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Some of the more difficult/less common words. Def. from various dictionaries

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anodyne   a medicine that relieves or allays pain. anything that relieves distress or pain: The music was an anodyne to his grief.  
antepenultimate   third from the end.  
anterior   situated before or at the front of; fore (opposed to posterior ). going before in time or sequence; preceding; earlier: events anterior to the outbreak of war.  
apace   swiftly; quickly.  
aphelion   the point in a planet’s orbit at which it is furthest from the sun. The opposite of PERIHELION.  
apocryphal   widely circulated but unlikely to be true: an apocryphal story. 2 of or belonging to the Apocrypha.  
archipelago   an extensive group of islands. — ORIGIN from Greek arkhi- ‘chief’ + pelagos ‘sea’ (originally a name for the Aegean Sea, notable for its large number of islands).  
askance   with a suspicious or disapproving look.  
bilious   1 relating to bile. 2 affected by nausea or vomiting. 3 spiteful; bad-tempered.  
billet   • a civilian house where soldiers are lodged temporarily. • verb (billeted, billeting) lodge (soldiers) in a civilian house.  
brigand   • a member of a gang of bandits, especially in forested and mountainous areas. — DERIVATIVES brigandage noun. — ORIGIN Italian brigante ‘(person) contending’, related to BRIGADE.  
bromide   1 Chemistry a compound of bromine with another element or group. 2 dated a sedative preparation containing potassium bromide. 3 a trite and unoriginal idea or remark, especially one intended to placate.  
buffet (2)   •(especially of wind or waves) strike repeatedly and violently. • noun dated a blow. — ORIGIN Old French buffeter, from bufe ‘a blow’.  
bursar   a person who manages the financial affairs of a college or school. 2 Scottish a student holding a bursary. — ORIGIN Latin bursarius, from bursa ‘bag, purse’.  
calumny   • the making of false and defamatory statements about someone. • verb (calumnies, calumnied) formal calumniate. — DERIVATIVES calumnious /klumniss/ adjective. — ORIGIN Latin calumnia.  
cajole   persuade (someone) to do something by sustained coaxing or flattery. — DERIVATIVES cajolery noun. — ORIGIN French cajoler.  
carom   1. (Billiards, Pool.) a shot in which the cue ball hits two balls in succession. 2. any strike and rebound, as a ball striking a wall and glancing off. –verb (used without object) 3. to make a carom. 4. to strike and rebound.  
cavil   • make petty objections. • a petty objection. — ORIGIN Latin cavillari, from cavilla ‘mockery’.  
cavalcade   • a procession of vehicles, riders, or people on foot. — ORIGIN Italian cavalcata, from cavalcare ‘to ride’.  
compatriot   a person from the same country; a fellow citizen. — ORIGIN French, from Latin patriota ‘fellow countryman’.  
concatenate   • link together in a chain or series. — DERIVATIVES concatenation noun. — ORIGIN Latin concatenare ‘link together’.  
concomitant   • naturally accompanying or associated. • a concomitant phenomenon. — DERIVATIVES concomitance noun concomitantly adverb. — ORIGIN from Latin concomitari ‘accompany’, from comes ‘companion’.  
contrite   feeling great regret and guilt for something bad that you have done: a contrite apology/expression contritely adverb FORMAL contrition noun [U] FORMAL  
contumacious   • stubbornly or willfully disobedient to authority. — DERIVATIVES contumaciously adverb contumacy noun. — ORIGIN from Latin contumax, perhaps from tumere ‘to swell’.  
cosset   • care for and protect in an overindulgent way. — ORIGIN orginally denoting a lamb brought up by hand, later a spoiled child: probably from Old English, ‘cottar’.  
coterie   • a small exclusive group of people with shared interests or tastes. — ORIGIN French, from Low German kote ‘cote’.  
countermand   • 1 revoke (an order). 2 declare (voting) invalid. — ORIGIN Latin contramandare, from mandare ‘to order’.  
countervail   • offset the effect of (something) by countering it with something of equal force. — ORIGIN from Latin contra valere ‘be of worth against’.  
cygnet   • a young swan. — ORIGIN Old French, from Greek kuknos ‘swan’.  
decamp   • depart suddenly or secretly.  
decathlon   • an athletic event in which each competitor takes part in the same ten events. — DERIVATIVES decathlete noun. — ORIGIN from Greek deka ‘ten’ + athlon ‘contest’.  
