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Verbal Advantage – Level 05 Word 11 – Word 20 MCQ Test

Verbal Advantage - Level 05 Word 11 - Word 20 MCQ Test

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Word List

  • Word 11: Officious [uh-FISH-us; do not say ohFISH-us]

Pronounce the initial o of officious like the a in ago.


Meddlesome, nosy, intrusive, interfering, prying; specifically, offering unwanted advice or unnecessary services, especially in a high-handed, overbearing way.

The officious person butts in and tries to tell others what to do, or offers help that others do not need. The officious person is a meddler, a busybody: “Lucy was sick and tired of her officious supervisor, who would constantly peer over her shoulder and in a single breath tell her what to do, offer to help her do it, and then upbraid her for not doing it right away.” (Do you know the precise meaning of upbraid? If you have the slightest doubt, look it up now.)

A more difficult and unusual word for this type of unpleasant person is quidnunc (KWID-nuhngk, second syllable rhyming with skunk). Quidnunc comes directly from Latin and means literally “What now?” The quidnunc always wants to know what’s going on, the busybody is always sticking his or her nose into your business, and the officious person is always trying to manage your affairs.

  • Word 12: Intractable [in-TRAK-tuh-bul]

Hard to manage or control, stubborn, unruly.


Antonyms of intractable include obedient, compliant (kum-PLYint), malleable (MAL-ee-uh-bul), docile (DAHS-’l), and tractable.

The antonyms tractable and intractable come from the Latin tractare, to drag around, haul, and also to manage, control. The familiar words traction and tractor come from the same source.

Both tractable and intractable are used chiefly of persons rather than things: Tractable means obedient, compliant, easily managed; intractable means stubborn, unruly, hard to manage or control.

  • Word 13: Altruism [AL-troo-iz-’m]

Selflessness, unselfish concern for the welfare of others.


In the philosophy of ethics, altruism refers to the doctrine that promoting the welfare of society is the proper and moral goal of the individual. In this sense, altruism is opposed to egoism (EE-gohiz-’m), self-centeredness, specifically the doctrine that self-interest is the proper goal of the individual, that the only sensible thing to do in life is look out for number one.

Egoism is distinguished from egotism (EE-guh-tiz-’m), both in spelling and meaning. Egotism is extreme self-involvement, excessive reference to oneself in speech or writing; the egotist (EEguh-tist) cannot stop talking about himself. Egoism implies selfcenteredness, concern for oneself; the egoist (EE-goh-ist) cares only about his own needs, concerns, and goals. Egoism is unpleasant but less intense and disagreeable than egotism.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is altruism. The altruist is selfless, highly moral, and puts the needs of others and of society first. Altruism is unselfish concern for others.

  • Word 14: Accolade [ak-uh-LAYD or AK-uh-layd]

An award; sign of respect or esteem; expression of praise; mark of acknowledgment; anything done or given as a token of appreciation or approval: “At the ceremony she received an accolade from the president for her work”; “He was showered with accolades after the success of his project.”


Here’s an interesting word story for you: Accolade comes through French and Italian from the Latin accollare, to embrace, which comes in turn from ad-, meaning “to,” and collum, the neck, the source of the word collar.

Originally, an accolade was an embrace, specifically the ritual embrace used in conferring knighthood. At one time this consisted of a ceremonial kiss and a light blow on each shoulder with the flat side of a sword. Later the embrace was dropped and the ceremony was limited to the tap on each side of the collar with a sword. From this ritual the word accolade has come to mean any special recognition of merit, achievement, or distinction.

My preferred pronunciation for accolade is ak-uh-LAYD (last syllable like laid), but there are no fewer than three other established, acceptable pronunciations: AK-uh-layd, with the stress on the first syllable; ak-uh-LAHD, final syllable rhyming with rod; and AK-uh-lahd, stress on the first syllable.

  • Word 15: Vernacular [vur-NAK-yuh-lur]

The native language of a people, especially, the common, everyday language of ordinary people as opposed to the literary or cultured language.


The noun vernacular may refer to a native language as opposed to a foreign one, and the adjective vernacular may mean native as opposed to foreign, as: English is my vernacular tongue. More often, though, vernacular is used of the common, everyday language of ordinary people. A vernacular expression is a popular expression, one used by ordinary folk. Vernacular literature is either popular literature or literature written in everyday as opposed to formal language. The phrase “in the vernacular” means in ordinary and unpretentious language.

“I’m not going to do it” is formal language. “I ain’t gonna do it” is in the vernacular. “He doesn’t wish to speak with anyone” is formal language. “He don’t wanna talk to nobody” is vernacular.

These examples of vernacular English are considered ungrammatical and substandard, and I want to be careful not to give you the impression that bad English is the only form of vernacular English. The vernacular comprises all language that is common and informal, any word or expression that ordinary people use—whether it is considered bad or good, acceptable or improper.

