CATA Away from, Down
Cataclysm (n) – a violent natural disaster; a sudden social or political upheaval
Synonyms: Calamity, Disaster, Catastrophe; Upheaval, Uproar
Helpful Hints: Earthquakes, and especially floods, are seen as cataclysms, as are periods of war and rebellion.
Sample Sentence: The cataclysm devastated the valley, uprooting plants and trees.
Sample Sentence: The cataclysm of the French Revolution profoundly changed the course of modern history.
Catastrophe (n) – a sudden and terrible disaster
Synonyms: Apocalypse, Calamity, Cataclysm, Disaster
Helpful Hints: Catastrophe is synonymous with cataclysm, above, and apocalypse, below. It can refer to a natural disaster or a tragedy, from extreme misfortune to total ruin.
Sample Sentence: The dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima was a catastrophe with far-reaching consequences.
APO From, Away
Apocalypse (n) – an event that involves catastrophic destruction; the final destruction of the world
Synonyms: Disaster, Catastrophe, Cataclysm; Armageddon
You May Remember: See catastrophe and cataclysm above.
Helpful Hints: Much of today’s YA dystopian literature, such as The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent, is set following an apocalypse.
Sample Sentence: The psychic predicted an apocalypse in which nuclear fallout and raging fires would devastate the planet.
Apogee (n) – The highest or most distant point in the development of something
Synonyms: Climax, Pinnacle, Apex, Zenith
Antonyms: Rock Bottom, Nadir, Perigee
Helpful Hints: In astronomy, the apogee is the point in a satellite’s orbit when it is farthest form the earth.
Sample Sentence: The apogee of Tristan’s educational career was walking across the stage to receive his doctorate.
Definitive (adj) – final and decided; fully developed and extremely accurate
Synonyms: Decisive, Conclusive; Authoritative
Antonyms: Indecisive, Inconclusive
Helpful Hints: A definitive decision puts an end to all discussion and debate. You can also read a definitive biography of a famous individual, meaning it is thought to be the best, most completely accurate book out about that individual.
You May Remember: The prefix “de” means down or away. Therefore definitive literally means “down” to the “end.”
Sample Sentence: Barrack Obama was the definitive choice for the Democratic Party.
Finite (adj) – Having limits; measurable
Synonyms: Limited, Bounded, Circumscribed
Antonyms: Boundless, Infinite, Immeasurable
Sample Sentence: The mother gave the child a finite number of choices for dinner so he wouldn’t spend hours perusing the menu.
Sate (v) – To satisfy fully; to fill up with more than enough
Synonyms: Gorge, Glut, Cram, Satiate
Helpful Hints: You can sate an appetite or a desire. Sating your thirst would mean drinking until you were no longer thirty. Sating your curiosity would mean putting an end to it by meeting your needs fully. For example, John sated his curiosity by asking the panel why he did not get the job.
Sample Sentence: Nothing could sate Prima’s thirst for vengeance against the man who shot her mother.
Insatiable (adj) – Impossible to satisfy
Synonyms: Unquenchable, Unappeasable, Inextinguishable, Unslakeable
Antonyms: Satisfiable, Appeasable, Extinguishable, Satiable
Helpful Hints: Like sate, insatiable can relate to an appetite or a desire. You can have an insatiable hunger for food or an insatiable desire to succeed. An insatiable individual always craves more.
You May Remember: The prefix “in” means “not”; broken down, insatiable means “not” “able” to be “enough.”
Sample Sentence: Milan’s insatiable need for promotion kept her working late into the night.
MATR / MATER Mother
Matriarch (n) – a female ruler of a family or group; a mother who serves as the head of her family line
You May Remember: “arch” means “chief” or “leader.” Therefore, a matriarch is a mother-leader or the chief/head mother of a family or group.
Sample Sentence: Since her accession in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II has been the matriarch of England.