decry   • publicly denounce. — ORIGIN originally in the sense decrease the value of coins by royal proclamation: from French décrier ‘cry down’.  
demur   • raise doubts or objections; show reluctance. • noun the action of demurring: they accepted without demur. — DERIVATIVES demurral noun. — ORIGIN Old French demourer, from Latin morari ‘delay’.  
depose   • 1 remove from office suddenly and forcefully. 2 Law testify to or give (evidence) on oath, especially in writing. — ORIGIN Old French deposer, from Latin deponere ‘put down’.  
desist   • cease; abstain. — ORIGIN Latin desistere, from sistere ‘to stop’.  
disbar   • 1 expel (a barrister) from the Bar. 2 exclude. — DERIVATIVES disbarment noun.  
disgorge   • 1 cause to pour out; discharge. 2 bring up or vomit (food). 3 yield or give up (funds, especially when dishonestly acquired). — ORIGIN Old French desgorger, from gorge ‘throat’.  
dissimulate   • hide or disguise one’s thoughts or feelings. — DERIVATIVES dissimulation noun dissimulator noun. — ORIGIN Latin dissimulare ‘to conceal’.  
dotage   • the period of life in which a person is old and weak. — ORIGIN from DOTE + -AGE.  
dudgeon   • deep resentment. — ORIGIN of unknown origin.  
dyspeptic   • 1 relating to or suffering from dyspepsia. 2 irritable.  
editorialize   • (of a newspaper or editor) express opinions rather than just report news.  
effluvia   • an unpleasant or harmful odour or discharge. — ORIGIN Latin.  
encipher   • convert into a coded form.  
endogamy   marriage within a specific tribe or similar social unit.  
ensconce   • establish in a comfortable, safe, or secret place. — ORIGIN originally in the senses fortify and shelter with a fortification: from archaic sconce, denoting a small fort or earthwork, from High German schanze ‘brushwood’.  
epithet   • a word or phrase expressing a quality or attribute of the person or thing mentioned. — ORIGIN Greek epitheton, from epitithenai ‘add’.  
epochal   • 1 a period of time marked by particular events or characteristics. 2 the beginning of a period of history. 3 Geology a division of time that is a subdivision of a period and is itself subdivided into ages. — DERIVATIVES epochal adjective.  
ersatz   • 1 (of a product) made or used as an inferior substitute for something else. 2 not real or genuine: ersatz emotion. — ORIGIN German, ‘replacement’.  
ethos   • the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community. — ORIGIN Greek ethos ‘nature, disposition’.  
esurient   • hungry or greedy.  
estimable   • worthy of great respect.  
espouse   • adopt or support (a cause, belief, or way of life). — ORIGIN Old French espouser, from Latin sponsus ‘betrothed’.  
euphemism   • a mild or less direct word substituted for one that is harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing. — DERIVATIVES euphemistic adjective euphemistically adverb. — ORIGIN Greek euphemismos, from eu ‘well’ + pheme ‘speaking  
eurhythmic   1. characterized by a pleasing rhythm; harmoniously ordered or proportioned. 2. of or pertaining to e.  
excoriate   • 1 (chiefly Medicine) damage or remove part of the surface of (the skin). 2 formal censure or criticize severely. — DERIVATIVES excoriation noun. — ORIGIN Latin excoriare ‘to skin’.  
euthanasia   • the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable disease or in an irreversible coma. — ORIGIN from Greek eu ‘well’ + thanatos ‘death’.  
execrable   extremely bad or unpleasant. — ORIGIN Latin execrabilis, from exsecrari ‘curse’.  
exigent   needing urgent attention, or demanding too much from other people: an exigent problem an exigent manager exigency Show phonetics noun [C or U] FORMAL the difficulties of a situation, especially one which causes urgent demands: the exigencies of wa  
fallow   • 1 (of farmland) ploughed and harrowed but left for a period without being sown. 2 characterized by inactivity. 3 (of a sow) not pregnant. • noun a piece of fallow land. — DERIVATIVES fallowness noun. — ORIGIN Old English.  
fealty   • historical a feudal tenant’s or vassal’s sworn loyalty to a lord. — ORIGIN Old French feaulte from Latin fidelitas ‘fidelity’.  
feckless   • 1 ineffectual; feeble. 2 unthinking and irresponsible. — DERIVATIVES fecklessly adverb fecklessness noun. — ORIGIN from Scots and northern English dialect feck, from effeck, variant of EFFECT.  
