Hard English Words: Study Tools

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abjure:
v. formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief, usually under pressure
abrogate:
v. revoke formally, repeal or do away with (a law, right, or formal agreement)
abstemious:
a. sparing in consumption of especially food and drink, marked by temperance in indulgence
acumen:
n. shrewdness shown by keen insight, a tapering point
antebellum:
a. belonging to a period before a war especially the American Civil War
auspicious:
a. auguring favorable circumstances and good luck
belie:
v. represent falsely, be in contradiction with
bellicose:
a. having or showing a ready disposition to fight
bowdlerize:
v. edit by omitting or modifying parts considered indelicate
chicanery:
n. the use of tricks to deceive someone (usually to extract money from them)
chromosome:
n. a threadlike strand of DNA in the cell nucleus that carries the genes in a linear order
churlish:
a. having a bad disposition, rude in a mean-spirited and surly way
circumlocution:
n. a style that involves indirect ways of expressing things, an indirect way of expressing something
circumnavigate:
v. travel around either by plane or ship, go around or avoid (an obstacle)
deciduous:
a. shedding foliage at the end of the growing season, being shed at the end of a period of growth
deleterious:
a. harmful to living things, causing harm or damage
diffident:
a. showing modest reserve, lacking self-confidence
enervate:
v. weaken mentally or morally, disturb the composure of
enfranchise:
v. grant freedom to; as from slavery or servitude, grant voting rights
epiphany:
n. a divine manifestation, twelve days after Christmas
equinox:
n. either of two times of the year when the sun crosses the plane of the earth's equator and day and night are of equal length
evanescent:
a. tending to vanish like vapor, soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence; quickly fading or disappearing
expurgate:
v. edit by omitting or modifying parts considered indelicate
fatuous:
a. devoid of intelligence, silly and pointless
feckless:
a. generally incompetent and ineffectual, not fit to assume responsibility
fiduciary:
a. involving trust, referring to paper currency depending on securities for its value
filibuster:
n. a tactic for delaying or obstructing legislation by making long speeches
gamete:
n. a mature sexual reproductive cell having a single set of unpaired chromosomes
gauche:
a. lacking social polish, lacking ease or grace
gerrymander:
v. divide unfairly and to one's advantage, of voting districts
hegemony:
n. the dominance or leadership of one social group or nation over others
hemoglobin:
n. function primarily to transport oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues
homogeneous:
a. all of the same or similar kind or nature
hubris:
n. overbearing pride or presumption, excessive pride or self-confidence
hypotenuse:
n. the side of a right triangle opposite the right angle
impeach:
v. challenge the honesty or veracity of, bring an accusation against; level a charge against
incognito:
a. with your identity concealed
incontrovertible:
a. necessarily or demonstrably true, impossible to deny or disprove
inculcate:
v. teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions
infrastructure:
n. the basic structure or features of a system or organization
interpolate:
v. estimate the value of, insert words into texts, often falsifying it thereby
irony:
n. a trope that involves incongruity between what is expected and what occurs
jejune:
a. lacking in nutritive value, displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity
kinetic:
a. relating to the motion of material bodies and the forces associated therewith
kowtow:
v. try to gain favor by cringing or flattering
laissezfaire:
n. unwillingness to get involved in or influence other people's activities
lexicon:
n. a reference book containing an alphabetical list of words with information about them
loquacious:
a. full of trivial conversation, tending to talk a great deal; talkative
lugubrious:
a. excessively mournful, looking or sounding sad and dismal
metamorphosis:
n. a complete change of physical form or substance especially as by magic or witchcraft
mitosis:
n. type of cell division that results in two daughter cells each having same number and kind of chromosomes as parent nucleus
moiety:
n. one of two basic subdivisions of a tribe, one of two (approximately) equal parts
nanotechnology:
n. the branch of engineering that deals with things smaller than 100 nanometers (especially with the manipulation of individual molecules)
nihilism:
n. rejection of all religious and moral principles
nomenclature:
n. a system of words used to name things in a particular discipline
nonsectarian:
a. not involving or relating to different religious sects or political groups
notarize:
v. authenticate as a notary, acknowledge or attest as a notary public
obsequious:
a. attempting to win favor from influential people by flattery
oligarchy:
n. a political system governed by a few people
omnipotent:
a. having unlimited power, having virtually unlimited authority or influence
orthography:
n. a part of language study that deals with letters and spelling
paradigm:
n. the generally accepted perspective of a particular discipline at a given time
parameter:
n. any factor that defines a system and determines (or limits) its performance
pecuniary:
a. relating to or involving money, consisting of or measured in money
photosynthesis:
n. synthesis of compounds with the aid of radiant energy (especially in plants)
plagiarize:
v. take without referencing from someone else's writing or speech; of intellectual property
plasma:
n. the colorless watery fluid of the blood and lymph that contains no cells, but in which the blood cells are suspended
polymer:
n. a naturally occurring or synthetic compound consisting of large molecules made up of a linked series of repeated simple monomers
precipitous:
a. done with very great haste and without due deliberation, extremely steep
quasar:
n. massive and extremely remote celestial object
quotidian:
a. found in the ordinary course of events, occurring every day
recapitulate:
v. repeat an earlier theme of a composition, repeat stages of evolutionary development during the embryonic phase of life
reciprocal:
a. of or relating to the multiplicative inverse of a quantity or function
reparation:
n. compensation exacted from a defeated nation by the victors, compensation (given or received) for an insult or injury
respiration:
n. the bodily process of inhalation and exhalation, the process of taking in oxygen from inhaled air and releasing carbon dioxide
sanguine:
n. a blood-red color, confidently optimistic and cheerful
soliloquy:
n. a (usually long) dramatic speech intended to give the illusion of unspoken reflections, speech you make to yourself
subjugate:
v. put down by force or intimidation, make subservient, force to submit or subdue
suffragist:
n. an advocate of the extension of voting rights (especially to women)
supercilious:
a. having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy, expressive of contempt
tautology:
n. (logic) a statement that is necessarily true, useless repetition
taxonomy:
n. practice of classifying plants and animals according to their presumed natural relationships
tectonic:
a. pertaining to the structure or movement of the earth's crust ,of or pertaining to construction or architecture
tempestuous:
a. (of the elements) as if showing violent anger, characterized by violent emotions or behavior
thermodynamics:
n. the branch of physics concerned with the conversion of different forms of energy
totalitarian:
a. characterized by a government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control
unctuous:
a. unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech
vehement:
a. marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions; inclined to react violently
fervid:
a. characterized by great force or energy, intensely enthusiastic or passionate, especially to an excessive degree
vortex:
n. a powerful circular current of water, the shape of something rotating rapidly
winnow:
v. blow away or off with a current of air, separate the chaff from by using air currents
wrought:
a. shaped to fit by or as if by altering the contours of a pliable mass (as by work or effort)
xenophobe:
n. person having dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries
yeoman:
n. officer in the (ceremonial) bodyguard of the British monarch
ziggurat:
n. a rectangular tiered temple or terraced mound erected by the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians