TEKS ELAR Academic Vocabulary List (5th-7th grades)

To improve your fluency in English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR), learn this academic vocabulary list that includes words selected from the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) state standards.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. abbreviation
    a shortened form of a word or phrase
    The singer has been writing in shorthand for years, using now common abbreviations like “2,” “U” and “4” since the early 1980s.
  2. acronym
    a word formed from the initial letters of several words
    "WWW" didn't trip off the tongue for people in other countries but it was an acronym no one else had used.
  3. action
    the series of events that form a plot
    He describes the action in the parlance of a soccer match, his voice rising and falling with the encounter’s ebbs and flows.
    Here, the rising and falling describe the sound of his voice getting louder and softer as he tells a story. In a plot, the rising action is everything that moves the story forward up to its most important part. The falling action is everything that happens after this most important part (see "climax").
  4. adage
    a condensed but memorable saying embodying an important fact
    Well, there’s the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.Salon (Apr 9, 2014)
  5. ad hominem
    appealing to personal considerations rather than to reason
    To put it politely, this is a cheap ad hominem attack. Forbes (Dec 5, 2012)
  6. adjective
    the word class that qualifies nouns
    Avoid foods with descriptive adjectives like “crunchy,” “crispy” and “sauteed.”Seattle Times (Feb 5, 2014)
    In this example sentence, the word "adjective" is used as a noun. The adjective that describes "adjective" is "descriptive"--many adjectives are found right next to the nouns they are describing, but the list of adjectives ("crunchy," "crispy" and "sauteed") describes "foods" (also a noun).
  7. adverb
    a word that modifies something other than a noun
    Should we rid student writing of adverbs because most kids don’t use those very effectively?New York Times (Feb 28, 2012)
    The easy to spot adverb in this example sentence is "effectively" (which can be replaced with one of the few adverbs that don't end in -ly: well). A harder to spot adverb is "very" (used to modify the adverb "effectively"). Note how "qualify" and "modify" are used in the definitions--they mean the same thing.
  8. affix
    a linguistic element added to a word
    By all means, affix sensors to my toilet bowl and examine my excretions.Slate (Feb 26, 2014)
    "Affix" also means "attach to"--that is how the word is used in the example sentence. But let's examine the word "excretions" for affixes: "ex" is a Latin prefix that means "out"; -ion is a Latin suffix that shows the word is a noun that connects to an action or condition; -s is an Old English suffix that shows the noun is plural. The Latin verb "cernere" means "to separate" so if you affix this meaning to all the meanings of the affixes, what do you get?
  9. agreement
    in grammar, the correspondence between two words
    The chief imam, beside him, smiles in agreement.
    "Agreement" also means "harmony of people's opinions or actions or characters"--this is how the word is used in the example sentence. But the given definition refers to the harmony in word relations such as subject-verb. In the example sentence, the subject "imam" is singular so the verb must agree by adding an -s at the end of the verb (this can be a confusing rule because an -s is also used for plural nouns; if "imam" becomes "imams", "smiles" must be changed to "smile").
  10. alliteration
    use of the same consonant at the beginning of each word
    John Wooden was the Wizard of Westwood, a nickname he never much cared for, although the poet in him might have enjoyed the alliteration.Seattle Times (Dec 21, 2010)
  11. alternative
    one of a number of things from which only one can be chosen
    That is true for three of the seven alternatives, including the one that calls for building a dam inside the South Mountain Reservation.
  12. ambiguous
    having more than one possible meaning
    Irvine explains, “English is often ambiguous, and is often filled with odd idiomatic expression that can make things difficult.Forbes (Nov 7, 2013)
  13. analogy
    drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity
    I am also troubled by an analogy made by rights activists that animals are undergoing a “holocaust.”
  14. analyze
    consider in detail in order to discover essential features
    “We will analyze the images of the invasion to find out what went wrong and who was not paying attention at the time,” Paes said.
  15. antecedent
    the word, phrase, or clause to which a pronoun refers
    Mythological or literary antecedents, including “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” are suggested, but Ms. Courtney offers up her own brand of dream imagery.
    "Antecedent" also means "anything that precedes something similar in time"--this is how the word is used in the example sentence to suggest that Alice's Adventures in Wonderland could inspire later books and authors. But the given definition points to "Ms. Courtney" as the antecedent and the pronoun "her" as the anaphor ("a word used to avoid repetition").
  16. antonym
    a word that expresses an opposite meaning
    The direct antonym of cause is effect, while that of antecedent is consequent.Fernald, James Champlin
    The prefix "anti" means "opposite" and the Greek word "onoma" means "name" (any thing can have a name that is expressed by a word). Using the prefix clues in the parentheses, figure out the meanings of the following words:
    synonym (syn-same); homonym (homo-same); heteronym (hetero-different);
    contranym (contra-opposite); pseudonym (pseudo-false); retronym (retro-backward).
  17. apposition
    a relation between a word and a noun phrase that follows
    A noun in apposition with another noun in the nominative case is also in the nominative case; as, Mr. Brown, the manager, is very capable.Buhlig, Rose
  18. argument
    a discussion for and against some proposition or proposal
    It’s the oldest management argument in the book: You’re lucky to have a job.
  19. audience
    the part of the general public interested in something
    Before you brag–humbly or not, business or personal–think about your audience.
    "Audience" also means "a gathering of spectators or listeners at a performance" and "an opportunity to state your case and be heard"--all three definitions can fit, so if you take the advice of the example sentence, when you're about to say great things about yourself, you should first think about who's listening, whether they would be interested, and whether this is a useful opportunity to make your case about your greatness.
  20. author
    a person who writes professionally
    Hundreds of different gospel writers and authors wrote hundreds of texts about God and Jesus.
    The given definition shows "author" as a verb, but in the example sentence, the word class (also known as part of speech) to which "author" belongs is noun.
  21. autobiography
    a book or account of your own life
    My autobiography, where I talk about my childhood in the camp in Arkansas, is in that library.
  22. background
    information that is essential to understanding a situation
    The pterosaur’s ability to walk on all fours has an interesting evolutionary and historical background.
  23. bibliography
    a list of writings with time and place of publication
    I was disappointed in the book's lack of a bibliography, because you mentioned about 300 writers and titles that I'm now interested in picking up.New York Times (Jul 18, 2012)
  24. biography
    an account of the series of events making up a person's life
    All of the kids were read short, positive biographies of famous Americans, half of whom were black and half of whom were white.Slate (Mar 30, 2014)
  25. bracket
    a punctuation mark used to enclose textual material
    In the regular Staples logo, which is all capital letters, the “L” is a staple positioned like a left bracket, its uppermost segment bent over.
  26. brainstorm
    try to solve a problem by thinking intensely about it
    The Vatican announced Tuesday it would host a workshop early in the new year to brainstorm peaceful solutions to the ongoing civil war in Syria.
  27. capitalization
    the use of uppercase letters
    Google has passed Exxon to become the second most valuable U.S. company by market capitalization.
    "Capitalization" also means "an estimation of the value of a business"--that is how the word is used in the example sentence. But the given definition is about CAPITAL LETTERS--of which there are 4 in the example sentence. In the case of Google, the G is capitalized because it is a proper noun that is the name of a company, and because it is at the start of the sentence.
  28. cause
    any entity that produces an effect
    The babies’ bodies were sent to the Utah medical examiner’s office for tests, including one to determine the cause of death.Time (Apr 13, 2014)
    Cause-and-effect is an organizational pattern that highlights the relationships between ideas in a text--this means that a piece of writing can be organized so that it describes one event, shows how this first event CAUSED a second event, and then describes the EFFECTS of this second event (although this should not be a habit, note how the important words are capitalized so that they stand out).
  29. character
    an imaginary person represented in a work of fiction
    All these characters are looking for change, but they can't quite make it happen.Slate (Apr 13, 2014)
    In many stories, the character whom readers cheer for is the protagonist (the main character); the character that gives the protagonist the most trouble is the antagonist. But no matter what role the characters have, the most interesting thing about them would be their ability to change others, situations, and themselves (this makes them dynamic).
  30. characteristic
    a noticeable feature or aspect of something
    Overall characteristics of societies and economies, such as population size, economic activity, and land use, are highly dynamic.
    The example sentence uses "characteristic" as a noun, but the word looks like an adjective and can also be used to mean "typical or distinctive." Here's a sentence that uses the word as an adjective: Texas is a characteristic example of a state with a highly dynamic population.
  31. chart
    a visual display of information
    By sheer influx of people, Houston, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles and Washington top the charts.
  32. choice
    one of a number of things from which only one can be chosen
    “The key is to offer a wide variety of choices.”
    This example sentence can apply to almost anything, including vocabulary. The larger your vocabulary is, the more choices you have to make your words sound and mean exactly what you want. As a reader, you also need to consider the word choices of the writer to see whether there are additional meanings that are included or left out with the use of a specific word instead of another.
