Verbal Advantage - Level 02 Word 31 - Word 40 MCQ Test
- Word 31: Transient [TRAN-shint]
Temporary, passing away with time, lasting only a short while, momentary, fleeting, short-lived—in which -lived is commonly mispronounced with a short i as in give, when it should have a long i as in strive.
Does that pronunciation pronouncement surprise you? In short-lived and long-lived, the -lived does not come from the verb to live, as many think. It is formed from the noun life plus the suffix -ed. That is why pronunciation authorities and careful speakers have long preferred short-LYVD and long-LYVD, and why nearly all current American dictionaries give priority to the long-i pronunciation.
Since we’re discussing pronunciation I should point out that you will often hear educated speakers pronounce our keyword, transient, as TRAN-zee-int or TRAN-see-int, especially when the word is used as a noun to mean a homeless person, vagrant, or vagabond. Despite the popularity of these three-syllable variants, I recommend TRAN-shint, with two syllables, because it is the traditional American pronunciation and the one listed first in all the major current American dictionaries. Remember, transient sounds like ancient.
Challenging synonyms of the adjective transient include transitory, evanescent, ephemeral, fugitive, and fugacious. All of these words mean lasting only a short while, but let’s examine the fine distinctions in their meanings.
Transitory (TRAN-si-TOR-ee or TRAN-zi-) applies to something that by its nature is bound to pass away or come to an end. All life must by nature end; therefore life is transitory. When Andy Warhol said everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes, he was describing the transitory nature of fame—here one moment and gone the next.
Evanescent (EV-uh-NES-int) applies to that which fades away like vapor or vanishes as if into thin air: the evanescent beauty of springtime flowers. A shooting star creates an evanescent trail of light. An intense experience, no matter how brief and evanescent, can become a lifelong memory.
Ephemeral (e-FEM-uh-rul) by derivation means literally “living or lasting for only a day.” Newspaper writing used to be called “ephemeral literature” because the articles had a lifespan of only one day, with one day’s reportage ostensibly erased by the next day’s edition. From this original sense of lasting only a day, ephemeral has evolved to mean short-lived, existing for a short while. If when you meet people you have trouble remembering their names ten minutes later, you could say that you have an ephemeral memory for names.
Fugitive (FYOO-ji-tiv) and fugacious (fyoo-GAY-shus) come from the Latin fugere, to flee, run or fly away, the source also of the Latin expression tempus fugit (TEM-pus FYOO-jit), “time flies.” By derivation fugitive and fugacious mean fleeting, disposed to fly away or disappear. A fugitive, from the same Latin fugere, to flee, is a person who eludes pursuit, who flees from captivity or danger. The adjectives fugitive and fugacious both refer to things that are elusive, that are hard to catch or perceive because they happen or pass by so quickly: a fugitive smile; the fugitive colors of the sunset; our fugacious memories of childhood. We may pursue happiness, but it is fugacious.
Our keyword, transient, applies to anything that lasts temporarily or that is in the process of passing on. A transient guest stays for a while and moves on. A transient event is fleeting, momentary. A transient condition lasts for a short time.
Antonyms of transient include permanent, timeless, eternal, and everlasting.
- Word 32: Nettle [NET-’l]
To irritate, annoy, vex, harass (HAR-is or huh-RAS), pester, provoke: Their supervisor constantly nettled them about trivial or irrelevant details.
You may be familiar with the plant called the nettle, which has tiny hairs that sting and irritate the skin. The verb to nettle means to sting like a nettle, hence to irritate or annoy. Someone who is nettled is irritated to the point of silent anger or resentment.
- Word 33: Repudiate [ri-PYOO-dee-ayt]
To reject, cast off, disown, renounce, refuse to accept as one’s own; also, to reject as false, deny the authority of, refuse to accept as true.
Repudiate suggests a formal, often vehement (VEE-uh-mint, the h is silent) rejection. You can repudiate a child, reject or disown the child; you can repudiate a belief, cast it off or renounce it; you can repudiate a claim, deny its authority; and you can repudiate a charge, reject it as untrue.
- Word 34: Impetuous [im-PECH-oo-us]
Hasty, rash, overeager, acting in a sudden, vigorous, emotional way, with little thought: “The impetuous shopper buys on impulse rather than out of necessity”; “A prudent investor is not likely to make impetuous decisions.”
The words rash, impulsive, and impetuous all refer to hasty or sudden actions or to people who act first and think later. Rash suggests reckless haste and foolish daring: In the arena of international relations, rash statements can lead to war. Impulsive suggests an ungovernable inner force that drives one to act without thinking: He is an impulsive talker who often puts his foot in his mouth. Impetuous suggests great energy, eagerness, or impatience. Children are often impetuous, prone to act suddenly without thinking. Impetuous behavior in an adult is often considered overemotional or immature.
Antonyms of impetuous include prudent and circumspect. For more on those two words, review the discussion of prudent, keyword 47 in Level 1.
- Word 35: Frugal [FROO-gul]
Spending carefully and wisely, thrifty, economical.
Frugal comes directly from a Latin word meaning economical, and ultimately from the Latin frux, fruit, produce. Frugal people are cautious and sparing with the fruit of their labors.
