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Verbal Advantage – Level 08 Word 41 – Word 50 MCQ Test

Verbal Advantage - Level 08 Word 41 - Word 50 MCQ Test

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Word List

  • Word 41: Sinecure [SY-nuh-KYOOR— recommended—or SIN-uh-KYOOR]

A position that provides a good income or salary but that requires little or no work; in colloquial terms, a cushy job.


Sinecure comes from the Latin phrase beneficium sine cura, which means “a benifice without cure.” And what does that mean, you ask? A benefice is an endowed church position or office that provides a member of the clergy with a fixed income or guaranteed living. A “benefice without cure” means a paid position for a member of the clergy that does not require pastoral work—in other words, the curing of souls. Pastors, vicars, rectors, and the like who were granted sinecures by their church did not have a congregation, and they were paid well to do little or nothing.

Sinecure is such a useful word that it was soon adopted by the laity to mean any position or office that has no specific duties or work attached to it but that provides an income or emolument.

  • Word 42: Predilection [PRED-i-LEK-shin]

A preference, partiality, preconceived liking, an inclination or disposition to favor something.


Synonyms of predilection include fondness, leaning, bias, prejudice, predisposition, affinity (word 46 of Level 4), penchant (word 9 of Level 3), propensity, and proclivity.

Predilection comes through French from the Medieval Latin verb praediligere, to prefer. Unlike the words bias and prejudice, which are often used negatively, predilection has either a neutral or positive connotation and is used as a stronger synonym of preference and partiality (PAHR-shee-AL-i-tee). According to the third edition of Webster’s New World Dictionary (1997), a predilection is “a preconceived liking, formed as a result of one’s background, temperament, etc., that inclines one toward a particular preference.” You can have a predilection for anything you are naturally partial to or inclined to like, as a predilection for ice hockey, a predilection for solving crossword puzzles, a predilection for country music, or a predilection for Italian cuisine.

  • Word 43: Imbroglio [im-BROHL-yoh]

A complicated or intricate situation; a difficult, perplexing state of affairs; also, a misunderstanding or disagreement of a complicated and confusing nature.


Synonyms of imbroglio include entanglement, embroilment, predicament, and quandary (word 27 of Level 3).

Imbroglio comes through Italian and Old French from Latin and means by derivation to entangle, confuse, mix up, embroil. When imbroglio entered English in the mid-1700s, it meant “a confused heap,” but this sense is now rare. The great Oxford English Dictionary shows that by the early 1800s imbroglio had come to mean “a state of great confusion and entanglement; a complicated or difficult situation; a confused misunderstanding or disagreement.” The unraveling of an imbroglio is a common plot in many plays, novels, and operas, but there are plenty of imbroglios in real life as well. Open the newspaper on any given day and you will find stories of political imbroglios, financial imbroglios, marital imbroglios, and criminal imbroglios.

  • Word 44: Ineffable [in-EF-uh-buul]

Inexpressible, unable to be expressed or described in words.


Synonyms of ineffable include unutterable, unspeakable, and indescribable.

Ineffable comes from the Latin ineffabilis, which means unutterable, not able to be spoken. Once upon a prudish time, when Thomas Bowdler was bowdlerizing Shakespeare and the Bible and Anthony Comstock was committing Comstockery on the U.S. Mail, the more refined members of polite society would call the legs of a piano “limbs” and refer to a man’s trousers as “ineffables.” My, how times change. Today women also wear trousers, and hardly anything is ineffable, especially on late-night TV.

Dictionaries note that ineffable may mean too sacred to be spoken, as the ineffable name of a deity (DEE-i-tee) or an ineffable curse, but this sense is now infrequent, and in current usage ineffable almost always means inexpressible, unable to be expressed or described in words. Webster’s New International Dictionary, second edition (1934), notes that ineffable usually applies to “good or pleasant things,” as ineffable beauty or ineffable joy, but it may occasionally apply to something unpleasant that is inexpressible, as ineffable disgust.

  • Word 45: Stolid [STAHL-id]

Not easily moved, aroused, or excited; showing little or no feeling or sensitivity; mentally or emotionally dull, insensitive, or obtuse.


Synonyms of stolid include unemotional, unresponsive, sluggish, apathetic, impassive, indifferent, and phlegmatic (fleg-MAT-ik), word 33 of Level 9.

