Vocabulary

Vocab Review (Groups 1–7)

Review these words from group 1–7, then take the quiz at the bottom of the page.

Group 1

convoluted intricate; complex The directions were so convoluted that we drove all around the city and got lost.
cryptic difficult to comprehend The writing on the walls of the crypt was cryptic; none of the scientists understood it.
futile having no useful purpose; pointless It is futile to try to explain the difference between right and wrong to your pet.
impede to slow the progress of The retreating army constructed barbed-wire fences and destroyed bridges to impede the advance of the enemy.
obscure (adj.) relatively unknown Scott constantly makes references to obscure cult films, and no one ever gets his jokes.
obscure (v.) to conceal or make indistinct The man in front of me was so tall that his head obscured my view of the movie.
quandary a state of uncertainty or perplexity Ann was in a quandary because she had no soap with which to do her laundry.
indolent lazy Mr. Lan said his students were indolent because they had not done their homework.

Group 2

insipid uninteresting; unchallenging That insipid movie was so boring and predictable.
listless lacking energy Since he is accustomed to an active lifestyle, Mark feels listless when he has nothing to do.
torpor laziness; inactivity; dullness The hot and humid day filled everyone with an activity-halting torpor.
alienated removed or disassociated from (friends, family, or homeland) Rudolf felt alienated from the other reindeer because they never let him join in their reindeer games.
alliance a union of two or more groups The two countries formed an alliance to stand against their common enemy.
disparity inequality in age, rank, or degree; difference There is a great disparity between rich and poor in many nations.
servile submissive; like a servant Cameron’s servile behavior finally ended when he decided to stand up to his older brother.
suppressed subdued; kept from being circulated The author’s book was suppressed because the dictator thought it was too critical of the regime.

Group 3

embellish to make beautiful by ornamenting; to decorate We embellished the account of our vacation by including descriptions of many colorful people and places we visited.
florid describing flowery or elaborate speech The candidate’s speech was so florid that although no one could understand what he was talking about, they all agreed that he sounded good saying it.
opulent exhibiting a display of great wealth Dances at the king’s palace are always very opulent affairs because no expense is spared.
ornate elaborately decorated The carved wood was so ornate that you could examine it several times and still notice things you had not seen before.
ostentatious describing a showy or pretentious display Whenever the millionaire gave a party, the elaborate decorations and enormous amounts of food were always part of his ostentatious display of wealth.
poignant profoundly moving; touching The most poignant part of the movie was when the father finally made peace with his son.
ebullience intense enthusiasm A sense of ebullience swept over the crowd when the matador defeated the bull.
effusive emotionally unrestrained; gushy Gwyneth Paltrow was effusive in her thanks after winning the Oscar; she even burst into tears.

Group 4

egregious conspicuously bad or offensive Forgetting to sterilize surgical tools before an operation would be an egregious error.
flagrant extremely or deliberately shocking or noticeable His throwing the pie at his teacher was a flagrant sign of disrespect.
frenetic wildly excited or active The pace at the busy office was frenetic; Megan never had a moment to catch her breath.
gratuitous given freely; unearned; unwarranted The film was full of gratuitous sex and violence that was not essential to the story.
superfluous extra; unnecessary If there is sugar in your tea, adding honey would be superfluous.
alleviate to ease a pain or burden John took aspirin to alleviate the pain from the headache he got after taking the SAT.
asylum a place of retreat or security The soldiers sought asylum from the bombs in the underground shelter.
auspicious favorable, promising Our trip to the beach had an auspicious start; the rain stopped just as we started the car.

Group 5

benevolent well-meaning; generous She was a kind and benevolent queen who was concerned about her subjects’ well-being.
benign kind and gentle Uncle Charlie is a benign and friendly man who is always willing to help.
mollify to calm or soothe Anna’s apology for scaring her brother did not mollify him; he was mad at her all day.
reclamation the act of making something useful again Thanks to the reclamation project, the once unusable land became a productive farm.
sanction to give official authorization or approval The students were happy when the principal agreed to sanction the use of calculators in math classes.
dubious doubtful; of unlikely authenticity Jerry’s claim that he could fly like Superman seemed dubious—we didn’t believe it
fabricated made; concocted to deceive Fabio fabricated the story that he used to play drums for Metallica; he had never actually held drumsticks in his life.
hypocrisy the practice of pretending to be something one is not; insincerity People who claim to be vegetarian but eat chicken and fish are guilty of hypocrisy.

Group 6

slander false charges and malicious oral statements about someone After the radio host stated that Monica was a space alien, she sued him for slander.
spurious not genuine The sportscaster made a spurious claim when he said that the San Antonio Spurs were undefeated.
astute shrewd, clever Kevin is financially astute; he never falls for the tricks that credit card companies play.
clandestine secretive The spies planned a clandestine maneuver that depended on its secrecy to work.
coup a brilliantly executed plan It was quite a coup when I talked the salesperson into selling me this valuable cuckoo clock for five dollars.
disingenuous not straightforward; crafty Mr. Gelman was rather disingenuous; although he seemed to be simply asking about your health, he was really trying to figure out why you’d been absent.
ruse a crafty trick The offer of a free cruise was merely a ruse to get people to listen to their sales pitch.
stratagem a clever trick used to deceive or outwit Planting microphones in the gangster’s home was a clever, but illegal, stratagem.

Group 7

surreptitiously done by secretive means Matt drank the cough syrup surreptitiously because he didn’t want anyone to know that he was sick.
wary on guard My father becomes wary whenever a salesman calls him on the phone; he knows that many crooks use the phone so that they can’t be charged with mail fraud.
wily cunning In the children's cartoon "Roadrunner," Wily Coyote is a very wily character; he devises all sorts of clever traps to catch the Roadrunner.
ambiguous open to more than one interpretation His eyes were an ambiguous color: Some thought they were brown, and some thought they were green.
ambivalent simultaneously having opposing feelings; uncertain She had ambivalent feelings about her dance class: On one hand, she enjoyed the exercise, but on the other hand, she thought the choice of dances could be more interesting.
apathetic feeling or showing little emotion When the defendant was found guilty on all charges, her face remained expressionless and she appeared to be entirely apathetic.
arbitrary determined by impulse rather than reason The principal made the arbitrary decision that students could not wear hats in school without offering any logical reason for the rule.
capricious impulsive and unpredictable The referee’s capricious behavior angered the players because he was inconsistent with his calls; he would call foul for minor contact, but ignore elbowing and kicking.

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.

Quiz