Vocabulary does not play as big a part in IELTS, as it does in other tests like the Toefl & GRE.
However, most IELTS winners are familiar with the majority of standard words that appear on the
A good vocabulary is inextricably linked to a good memory. To have a deep and wide vocabulary, a student
needs a very good memory.
So how do IELTS Winners go about developing a good memory?
THE FALLACY OF MOST MEMORY SYSTEMS
The commonly accepted idea that more memorizing makes memorizing easier is false, and that there is no
truth in the popular figure of speech that likens the memory to a muscle that grows stronger with use.
However, practice may result in an unconscious improvement in the Winning methods of memorizing.
By practice a student comes to unconsciously discover and employ new associative methods in recording of
facts, making them easier to recall, but we can certainly add nothing to the actual scope and power
Yet many books on memory-training seek to develop the general ability to remember by incessant practice in
memorizing particular words, just as one would develop a muscle by exercise.
The real cause of a poor memory is Not the loss of retentiveness, but the loss of an intensity of interest. It is
the failure to form sufficiently large groups and complexes of related ideas, emotions and muscular
movements associated with the particular fact to be remembered.
Developing a Winning Memory
We recall things by their associations. When you set your mind to remember any particular fact, your
conscious effort should not be to vaguely will that it shall be impressed and retained, but analytically and
deliberately to connect it with one or more other facts already in your mind.
The student who “crams” for an examination makes no permanent addition to his knowledge. There can be
no recall without association, and “cramming” allows no time to form associations.
If you find it difficult to remember a fact or a word, do not waste your energies in “willing” it to return. Try to
recall some other fact or name associated with it.
If your memory is good in most respects, but poor in a particular line, it is because you do not interest
yourself in that line, and therefore have no material for association.
To improve your memory you must increase the number and variety of your mental associations.
Many ingenious methods, scientifically correct, have been devised to aid in the remembering of particular
facts. These methods are based wholly on the principle that that is most easily recalled which is associated
in our minds with the most complex and elaborate groupings of related ideas.
Make systematic use of your senses.
Do you find it difficult to remember names? It is because you do not link them in your mind with enough
associations. Every time a man is introduced to you, look about you. Who is present? Take note of as many
and as great a variety of surrounding facts and circumstances as possible. Think of the man’s name, and
take another look at his face, his dress, his physique. Think of his name, and at the same time his
voice and manner. Think of his name, and mark the place where you are now for the first time meeting him.
Think of his name in conjunction with the name and personality of the friend who presented him.
Memory is not a distinct faculty of mind in the sense that one student is generously endowed in that respect
while another is deficient. Memory is wholly a question oftrained habits of mental operation, and can be
Your memory is just as good as mine or any other student’s. It is your indifference to what you would call
“irrelevant facts” that is at fault.
Therefore, cultivate habits of observation. Fortify the observed facts you wish to recall with a multitude of
outside associations. Never rest with a mere halfway knowledge of things.
However, that does not imply that you have to be a Walking Dictionary.
Strategies for Building a Winning Vocabulary using Mental Associations
Many IELTS winners have successfully used one or more of the strategies below to remember 1000 word
wordlists in just a few days.
- OUT OF PROPORTION – In all your images, try to distort size and shape. You can imagine things much
larger than their normal size or conversely, microscopically small.
- SUBSTITUTION - You could visualise footballers kicking a television around a football pitch instead of a
football, or pens growing on a tree instead of leaves. Substituting an out of place item in an image increases
the probability of recall.
-EXAGGERATION – Try to picture vast quantities in your images.
- MOVEMENT – Any movement or action is always easy to remember. For example, see yourself cutting into a sausage and gallons of ink squirting out and hitting you in the face.
e.g. the word ricochet means to bounce or skip off. This word can easily be linked with Rick, you might be a
person you know. Imagine your friend jumping on to a wall head on and then bouncing off from it. Think of his
dazed face when he skips off the wall, imagine the vivid color of the wall.
- HUMOUR – The funnier, more absurd and zany you can make your images, the more memorable they will
e.g. the word torpid means slow. Torpid can easily be linked to Torpedo. Imagine a Torpedo chasing away a
tortoise. Imagine the tortoise trying to get away from teh torpedo and the torpedo unable to keep up with the
speed of the tortoise. Imagine it happening in a small path in teh Jungle. Imagine the torpedo making a
hissing sound. Make the picture as vivid as possible.
You will never forget the meaning of torpid again.
Applying any combination of these five principles when forming your images will help make your mental
associations truly outstanding and memorable.
At first you may find that you need to consciously apply one or more of the five principles in order to make
your pictures sufficiently ludicrous. After a little practice however, you should find that applying the principles
becomes an automatic and natural process
- When you learn new words, make sure you learn them in a context. It is much easier to picture a sentence
rather than a word in isolation.
-Since a lot of English words are derived from Greek & Latin roots, it makes sense to be aware of these and
the suffixes and prefixes commonly used.
- Pay attention to the tone of the words, whether soft or hard, harsh or mind, negative or positive
This could help you guess when in doubt, especially in the Sentence Completion section.
- Play games like scrabble & crosswords. This will make building vocabulary fun and you will not get put off
- Perhaps the Best way to increase your vocabulary is to read, read and read. There is absolutely no
substitute for that! Reading helps you learn new words from the context in which they are used, thereby
making it easy to remember the new words and more importantly, how and when it is used.
The following 1200 words are the most common words appearing in the MCAT and account for more than
95% of the difficult words that you are likely to encounter.
