Anonymous (adj) – Without any given name or identity
Antonyms: Named, Known
Sample Sentence: The charity was grateful for the generous donation from an anonymous donor, but they had no way of thanking him or her.
Ascertain (v) – To learn with certainty or assurance
Sample Sentence: It is impossible to ascertain which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Camaraderie (n) – A spirit of friendship, familiarity, and trust
Synonyms: Comradeship, Brotherhood, Esprit De Corps
Sample Sentence: Teammates form camaraderie the longer they play a sport together and often become close friends.
Captious (adj) – Difficult to please; Marked by an often ill-natured inclination to stress faults, raise objections. and argue
Synonyms: Fault-finding, Nit-picky
Sample Sentence: It is difficult to work with a captious person unless you can tolerate a large amount of criticism.
Copious (adj) – Large in quantity or number; Plentiful
Antonyms: Scarce, Scant
Sample Sentence: If you procrastinate you will find yourself overwhelmed with a copious amount of homework.
Divergent (adj) – Branching off in a different direction, differing
Helpful Hints: Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” a poem about making decisions in life, famously begins with the line, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood”
Sample Sentence: Some children find it difficult to be divergent from their parents’ beliefs while others choose to purposely rebel.
Discriminate (v) 1.) (VERB used WITHOUT an object) – To show preference; to favor one side based on something other than merit. 2.) (VERB used WITH an object) To differentiate; To make or constitute a distinction in or between
Synonym: 2. Distinguish
Antonym: 1. To treat equally
Helpful Hints: The first definition has a strongly negative connotation, but the second is neutral – it merely means to be able to tell things apart, or more accurately, yo make fine distinctions between items that seem similar.
Sample Sentence: It is illegal to discriminate when hiring or firing someone from a job based on gender, religion or race.
Encroach (v) – To advance beyond proper, established, or usual limits; To trespass on the property of another
Helpful Hints: In football, the penalty of encroachment is when a defensive player crosses the line of scrimmage too soon and touches an offensive player. He has invaded, or encroached upon, the opponents’ territory.
Sample Sentence: People build fences so their neighbors cannot encroach upon their privacy.
Exotic (adj) Strikingly unusual or strange in effect or appearance; Foreign
Synonyms: Uncommon, Odd
Antonyms: Normal, Ordinary
Sample Sentence: The Stoneham Zoo allows people to see exotic animals, such as tigers and elephants, that they otherwise wouldn’t see in this area.
Fraudulent (adj) – Characterized by or involving fraud, deceit, trickery, or breach of confidence, done for profit or to gain some unfair advantage.
Synonyms: Deceitful, Underhanded
Sample Sentence: Plagiarism is academically fraudulent and getting caught can have serious consequences.
Hyperbole (n) – Obvious and intentional exaggeration
Helpful Hints: People use this rhetorical device all the time. That last sentence was an example.
Sample Sentence: When arguing within your writing it is best to avoid hyperbole in order to keep your credibility.
Inevitable (adj) – Unable to be avoided; Certain; Necessary
Sample Sentence: Don’t worry if we have too many snow days, as the end of the school year is inevitable.
Legitimate (adj) – According to law; In accordance with established rules
Synonyms: Legal, Sanctioned
Antonyms: Invalid, Unlawful
Sample Sentence: DNA tests confirmed he was a legitimate descendant of Thomas Jefferson.
Modicum (n) – A moderate or small amount
Synonyms: Iota, Speck
Antonyms: Abundance, A Lot
Sample Sentence: To succeed in life you need at least a modicum of common sense.
Olfactory (n) – Relating to the sense of smell
Sample Sentence: Allergies can result in olfactory issues when high pollen counts cause stuffy noses.
Pious (adj) – Having a reverence for God or an earnest desire to fulfill religious obligations
Synonyms: Reverent, Religious, Godly
Sample Sentence: Mother Theresa was such a pious woman that she chose to live her life among the sick and poor.
Sagacity (n) – Wisdom, soundness of judgment; Acuteness of thinking
Synonyms: Prudence, Sense
Antonyms: Ignorance, Stupidity
Sample Sentence: My grandfather still shows his sagacity when debating modern issues even though he’s in his 90’s.
Sporadic (adj) – Appearing or happening at irregular intervals in time; Occasional
Synonyms: Inconsistent, Scattered
Antonyms: Steady, Predictable
Helpful Hints: You sometimes hear weather forecasts call for sporadic rainfall, which comes and goes during the day.
Sample Sentence: The baby would sporadically cry thorough out the night during the heat wave.
Understatement (n) – The act, or the instance of, representing in a weak or restrained way that is less than what actually occurred
Antonyms: Hyperbole, Exaggeration
Helpful Hints: Do not confuse understating with lying or sarcasm. If you score a 14 on a major test, it is dishonest to say “I did GREAT!” – that is merely sarcasm – understating the matter would be to say, “There is room for improvement here.”
Sample Sentence: Saying the school system wasn’t well funded was an understatement as they couldn’t afford text books for any of the students.
Wane (v) – To decline in power, importance, prosperity
Synonyms: Fade, Subside
Antonyms: Increase, Grow
Sample Sentence: The dictator’s power waned once his private army stopped protecting him.