Metropolis (n) – a large city; often, the chief or capital city of an area
Synonyms: City, Municipality, Megalopolis
Helpful Hints: If you are a comic book fan, Metropolis is the fictional name of a massive, wealthy city that is home to Superman. Metropolis comes from “metro” meaning mother and “polis” meaning city (mother city = large city / main city)
Sample Sentence: Citizens of the New York City boast of the famed metropolis’s innovative architecture and groundbreaking art.
PATR / PATER Father
Patronize (v) – 1. To give money or support 2. To act in an overly condescending way toward someone or something 3. To be a regular customer or client of
Synonyms: 1. Support, Endorse; 2. Talk down, Condescend
Helpful Hints: To help you remember the first definition, think about a father protecting his child by providing necessary support. A “patron” is a supporter of something (“a patron of the arts”). In the Elizabethan age, Shakespeare sought out patrons to support or patronize his theatre. To remember the second, think about a father talking down to his child. People do not enjoy being patronized.
You may remember: To “condescend” means to act in a way that indicates someone believes himself superior to someone else.
Sample Sentence 1: Ethan patronizes the symphony by providing a monthly donation online.
Sample Sentence 2: I refused to ask my sister for help with my math homework because I knew she would only patronize me.
Sample Sentence 3: I prefer to patronize the Apple Store over Best Buy.
Patrician (n) – a person of high rank; a nobleman (adj) of high rank or nobility
Synonyms: (n) Noble, Aristocrat, Blue blood (adj) Highborn, Upperclass, Genteel
Antonyms: (n) Commoner, Plebeian; (adj) Common, Lowly, Baseborn
Helpful Hints: Your rank depends on who your father is.
Sample Sentence: The ancient struggle between plebeian an patrician is alive an well; one only has to look at today’s schools to see the financial disparity between the haves and the have-nots.
TRIB Pay, Bestow
Attribute (v) – 1. to explain as the cause of something 2. to think of as a characteristic of a person or thing (n) – a characteristic or quality belonging to a person or thing
Synonyms: (v) 1. Accredit, Ascribe, Impute (n) Trait, Characteristic, Quality, Hallmark
Helpful Hints: The pronunciation of the verb form is different from that of the noun form of the word: (v) uh–trib-yoot; (n) a-truh-byoot (to listen to them pronounced, click on the link for attribute above).
Sample Sentence 1: Some critics attribute Michael Phelps’s swimming success to natural abilities, while others credit good training.
Sample Sentence 2: I attribute kindness to nuns.
Sample Sentence 3: One attribute of the gorilla is its enormous size for a primate.
Retribution (n) – punishment for wrongdoing, especially evil
Synonyms: Revenge, Vengeance, Retaliation, Reprisal
Helpful Hints: Think payback.
Sample Sentence: “An eye for an eye” is the principle of retribution that insists a person who has injured another is to be penalized to a similar degree.
QUER / QUES / QUIR / QUIS Ask
Query (n) – 1. A question or request for information 2. A doubt (v) 1. To ask or inquire about something 2. To express doubt about something
Synonyms: (n) 1. Question, Request, Inquiry 2. Uncertainty, Suspicion, Skepticism
(v) 1. Ask, Question, Interrogate 2. Dispute, Challenge, Contest
Antonyms: (n) 1. Answer, Reply, Response 2. Assurance, Belief, Conviction
(v) 1. Answer, Reply, Respond 2. Accept, Believe, Embrace
Helpful Hints: A question mark (?) is also known as a query.
Sample Sentence 1: The principal asked students to respond via email to his query about clubs by the end of the day.
Sample Sentence 2: Fans at will likely have a query about show’s unrealistic cliffhanger.
Sample Sentence 3: Suzanna queried the teacher about the expectation for the final project.
Sample Sentence 4: The reporter queried the president’s most recent statement on healthcare.
Inquisitive (adj) – Tending to ask questions; intellectually curious
Helpful Hints: Being inquisitive often has positive connotations; however, the word can also be used to describe someone who tends to ask too many questions or is nosy.
Sample Sentence: Showing up 10 minutes late for class resulted in inquisitive stares from her classmates.