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Project Gutenberg's The Century Vocabulary Builder, by Creever & Bachelor

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Title: The Century Vocabulary Builder

Author: Creever & Bachelor

Release Date: November 13, 2003 [EBook #10073]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Stan Goodman, Charles M. Bidwell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

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By Garland Greever and Easley S. Jones.


By Garland Greever and Joseph M. Bachelor.


By Garland Greever and Joseph M. Bachelor.


By Garland Greever and Joseph M. Bachelor.

THE FACTS AND BACKGROUNDS OF LITERATURE, English and American. By George F. Reynolds, University of Colorado, and Garland Greever.


By General Henry M. Robert.

Other Volumes To Be Arranged










You should know at the outset what this book does not attempt to do. It does not, save to the extent that its own special purpose requires, concern itself with the many and intricate problems of grammar, rhetoric, spelling, punctuation, and the like; or clarify the thousands of individual difficulties regarding correct usage. All these matters are important. Concise treatment of them may be found in THE CENTURY HANDBOOK OF WRITING and THE CENTURY DESK BOOK OF GOOD ENGLISH, both of which manuals are issued by the present publishers. But this volume confines itself to the one task of placing at your disposal the means of adding to your stock of words, of increasing your vocabulary.

It does not assume that you are a scholar, or try to make you one. To be sure, it recognizes the ends of scholarship as worthy. It levies at every turn upon the facts which scholarship has accumulated. But it demands of you no technical equipment, nor leads you into any of those bypaths of knowledge, alluring indeed, of which the benefits are not immediate. For example, in Chapter V it forms into groups words etymologically akin to each other. It does this for an end entirely practical--namely, that the words you know may help you to understand the words you do not know. Did it go farther--did it account for minor differences in these words by showing that they sprang from related rather than identical originals, did it explain how and how variously their forms have been modified in the long process of their descent--it would pass beyond its strict utilitarian bounds. This it refrains from doing. And thus everything it contains it rigorously subjects to the test of serviceability. It helps you to bring more and more words into workaday harness--to gain such mastery over them that you can speak and write them with fluency, flexibility, precision, and power. It enables you, in your use of words, to attain the readiness and efficiency expected of a capable and cultivated man.

There are many ways of building a vocabulary, as there are many ways of attaining and preserving health. Fanatics may insist that one should be cultivated to the exclusion of the others, just as health-cranks may declare that diet should be watched in complete disregard of recreation, sanitation, exercise, the need for medicines, and one's mental attitude to life. But the sum of human experience, rather than fanaticism, must determine our procedure. Moreover experience has shown that the various successful methods of bringing words under man's sway are not mutually antagonistic but may be practiced simultaneously, just as health is promoted, not by attending to diet one year, to exercise the next, and to mental attitude the third, but by bestowing wise and fairly constant attention on all. Yet it would be absurd to state that all methods of increasing one's vocabulary, or of attaining vigor of physique, are equally valuable. This volume offers everything that helps, and it yields space in proportion to helpfulness.

Aside from a brief introductory chapter, a chapter (number X) given over to a list of words, and a brief concluding chapter, the subject matter of the volume falls into three main divisions. Chapters II and III are based on the fact that we must all use words in combination--must fling the words out by the handfuls, even as the accomplished pianist must strike his notes. Chapters IV and V are based on the fact that we must become thoroughly acquainted with individual words--that no one who scorns to study the separate elements of speech can command powerful and discriminating utterance. Chapters VI, VII, VIII, and IX are based on the fact that we need synonyms as our constant lackeys--that we should be able to summon, not a word that will do, but a word that will express the idea with precision. Exercises scattered throughout the book, together with five of the six appendices, provide well-nigh inexhaustible materials for practice.

For be it understood, once for all, that this volume is not a machine which you can set going and then sit idly beside, the while your vocabulary broadens. Mastery over words, like worthy mastery of any kind whatsoever, involves effort for yourself. You can of course contemplate the nature and activities of the mechanism, and learn something thereby; but also you must work--work hard, work intelligently. As you cannot acquire health by watching a gymnast take exercise or a doctor swallow medicine or a dietician select food, so you cannot become an overlord of words without first fighting battles to subjugate them. Hence this volume is for you less a labor-saving machine than a collection and arrangement of materials which you must put together by hand. It assembles everything you need. It tags everything plainly. It tells you just what you must do. In these ways it makes your task far easier. But the task is yours. Industry, persistence, a fair amount of common sense--these three you must have. Without them you will accomplish nothing.

Even with them--let the forewarning be candid--you will not accomplish everything. You cannot learn all there is to be learned about words, any more than about human nature. And what you do achieve will be, not a sudden attainment, but a growth. This is not the dark side of the picture. It is an honest avowal that the picture is not composed altogether of light. But as the result of your efforts an adequate vocabulary will some day be yours. Nor will you have to wait long for an earnest of ultimate success. Just as system will speedily transform a haphazard business into one which seizes opportunities and stops the leakage of profits, so will sincere and well-directed effort bring you promptly and surely into an ever-growing mastery of words.





Tameness Exercise Sovenliness Exercises Wordiness Exercises Verbal Discords Exercise

  1. Abstract vs. Concrete Terms; General vs. Specific Terms Exercise
  2. Literal vs. Figurative Terms Exercise
  3. Connotation Exercise


Preliminaries: General Purposes and Methods

  1. Mastery through Translation Exercise
  2. Mastery through Paraphrasing Exercise
  3. Mastery through Discourse at First Hand Exercise
  4. Mastery through Adapting Discourse to Audience Exercise


What Words to Learn First
The Analysis of Your Own Vocabulary
The Definition of Words
How to Look up a Word in the Dictionary
Prying into a Word's Past


Words Related in Blood
Words Related by Marriage
Prying into a Word's Relationships
Two Admonitions
General Exercise for the Chapter (with Lists of Words Containing the Same Key-Syllables) Second General Exercise (with Additional Lists) Third General Exercise
Fourth General Exercise
Latin Ancestors of English Words
Latin Prefixes
Greek Ancestors of English Words
Greek Prefixes


Words Often Confused
Parallels (with Lists)


How to Acquire Synonyms
Exercise (with Lists)


Exercise (with Lists)


Literal vs. Figurative Applications
Imperfectly Understood Facts and Ideas





  1. The Drift of Our Rural Population Cityward (an Editorial)
  2. Causes for the American Spirit of Liberty (by Edmund Burke)
  3. Parable of the Sower (Gospel of St. Matthew)
  4. The Seven Ages of Man (by William Shakespeare)
  5. The Castaway (by Daniel Defoe)
  6. Reading Lists





Sometimes a dexterous use of words appears to us to be only a kind of parlor trick. And sometimes it is just that. The command of a wide vocabulary is in truth an accomplishment, and like any other accomplishment it may be used for show. But not necessarily. Just as a man may have money without "flashing" it, or an extensive wardrobe without sporting gaudy neckties or wearing a dress suit in the morning, so may he possess linguistic resources without making a caddish exhibition of them. Indeed the more distant he stands from verbal bankruptcy, the less likely he is to indulge in needless display.

Again, glibness of speech sometimes awakens our distrust. We like actions rather than words; we prefer that character, personality, and kindly feelings should be their own mouthpiece. So be it. But there are thoughts and emotions properly to be shared with other people, yet incapable of being revealed except through language. It is only when language is insincere--when it expresses lofty sentiments or generous sympathies, yet springs from designing selfishness--that it justly arouses misgivings. Power over words, like power of any other sort, is for use, not abuse. That it sometimes is abused must not mislead us into thinking that it should in itself be scorned or neglected.

Our contempt and distrust do not mean that our fundamental ideas about language are unsound. Beneath our wholesome dislike for shallow facility and insincerity of speech, we have a conviction that the mastery of words is a good thing, not a bad. We are therefore unwilling to take the vow of linguistic poverty. If we lack the ability to bend words to our use, it is from laziness, not from scruple. We desire to speak competently, but without affectation. We know that if our diction rises to this dual standard, it silently distinguishes us from the sluggard, the weakling, and the upstart. For such diction is not to be had on sudden notice, like a tailor-made suit. Nor can it, like such a suit, deceive anybody as to our true status. A man's utterance reveals what he is. It is the measure of his inward attainment. The assertion has been made that for a man to express himself freely and well in his native language is the surest proof of his culture. Meditate the saying. Can you think of a proof that is surer?

