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Verbal Advantage – Level 10 Word 11 – Word 20 MCQ Test

Verbal Advantage - Level 10 Word 11 - Word 20 MCQ Test

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Word List

  • Word 11: Hieratic [HY-uh-RAT-ik]

Priestly; pertaining to or used by priests; reserved for holy or sacred uses.


Synonyms of hieratic include clerical, ministerial, pastoral (PAStur-ul), ecclesiastical, and sacerdotal (SAS-ur-DOH-tul).

The prefix hiero-, often shortened to hier-, comes from Greek and means sacred, holy, divine. This prefix appears in several interesting English words. Hierocracy (HY-uh-RAHK-ruh-see) means rule by priests, ecclesiastical government. Hierarch (HY-ur-AHRK) means a person who rules over sacred things, a high priest, and also a person who occupies a high position in a hierarchy. Hierarchy (HY-ur-AHRK-ee) may denote religious rule or the organization of a religious order into ranks and grades, as the Roman Catholic hierarchy, but today hierarchy commonly refers to any organized body or system strictly arranged in order of rank, power, or class.

Hieratic means pertaining to priests or to the priesthood, as hieratic vestments or hieratic rituals. Hieratic may also designate a form of ancient Egyptian writing in which the traditional hieroglyphics took on a more cursive, or flowing, form. The hieratic style was opposed to the demotic style.

Demotic (di-MAHT-ik) comes from the Greek demos, the people, and means of the people, popular. From the same source comes democracy, which means literally rule by the people, popular government. The words demotic and vernacular are synonymous. In ancient Egypt, the demotic style of writing was used by the people, the laity; the hieratic style was used by the priesthood. In modern usage, demotic may refer to speech or writing that is vernacular, popular, characteristic of the people. Hieratic writings are priestly, sacred, holy.

  • Word 12: Saturnine [SAT-ur-NYN]

Gloomy, sullen, or somber in appearance, manner, or temperament.


Synonyms of saturnine include grave, melancholy, morose, taciturn (word 2 of Level 3), and phlegmatic (word 33 of Level 9).

Saturnine means literally of or pertaining to the planet Saturn; in astrology, it means born under the influence of Saturn. Apparently this is not a happy influence, for today saturnine is most often used figuratively to mean having a gloomy, sullen, or somber appearance or disposition.

Antonyms of saturnine include mercurial (word 27 of Level 8), and sanguine (word 21 of this level).

  • Word 13: Execrate [EKS-uh-KRAYT]

To denounce vehemently, declare hateful or detestable; also, to loathe, abhor, detest utterly.


The verbs to curse and damn mean to denounce violently, specifically to call down evil upon out of a desire for revenge. Execrate, which by derivation means to put under a curse, suggests a furious or passionate denunciation, prompted by intense loathing: “The opposition execrates everything she stands for.” “Citizens angry over the rise in violent crime gathered in the park to hear speakers execrate drug pushers and gangs.” “When the dictator couldn’t execute his enemies, he execrated them.”

The corresponding adjective is execrable (EKS-uh-kruh-bul), which means abominable, abhorrent, loathsome, utterly detestable. The corresponding noun execration (EKS-uh-KRAY-shin) means a vehement denunciation or the act of execrating, declaring hateful or detestable.

  • Word 14: Vitiate [VISH-ee-AYT]

To corrupt, spoil, ruin, contaminate, impair the quality of, make faulty or impure; also, to weaken morally, defile, debase.


Vitiate comes from the Latin vitium, a fault, vice. That which is vitiated may be literally faulty, defective, or spoiled, or it may be corrupt in a moral sense, vice-ridden, debased. Illogical thought can vitiate an argument; editorial interpolation can vitiate a manuscript; noisome smog vitiates the air; a pernicious habit can vitiate a person’s life. In law, a vitiated contract or a vitiated claim has been corrupted or violated and is therefore invalid, rendered ineffective.

The corresponding noun is vitiation, corruption, spoliation, the act of vitiating or the state of being vitiated.

  • Word 15: Venial [VEE-nee-ul]

Excusable, forgivable, pardonable, able to be overlooked.


Venial comes from the Latin venia, grace, indulgence, and means excusable, forgivable, minor or trivial enough to be overlooked. A venial offense can be pardoned; a venial error can be overlooked; a venial insult can be forgiven; and venial negligence can be excused.