To make it easy for you to remember new words, each word below is illustrated by a sentence.
Here is a word list of common words that you should be familiar with.
(adv.) on or toward the rear of a ship
The passengers moved abaft of the ship so as to escape the fire in the front of the
(v.; n) to leave behind; to give something up; freedom; enthusiasm; impetuosity
After failing for several years, he abandoned his dream of starting a grocery
Lucy embarked on her new adventure with abandon.
(v.) to degrade; humiliate; disgrace
The mother’s public reprimand abased the girl. The insecure father, after failing to
achieve his own life-long goals, abased his children whenever they failed.
(v.) to shorten; compress; diminish
His vacation to Japan was abbreviated when he acquired an illness treatable only
in the United States.
(v.) to reject, renounce, or abandon
Due to his poor payment record, it may be necessary to abdicate our relationship
with the client. aberrant (adj.) abnormal; straying from the normal or usual path
The aberrant flight pattern of the airplane alarmed the air traffic controllers.
His aberrant behavior led his friends to worry the divorce had taken its toll.
abeyance (n.) a state of temporary suspension or inactivity Since the power
failure, the town has been in abeyance.
(v.) to hate
By the way her jaw tensed when he walked in, it is easy to see that she abhors him.
The dog abhorred cats, chasing and growling at them whenever he had the
(adj.) of the worst or lowest degree
The Haldemans lived in abject poverty, with barely a roof over their heads.
(v.) to give up
The losing team may abjure to the team that is winning.
(n.) a denial
The woman’s abnegation of her loss was apparent when she began to laugh.
(v.) to loathe; to hate
Randall abominated all the traffic he encountered on every morning commute.
Please do not abominate the guilty person until you hear the complete explanation.
(v.) to shorten; to limit
The editor abridged the story to make the book easier to digest.
(v.) to cancel by authority
The judge would not abrogate the law.
(adj.) happening or ending unexpectedly
The abrupt end to their marriage was a shock to everyone.
(v.) to go away hastily or secretly; to hide
The newly wed couple will abscond from the reception to leave on the honeymoon.
(v.) to forgive; to acquit
The judge will absolve the person of all charges. After feuding for many years, the
brothers absolved each other for the many arguments they had.
(adj.) sparing in use of food or drinks
If we become stranded in the snow storm, we will have to be abstemious with our
In many abstemious cultures the people are so thin due to the belief that too much
taken into the body leads to contamination of the soul. abstinence (n.) the act or
process of voluntarily refraining from any action or practice; self-control; chastity In
preparation for the Olympic games, the athletes practiced abstinence from red
meat and junk food, adhering instead to a menu of pasta and produce.
(adj.) hard to understand; deep; recondite
The topic was so abstruse the student was forced to stop reading.
The concept was too abstruse for the average student to grasp.
(adj.) very deep
The abysmal waters contained little plant life.
(v.) to comply with; to consent to
With defeat imminent, the rebel army acceded to hash out a peace treaty.
(n.) loud approval; applause
Edward Albee’s brilliantly written Broadway revival of A Delicate Balance received
wide acclaim. accolade (n.) approving or praising mention; a sign of approval or
respect Rich accolades were bestowed on the returning hero. Accolades flowed
into her dressing room following the opening-night triumph. accomplice (n.) co-
conspirator; partner; partner-in-crime The bank robber’s accomplice drove the get-
away car. accretion (n.)growth by addition; a growing together by parts With the
accretion of the new members, the club doubled its original size. The addition of
the new departments accounts for the accretion of the company.
(v.) a natural growth; a periodic increase
Over the course of her college career, she managed to accrue a great deal of
The savings were able to accrue a sizable amount of interest each year. During
his many years of collecting stamps, he was able to accrue a large collection of
valuable items. acerbic (adj.) tasting sour; harsh in language or temper Too much
Bay Leaf will make the eggplant acerbic. The baby’s mouth puckered when she
was given the acerbic medicine. The columnist’s acerbic comments about the First
Lady drew a strong denunciation from the President.
(v.) to agree without protest
The group acquiesced to the new regulations even though they were opposed to
After a hard-fought battle, the retailers finally acquiesced to the draft regulations.
(adj.) sharp; bitter; foul smelling
Although the soup is a healthy food choice, it is so acrid not many people choose
to eat it.
The fire at the plastics factory caused an acrid odor to be emitted throughout the
surrounding neighborhood. acrimony (n.) sharpness or bitterness in language or
manner. The acrimony of her response was shocking. adage (n.) an old saying
now accepted as being truthful The adage “do unto others as you wish them to do
unto you” is still widely practiced.
(adj.) not yielding, firm
After taking an adamant stand to sell the house, the man called the real estate
The girl’s parents were adamant about not allowing her to go on a dangerous
The egg will become addled if it is left unrefrigerated.
(adj.) skilled; practiced
The skilled craftsman was quite adept at creating beautiful vases and
(v.) solemnly ordered
The jurors were adjured by the judge to make a fair decision.
(adj.) expert or skillful
The repair was not difficult for the adroit craftsman.
The driver’s adroit driving avoided a serious accident.
(n.) praise in excess
The adulation was in response to the heroic feat.
The adulation given to the movie star was sickening.
(v.) to corrupt, debase, or make impure
The dumping of chemicals will adulterate the pureness of the lake.
(n.) an enemy; foe
The peace treaty united two countries that were historically great adversaries.
adverse (adj.) negative; hostile; antagonistic; inimical Contrary to the ski resort’s
expectations, the warm weather generated adverse conditions for a profitable
weekend. advocate (v.; n.) to plead in favor of; supporter; defender Amnesty
International advocates the cause for human rights. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a
great advocate of civil rights. aesthetic (adj.) of beauty; pertaining to taste in art
and beauty She found that her aesthetic sense and that of the artist were at odds.
