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Verbal Advantage – Level 10 Word 41 – Word 50 MCQ Test

Verbal Advantage - Level 10 Word 41 - Word 50 MCQ Test

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Word List

  • Word 41: Protean [PROH-tee-in]

Highly variable or changeable; readily assuming different shapes, forms, characters, or meanings.


The adjective protean is an eponymous word, a word derived from a name. It comes from Proteus (PROH-tee-us), the name of a sea god in ancient Greek mythology who could change his shape at will. That which is protean is changeable like Proteus, able to quickly take on different shapes, forms, characters, or meanings. A master of disguise is protean, taking on the appearance of different characters; words can sometimes be protean, taking on different meanings; dreams are often protean, assuming different forms; a person’s career can be protean, full of changes; and in my house at least, leftovers are decidedly protean, readily assuming different shapes or forms.

  • Word 42: Crepitate [KREP-i-TAYT]

To crackle; make a crackling, snapping, or popping noise.


The verb to crepitate comes from the Latin crepitare, to crackle, creak, rattle, or clatter. From the same source we inherit the word decrepit (di-KREP-it), which by derivation means having bones that creak and rattle from old age, and also the unusual word crepitaculum (KREP-i-TAK-yuh-lum), the rattle or rattling organ of the rattlesnake.

To crepitate means to do what the ads tell us the cereal does: snap, crackle, and pop. The corresponding adjective is crepitant (KREP-i-tint), crackling or creaking, as the crepitant stairs of an old house. The corresponding noun is crepitation (KREP-i-TAY-shin), as the crepitations of firecrackers on the Fourth of July. In medicine, a crepitation is the grating sound or sensation produced by rubbing together the fractured ends of a broken bone.

Ouch! Let’s leave that painful image behind and move quickly on to…

  • Word 43: Noctivagant [nahk-TIV-uh-gint]

Wandering at night.


Noctivagant comes from the Latin noctivagus, wandering by night, which comes in turn from nox, meaning “night,” and vagari, to wander about. This Latin vagari is also the source of the English adjective vague, literally “wandering in thought,” vagabond, a wanderer, and vagary (traditionally vuh-GAIR-ee, now usually VAY-guh-ree). A vagary is an odd, whimsical idea or an unpredictable, capricious action or event, as the vagaries of the stock market.

Our keyword, the adjective noctivagant, means wandering in the night. Burglars, streetwalkers, and barhoppers are all noctivagant, but I’m sure you can come up with more pertinent applications for this rare but useful word.

The corresponding noun is noctivagation (nahk-TIV-uh-GAY-shin), the act of wandering in the night.

  • Word 44: Fuliginous [fyoo-LIJ-i-nus]

Sooty, smoky; pertaining to, resembling, or consisting of soot or smoke.


Fuliginous comes from the Latin fuligo, soot. The word entered English in the 1600s and since then has been used both literally to mean sooty or smoky and figuratively to mean dark, dusky, or obscure. Fuliginous air is filled with soot or smog. When you clean the windows of your car, you wash off the fuliginous grime. A fuliginous bar is a dark and smoky bar. Fuliginous ideas or thoughts are darkened as if by soot, and therefore are muddled and obscure.

  • Word 45: Hortatory [HOR-tuh-TOR-ee]

Encouraging or urging to some course of action; giving earnest counsel or advice.


The verb to exhort, the noun exhortation, and the adjective hortatory all come from the Latin hortari, to encourage, incite.

To exhort (ig-ZORT) means to urge or advise earnestly to do what is deemed right or proper, as public service announcements that exhort people not to drink and drive.

An exhortation (EG-zor-TAY-shin) is a statement that exhorts, or, as Webster’s New International Dictionary, second edition (1934), puts it, “language intended to incite and encourage.” Adolph Hitler’s racist and chauvinistic exhortations led the German people into World War II.

The adjective hortatory means characterized by exhortations. A hortatory speech or sermon encourages or urges the audience to some course of action. A hortatory disquisition gives earnest counsel or advice.

  • Word 46: Heliolatry [HEE-lee-AHL-uh-tree]

Worship of the sun.


The combining form helio- comes from the Greek helios, the sun, and is used in English words to mean the sun. For example, heliotherapy (HEE-lee-oh-THER-uh-pee) is a form of medical treatment involving exposure to sunlight. In astronomy, heliocentric (hee-lee-oh-sen-trik) means regarding the sun as the center of our planetary system, as opposed to geocentric (jee-ohsen-trik), which refers to the pre-Copernican notion that the Sun revolves around the earth.