  33. citation
    a short note recognizing a source of information
    Third, if you’re going to assert negative facts, provide hyperlinks to your sources as a form of citation, as a recent court opinion illustrated.Forbes (Oct 23, 2013)
  34. claim
    an assertion that something is true or factual
    He added that claims of Russian involvement were “The biggest load of nonsense I have ever heard.”
    The statement is categorical ("not restricted by reservations") in nature, but it is not a categorical claim, since it is focused on a specific accusation of Russian involvement, and it does not state how one thing or action of one category is either similar or unlike a thing or action of another category. Here are examples of categorical claims: All Russian leaders are speakers of nonsense. No speaker of nonsense can be a leader in any country except Russia.
  35. clarify
    make clear and comprehensible
    It clarifies the role of school principals, and holds parents responsible for the actions of children under 18.
  36. classical
    having the form used by ancient standard authors
    But could even greater treasures--including lost works of classical literature--still lie underground?
    The given definition is broader than the one often used to refer only to the ancient Greek and Roman cultures. But it is not as positive as this definition that is also suggested by the example sentence: of recognized authority or excellence.
  37. classification
    a group of people or things arranged by category
    The government had promised international sponsors that ethnic groups could choose their classification.
  38. clause
    an expression including a subject and predicate
    If the future textbooks of a free Iraq get written, the toppling of Saddam will be vaguely mentioned in one clause in one sentence.Salon (Sep 15, 2013)
    Cut the example sentence where the comma is to see the first half is a dependent (or subordinate) clause, because it depends on the second half to make sense. The second half of the sentence is an independent (or main) clause, because it expresses a complete idea by itself.
  39. climax
    the decisive moment in a novel or play
    And thus, the climax of a romantic movie is an engagement, or a kiss, or a handprint on a foggy car window.Time (Feb 14, 2014)
  40. closure
    something settled or resolved
    Until wreckage is found, there can be no closure for families of the 239 passengers and crew.
  41. coherent
    marked by an orderly and consistent relation of parts
    Realizing exactly what you’ve committed to do is a great first step in organizing your thoughts in a coherent form.Forbes (Mar 28, 2014)
  42. collective
    members of a cooperative enterprise
    That’s why we’re in this collective called a society: We share costs.
    The given definition is for the word as a noun. It has a similar meaning as an adjective: "forming a whole." Collective nouns describe groups. Here are some examples:
    groups of people: society, class, family, team.
    groups of animals: herd, flock, pack, swarm.
    groups of objects: set, batch, bunch, fleet.
  43. colon
    a punctuation mark used after a word introducing a series
    “13.4c” explained how to introduce quotes with a colon instead of a comma.Forbes (Dec 19, 2013)
    As the example sentence and definition suggest, a colon can be used to introduce many things: a quote, a series, a list of examples, or an explanation. See this note and the one above for several uses of the colon.
  44. comma
    a punctuation mark (,) indicating the separation of elements
    By the way, you forgot a comma there, genius.
  45. commercial
    an ad on radio or television sponsored by a business
    Its Super Bowl commercial last year featured video of a baby getting tossed in the air with a GoPro video camera strapped to his head. Forbes (Apr 14, 2014)
  46. communicate
    transmit thoughts or feelings
    The internet and social media mean we can communicate more freely than ever.
  47. compare
    examine and note the similarities or differences of
    Instead, it compared the diets of people who went on to develop diabetes and those who did not get the disease.
  48. compile
    put together out of existing material
    Awkward Family Photos, the beloved website that compiles the best of the worst family portraits, is getting its very own museum exhibit.
  49. composition
    an essay, especially one written as an assignment
    The show remains more dedicated to restating its topic sentence than the most obedient ninth-grade composition student.Slate (Jan 2, 2014)
    In addition to being the essay itself, composition can refer to the act of writing the essay, and it could refer to the way in which the words, sentences, and paragraphs are put together.
  50. compound
    composed of more than one part
    Not only are people able to make compound expressions consistently, but we are also able to read these emotions pretty accurately as well.
    Compound expressions can be words such as "background" or "brainstorm" or sentences that are created by joining at least two independent clauses. The example sentence can be turned into a compound sentence: remove "not only" before switching the order of the verb and subject (so the sentence starts with "People are"); replace the conjunction "but" with "and" before reading the sentence aloud and realizing that this new composition is not as strong.
  51. comprehension
    an ability to understand the meaning of something
    But both measures—vocabulary and comprehension—are well-established indicators of mental ability.Forbes (Mar 19, 2014)
  52. conclusion
    a position or opinion reached after consideration
    Some studies are too small to draw any definitive conclusions.
  53. conflict
    opposition in a work of fiction between characters or forces
    “Drama is made out of conflict,” he said.Seattle Times (Apr 9, 2014)
    As the example sentence suggests, conflict is often the most important part of a story. The five major types are: human vs. human, human vs. environment, human vs. nature, human vs. society, and human vs. self. The first four are external conflicts that a character might face in the outside world. Dealing with external conflicts can create internal conflicts within a character, and a character's internal conflict can affect the way external conflicts are dealt with.
  54. conjunctive
    a function word that serves to conjoin words or phrases
    Be particularly careful of the conjunctive adverbs: so, then, therefore, thus, also, still, otherwise, however, hence, consequently, moreover, nevertheless.Buhlig, Rose
    In the example sentence, "particularly" is an adverb, but it is not a conjunctive adverb, because it does not connect any clauses. Rather, it modifies the adjective "careful" (find the conjunctive adverb in this independent clause). Conjunctions are words that connect two or more words, clauses, or sentences (in this sentence, the same conjunction is used twice; in the first sentence, there are two different conjunctions).
  55. consequence
    the outcome of an event
    "Those that think about running away are afraid the authorities will return them to their masters with terrible consequences," he said.
  56. consider
    think about carefully; weigh
    There is also an issue of fairness to consider, said Diane Thompson, an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.
  57. consonant
    a letter of the alphabet that does not stand for a vowel
    Consonants, for example, are pronounced from the back of the throat with a sudden guttural puff of air.
  58. consult
    seek information from
    To help turn ingredients foraged at local markets into meals, she consults Mark Bittman’s book, How to Cook Everything.Forbes (Mar 28, 2014)
  59. contemporary
    belonging to the present time
    “It is our mission to collect objects that have a relevance to contemporary culture,” said Peter Hoffmann, a spokesman for the museum in Bonn.
    As seen in the given definition and example sentence, "contemporary" is an adjective that is often used to mean the opposite of "classical" (especially in describing art forms). "Contemporary" also has a definition that does not compare to other times, but instead, describes two things that are happening in the same period of time. As a noun, "contemporary" means "a person of nearly the same age as another."
  60. context
    discourse that surrounds and helps explain a word or passage
    Even without accessing the dictionary, children are able to glean the meaning of many words from context.
  61. contrast
    the act of distinguishing by comparing differences
    By contrast, students who have more recently begun studying Spanish show markedly different processing of these elements of the language.
  62. convention
    something regarded as a normative example
    Many labs do not have formalized notebook-writing conventions in place.Nature (Mar 26, 2014)
  63. convey
    serve as a means for expressing something
    Television is constantly conveying what people think of animals, but it hardly ever considers what animals think of people, or whether they think at all.
  64. counterargument
    an opinion offered in opposition to another position
    Most important of all, he did not downgrade students who came back at him with tight counterarguments.Slate (Dec 20, 2012)
  65. critique
    a serious examination and judgment of something
    Even now, in retirement, Edward Beitashour watches all of his son’s games and sends emails with critiques of his performance.
  66. culture
    all the knowledge and values shared by a society
    Western culture imbues us with the idea of insect as monster.
  67. data
    a collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn
    But with big data if most of your findings are false you find out sooner rather than later.Forbes (Apr 15, 2014)
  68. decide
    bring to an end; settle conclusively
    There are no juries at trials in South Africa, and his fate will be decided by the judge, assisted by two assessors.
  69. demonstrate
    provide evidence for
    Winners, who are voted upon by teammates, demonstrate dedication, strength and courage in the face of adversity.
    The Latin verb "monstrare" means "to show"--this meaning is demonstrated by the example sentence, because the winners are athletes who have both put on a sports show and shown evidence of their dedication, strength, and courage. The choice of these winners demonstrates this idea: the personal qualities of individual players become more important when the team is losing.
  70. denouement
    the resolution of the main complication of a literary work
    The denouement brings forward a surprising villain and a satisfying conclusion for two people who are clearly right for each other.Seattle Times (Jan 2, 2014)
  71. derive
    come from
    There’s a German word I learned about in psychology class called schadenfreude, which means a pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.Salon (Apr 5, 2014)
    The word "schadenfreude" is derived from German ("schaden" means "damage" and "freude" means "joy"). The word "derive" is derived from Latin ("de" means "away" and "rivus" means "stream").
