Anecdote (n) – A short account of an interesting event
Sample Sentence: Band of Brothers is a fascinating string of anecdotes from one battalion’s experience in World War II.
Ascetic (n) – A person who leads a life of self-denial or strict self-control
Antonyms: Hedonist, Prodigal
Sample Sentence: Some religions expect their practitioners to live as ascetics by living without certain modern comforts.
Barrage (n) – An overwhelming amount of something
Synonyms: Torrent, Storm, Onslaught
Sample Sentence: Buddy hits the children with a barrage of snowballs in the movie Elf.
Censure (v) – To criticize in a harsh manner
Synonyms: Rebuke, Chastise
Sample Sentence: People have tried to censure each other’s ideas for centuries since humans often fear the opinions of others.
Contrite (adj) – Showing sincere remorse
Synonyms: Remorseful, Repentant
Sample Sentence: The boy was contrite after accidentally smashing his friend’s iPhone at lunch.
Debilitated (adj) – Weakened; Lacking in strength
Helpful Hints: This word nearly always gets used to indicate a person’s weakened state, as opposed to “weakened,” which could be used to describe objects or causes.
Sample Sentence: Mono can cause people to be debilitated for months, making them weak and restricting their activities.
Diffident (adj) – Lacking confidence; Shy
Synonyms: Abashed, Unconfident
Antonyms: Confident, Self-assured
Sample Sentence: College orientations can be intimidating for diffident people as they are forced into a social situation with strangers.
Embellish (v) – To enhance or beautify
Synonyms: Decorate, Bedazzle
Helpful Hints: This word primarily has to do with making something more attractive, but can also be used to describe stories that have little fictional pieces or white lies threaded in to make the story more interesting.
Sample Sentence: When people are bragging they often embellish the truth to make their accomplishment seem more impressive.
Extol (v) to praise highly
Synonyms: Laud, Celebrate
Antonyms: Criticize, Denigrate
Sample Sentence: Advertisements include customer reviewers extolling the product to attract new buyers.
Hapless (adj) – Unlucky or unfortunate
Helpful Hints: Unlike fortuitous, which can be good or bad, something or someone hapless is always unlucky.
Sample Sentence: As his tent blew away in the wind, taking his cooking supplies and car keys with it, Manny bemoaned his hapless state.
Kismet (n) – Destiny, Fate
Helpful Hints: Kismet is almost universally used to describe times when fate works out for your benefit, or in other words, happy, pleasant fate.
Sample Sentence: The married couple thought it was kismet that put them in the same hotel lobby at the same time on the day that they met.
Listless (adj) – Having no energy or interest; Indifferent
Sample Sentence: It is typical for students to be listless during 1st period since most of them did not wake up early or eat breakfast.
Milieu (n) – Surroundings, especially of a cultural or social nature
Synonyms: Environment, Setting
Sample Sentence: Research suggests that the family milieu has a significant and lasting impact on a child’s development.
Ornate (adj) – Highly decorated
Synonyms: Embellished, Ornamented
Antonyms: Stark, Spartan
Helpful Hints: It is no surprise that ornate and ornament, both having to do with decorating something, come from the same Latin root.
Sample Sentence: Celebrities choose to have ornate property and belongings to display their wealth.
Precocious (adj) – Unusually advanced in development
Helpful Hints: This word almost always applies to the very young.
Sample Sentence: Youtube has scores of videos of precocious kids reciting nation’s capitals, playing guitar, or reciting poetry verbatim.
Rancor (n) – Bitter hatred or resentment
Synonyms: Abhorrence, Animosity
Antonyms: Love, Benevolence
Sample Sentence: The rancor between the Capulets and Montagues in Romeo and Juliet extends so far that interactions between the families often result in violence.
Salvage (v) – To save something from destruction
Helpful Hints: A salvage yard is where you bring scrap metal that might otherwise get thrown into the dump.
Sample Sentence: During house fires people often try to salvage property with emotional significance rather than expensive items.
Submissive (adj) – Unresistingly or meekly obedient
Synonyms: Tame, Passive
Antonyms: Disobedient, Rebellious
Helpful Hints: This word has a negative connotation, suggesting more that a person has surrendered rather than simply doing what he or she ought to do.
Sample Sentence: Dogs are trained to be submissive so that their owners can bring them into public or leave them home alone without issues.
Underscore (v) – To stress; Emphasize
Helpful Hints: When you want to bring more attention to something you’ve written, you underline, or underscore it.
Sample Sentence: Before rock climbing the adviser must underscore safety precautions.
Warped (adj) – Bent or twisted out of shape; Distorted
Sample Sentence: Wood will warp after years of being exposed to heat and moisture, which is why doors often stick in the summer.