His review made one wonder what kind of aesthetic taste the critic had.
(adj.) friendly; amiable; good-natured
Her affable puppy loved to play with children. affiliate (v.) to connect or associate
with; to accept as a member The hiking club affiliated with the bird-watching club.
(n.) a connection; similarity of structure
There is a strong emotional affinity between the two siblings.
It turns out that the elements bear a strong affinity to each other.
(v.) to make more powerful
The king wanted to aggrandize himself and his kingdom. aghast (adj.) astonished;
amazed; horrified; terrified; appalled Stockholders were aghast at the company’s
revelation. The landlord was aghast at his water bill.
(adj.) of the land
Many agrarian people are poor.
(n.) eager readiness or speed
The manager was so impressed by the worker’s alacrity; he suggested a
On the first day of her new job, the recent college graduate was able to leave early
after completing all of her tasks with alacrity.
(n.) a person who studies chemistry
The alchemist’s laboratory was full of bottles and tubes of strange
(n.) any mysterious change of substance or nature
The magician used alchemy to change the powder into a liquid
(n.) a symbolic description
The book contained many allegories on Russian history.
(v.) to lessen or make easier
The airport’s monorail alleviates vehicular traffic.
(v.) set aside; designate; assign
There have been front row seats allocated to the performer’s family.
The farmer allocated three acres of his fields to corn.
(v.) to refer indirectly to something
The story alludes to part of the author’s life.
Without stating that the defendant was an ex-convict, the prosecutor alluded to the
fact by mentioning his length of unemployment. allure (v.; n.) to attract; entice;
attraction; temptation; glamour The romantic young man allured the beautiful
woman by preparing a wonderful dinner.
Singapore’s allure is its bustling economy. allusion (n.) an indirect reference
(often literary); a hint The mention of the pet snake was an allusion to the man’s
sneaky ways. In modern plays allusions are often made to ancient drama.
(adj.) distant in interest; reserved; cool
Even though the new coworker was aloof, we attempted to be friendly. The calm
defendant remained aloof when he was wrongly accused of fabricating his story.
(n.) controversy; dispute
A serious altercation caused the marriage to end in a bitter divorce. altruism (n.)
unselfish devotion to the welfare of others After the organization aided the
catastrophe victims, it was given an award for altruism.
She displayed such altruism by giving up all of her belongings and joining a peace
corps in Africa.
The altruistic volunteer donated much time and energy in an effort to raise funds
for the children’s hospital. amalgam (n.) a mixture or combination (often of metals)
The art display was an amalgam of modern and traditional pieces. That ring is
made from an amalgam of minerals; if it were pure gold it would never hold its
(v.) to mix, merge, combine
If the economy does not grow, the business may need to amalgamate with a rival
The three presidents decided to amalgamate their businesses to build one strong
(v.) to collect together; accumulate
Over the years the sailor has amassed many replicas of boats.
The women amassed a huge collection of priceless diamonds and pearls.
(adj.) not clear; uncertain; vague
The ambiguous law did not make a clear distinction between the new and old land
The ambivalent jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.
(v.) to improve or make better
A consistent routine of exercise has shown to ameliorate health.
We can ameliorate the flooding problem by changing the grading.
(n.) a positive change
The amendment in his ways showed there was still reason for hope.
The newcomer picked the most amiable person to sit next to during the meeting.
amiss (adj.; adv.) wrong; awry; wrongly; in a defective manner Seeing that his
anorak was gone, he knew something was amiss . Its new muffler aside, the car
was behaving amiss.
(n.) friendly relations
The amity between the two bordering nations put the populations at ease.
amorphous (adj.) with no shape; unorganized; having no determinate form The
amorphous gel seeped through the cracks. The amorphous group quickly got lost.
The scientist could not determine the sex of the amorphous organism. amortize
(v.) to put money into a fund at fixed intervals The couple was able to amortize
their mortgage sooner than they thought. anachronism (n.) something out of place
in time (e.g., an airplane in 1492) The editor recognized an anachronism in the
manuscript where the character from the 1500s boarded an airplane. He realized
that the film about cavemen contained an anachronism when he saw a jet cut
across the horizon during a hunting scene.
(n.) similarity; correlation; parallelism
The teacher used an analogy to describe the similarities between the two books.
Comparing the newly discovered virus with one found long ago, the scientist made
an analogy between the two organisms.
(n.) an allergic reaction
The boy’s severe anaphylaxis to a series of medications made writing prescriptions
a tricky proposition. anarchist (n.) one who believes that a formal government is
unnecessary The yell from the crowd came from the anarchist protesting the
The anarchist attempted to overthrow the established democratic government of
the new nation and reinstate chaos and disarray.
(n.) something that can be relied on
Knowing the neighbors were right next door was an anchorage for the elderly
(n.) a short account of happenings
The speaker told an anecdote about how he lost his shoes when he was young.
(n.) a feeling of hatred or ill will
Animosity grew between the two feuding families.
(v.) to crown; ordain;
A member of the monarchy was anointed by the king. anomaly (n.) an oddity,
inconsistency; a deviation from the norm An anomaly existed when the report listed
one statistic, and the spokeswoman reported another.
In a parking lot full of Buicks, Chevys, and Plymouths, the Jaguar was an anomaly.
