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125 More Difficult (But Essential) Words


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abate
to become less strong; to decrease in force or intensity; to decrease in value or amount
abhor
to hate a way of behaving or thinking, often because you think it is not moral; to regard with extreme distaste
acclimate
to adapt, to adjust; to change to suit different conditions of life, or to cause someone to change to suit conditions
adage
a proverb, wise saying
aegis
with the protection or support of someone or something, especially an organization
affluent
having a lot of money or owning a lot of things
alleviate
make (suffering, deficiency, or a problem) less severe
altercation
a noisy argument or disagreement, especially in public
antithesis
the exact opposite; a contrast between two things
atheist
someone who believes that God does not exist
avid
having or showing a keen interest in or enthusiasm for something; having an eager desire for
belligerent
wishing to fight or argue, hostile and aggressive; a nation or person engaged in war or conflict, as recognized by international law
benevolent
kind and helpful; (of an organization) serving a charitable rather than a profit-making purpose
benign
pleasant and kind
bizarre
very strange or unusual, especially so as to cause interest or amusement
cajole
to persuade someone to do something they might not want to do, by pleasant talk and (sometimes false) promises
candour
the quality of being honest and telling the truth, especially about a difficult or embarrassing subject
caustic
able to burn or corrode organic tissue by chemical action; sarcastic in a scathing and bitter way
chronological
following the order in which a series of events happened
clandestine
planned or done in secret, especially describing something that is not officially allowed
cliché
a saying or remark that is very often made and is therefore not original and not interesting
coerce
persuade (an unwilling person) to do something by using force or threats
coherent
(of an argument, theory, or policy) logical and consistent
condone
to accept or allow behaviour that is wrong
connive
secretly allow (something considered immoral, illegal, wrong, or harmful) to occur; conspire
corpulent
having a large bulky body; obese; fat
covert
not openly acknowledged or displayed
criterion
a standard by which you judge, decide about, or deal with something
culpable
deserving to be blamed or considered responsible for something bad
cursory
hasty and therefore not thorough or detailed
decadent
characterized by or reflecting a state of moral or cultural decline; a person who is luxuriously self-indulgent
devious
showing a skilful use of underhand tactics to achieve goals; (of a route or journey) longer and less direct than the most straightforward way
digress
to move away from the main subject you are writing or talking about and to write or talk about something else
dormant
(of an animal) having normal physical functions suspended or slowed down for a period of time; in or as if in a deep sleep; (of a plant or bud) alive but not actively growing; (of a volcano) temporarily inactive
duress
threats, violence, constraints, or other action used to coerce someone into doing something against their will or better judgement
egotist
a person who considers himself or herself to be better or more important than other people
elusive
difficult to describe, find, achieve, or remember
emulate
to copy something achieved by someone else and try to do it as well as they have
eulogy
a speech, piece of writing, poem, etc. containing great praise, especially for someone who recently died or retired from work
exacerbate
make (a problem, bad situation, or negative feeling) worse
exhort
strongly encourage or urge (someone) to do something
expedite
to make (an action or process) happen sooner or be accomplished more quickly
fallacious
based on a mistaken belief
fracas
a noisy disturbance or quarrel; scandal
furtive
attempting to avoid notice or attention, typically because of guilt or a belief that discovery would lead to trouble; secretive
garrulous
excessively talkative, especially on trivial matters
gesticulate
use gestures, especially dramatic ones, instead of speaking or to emphasize one's words
heterogeneous
consisting of parts or things that are very different from each other
imbibe
to drink, especially alcohol; absorb or assimilate (ideas or knowledge)
impasse
a situation in which no progress is possible, especially because of disagreement; a deadlock
impeccable
perfect, with no problems or bad parts; in accordance with the highest standards; faultless
incarcerate
to put or keep someone in prison or in a place used as a prison
incriminate
make (someone) appear guilty of a crime or wrongdoing
incumbent
necessary for (someone) as a duty or responsibility; the holder of an office or post
indigent
very poor; need
indolent
wanting to avoid activity or exertion; lazy
inept
having or showing no skill; clumsy
innocuous
not harmful or offensive
insolent
showing a rude and arrogant lack of respect
intrepid
fearless; adventurous (often used for rhetorical or humorous effect)
inundate
overwhelm (someone) with things or people to be dealt with; flood
irrelevant
not connected with or relevant to something
itinerary
a detailed plan or route of a journey
