PHON / PHONO Sound, Voice
Cacophonous (adj) – Marked by harsh, negative sound in language
Synonyms: Jarring, Dissonant
Antonyms: Euphonious, pleasant-sounding
Helpful Hints: When you say the word cacophonous out loud, it sounds cacophonous.
Sample Sentence: Chilean sea bass used to be known as Patagonian toothfish, which is a far more cacophonous and unappealing name.
Symphonious (adj) – Harmonious
Synonyms: Coordinated, Melodious
Antonyms: Discordant, Cacophonous
Helpful Hints: Think of a symphony, playing instruments together beautifully
You May Remember: Unit 14 gave us the prefix SYM- which means “Together” – so something symphonious is something that “sounds together” or “sounds good together”
Sample Sentence: The lead singer of the band was kicked out and replaced by a young woman whose voice was much more symphonious with the band’s sound.
Dictum (n) – An authoritative pronouncement
Synonyms: A rule, a precept
Sample Sentence: Posters went up around the city declaring the mayor’s dictum about the new curfew to help curb violent crime.
Indictment (n) – Any accusation, serious criticism or cause for blame (often used in a legal sense)
Synonyms: Allegation, A charge, Prosecution
Antonyms: Absolution, Exoneration (see below)
Helpful Hints: The pronunciation here is “in-DITE-ment”
You May Remember: Unit 5 gave use the prefix IN-, meaning “into” and unit 2 taught us that the -MENT suffix means “the condition of” – so an indictment is literally, “The condition of saying into”, or, far more simply, saying something about someone else (like “butting in” almost)
Sample Sentence: The businessman was not worried about the indictment against him; he knew that he had done nothing illegal in his dealings.
PATH / PATHOS Feeling, Suffering
Empathetic (adj) – The ability to experience the feelings or emotions of another person
Synonyms: Sympathetic, Compassionate
Antonyms: Apathetic, Emotionless
Helpful Hints: The difference between “sympathetic” and “empathetic” is this: If you are sympathetic, you can identify the feelings of another person, but if you are empathetic, you can actually feel that person’s emotions. If your friend’s pet passes away, you would be more likely be empathetic (and not just sympathetic) if you have gone through a similar sadness yourself.
You May Remember: From unit 10, we had the prefix EM- meaning “TO PUT IN” and the suffix -IC, from unit 2, means “Having to do with” – so Empathetic is literally, “Regarding the ‘putting in’ of your feelings,” which is a roundabout way of saying, feeling someone else’s pain, joy, confusion, etc.
Sample Sentence: After having children themselves, new parents often become more empathetic toward other parents whose children are misbehaving in public.
Pathos (n) – A feeling of pity or compassion
Helpful Hints: We are more familiar with the adjective “pathetic” which literally means “pitiful”
Sample Sentence: The happy movie ended with a moment of startling pathos, when the main character’s brother was seen sitting at his desk crying during the final scene.
ONER / ONUS Burden
Exonerate (v) – To clear from blame or accusation
Synonyms: Absolve, Liberate, Exculpate
Antonyms: Incriminate, Blame
You May Remember: We saw in unit 5 that EX- means “Out From” and unit 9 told us that -ATE means “To Become,” so to exonerate someone is to make them become out of the burden (of guilt in this case).
Sample Sentence: The DNA evidence exonerated both of the prime suspects in the burglary, which left the police with no potential culprits.
Onerous (adj) – Burdensome
Synonyms: Oppressive, Taxing, Cumbersome
Sample Sentence: Moving into the new home was exciting, but it came with the onerous task of unloading all of the boxes that they had packed up.
Expeditious (adj) – done with quickness and efficiency
Synonyms: Swift, Rapid, Effective
Antonyms: Pokey, Unhurried
You May Remember: Again, here’s the EX- prefix. The Latin root here gave rise to the Latin word “pedis” which was a chain worn around the feet. So it makes sense that if you are EX-PEDIS (out of the foot-chains), you will be quick!
Sample Sentence: E-mail has become a much more expeditious method of communicating than real mail.
Pedestrian (n) – 1. a walker; a person who travels by foot; (adj) 2. Pertaining to walking 3. Lacking in originality or imagination, dull
Synonyms: 3. Ordinary, Mundane, Boring, Banal
Antonyms: 3. Remarkable, Exceptional, Extraordinary
Helpful Hints: The most common definition here is the noun form (1), which is a person walking about on foot. In our first definition, we can clearly see the PED- root. Regarding dullness, remember that this word comes from a time when it was much more common to travel on foot than it was to ride a horse or be in a carriage. So “pedestrian” took on the meaning of “boring” or “ordinary”
Sample Sentence: (n) We had to slow down for pedestrians much more often during the tourist season in our hometown.
Sample Sentence: (adj) The recent renovations in Burlington have tried to create a more pedestrian downtown area, where residents can access restaurants, cafes, and bookstores on foot.
Monarch (n) – A supreme ruler
Synonyms: Sovereign, King/Queen
Sample Sentence: Although Russia is better without its czars, museums still hold grand and popular displays that show what the life of a Russian monarch was like.
Monotonous (adj) – Tediously lacking in variety
Synonyms: Droning, Pedestrian, Wearisome
Antonyms: Exciting, Lively
Helpful Hints: The difference between “pedestrian” and “monotonous” is that something pedestrian is boring because it is uncreative or commonplace. Something monotonous is boring because it never changes. So a music group that is pedestrian doesn’t take any risks with their music and does what is expected and safe. A monotonous band never changes their style, and sound the same all the time.
Sample Sentence: The Poetry Out Loud performance lost points because of the student’s monotonous delivery, which buried the meaning of the lines of the poem.
Obliterate (v) – To destroy completely
Synonyms: Annihilate, Wipe Out
Sample Sentence: The Pirates obliterated the Yankees in the three-game series, outscoring them 31 to 2.
Obtrusive (adj) – Forcing something unwanted (often an opinion) upon someone
Synonyms: Meddlesome, Nosy
Sample Sentence: The younger sibling kept being obtrusive, tagging along with his older sister and her friends, asking, “So what are we doing today?”
Perimeter (n) – 1. The outer boundary of a figure 2. The outer limit
Synonyms: Circumference, Confines, Boundary
Antonyms: Center, Interior
You May Remember: Our previous unit showed us that METER means “measure, so the perimeter of a circle or of an area is the “Measurement Around” it – or the boundary.
Sample Sentence: The hills surrounding Seattle act as a natural perimeter to the city, which cannot easily expand any farther out from the city center.
Peripheral (adj) – 1. Situated in the outermost area 2. Trivial or unimportant
Synonyms: 2. Minor, Irrelevant, Secondary
Antonyms: Crucial, Major
Helpful Hints: For the first definition, think of your peripheral vision – the stuff that you see without looking directly at it. To help with the second definition, remember that you look at important things, and the unimportant stays in your peripheral vision.
Sample Sentence: Because the microphone failed, it was difficult to hear the speech if you were sitting in the peripheral seats in the auditorium.