  72. describe
    give an account or representation of in words
    “Your whole core just shook,” she said, describing the mountain of mud, rock and uprooted trees that ripped through her neighborhood.
  73. detail
    a small part considered separately from the whole
    Each detail has to be perfectly placed to create the backdrop and yet not get in the way of the story.Slate (Apr 10, 2014)
    As the example sentence suggests, the amount of detail should be tailored to fit; this is true for stories, clothes, or anything else. Too few details will leave holes, and too many details will get in the way. The placement of details is also important to add to the whole picture.
  74. determine
    find out or learn with certainty, as by making an inquiry
    The plane’s black box could help investigators determine why flight MH370 diverted from its flight plan and ended in the Indian Ocean.Salon (Apr 16, 2014)
    "Determine" has other definitions that make the verb synonymous with "decide": 1) reach, make, or come to a decision; 2) settle conclusively. People who are determined would devote their full strength and attention, because they have already decided that they want to achieve that goal.
  75. develop
    progress or evolve through a process of natural growth
    Employees and other stakeholders should have the opportunity to develop their skills, knowledge and experience to help pursue the evolving digital strategy.Forbes (Apr 16, 2014)
  76. device
    something in an artistic work designed to achieve an effect
    The shocking death of a lead character is a device used to unnerving effect in Hitchcock’s Psycho.Salon (Apr 12, 2014)
    Many plot devices in a movie can also be seen in written stories, but movies can highlight visual effects, while writing relies on words to create effects. For examples, suspense is a plot device in both movies and writing, but a pun is a literary device that works better in writing because it often relies on the spellings, sounds, meanings, and contexts of words ("a good pun is its own reword").
  77. diagram
    a drawing intended to explain how something works
    Diagrams drawn on the skins identify parts of the body, but also link traditional Chinese medicine with other cultures’ traditions and religion with everyday life.
  78. dialect
    the usage or vocabulary characteristic of a group of people
    This is another fun term derived from the cuckoo, known as a gowk in some Scottish dialects.
  79. dialogue
    the lines spoken by characters in drama or fiction
    A Disney actor dressed as Merlin is there, reciting dialogue—“Let the boy try.”
    In Greek, the prefix "dia" means "between" and the noun "logos" means "speech" (so a dialogue is speech between two or more people). Using the prefix clues in parentheses, figure out the meanings of the following words:
    monologue (mono-one); prologue (pro-before); epilogue (epi-in addition to)
  80. diary
    a daily written record of experiences and observations
    Anne Frank's diary was written during World War Two, while the teenager hid from the Nazis in occupied Amsterdam.
  81. dictionary
    a reference book containing an alphabetical list of words
    “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”Forbes (Mar 5, 2014)
  82. different
    unlike in nature, quality, form, or degree
    In this video, he perfectly mimics the sounds of 30 different animals, from horses and pigs to lambs and even flies.
  83. differentiate
    mark as distinct
    Picture the smiley face icon--the only thing differentiating it from a frowning face is the upwardly curving mouth line.Forbes (Apr 7, 2014)
  84. digital
    using or characteristic of computerized technology
    The artist uses digital technologies in his work as well as hand-crafted skills and traditional metalworking techniques.
    Your fingers are also called digits, so digital technologies could be tools designed for human hands. But the structure of the example sentence (especially the phrase "as well as") differentiates between digital technologies made possible by computers and skills that require the use of human digits.
  85. discussion
    an extended communication dealing with a particular topic
    Some classes will have online discussions, while other students will watch video lectures or listen to podcasts recorded by their instructors.
  86. distinguish
    mark as different
    Lubbock taught the dog to distinguish between blank pieces of cardboard and those with the words “Food,” “Tea,” “Water,” “Bone,” and “Out” written on them.
  87. documentary
    a film presenting the facts about a person or event
    Meanwhile, Animal Planet is airing fake documentaries about mermaids.Slate (Apr 11, 2014)
  88. documentation
    confirmation that some fact or statement is true
    Both Kansas and Arizona require people registering to vote to provide a birth certificate, passport or other documentation proving their U.S. citizenship.Time (Mar 28, 2014)
  89. draft
    any of the various versions in the development of a work
    Ultimately, this feels like a rough draft of a movie, waiting to be filled in.Seattle Times (Apr 3, 2014)
  90. drama
    a work intended for performance by actors on a stage
    “People’s lives being good is never good drama. So we’re always looking for more problems for these people.”Seattle Times (Apr 9, 2014)
  91. edit
    prepare for publication or presentation by revising
    Even if you buy a nice keyboard to use with your iPad, it’s much faster to create and edit documents on laptop.Seattle Times (Apr 4, 2014)
  92. effect
    a phenomenon that is caused by some previous phenomenon
    That astounding reversal of the usual chain of cause and effect changed the way I thought about the McMansion.
  93. electronic
    relating to or operating by a controlled current
    Lastly, adults should ensure that children are not overusing e-book features like the electronic dictionary or the “read to me” option.
  94. element
    one of the individual parts making up a composite entity
    Breaking through in a cluttered marketplace requires expertise in all of the elements of storytelling.
    As the given definition shows, "element" can refer to any part of any whole, whether it's one of the substances of the universe, one of the graphical marks of this sentence on your screen, or one of the conflicts in a story. This example sentence suggests that the same elements used to develop a good story can be used to develop a successful business.
  95. ellipsis
    a mark indicating that words have been omitted
    Mr. Toobin relied on ellipses to capture the tone of the president’s comment: “His remark to the chief justice had an ... edge.”
    Why would a writer want to leave out...?
    1) to show a slight pause, unfinished thought, or awkward silence.
    2) to create a mood of sadness or longing.
    3) to shorten a long quote and focus only on the important points.
    4) to suggest unprintable words.
  96. emphasis
    special importance or significance
    So across the country there’s been an emphasis on testing and an emphasis on measurements—sometimes at the expense of an investment in education itself.Salon (Apr 7, 2014)
    The word "emphasis" is repeated to emphasize its importance. However, the example sentence uses the repetition to make fun of the country's emphases on testing and measurements; this disagreement with the emphases is seen in the last part of the sentence.
  97. enhance
    make better or more attractive
    Using a blue desktop background, for example, can enhance creative performance, while red helps you attack and focus on nitty-gritty details.
  98. enunciation
    the articulation of speech with regards to intelligibility
    He set the benchmark in enunciation, and he emphasized key words through changing the sound of the note on which the word was sung.
  99. epic
    a long narrative poem telling of a hero's deeds
    In Homer’s epic Odyssey, the great dog Argus plays a seemingly small, yet very profound, role.Salon (Apr 6, 2014)
  100. essay
    an analytic or interpretive literary composition
    The major change is that the essay will ask students to analyze a given argument rather than take a stance on a question.
  101. establish
    show the validity of something, as by example or explanation
    Only further research will establish that these cures will endure, averting an estimated 15,000 deaths a year from liver disease in the U.S.Seattle Times (Apr 12, 2014)
  102. evaluate
    judge; form a critical opinion of
    Obtain as much information as possible to evaluate the location, size, and educational specialties of every school.
  103. event
    something that happens at a given place and time
    Spider experts concede that a sleeping person could plausibly swallow a spider, but “it would be a strictly random event.”Scientific American (Apr 15, 2014)
  104. evidence
    means by which an alleged matter is established or disproved
    Some of the best evidence that vaccines are effective comes from the fact that we know what happens when they are not available.Forbes (Apr 16, 2014)
  105. exaggerated
    represented as greater than is true or reasonable
    How could a news report possibly be trusted if the author exaggerated to increase its commercial appeal?Salon (Mar 29, 2014)
  106. explain
    make plain and comprehensible
    It’s meant for a family audience; the film explains the life of a bear in a way that’s straightforward but rated-G.
  107. explicit
    precisely and clearly expressed or readily observable
    While the drug’s original label had a so-called black box warning about blood clots, the new warning is much stronger and more explicit.
  108. expository
    serving to expound or set forth
    When you look at a trending topic there is an “About” tab, offering up expository content about current events.Forbes (Dec 10, 2011)
  109. expression
    the communication of your beliefs or opinions
    But on Patreon, the types of creative expression being shared are so diverse that it makes taste irrelevant--there’s something for everyone.Forbes (Apr 10, 2014)
    An expression can also be an individual word or phrase (verbal), or a movement on the face (nonverbal).
  110. factual
    existing in reality
    "There is no factual basis for such conclusions and we reject these false and misleading allegations," military spokesman Ruwan Wanigasooriya said.
  111. fallacy
    a misconception resulting from incorrect reasoning
    It’s an inane and baseless fallacy, a conclusion with no reasoning, a judgment with no facts.Slate (Feb 5, 2014)
  112. feature
    a prominent attribute or aspect of something
    Just as important as giving members more features is Facebook’s opportunity to learn about location, location-based services, and how consumers use them.Forbes (Apr 17, 2014)
    What makes a feature different from an element is that it has to stick out and be important. Thus, there are many elements that make up this page, but one text feature is the italic font that differentiates the example sentences from the notes. Facebook has many elements as a website, but one feature is the ability to share pictures. Your face has many elements, but which feature do others notice first?
  113. feedback
    response to an inquiry or experiment
    Leaders who try to be perfect harm their reputation when it makes them seem unapproachable or not open to feedback.  Forbes (Apr 14, 2014)
  114. fiction
    a literary work based on the imagination
    Science fiction has always been the world of “what if.”Seattle Times (Apr 16, 2014)
  115. figurative
    not literal
    As word spread, more than a few expressed disappointment that the axe which had fallen on Morgan was figurative and not literal.
    The figure of speech "get the axe" means to get fired from a job. Although that can be painful, it would not be as painful as literally having an axe fall on you to chop off your head.
  116. film
    a series of moving pictures that tells a story
    In his own classroom, Blecher said he’s used verbal warnings about a violent murder in a film he was about to show.Slate (Apr 17, 2014)
  117. finding
    the act of determining the properties of something
    Dr. Dubinett added that researchers were collecting additional data before submitting the findings to a medical journal for publication.
  118. fluency
    skillfulness in speaking or writing
    Communication difficulties can include problems with speech sounds, language, social interaction, voice or fluency.
  119. focus
    direct one's attention on something
    We focus on academics, but our kids also need to be emotionally literate, able to tell a story from beginning to end.
  120. foreign
    relating to another place or part of the world
    These dish names look pretty foreign to the average college student eye, accustomed to the likes of pad thai, burgers and Chipotle burritos.Seattle Times (Apr 14, 2014)
  121. foreshadow
    indicate by signs
    He enters looking down, heavy head bowed, which proves a foreshadowing of the bummer times to come.
  122. form
    a particular mode in which something is manifested
    With radio and telephony in their infancy, letters and postcards were the most common form of communication between those serving and their next of kin.
    "Form" has many forms as a word: it can be used as a noun or verb to form different meanings. In Latin, "forma" means "shape"--so anything that has a shape is a form, and anything with a shape can be formed. In English class, you learn different forms of words, sentences, writing styles, and media, so that you can form your own work and opinions about other people's works.
  123. formality
    a manner that strictly observes all forms and ceremonies
    Formal dress puts an emphasis on formality and presentation.New York Times (Feb 4, 2014)
  124. format
    the general appearance of a publication
    In Word, you can type, search, add comments and perform some basic font formatting, but that’s it.
  125. function
    the actions and activities assigned to a person or group
    It is a change in the role of the manager, not an abolition of the function.Forbes (Apr 18, 2014)
    In the example sentence, "function" and "role" are synonyms--both refer to a manager's job. "Function" also means "what something is used for." Here, the word "function" functions as a noun, but it can also function as a verb in other sentences. Similarly, "change" is a word that can function as either a noun or verb. In both cases, the articles "a" and "the" are clues to the function of the words.
  126. genre
    a kind of literary or artistic work
    The successful acts span the genres of rock/alternative, pop, dance/electronic, urban, classical, jazz and world music.
  127. gesture
    motion of hands or body to emphasize a thought or feeling
    She cannot speak, but communicates volumes with her eyes, vocalizations and gestures.
  128. glossary
    an alphabetical list of technical terms in a field
    Like the sports guide, the Financial Glossary provides definitions, use, and context information for commonly used terms that may not be familiar to you.
  129. grammar
    the branch of linguistics that deals with sentence structure
    As with any translation, there may be errors of grammar, clumsy phrases and perhaps a few missing passages, but the book will be legible.
  130. graphic
    a visual image
    'BOOM!' was the wording on a graphic used to illustrate the problem.Forbes (Apr 8, 2014)
    A graphic does not have to be generated by a computer; it can be any image, including a graph or chart, that is created and used to present ideas. As an adjective, "graphic" means "evoking lifelike images within the mind"--this sounds like a positive quality, but the adjective is often used to describe violent and sexual images that might negatively affect the mind.
  131. guide
    something that offers basic information or instruction
    If anything in the news upsets you, read our guide to find out what to do.
  132. historical
    used of the study of a phenomenon as it changes through time
    He also looks at genetics, because our genes provide a historical record, just as fossils do.
    "Historical" can describe anything that's connected to the past. Or it can be a synonym for "historic" and describe a past event or person that is important enough to affect many people and events throughout time.
  133. hyperbole
    extravagant exaggeration
    He is enthusiastic bordering on hyperactive, bouncing from topic to topic and speaking in near-constant hyperbole.Seattle Times (Feb 13, 2014)
    The Greek prefix "hyper" means "over, above, beyond" (similar to "extra" in "extravagant"). The Greek verb "ballein" means "to throw." Throwing ideas over, above, and beyond their ordinary limits can be funny and memorable. But hyperactive hyperbole use can also lead audiences to lose their patience and trust in your words.
  134. hyphen
    a punctuation mark (-) used between parts of a word
    " Hyphen" is the overall name Cabeen gives these small-scale collaborations, and four out of five pieces in this year's edition, " Hyphen 2012," are brand-new.Seattle Times (Mar 23, 2012)
    There are 7 words functioning as adjectives in this example sentence. Can you spot them all? Hints: a hyphenated adjective counts as 1 word; pronouns can also function as adjectives.
  135. idea
    the content of cognition
    "You don't want to be controlled because the whole idea is that we want to express ourselves."
    Here, the adjective used to describe "idea" is "whole" but there are many ways to talk about ideas. The adjectives you might focus on are: main or key (these ideas are the most important); controlling (the idea that expresses a definite opinion about the topic and that would control the direction in which the essay develops).
  136. identify
    give the name or characteristics of
    They could identify all 12 individuals as well as the monkeys' relationships to each other.BBC (Apr 14, 2014)
  137. idiom
    expression whose meaning cannot be inferred from its words
    Ms. Li said, “You miss a lot of idioms, cultural things,” if you don’t go to middle school or high school in the language.
    "Idiom" also means "a manner of speaking natural to a language's native speakers"--this definition is suggested by the example sentence, but its main focus is on those expressions that are difficult to translate from one language to another because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
  138. illustration
    a visual representation to make a subject easy to understand
    Together, the findings show that language matters more than illustration when it comes to learning about animals’ biology and psychology.
  139. image
    a visual representation produced on a surface
    State television has sought to project an image of normality, showing images of packed beaches, happy people, and officials praising Maduro.
    The first use of the word "image" means "the general impression that something presents to the public." Violence between protesters and police has created a negative image of Venezuela, so the country is trying to change that image by sending happy images through television screens. Images can be produced on any surface using any tool--this includes images produced in the mind through descriptive language.
  140. imagery
    the ability to form mental pictures of things or events
    Then the predawn imagery of Texas—rough, lovely open country—appeared on the screen.Slate (Mar 4, 2014)
  141. imaginative
    marked by independence and creativity in thought or action
    He changes the world around him through the creation of new systems, new inventions, and imaginative solutions to old problems.Forbes (Feb 5, 2014)
  142. implicit
    suggested though not directly expressed
    Unfortunately, some implicit lessons can contradict explicit teaching about safe practices—with potentially dangerous results.
  143. inconsistency
    the quality of lacking a harmonious uniformity among parts
    But inconsistencies between those new procedures and the original papers only fueled more confusion and suspicion.
  144. indefinite
    not decided or not known
    Death for me now is not something in the indefinite future, it is in the immediate future.
    According to this example sentence, "something" is an indefinite pronoun that cannot substitute for the definite event of death. This contrast between definite and indefinite states of knowing could be made stronger if the first definite article "the" were changed to the indefinite article "an" (an indefinite future vs. the immediate future).
  145. inference
    a conclusion you can draw based on known evidence
    Much is left to our own inference, which would be okay if we were given enough information to work with.Forbes (Jun 4, 2013)
  146. influence
    a power to affect persons or events
    Power is a tool, influence is a skill; one is a fist, the other a fingertip.
  147. inform
    impart knowledge of some fact, state or affairs, or event to
    This informs what he has done in Ukraine and should inform our judgment of it.Salon (Apr 3, 2014)
    In the example sentence, the first use of "inform" connects to the giving of information; the second use of "inform" connects to giving a form, shape, character, or essence to something (which in this case is "our judgment").
  148. informal
    not in accord with established conventions and requirements
    They have been mostly civilians formed into informal militias with mismatched uniforms.
    "Inform" and "informal" look similar and they both come from the same Latin root "forma" but the prefix "in" has two different meanings: "in" or "not."
