Unqualified (adj) – Absolute or complete
Synonyms: thorough, total
Helpful Hints: Yes, of course, this word can also mean “Not Qualified” or “Not Able”. But in this case, remember that to qualify a statement means to make an excuse about it or to weaken it.
Sample Sentence: The operation was an unqualified success, with the patient feeling no adverse side effects.
Unyielding (adj) – Not giving way under pressure; inflexible; firm
Synonyms: determined, relentless
Antonyms: flexible, yielding
Helpful Hints: If you think of someone refusing to slow down at a YIELD sign, that driver is determined to continue and cannot be stopped
Sample Sentence: The kids were unyielding on Halloween, continuing to go to the old man’s house even though his lights were off, and he had put up a sign that read, “NO CANDY.”
Ambiguous (adj) – 1. Open to having several different meanings or interpretations 2. Lacking clearness or definiteness; obscure; indistinct; vague
Synonyms: unclear, obscure
Antonyms: clear, unequivocal
Helpful Hints: An ambidextrous person can use BOTH left and right hands equally well.
Sample Sentence: When I asked for feedback, my cousin was pretty ambiguous, and I couldn’t tell whether or not she liked my performance.
Ambivalent (adj) – Having “mixed feelings” about someone or something; being unable to choose between two (usually opposing) courses of action
Synonyms: contradictory, doubtful, hesitant
Antonyms: certain, definite
Sample Sentence: When given the option of traveling to San Diego or Seattle, Mary was pretty ambivalent, as she really wanted to visit both places equally.
Automate (v) – To make a process mechanical or mindless
Helpful Hints: Self-operating machines, such as an ATM (automatic teller machine), enable one to perform bank transactions without the need for a bank teller.
Sample Sentence: Some grocery stores have automated the payment process, allowing customers to insert bills and coins into a machine instead of handing it to a cashier.
Autonomy (n) – 1. Independence or freedom in one’s actions 2. Self-government; political independence
Sample Sentence: The college freshman was overwhelmed by his new autonomy, and he secretly wished he still had to live under his parents’ rules.
CONTRA- / COUNTER- Against
Contradict (v) – 1. To assert the opposite of; to deny 2. To speak contrary to the assertions of another (or of oneself)
Synonyms: dispute, differ
Antonyms: accept, agree
Sample Sentence: One of Emma’s more annoying characteristics is her tendency to contradict whatever I say, no matter what the topic of discussion is.
Counterfeit (adj) – Fake; made to fraudulently resemble something valuable
Synonyms: false, phony, forged
Antonym: genuine, authentic
Sample Sentence: Bert was disappointed to discover that the prized Renoir painting that he had inherited from his mother was in fact a counterfeit and entirely worthless.
-TY / -ITY Quality of Being
Hilarity (n) – Great humorousness; cheerfulness; merriment
Synonyms: amusement, mirth
Antonyms: sadness, depression, gloom
Helpful Hints: Hilarious (adj) entertainment, such as comedians or funny TV shows, make us laugh.
Sample Sentence: The commercials for the movie made it look like two hours of nonstop hilarity, but in reality, it was pretty lame.
Tenacity (n) – 1. The quality of holding fast; characterized by keeping a firm hold 2. Firmness of purpose; persistence
Synonyms: determination, perseverance, stubbornness, obstinacy
Helpful Hints: For the first definition, think of a “firm hold” on a belief or a course of action, not a firm hold on an item. A small child in a tug-of-war would have tenacity if he refused to quit, but NOT because he’s gripping the rope really well.
Sample Sentence: The talented senior thought her position on the team was secure, but when she saw the freshman’s tenacity, she knew she had to try as hard as possible to remain the starting point guard.
SUPER- Over, Above
Superfluous (adj) – 1. Being more than is sufficient or required; excessive 2. Unnecessary or needless
Synonyms: extra, excess, surplus
Antonyms: needed, necessary
Sample Sentence: Hannah began to find the gifts from her secret admirer to be superfluous—how many bouquets of flowers could she possibly receive in a single week?
Surfeit (n) – 1. An excessive or immoderate amount 2. Overindulgence, esp. in eating or drinking 3. Disgust, nausea, etc. caused by such overindulgence
Synonyms: oversupply, abundance, glut, superfluity
Antonyms: lack, shortage, deficiency
Helpful Hints: In plain English, a “surfeit” of anything simply means you have too much of it (like on Thanksgiving!)
Sample Sentence: Due to a shipping error, the store had a surfeit of loaves of bread and had to sell them at an incredibly reduced price so they wouldn’t go bad.
Transcend (v) – 1. To rise above or go beyond; exceed 2. To outdo or exceed in excellence, elevation, extent, degree, etc.
Synonyms: outdo, outshine, excel, surpass
Sample Sentence: Natalia’s essays were always superior, but her insightful paper on Romeo and Juliet transcended even her teacher’s lofty expectations and received an A+.
Transitory (adj) – Lasting only a short time; brief
Synonyms: short-lived, temporary, transient, ephemeral
Antonyms: long-lasting, endless, permanent, enduring
Helpful Hints: Perhaps you will remember that a person who is “in transit” is passing between two places, and is not settling in permanently
Sample Sentence: After the house fire, the family had to set up their transitory residence in a hotel for three weeks.
Profligate (adj) – 1. immoral, corrupt 2. recklessly extravagant
Synonyms: 1. shameless, degenerate, depraved 2. wasteful, immoderate
Antonyms: 1. good, moral, upright 2. thrifty, frugal
Sample Sentence: Some people, upon winning the lottery, become profligate spenders, burning through large chunks of wealth in no time at all.
Profound (adj) – Of deep meaning; going beyond what is superficial and obvious
Synonyms: deep, insightful
Antonyms: shallow, superficial
Sample Sentence: Sometimes it is fun to read a book that doesn’t make you think too hard, but it can be equally enjoyable to read something profound that changes the way you see the world.