fell   1. fierce; cruel; dreadful; savage. 2. destructive; deadly: fell poison; fell disease. —Idiom 3. at or in one fell swoop. swoop (def. 5). Related forms: fellness, noun fell –noun the skin or hide of an animal; pelt.  
filibuster   a. the use of irregular or obstructive tactics by a member of a legislative assembly to prevent the adoption of a measure b. an exceptionally long speech, as one lasting for a day or days, or a series of such speeches to accomplish this purpose.  
ford   1. a place where a river or other body of water is shallow enough to be crossed by wading. –verb (used with object) 2. to cross (a river, stream, etc.) at a ford.  
forfend   • 1 prevent or ward off (something evil or unpleasant). 2 US protect by precautionary measures. — PHRASES God (or Heaven) forfend archaic or humorous used to express dismay at the thought of something.  
gainsay   • deny or contradict; speak against. — ORIGIN from obsolete gain- ‘against’ + SAY.  
gaucherie   • or unsophisticated ways. — ORIGIN French.  
gratis   • free of charge. kindness’.  
gustation   • the action or faculty of tasting. — ORIGIN Latin, from gustare ‘to taste’.  
hapless   • unlucky; unfortunate.  
hector   • talk to in a bullying or intimidating way. — ORIGIN originally denoting a hero, later a braggart or bully: from the Trojan warrior Hector in Homer’s Iliad.  
hegemony   • dominance, especially by one state or social group over others. — DERIVATIVES hegemonic adjective. — ORIGIN Greek hegemonia, from hegemon ‘leader’.  
hemicycle   1. a semicircle. 2. a semicircular structure.  
hidebound   • constrained by tradition or convention; narrow-minded. — ORIGIN originally referring to malnourished cattle, later to emaciated human beings, hence the sense narrow in outlook: from HIDE2 + BOUND4.  
hinterland   • 1 the remote areas of a country, away from the coast and major rivers. 2 the area around or beyond a major town or port. — ORIGIN German, from hinter ‘behind’ + Land ‘land’.  
homonym   • each of two or more words having the same spelling or pronunciation but different meanings and origins. — DERIVATIVES homonymic adjective homonymous adjective homonymy /hmonnimi/ noun. -from homos ‘same’ + onoma ‘name’.  
hutch   • a box or cage for keeping rabbits or other small domesticated animals. — ORIGIN originally in the sense storage chest: from Old French huche, from Latin hutica.  
immure   • confine or imprison. — ORIGIN Latin immurare, from murus ‘wall’.  
importune   • 1 harass with persistent requests. 2 usu. as noun importuning approach to offer one’s services as a prostitute. — ORIGIN Latin importunari, from importunus (see IMPORTUNATE).  
impugn   • dispute the truth, validity, or honesty of. — ORIGIN Latin impugnare ‘assail’.  
incommunicado   • not able to communicate with other people. — ORIGIN Spanish incommunicado, from incomunicar ‘deprive of communication’.  
inculcate   • instill (an idea or habit) by persistent instruction. — DERIVATIVES inculcation noun. — ORIGIN Latin inculcare ‘press in’.  
incumbent   • 1 necessary for (someone) as a duty. 2 currently holding office. • noun the holder of an office or post. — ORIGIN Latin incumbens, from incumbere ‘lie or lean on’.  
incursion   • an invasion or attack, especially a sudden or brief one. — ORIGIN Latin, from incurrere ‘run into or towards’.  
indenture   • 1 a formal agreement, contract, or list, formerly one of which copies with indented edges were made for the contracting parties. 2 an agreement binding an apprentice to a master.  
ingress   • 1 the action or fact of entering or coming in. 2 a place or means of access. — DERIVATIVES ingression noun. — ORIGIN Latin ingressus, from ingredi ‘enter’.  
inimical   • tending to obstruct or harm; hostile. — ORIGIN Latin inimicalis, from inimicus ‘enemy’.  
inquest   • 1 a judicial inquiry to ascertain the facts relating to an incident. 2 Brit. an inquiry by a coroner’s court into the cause of a death. — ORIGIN Old French enqueste, from Latin inquirere, from quaerere ‘speak’.  
insolvent   • 1 having insufficient money to pay debts owed. 2 relating to bankruptcy. • noun an insolvent person. — DERIVATIVES insolvency noun.  