But a man's speech does more than lend him distinction. It does more than reveal to others what manner of man he is. It is an instrument as well as an index. It is an agent--oftentimes indeed it is the agent--of his influence upon others. How silly are those persons who oppose words to things, as if words were not things at all but air-born unrealities! Words are among the most powerful realities in the world. You vote the Republican ticket. Why? Because you have studied the issues of the campaign and reached a well-reasoned conclusion how the general interests may be served? Possibly. But nine times in ten it will be because of that word Republican. You may believe that in a given instance the Republican cause or candidate is inferior; you may have nothing personally to lose through Republican defeat; yet you squirm and twist and seek excuses for casting a Republican ballot. Such is the power--aye, sometimes the tyranny--of a word. The word Republican has not been selected invidiously. Democrat would have served as well. Or take religious words--_Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Baptist, Lutheran,_ or what not. A man who belongs, in person or by proxy, to one of the sects designated may be more indifferent to the institution itself than to the word that represents it. Thus you may attack in his presence the tenets of Presbyterianism, for example, but you must be wary about calling the Presbyterian name. Mother, the flag--what sooner than an insult coupled with these terms will rouse a man to fight? But does that man kiss his mother, or salute the flag, or pay much heed to either? Probably not. Words not realities? With what realities must we more carefully reckon? Words are as dangerous as dynamite, as beneficent as brotherhood. An unfortunate word may mean a plea rejected, an enterprise baffled, half the world plunged into war. A fortunate word may open a triple-barred door, avert a disaster, bring thousands of people from jealousy and hatred into cooeperation and goodwill.

Nor is it solely on their emotional side that men may be affected by words. Their thinking and their esthetic nature also--their hard sense and their personal likes and dislikes--are subject to the same influence. You interview a potential investor; does he accept your proposition or not? A prospective customer walks into your store; does he buy the goods you show him? You enter the drawing room of one of the elite; are you invited again and again? Your words will largely decide--your words, or your verbal abstinence. For be it remembered that words no more than dollars are to be scattered broadcast for the sole reason that you have them. The right word should be used at the right time--and at that time only. Silence is oftentimes golden. Nevertheless there are occasions for us to speak. Frequent occasions. To be inarticulate then may mean only embarrassment. It may--some day it will--mean suffering and failure. That we may make the most of the important occasions sure to come, we must have our instruments ready. Those instruments are words. He who commands words commands events--commands men.



You wish, then, to increase your vocabulary. Of course you must become observant of words and inquisitive about them. For words are like people: they have their own particular characteristics, they do their work well or ill, they are in good odor or bad, and they yield best service to him who loves them and tries to understand them. Your curiosity about them must be burning and insatiable. You must study them when they have withdrawn from the throng of their fellows into the quiescence of their natural selves. You must also see them and study them in action, not only as they are employed in good books and by careful speakers, but likewise as they fall from the lips of unconventional speakers who through them secure vivid and telling effects. In brief, you must learn word nature, as you learn human nature, from a variety of sources.

Now in ordinary speech most of us use words, not as individual things, but as parts of a whole--as cogs in the machine of utterance by which we convey our thoughts and feelings. We do not think of them separately at all. And this instinct is sound. In our expression we are like large-scale manufacturing plants rather than one-man establishments. We have at our disposal, not one worker, but a multitude. Hence we are concerned with our employees collectively and with the total production of which they are capable. To be sure, our understanding of them as individuals will increase the worth and magnitude of our output. But clearly we must have large dealings with them in the aggregate.

This chapter and the following, therefore, are given over to the study of words in combination. As in all matters, there is a negative as well as a positive side to be reckoned with. Let us consider the negative side first.


Correct diction is too often insipid. There is nothing wrong with it, but it does not interest us--it lacks character, lacks color, lacks power. It too closely resembles what we conceive of the angels as having-- impeccability without the warmth of camaraderie. Speech, like a man, should be alive. It need not, of course, be boisterous. It may be intense in a quiet, modest way. But if it too sedulously observes all the Thou shalt not's of the rhetoricians, it will refine the vitality out of itself and leave its hearers unmoved.

That is why you should become a disciple of the pithy, everyday conversationalist and of the rough-and-ready master of harangue as well as of the practitioner of precise and scrupulous discourse. Many a speaker or writer has thwarted himself by trying to be "literary." Even Burns when he wrote classic English was somewhat conscious of himself and made, in most instances, no extraordinary impression. But the pieces he impetuously dashed off in his native Scotch dialect can never be forgotten. The man who begins by writing naturally, but as his importance in the publishing world grows, pays more and more attention to felicities--to "style"--and so spoils himself, is known to the editor of every magazine. Any editorial office force can insert missing commas and semicolons, and iron out blunders in the English; but it has not the time, if indeed the ability, to instil life into a lifeless manuscript. A living style is rarer than an inoffensive one, and the road of literary ambition is strewn with failures due to "correctness."

Cultivate readiness, even daring, of utterance. A single turn of expression may be so audacious that it plucks an idea from its shroud or places within us an emotion still quivering and warm. Sustained discourse may unflaggingly clarify or animate. But such triumphs are beyond the reach of those, whether speakers or writers, who are constantly pausing to grope for words. This does not mean that scrutiny of individual words is wasted effort. Such scrutiny becomes the basis indeed of the more venturesome and inspired achievement. We must serve our apprenticeship to language. We must know words as a general knows the men under him--all their ranks, their capabilities, their shortcomings, the details and routine of their daily existence. But the end for which we gain our understanding must be to hurl these words upon the enemy, not as disconnected units, but as battalions, as brigades, as corps, as armies. Dr. Johnson, one of the most effective talkers in all history, resolved early in life that, always, and whatever topic might be broached, he would on the moment express his thoughts and feelings with as much vigor and felicity as if he had unlimited leisure to draw on. And Patrick Henry, one of the few really irresistible orators, was wont to plunge headlong into a sentence and trust to God Almighty to get him out.

EXERCISE - Tameness

  1. Study Appendix I (The Drift of Our Rural Population Cityward). Do you regard it as written simply, with force and natural feeling? Or does it show lack of spontaneity?--suffer from an unnatural and self- conscious manner of writing? Is the style one you would like to cultivate for your own use?

  2. Express, if you can, in more vigorous language of your own, the thought of the editorial.
  3. Think of some one you have known who has the gift of racy colloquial utterance. Make a list of offhand, homely, or picturesque expressions you have heard him employ, and ask yourself what it is in these expressions that has made them linger in your memory. With them in mind, and with your knowledge of the man's methods of imparting his ideas vividly, try to make your version of the editorial more forceful still.

4. Study Appendix 2 (Causes for the American Spirit of Liberty) as an example of stately and elaborate, yet energetic, discourse. The speech from which this extract is taken was delivered in Parliament in a vain effort to stay England from driving her colonies to revolt. Some of Burke's turns of phrase are extremely bold and original, as "The religion most prevalent in our northern colonies is a refinement on the principle of resistance; it is the dissidence of dissent and the Protestantism of the Protestant religion." Moreover, with all his fulness of diction, Burke could cleave to the heart of an idea in a few words, as "Freedom is to them [the southern slave-holders] not only an enjoyment, but a kind of rank and privilege." Find other examples of bold or concise and illuminating utterance.

5. Read Appendix 3 (Parable of the Sower). It has no special audacities of phrase, but escapes tameness in various ways--largely through its simple earnestness.

6. Make a list of the descriptive phrases in Appendix 4 (The Seven Ages of

Man) through which Shakespeare gives life and distinctness to his pictures.

7. Study Appendix 5 (The Castaway) as a piece of homely, effective narrative. (Defoe wrote for the man in the street. He was a literary jack-of-all-trades whom dignified authors of his day would not countenance, but who possessed genius.) It relies upon directness and plausibility of substance and style rather than temerity of phrase. Yet it never sags into tameness. Notice how everyday expressions ("My business was to hold my breath," "I took to my heels") add subtly to our belief that what Defoe is telling us is true. Notice also that such expressions ("the least capful of wind," "half dead with the water I took in," "ready to burst with holding my breath") without being pretentious may yet be forceful. Notice finally the naturalness and lift of the sinewy idioms ("I fetched another run," "I had no clothes to shift me," "I had like to have suffered a second shipwreck," "It wanted but a little that all my cargo had slipped off").

8. Once or twice at least, make a mental note of halting or listless expressions in a sermon, a public address, or a conversation. Find more emphatic wording for the ideas thus marred.

9. To train yourself in readiness and daring of utterance, practice impromptu discussion of any of the topics in Activity 1 for EXERCISE



Though we are to recognize the advantage of working in the undress of speech rather than in stiffly-laundered literary linens, though we are not to despise the accessions of strength and of charm which we may obtain from the homely and familiar, we must never be careless. The man whose speech is slovenly is like the man who chews gum--unblushingly commonplace.

We must struggle to maintain our individuality. We must not be a mere copy of everybody else. We must put into our words the cordiality we put into our daily demeanor. If we greeted friend or stranger carelessly, conventionally, we should soon be regarded as persons of no force or distinction. So of our speech and our writing. Nothing, to be sure, is more difficult than to give them freshness without robbing them of naturalness and ease. Yet that is what we must learn to do. We shall not acquire the power in a day. We shall acquire it as a chess or a baseball player acquires his skill--by long effort, hard practice.

One thing to avoid is the use of words in loose, or fast-and-loose, senses. Do not say that owning a watch is a fine proposition if you mean that it is advantageous. Do not say that you trembled on the brink of disaster if you were threatened with no more than inconvenience or comparatively slight injury. Do not say you were literally scared to death if you are yet alive to tell the story.