(adj.) nameless; unidentified
Not wishing to be identified by the police, he remained anonymous by returning the
money he had stolen by sending it through the mail.
(n.) hostility; opposition
The antagonism was created by a misunderstanding. The rebellious clan captured
a hostage to display antagonism to the new peace treaty.
(n.) a strong dislike or repugnance
Her antipathy for large crowds convinced her to decline the invitation to the city.
The vegetarian had an antipathy toward meat.
(n.) lack of emotion or interest
He showed apathy when his relative was injured. The disheartened peasants
expressed apathy toward the new law which promised new hope and prosperity for
all. apocalyptic (adj.) pertaining to a discovery or new revelation Science-fiction
movies seem to relish apocalyptic visions. apocryphal (adj.) counterfeit; of
doubtful authorship or authenticity The man who said he was a doctor was truly
(v.) to satisfy; to calm
A milk bottle usually appeases a crying baby.
(adj.) suitable; apt; relevant
Discussion of poverty was apposite to the curriculum, so the professor allowed it.
Without reenacting the entire scenario, the situation can be understood if apposite
information is given.
(adj.) fearful; aware; conscious
The nervous child was apprehensive about beginning a new school year.
(adj.) approving or sanctioning
The judge showed his acceptance in his approbatory remark.
(adj.) suitable (as land) for plowing
When the land was deemed arable the farmer decided to plow. arbiter (n.) one
who is authorized to judge or decide The decision of who would represent the
people was made by the arbiter. arbitrary (adj.) based on one’s preference or
judgment Rick admitted his decision had been arbitrary, as he claimed no
expertise on the matter.
(adj.) obscure; secret; mysterious
With an arcane expression, the young boy left the family wondering what sort of
mischief he had committed.
The wizard’s description of his magic was purposefully arcane so that others would
be unable to copy it.
(n.) original pattern or model; prototype
This man was the archetype for scores of fictional characters. The scientist was
careful with the archetype of her invention so that once manufacturing began, it
would be easy to reproduce it.
(adj.) with passionate or intense feelings
The fans’ ardent love of the game kept them returning to watch the terrible team.
(adj.) laborious, difficult; strenuous
Completing the plans for the new building proved to be an arduous affair. Building
a house is arduous work, but the result is well worth the labor. arid (adj.) extremely
dry, parched; barren, unimaginative The terrain was so arid that not one species
of plant could survive. Their thirst became worse due to the arid condition of the
desert. aromatic (adj.) having a smell which is sweet or spicy The aromatic smell
coming from the oven made the man’s mouth water.
(adj.) acting superior to others; conceited
After purchasing his new, expensive sports car, the arrogant doctor refused to
allow anyone to ride with him to the country club.
(v.) to claim or demand unduly
The teenager arrogated that he should be able to use his parent’s car whenever
he desired. articulate (v.; adj.) to utter clearly and distinctly; clear, distinct;
expressed with clarity; skillful with words It’s even more important to articulate your
words when you’re on the phone.
You didn’t have to vote for him to agree that Adlai Stevenson was articulate.
A salesperson must be articulate when speaking to a customer.
(n.) skill in a craft
The artifice of glass-making takes many years of practice. ascetic (n.; adj.) one
who leads a simple life of self-denial; rigorously abstinent The monastery is filled
with ascetics who have devoted their lives to religion.
The nuns lead an ascetic life devoted to the Lord.
(adj.) germ free
It is necessary for an operating room to be aseptic.
(adv.) a sideways glance of disapproval
The look askance proved the guard suspected some wrongdoing.
The man used asperity to frighten the girl out of going. The asperity of the winter
had most everybody yearning for spring. aspersion (n.) slanderous statement; a
damaging or derogatory criticism The aspersion damaged the credibility of the
organization. He blamed the loss of his job on an aspersion stated by his co-
worker to his superior.
(n.) a person who goes after high goals
The aspirant would not settle for assistant director—only the top job was good
enough. assay (n.) to determine the quality of a substance. Have the soil
(v.) to estimate the value of
She assessed the possible rewards to see if the project was worth her time and
(adj.) carefully attentive; industrious
It is necessary to be assiduous if a person wishes to make the most of his time at
He enjoys having assiduous employees because he can explain a procedure once
and have it performed correctly every time.
(v.) to relieve; ease; make less severe
Medication should assuage the pain.
The medication helped assuage the pain of the wound. astringent (n.; adj.) a
substance that contracts bodily tissues; causing contraction; tightening; stern,
austere After the operation an astringent was used on his skin so that the
stretched area would return to normal.
The downturn in sales caused the CEO to impose astringent measures.
Her astringent remarks at the podium would not soon be forgotten.
(adj.) cunning; sly; crafty
The astute lawyer’s questioning convinced the jury of the defendant’s guilt.
atrophy (v.; n.) to waste away, as from lack of use; to wither; failure to grow A few
months after he lost his ability to walk, his legs began to atrophy. The atrophy of
the muscles was due to the injury.
(v.) to thin out; to weaken
Water is commonly used to attenuate strong chemicals.
The chemist attenuated the solution by adding water.
(adj.) something that is abnormal
The atypical behavior of the wild animal alarmed the hunters.
(adj.) fearless; bold
The audacious soldier went into battle without a shield.
(v.) to increase or add to; to make larger
They needed more soup so they augmented the recipe.
They were able to augment their savings over a period of time.
(adj.) to be imposing or magnificent
The palace was august in gold and crystal.
(adj.) being of a good omen; successful
It was auspicious that the sun shone on the first day of the trip. The campaign had
an auspicious start, foreshadowing the future. austere (adj.) having a stern look;
having strict self-discipline The old woman always has an austere look about her.