inter   • place (a corpse) in a grave or tomb. — ORIGIN Old French enterrer, from Latin in- ‘into’ + terra ‘earth’.  
interdict   • 1 an authoritative prohibition. 2 (in the Roman Catholic Church) a sentence debarring a person or place from ecclesiastical functions and privileges. • verb /intrdikt/ chiefly N. Amer. prohibit or forbid. — DERIVATIVES interdiction nou  
internecine   • 1 destructive to both sides in a conflict. 2 relating to conflict within a group: internecine rivalries. — ORIGIN Latin internecinus, from inter- ‘among’ + necare ‘to kill’.  
interpose   • 1 insert between one thing and another. 2 intervene between parties. 3 say as an interruption. 4 exercise or advance (a veto or objection). — DERIVATIVES interposition noun.  
interregnum   • a period when normal government is suspended, especially between successive reigns or regimes. — ORIGIN Latin, from inter- ‘between’ + regnum ‘reign’.  
intramural   • 1 situated or done within a building. 2 forming part of normal university or college studies. — ORIGIN from INTRA- + Latin murus ‘wall’.  
intractable   • 1 hard to solve or deal with. 2 stubborn.  
intransigent   • refusing to change one’s views. — DERIVATIVES intransigence noun intransigency noun intransigently adverb.  
inure   • accustom to something, especially something unpleasant. — ORIGIN from an Old French phrase meaning ‘in use or practice’.  
invective   • strongly abusive or critical language. — ORIGIN Latin invectivus ‘attacking’, from invehere  
inveigh   • speak or write about with great hostility. — ORIGIN originally in the sense introduce: from Latin invehere ‘carry in’, invehi ‘be carried into, attack’.  
investiture   • 1 the action of formally investing a person with honors or rank. 2 a ceremony at which this takes place.  
invidious   1. calculated to create ill will or resentment or give offense; hateful: invidious remarks. 2. offensively or unfairly discriminating; injurious: invidious comparisons. 3. causing or tending to cause animosity, resentment, or envy: an invidious honor  
jaundice   • 1 yellowing of the skin due to a bile disorder. 2 bitterness or resentment. — DERIVATIVES jaundiced adjective. — ORIGIN Old French jaunice ‘yellowness’.  
jettison   • 1 throw or drop from an aircraft or ship. 2 abandon or discard. — ORIGIN Old French getaison, from Latin jacere ‘to throw’.  
jibe   2. to be in harmony or accord; agree 3. to utter mocking or scoffing words; jeer.  
jingoism   • extreme patriotism, especially in the form of aggressive foreign policy. — DERIVATIVES jingoist noun jingoistic adjective.  
jubilee   • 1 a special anniversary, especially one celebrating twenty-five or fifty years of something. 2 Jewish History a year of emancipation and restoration, kept every fifty years.  
juggernaut   1. any large, overpowering, destructive force or object, as war, a giant battleship, or a powerful football team. 2. (often lowercase) anything requiring blind devotion or cruel sacrifice.  
keynote   • 1 a prevailing tone or central theme. 2 before another noun (of a speech) setting out the central theme of a conference. 3 Music the note on which a key is based.  
kismet   • destiny; fate. — ORIGIN Arabic, ‘division, portion, lot’.  
kudos   • praise and honor. — USAGE Despite appearances, _____ is not a plural form: there is no singular form kudo, and use as a plural, as in he received many kudos for his work, is incorrect. — ORIGIN Greek.  
lampoon   • publicly satirize or ridicule. • noun a satirical attack. — ORIGIN French lampon, said to be from lampons ‘let us drink’.  
lapidary   • 1 relating to the engraving, cutting, or polishing of stones and gems. 2 (of language) elegant and concise. • noun (pl. lapidaries) a person who cuts, polishes, or engraves stones and gems. — ORIGIN Latin lapidarius, from lapis ‘sto  
larder   • a room or large cupboard for storing food. — ORIGIN originally denoting a store of meat: from Latin lardarium, from lardum ‘lard’.  
legerdemain   • 1 skillful use of one’s hands when performing conjuring tricks. 2 deception; trickery. — ORIGIN from French léger de main ‘dexterous’ (literally ‘light of hand’).  
lissome   • slim, supple, and graceful. — ORIGIN a contraction formed from LITHE + -SOME1.  
lionize   • treat as a celebrity.  
lugubrious   • mournful; sad and dismal. — ORIGIN Latin lugubris, from lugere ‘mourn’.  