EXERCISE - Slovenliness I

Give moderate or accurate utterance to the following ideas:

The burning of the hen-coop was a mighty conflagration. The fact that the point of the pencil was broken profoundly surprised me. We had a perfectly gorgeous time.
It's a beastly shame that I missed my car. It is awfully funny that he should die.
The saleslady pulled the washlady's hair. A cold bath is pretty nice of mornings.
To go a little late is just the article.

Another thing to avoid is the use of words in the wrong parts of speech, as a noun for a verb, or an adjective for an adverb. Sometimes newspapers are guilty of such faults; for journalistic English, though pithy, shows here and there traces of its rapid composition. You must look to more leisurely authorities. The speakers and writers on whom you may rely will not say "to burglarize," "to suspicion," "to enthuse," "plenty rich," "real tired," "considerable discouraged," "a combine," or "humans." An exhaustive list of such errors cannot be inserted here. If you feel yourself uncertain in these details of usage, you should have access to such a volume as The Century Desk Book of Good English.

EXERCISE - Slovenliness II

  1. For each quoted expression in the preceding paragraph compose a sentence which shall contain the correct form, or the grammatical equivalent, of the expression.

  2. Correct the following sentences:

The tramp suicided.
She was real excited.
He gestured angry.
He was some anxious to get to the eats.
All of us had an invite.
Them boys have sure been teasing the canine.

Another thing to avoid is triteness. The English language teems with phrases once strikingly original but now smooth-worn and vulgarized by incessant repetition. It can scarcely be said that you are to shun these altogether. Now and then you will find one of them coming happily as well as handily into your speech. But you must not use them too often. Above all, you must rid yourself of any dependence upon them. The scope of this book permits only a few illustrations of the kinds of words and phrases meant. But the person who speaks of "lurid flames," or "untiring efforts," or "specimens of humanity"--who "views with alarm," or has a "native heath," or is "to the manner born"--does more than advertise the scantness of his verbal resources. He brands himself mentally indolent; he deprives his thought itself of all sharpness, exactness, and power.

EXERCISE - Slovenliness III

Replace with more original expressions the trite phrases (italicized) in the following sentences:

Last but not least, we have in our midst one who began life poor but honest.

After we had done justice to a dinner and gathered in the drawing room, we listened with bated breath while she favored us with a selection.

A goodly number of the fair sex, perceiving that the psychological moment had come, applauded him to the echo.

We were doomed to disappointment; the grim reaper had already gathered unto himself all that was mortal of our comrade.

No sooner said than done. I soon found myself the proud possessor of that for which I had acknowledged _a long-felt want.

After the last sad rites were over and her body was consigned to earth, we began talking along these lines.

With a few well-chosen words he brought order out of chaos.

The way my efforts were nipped in the bud simply beggars description. I am somewhat _the worse for wear. Hoping you are the same, I remain Yours sincerely, Ned Burke.

Finally, to the extent that you use slang at all, be its master instead of its slave. You have many times been told that the overuse of slang disfigures one's speech and hampers his standing with cultivated people. You have also been told that slang constantly changes, so that one's accumulations of it today will be a profitless clutter tomorrow. These things are true, but an even more cogent objection remains. Slang is detrimental to the formation of good intellectual habits. From its very nature it cannot be precise, cannot discriminate closely. It is a vehicle for loose-thinking people, it is fraught with unconsidered general meanings, it moves in a region of mental mists. It could not flourish as it does were fewer of us content to express vague thoughts and feelings instead of those which are sharply and specifically ours. Unless, therefore, you wish your intellectual processes to be as hazy and haphazard as those of mental shirkers and loafers, you must eschew, not necessarily all slang, but all heedless, all habitual use of it. Now and then a touch of slang, judiciously chosen, is effective; now and then it fulfils a legitimate purpose of language. But normally you should express yourself as befits one who has at his disposal the rich treasuries of the dictionary instead of a mere stock of greasy counterfeit phrases.

EXERCISE - Slovenliness IV

Replace the following slang with acceptable English:

We pulled a new wrinkle.
He's an easy mark.
Oh, you're nutty.
Beat it.
I have all the inside dope.
You can't bamboozle me.
What a phiz the bloke has!
You're talking through your hat.
We had a long confab with the gink.
He's loony over that chicken.
The prof. told us to vamoose.
Take a squint at the girl with the specs. Ain't it fierce the way they swipe umbrellas? Goodnight, how she claws the ivory!
Nix on the rough stuff.
And there I got pinched by a cop for parking my Tin Lizzie.


As a precaution against tameness you should cultivate spontaneity and daring. As a precaution against slovenliness you should cultivate freshness and accuracy. But to display spontaneity, daring, freshness, accuracy you must have or acquire a large stock, a wide range, of words. Now this possession, like any other, brings with it temptation. If we have words, we like to use them. Nor do we wait for an indulgence in this luxury until we have consciously set to work to amass a vocabulary.

Verbosity is, in truth, the besetting linguistic sin. Most people are lavish with words, as most people are lavish with money. This is not to say that in the currency of language they are rich. But even if they lack the means--and the desire--to be extravagant, they yet make their purchases heedlessly or fail to count their linguistic change. The degree of our thrift, not the amount of our income or resources, is what marks us as being or not being verbal spendthrifts. The frugal manager buys his ideas at exactly the purchase price. He does not expend a twenty-dollar bill for a box of matches.

Have words by all means, the more of them the better, but use them temperately, sparingly. Do not think that a passage to be admirable must be studded with ostentatious terms. Consider the Gettysburg Address or the Parable of the Prodigal Son. These convey their thought and feeling perfectly, yet both are simple--exquisitely simple. They strike us indeed as being inevitable--as if their phrasing could not have been other than it is. They have, they are, finality. What could glittering phraseology add to them? Nothing; it could only mar them. Yet Lincoln and the Scriptural writers were not afraid to use big words when occasion required. What they sought was to make their speech adequate without carrying a superfluous syllable.

"The sun set" is more natural and effective than "The celestial orb that blesses our terrestrial globe with its warm and luminous rays sank to its nocturnal repose behind the western horizon." Great writers--the true masters--have often held "fine writing" and pretentious speaking up to ridicule. Thus Shakespeare has Kent, who has been rebuked for his bluntness, indulge in a grandiloquent outburst:

"Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity, Under the allowance of your grand aspect, Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire On flickering Phoebus' front,--"

No wonder Kent is interrupted with a "What meanest by this?" Sometimes great writers use ornate utterance for humorous effects. Thus Dickens again and again has Mr. Micawber express a commonplace idea in sounding terms which at length fail him, so that he must interject an "in short" and summarize his meaning in a phrase amusing through its homely contrast. But humor based on ponderous diction is too often wearisome. Better say simply "He died," or colloquially "He kicked the bucket," than "He propelled his pedal extremities with violence against the wooden pail which is customarily employed in the transportation of the aquatic fluid."

EXERCISE - Wordiness I

Express these ideas in simpler language:

The temperature was excessive.
The most youthful of his offspring was not remarkable for personal pulchritude.
Henry Clay expressed a preference for being on the right side of public questions to occupying the position of President of the United States of America.
He who passes at an accelerated pace may nevertheless be capable of perusing.
A masculine member of the human race was mounted on an equine quadruped.

But the number of the terms we employ, as well as their ostentatiousness, must be considered. Most of us blunder around in the neighborhood of our meaning instead of expressing it briefly and clearly. We throw a handful of words at an idea when one word would suffice; we try to bring the idea down with a shotgun instead of a rifle. Of course one means of correction is that we should acquire accuracy, a quality already discussed. Another is that we should practice condensation.

First, let us learn to omit the words which add nothing to the meaning. Thus in the sentence "An important essential in cashing a check is that you should indorse it on the back," several words or groups of words needlessly repeat ideas which are expressed elsewhere. The sentence is as complete in substance, and far terser in form, when it reads "An essential in cashing a check is that you should indorse it."

Next, let us, when we may, reduce phrases and even clauses to a word. Thus the clause at the beginning and the phrase at the close of the following sentence constitute sheer verbiage: "Men who have let their temper get the better of them are often in a mood to do harm to somebody." The sentence tells us nothing that may not be told in five words: "Angry men are often dangerous."

Finally, let us substitute phrases or clauses for unnecessary sentences. The following series of independent assertions contains avoidable repetitions: "One morning I was riding on the subway to my work. It was always my custom to ride to my work on the subway. This morning I met Harry Blake." The full thought may better be embodied in a single sentence: "One morning, while I was, as usual, riding on the subway to my work, I met Harry Blake."

By applying these instructions to any page at hand--one from your own writing, one from a letter some friend has sent you, one from a book or magazine--you will often be able to strike out many of the words without at all impairing the meaning. Another means of acquiring succinct expression is to practice the composition of telegrams and cable messages. You will of course lessen the cost by eliminating every word that can possibly be spared. On the other hand, you must bear it in mind that your punctuation will not be transmitted, and that the recipient must be absolutely safeguarded against reading together words meant to be separated or separating words meant to be read together. That is, your message must be both concise and unmistakably clear.