The austere teacher assigned five pages of homework each day.
(adj.) real; genuine; trustworthy
An authentic diamond will cut glass.
(n.; adj.) acting as a dictator; demanding obedience The authoritarian made all of
the rules but did none of the work. Fidel Castro is reluctant to give up his
authoritarian rule. autocracy (n.) an absolute monarchy; government where one
person holds power The autocracy was headed by a demanding man. She was
extremely power-hungry and therefore wanted her government to be an autocracy.
(n.) an absolute ruler
The autocrat in charge of the government was a man of power and prestige.
The autocrat made every decision and divided the tasks among his subordinates.
avarice (n.) inordinate desire for gaining and possessing wealth The man’s avarice
for money kept him at work through the evenings and weekends.
The avarice of the president led to his downfall.
(v.) to affirm as true
The witness was able to aver the identity of the defendant. awry (adj; adv.)
crooked(ly); uneven(ly); wrong; askew Hearing the explosion in the laboratory, the
scientist realized the experiment had gone awry.
(adj.) the clear blue color of the sky
The azure sky made the picnic day perfect.
(adj.) harmful, malign, detrimental
After she was fired, she realized it was a baleful move to point the blame at her
The strange liquid could be baleful if ingested.
(adj.) trite; without freshness or originality
Attending parties became trite after a few weeks. It was a banal suggestion to
have the annual picnic in the park, since that was where it had been for the past
(adj.) deadly or causing distress, death
Not wearing a seat belt could be baneful.
(adj.) extravagant; ornate; embellished
The baroque artwork was made up of intricate details which kept the museum-
The baroque furnishings did not fit in the plain, modest home.
(n.) a fortified place or strong defense
The strength of the bastion saved the soldiers inside of it.
(v.) to gain
The team could only batten by drafting the top player.
(n.) a showy yet useless thing
The woman had many baubles on her bookshelf.
(v.) to bring into being
The king wished to beget a new heir.
(adj.) indebted to
The children were beholden to their parents for the car loan.
(v.) to be advantageous; to be necessary
It will behoove the students to buy their textbooks early.
(v.) to make small; to think lightly of
The unsympathetic friend belittled her friend’s problems and spoke of her own as
the most important.
(adj.) quarrelsome; warlike
The bellicose guest would not be invited back again.
(v.) to preoccupy in thought
The girl was bemused by her troubles.
(n.) one who helps others; a donor
An anonymous benefactor donated $10,000 to the children’s hospital. beneficent
(adj.) conferring benefits; kindly; doing good He is a beneficent person, always
taking in stray animals and talking to people who need someone to listen.
A beneficent donation helped the organization meet its goal.
(adj.) kind; generous
The professor proved a tough questioner, but a benevolent grader.
The benevolent gentleman volunteered his services.
(adj.) mild; harmless
A lamb is a benign animal, especially when compared with a lion.
(v.) scold; reprove; reproach; criticize
The child was berated by her parents for breaking the china. bereft (v.; adj.) to be
deprived of; to be in a sad manner; hurt by someone’s death The loss of his job
will leave the man bereft of many luxuries. The widower was bereft for many years
after his wife’s death.
(v.) to ask earnestly
The soldiers beseeched the civilians for help.
(v.) to dirty or discolor
The soot from the chimney will besmirch clean curtains.
(adj.) having the qualities of a beast; brutal
The bestial employer made his employees work in an unheated room.
(v.) to promise or pledge in marriage
The man betrothed his daughter to the prince.
(adj.) prejudiced; influenced; not neutral
The vegetarian had a biased opinion regarding what should be ordered for
dinner. biennial (adj.; n.) happening every two years; a plant which blooms every
two years The biennial journal’s influence seemed only magnified by its infrequent
She has lived here for four years and has seen the biennials bloom twice. bilateral
(adj.) pertaining to or affecting both sides or two sides; having two sides A bilateral
decision was made so that both partners reaped equal benefits from the same
amount of work.
The brain is a bilateral organ, consisting of a left and right hemisphere.
blasphemous (adj.) irreligious; away from acceptable standards; speaking ill of
using profane language The upper-class parents thought that it was blasphemous
for their son to marry a waitress.
His blasphemous outburst was heard throughout the room.
(adj.) obvious; unmistakable; crude; vulgar
The blatant foul was reason for ejection.
The defendant was blatant in his testimony.
(adj.) causing frustration or destruction
The blighted tornado left only one building standing in its wake. blithe (adj.)
happy; cheery; merry; a cheerful disposition The wedding was a blithe celebration.
The blithe child was a pleasant surprise.
(v.) to foretell something
The storm bode that we would not reach our destination.
(n.) pompous speech; pretentious words
After he delivered his bombast at the podium, he arrogantly left the meeting.
The presenter ended his bombast with a prediction of his future success.
(adj.) pompous; wordy; turgid
The bombastic woman talks a lot about herself.
(n.) a rude person
The boor was not invited to the party, but he came anyway.
(n.) the distance from one side to another
The table cloth was too small to cover the breadth of the table.
(n.) briefness; shortness
On Top 40 AM radio, brevity was the coin of the realm.
(adj.) mixed with a darker color
In order to get matching paint we made a brindled mixture.
(v.) to introduce into conversation
Broaching the touchy subject was difficult.
(adj.) abrupt in manner or speech
His brusque answer was neither acceptable nor polite. bucolic (adj.) having to do
with shepherds or the country The bucolic setting inspired the artist.