In theology, venial is opposed to mortal. Venial sins are committed without full awareness or consent, and therefore are pardonable. Mortal sins exclude one from grace, and cause the death of the soul.

Do you remember the word venal, keyword 14 of Level 9? Be careful not to get venal confused with venialVenal (VEE-nul, two syllables) means corruptible, capable of being bribed or bought off. Venial (VEE-nee-ul, three syllables) means excusable, able to be overlooked.

  • Word 16: Risible [RIZ-i-buul]

Provoking or capable of provoking laughter.


Synonyms of risible include laughable, amusing, ludicrous, hilarious, ridiculous, and droll (word 36 of Level 5).

Risible, ridicule, and ridiculous all come from the Latin ridere, to laugh at. To ridicule is to laugh at, make fun of. Ridiculous means extremely laughable, preposterous, absurd. And risible means provoking or capable of provoking laughter, amusing, as a risible thought; a risible face; a risible speech: “When Ted’s supervisor told him that his risible remarks during staff meetings no longer would be tolerated, Ted decided that if his supervisor couldn’t see that a staff meeting was one of the most risible forms of human interaction, then he would simply quit and take his sense of humor elsewhere.”

  • Word 17: Lionize [LY-uh-NYZ]

To treat a person as a celebrity or as an object of great interest or importance.


One meaning of the noun a lion is an important, famous, or especially interesting person. “He is a lion in his profession” does not mean he is ferocious but that he is of great interest or importance. A lion of industry is a prominent industrialist. A literary lion is an important, celebrated writer.

The verb to lionize means to treat a person either as a celebrity or as an object of great interest or importance: “If you want to be respected by millions, win a Nobel Prize. If you want to be lionized by millions, become a movie star.” “Despite all their scandals and foibles, the members of England’s royal family are lionized more often than they are vilified.”

  • Word 18: Contretemps [KAHN-truh-TAH(N)]

An embarrassing, awkward, unexpected situation or event; a sudden mishap or hitch; an inopportune occurrence.


In colloquial terms, a contretemps is something that happens in the wrong place at the wrong time, which leaves you high and dry: “There was a contretemps at the party last night when John got soused and started yelling at his wife.” “The company can survive a contretemps, but it must avoid a scandal at all costs.”

Contretemps comes from French and by derivation means something “against the time” or “out of time”; hence, something unexpected or inopportune. The Oxford English Dictionary shows that when the word entered English in the late seventeenth century it applied to the sport of fencing and meant “a pass or thrust…made at a wrong or inopportune moment.” That meaning disappeared by the eighteenth century, and since then contretemps has meant something unexpected that occurs at an inopportune moment and creates an awkward or embarrassing situation.

Because it is an unusual word, not often used in conversation, its pronunciation has never been fully anglicized—that is, made to conform to English ways. Current dictionaries generally prefer the half-anglicized KAHN-truh-TAH(N). The plural is spelled the same but pronounced KAHN-truh-TAH(N)Z.

Contretemps may vary in severity, but they are never on the same scale as a scandal or a crisis. Contretemps are the common stuff of newspaper stories, for they occur frequently in politics and business. Sitcoms and romantic comedies also rely on contretemps to generate laughs and move the plot. The workplace usually is good for one or two juicy contretemps a month, and if you like to socialize or get together with members of your family, then chances are you already are intimately acquainted with that utterly unexpected, embarrassing, and awkward situation known as the contretemps.

  • Word 19: Rodomontade [RAHD-uh-mahn-TAYD or mun-TAYD]

Arrogant boasting or bragging.


Equally challenging synonyms of rodomontade include bluster, braggadocio, vainglory, gasconade, fanfaronade, and jactitation.

Rodomontade comes from Rodomonte, a boastful warrior king in Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. The name comes from the Italian rodomonte, which means literally one who rolls away mountains. By derivation, rodomontade is the arrogant boasting of someone who claims he can move mountains.

  • Word 20: Hebetude [HEB-i-T(Y)OOD]

Stupidity, dullness, obtuseness, lethargy of mind or spirit.


The corresponding verb is hebetate (HEB-i-TAYT), to make or become dull, blunt, or obtuse. The corresponding adjective is hebetudinous (HEB-i-T(Y)OO-di-nus), dull, stupid, obtuse.

Hebetude, hebetate, and hebetudinous all come ultimately from the Latin hebes, blunt, dull. They are great words to use superciliously, when you want to be haughty and make someone else look dumb—but don’t tell anyone I told you that.

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