EXERCISE - Wordiness II

  1. Condense the editorial (Appendix 1) by eliminating unnecessary words and finding briefer equivalents for roundabout expressions.

  2. Try to condense similarly the Parable of the Sower (Appendix 3) and the Seven Ages of Man (Appendix 4). (The task will largely or altogether baffle you, but will involve minute study of tersely written passages.)

  3. Condense the following:

A man whose success in life was due solely to his own efforts rose in his place and addressed the man who presided over the meeting.

A girl who sat in the seat behind me giggled in an irritating manner.

We heard the wild shriek of the locomotive. Any sound in that savage region seemed more terrible than it would in civilized surroundings. So as we listened to the shriek of the locomotive, it sounded terrible too.

I heard what kind of chauffeur he was. A former employer of his told me. He was a chauffeur who speeded in reckless fashion because he was fond of having all the excitement possible.

  1. Condense the following into telegrams of ten words or less:

Arrived here in Toledo yesterday morning talked with the directors found them not hostile to us but friendly.

Detectives report they think evidence now points to innocence of man arrested and to former employee as the burglar.

  1. The following telegrams are ambiguous. Clarify them.

Jane escaped illness I feared Charley better.

Buy oil if market falls sell cotton.

  1. Base a telegraphic night letter of not more than fifty words upon these circumstances:

  1. You have been sent to buy, if possible and as cheaply as possible, a majority of the stock in a given company. You find that many of the stockholders distrust or dislike the president and are willing to sell. Some of these ask only $50 a share for their holdings; the owners of 100 shares want as much as $92; the average price asked is $76. By buying out all the president's enemies, which you can now do beyond question, you would secure a bare majority of the stock. But $92 a share seems to you excessive; that is, you think that by working quietly among the president's friends you can get 100 shares at $77 or thereabouts and thus save approximately $1500. On the other hand, should your dealings with the friends of the president give him premature warning, he might stop the sales by these friends and himself begin buying from his enemies, and thus make your purchase of a majority of the stock impossible. Is the $1500 you would save worth the risk you would be obliged to take? You call for instructions.

  2. You are telegraphing a metropolitan paper the results of a Congressional election. Philput, the Republican candidate, leads in the cities, from which returns are now complete. Wilkins, the Democratic candidate, leads in the country, from only certain districts of which-- those nearest the cities--returns have been heard. If the present proportionate division of the rural vote is maintained for the total, Philput will be elected by a plurality of three hundred votes. Philput asserts that the proportions will hold. Wilkins points out, however, that he is relatively stronger in the more remote districts and predicts that he will have a plurality of seven hundred votes. Smallbridge, an independent candidate, is apparently making a better race in the country than in the city, but he is so weak in both places that the ballots cast for him can scarcely affect the outcome unless the margin of victory is infinitesimal.

  1. Compress 6a and 6b each into a telegram of not more than ten words.

  2. (Do not read this assignment until you have composed the night letters and telegrams called for in 6 and 7.) Compare your first night letter in 6 and your first telegram in 7 with the versions given below. Decide where you have surpassed these versions, where you have fallen short of them.

Night letter: Two factions in company I can buy from enemies president bare majority stock at average seventy-six but hundred of these shares held at ninety-two I could probably get hundred quietly from friends president about seventy-seven but president might detect move and buy majority stock himself wire instructions. (Fifty words.)

Telegram: Wire whether buy safe or risk control saving fifteen hundred. (Ten words.)

A final device for escaping wordiness you will have discovered for yourself while composing telegrams and telegraphic night letters. It is to pass over details not vital to your purpose. Of course you must have due regard for circumstances; details needed for one purpose may be superfluous for another. But all of us are familiar with the person who loses her ideas in a rigmarole of prosaic and irrelevant facts. Such a person is Shakespeare's scatter-brained Dame Quickly. On one occasion this voluble woman is shrilly reproaching Sir John Falstaff for his indebtedness to her. "What is the gross sum that I owe thee?" he inquires. She might answer simply: "If thou wert an honest man, thyself and the money too. Thou didst promise to marry me. Deny it if thou canst." Instead, she plunges into a prolix recital of the circumstances of the engagement, so that the all-important fact that the engagement exists has no special emphasis in her welter of words. "If thou wert an honest man," she cries, "thyself and the money too. Thou didst swear to me upon a parcel-gilt goblet, sitting in my Dolphin-chamber, at the round table, by a sea-coal fire, upon Wednesday in Wheeson week, when the prince broke thy head for liking his father to a singing-man of Windsor, thou didst swear to me then, as I was washing thy wound, to marry me and make me my lady thy wife. Canst thou deny it? Did not goodwife Keech, the butcher's wife, come in then and call me gossip Quickly? coming in to borrow a mess of vinegar; telling us she had a good dish of prawns; whereby thou didst desire to eat some, whereby I told thee they were ill for a green wound? And didst thou not, when she was gone down stairs, desire me to be no more so familiarity with such poor people; saying that ere long they should call me madam? And didst thou not kiss me and bid me fetch thee thirty shillings? I put thee now to thy book-oath; deny it if thou canst."

EXERCISE - Wordiness III

  1. Study the following paragraph, decide which ideas are important, and strike out the details that merely clog the thought:

As I stepped into the room, I heard the clock ticking and that caused me to look at it. It sits on the mantelpiece with some layers of paper under one corner where the mantel is warped. When the papers slip out or we move the clock a little as we're dusting, the ticking stops right away. Of course the clock's not a new one at all, but it's an old one. It has been in the family for many a long year, yes, from even before my father's time. Let me see, it was bought by my grandfather. No, it couldn't have been grandfather that bought it; it was his brother. Oh, yes, I remember now; my mother told me all about it, and I'd forgotten what she said till this minute. But really my grandfather's brother didn't exactly buy it. He just traded for it. He gave two pigs and a saddle, that's what my mother said. You see, he was afraid his hogs might take cholera and so he wanted to get rid of them; and as for the saddle, he had sold his riding-horse and he didn't have any more use for that. Well, it isn't a valuable clock, like a grandfather clock or anything of that sort, though it is antique. As I was saying, when I glanced at it, it read seven minutes to six. I remember the time very well, for just then the factory whistle blew and I remember saying to myself: "It's seven minutes slow today." You see, it's old and we don't keep it oiled, and so it's always losing time. Hardly a day passes but I set it up--sometimes twice a day, as for the matter of that--and I usually go by the factory whistle too, though now and then I go by Dwight's gold watch. Well, anyhow, that tells me what time it was. I'm certain I can't be wrong.

  1. Study, on the other hand, The Castaway (Appendix 5) for its judicious use of details. Defoe in his stories is a supreme master of verisimilitude (likeness to truth). As we read him, we cannot help believing that these things actually happened. More than in anything else the secret of his lifelikeness lies in his constant faithfulness to reality. He puts in the little mishaps that would have befallen a man so situated, the things he would have done, the difficulties he might have avoided had he exercised forethought. Though Defoe had little insight into the complexities of man's inner life, he has not been surpassed in his accumulations of naturalistic outer details. These do not cumber his narrative; they contribute to its purpose and add to its effectiveness. In this selection (Appendix 5) observe how plausible are such homely details as Crusoe's seeing no sign of his comrades "except three of their hats, one cap, and two shoes that were not fellows"; as his difficulty in getting aboard the ship again; and as his having his clothes washed away by the rising of the tide. Find half a dozen other such incidents that You consider especially effective.

<Verbal Discords>

We may pitch our talk or our writing in almost any I key we choose. Our mood may be dreamy or eager or hilarious or grim or blustering or somber or bantering or scornful or satirical or whatever we will. But once we have established the tone, we should not--except sometimes for broadly humorous effects--change it needlessly or without clear forewarning. If we do, we create a one or the other of two obstacles, or both of them, for whoever is trying to follow what we say. In the first place, we obscure our meaning. For example, we have; been speaking ironically and suddenly swerve into serious utterance; or we have been speaking seriously and then incongruously adopt an ironic tone. How are our listeners, our readers to take us? They are puzzled; they do not know. In the second place, we offend--perhaps in insidious, indefinable fashion--the esthetic proprieties; we violate the natural fitness of things. For example, we have been speaking with colloquial freedom, sprinkling our discourse with shouldn't and won't; suddenly we be come formal and say should not and will not. Our meaning is as obvious as before, but the verbal harmony has been interrupted; our hearers or readers are uneasily aware of a break in the unity of tone.