    Bonus information that will be informally given: uniform = unus (one) + forma (shape)
  149. initial
    the first letter of a word (especially a person's name)
    “P.D.I.P. will be good for the unity of Indonesia,” Mr. Gandi said, referring to the opposition party by its Indonesian initials.
  150. instruction
    a message describing how something is to be done
    Each lesson included some instruction followed by some practice.
  151. interpret
    make sense of; assign a meaning to
    For them, happy could be interpreted as anything from happy to laughing to wonder.
  152. interview
    the questioning of a person, often conducted by journalists
    Pollsters are confident they can interview about 1,000 people to measure the views of a nation of over 300 million.
  153. introduction
    the first section of a communication
    Carroll’s introduction lays out his purpose and why he went about it the way he did.
  154. irregular
    contrary to rule or accepted order or general practice
    Only the small class of verbs we know as irregular managed to resist.
    In the example sentence, there are 3 verbs, but only one is considered irregular because it does not follow the rule of adding a "d" or "ed" to create the past tense. Do you know which verb is the irregular one?
  155. italic
    a typeface with letters slanting upward to the right
    With those tools, would-be publishers could change fonts, adjust typeface sizes and add attributes such as italics.Seattle Times (Jan 23, 2014)
  156. journal
    a daily written record of experiences and observations
    “The day was splendid for it,” she wrote of the session in her journal.
  157. key
    serving as an essential component
    For our prehistoric ancestors, a finely tuned sense of hearing was a key tool for ensuring survival.
    As an adjective, "key" is synonymous with "main" (see note for "idea"). As a noun, "key" is a tool that unlocks things such as doors, the answers to test questions, or the meanings of symbols and abbreviations.
  158. language
    a means of communicating by the use of sounds or symbols
    One thing you don’t get taught when you learn a language is how to swear and argue.
  159. legible
    capable of being read or deciphered
    At least one letter, and perhaps two, is legible in the new signature, although one might be hard-pressed to name three.
  160. letter
    a written message addressed to a person or organization
    “Congratulations! You are now an ambassador for world understanding,” the letter said.
  161. linguistic
    consisting of or related to language
    Despite all of its considerable linguistic sophistication, the novel offers a blunt message: Words are good.Slate (Apr 9, 2014)
  162. literary
    relating to or characteristic of creative writing
    But James Bond began as the literary creation of writer Ian Fleming, who himself enjoyed a life as remarkable as his famous protagonist.Seattle Times (Dec 18, 2013)
    According to the chosen definition, the literary nature of James Bond cannot be questioned, because he is a fictional character created by Ian Fleming. However, the literary nature of Fleming's writing can be debated according to this definition: "appropriate to creative writing of recognized artistic value."
  163. literature
    writings in a particular style on a particular subject
    During the Cold War, the CIA loved literature—novels, short stories, poems.
  164. log
    a written record of events on a voyage (of a ship or plane)
    These days, for example, she’ll ask people to keep logs of their days using their smartphones to take notes and photos.Forbes (Apr 16, 2014)
    Compare with "journal"--the two words are often used as synonyms. But a journal can record daily personal observations with no particular focus; it can also be a monthly publication on a particular subject. A log is more focused on the events of a voyage that takes you to a new world in the sky or in a book.
  165. logical
    capable of correct and valid reasoning
    The unusually large extent of ice is due to a logical factor: it’s been really, really cold around the Great Lakes.
  166. map
    explore or survey for the purpose of making a diagram
    First, we can’t yet scan a human brain in nearly enough detail to map all its “circuits.”Slate (Apr 13, 2014)
  167. meaning
    the message that is intended or expressed or signified
    “You really need to appreciate the full range of meanings that a word can have.”
  168. mechanics
    the technical aspects of doing something
    State Senator Dale Schultz was a rare Republican who voted against the bill, saying the party was “fiddling with mechanics rather than ideas.”
    Mechanics focus on how something is done, which, as this example sentence suggests, should not be confused with why something should be done. Similarly, in writing, you need to know the mechanics of word usage, punctuation, and sentence structure, but all the technical rules are meaningless if you have no ideas to present.
  169. memoir
    an account of the author's personal experiences
    Hillary Clinton’s upcoming memoir of her time in the Obama Administration will be released on June 10, according to a website for the book.
  170. message
    a communication that is written or spoken or signaled
    But the hard part of communication is often figuring out how to make sure a message doesn’t go in one ear and out the other.The Tipping Point
  171. metaphor
    a figure of speech that suggests a non-literal similarity
    In any case, doors are a handy metaphor for the mysteries of life and human nature.
  172. meter
    a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in verse
    We would rather be gushing about Milton’s meter or Woolf’s rhythms than explaining how to write academic arguments.Salon (Mar 2, 2014)
    In Greek, "metron" means "measure"--this can apply to the measure of length, quantity, weight, time, etc. In poetry, the meter is the rhythm that can be measured by the accents of specific groupings of syllables. For example, the phrase "Milton's meter" has two metrical feet, and each foot is called a trochee (a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable).
  173. method
    a way of doing something, especially a systematic way
    Home cooks and food writers experiment with different methods, depending on whether they want a crunchier or creamier texture.
  174. modifier
    a content word that qualifies the meaning of a noun or verb
    The Secret Service is frequently described now with the modifiers “macho” or “male dominated.”
    A modifier qualifies a noun or verb by limiting its meaning with a descriptive word or phrase. For example, "service" is a noun that has many possible meanings, so the adjective "secret" can be used to modify it to avoid confusion with other types of services. According to this example sentence, the Secret Service is no longer so secret, and as a proper noun, it can be described with additional modifying words and phrases.
  175. mood
    a characteristic state of feeling
    But we are sometimes more surprised to discover the impact of ancestral places, often places unknown to us, on our moods and emotions.Salon (Mar 16, 2014)
  176. moral
    the significance of a story or event
    The moral of the fable: Don’t sell the skin till you have caught the bear.
    Fables have easy to spot morals. In longer works, such as novels, a moral is less likely to be found at the end, but throughout the story, the characters might struggle with moral decisions that test their principles of right and wrong.
  177. motivation
    psychological feature arousing action toward a desired goal
    To draw a parallel, how likely is it that our motivations are the same as humans from, say, 50,000 years ago?
  178. movement
    a series of actions tending toward a particular end
    The anti-smoking movement has never been louder or more prominent.The Tipping Point
  179. multimedia
    the use of many types of communication simultaneously
    Museums are using portable multimedia players to make walking through their collections feel a bit like being in a multiplayer video game.
  180. multiple
    having or involving more than one part or entity
    The simplest action—say, calling up a website or sending an email—involves communicating with multiple servers and routers along numerous paths.
    The word "router" has multiple meanings. From among the following multiple choices, decide which best fits the example sentence:
    a) a worker who routes shipments for distribution and delivery
    b) a device that forwards data packets between computer networks
    c) a power tool with a shaped cutter
  181. myth
    a traditional story serving to explain a world view
    Creation myths from Egypt to Scandinavia involve tidal floods of all sorts of substances—including the blood of deities—purging and remaking the earth.
  182. narrative
    an account that tells the particulars of an act or event
    Indeed, the main narrative of his book is a simple story of good guys versus bad guys.Slate (Apr 7, 2014)
  183. news
    information about recent and important events
    Twitter has become a serious tool for news sharing in Africa as well.Forbes (Apr 23, 2014)
  184. nonfiction
    prose writing that is not formed by the imagination
    What puts him above the rank of most nonfiction authors, even some of the better ones, is that he doesn’t merely present information.
  185. nonverbal
    involving little use of language
    Because Glass includes video, the software understands even nonverbal communication; for example, if a patient points to the part of the body that hurts.
  186. novel
    an extended fictional work in prose
    Even those who have not read the novel or heard of Joseph Heller will have heard the phrase "catch 22".
    As an adjective, "novel" means "pleasantly new or different." The term "catch-22" comes from the title of a novel published in 1961; thus it is no longer a novel way of describing a situation in which a desired outcome is impossible because of illogical rules or conditions.
  187. online
    connected to a computer network or accessible by computer
    Until now, the 7,000 images available online at images.library.amnh.org/digital were accessible only at the museum’s fourth floor research library.
  188. onomatopoeia
    using words that imitate the sound they denote
    What a succession of groans, hurrahs, cheers, and all the onomatopoeia of which the American language is so full.Verne, Jules
  189. open-ended
    without fixed limits or restrictions
    A good open-ended question would be “Sounds like a tough deal. Tell me how it all happened.”
  190. opinion
    a personal belief or judgment
    Today, consumers are more likely to use social media as well as online reviews and forums to share opinions.Forbes (Apr 25, 2014)
  191. order
    logical arrangement of different elements
    Blue’s Clues succeeds as a story of discovery only if the clues are in proper order.The Tipping Point
  192. organization
    a methodical and orderly manner or approach
    But you need an appropriate organization structure, with a clear vision from the top.Forbes (Apr 16, 2014)
    Here are some examples of organizational patterns (or text structures) that can give order to a piece of writing: sequence of events, cause and effect, compare and contrast, argument and support, problem and solution.
