easy to befriend
2. static (adjective) without force or movement; stationary
The old truck remained static in the front yard because it was out of gasoline.
synonyms: immobile; inert
3. stipulate (verb) to specify a required part of an agreement
The developer stipulated that before construction could begin, the homeowners must first provide a down payment.
4. zeitgeist (noun) the general spirit of the time
Some consider the zeitgeist of the 1960s to be one of moral decay, while others see it as a time of reform.
5. proliferate (verb) to grow or reproduce rapidly
The plant food enabled Bob's irises to proliferate through the flower bed.
6. tenet (noun) a belief or principle held to be true
Belief in the Holy Trinity is one of the main tenets of Christianity.
synonyms: cornerstone; creed
7. ruminate (verb) to think deeply or repeatedly
The great philosopher could often be found ruminating over the questions of humanity.
synonyms: ponder; reflect
8. vigilant (adjective) alert at all times; watchful
The family's watchdog remained vigilant during the day, but he fell into a deep sleep at night.
9. dissident (noun) someone who disagrees
The dissidents of the proposed welfare bill staged a protest.
10. petulant (adjective) rude in speech or behavior; peevish
Mike's petulant remarks toward his boss earned him a demotion and a cut in pay.
11. derivative (noun) not the original; coming from another source
The modern English word "engine" is a derivative of the Latin word "ingenium."
synonyms: offspring; branch
12. accolade (noun) an award or honor
The reporter received accolades for her newest article that uncovered a serious money-laundering scandal.
synonyms: kudos; recognition
13. demur (verb) to disapprove or to take exception
Martin demurred when Sandy suggested that they spend Friday evening at the ballet.
synonyms: object; disagree
antonyms: agree; acquiesce
14. limpid (adjective) transparent; clear
The warm, limpid waters of the Aegean Sea provide excellent snorkeling opportunities.
15. invidious (adjective) tending to cause discontent, harm, or resentment; offensively unfair
The invidious book caused a huge controversy over implications that a leading presidential candidate committed a crime.