A speaker or writer is a host to verbal guests. When he invites them to his assembly, he gives each the tacit assurance that it will not be brought into fellowship with those which in one or another of a dozen subtle ways will be uncongenial company for it. He must never be forgetful of this unspoken promise. If he is to avoid a linguistic breach, he must constantly have his wits about him; must study out his combinations carefully, and use all his knowledge, all his tact. He will make due use of spontaneous impulse; but that this may be wise and disciplined, he will form the habit of curiosity about words, their stations, their savor, their aptitudes, their limitations, their outspokenness, their reticences, their affinities and antipathies. Thus when he has need of a phrase to fill out a verbal dinner party, he will know which one to select.

Certain broad classifications of words are manifest even to the most obtuse user of English. Shady, behead, and lying are "popular" words, while their synonyms umbrageous decapitate,_ and mendacious are "learned" words. Flabbergasted and higgledy-piggledy are "colloquial," while roseate and whilom are "literary." Affidavit, allegro, lee shore, and pinch hit are "technical," while vamp, savvy, bum hunch, and skiddoo are "slang." It would be disenchanting indeed were extremes of this sort brought together. But offenses of a less glaring kind are as hard to shut out as February cold from a heated house. Unusual are the speeches or compositions, even the short ones, in which every word is in keeping, is in perfect tune with the rest.

For the attainment of this ultimate verbal decorum we should have to possess knowledge almost unbounded, together with unerring artistic instinct. But diction of a kind only measurably inferior to this is possible to us if we are in earnest. To attain it we must study the difference between abstract and concrete terms, and let neither intrude unadvisedly upon the presence or functions of the other; do the same by literal and figurative terms and instruct ourselves in the nature and significance of connotation.

Before considering these more detailed matters, however, we may pause for a general exercise on verbal harmony.

EXERCISE - Discords

  1. Study the editorial in Appendix 1 for unforewarned changes in mood and assemblages of mutually uncongenial words. Rewrite the worst two paragraphs to remove all blemishes of these kinds.

  2. Compare Burke's speech (Appendix 2) with Defoe's narrative (Appendix 5) for the difference in tone between them. Does each keep the tone it adopts (that is, except for desirable changes)?

  3. Note the changes in tone in the Seven Ages of Man (Appendix 4). Do the changes in substance, make these changes in tone desirable?

  4. In the following passages, make such changes and omissions as are necessary to unify the tone:

How I loved to stroll, on those long Indian summer afternoons, into the quiet meadows where the mild-breathed kine were grazing! An old cow that switches her tail at flies and puts her foot in the bucket when you milk her, I absolutely loathe. How I loved to hear the birds sing, to listen to the fall of ripe autumnal apples!

It wasn't the girl yclept Sally. This girl was not so vivacious as Sally, but she had a mug on her that was a lot less ugly to look at. Gee, when she stood there in front of me with those mute, ineffable, sympathetic eyes of hers, I was ready to throw a duck-fit.

Old Grimes is dead, that dear old soul; We'll never see him more;
He wore a great long overcoat,
All buttoned down before.

<I. Abstract vs. Concrete Terms; General vs. Specific Terms>

Abstract terms convey ideas; concrete terms call up pictures. If we say "Honesty is the best policy," we speak abstractly. Nobody can see or hear or touch the thing honesty or the thing policy; the apprehension of them must be purely intellectual. But if we say "The rat began to gnaw the rope," we speak concretely. Rat, gnaw, and rope are tangible, perceptible things; the words bring to us visions of particular objects and actions.

Now when we engage in explanations and discussions of principles, theories, broad social topics, and the like--when we expound, moralize, or philosophize,--our subject matter is general. We approach our readers or hearers on the thinking, the rational side of their natures. Our phraseology is therefore normally abstract. But when, on the other hand, we narrate an event or depict an appearance, our subject matter is specific. We approach our readers or hearers on the sensory or emotional side of their natures. Our phraseology is therefore normally concrete.

You should be able to express yourself according to either method. You should be able to choose the words best suited to make people understand; also to choose the words best suited to make people realize vividly and feel. Now to some extent you will adopt the right method by intuition. But if you do not reinforce your intuition with a careful study of words, you will vacillate from one method to the other and strike crude discords of phrasing. Of course if you switch methods intelligently and of purpose, that is quite another matter. An abstract discussion may be enlivened by a concrete illustration. A concrete narrative or portrayal may be given weight and rationalized by generalization. Moreover many things lie on the borderland between the two domains and may properly be attached to either. Thus the abstraction is legitimate when you say or write: "A man wishes to acquire the comforts and luxuries, as well as the necessaries, of life." The concreteness is likewise legitimate when you say or write: "John Smith wishes to earn cake as well as bread and butter."

In most instances general terms are the same as abstract, and specific the same as concrete. Some subtle discriminations may, however, be made. Of these the only one that need concern us here is that the wording of a passage may not be abstract and yet be general. Suppose, for example, you were telling the story of the prodigal son and should say: "He was very hungry, and could; not obtain food anywhere. When he had come to his senses, he thought, 'I should be better off at home.'" This language is not abstract, but it is general rather than specific. When Jesus told the story, he wished to put the situation as poignantly as possible and therefore avoided both abstract and general terms: "And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!" Many a person who shuns abstractions and talks altogether of the concrete things of life, yet traps out circumstance in general rather than specific terms. To do this is always to sacrifice force.

EXERCISE - Abstract

  1. Discuss as abstractly as possible such topics as those listed in Activity 1 for EXERCISE - Discourse, or as the following:

Is there any such thing as luck?
Is the Golden Rule practicable in the modern business world? Is modesty rather than self-assertion regarding his own merits and abilities the better policy for an employee? Are substantial, home-keeping girls or girls rather fast and frivolous the more likely to obtain good husbands?
Is it desirable for a young man to take out life insurance? Is self-education better than collegiate training? Should one always tell the truth?

  1. Discuss as concretely as possible the topics you have selected from 1. Use illustrations drawn from life.

  2. Restate in concrete terms such generalizations as the following:

Experience is the best teacher.
Self-preservation is the first law of nature. To him who in the love of nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks A various language.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
The bravest are the tenderest.
Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.
Pride goeth before destruction.
The evil that men do lives after them.

  1. Compare the abstract statement "Truths and high ethical principles are received by various men in various ways" with the concrete presentation of the same idea in Appendix 3. Which expression of the thought would be the more easily understood by the average person? Why? Which would you yourself remember the longer? Why?

  2. Compare the statement "The second period of a human being's life is that of his reluctant attendance at school" with Shakespeare's picture of the schoolboy in Appendix 4.

  3. Burke, near the close of his speech (Appendix 2), presents an idea, first in general terms, and then in specific terms, thus: "No contrivance can prevent the effect of...distance in weakening government. Seas roll, and months pass, between the order and the execution, and the want of a speedy explanation of a single point is enough to defeat a whole system." Find elsewhere in Burke's speech and in the editorial (Appendix I) general assertions which may be made more forceful by restatement in specific terms, and supply these specific restatements.

  4. State in your own words the general thought or teaching of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15: 11-24.)

  5. Make the following statements more concrete:

In front of our house was a tree that at a certain season of the year displayed highly colored foliage.

A celebrated orator said: "Give me liberty, or give me death!"

On the table were some viands that assailed my nostrils agreeably and others that put into my mouth sensations of anticipated enjoyment.

From this window above the street I can hear a variety of noises by day and a variety of different noises by night.

As he groped through the pitch-dark room he could feel many articles of furniture.

9. State in general terms the thought of the following sentences:

A burnt child dreads the fire.
A stitch in time saves nine.
A cat may look at a king.
A barking dog never bites.
If his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? If two men ride a horse, one must ride behind. Stone walls do not a prison make.
A merry heart goes all the day.
Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just. As the twig is bent, so the tree is inclined.

10. Describe a town as seen from a particular point of view, or at a particular time of day, or under particular atmospheric conditions. Make your description as concrete as possible.

11. Compare your description with this from Stevenson: "The town came down the hill in a cascade of brown gables, bestridden by smooth white roofs, and spangled here and there with lighted windows." Stevenson's sentence contains twenty-five words. How many of them are "color" words? How many "motion" words? How many of the first twenty-five words in your description appeal to one or another of the five senses?

12. Narrate as vividly as possible an experience in your own life. Compare what you have written with the account of Crusoe's escape to the island

(Appendix 5). Which narrative is the more concrete? How much?

<2. Literal vs. Figurative Terms>

Phraseology is literal when it says exactly what it means; is figurative when it says one thing, but really means another. Thus "He fought bravely" is literal; "He was a lion in the fight" is figurative. Literal phraseology as a rule appeals to our scientific or understanding faculties; figurative to our emotional faculties. Here again, as with abstraction and concreteness, you should learn to express yourself by either method.

Both have their advantages and their drawbacks. We all admire the man who has observed, and can state, accurately. It is upon this belief of ours in the literal that Defoe shrewdly traffics. (See Appendix 5.) He does not stir us as some writers do, but he gains our implicit confidence. Dame Quickly, on the contrary, makes egregious use of the literal. (See paragraph above EXERCISE - Wordiness III above.) Her facts are accurate, yes; but how strictly, how unsparingly accurate! And how many of them are beside the point! She quite convinces us that the devotee of the literal may be dull.

