Ameliorate (v) – To make better; To improve
Synonyms: Alleviate, Mitigate, Relieve
Antonyms: Worsen, Harm, Hinder, Hurt
Sample Sentence: When two people are in a fight, discussing the issues can often ameliorate the situation.
Axiom (n) – 1. A self evident truth that requires no proof 2. A universally accepted principle or rule
Synonyms: Principle, Adage, Maxim, Moral, Proverb
Sample Sentence: “You should treat others as you want to be treated” is a popular axiom.
Belittle (v) – To represent or speak of as small or unimportant; To trivialize something or someone
Synonyms: Criticize, Deprecate, Deride, Disparage, Insult
Antonyms: Praise, Respect, Value
Helpful Hints: The word “little” should help you here; to “belittle” something is to make it seem “little” or unimportant.
Sample Sentence: It upsets me when you belittle my concerns rather than taking them seriously.
Coerce (v) – To persuade by force, intimidation or authority; To dominate by exploiting fear; To obtain something by use of force
Synonyms: Compel, Force, Oblige
Antonyms: Surrender, Yield
Sample Sentence: When people do not choose to follow them, dictators might coerce their populace into obeying their orders.
Curtail (v) – 1. To reduce or diminish; To cut short 2. To restrict
Synonyms: Abbreviate, Clip, Contract, Decrease, Diminish, Reduce, Truncate
Antonyms: Extend, Increase, Lengthen, Prolong
Sample Sentence: There was a huge protest when the government attempted to curtail the rights of the minority population.
Derivative (adj) – Not original, secondary; Imitative of the work of another person; Something that is based on another source
Synonyms: Borrowed, Copied, Unoriginal
Antonyms: Original, Unique
Sample Sentence: Although Shakespeare is considered one of the greatest writers of all time, much of his work is derivative; he borrowed widely from existing literature.
Elitist (n, adj) – 1. A person who believes in the superiority of a specific group of people 2. A person who considers him- or herself superior due to talent, intellect, wealth, power, or social status
Synonyms: (n) Snob (adj) Pompous, Aloof, Arrogant, Condescending, Patronizing
Antonyms: (n) Commoner (adj) Humble, Modest
Sample Sentence: I criticized my friend for her elitist attitude when she commented that she would never want to live in my lower-middle-class neighborhood.
Estrange (v) – To remove or keep at a distance; To alienate
Synonyms: Antagonize, Separate
Antonyms: Unite, Join, Ally
Helpful Hints: “Estranged” is the more common form of this word; “estranged siblings” are siblings who have no contact with each other.
Sample Sentence: The boy felt a mixture of excitement and nervousness when he met the uncle who had been estranged from the family for many years.
Flag (v) – 1. To mark for attention; To signal or warn 2. To lose energy or enthusiasm
Synonyms: 1. Signal, Highlight, Hail 2. Collapse, Succumb
Antonyms: 1. Overlook, Ignore 2. Strengthen, Increase
Sample Sentence: Students’ energy tends to flag toward the end of a long period.
Grandiose (adj) – Arrogantly impressive or magnificent in appearance or style; Excessively showy
Synonyms: Extravagant, Pretentious
Antonyms: Moderate, Small, Unpretentious
Sample Sentence: The mayor’s grandiose house had ten bedrooms, two swimming pools, and a million-dollar chandelier in the front hall.
Inane (adj) – 1. Silly 2. Empty; Void
Synonyms: Absurd, Asinine, Foolish, Frivolous, Trifling
Antonyms: Intelligent, Smart, Important
Sample Sentence: Sometimes, watching inane reality television shows can be a nice break from the stress of school and homework.
Intrigue (v) – To capture someone’s interest or curiosity
Synonyms: Attract, Captivate, Delight, Fascinate
Antonyms: Bore, Repulse
Sample Sentence: If the first chapter of a novel doesn’t intrigue me, I might have a hard time continuing to read it.
Mandate (n, v) – (n) an authoritative order or command (v) to direct with specific authority, to order
Synonyms: (n) Order, Command, Charge, Decree, Dictate, Imperative (v) Demand, Compel, Oblige
Antonyms: (n) Denial, Veto (v) Disallow, Disapprove
Sample Sentence: (n) The town mandate outlawed overnight street parking. (v) The governor mandated that all cars stay off the road during the blizzard.
Negate (v) – 1. To deny the existence of 2. To nullify or cause to be ineffective
Synonyms: Contradict, Disprove, Oppose, Refute
Antonyms: Approve, Agree, Affirm
Sample Sentence: Politicians are constantly attempting to negate their opponents’ claims and prove their own.
Perquisite (n) – An incidental payment, privilege or advantage
Synonyms: Bonus, Benefit, Advantage, Reward
Helpful Hints: The word “perk” is actually a shortened version of “perquisite.”
Sample Sentence: Discounted merchandise is a perquisite of many retail jobs.
Qualification (n) – 1. A trait or accomplishment that makes a person capable of completing a function or taking a position 2. A limitation or restriction that makes a statement weaker
Synonyms: 1. Capability, Competence, Eligibility, Ability
Antonyms: 1. Disqualification, Inability
Sample Sentence: Required qualifications for the job included a bachelor’s degree and 3 years of related experience.
Reprimand (n, v) – 1. (n) A severe expression of disapproval; A formal expression of disapproval 2. (v) To scold
Synonyms: (n) Admonishment, Disapproval, Castigation, Scolding (v) Chide, Scold, Rebuke
Antonyms: (n) Forgiveness, Praise, Reward (v) Forgive, Praise, Reward
Sample Sentence: (n) The boss issued Susan a harsh reprimand when she showed up for work late twice in one week. (v) The boss reprimanded Susan for her tardiness.
Solace (n) – Something that gives comfort or relief
Synonyms: Peace, Alleviation, Condolence
Antonyms: Aggravation, Annoyance, Irritation
Sample Sentence: Although an apology doesn’t solve everything, it can provide some solace to someone who feels wronged.
Succumb (v) – To yield to superior force
Synonyms: Surrender, Capitulate, Defer
Antonyms: Conquer, Overcome
Sample Sentence: The woman survived for a few days after the accident, but eventually succumbed to her injuries.
Virulent (adj) – Extremely harmful in its effects
Synonyms: Poisonous, Lethal, Deadly, Destructive
Antonyms: Harmless, Healthy
Sample Sentence: The virulent disease killed a quarter of the people who contracted it.