Vocab Set #7 Arbitrary arbitrary Something that's arbitrary seems like it's chosen at random instead of following a consistent rule. Team members would dislike their coach using a totally arbitrary method to pick starting players. Even though arbitrary comes from a word meaning "judge" (arbiter), that doesn't mean judges are always fair. Calling a decision-maker arbitrary is usually a negative thing, suggesting the person is making rules based on whim rather than justice. A coach who selects starting players arbitrarily isn't strictly applying a rule; he could just be picking names out of a hat. an arbitrary decision the arbitrary rule of a dictator
an arbitrary penalty an arbitrary choice Concede concede If you concede something, you admit that it is true, proper, or certainusually in an unwilling way and often in the context of a competition, as in "At midnight, the candidate finally conceded defeat." In its most common senses, a near synonym of concede is acknowledgeif your mom is pointing out that you need sleep before the test, you should concede the truth of what she's saying. But another meaning of concede is to give away or grant something: The leaders are not ready to concede power. Concede is from Latin concdere, from the prefix com-"completely" plus cdere, "to go
along, grant, yield." The corresponding noun is concession. conciliatory conciliatory If you're in a fight with a friend and you want to end it, you should make a conciliatory gesture, such as inviting her to a party you're having. Conciliatorydescribes things that make other people less angry. The context is often a situation in which a dispute is settled by compromise. A synonym is propitiatory, though this adjective usually refers to avoiding the anger of someone who has the power to harm. In the word conciliatory, the ory suffix means "relating to or doing," and the root is from Latin conciliatus, from conciliare "to bring together, win over," from concilium "council.
The verb form is conciliate. It is also connected to words like reconcile and reconciliation. Corroborate corroborate To corroborate is to back someone elses story. If you swear to your teacher that you didn't throw the spitball, and your friends corroborate your story by promising that you were concentrating on math homework, she might actually believe you. For example, a witness in court corroborates the testimony of others, and further experimentation can corroborate a scientific theory. Near synonyms are substantiate and confirm. Corroborate, originally meaning "to support or strengthen," was borrowed from Latin corrborre, formed from the
prefix cor- "completely" plus rborre "to strengthen" (from rbur "strength"). The noun form is corroboration. Dissembling dissembling Dissembling is a tricky way to say "deceiving." If you're good at pretending and lying, you're an expert at dissembling. Dissembling is a fancy word for being tricky, slippery, and deceitful. This word isn't just for people who lie and commit fraud: it specifically has to do with pretending. If you act like you're sorry you ate the last cookie, but you're secretly happy about it, you're dissembling. A good con man needs to be a master of dissembling. Politicians get accused of dissembling all the time because their speeches sound so phony.
dogmatic dogmatic To be dogmatic is to follow a set of rules no matter what. The rules might be religious, philosophical, or made-up, but dogmatic people would never waver in their beliefs so dont even think of trying to change their minds. Choose Your Words pragmatic / dogmatic If you're pragmatic, you're practical. You're living in the real world, wearing comfortable shoes. If you're dogmatic, you follow the rules. You're living in the world you want, and acting a little stuck up about it. Dogmatic goes back to the Greek words dogma, which means basically what one thinks is true and dogmatikos, pertaining to doctrine. To be dogmatic is to follow a doctrine relating to morals and faith, a set of beliefs that is passed down and never questioned. It also refers to arrogant opinions
based on unproven theories or even despite facts. Someone dogmatic might insist that dinosaurs never existed or that women shouldnt drive. Dogmatic people are usually not very popular. eloquent eloquent When you're eloquent, you have a way with words. An eloquent speaker expresses herself clearly and powerfully. Even though eloquent usually describes oral speech, it can also be used to describe powerful writing. Being eloquent is about using words well. All the great writers from English class such as Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, and Virginia Woolf were eloquent. A great orator or speaker like Martin Luther King was eloquent. When something is beautifully, gorgeously, perfect said (or written), it's eloquent. Being eloquent requires your words to be smooth, clear, powerful,
and interesting. To write or speak in an eloquent way takes a lot of work. The noun form is eloquence. elucidate elucidate If you elucidate something, you explain it very clearly. If you don't understand fractions, a visit to the pie shop may elucidate the subject for you. Elucidate is from Late Latin elucidare, from the Latin prefix e- "thoroughly" plus lucidus "clear, bright." This Latin adjective is the source of English lucid, which describes someone who thinks clearly or something that is clear enough to understand.