An advantage of the figurative also is that it may make meanings lucid. Thus when Burke near the close of his discussion (Appendix 2) wishes to make it clear that by a law of nature the authority of extensive empires is slighter in its more remote territories, he has recourse to a figure of speech: "In large bodies, the circulation of power must be less vigorous at the extremities. Nature has said it." More often, however, the function of the figurative is to drive home a thought or a mood of which a mere statement would leave us unmoved--to make us feel it. Thus Burke said of the Americans "Their love of liberty, as with you, fixed and attached on this specific point of taxing." He added: "Here they felt its pulse, and as they found that beat they thought themselves sick or sound." Had you been one of his Parliamentary hearers, would not that second sentence have made more real and more important the colonial attitude to taxation? The poets of course make frequent and noble use of the figurative. This is how Coleridge tells us that the descent of a tropical night is sudden:

"The sun's rim dips; the stars rush out; At one stride comes the dark."

The words rush out and at one stride comes convert the stars and the darkness into vast beings or at least vast personal forces; the comparisons are so natural as to seem inevitable; we are transported to the very scene and feel the overwhelming abruptness of the nightfall. But if a figure of speech seems artificial, if it is strained or far-fetched or merely decorative, it subtracts from the effectiveness of the passage. Thus when Tennyson says:

"When the breeze of a joyful dawn blew free In the silken sail of infancy."

we must stop and ponder before we perceive that what he means is "When I was a happy child." The figure is like an exotic plant rather than a natural outgrowth of the soil; it appears to us something thought up and stuck on; it is a parasite rather than a helper.

Of course, as with abstraction and concreteness, you should develop facility in gliding from literalness to figurativeness and back again. But you are always to remember that your gymnastics are not to militate against verbal concord. You must never set words scowling and growling at each other through injudicious combinations like this: "She was five feet, four and three-quarter inches high, had a small, round scar between her nose and her left cheek-bone, and moved with the lissom and radiant grace of a queen."

EXERCISE - Literal

  1. Give the specifications for a house you intend to build.

  2. Make a list of comparisons (as to a nest, a haven, a goal) to show what such a house might mean in the life of a man. Expand as many of these comparisons as you can, but do not carry the process to absurd lengths. (In the figure of the nest you may mention the parent birds, their activities, the nestlings; in the figure of the haven you may mention the quiet, sheltered waters in contrast to the turbulent billows outside; in the figure of the goal you may mention the struggle necessary to reach it.)

  3. Describe the looks of the house. Use as many figures of speech as you can. If you can find no appropriate figures, at least make your words specific.

  4. Give a surveyor's or a tax assessor's or a conveyancer's description of a piece of land. Then describe the land through figures of speech which will vivify its outward appearance or its emotional significance to the owner.

  5. Observe that the Parable of the Sower (Appendix 3) is an extended figure of speech. Is the main figure effective? Are its detailed applications effective?

  6. The Seven Ages of Man (Appendix 4) is also an extended figure of speech. Does it, as Shakespeare intends, bring vividly to your consciousness the course, motives, stages, evolution of a human being's life? There are several subsidiary figures. Do these add force, definiteness to the picture Shakespeare is drawing at that moment?

  7. Observe from Appendix 3, Appendix 4, and the sentences listed in Activity 9 for EXERCISE - Abstract above, that a thing meant to be concrete is likely to be stated figuratively.

  8. Examine The Castaway (Appendix 5) for its proportionate use of literal and figurative elements. See Activity 2 of EXERCISE - Wordiness III above for a statement of Defoe's purpose. Could he have effected this purpose so well had he employed more figures of speech?

  9. Examine Appendix 2 for its use of figures. Are the figures appropriate to the subject matter? Are there enough of them?

  10. Galvanize the thought of any sentence or paragraph in editorial (Appendix 1) by the use of a figure of speech.

  11. Summarize or illustrate your opinion on any of the topics listed in Activity 1 for EXERCISE - Discourse, through the employment of figure of speech.

12. Are these figures effective?

Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward. The flower of our young manhood is scaling the ladder of success.

Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.
Silence, like a poultice, comes
To heal the blows of sound.
In my head
Many thoughts of trouble come,
Like to flies upon a plum!

Let me tell you first about those barnacles that clog the wheels of society by poisoning the springs of rectitude with their upas-like eye.

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

Life, like a dome of many-colored glass, Stains the white radiance of eternity.

Mountains stood out like pimples or lay like broken welts across the habitable ground.

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more; it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

I saw him in Russia, where the infantry of the snow and the cavalry of the wild blast scattered his legions like winter's withered leaves.

13. Recast the following sentences to eliminate the clashing of literal and figurative elements:

Life is like a rich treasure entrusted to us, and to sustain it we must have three square meals a day.

She glanced at the mirror, but did not really see herself. She was trying to puzzle out the right course, and could only see as through a glass darkly.

Arming himself with the sword of zeal and the buckler of integrity, he wrote the letter.

He swept the floor every morning, and was a ray of sunshine in the office. He also emptied the waste baskets and cleaned the cuspidors.

<3. Connotation>

The connotation of a word is the subtle implication, the emotional association it carries--often quite apart from its dictionary definition. Thus the words house and home in large measure overlap in meaning, but emotionally they are not equivalents at all. You can say house without experiencing any sensation whatever, but if you utter the word home it will call back, however slightly, tender and cherished recollections. Bald heads and gray hair are both indicative of age; but you would pronounce the former in disparaging allusion to elderly persons, and the latter with sentiments of veneration. You would say, of a clodpole that he plays the fiddle, but of Fritz Kreisler that he plays the violin. And just as you unconsciously adapt words to feelings in these obvious instances, you must learn, on peril of striking false notes verbally, to do so when distinctions are less gross.

Moreover circumstance as well as sentiment may control the connotation of a word. A word or phrase may have a double or triple connotation, and depend upon vocal inflection, upon gesture, upon the words with which it is linked, upon the experience of speaker or hearer, upon time, place, and external fact, or upon other forces outside it for the sense in which it is to be taken. You may be called "old dog" in an insulting manner, or (especially if a slap on the shoulder accompanies the phrase) in an affectionate manner. You may properly say, "Calhoun had logic on his side"; add, however, the words "but his face was to the past," and you spoil the sentence,--for face gives a reflex connotation to side, slight perhaps and momentary, but disconcerting. Think over the funny stories you have heard. Many of them turn, you will find, on the outcropping of new significance in a phrase because of its environment. Thus the anecdote of the servant who had been instructed to summon the visiting English nobleman by tapping on his bedroom door and inquiring, "My lord, have you yet risen?" and who could only stammer, "My God! ain't you up yet?" Or the anecdote of the minister who in a sermon on the Parable of the Prodigal Son told how a young man living dissolutely in a city had been compelled to send to the pawnbroker first his overcoat, next his suit, next his silk shirt, and finally his very underclothing--"and then," added the minister, "he came to himself." Only by unresting vigilance can you evade verbal discords, if not of this magnitude, at least of much frequency and stylistic harm.

EXERCISE - Connotation

  1. Note the contrast in emotional suggestion that comes to you from hearing the words:

"Sodium chloride" and "salt"
"A test-tube of H2O" and "a cup of cold water" "A pair of brogans" and "a little empty shoe" "Bump" and "collide"
"A brilliant fellow" and "a flashy fellow" "Bungled it" and "did not succeed"
"Tumble" and "fall"
"Dawn" and "6 A.M."
"Licked" and "worsted"
"Fat" and "plump"
"Wept" and "blubbered"
"Cheek" and "self-assurance"
"Stinks" and "disagreeable odors"
"Steal" and "embezzle"
"Thievishness" and "kleptomania"
"Educated" and "highbrow"
"Job" and "Position"
"Told a lie" and "fell into verbal inexactitude" "A drunkard" (a stranger) and "a drunkard" (your father).

  1. Make a list of your own similar to that in Exercise 1.

  2. Read the sentences listed in EXERCISE - Slovenliness III and IV. What do these sentences suggest to you as to the social and mental qualifications of the person who employs them?

  3. Read the second paragraph of Appendix 2. What does it suggest to you as to Burke's social and mental qualifications?

  4. Suppose you were told that a passage of twenty-eight lines contains the following expressions: "mewling and puking," "whining schoolboy," "satchel," "sighing like furnace," "round belly," "spectacles on nose," "shrunk shank," "sans [without] teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything." Would you believe the passage is poetry?--that its total effect is one of poetic elevation? Read the Seven Ages of Man (Appendix
  1. . Is it poetry? How does Shakespeare reconcile the general poetic tone with such expressions as those quoted?

  1. What is wrong with the connotation of the following?

The servant told us that the young ladies were all in. All my poor success is due to you.
He insisted on carrying a revolver, and so the college authorities fired him.
The carpenter too had his castles in Spain. He rested his old bones by the wayside, and his gaunt dog stood sniffing at them.
On the other hand, he had a white elephant to dispose of. When he came to the forks of the road, he showed he was not on the square. Body, for funeral purposes, must be sold at once. City Automobile Agency.