macrobiotic   1. of or pertaining to macrobiotics or its dietary practices. 2. of, pertaining to, or serving macrobiotic food: a macrobiotic restaurant. 3. long-lived. 4. lengthening the life span.  
machination   crafty schemes; plots; intrigues.  
maelstrom   • 1 a powerful whirlpool. 2 a scene of confused movement or upheaval. — ORIGIN Dutch, from maalen ‘grind, whirl’ + stroom ‘stream’.  
magnanimous   • generous or forgiving, especially towards a rival or less powerful person. — DERIVATIVES magnanimity noun magnanimously adverb. — ORIGIN from Latin magnus ‘great’ + animus ‘soul’.  
magnate   • a wealthy and influential person, especially in business. — ORIGIN Latin magnas ‘great man’.  
maladroit   • inefficient or ineffective; clumsy.  
malapropism   • the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one (e.g. ‘dance a flamingo’ instead of flamenco). — ORIGIN from the name of the character Mrs Malaprop in Richard Sheridan’s play The Rivals (1775).  
malediction   • a curse. — ORIGIN from Latin maledicere ‘speak evil of’.  
malefactor   • a person who commits a crime or some other wrong. — ORIGIN from Latin malefacere ‘do wrong’.  
malinger   • exaggerate or feign illness in order to escape duty or work. — DERIVATIVES malingerer noun. — ORIGIN from French malingre ‘weak, sickly’.  
malodorous   • smelling very unpleasant.  
manifold   • 1 many and various. 2 having many different forms. • noun 1 a pipe or chamber branching into several openings.  
manumit   to release from slavery or servitude. Origin: 1375–1425; late ME < L manūmittere, earlier manū ēmittere to send away from (one's) hand, i.e., to set free. See manus, emit  
maritime   • 1 relating to shipping or other activity taking place at sea. 2 living or found in or near the sea. 3 (of a climate) moist and temperate owing to the influence of the sea. — ORIGIN Latin maritimus, from mare ‘sea’.  
matrilineal   • based on kinship with the mother or the female line. — DERIVATIVES matrilineally adverb.  
matriculate   • enroll or be enrolled at a college or university. — DERIVATIVES matriculation noun. — ORIGIN Latin matriculare, from matricula ‘register’, diminutive of matrix.  
meretricious   • showily but falsely attractive. ‘prostitute’, from mereri ‘be hired’.  
meridian   • 1 a circle of constant longitude passing through a given place on the earth’s surface and the poles. 2 Astronomy a circle passing through the celestial poles and the zenith of a given place on the earth’s surface.  
minatory   menacing; threatening.  
miscreant   depraved, villainous, or base.  
mollusk   an invertebrate animal of a large group including snails, slugs, and mussels, with a soft unsegmented body and often an external shell. — DERIVATIVES molluscan adjective. — ORIGIN from Latin mollis ‘soft’.  
mordacious   1. biting or given to biting. 2. sharp or caustic in style, tone, etc.  
mordant   • (especially of humor) sharply sarcastic. • noun 1 a substance that combines with a dye and thereby fixes it in a material. 2 a corrosive liquid used to etch the lines on a printing plate. — ORIGIN from Latin mordere ‘to bite’.  
multifarious   • having great variety and diversity; many and varied. — ORIGIN Latin multifarius.  
munificent   • very generous. — ORIGIN Latin munificus, from munus ‘gift’.  
munitions   • military weapons, ammunition, equipment, and stores. — ORIGIN Latin, ‘fortification’, from munire ‘fortify’.  
neonate   • a newborn child or mammal. — ORIGIN from Greek neos ‘new’ + Latin nasci ‘be born’.  
niggling   1. petty; trivial; inconsequential: to quibble about a niggling difference in terminology. 2. demanding too much care, attention, time, etc.: niggling chores about the house.  
nomenclature   1. a set or system of names or terms, as those used in a particular science or art, by an individual or community, etc. 2. the names or terms comprising a set or system.  
nominal   1 existing in name only. 2 relating to or consisting of names. 3 (of a sum of money) very small; far below the real value or cost. 4 Grammar relating to or functioning as a noun. — DERIVATIVES nominally adverb.  
novitiate   • 1 the period or state of being a novice. 2 a religious novice. 3 a place housing religious novices.  
numismatics   • the study or collection of coins, banknotes, and medals. — DERIVATIVES numismatist noun.  


   





 
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