He was bumptious in manner as he approached the podium to accept his
(n.) a clumsy person
The one who broke the crystal vase was a true bungler.
(v.) to grow or develop quickly
The tumor appeared to burgeon more quickly than normal. After the first punch
was thrown, the dispute burgeoned into a brawl. burlesque (v.; n.) to imitate in a
non-serious manner; a comical imitation His stump speeches were so hackneyed,
he seemed to be burlesquing of his role as a congressman.
George Burns was considered one of the great practitioners of burlesque.
(adj.) strong; bulky; stocky
The lumberjack was a burly man.
(v.) to polish by rubbing
The vase needed to be burnished to restore its beauty.
(n.) a group of persons joined by a secret
The very idea that there could be a cabal cast suspicion on the whole operation.
cache (n.) stockpile; store; heap; hiding place for goods The town kept a cache of
salt on hand to melt winter’s snow off the roads.
Extra food is kept in the cache under the pantry.
The cache for his jewelry was hidden under the bed.
(adj.) sounding jarring
The cacophonous sound from the bending metal sent shivers up our spines.
cacophony (n.) a harsh, inharmonious collection of sounds; dissonance The
beautiful harmony of the symphony was well enjoyed after the cacophony coming
from the stage as the orchestra warmed up. The amateur band created more
cacophony than beautiful sound.
(v.) to coax with insincere talk
To cajole the disgruntled employee, the manager coaxed him with lies and sweet
The salesman will cajole the couple into buying the stereo.
The fire in the apartment building was a great calamity.
The caliber of talent at the show was excellent.
(adj.) being young or immature
With the callow remark the young man demonstrated his age. Although the girl
could be considered an adult, the action was very callow.
I felt it necessary to speak against the calumny of the man’s good reputation.
(n.) a false statement or rumor
The canard was reported in a scandalous tabloid.
(adj.) honest; truthful; sincere
People trust her because she’s so candid.
(n.) insincere or hypocritical statements of high ideals; the jargon of a particular
group or occupations The theater majors had difficulty understanding the cant of
the computer scientists.
The remarks by the doctor were cant and meant only for his associates. caprice
(n.) a sudden, unpredictable or whimsical change The caprice with which the
couple approached the change of plans was evidence to their young age.
The king ruled by caprice as much as law.
(adj.) changeable; fickle
The capricious bride-to-be has a different church in mind for her wedding every
(adj.) disposed to find fault
A captious attitude often causes difficulties in a relationship.
(n.) unlimited authority
The designer was given carte blanche to create a new line for the fall.
(n; v.) waterfall; pour; rush; fall
The hikers stopped along the path to take in the beauty of the rushing cascade.
The water cascaded down the rocks into the pool.
He took a photograph of the lovely cascade.
The drapes formed a cascade down the window.
(v.) to punish through public criticism
The mayor castigated the police chief for the rash of robberies.
(n.) an extreme natural force
The earthquake has been the first cataclysm in five years. catalyst (n.) anything
which creates a situation in which change can occur The low pressure system was
the catalyst for the nor’easter. catharsis (n.) a purging or relieving of the body or
soul He experienced a total catharsis after the priest absolved his sins. Admitting
his guilt served as a catharsis for the man.
(adj.) eating away at; sarcastic words
The caustic chemicals are dangerous.
The girl harmed her mother with her caustic remarks. His caustic sense of humor
doesn’t go over so well when people don’t know what they’re in for.
(v.) to bicker
The children are constantly caviling.
(v.) to examine and delete objectionable material
The children were allowed to watch the adult movie only after it had been
censored. censure (n.; v.) a disapproval; an expression of disapproval; to criticize
or disapprove of His remarks drew the censure of his employers. A censure of the
new show upset the directors.
Her parents censured her idea of dropping out of school.
(adj.) very formal or proper
The black-tie dinner was highly ceremonious.
(n.)ceasing; a stopping
The cessation of a bad habit is often difficult to sustain. chafe (v.) to annoy, to
irritate; to wear away or make sore by rubbing His constant teasing chafed her.
He doesn’t wear pure wool sweaters because they usually chafe his skin.
(n.) banter; teasing
The king was used to his jesters good-natured chaffing. chagrin (n.) a feeling of
embarrassment due to failure or disappointment To the chagrin of the inventor, the
machine did not work. She turned red-faced with chagrin when she learned that
her son had been caught shoplifting.
(n.) appeal; magnetism; presence
She has such charisma that everyone likes her the first time they meet her.
charlatan (n.) a person who pretends to have knowledge; an impostor; fake The
charlatan deceived the townspeople.
It was finally discovered that the charlatan sitting on the throne was not the real
(adj.) cautious; being sparing in giving
Be chary when driving at night.
The chary man had few friends.
(adj.) virtuous; free of obscenity
Because the woman believed in being chaste, she would not let her date into the
(v.) to punish; discipline; admonish
The dean chastised the first-year student for cheating on the exam.
(v.) to feel love for
The bride vowed to cherish the groom for life.
(n.) trickery or deception
The swindler was trained in chicanery.
A news broadcast is no place for chicanery.
(n.) an impossible fancy
Perhaps he saw a flying saucer, but perhaps it was only a chimera. choleric (adj.)
cranky; cantankerous; easily moved to feeling displeasure The choleric man was
continually upset by his neighbors. Rolly becomes choleric when his views are
(v.) to make a gleeful, chuckling sound
The chortles emanating from the audience indicated it wouldn’t be as tough a
crowd as the stand-up comic had expected. churlishness (n.) crude or surly
behavior; behavior of a peasant The fraternity’s churlishness ran afoul of the dean’
s office. The churlishness of the teenager caused his employer to lose faith in
him. circumlocution (n.) a roundabout or indirect way of speaking; not to the point
The man’s speech contained so much circumlocution that I was unsure of the point
he was trying to make.