  193. overview
    a general summary of a subject
    A quick Google or Wikipedia search can generally help me define concepts, understand acronyms and abbreviations, and get a brief overview on a topic.
  194. paragraph
    one of several distinct subdivisions of a text
    I never liked writing concluding paragraphs to papers—where you just repeat what you’ve already said with phrases like In summation, and To conclude.Looking for Alaska
    Especially in a short essay, the concluding paragraph should not simply repeat what has already been said in the previous paragraphs. It should come to a conclusion (see word #52) about the topic and leave the readers thinking about how your opinion compares to theirs or how your position could be applied outside of your essay.
  195. parallelism
    similarity by virtue of corresponding
    The same words are used in order to make the parallelism as close as may be, “Through Him” was creation; “through Him” is reconciliation.Maclaren, Alexander
    "Parallel" means "make or place alongside something"--this is usually done in order to compare two things and show how they are similar. In writing, parallel structure can also be used to create a repetitive rhythm that would emphasize the points being compared.
  196. paraphrase
    express the same message in different words
    It has been repeated, quoted, and paraphrased so often that it's hard to find the exact words Franklin originally wrote.Forbes (Jun 6, 2013)
  197. parenthesis
    a punctuation mark used to enclose textual material
    There was no grammatical punctuation like commas or periods or parentheses that would slow the reader down.
    Parentheses enclose text that often departs from the main subject. As the example sentence suggests, parentheses can slow down readers (while they give you additional information or develop a mood), so they should not be overused.
  198. participle
    a form of the verb used as an adjective
    All verbs, without exceptions, in the active participle, are formed by adding ing, as see, seeing; teach, teaching, &c.Defoe, Daniel
    The present participle of a verb can also function as a noun (technically called "gerund"), and the past participle can function as an adjective. Examples: Unhappy with the slow pace of the teaching (gerund), the student decided to become self-taught (adjective). But he soon learned (verb) that becoming a learned (adjective) person requires many ways of learning (gerund).
  199. pattern
    a repeated design, structure, or arrangement
    As you read these words, your eyes scan the page, picking up patterns to which your mind assigns meaning.
    The example sentence focuses on visual patterns easily seen by the eyes, but in writing, there are also organizational patterns (see note for word #192) that need closer reading to recognize. A pattern can also be "a customary way of operation or behavior" or "a model considered worthy of imitation." In a classroom pattern of show and do, your teacher might show you an organizational pattern in an essay that you will then use as a pattern for your own writing.
  200. perfect
    a tense of verbs used in describing completed action
    Eugene Hicks, who learned how to make tamales at age 13, has perfected the dish.Southern Living (Apr 29, 2014)
    Here, "perfect" is used as a verb meaning "to make perfect." It is also used in the present perfect tense, which shows an event that extends from the past to the present or beyond (he has perfected the dish and is still making the dish perfectly). The past perfect tense shows that an event was completed before another point in the past (he had learned how to make tamales before he turned 14). The perfect tenses always use the auxiliary verb “to have” with a past participle.
  201. perform
    carry out an action
    We achieve greatness not through our ability to perform tasks, but through specific intent.Forbes (Apr 26, 2014)
  202. periodical
    a publication that appears at fixed intervals
    The word “blog,” isn’t in there, but that should be OK, because courts have counted blogs as a kind of periodical.Slate (Sep 24, 2013)
  203. personal
    concerning an individual or his or her private life
    These blogs raise awareness, but the latest trend has been to raise funds directly after sharing a personal narrative.
  204. personification
    attributing human characteristics to abstract ideas
    Hercules was one of the numerous personifications or emblems of the power of the sun; and the Arabian name Shams-on, or Samson, signifies the sun.Mitchell, Logan
  205. perspective
    a way of regarding situations or topics
    "I look at this from two perspectives--as a current owner and a former player," Jordan said in a statement.
  206. persuasive
    intended or having the power to induce action or belief
    Amazingly persuasive people are constantly listening to you and not themselves. 
  207. phenomenon
    any state or process known through the senses
    Much is to do with the fact that our ability to sense and measure phenomena across the solar system is getting better and better.
    "Phenomenon" is a contranym that can be confusing because it can be both an ordinary thing known through the senses (such as the daily phenomenon of the sun rising) or it can be a remarkable development (such as the phenomenal discovery of life on another planet).
  208. phrase
    an expression consisting of one or more words
    Even people who have never seen a movie probably know phrases like “May the Force be with you” and could identify a lightsaber.Forbes (Mar 16, 2014)
  209. place
    any area set aside for a particular purpose
    But consider also that the entire world can access educational videos anywhere, anytime, except in one place--our school classrooms.
  210. plagiarism
    taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own
    Some students lose their admission offers because of plagiarism, cheating, drunken misbehavior or arrest.
  211. plan
    a series of steps to be carried out or goals to be achieved
    Japan plans to release an adaptation plan of its own by the summer of 2015 that would focus on a more "eco-friendly lifestyle," he said.US News (Mar 25, 2014)
  212. playwright
    someone who writes plays
    The Hotel Plays by American playwright Tennessee Williams is a theatre experience set in the rooms and corridors of The Langham Hotel in London.
  213. plot
    the story that is told, as in a novel, play, movie, etc.
    Characters have multi-layered motivation, decisions have consequences, and the plot twists keep the next big moment hidden.Salon (Apr 12, 2014)
  214. poetry
    literature in metrical form
    The words from that famous American poet mean that anyone—even you —can write poetry.
    Poetry can be in the form of a poem, but it can also be found in "any communication rich in beauty or the evocation of feeling."
  215. point of view
    a mental position from which things are perceived
    I started writing first-person journals from his point of view and, after that, putting him into various situations without any story in mind.
    A story can be told from different points of view: first-person ("I"), second-person ("You"), or third-person ("He" or "She"). A first-person point of view is limited and often less trustworthy. A third-person point of view can be limited to one character, but it can also be omniscient and tell the thoughts and actions of every character. A second-person point of view is not often used, but it can be found in Choose Your Own Adventure books or in instruction manuals.
  216. policy
    a plan of action adopted by an individual or social group
    Instead, schools needed to create a safe environment, where teachers could be confident that behaviour policy would be enforced.
  217. position
    a way of regarding situations or topics
    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S.Forbes (Apr 29, 2014)
    Compare with "perspective"--as nouns, the words can be synonyms. But "position" can also be a verb. Their different meanings can be traced to their Latin roots: "ponere" means "to place" and "specere" means "to look."
  218. predicate
    the constituent of a sentence containing the verb
    This whole series is predicated on a mystery.
    "Predicate" also means "to base a statement or action on"--this is the meaning used in the example sentence. The subject of the sentence is "This whole series" and the predicate of the sentence starts with the verb "is." "Predicated" functions as an adjective (see note for "participle") in the predicate of the sentence, but it is not a predicate adjective. Here's an example of a sentence with a predicate adjective: This whole series is mysterious.
  219. preposition
    a word before a noun or pronoun connecting to another word
    According to O'Conner and Kellarman, "there's nothing wrong with starting a sentence with a conjunction" or ending one with a preposition.
    Compare with "apposition"--as both words suggest, the position of the word or phrase is important: an appositive phrase is placed near, usually immediately after, the noun it is equivalent to; a preposition is usually placed before the noun it connects to some other word or phrase. In the example sentence, the prepositional phrase "according to" is used before two proper nouns, and the preposition "with" is used 3 times before a noun or noun phrase.
  220. presentation
    a show or display
    But he was surprised that almost all the websites needed to improve their content and presentation significantly, he said.
  221. problem
    a question raised for consideration or solution
    Will that solve the problem of the “ownership” attitude?
  222. procedure
    a particular course of action intended to achieve a result
    The police said the operation went as planned and had followed standard procedures.
  223. process
    a particular course of action intended to achieve a result
    When you focus on learning, failure is just a part of the process and won’t shake your confidence.
  224. progressive
    a tense of verbs used in describing action that is on-going
    For the last eight months, I’ve been doing the backstroke for half of my daily 40-minute swim to stabilize what had been progressive scoliosis.
    In progressive scoliosis, the spine is curving more and more through time; the verb phrase "is curving" is in the simple present progressive tense. In the example sentence, the verb phrase "have been doing" is in the present perfect progressive tense, since the swimmer started doing the backstroke eight months ago and is continuing to do it.
  225. pronoun
    a function word that is used in place of a noun
    He did not ask himself whom he included in that pronoun "we."Tracy, Louis
    "He" is a third-person singular pronoun. "Himself" is a third-person singular reflexive pronoun. "Whom" is an indefinite objective pronoun. "We" is a first-person plural pronoun.
