Adjacent (adj) – Lying next to, close to or adjoining
Synonyms: Abutting, Touching
Sample Sentence: Massachusetts is adjacent to New York and Rhode Island.
Assuage (v) – To ease, relieve, or lessen
Synonyms: Alleviate, Diminish
Antonyms: Intensify, Increase
Sample Sentence: The athlete had to go see the trainer to assuage his pain.
Compassion (n) – A feeling of sadness for someone who is suffering
Synonyms: Commiseration, Sympathy
Sample Sentence: I felt compassion for the girl who just lost her brother unexpectedly.
Deference (n) – Respectful yielding to the will of another
Synonyms: Respect, Compliance
Sample Sentence: Out of deference to the older man, I allowed him to enter the room before me.
Disingenuous (adj) Dishonest, insincere
Antonyms: Genuine, Sincere
Helpful Hints: Notice -gen- and think of genuine. They have the same root.
Sample Sentence: Her excuse seemed disingenuous when it took her a while to answer.
Endorse (v) – 1. To approve of, 2. To sign a document, (often, a personal check)
Synonyms: Sanction, Ratify, Sustain
Helpful Hints: Companies often endorse an athlete to sell their product.
Sample Sentence: Tiger Woods is endorsed by Nike and wears their brand in every match.
Erudition (n) – Scholarly knowledge
Sample Sentence: Harvard might hire a professor based on their personality, but certainly on their erudition.
Foreboding (n) – An inner feeling, usually a negative one, about some future event
Helpful Hints: The prefix fore tells us that something will happen in the future
Sample Sentence: The black funnel cloud in the distance gave the townspeople a feeling of foreboding as the storm raged on.
Fortuitous (adj) – Happening by chance; Lucky or fortunate
Helpful Hints: Although many people use this word as a fancy way of saying “fortunate,” fortuitous can simply mean something that happens by chance, even if it isn’t good, like a car crash or running into somebody whom you cannot stand.
Sample Sentence: It was fortuitous that the tree branch did not hit her car when the tree was shattered by lightning.
Holistic (adj) – Having to do with an entire entity, rather than the smaller parts of it
Helpful Hints: This word commonly has to do with natural medicine
Sample Sentence: In order to increase patient satisfaction, many doctors or taking a more holistic approach to healing.
Indecorous (adj) – Going against the rules of proper behavior
Synonyms: Indecent, Improper, Inappropriate
Sample Sentence: The classroom rules state that if students are indecorous there will be certain punishments given to them.
Jubilant (adj) – Showing incredible joy or satisfaction
Synonyms: Joyous, Happy
Sample Sentence: The boy who had studied hard for his exam showed his mother his report card with a jubilant smile.
Meticulous (adj) – Highly particular about details, precise
Synonyms: Exact, Strict, Scrupulous
Helpful Hints: A perfectionist would be considered meticulous
Sample Sentence: The meticulous artist spent hours painting one portrait to make sure it was exactly how she wanted it.
Officious (adj) – Rudely giving unwanted help or advice, meddlesome
Synonyms: Interfering, Meddling
Helpful Hints: We all know someone officious, who always has to give his or her two cents, no matter how personal the topic is.
Sample Sentence: The teenager tried to avoid her officious mother so she would not get asked a million questions.
Profuse (adj) – Abundant, Done in great amount
Helpful Hints: Do not confuse this with our earlier word, “prolific,” meaning abundant and fruitful. You can give profuse thanks, bleed profusely, or hear a profuse amount of swearing. Prolific means that you create a lot of something over a longer period of time.
Sample Sentence: The marathon runner was sweating profusely by the time he reached mile 13.
Quell (v) – To extinguish, To end completely
Synonyms: Crush, Squash
Antonyms: Foster, Agitate
Sample Sentence: I tried to quell her tears by putting my arm around her and comforting her.
Rhetoric (n) – 1. The study of literary usage in literature 2. Over-the-top language
Sample Sentence: When the politician did not know how to answer the direct question about taxation, he hid behind confusing rhetoric.
Spontaneous (adj) – Whimsical, acting on impulse, unplanned
Antonym: Fully planned
Helpful Hints: The connotation here depends on context: Someone who is spontaneous would be fun to be around but could also be troublesome.
Sample Sentence: The spontaneous couple decided to fly to Las Vegas and get married on a whim.
Tenuous (adj) – Slender or thin, Insubstantial
Synonym: Gossamer, Unsubstantiated
Helpful Hints: When you see the first definition, do not think of people who are in good shape – think of airy cloth, like silk threads. You often hear this word used to describe an argument, meaning that the logic is paper thin.
Sample Sentence: He knew his reasons for earning a raise were tenuous, but he figured he’d never get one if he didn’t ask, so he approached his boss about the possibility.
Wistful (adj) – Characterized by sadness or longing
Synonyms: Reflective, Musing
Sample Sentence: On her late husband’s birthday, the widow had a wistful look on her face.