Thrifty, economical, provident, and parsimonious all mean frugal, spending carefully and wisely, but in slightly different ways and degrees.
Thrifty implies hard work and good management as a means to prosperity. The thrifty person spends only what is necessary and diligently saves the rest.
Economical implies the use of money or resources in the most advantageous way. An economical car uses fuel efficiently. An economical investment is one that generates a higher return.
Provident suggests providing for the future. The provident person spends carefully with a mind toward what may be needed later.
Parsimonious means extremely frugal, stingy, miserly. The parsimonious person keeps a wary eye on every nickel and dime.
Frugal, spending carefully, may also be used to mean involving little expense, not wasteful or lavish. A frugal meal is an economical, no-frills meal. Flying coach rather than first-class is a more frugal way to travel.
- Word 36: Incongruous [in-KAHNG-groo-wus]
Out of place, inappropriate, inconsistent, unsuitable, lacking harmony of parts or agreement in character.
Incongruous comes from a Latin verb meaning to come together, fit in. From the same source come the adjectives congruous (KAHNG-groo-wus) and congruent (KAHNG-groo-int), which mean coming together harmoniously, fitting in consistently. The in- at the beginning of incongruous is called a privative (PRIV-uh-tiv) prefix, which means it deprives or takes away the meaning of what follows. Thus, incongruous means not congruous, not appropriate, not consistent, out of place.
An incongruous remark is one that is inappropriate or not in keeping with the conversation. An incongruous element is out of place, not consistent with the elements around it. An incongruous action is unsuitable to the occasion or situation. An incongruous mixture lacks harmony or agreement.
- Word 37: Assuage [uh-SWAYJ, rhymes with a stage]
To relieve, ease, allay (uh-LAY), mitigate (MIT-i-gayt), make less severe or intense; also, to satisfy, appease (uh-PEEZ), make content.
When you assuage someone’s grief, assuage someone’s anger, assuage someone’s pain, or assuage someone’s fears, you relieve those conditions, allay them, make them less severe or intense. When you assuage your hunger or thirst, you relieve it by providing food or drink. When you assuage a need or desire, you satisfy it by procuring what is needed or desired.
Assuage is sometimes mispronounced uh-SWAYZH or uhSWAHZH. These recent variants have made their way into a few current dictionaries, but the traditional and proper pronunciation, countenanced by all dictionaries, is uh-SWAYJ.
- Word 38: Corroborate [kuh-RAHB-uh-rayt]
To confirm, support, make more certain or believable: “Six witnesses corroborated the victim’s account of the crime.”
Corroborate comes from a Latin verb meaning to strengthen. In modern use corroborate means to strengthen by providing additional evidence or proof. When you corroborate a story, you strengthen it, support it, help to establish it as true.
Authenticate, verify, substantiate, and corroborate all mean to confirm in slightly different ways.
To authenticate is to establish something as authentic or genuine: You authenticate a document, a signature, or a work of art.
To verify is to establish as true, confirm the accuracy of: Reporters have a responsibility to verify facts and quotations.
To substantiate is to support by supplying reliable evidence or proof: Scholars and scientists must substantiate their theories. The investigation uncovered several key facts that substantiated the case against the company.
To corroborate is to substantiate what someone else has said by supplying additional evidence or proof. When you corroborate another person’s statement, you make it more certain or believable.
- Word 39: Embellish [em-BEL-ish]
To decorate, dress up, adorn, enhance with ornamentation, make more beautiful, elegant, or interesting.
Embellish comes from an Old French verb meaning to make beautiful and has been traced back to the Latin bellus, pretty. By derivation, embellish means to beautify, make pretty. An embellishment, the corresponding noun, is a decoration, ornament, something that beautifies.
Embellish may be used in numerous ways to mean to decorate, make more beautiful or interesting. You can embellish your home by decorating it with beautiful things. You can embellish an outfit with ornaments or accessories. You can embellish your speech or writing with interesting words and elegant phrases. And you can embellish a story, dress it up with entertaining details or even things that aren’t true: “Over the years the old fisherman had added many fanciful embellishments to his tale about ‘the big one that got away.’”
- Word 40: Avaricious [AV-uh-RISH-us]
Greedy, money-grubbing, miserly, consumed with a selfish desire to accumulate money or property. The corresponding noun is avarice (AV-uh-ris), greed, an inordinate desire for wealth.
Greedy, covetous, and avaricious all apply to people who eagerly want to acquire more than they have or are entitled to have.
Greedy is the general term for an excessive desire for anything. A person can be greedy for approval, greedy for success, or a greedy eater.
Covetous (KUHV-i-tus) suggests an excessive and sometimes immoral desire for what another person has: “Steve wasn’t sure if his neighbor Dave was more covetous of his new sports car or his attractive wife”; “When Anne was promoted to vice president, she could tell that most of her former coworkers in middle management were covetous of her spacious office and impressive salary.”
Avaricious implies an excessive and selfish drive to accumulate wealth and valuable possessions, and often suggests an accompanying desire to hoard them: “Any observant person could see plainly that the city was run not by the people or the politicians but by a few avaricious developers who controlled most of the real estate, and a few avaricious bankers who were tight with credit and charged outrageous interest rates.”