The fascinating word heliotropism (hee-lee-ah-truh-piz’m) is formed from helio-, the sun, and the greek tropos, a turning. heliotropism refers to the tendency of plants to bend or move toward—or in some cases, away from—a source of light.

Our keyword, heliolatry, combines helio-, the sun, with the Greek latreia, meaning “worship.” the corresponding noun is heliolater (hee-lee-ahl-uh-tur), a sun worshiper, and the corresponding adjective is heliolatrous (hee-lee-ahl-uh-trus), sun-worshiping.

  • Word 47: Sciamachy [sy-AM-uh-kee]

Shadow-boxing; the act of fighting a shadow or an imaginary enemy.


Sciamachy comes from the Greek skia, a shadow, and mache, a battle, contest, struggle. This Greek mache is the source of the English combining form -machy, which, when tacked on to a word, denotes a battle, contest, or struggle. Theomachy (thee-AHM-uhkee) is a battle against or between gods; gigantomachy (JY-gan-TAHM-uh-kee) is a war or battle between giants or superhuman beings; logomachy (luh-GAHM-uh-kee), from the Greek logos, meaning “word,” is a battle of words; and our keyword, sciamachy, is a battle with a shadow, a contest with an imaginary enemy.

  • Word 48: Glabrous [GLAB-rus]

Smooth and bald.


Glabrous comes from the Latin glaber, without hair, bald, and is used chiefly in biology of something that has a smooth surface without hair, down, fuzz, or other projections. In my humble opinion, a refined word meaning “smooth and bald” has the potential for many applications outside the realm of science. I offer two examples to point you in the right direction: “The amazing Michael Jordan’s glabrous head,” and “The glabrous bodies of maidens in bikinis practicing heliolatry on the beach.”

  • Word 49: Pettifogger [PET-ee-FAHG-ur]

A mean, tricky lawyer; especially, a lawyer who handles petty cases in an unethical, unscrupulous way.


Pettifogger is synonymous with the more familiar word shyster (SHYS-tur). The proverbial ambulance-chaser is also a breed of pettifogger.

The corresponding verb to pettifog (PET-ee-FAHG) means to carry on a law practice in a petty, tricky, unscrupulous way; by extension, it has also come to mean to engage in chicanery (shiKAY-nur-ee) or unethical practices in a business of any sort. The noun pettifoggery means the unethical, unscrupulous practices of a pettifogger, legal tricks or chicanery.

  • Word 50: Epicene [EP-i-SEEN]

Having characteristics or qualities of both sexes.


Epicene comes through Middle English and Latin from a Greek word meaning “in common.” By derivation, that which is epicene has characteristics in common with both sexes. Many paintings and sculptures, both classical and modern, depict epicene figures.

Because something that displays characteristics of both sexes is, by all rights, not a member of one sex or the other, epicene has come to mean not having the characteristics or qualities of either sex, sexless, neuter, as an epicene hairstyle or epicene clothing. And because something sexless lacks sex appeal, epicene is also sometimes used disparagingly of style to mean lacking appeal or potency, feeble, flaccid, as an epicene novel or epicene architecture. Finally, when applied to a man—or at least to someone presumed to be a man biologically—epicene is always used disparagingly to mean not virile, effeminate.

Hermaphroditic and epicene both suggest having characteristics of both sexes, but in different ways.

Hermaphroditic (hur-MAF-ruh-DIT-ik) is the adjective corresponding to the noun hermaphrodite (hur-MAF-ruh-dyt). Hermaphrodite is an eponymous word; it comes from the name Hermaphroditus (hur-MAF-ruh-DY-tus). In Greek mythology, Hermaphroditus was the son of Hermes (HUR-meez), the messenger of the gods, and Aphrodite (AF-ruh-DY-tee), the goddess of love and beauty. While bathing one day, Hermaphroditus was the victim of a contretemps that united him in one body with a water nymph named Salmacis (SAL-muh-sis). In modern usage, a hermaphrodite is a person who has the reproductive organs of both sexes.

Epicene does not usually suggest having both male and female reproductive organs but rather having a range of characteristics of both sexes, emotional as well as physical. Epicene may also be used as a noun to mean an epicene person, someone who has characteristics or qualities of both sexes.

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