In Modern English Usage, H. W. Fowler describes the vernacular as “the words that have been familiar to us for as long as we can remember, the homely part of the language, in contrast with the terms that we have consciously acquired.”

Calling someone a “sharp cookie” is the vernacular way of calling someone intelligent, perceptive, judicious (joo-DISH-us, the next keyword in this level), or sagacious (suh-GAY-shus, word 6 in Level 8). Saying someone is a “phony” is the vernacular way of saying someone is a sham, an imposter, or a charlatan (SHAHRluh-tin, word 17 of Level 4). The vernacular of the East differs from the vernacular of the West, and often residents of different parts of the same state or city have their own vernacular— common, informal, everyday language.

  • Word 16: Judicious [joo-DISH-us]

Wise and careful, having or showing sound judgment.


Synonyms of judicious include sensible, levelheaded, prudent (word 47 of Level 1), and discreet. Antonyms include thoughtless, foolhardy, impetuous (im-PECH-oo-us), and temerarious (TEM-uh-RAIR-ee-us).

Judicious comes through the Latin judicium, judgment, from judex, a judge. Judex and the Latin verb judicare, to judge, pass judgment, are also the source of the English words judgejudgmentjudicial, pertaining to a judge or to a judgment, and judiciary (joo-DISH-ee-ER-ee), judges collectively or the judicial branch of government.

As long as we’re passing judgment on all these words, here’s a spelling tip: Everyone knows the word judge has an e at the end, but many Americans don’t seem to realize that there is no e in the middle of the word judgment. The British (and many Canadians who follow British usage) prefer to retain this medial e and spell the word judgement. The preferred American spelling, however, is judgment.

Our keyword, judicious, means having or showing sound judgment. A judicious decision is a wise and careful decision. A judicious course of action is a sensible, levelheaded, prudent course of action.

  • Word 17: Chrysalis [KRIS-uh-lis]

The pupa of a butterfly; the stage in the development of the insect between the larval and adult stages, during which the insect is enclosed in a case or cocoon.


Chrysalis is now also used in a figurative sense to mean a sheltered and undeveloped state or stage of being: “Promising young artists and writers have always had to break out of their creative chrysalis to achieve the recognition they deserve”; “After four years at college she emerged from her chrysalis in the ivory tower into the wide-open world, fully mature and ready to accomplish great things.”

In this general sense, chrysalis is a useful word that can add a nice touch of style to your expression. Be careful, however, to use it precisely. The danger lies in confusing chrysalis with the words transformation and metamorphosis (MET-uh-MORF-uh-sis).

Listen to this sentence, which was written by a theater critic about a performance of George Bernard (BUR-nurd) Shaw’s Pygmalion: “Dirickson is convincing and eminently likable as Eliza, deftly handling the chrysalis from street urchin to lady while, along the way, growing in confidence and independence.”

You cannot “handle” a sheltered and undeveloped state “from” one thing to another. What the critic meant to describe was a change that resembled the transformation a butterfly undergoes from its larval (LAHR-vul) stage, when it is but a caterpillar, through its chrysalis, its stage of development in the shelter of the cocoon, and then to fully formed adulthood. The proper word for that transformation is metamorphosisChrysalis means a sheltered state or undeveloped stage of being.

  • Word 18: Genteel [jen-TEEL]

Refined, polite, well-bred, sophisticated, elegantly stylish or fashionable, pertaining or belonging to high society.


Genteel came into English in the early seventeenth century from the French gentil, which at the time meant noble, polite, graceful. Originally genteel meant possessing the qualities of those of high birth and good breeding. That definition is still listed in current dictionaries, but today genteel usually suggests an excessive or affected refinement, and the word is often applied to someone or something that is trying to appear socially or intellectually superior.

  • Word 19: Jovial [JOH-vee-ul]

Merry, full of good humor, hearty and fun-loving, jolly, convivial (kun-VIV-ee-ul).


The exclamation “by Jove!” means literally “by Jupiter,” the name of the chief deity (properly pronounced DEE-i-tee, not DAYi-tee) in Roman mythology, called Zeus by the ancient Greeks. From Jove, who was renowned for his love of feasting and merriment, we inherit the word jovial, literally like Jove, merry, good-humored, convivial.

  • Word 20: Subterfuge [SUHB-tur-fyooj]

A deception, trick, underhanded scheme.


Synonyms of subterfuge include stratagem, artifice (AHRT-i-fis), and ruse (properly pronounced ROOZ to rhyme with news, not ROOS to rhyme with loose).

By derivation subterfuge means to flee secretly, escape. In modern usage the word applies to any secret or illicit plan or activity designed to conceal a motive, escape blame, or avoid something unpleasant: “Mystery and spy novels abound with myriad examples of the art of subterfuge.”

Don’t soften the g in this word and say SUHB-tur-fyoozh. The final syllable, -fuge, should rhyme with huge.

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