Stolid comes from the Latin stolidus, stupid, dull, unmoving. According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, third college edition (1997), stolid applies to a person “who is not easily moved or excited,” and suggests “dullness, obtuseness, or stupidity.” Unlike stoic people, who display firmness of mind and character in their thick-skinned, unflinching indifference to pain and suffering, people who are stolid are not easily moved because they are oafs, dolts, louts, or half-wits. In other words, a stolid person shows little feeling or sensitivity because the light’s not on upstairs.

Stolid is sometimes also applied figuratively to behavior or things that are unresponsive, insensitive, or not easily moved. A stolid countenance or expression is unresponsive. A stolid bureaucracy is dense and insensitive to the needs of individuals. And stolid opposition is not easily moved.

  • Word 46: Offal [AWF-ul, like awful— recommended—or AHF-ul]

Waste, garbage, refuse, rubbish.


Offal comes from Middle English and is a combination of the words off and fall. Originally the word applied to anything that fell off or was thrown off in the process of doing something—for example, wood chips in lumbering or carpentry, or the dross or scum that forms on the surface of molten metal. Since the early 1400s, offal has also been used of the waste parts removed in the process of butchering an animal. From that unsavory sense, the meaning of offal broadened to denote waste or garbage in general, anything thrown away as worthless. In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare writes, “What trash is Rome? What rubbish, and what offal?”

Dictionaries still define offal as the waste parts, and especially the entrails, of a butchered animal, and if you are fond of sausages, as I am, I hope it won’t disturb you to know that many of them are made from offal. However, the more general definition of the word—trash, refuse, rubbish—is now probably more common. Today we dispose of our offal in sewers and landfills, and the offal of society gets sent to jail.

  • Word 47: Lissome [LIS-um]

Limber, flexible, moving with ease and grace.


Synonyms of lissome include nimble, agile, supple, and lithe (LYTH, rhymes with writhe).

Lissome, lithe, and limber are close synonyms. Limber suggests moving or bending easily, as limber muscles, or a limber bough. Lithe and lissome suggest moving with nimbleness, agility, and grace; of the two words, lithe is more literal, lissome more poetic. We speak of a lithe runner; a lithe deer; a lissome dancer; a lissome tongue.

  • Word 48: Mellifluous [muh-LIF-loo-us]

Flowing smoothly and sweetly, like honey.


The adjective mellifluous comes through Middle English from Latin and means literally flowing like honey. The word has stuck like honey to its root, and in modern usage mellifluous means honeyed or honey-toned, flowing smoothly and sweetly.

Mellifluous often applies to sounds or words, as a mellifluous voice, mellifluous music, a mellifluous speaker, or mellifluous writing.

  • Word 49: Surfeit [SUR-fit, like surf it]

To supply, fill, or feed to excess, especially to the point of discomfort, sickness, or disgust.


Synonyms of surfeit include sate and satiate (SAY-shee-AYT), which may mean either to fill or supply to satisfaction or to fill or supply beyond what is necessary or desired. Additional synonyms include stuff, cram, glut, gorge, choke, inundate, and cloy.

The verb to surfeit is derived from Middle English and Old French words meaning to overdo, exceed, and in modern usage surfeit means to feed, fill, or stuff to the point of discomfort, sickness, or disgust. You can surfeit yourself on a Thanksgiving feast. You can surfeit yourself with booze. You can watch episodes of the “Three Stooges” until you are surfeited with slapstick humor. Or you can read Verbal Advantage until your brain is surfeited with words.

The corresponding noun surfeit, pronounced the same way, is most often used to mean an excess or oversupply, as a surfeit of praise or a surfeit of products on the market.

  • Word 50: Blandishment [BLAN-dish-ment]

Flattering or coaxing speech or action; an ingratiating remark or gesture.


Blandishment comes through Middle English and Old French from the Latin verb blandiri, to flatter, caress, coax, which comes in turn from the adjective blandus, which means flattering, fondling, caressing. By derivation, blandishment means speech or action that flatters, fondles, coaxes, or caresses in an attempt to win over or persuade a person.

In current usage the word is usually employed in its plural form, blandishments, which the second edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary (1934) defines as “soft words and artful caresses.” Unlike flattery, which is generally perceived as selfserving, blandishments are not necessarily insincere. They may be expressions of honest affection, kindness, or desire. When you offer blandishments to your boss, to a friend, to your spouse, or to your lover, you are using gentle flattery and kind words to butter that person up.

The corresponding verb is blandish, to coax with flattering or ingratiating statements or actions.

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