exacerbate exacerbate For a formal-sounding verb that means to make worse, try exacerbate. If you're in trouble, complaining about it will only exacerbate the problem. Exacerbate is related to the adjective acrid, often used to describe sharpsmelling smoke. Think of exacerbate then as a sharp or bitter thing that makes something worse. A drought will exacerbate a country's food shortage. Worsen, intensify, aggravate and compound are similar, but exacerbate has the sense of an irritant being added in to make something bad even worse. extemporize extemporize
To extemporize is to improvise, especially without preparation. When you extemporize, youre making it up as you go along. In some situations, youre prepared and know exactly what youre going to do. In others, you have to extemporize. A stand-up comedian who makes up jokes on the spot is extemporizing. If a football play breaks down, the quarterback has to scramble and extemporize by coming up with a new play. A public speaker who throws away notes and takes questions is extemporizing. Jazz musicians often extemporize. When you extemporize, even youre not sure what you might end up doing. The adjective form is extemporaneous, which means that its spoken without preparation. galvanize galvanize
The verb galvanize refers to stimulating muscles with an electrical current, and this word is also used to suggest stimulating someone into action. We advise not using electricity in galvanizing children to do their homework. The word galvanize was coined to honor the 18th Century scientist Luigi Galvani, who found that a spark could make a frog's legs move. This discovery led to further studies in bioelectrogenesis, or what Galvani called "animal electricity," and became the basis for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (a novel in which a mad scientist attempts to use electricity to galvanize a monster to life). Nowadays, people use this term much more figuratively, like when they describe galvanizing a political movement or even a sports team into action. Galvanized steel has a protective zinc coating to prevent it from rusting. Until it has that coating, the steel is not ready for action. incongruity
incongruity Incongruity means out of place something that doesn't fit in its location or situation. The art show patrons couldn't help but chuckle at the incongruity of a toilet sitting in the middle of an exhibition of Renaissance paintings. An incongruity is very different from everything around it, to the point of being inappropriate to the situation. A cat at a dog's birthday party would be an incongruity, as would a pacifist at a meeting of the War Lovers' Society. Incongruity is the idea that something is incongruous, or inappropriate. A purple towel is an incongruity in an all black-and-white bathroom. The opposite would be congruity. inherent inherent
Use the adjective inherent for qualities that are considered permanent or cannot be separated from an essential character. We use the adjective inherent to describe attributes that are part of the essential nature of something. It's different from you being tall, rather than being a description, it has to be a quality and this quality is unchangeable. So, for example, if you have never been able to eat spinach, you have an inherent dislike of it. Creating hatred toward Jews was an inherent part of the Nazis propaganda campaign. nuance nuance Use nuance to refer to a very small difference in color, meaning, or feeling.
What makes singers brilliant is not how loud they can sing a note, but how many nuances they can evoke through their approach. Pronounced "NOO-ahns," this noun was borrowed from French in the 18th century and derives ultimately from Latin nbs "a cloud." Think of clouds subtle gradations in color to understand this word. When you say a work of art was nuanced, it means there was a lot to it, but incorporated subtly. Without understanding the finer nuances of sarcasm and satire, you can't enjoy the humor. Obfuscate obfuscate Some people are experts at obfuscatingthe truth by being evasive, unclear, or obscure in the telling of the facts. The people who are good
at obfuscating would include defense lawyers and teenagers asked about their plans for Saturday night. Although the verb obfuscate can be used in any case where something is darkened, less clear, or more obscure, it is most frequently used in reference to things like ideas, facts, issues, or the truth. The usual implied meaning is that this obfuscation is done deliberately. Politicians often obfuscate the truth about the issues to win support for their positions so they can win elections. pragmatic pragmatic To describe a person or a solution that takes a realistic approach, consider the adjective pragmatic. The four-year-old who wants a unicorn for her birthday isn't being very pragmatic.
Choose Your Words pragmatic / dogmatic If you're pragmatic, you're practical. You're living in the real world, wearing comfortable shoes. If you're dogmatic, you follow the rules. You're living in the world you want, and acting a little stuck up about it. The opposite of idealistic is pragmatic, a word that describes a philosophy of "doing what works best." From Greek pragma "deed," the word has historically described philosophers and politicians who were concerned more with real-world application of ideas than with abstract notions. A pragmatic person is sensible, grounded, and practical and doesn't expect a birthday celebration filled with magical creatures. rebut rebut To rebut is to argue against something. If your parents say you're too young and irresponsible to
drive, you can rebut their claim by ticking off examples of your responsibility. Choose Your Words rebut / refute To rebut is to try to prove something isnt true, but to refute is to actually prove it isnt. Getting them mixed up wont get you kicked out of the debate club, but its worth knowing the difference. When you argue against something, you rebut that position or argument. Your school's principal might rebut your teacher's argument that the class is overcrowded by pointing out that there could legally be five more kids in the class. The teacher could rebut the principal's rebuttal by observing that there aren't enough books or seats for the kids in the classroom now. Rebut comes from an old French word rebuter, meaning "to thrust back. The noun form is rebuttal. refutation refutation
A refutation proves that something is false. Refutations pop up often in law debates and philosophical arguments. While a validation tells you something is true, a refutation does the opposite: it says or proves that something is untrue, refuting the claim. In court, a witness might offer a refutation of a suspect's alibi to show he's lying. If someone calls you a liar, you probably should give them a refutation make the case that you're a person who tells the truth. The verb form is refute, which is similar to rebut. repudiate To repudiate something is to reject it, or to refuse to accept or support it. If you grow up religious, but repudiate all organized religion as an adult, you might start spending holidays at the movies, or just going to
work. This verb usually refers to rejecting something that has authority, such as a legal contract, doctrine, or claim. In connection with debts or other obligations, repudiate is used in the specialized sense "to refuse to recognize or pay." If referring to a child or a lover, repudiate is used in the sense "to disown, cast off." This verb is derived from Latin repudiare "to put away, divorce." skepticism Skepticism is doubt about something you're just not convinced or can't totally believe it. If your brother is only four feet tall, you should view his claims that he can slam dunk a basketball with a lot of skepticism. If you like to poke holes in other people's ideas, then you are full of skepticism.
Some people follow a specific belief system that questions the truth of anything, but most people save their skepticism for certain things. Tabloids, Big Foot sightings, and over-eager used car salesmen should all be viewed with a little skepticism. On the other hand, gullible folks believe everything they hear and don't have much, if any, skepticism. Other forms of the word: The adjective form is skeptical, and someone who is skeptical is a skeptic.
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