Adversity (n) – A condition or situation marked by misfortune, calamity, or distress

Synonyms: Affliction, Hardship
Antonyms: Fortune, Prosperity
Sample Sentence: Despite a childhood filled with adversity, Jenny went on to have a successful career in business. 

Aural (adj) – Of or pertaining to the ear or to the sense of hearing

Synonym: Auditory
Sample Sentence: Notes written on the board can be helpful for students who struggle with aural comprehension.

Bolster (v) – to add to, support or uphold

Synonyms: Buttress, Reinforce, Strengthen, Sustain
Antonyms: Hinder, Obstruct, Prevent
Sample Sentence: Your English teacher might ask you to bolster your assertions with quotations and analysis.

Circuitous (adj) – Roundabout; Not direct

Synonyms: Rambling, Meandering
Antonyms: Direct, Straight
Helpful Hints: You should see the same root in “circuitous” as in the word “circle”; if you take a circuitous route, you might circle around your destination rather than going straight there.
Sample Sentence: If you leave class to go to the bathroom, you should go straight there; don’t take a circuitous route past all your friends’ classrooms.

Cumulative (adj) – Increasing or growing by accumulation or successive additions

Synonyms: Aggregate, Summative
Antonyms: Decreasing, Separate
Sample Sentence: While one cigarette probably won’t kill you, the cumulative effect of years of smoking is extremely detrimental to your health.

Detritus (n) – The remains of anything broken down or destroyed; Debris

Synonyms: Remains, Trash, Dregs
Antonyms: Foundation, Essence, Core
Sample Sentence: Archeologists search through the detritus of ancient societies–broken dishes, abandoned tools, collapsed houses–searching for clues about how people lived.

Drone – (n) A remote control mechanism, as a radio-controlled airplane or boat (v) 1. to make a dull, continued, low, monotonous sound 2. to speak in a dull, monotonous manner (usually followed by “on”: “to drone on” about something)

Synonyms: (v) Buzz, Intone, Vibrate, Whirr
Antonyms: (v) Emote, Articulate
Sample Sentence: (n) The President has been criticized for his use of drones to launch attacks on enemy targets while the American operators stay at a safe distance. (v) I find it hard to keep listening when someone drones on about a topic I’m not interested in.

Exemplar (n) – A perfect model or pattern to be copied or imitated

Synonyms: Epitome, Ideal, Archetype, Illustration, Paragon
Antonym: Opposite
Helpful Hints: You should recognize the synonym “epitome” from our last unit.
Sample Sentence: When writing a paper, it can be helpful to look at an exemplar: not to copy the ideas, but to see effective writing techniques and patterns of analysis.

Fawning (adj) – Seeking notice or favor with a servile demeanor

Synonyms: Subservient, Abject, Obsequious, Passive, Submissive
Antonyms: Aggressive, Dominant
Helpful Hints: You should recognize the synonym “servile” from unit 4.
Sample Sentence: As there was only one opening for a permanent job at the company, the interns all adopted fawning attitudes toward the boss–bringing her coffee, offering to walk her dog, and following her around in case she needed anything else done for her.

Grating (adj) – 1. Irritating or unpleasant to one’s feelings 2. Harsh, discordant, or rasping to one’s ears

Synonyms: Annoying, Dissonant, Strident
Antonyms: Pleasing, Soothing
Helpful Hints: Think of fingernails on a chalkboard.

Sample Sentence: The grating sound of my neighbor’s power drill made it difficult to concentrate on my homework.

Orator (n) – A public speaker, especially one of great eloquence

Synonyms: Lecturer, Reciter
Antonym: Listener
Sample Sentence: Politicians should be effective orators so they can convince people of their ideas.

Irony (n) – The use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning

Sample Sentence: When the wiring in his smoke detector caught on fire, Pete wavered between crying at his burnt living room and laughing at the irony.

Lucid (adj) – 1. Easily understood; Completely intelligible or comprehensible 2. Characterized by a clear perception or understanding; Rational or sane

Synonyms: Distinct, Unambiguous
Antonyms: Clouded, Hazy, Obscure, Unclear, Vague
Sample Sentence: It took hours for the car accident victim to wake up after surgery, and several days before he was lucid enough to describe the accident.

Nefarious (adj) – Extremely wicked or villainous; Infamous

Synonyms: Corrupt, Depraved, Evil
Antonyms: Honorable, Respectable, Virtuous, Worthy
Sample Sentence: Jack the Ripper is considered a nefarious killer because of the multiple gruesome murders he committed in London in the 1880s.

Penitent (adj) – Feeling or expressing sorrow for sin or wrongdoing; Repentant; Contrite

Synonyms: Apologetic, Remorseful, Sorry
Antonyms: Unashamed, Unrepentant, Shameless, Defiant
Sample Sentence: Many people become penitent only after they have been caught.

Prosaic (adj) – Commonplace or dull; Matter-of-fact or unimaginative

Synonyms: Banal, Lifeless, Mundane
Antonyms: Creative, Imaginative, Interesting
Sample Sentence: I often need a second opinion to determine whether my own writing is creative genius or prosaic drivel.

Reticent (adj) – Tending to be silent or not to speak freely; Quiet; Reserved

Synonyms: Secretive, Shy, Taciturn
Antonyms: Forthcoming, Talkative, Communicative
Sample Sentence: It can be difficult for more reticent students to participate in class discussions.

Solicitous (adj) – 1. Anxious or concerned (solicitous about a person’s health) 2. Anxiously desiring (solicitous of others’ respect) 3. Eager (solicitous to please)

Synonyms: Attentive, Amiable, Compliant, Deferential, Submissive
Antonyms: Unconcerned, Inconsiderate, Antagonistic, Disagreeable
Sample Sentence: You should all be solicitous of feedback when revising an essay; others’ opinions can be very informative.

Surreptitious (adj) – Stealthy; Secret or unauthorized; Hidden

Synonyms: Covert, Furtive
Antonyms: Honest, Open
Sample Sentence: Students often think they’re being more surreptitious than they really are when texting under their desks.

Voluminous (adj) – 1. Filling or sufficient to fill a large volume or many volumes 2. Of ample size, extent, or fullness; Large

Synonyms: Abundant, Expansive, Vast
Antonyms: Small, Tiny, Lacking
Sample Sentence: Sometimes, taking voluminous notes is necessary; other times, concise, carefully chosen notes work just as well.

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