  1. Can you express the following ideas in other words without sacrifice of emotional suggestion? Try.

The music, yearning like a god in pain. Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide, wide sea!

But O for the touch of a vanished hand, And the sound of a voice that is still! Old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago.

It was night in the lonesome October.
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars, that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight.

The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
And murmuring of innumerable bees.

Ay, but to die, and go we know not where; To lie in cold obstruction and to rot.

Merrily, merrily, shall I live now,
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.

'Tis as easy now for the heart to be true As for grass to be green or skies to be blue,-- 'Tis the natural way of living.

  We are such stuff

As dreams are made of, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.

  1. With the most connotative words at your command describe the following:

Your first sweetheart
A solemn experience
A ludicrous experience
A terrifying experience
A mysterious experience
The circus parade you saw in your boyhood A servant girl
A dude
An odd character you have known
The old homestead
Your boarding house
A scene suggesting the intense heat of a midsummer day Night on the river
The rush for the subway car
The traffic policeman
Your boss
Anything listed in the first part of Activity 9 of EXERCISE - Discourse.



The more dangerous pitfalls for those who use words in combination--as all of us do--have been pointed out. The best ways of avoiding these pitfalls have also been indicated. But our work together has thus far been chiefly negative. To be sure, many tasks assigned for your performance have been constructive as well as precautionary; but the end held ever before you has been the avoidance of feeble or ridiculous diction. In the present chapter we must take up those aspects of the mastery of words in combination which are primarily positive.

<Preliminaries: General Purposes and Methods>

Before coming to specific aspects and assignments, however, we shall do well to consider certain large general purposes and methods.

<I. A Ready, an Accurate, or a Wide Vocabulary?>

First, what kind of vocabulary do we wish to acquire? A facile, readily used one? An accurate one? Or one as nearly as may be comprehensive? The three kinds do not necessarily coexist. The possession of one may even hinder and retard the acquisition of another. Thus if we seek a ready vocabulary, an accurate vocabulary may cause us to halt and hesitate for words which shall correspond with the shadings of our thought and emotion, and a wide vocabulary may embarrass us with the plenitude of our verbal riches.

But may is not must. Though the three kinds of vocabulary may interfere with each other, there is no reason, except superficially, why they should. Our purpose should be, therefore, to acquire not a single kind but all three. We should be like the boy who, when asked whether he would have a small slice of apple pie or a small slice of pumpkin pie, replied resolutely, "Thank you, I will take a large piece of both."

That the assignments in this chapter may help you develop a vocabulary which shall be promptly responsive to your needs, you should perform some of them rapidly. Your thoughts and feelings regarding a topic may be anything but clear, but you must not pause to clarify them. The words best suited to the matter may not be instantly available, but you must not tarry for accessions of language. Stumble, flounder if you must, yea, rearrange your ideas even as you present them, but press resolutely ahead, comforting yourself with the assurance that in the heat and stress of circumstances a man rarely does his work precisely as he wishes. When you have finished the discussion, repeat it immediately--and with no more loitering than before. You will find that your ideas have shifted and enlarged, and that more appropriate words have become available. Further repetitions will assist you the more. But the goal you should set yourself, as you proceed from topic to topic, is the attainment of the power to be at your best in the first discussion. You may never reach this goal, but at least you may approach it.

That the assignments in this chapter may assist you in making your vocabulary accurate, you should perform some of them in another way. When you have selected a topic, you should first of all think it through. In doing this, arrange your ideas as consistently and logically as you can, and test them with your reason. Then set them forth in language which shall be lucid and exact. Tolerate no slipshod diction, no vaguely rendered general meanings. Send every sentence, every word like a skilful drop-kick--straight above the crossbar. When you have done your best with the topic, lay it by for a space. Time is a great revealer of hidden defects, and you must not regard your labors as ended until your achievement is the maturest possible for you. If the quantity of what you accomplish is meager, suffer no distress on that account. The desideratum now is not quantity, but quality.

The assignments in this chapter will do less toward making your vocabulary wide than toward making it facile and precise. To be sure, they will now and then set you to hunting for words that are new. Better still, they will give you a mastery over some of your outlying words--words known to your eyes or ears but not to your tongue. But these advantages will be somewhat incidental. Means for the systematic extension of your verbal domain into regions as yet unexplored by you, are reserved for the later chapters of this book.

<2. A Vocabulary for Speech or for Writing?>

In the second place, are we to develop a vocabulary for oral discourse or a vocabulary for writing? It may be that our chief impediment or our chief ambition lies in one field rather than in the other. Nevertheless we should strive for a double mastery; we ought to speak well and write well. Indeed the two powers so react upon each other that we ought to cultivate both for the sake of either. True, some men, though inexpert as writers, have made themselves proficient as speakers; or though shambling and ineffective as speakers, have made themselves proficient as writers. But this is not natural or normal. Moreover these men might have gleaned more abundantly from their chosen field had they not shut it off from the acres adjacent. Fences waste space and curtail harvests.

The assignments in this chapter are of such a nature that you may perform them either orally or in writing. You should speak and write alternately, sometimes on the same topic, sometimes on topics taken in rotation.

In your oral discussions you should perhaps absent yourself at first from human auditors. A bedstead or a dresser will not make you self-conscious or in any way distract your attention, and it will permit you to sit down afterward and think out the degree of your failure or success. Ultimately, of course, you must speak to human beings--in informal conversations at the outset, in more ambitious ways later as occasion permits.

In your writing you may find it advantageous to make preliminary outlines of what you wish to say. But above all, you must be willing to blot, to revise, to take infinite pains. You should remember the old admonition that easy reading is devilish hard writing.

<The Mastery of Words in Combination>

These purposes and methods are general. We now come to the specific fields in which we may with profit cultivate words in combination. Of these fields there are four.

<I. Mastery through Translation>

If you read a foreign language, whether laboriously or with ease, you should make this power assist you to amass a good English vocabulary. Take compositions or parts of compositions written in the foreign tongue, and turn them into idiomatic English. How much you should translate at a given time depends upon your leisure and your adeptness. Employ all the methods--the spontaneous, the carefully perfected, the oral, the written--heretofore explained in this chapter. In your final work on a passage you should aim at a faultless rendition, and should spend time and ransack the lexicons rather than come short of this ideal.

The habit of translation is an excellent habit to keep up. For the study of an alien tongue not only improves your English, but has compensations in itself.

EXERCISE - Translation

  1. Translate from any accessible book in the foreign language you can read.

  2. Subscribe for a period of at least two or three months for a newspaper or magazine in that language, if it is a modern one. Translate as before, but give most of your time to rapid oral translation for a real or imaginary American hearer.

  3. When you have completed your final written translation of a passage from the foreign language, make yourself master of all the English words you have not previously (1) known or (2) used, but have encountered in your work of translation.

<2. Mastery through Paraphrasing>

It may be that you are not familiar with a foreign language. At any rate you have some knowledge of English. Put this knowledge to use in paraphrasing; for thus you will enrich your vocabulary and make it surer and more flexible. The process of paraphrasing is simple, though the actual work is not easy. You take passages written in English--the more of them the better, and the more diversified the better--and both reproduce their substance and incarnate their mood in words you yourself shall choose.

You may have a passage before you and paraphrase it unit by unit. More often, however, you should follow the plan adopted by Franklin when he emulated Addison by rewriting the Spectator Papers. That is, you should steep yourself in the thought and emotion of a piece of writing, and then lay the piece aside until its wording has faded from your memory, when you should reembody the substance in language that seems to you natural and fitting. Much of the benefit will come from your comparing your version, as Franklin did his, with the original. When you perceive that you have fallen short, you should consider the respects wherein your inferiority lies--and should make another attempt, and yet another, and another. When you perceive that in any way you have surpassed the original, you should feel a just pride in your achievement--and should resolve that next time your cause for pride shall be greater still. Even after you have desisted from formal paraphrasing, you should cling to the habit, formed at this time, of observing any notable felicities in whatever you read and of comparing them with the expression you yourself would likely have employed.

EXERCISE - Paraphrasing

  1. Paraphrase the editorial in Appendix 1. You should improve upon the original. Keep trying until you do.

  2. Paraphrase the second paragraph in Burke's speech (Appendix 2). Burke lacked the cheap tricks of the ordinary orator, but his discussions were based upon a comprehensive knowledge of facts, a sympathetic understanding of human nature, a vast depth and range of thought, and a well-meditated political philosophy. In short, he is a model for elaborated discussions. Set forth the leading thought of this paragraph; you can give it in fewer words than he employs. But try setting it forth with his full accompaniments of reflection and information; you will be bewildered at his crowding so much into such small compass.

