Verbal Advantage - Level 03 Word 1 - Word 10 MCQ Test
- Word 1: Defray [di-FRAY]
To pay, provide money for, cover the cost or expenses of.
Pay and defray are synonymous, but they are not interchangeable. You pay for a meal in a restaurant, you don’t defray it. You pay your bills, you don’t defray them. In current usage defray means to cover the cost or expense of something, especially to provide money for a portion of that cost or expense. For example, you might use an income tax refund to help defray the expense of a trip to Europe. A nonprofit corporation that receives a grant or donation might use it to defray the cost of office equipment and supplies.
- Word 2: Taciturn [TAS-i-turn]
Silent, not talkative, holding one’s tongue, reserved, uncommunicative, reticent (RET-i-sint).
Challenging antonyms of taciturn include garrulous (word 8 of Level 4), loquacious (loh-KWAY-shus), effusive (e-FYOO-siv, word 13 of Level 7), and voluble (VAHL-yuh-bul, word 1 of Level 5).
Taciturn comes from the same Latin root as tacit (word 9 in Level 2). Tacit means unspoken, done or made in silence. Taciturn means silent by nature, preferring not to speak.
Taciturn and reticent both mean not talkative, uncommunicative. Reticent suggests a disinclination to express one’s feelings or supply information. Taciturn refers to a person who is habitually silent and withdrawn.
A word of caution about reticent. Though you increasingly hear people use reticent to mean reluctant, in careful usage these words are not synonymous. Reluctant means unwilling, hesitant, disinclined. Reticent means reluctant to speak.
- Word 3: Terse [rhymes with worse]
Brief and to the point, free of superfluous words, expressed in a pointed and polished way.
More difficult synonyms of terse include concise, pithy (PITH-ee), succinct (suhk-SINGKT), and laconic (luh-KAHN-ik, word 18 of this level).
Antonyms include long-winded, redundant, verbose (word 30 of Level 2), and prolix (word 1 of Level 9).
Concise, succinct, and terse all suggest brevity, expressing something in a brief and direct way. Concise implies eliminating anything unnecessary or superfluous: “Her presentation was persuasive and concise.” Succinct implies getting the point across in the fewest possible words: “An effective letter to the editor must be succinct.”
By the way, I’m sure you’ve heard the beastly mispronunciation suh-SINGKT, which in recent years has become widespread among educated speakers. Good speakers don’t say ASS-uh-dent for accident, uh-SEPT for accept, or suh-SEED for succeed, so there’s no logical reason for saying suh-SINGKT. Take care to pronounce the cc in succinct like k-s: suhk-SINGKT.
But let’s get back to our keyword, terse. Terse writing or speech is brief, pointed, and polished. It communicates smoothly and effectively, without digressions or excess words. Terse may also suggest expression that is blunt or brusque (rhymes with dusk). A terse reply is brief and pointed, but it stops just short of being rude.
- Word 4: Boon [rhymes with moon]
A blessing, timely and welcome benefit, something beneficial bestowed upon one, something to be thankful for.
A boon once meant a favor or request. In stories of yore—of time long past—knights, courtiers, and all manner of supplicants would bow before their kings and queens and say, “As your humble servant, I beseech you to grant me this boon.” Are you wondering what supplicant means? A supplicant (SUHP-li-kint) is a person who begs for something, and supplication is the act of begging for something humbly and earnestly.
Getting back to boon, the meaning “favor, request” is now archaic (ahr-KAY-ik), or old-fashioned, and today boon is used to mean a blessing, a timely and welcome benefit, something to be thankful for, as in “This good weather is a boon”; “His efforts were a boon to their enterprise.”
- Word 5: Proletariat [PROH-luh-TAIR-ee-it]
The working class, especially the industrial wage-earning class, which earns its living by manual labor. The adjective is proletarian (PROH-luh-TAIR-ee-in), of or relating to the working class.
In the philosophy of Karl Marx, the famous exponent (ek-SPOHnint; do you need to look it up?) of communism, the proletariat comprises those members of society without property or capital who must sell their labor to survive. Proletariat comes through French from the Latin proletarius, which means a Roman citizen of the lowest class. Today the word is still used to mean the lowest and poorest class of people in any society.
- Word 6: Heterogeneous [HET-uh-roh-JEE-nee-us]
Varied, composed of parts of different kinds, made up of unrelated or diverse elements, mixed, dissimilar, miscellaneous.
The opposite of heterogeneous is homogeneous (HOH-moh-JEEnee-us, five syllables), of the same or similar nature or kind.
The prefix homo- means same, similar, like, as in homosexual, attracted to the same sex; homogenize, to blend, make similar or homogeneous; and homonym (HAHM-uh-nim), a word that is pronounced the same as another word but that has a different origin and meaning, such as fair and fare.
The prefix hetero- means other, different, unlike, as in heterosexual, attracted to the other sex; heterodox (HET-ur-uhdahks), having an opinion different from the accepted opinion, the opposite of orthodox (OR-thuh-dahks); and heterogeneous, varied, dissimilar, diverse, consisting of different elements or kinds.
- Word 7: Pittance [PIT-’ns]
A small amount, portion, or share, especially a small or meager amount of money. “Her inheritance was only a pittance”; “He received a pittance for his services”; “Some people will work for a pittance if the job is rewarding.”
Think of the pit of a fruit, which is small and hard, and you’ll easily remember that a pittance is a small amount of money that is hard to live on.
- Word 8: Glib [rhymes with rib]
Smooth-spoken, speaking in a ready, fluent manner, with natural or offhand ease, talkative in a nonchalant way.
Synonyms of glib include suave, facile, bland, voluble (word 1 of Level 5), flippant, and unctuous (UHNGK-choo-us).
By the way, I really like the word unctuous. It comes from the Latin ungere, to anoint, which is also the source of the English word unguent (UHNG-gwent), a medicinal ointment, salve (SAV or SAHV). By derivation unctuous means oily, fatty, having a greasy or soapy feel, and today unctuous is used to mean having a slimy, slippery, or smarmy manner. The unctuous person appears agreeable or earnest, but in an affected, self-serving, and insincere way.
Our keyword, glib, also has a slightly unpleasant aroma. In general glib refers to the ability to speak or to something spoken in a smooth, easy, nonchalant way, but the word usually suggests a manner that is too smooth and easy to be convincing. Glib answers may be thoughtless, ill-considered; glib proposals or solutions may be superficial; and a glib salesperson or a glib politician may be persuasive but insincere.
- Word 9: Penchant [PEN-chint]
A liking, leaning, strong inclination, decided taste: “a penchant for sports,” “a penchant for poetry,” “a penchant for spicy food.”
More difficult synonyms of penchant include propensity, a profound, often irresistible inclination; and proclivity, a strong natural or habitual tendency, especially toward something objectionable or wicked. Career criminals have a proclivity for violence. Successful businesspeople have a propensity for discerning the bottom line and making a profit. And many people have a penchant for chocolate, a strong liking, decided taste.
- Word 10: Solicitous [suh-LIS-i-tus]
Concerned, showing care and attention, especially in a worried, anxious, or fearful way.
Solicitous suggests great concern, usually displayed by thoughtful care or hovering attention. In this sense solicitous may be followed by the prepositions of, for, or about: one may be solicitous about the outcome of an event, solicitous of a child, or solicitous for the welfare of another.
Solicitous may also be used to mean eager, full of desire, willing. In this slightly different sense it is followed by the preposition to and still conveys anxious concern: solicitous to gain the advantage; solicitous to know the results of the election; solicitous to go ahead with the plan.