  226. pronunciation
    the way a word or a language is customarily spoken
    And when it comes to accents, nothing divides English dialects more efficiently than vowel pronunciation.Slate (Aug 22, 2012)
  227. proposition
    a statement that affirms or denies and is true or false
    There’s actually hard brain science supporting the proposition that the best ideas can come from breaking laws of reason.
  228. publish
    prepare and issue for public distribution or sale
    Few of the journals that published the papers scrutinized in this case have professional editors or significant numbers of in-house editing staff.
  229. punctuation
    marks clarifying meaning by indicating separation of words
    We read the words in order and then, boom, punctuation mark.Slate (Nov 25, 2013)
  230. purpose
    what something is used for
    Consider what purpose your content can serve and how you can cater to your audience’s needs.Forbes (Apr 11, 2014)
    As the example sentence suggests, content should have a purpose that serves an audience. As a writer, you should have a purpose for creating content. As a reader, you should try to figure out the author's purpose to see whether it matches or affects your thoughts on the content.
  231. quantitative
    expressible as an amount that can be measured
    Architects and interior designers, he said, study how people interact with buildings and rooms, but without much quantitative information.
  232. question
    a sentence of inquiry that asks for a reply
    “What we find is that even if we do applied research, there’s always some fundamental question we want to answer.”
  233. quotation
    a passage or expression that is cited
    It included a quotation from Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
  234. read
    make sense of a language
    He says we will graduate knowing how to read and write because we’ll spend a million hours learning how to read and write.Speak
  235. reasoning
    thinking that is organized and logical
    Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.
  236. recognize
    perceive to be something or something you can identify
    Of course, it isn’t quite as scary when it’s just a scam—that is as long as you recognize that it’s a scam.Forbes (Apr 30, 2014)
  237. record
    anything providing permanent evidence about past events
    The fossil record, therefore, is heavily weighted toward the seas, making it appear that they were the cradle of life.Scientific American (Apr 28, 2014)
  238. reference
    a book from which you can seek authoritative facts
    A dictionary, they argued, should provide references of language use and help readers.
    According to the given definition, a dictionary is a reference. According to the example sentence, a dictionary should include references that either show how a word is used or direct the reader to other sources of information (refer to word #33 for a synonym).
  239. refrain
    part of a song or poem that recurs at regular intervals
    The refrain that I heard repeated over and over was: “It’s the most beautiful place in Japan.”
  240. relationship
    a mutual connection between people
    It’s just that it had become increasingly possible to have a deep and meaningful relationship with a computer without ever learning to program it.
  241. relative pronoun
    a pronoun (as `that' or `which' or `who') that introduces a relative clause referring to some antecedent
    Relative pronouns, as well as conjunctions, serve to connect sentences; as, "Blessed is the man who feareth the Lord, and keepeth his commandments."Kirkham, Samuel
  242. relevant
    having a bearing on or connection with the subject at issue
    Is the data really useful and relevant to solve the problem?Forbes (Apr 24, 2014)
  243. reliable
    conforming to fact and therefore worthy of belief
    Social media is not always the most reliable source of news.
  244. research
    a seeking for knowledge
    We are only beginning to understand what the nose knows, and we imagine ensuing research will continue to surprise and baffle us all.
  245. resource
    aid or support that may be drawn upon when needed
    Teachers released children onto the playground with few resources and little guidance.
  246. response
    a statement that is made to reply to a question or request
    The sin of racism is a societal one and it demands a collective response.
  247. revise
    reorganize, especially for the purpose of improving
    If the reviewers raise objections to the methods or conclusions, the authors must revise the paper before it will be accepted for publication.
  248. rhetorical
    relating to using language effectively
    And he does tend to overuse a few devices, like rhetorical questions, deliberatively repetitive phrasing, and direct address.Slate (Apr 28, 2014)
    Rhetoric can have a negative meaning: "loud and confused and empty talk." Rhetoric is also the good use of language to please, persuade, or create a literary effect. A rhetorical question is not meant to be answered but to make a statement. For another example of a rhetorical device, refer to word #13. For an example of a rhetorical fallacy, refer to word #5.
  249. rhyme
    correspondence in the final sounds of two or more lines
    “Like Emily Dickinson, I ain’t afraid of slant rhyme / And that’s the end of this verse; emcee’s out on a high.”Looking for Alaska
    A slant rhyme is also called a half-rhyme or a near-rhyme, because it rhymes either the vowel or consonant sounds but not both. Most rhymes you'll find at the end of a line, but internal ones can be heard before that time. A sight rhyme describes words that look like they should rhyme but are pronounced differently (examples: both and broth; most and cost).
  250. role
    normal or customary activity of a person in a social setting
    The other motivation is, we better darn well train our young to take their responsible role in a democratic society.Salon (May 2, 2014)
  251. root
    the form of a word after all affixes are removed
    Eating together can serve as a solid basis for companionship, a word that is itself rooted in the sharing of bread.Slate (Apr 22, 2014)
    As a verb, "root" means "come into existence, originate." This is what the word means in the example sentence, but the chosen definition for "root" as a noun is also suggested. Here is how the word "companionship" breaks down into its root and affixes: com (together) + panis (bread) + ship (quality, state, or condition).
  252. salutation
    word of greeting used to begin a letter
    We still teach "whom" in high school and use it as a salutation in letters to unknown recipients.Seattle Times (Sep 6, 2012)
  253. saying
    a word or phrase that particular people use in particular situations
    The saying “never go to bed angry” is valid advice.
    Compare with "adage"--both words can be used to refer to the same phrase, but an adage is usually seen as containing important truths, while a saying can simply be something that people say.
  254. scheme
    an elaborate and systematic plan of action
    Let’s try taking a butcher’s cleaver to the piece, evening out the rhythm and adding a rhyme schemeSalon (Apr 26, 2014)
    A simple rhyme scheme is a couplet, which rhymes two lines (AA). A quatrain has four lines that could have an alternate rhyme scheme of ABAB. A Shakespearean sonnet has 14 lines that can be broken up into three quatrains with alternate rhyme schemes and one final couplet: ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG.
  255. semicolon
    a punctuation mark used to connect independent clauses
    The semicolon represents a division in thought somewhat greater than that represented by a comma, and somewhat smaller than that represented by a period.Greever, Garland
  256. sensory
    involving or derived from the senses
    Mr. Martin said that his philosophy as a writer is to show and not tell, and doing so requires “vivid sensory detail.”
  257. sentence
    a string of words satisfying grammatical rules of a language
    I honestly said this sentence out loud, for the first and hopefully last time in my life: “I’m just glad they didn’t eat the baby.”
    Both parts of the example sentence are complex sentences that are made up of independent clauses and dependent clauses. The second complex sentence has an implied but missing "that" that starts the dependent clause ("I'm just glad that..."). A simple sentence is one independent clause (a complete thought with a subject and verb). A compound sentence joins two independent clauses with a conjunction.
    Examples: They didn't eat the baby. They were happy, so they didn't eat the baby.
  258. sequential
    in regular succession without gaps
    The first offering is for The Phantom Menace with others following in sequential order.Forbes (May 1, 2014)
  259. setting
    the context and environment in which something is situated
    Under this fresh blanket of spring snow this village could be the setting for a Russian fairy tale.
  260. similar
    having the same or nearly the same characteristics
    Venus is similar in size to our own planet.Science Magazine (May 1, 2014)
  261. simile
    a figure of speech expressing a resemblance between things
    Mr. Baker sinks similes as if they were high, arcing three-point shots.
  262. solution
    a method for solving a problem
    He called the bill "a solution in search of a problem."
  263. solve
    find the answer to or understand the meaning of
    "No single technology will ever solve everything," he said.
  264. sound effect
    an effect that imitates a sound called for in the script of a play
    Read poems aloud so you can hear their sound effects and music.
  265. source
    a document from which information is obtained
    The Global Slavery Index in common with the ILO uses what are called secondary sources.
    Primary sources are materials written by people who were present at events, either as participants or observers. Examples are letters, diaries, autobiographies, and speeches. Secondary sources are materials written by people who were not present or directly involved when the events took place. Examples are encyclopedias, textbooks, biographies, most newspaper and magazine articles, and books and articles that review research.
  266. spelling
    forming words with letters according to the principles underlying accepted usage
    The winning word in the first National Spelling Bee, held in Louisville in 1925, was gladiolus.
  267. stage direction
    instruction or description written in the script of a play
    Nothing about the play is more famous than its stage direction for Antigonus: “Exit, pursued by a bear.”
  268. stereotype
    a conventional or formulaic conception or image
    Boys also feel pressure to adhere to old stereotypes that dictate that academic achievement isn’t cool.
