Adulation (n) – Excessive devotion to someone, treating someone like an idol
Sample Sentence: Unlike most other young musicians, the band did not pay much attention to the adulation they were receiving from their fans, but focused on their music instead.
Antagonist (n) – Any person or thing that struggles against another (often used in literature)
Synonyms: Enemy, Rival
Antonyms: Protagonist, Assistant
Helpful Hints: Antagonists in literature can be anything – a person, the weather, fate, or even the character him or herself. It does NOT have to be an evil character.
Sample Sentence: Jack, the island, and his own fears are all among Ralph’s antagonists in Lord of the Flies
Bias (n/v) – n. A prejudice or a favoritism v. To make someone become influenced
Synonym: n. Preconception
Helpful Hints: While “bias” often seems to have a negative connotation, it does not have to. Your tastes in movies, sports teams, and music are all biases of a sort. A prejudice, on the other hand, is always negative.
Sample Sentence: (n) – Over the years, Doug revealed his bias toward unusual Halloween costumes, which he spent more and more time creating each year. (v) Samantha tried to bias her friends toward the swim team, since she had so many other swimmer friends.
Chicanery (n) – Trickery; Attempt to deceive
Antonyms: Sincerity, Honesty
Sample Sentence: Their poker games always eroded into chicanery, with players trying to hide cards in their sleeves and under their hats.
Conviction (n) – 1. A firm belief 2. An official statement of guilt
Synonyms: 1. View, Belief
Helpful Hints: If it helps understand these two different meanings, a criminal conviction is the judge or the jury’s firm statement of belief that the accused is actually guilty.
Sample Sentence: Although she didn’t agree with her husband’s political protesting, she was pleased to see him displaying his convictions so openly.
Desolate (adj) – 1. Devoid of life 2. Sad and hopeless
Synonyms: 1. Barren 2. Dismal
Antonyms: 1. Lush 2. Upbeat, Optimistic
Sample Sentence: Surrounding the statue of Ozymandias is a desolate landscape, with nothing but sand for as far as the eye could see.
Dispatch (v/n) – v. 1. To send someone or something with great speed 2. To kill n. The sending of a letter or message
Helpful Hints: Think of a police dispatcher, who quickly sends out notices to officers about crimes in progress.
Sample Sentence: (v) To find out about his enemy’s army, the prince dispatched his entire horde of spies across the border. (n) The dispatch didn’t reach the king in time to prevent the war.
Enigma (n) – A puzzle, a riddle
Synonyms: Conundrum, Mystery, Paradox
Sample Sentence: How the dog managed to eat the donuts out of the box on the countertop without leaving any evidence was an enigma.
Finagle (v) – To trick or swindle
Helpful Hints: The next time you are in Finagle-A-Bagel, if you give them photocopied money as a payment, you will actually be trying to finagle a bagel.
Sample Sentence: By polishing the terrible used car and resetting the odometer, the salesman hoped to finagle someone out of his hard-earned money.
Galvanize (v) – 1. To stir into action, to stimulate 2. To coat metal with zinc
Synonyms: 1. To fire up, to spur
Sample Sentence: The corruption in the government galvanized a lot of citizens to register to vote in the next election.
Impudent (adj) – Moderately disrespectful, cheeky
Synonyms: Saucy, Fresh, Sassy
Helpful Hints: While impudence has a negative connotation, it is somewhat mild.
Sample Sentence: His imitation of his mother was impudent, but it was not meant to be hurtful.
Irreproachable (adj) – Unable to be criticized
Synonyms: Blameless, Perfect
Antonyms: Culpable, Impeachable
Sample Sentence: Even though the detective’s work was irreproachable – she followed up on every lead and put in countless hours – the suspect was never found.
Manifesto (n) – A public statement of values or objectives
Helpful Hints: A manifesto is often political in nature, where a group or an individual lays out a set of beliefs or rules that they think people should follow.
Sample Sentence: When the group of artists started their workshop, they posted their manifesto on the wall, spelling out their main themes, goals, and biases.
Obdurate (adj) – Stubbornly unwilling to change an opinion, Unwilling to listen to reason
Synonyms: Obstinate, Pig-Headed
Antonyms: Open-Minded, Reasonable
Sample Sentence: In most cases, Steve was a good listener, but when it came to gun rights, he was obdurately opposed to firearms altogether.
Penurious (adj) – Incredibly stingy
Antonyms: Generous, Altruistic
Helpful Hints: This word also sometimes suggests a stinginess that comes from a lack of money, not just by choice. So someone penniless might also be penurious.
Sample Sentence: She remembered back to her first job, and how meager her paychecks were; she was embarrassed by how penurious she was, making needless cutbacks on her spending.
Propaganda (n) – Ideas and information spread to help sway the public’s opinion
Sample Sentence: Leading up to the election, the news channel began spreading rumors and propaganda in the hopes of making people vote for their preferred candidate.
Restrain (v) – 1. To hold back from action, To keep in control 2. To limit the freedom of someone or something
Synonyms: 1. Constrain, Check
Antonyms: 1. To Loose, Liberate 2. Emancipate
Sample Sentence: When the fight broke out, several people had to be restrained from entering the brawl.
Serene (adj) – Peaceful
Synonyms: Calm, Tranquil
Antonyms: Chaotic, Noisy
Sample Sentence: At seven in the morning, as the lifeguards were skimming the pool, they noted how serene the setting was, and knew it would not be long before they were surrounded with rambunctious noise.
Sustain (v) – 1. To support a burden 2. To continue in an action, To keep going
Synonyms: 1. Carry 2. Maintain
Sample Sentence: His first album was hailed by the critics, but he was unable to sustain that success, and soon retired from music.
Versatility (n) – The ability to do many things well
Sample Sentence: The woman’s versatility in the workplace ensured that she was able to remain employed, even during times of furious layoffs.