astound: (v) astonish, stun, confound, dumbfound, flabbergast
The magician astounded the audience by conjuring spirits and talking with mummies.
befitting: (adj) fitting, appropriate to, suited to, apt for
They offered him a post befitting his seniority and experience.
bemused: (adj) bewildered, puzzled, baffled, stumped, muddled
He was looking at the boys with a bemused expression.
blaze: (n) fire, flames, conflagration, inferno, firestorm
Twenty firemen fought the blaze.
callous: (adj) heartless, cold, insensitive, cruel, ruthless, brutal
His callous comments about the murder made me shiver.
chuckle: (v) chortle, giggle, titter, snicker, snigger
He chuckled appreciatively at her riposte.
complacent: (adj) smug, pleased, contented, satisfied, serene, unconcerned
We cannot afford to be complacent about our health.
conjecture: (n) presumption, extrapolation, approximation,
Your assertion is merely a conjecture, not a fact.
consort: (v) agree, accord, square, correspond, tally, be consistent, harmonize
He should have thought a little harder before consorting with the enemy.
consternation: (n) dismay, perturbation, anxiety, angst, trepidation
His decision caused consternation among his colleagues.
desist: (v) abstain, refrain, stop, quit, forgo, eschew
Kindly desist from making so much noise.
faltering: (adj) hesitant, uncertain, stumbling, stammering
Demand is faltering in the world’s largest car market.
filibuster: (n) stonewalling, procrastination, delaying, speechifying, dilly-dallying
The Senator used a filibuster to stop the bill.
flabby: (adj) weak, ineffective, spineless, effete, enervated, wimpy
Many signs of flabby management remain.
forestall: (v) prevent, stop, frustrate, parry, thwart,
They had done little to forestall the attack.
fortitude: (n) strength, resolution, endurance, perseverance, intrepidity
He suffered his illness with dignity and fortitude.
frenzied: (adj) frantic, hectic, feverish, hyperactive, tumultuous
In a night of frenzied selling, Christie’s New York racked up $658.5 million.
grotesque: (adj) malformed, misshapen, gnarled, mangled, monstrous, bizarre
Poverty is ugly and the most grotesque form of slavery.
heckle: (v) jeer, taunt, boo, hiss, interrupt, harass
He was insulted and heckled mercilessly.
huddle: (v) crowd, gather, cluster, flock, throng
They huddled together for warmth.
immaculate: (adj) clean, spotless, pristine, unsullied, gleaming
He was dressed in an immaculate white suit.
indoctrination: (n) brainwashing, schooling, drilling, inculcation
Rigid indoctrination leads to intolerance and fanaticism.
insinuation: (n) implication, inference, intimation, innuendo, allusion, aspersion
It isn’t right to bring a good man down by rumour and insinuation.
kowtow: (v) grovel, flatter, cringe, pander to
Nor did he kowtow to his editors.
kingpin: (n) grandee, honcho, panjandrum, heavyweight, big gun,
Venezuela’s powerful politicians are the kingpins of a big cocaine drug cartel.
largesse: (n) generosity, bounty, munificence, benefaction
His most recent act of largesse is the distribution of gifts among the poor.
masquerade: (n) pretence, pose, facade, dissimulation, subterfuge
He claimed that the elections would be a masquerade.
melancholy: (n) sadness, depression, misery, gloom, despondency, pensiveness
He watched the process with an air of melancholy.
milieu: (n) surroundings, scene, environment, background, sphere
They stayed within their own social milieu.
modicum: (n) little bit, crumb, grain, mite, tinge, iota
I like to think I have had a modicum of success.
mumbo jumbo: (n) gibberish, nonsense, jargon, humbug, cant
It’s all full of psychoanalytic mumbo jumbo.
mutant: (adj) freakish, crooked, distorted, warped, misshapen
Children hate stories about strange mutant beasts.
oblivion: (n) obscurity, limbo, nothingness, nihility, neglect, disregard
Most of these performers will fail and sink into oblivion.
pacifist: (n) peacemaker, appeaser, peacenik, conchie
His experiences had made him a pacifist.
palpable: (adj) obvious, evident, conspicuous, salient
The tension between them is palpable.
pontificate: (v) expound, preach, pronounce, declaim, expatiate
Politicians like to pontificate about falling standards.
precipice: (n) cliff, crag, rock face, brink, scarp
The path had sheer rock on one side and a precipice on the other.
purveyor: (n) seller, trader, retailer, supplier, provider
America is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.
reiterate: (v) repeat, restate, recapitulate,
He reiterated his opposition to the creation of a central bank.
roam: (v) wander, rove, ramble, meander, maunder, traipse
They were encouraged not to let their cattle roam freely.
scourge: (n) affliction, curse, pest, torment, bane
Drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society.
scramble: (v) clamber, climb, crawl, scrabble,
He scrambled up a steep bank.
scum: (n) rabble, trash, riffraff, rubbish, dross,
They’re cultureless scum drifted from elsewhere.
smoulder: (v) seethe, fume, boil, fester
He smouldered as he drove home for lunch.
snipe: (v) criticize, carp, bitch, jeer, denigrate, disparage
She kept sniping at her husband all through dinner.
splinter: (n) sliver, shiver, chip, shard, fragment, bit
Small splinters of wood are scattered on the floor.
swoop: (v) pounce, attack, charge, rush, raid, descend,
The terror ended when armed police swooped on the car.
unerring: (adj) unfailing, infallible, unswerving, impeccable
These designs demonstrate her unerring eye for colour and detail.
vile: (adj) nasty, horrid, abominable, obnoxious, repellent, nauseating
The terrorists have struck a cruel blow with this vile act of terrorism.
woozy: (adj) dizzy, giddy, groggy, muzzy, vertiginous,
The fumes made us feel a bit woozy.
yearn: (v) desire, pine, pant, crave, covet, suspire
She yearned to be with him.
cat-o’-nine-tails: a rope whip with nine knotted cords
claw your way: to move forward with difficulty
have a heart of stone: to be cold and unfriendly
big cheese: an important person
kick the can down the road: procrastinate, delay, dilly-dally
ne’er-do-well: an idle, irresponsible person.
the big daddy: the biggest or the most important person in a group
the dregs of society: riffraff, rabble, hoi polloi
ragtag and bobtail: the lowest social class; the rabble.
sow dragon’s teeth: sow seeds of strife
take up the baton: accept a particular duty or responsibility
the witching hour: midnight; twelve o’clock at night
give eye teeth for: like something very much
shot in the dark: a very general attempt; a wild guess
the dog days: the hottest days of the summer
Indian summer: a period of mild, sunny weather
make a splash: to get a lot of public attention
hot off the press: freshly printed
take the heat: to accept criticism or scolding
bucket down: to rain heavily
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