A-/AN-     Not, Without

Agnostic (adj) – 1. Holding that the existence of God is unknown and unknowable  2. Having a doubtful or noncommittal attitude towards something.   (n) an agnostic person

Synonyms: (adj) unbelieving, doubting, skeptical  (n) skeptic, doubter
Antonyms: (adj) believing  (n) believer, theist
Helpful Hints: an agnostic person believes the existence of God is unknowable, whereas an atheistic individual denies the existence of God.
Sample Sentence: After the string of tragedies in her life, her faith in her religion was shaken, and she began to see herself as agnostic.

Anomaly (n) – Something unusual, odd, or unexpected; an incongruity or inconsistency

Synonyms: oddity, exception, deviation, aberration, abnormality
Antonyms: normality, regularity
Sample Sentence: The students grew used to the routine of their schedule pretty quickly and were thrown off by any anomaly like PARCC testing or snow delays.


-OR / -ER     One Who Does

Instigator (n) – 1. Someone or something that starts a fight or stirs up trouble  2. Someone or something that provokes a response

Synonyms: 1. troublemaker, incendiary, rabble-rouser  2. catalyst
Sample Sentence: The defenseman wasn’t the most talented player, but he was a skilled instigator and could make almost any opponent lose his cool.

Purveyor (n) – 1. A person, organization, etc, that supplies food and provisions  2. A person who spreads, repeats, or sells something (information, lies, etc)

Synonyms: supplier, provider, provisioner
Antonyms: 1. dependent
Helpful Hints: a purveyor of goods; a purveyor of truth
Sample Sentence: After a long, successful career as an English teacher, the man retired, bought a store on Main Street, and became a purveyor of used books.


INTER-     Between

Intermittent (adj) – Alternately stopping and starting again

Synonyms: irregular, recurrent, periodic, sporadic
Antonyms: constant, perpetual, continual
Helpful Hints: You may have heard of intermittent windshield wiper blades; that’s when the wipers pause for a few seconds before wiping the windshield again
Sample Sentence: Her success as a poet was intermittent; she sometimes had long, wildly successful stretches, while at other times, she couldn’t produce anything good.

Intervene (v) To come between disputing people, groups, etc; intercede

Synonyms: referee, mediate, arbitrate
Antonyms: overlook, condone
Helpful Hints: If you have ever heard people speak of having an intervention, that is the noun form – they are intervening between someone and his or her harmful situation
Sample Sentence: The two neighboring countries were getting aggressive, and several international organizations had to intervene to prevent a border war.


MAL- / MALE-     Bad, Evil

Maladroit (adj) – unskillful; awkward; bumbling

Synonyms: clumsy, inept
Antonyms: graceful, artful, dexterous
Sample Sentence: Although he was an excellent singer and could speak four languages, Clarence was embarrassingly maladroit at athletic competitions.

Malnutrition (n) – Lack of proper nourishment, inadequate diet

Synonyms: malnourishment, starvation
Antonyms: nourishment
Sample Sentence: On his third day stranded in the desert without any food, Elroy began to worry about the mental effects of malnutrition.


NOV     New

Novelty (n) – 1. The state of being new, original, or unusual  2. A new occurrence   3. Something whose value is decorative and whose appeal is temporary

Synonyms: 1. newness, originality, uniqueness   3. knickknack, trinket, bauble
Antonyms: 1. sameness, oldness
Helpful Hints: 1. the novelty of freshman year; 2. ice cream for breakfast was a novelty; 3. the gift shop sold various novelties
Sample Sentence: If you’re getting swept away by the latest iPad game craze, give it a few months and the novelty will eventually wear off.

Novice (n) – A beginner  (adj) – Inexperienced

Synonyms: (n) newcomer, amateur, neophyte  (adj) unaccustomed, unseasoned, amateur
Antonyms: (n) expert, professional, veteran,  (adj) expert, accomplished, consummate
Sample Sentence: Even the greatest musicians all began as novices, struggling to avoid mistakes.


-LOGY     The Study Of

Ideology (n) – A belief system that guides a person or group

Helpful Hint: Calling someone “ideological” can sometimes carry a negative connotation, as if to suggest that the person is blinded by the belief system or is too unbending in what he or she will believe
Sample Sentence: Because his personal ideology was based on mutual trust in the goodness of man, Jason rarely worried about getting mugged and accidentally put himself in dangerous situations.

Psychology (n) – The science of the mind

Helpful Hint: psychology can also be used to mean “mindset,” such as the psychology of a teenager
Sample Sentence: Just because he had taken an introductory college course in psychology, Dan felt he could understand what everyone was feeling and why they felt it.


RE- (1)     Again

Recrimination (n) – The act of making a countercharge against one’s accuser

Synonyms: counterattack, counteraccusation, retaliation
Sample Sentence: After Abby had sued her former employers for wrongful termination, the company sued her in an act of recrimination.

Rehash (v) – To reuse or make over without substantial change (regarding old or already used material)

Synonyms: rework
Helpful Hints: rehash is typically used to mean reiterate or “to discuss again,” as in John rehashed his concerns at the meeting.
Sample Sentence: The committee stopped paying attention at the meeting when John began to rehash his same old concerns about the safety of the fire escapes.


PRE-     Before

Precursor (n) – 1. A person or thing that comes before, as in a job, a method, etc.  2. Something that goes before and indicates the approach of someone or something else

Synonyms: 1. forerunner, predecessor  2. herald, harbinger
Sample Sentence: The LaserDisc did not last long but was an important precursor to the CD and DVD.

Presumption (n) – An assumption that something is true, usually on reasonable grounds or probable evidence

Synonyms: hypothesis, speculation, conjecture, supposition
Antonyms:  fact
Helpful Hints: presumption of guilt; Presumption can also be used to mean an attitude that is boldly arrogant
Sample Sentence: After seeing the familiar crime scene, the police chief called Doug in for questioning, based on the presumption that Doug still hadn’t changed his ways since the last three times he was arrested.

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