The child made a long speech using circumlocution to avoid stating that it was she
who had knocked over the lamp. circumlocutory (adj.) being too long, as in a
description or expression; a roundabout, indirect, or ungainly way of expressing
something It was a circumlocutory documentary that could have been cut to half its
running time to say twice as much.
(adj.) considering all circumstances
A circumspect decision must be made when so many people are involved.
(n.) a fortress set up high to defend a city
A citadel sat on the hill to protect the city below.
The clandestine plan must be kept between the two of us!
(n.) mercy toward an offender; mildness
The governor granted the prisoner clemency. The weather’s clemency made for a
perfect picnic. cloture (n.) a parliamentary procedure to end debate and begin to
vote Cloture was declared as the parliamentarians readied to register their votes.
cloying (adj.) too sugary; too sentimental or flattering After years of marriage the
husband still gave cloying gifts to his wife. Complimenting her on her weight loss,
clothing and hairstyle was a cloying way to begin asking for a raise. coagulate (v.)
to become a semisolid, soft mass; to clot The liquid will coagulate and close the
tube if left standing.
(v.) to grow together
The bride and groom coalesced their funds to increase their collateral.
At the end of the conference the five groups coalesced in one room.
(n.) in music, a concluding passage
By the end of the coda, I was ready to burst with excitement over the thrilling
The audience knew that the concerto was about to end when they heard the
orchestra begin playing the coda.
(v.) to treat with tenderness
A baby needs to be coddled.
(v.) to organize laws or rules into a systematic collection The laws were codified by
those whom they affected. The intern codified all the city’s laws into a
computerized filing system. coffer (n.) a chest where money or valuables are kept
The coffer that contained the jewels was stolen. cogent (adj.) to the point; clear;
convincing in its clarity and presentation The lawyer makes compelling and cogent
presentations, which evidently help him win 96 percent of his cases.
He made a short, cogent speech which his audience easily understood.
(v.) to think hard; ponder; meditate
It is necessary to cogitate on decisions which affect life goals. The room was quiet
while every student cogitated during the calculus exam. cognate (adj.; n.) having
the same family; a person related through ancestry English and German are
cognate languages. The woman was a cognate to the royal family. cognitive (adj.)
possessing the power to think or meditate; meditative; capable of perception
Cognitive thought makes humans adaptable to a quickly changing environment.
Once the toddler was able to solve puzzles, it was obvious that her cognitive
abilities were developing.
(adj.) aware of; perceptive
She became alarmed when she was cognizant of the man following her. It was
critical to establish whether the defendant was cognizant of his rights. coherent
(adj.) sticking together; connected; logical; consistent The course was a success
due to its coherent information. If he couldn’t make a coherent speech, how could
he run for office?
(n.) the act of holding together
The cohesion of the group increased as friendships were formed.
The cohesion of different molecules forms different substances.
(n.) a group; band
The cohort of teens gathered at the athletic field.
(v.) to work together; cooperate
The two builders collaborated to get the house finished. colloquial (adj.) having to
do with conversation; informal speech The colloquial reference indicated the free
spirit of the group. When you listen to the difference between spoken colloquial
conversation and written work, you realize how good an ear a novelist must have
to write authentic dialogue.
(n.) secret agreement for an illegal purpose
The authority discovered a collusion between the director and treasurer.
comeliness (n.) beauty; attractiveness in appearance or behavior The comeliness
of the woman attracted everyone’s attention.
(v.) to show sympathy for
The hurricane victims commiserated about the loss of their homes.
(adj.) spacious and convenient; roomy
The new home was so commodious that many new pieces of furniture needed to
(adj.) shared or common ownership
The communal nature of the project made everyone pitch in to help.
(adj.) in agreement with; harmonious
When repairing an automobile, it is necessary to use parts compatible with that
make and model.
(adj.) content; self-satisfied; smug
The CEO worries regularly that his firm’s winning ways will make it complacent.
The candidate was so complacent with his poll numbers that he virtually stopped
campaigning. complaisance (n.) the quality of being agreeable or eager to please
The complaisance of the new assistant made it easy for the managers to give him
a lot of work without worrying that he may complain.
(adj.) complying; obeying; yielding
Compliant actions should be reinforced.
The slave was compliant with every order to avoid being whipped.
(v.) fitting in
It was easy to comport to the new group of employees.
(adj.) all-inclusive; complete; thorough
It’s the only health facility around to offer comprehensive care.
(v.) to settle by mutual adjustment
Labor leaders and the automakers compromised by agreeing to a starting wage of
$16 an hour in exchange for concessions on health-care premiums. concede (v.)
to acknowledge; admit; to surrender; to abandon one’s position After much
wrangling, the conceded that the minister had a point. Satisfied with the recount,
the mayor conceded graciously.
(n.) an exaggerated personal opinion
The man’s belief that he was the best player on the team was pure conceit.
(n.) an attempt to make friendly or placate
The attempt at conciliation
(adj.) to reconcile
The diplomat sought to take a conciliatory approach to keep the talks going.
(adj.) in few words; brief; condensed
The concise instructions were printed on two pages rather than the customary
five. conclave (n.) any private meeting or closed assembly The conclave was to
meet in the executive suite. condescend (v.) to come down from one’s position or
dignity The arrogant, rich man was usually condescending towards his servants.