judicious
having, showing, or done with good judgment or sense
lament
a passionate expression of grief or sorrow; mourn (a person's loss or death)
lethargy
a lack of energy and enthusiasm; feeling unwilling or unable to do anything
lucid
expressed clearly; easy to understand; mentally sound
lucrative
(especially of a business, job, or activity) producing a great deal of profit
ludicrous
so foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing; ridiculous
magnanimous
very generous or forgiving, especially toward a rival or someone less powerful than oneself
malevolent
having or showing a wish to do evil to others
mediate
intervene between people in a dispute in order to bring about an agreement or reconciliation
metaphor
a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable
meticulous
showing great attention to detail; very careful and precise (approving)
militant
combative and aggressive in support of a political or social cause, and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods
morbid
characterized by an abnormal and unhealthy interest in disturbing and unpleasant subjects, especially death and disease
mundane
lacking interest or excitement; dull, very ordinary
nefarious
(typically of an action or activity) wicked or criminal, morally bad
nemesis
the inescapable agent of someone's or something's downfall; a long-standing rival; an arch-enemy; retributive justice
nomad
a member of a people that travels from place to place to find fresh pasture for its animals and has no permanent home
nonchalant
(of a person or manner) feeling or appearing casually calm and relaxed; not displaying anxiety, interest, or enthusiasm.
nostalgia
a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past
oblivion
the state of being unaware or unconscious of what is happening around one
obsolete
no longer produced or used; out of date; having been replaced by something newer and better or more fashionable
odious
extremely unpleasant and causing or deserving hate
omnipotent
(of a deity) having unlimited power; able to do anything
onus
something that is one's duty or responsibility
ostensible
stated or appearing to be true, but not necessarily so
panacea
a solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases
paradox
a seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true
pariah
a person who is not accepted by a social group, especially because he or she is not liked, respected, or trusted; an outcast
parsimonious
very unwilling to spend money or use resources; miser, stingy
paucity
the presence of something only in small or insufficient quantities or amounts; scarcity
penitent
feeling or showing sorrow and regret for having done wrong; repentant
pensive
engaged in, involving, or reflecting deep or serious thought
perjury
the offense of willfully telling an untruth in a court after having taken an oath or affirmation
peruse
read (something), typically in a thorough or careful way
phlegmatic
(of a person) having an unemotional and stolidly calm disposition
plagiarise
take (the work or an idea of someone else) and pass it off as one's own
plausible
(of an argument or statement) seeming reasonable or probable
posthumous
occurring, awarded, or appearing after the death of the originator
precocious
(of a child) having developed certain abilities or proclivities at an earlier age than usual
potpourri
a mixture of dried petals and spices placed in a bowl or small sack to perfume clothing or a room
procrastinate
delay or postpone action; put off doing something
prognosticate
foretell or prophesy (an event in the future)
prolific
(of a plant, animal, or person) producing much fruit or foliage or many offspring, fertile
quandary
a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation, dilemma
rabid
having or proceeding from an extreme or fanatical support of or belief in something, furious
rendezvous
a meeting at an agreed time and place, typically between two people
rescind
revoke, cancel, or repeal (a law, order, or agreement)
sanguine
optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation
simile
a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid (e.g., as brave as a lion , crazy like a fox)
skeptic
a person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions
slander
the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation
sporadic
occurring at irregular intervals or only in a few places; scattered or isolated
superficial
existing or occurring at or on the surface; appearing to be true or real only until examined more closely; not thorough, deep, or complete; cursory
taciturn
(of a person) reserved or uncommunicative in speech; saying little
terse
sparing in the use of words, abrupt, brief, to the point
thwart
a structural crosspiece sometimes forming a seat for a rower in a boat; prevent (someone) from accomplishing something
trite
(of a remark, opinion, or idea) overused and consequently of little import; lacking originality or freshness, commonplace
utopia
an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect
vacillate
alternate or waver between different opinions or actions; be indecisive
verbose
using or expressed in more words than are needed
vindicate
clear (someone) of blame or suspicion
volatile
liable to change rapidly and unpredictably, especially for the worse; (of a substance) easily evaporated at normal temperatures