  269. storyline
    the plot of a book or play or film
    Yet with their simple storylines and crude visual effects, Chinese animations almost exclusively target young children.Forbes (Mar 27, 2014)
  270. strategy
    an elaborate and systematic plan of action
    The use of military force is not always the best strategy for putting an end to bloodshed.
    Compare with "scheme"--the two can be synonymous, but "scheme" can also describe a simpler and rougher plan. As a verb, "scheme" can take on a negative tone with its connection to underhand plans such as lying. "Strategy" has a more upstanding nature, and this can be seen in its Greek roots: "strategein" means "to be a general" and it comes from "stratos" which means "army" and "agein" which means "to lead."
  271. structure
    the complex composition of knowledge as elements
    This was the legacy of Sesame Street: If you paid careful attention to the structure and format of your material, you could dramatically enhance stickiness.The Tipping Point
  272. style
    a mode of expression typical of a person, group, or period
    Her sentences often force you to reread them, both to appreciate her style and her passion.Seattle Times (Apr 16, 2014)
    In the example sentence, "style" refers to the unique voice of the writer, but the sentences that need to be reread can also be analyzed according to how much they follow the styles of spelling, word usage, punctuation, and structure that are widely accepted.
  273. subject
    some situation or event that is thought about
    How do I bring up the subject of the theft?Slate (May 5, 2014)
    In the example sentence, the word "subject" refers to the theft, and its grammatical function is as the direct object of the verb phrase "bring up." Thus, the topical subject is "theft" while "I" is the grammatical subject.
  274. subordinate clause
    a clause in a complex sentence that cannot stand alone as a complete sentence and that functions within the sentence as a noun or adjective or adverb
    A phrase is also a dependent part of a sentence, but it differs from a subordinate clause in that it contains no subject or predicate.Buhlig, Rose
  275. suffix
    a linguistic element that is added at the end of the word
    For example, the suffix “ologist” refers to someone who studies a field of knowledge.
  276. summarize
    briefly present the main points of something
    Without repeating all three paragraphs, I’ll summarize--they do mean dangerous!Forbes (Nov 13, 2013)
  277. summary
    a brief statement that presents the main points
    Because many of us try to consume so much information, most of us are forced to mostly skim highlights and summaries just to keep up.
  278. superlative
    the form of a word denoting the greatest degree or extent
    It’s a country of superlatives: home to the world’s longest wall, largest population, and fastest-growing major economy.
    The given definition is for "superlative" as a noun. The definition for the word as an adjective shows the reason for adding "-est": highest in quality or degree. Here are the comparative forms of the adjectives that are shown in their superlative forms in the example sentence: longer, larger, faster-growing.
  279. support
    provide with evidence or authority or make more certain
    “All of the studies are very consistent--the data are complementary and support one another.”
  280. syllable
    a unit of spoken language larger than a phoneme
    Only one pair of words in the top 100 most common rhymes is more than one syllable: forever/together.Slate (Feb 20, 2014)
  281. synthesize
    combine so as to form a more complex product
    They attempt to synthesize the video, photography, text and artifacts collected, and begin to assemble a portrait.Forbes (Apr 16, 2014)
  282. table
    a set of data arranged in rows and columns
    That could involve asking authors to guarantee that they have checked figures, tables, text and abstracts for internal consistency.
  283. task
    any piece of work that is undertaken or attempted
    You need to single task, and, more importantly, “batch” your work so that you are doing similar activities at the same time.
  284. technique
    a practical method or art applied to some particular task
    In recent years these devices have allowed surgeons to develop “minimally invasive” surgical techniques.Forbes (Mar 11, 2014)
    Compare with "device"--as the example sentence suggests, devices can be used to develop techniques; this makes devices specific tools while techniques are broader methods. For example, alliteration (see word #10) can be a literary device used in a story to make a character's name and personality stand out. Alliteration can also be a technique used throughout a poem to give it more rhythm and make it easier to recite.
  285. technology
    the practical application of science to commerce or industry
    Everywhere you look, there is an article, blog post or tweet about one of the mega trends in technology—cloud, big data, mobility or social.Forbes (May 6, 2014)
  286. tense
    a category of verbs used to express distinctions of time
    One day we worked on verb tenses: “I surf the Net, I surfed the Net, I was surfing the Net.”Speak
  287. text
    the words of something written
    Meanwhile, a college aged woman nearby stood alternating between reading the text and just texting.Salon (Apr 14, 2014)
  288. theme
    a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in literary work
    But the theme of the book is that kids can have a role in saving lions.
  289. thesaurus
    a book containing a classified list of synonyms
    Visual Thesaurus is the perfect tool for those moments when the right word is on the tip of your tongue.Forbes (Oct 16, 2012)
  290. thesis
    an unproved statement advanced as a premise in an argument
    You need to prove the thesis to the consumer, persuade people it should exist and will benefit them.Forbes (Nov 6, 2013)
  291. time
    an instance or single occasion for some event
    South Africans go to the polls this week to vote for a new government at a time when they are celebrating 20 years of democracy.
  292. timeline
    a sequence of events arranged in chronological order
    The series, which began last month, has a complex plot that unfolds in multiple timelines and flashbacks.
  293. title
    the name of a work of art or literary composition
    The titles of these tales reflect that unease: “Atomic Bomb Thief!” and “Am I Man or Machine?”
  294. tone
    a quality that reveals the attitudes of the author
    I can apologize for the tone, but not the content.
    As the example sentence suggests, authors of nonfiction pieces might intend to express specific points, but the tone of their words might reveal an attitude that they might not intend. When analyzing a fictional story, don't confuse an author's tone with the mood (see word #175) of the characters or the situations they're in. For example, a character could be in a sad mood because of a lost shoe, but the author could describe this in a funny tone.
  295. topic
    the subject matter of a conversation or discussion
    The topic of the paragraph should be determined, and should be clearly indicated by a topic sentence.Wood, Thomas
  296. transition
    a passage or word that connects a topic to one that follows
    McMahon makes a smooth transition as she alternates the story between the past and the present.Seattle Times (Feb 26, 2014)
  297. turning point
    an event marking a unique or important historical change of course or one on which important developments depend
    Gettysburg marked the war's turning point, and the battle has been the subject of as much study as any conflict in U.S. military history.
  298. understand
    know and comprehend the nature or meaning of
    “Music is not what I do; it’s how I understand the world,” he said.
  299. unfamiliar
    not known or well known
    White compared reading a poem for the first time to “playing and understanding a hole on an unfamiliar golf course.”
  300. valid
    well grounded in logic or truth or having legal force
    But I stressed that this wasn’t a valid excuse, just a reminder that all people make mistakes and that it’s important to learn from them.
  301. venue
    the scene of any event or action
    As well as big venues for sport, music and theatre, the park has water fountains that react to movement and an adventure playground.
  302. verb
    a word denoting an action, occurrence, or state of existence
    “It means you need to conjugate your verbs correctly and not speak above your audience by using too-formal Spanish.”
  303. verify
    confirm the truth of
    “Trust but verify,” as Ronald Reagan once said while negotiating disarmament with the Russians.
  304. viewpoint
    a mental position from which things are considered
    “A Circle of Wives” is told in turn by all four women, slowly unveiling the story from multiple viewpoints in overlapping segments.Seattle Times (Mar 13, 2014)
    Compare with "point of view" and "perspective"--although only two are nearly identical, all three can be synonyms. In nonfiction pieces, the author's viewpoint determines the information and tone that might be revealed; in fictional pieces, a character's point of view determines which thoughts and actions will be described.
  305. visual
    relating to or using sight
    With robots, kids learn programming via interactive play by moving a robot in various sequences and using intuitive, visual programming on a computer screen.Scientific American (May 1, 2014)
  306. vocabulary
    a language user's knowledge of words
    But good news— vocabulary is one skill that continues to improve throughout life.Slate (Apr 29, 2014)
  307. voice
    the distinctive quality or pitch of a person's speech
    A verb is in the active voice when the subject is acting upon the object.Cox, George
    A verb is in a passive voice when the subject is receiving the action. Examples: I ate the cake.(active) The cake was eaten by me.(passive) Both sentences describe the same thing, but the sentence in the active voice does it with fewer words. The chosen definition does not apply only to verbs and sentences but to a unique quality that writers should aspire to so that their thoughts can be recognized and remembered.
  308. vowel
    a speech sound made with the vocal tract open
    The more parents exaggerate vowels and raise the pitch of their voices when talking to babies, the more the babies babble, new research shows.
  309. whole
    including all parts or elements without exception
    "For the first time we're looking at the way the whole ecosystem works together, rather than surveying just a particular plant or species," said Bulley.
  310. write
    communicate or express by letters or symbols
    "I am writing to you as one human being to another, and appealing to you from my heart," he said.
Created on April 14, 2014 (updated February 16, 2021)

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