(v.) to overlook; to forgive
The loving and forgiving mother condoned her son’s life of crime I will condone
your actions of negligence.
(n.) a thing which is joined together
Great cities often lie at the confluence of great rivers. confound (v.) to lump
together, causing confusion; to damn The problem confounded our ability to solve
it. Confound you, you scoundrel!
(n.) a collection or mixture of various things
The conglomeration is made up of four different interest groups.
The soup was a conglomeration of meats and vegetables.
(v.) to combine
The classes will conjoin to do the play.
(v.) to call upon or appeal to; to cause to be, appear, come The smell of the dinner
conjured images of childhood. The magician conjured a rabbit out of a hat.
(n.) secret cooperation in wrongdoing
With the guard’s connivance, the convict was able to make his escape.
connoisseur (n.) expert; authority (usually refers to a wine or food expert) They
allowed her to choose the wine for dinner since she was the connoisseur.
connotative (adj.) containing associated meanings in addition to the primary one
Along with the primary meaning of the word, there were two connotative meanings.
The connotative meaning of their music was spelled out in the video.
(v.) to declare sacred; to dedicate
We will consecrate the pact during the ceremony.
The park was consecrated to the memory of the missing soldier.
(adj.) following as an effect; important
His long illness and consequential absence set him behind in his homework.
The decision to move the company will be consequential to its success.
(n.; v.) a companion, spouse; to associate
An elderly woman was seeking a consort.
They waited until dark to consort under the moonlight.
(adj.) easy to see; noticeable
The diligent and hardworking editor thought the obvious mistake was
conspicuous. consternation (n.) amazement or terror that causes confusion The
look of consternation on the child’s face caused her father to panic.
(v.) to force, compel; to restrain
It may be necessary to constrain the wild animal if it approaches the town.
The student was constrained to remain in her seat until the teacher gave her
permission to leave.
(n.) the completion; finish
Following the consummation of final exams, most of the students graduated.
contemporary (adj.) living or happening at the same time; modern Contemporary
furniture will clash with your traditional sectional.
(n.) scorn; disrespect
The greedy, selfish banker was often discussed with great contempt.
The contentious student was asked to leave the classroom. They hate his
contentious behavior because every suggestion they give ends in a fight.
(v.) to attempt to disprove or invalidate
I will attempt to contest the criminal charges against me. contiguous (adj.)
touching; or adjoining and close, but not touching There are many contiguous
buildings in the city because there is no excess land to allow space between them.
contravene (v.) to act contrary to; to oppose or contradict The story of the
accused contravened the story of the witness. The United Nations held that the
Eastern European nation had contravened the treaty. contrite (adj.) regretful;
sorrowful; having repentance Regretting his decision not to attend college, the
contrite man did not lead a very happy life.
A contrite heart has fixed its wrongs.
(adj.) resisting authority
The man was put in jail for contumacious actions. contusion (n.) a bruise; an injury
where the skin is not broken The man was fortunate to receive only contusions
from the crash.
(n.) a puzzle or riddle
I spent two hours trying to figure out the conundrum. The legend says that to
enter the secret passageway, one must answer the ancient conundrum.
(adj.) traditional; common; routine
The bride wanted a conventional wedding ceremony, complete with white dresses,
many flowers, and a grand reception party. Conventional telephones are giving
way to videophones. converge (v.) to move toward one point (opposite: diverge) It
was obvious that an accident was going to occur as the onlookers watched the two
The two roads converge at the corner.
(n.) a fondness for festiveness or joviality
His conviviality makes him a welcome guest at any social gathering.
(v.) a call to assemble
The teacher convoked her students in the auditorium to help prepare them for the
(adj.) abundant; in great quantities
Her copious notes touched on every subject presented in the lecture.
The corpulence of the man kept him from fitting into the seat.
(v.) to bring into mutual relation
The service man was asked to correlate the two computer demonstration
(v.) to confirm the validity
The witness must corroborate the prisoner’s story if she is to be set free. coterie
(n.) a clique; a group who meet frequently, usually socially A special aspect of
campus life is joining a coterie. Every day after school she joins her coterie on the
playground and they go out for a soda.
(n.) a binding and solemn agreement
With the exchange of vows, the covenant was complete.
(adj.) greedy; very desirous
Lonnie, covetous of education, went to almost every lecture at the university.
Covetous of her neighbor’s pool, she did everything she could to make things
(v.) to huddle and tremble
The lost dog cowered near the tree.
The tellers cowered in the corner as the bandit ransacked the bank. coy (adj.)
modest; bashful; pretending shyness to attract Her coy manners attracted the man.
He’s not really that shy, he’s just being coy. crass (adj.) stupid or dull; insensitive;
materialistic To make light of someone’s weakness is crass. They made their
money the old-fashioned way, but still they were accused of being crass.
My respect for the man was lowered when he made the crass remark.
(n.; adj.) coward; abject person; cowardly
While many fought for their rights, the craven sat shaking, off in a corner
Craven men will not stand up for what they believe in.
(adj.) deserving blame; guilty
The convicted criminal still denies that he is culpable for the robbery.
(n.) a restraint or framework
A curb was put up along the street to help drainage.
(n.) an ill-tempered person
The curmudgeon asked the children not to play near the house.
(adj.) hasty; slight
The detective’s cursory examination of the crime scene caused him to overlook the
(n.) one who believes that others are motivated entirely by selfishness.
The cynic felt that the hero saved the man to become famous