  3. Try to rival the pregnant conciseness of the Parable of the Sower (Appendix 3).

  4. Paraphrase in prose the Seven Ages of Man (Appendix 4). Catch if possible the mood, the "atmosphere," of each of the pictures painted by Shakespeare. Condense your paraphrase as much as you can.

  5. In each of the preceding exercises compare your vocabulary with that of the original as to size, precision, and the grace and ease with which words are put together. Does the original employ terms unfamiliar to you? If so, look up their meaning and make them yours; then observe, when you next paraphrase the passage, whether your mastery of these terms has improved your expression.

<3. Mastery through Discourse at First Hand>

Models have their use, but you can also work without models. It is imperative that you should. You must learn to discuss, explain, analyze, argue, narrate, and describe for yourself. Here again you should diversify your materials to the utmost, not only that you may become well-rounded and versatile in your ability to set forth ideas and feelings in words, but also that your knowledge and your sensibility may receive stimulation.

It is feasible to begin by discussing or explaining. Most of the intercourse conducted through language consists in either discussion or explanation. Analysis, ordinarily, is almost ignored. Argument is indulged in, and so is description (though less freely), but they are of the bluntest and broadest. Narration--the recounting of incidents of everyday existence--is, however, widely employed.

In your work of discussion or explanation you may seize upon any current topic--industrial, social, political, or what not--that comes into your mind. Or you may make a list of such topics, writing each on a separate piece of paper; may jumble the slips in a hat; and may thus have always at your elbow a collection of satisfactory themes from which you may take one at random. Or you may invest in language of your own selection the substance of an address or sermon you have heard, or give the burden of some important conversation in which you have participated, or explain the tenor of an article you have read. You should of course try to interest your hearers, and above all, you should impart to what you say complete clarity.

In analyzing you should select as your topic a process fairly obscure, the implications of a certain statement or argument, the results to be expected from some action or policy that has been advocated, or the exact matter at issue between two disputants. Any topic for discussion, explanation, or argument may be treated analytically. Your analysis in its final form should be so carefully considered that its soundness cannot be impeached.

In arguing you may take any subject under the sun, from baseball to Bolshevism, for all of them are debated with vehemence. Any topic for discussion or explanation becomes, when approached from some particular angle, material for argument. Thus the initial topic in the exercise that follows is "The aeroplane's future as a carrier of mail." You may convert it into a question for debate by making it read: "The aeroplane is destined to supplant the railroad as a carrier of mail," or "The aeroplane is destined to be used increasingly as a carrier of transcontinental mail." In arguing you may propose for ourself either of two objectives:

  1. to silence your opponent, (2) to refute, persuade, and win him over fairly. The achievement of the first end calls for bluster and perhaps a grim, barbaric strength; you must do as Johnson did according to Goldsmith's famous dictum--if your pistol misses fire, you must knock your adversary down with the butt end of it. This procedure, though inartistic to be sure, is in some contingencies the only kind that will serve. But you should cultivate procedure of a type more urbane. Let your very reasonableness be the most potent weapon you wield. To this end you should form the habit of looking for good points on both sides of a question. As a still further precaution against contentiousness you should uphold the two sides successively.

In narrating you should, as a rule, stick to simple occurrences, though you may occasionally vary your work by summarizing the plot of a novel or giving the gist and drift of big historical events. You should confine yourself, in large part, to incidents in which you have been personally involved, or which you yourself have witnessed, as mishaps, unexpected encounters, bickerings, even rescues or riots. You should omit non-essentials and make the happening itself live for your hearer; if you can so interest him in it that he will not notice your manner of telling it, your success is but the greater.

Finally, in describing you should deal for the most part with beings, objects, and appearances familiar to you. Description is usually hard to make vivid. This is because the objects and scenes are likely to be immobile and (at least when told about) to lack distinctiveness. Try, therefore, to lay hold of the peculiar quality of the thing described, and use words suggestive of color and motion. Moreover be brief. Long descriptions are sure to be wearisome.

EXERCISE - Discourse

  1. Select topics from the following list for discussion or explanation:

The aeroplane's future as a carrier of mail The commercial future of the aeroplane
A recent scientific (or mechanical or electrical) invention A better type of newspaper--its contents and makeup A better type of newspaper--how it can be secured The connection between the advertising and news departments

of a newspaper--the actual condition

The connection between the advertising and news departments

of a newspaper--the ideal

Special features in a newspaper that are popular A single standard for the sexes--is it possible? A single standard for the sexes--how it can be attained (or approximated) Should the divorce laws be made more stringent? Should a divorced person be prohibited from remarrying? What further marriage restrictions should be placed upon the

physically or mentally unfit?

What further measures should be taken by the cities (states, nation) for

the protection of motherhood?

Is the division of men into strongly contrasted groups as to wealth

one of nature's necessities, or is it the result of a social and economic system?

Some shortcomings of the labor unions
Are the shortcomings of the labor unions accidental or inherent? Some ways of bettering the condition of the working classes How municipal (state, national) bureaus for finding employment

for the laborer may become more serviceable

Wrongs committed by big business (or some branch of it) Should a man's income above a stipulated amount be confiscated

by the government?

Income taxes--what exemptions should be granted? The right basis for business--competition or cooeperation? Are the courts equally just to labor and capital? How can legal procedure be changed to enable individuals to secure just

treatment from corporations without resorting to prolonged and expensive lawsuits?

Where our interests clash with those of Great Britain How our relations with Great Britain may be further improved How our relations with Japan may be further improved How may closer commercial relations with other countries be promoted? What to do about the railroads and railroad rates A natural resource that should be conserved or restored Do high tariffs breed international ill-will? Should we have a high tariff at this juncture? To what extent should osteopathy (chiropractic) be permitted

(or protected) by law?

What is wrong with municipal government in my city How woman suffrage affects local government How to make rural life more attractive
The importance of the rotation of crops
The race problem as it affects my community The class problem as it affects my community The school-house as a social center
How to Americanize the alien elements in our population To what extent, if at all, should foreign-born citizens of our

country be encouraged to preserve their native traditions and culture?

Censorship of the moving picture
Educational possibilities of the moving picture How to bring about improvement in the quality of the moving picture The effect of the moving picture upon legitimate drama A church that men will attend
How young men may be attracted to the churches How far shall doctrine be insisted upon by the churches? To what extent shall the church concern itself with social

and economic problems?

To what extent, if at all, shall Sunday diversions be restricted? The advantages of using the free public library Can the cities give children in the slums better opportunities for

physical (mental, moral) development?

Should all cities be required to establish zooelogical gardens,

as well as schools, for the children?

How my city might improve its system of public parks The most interesting thing about the work I am in Opportunities in the work I am in
The qualities called for in the work I am in The ideals of my associates

Something I have learned about life
Something I have learned about human nature
A book that has influenced me, and why

A person who has influenced me, and how
My favorite sport or recreation
Why baseball is so popular
What I could do for the people around me What I should like for the people around me to do for me.

  1. Discuss or explain the ideas listed in Exercise 3 for 'Abstract vs. Concrete' in "Words in Combination: Some Pitfalls" above.

  2. Analyze the debatable questions included in the two preceding exercises or suggested by them. That is, find the issues in each question, and show what each disputant must prove and what he must refute.

  3. Analyze the results to be expected from the adoption of some policy or course of action by:

A newspaper
A business firm
The city
The farmers
The producers in some business or industry The consumers
The retail merchants of your city
Some group of reformers
Some social group
Those interested in a social activity, as dancing Your neighbors

  1. Analyze or explain:

The testing of seed grain
How to raise potatoes (any other vegetable) How to utilize and apportion the space in your garden How to keep an automobile in good shape
How to run an automobile (motor boat)
How to make a rabbit trap
How to lay out a camp
how to catch trout (bass, codfish, tuna fish, lobsters) How to conduct a public meeting
How a bill is introduced and passed in a legislative body How food is digested
How to extract oxygen from water
How a fish breathes
How gold is mined
How wireless messages are sent
How your favorite game is played
How to survey a tract of land
How stocks are bought and sold on margins How public opinion is formed
How a man ought to form his opinions
The responsibility of individuals to society The responsibility of society to the individual.

  1. Argue one side or the other, or the two successively, of queries contained or implied in Exercises 1 and 2.

  2. Argue one side or the other, or the two successively, of queries listed in Exercise 1 in EXERCISE - Abstract.

  3. Give a narrative of:

The earning of your first dollar
How somebody met his match
An amusing incident
An anxious moment
A surprise
The touchdown
That fatal seventh inning
How you got the position
Why you missed the train
When you were lost
Your first trip on the railroad (a motor boat, a merry-go-round,

snowshoes, a burro)

A mishap
How Jenkins skated
Your life until the present (a summary)
Something you have heard your father tell What happened to your uncle
Your partner's (chum's) escapade
Meeting an old friend
Meeting a bore
A conversation you have overheard
When Myrtle eavesdropped
When the girls didn't know Algy was in the parlor A public happening that interests you
An incident you have read in the papers
An incident from your favorite novel
Backward Ben at the party
Something that happened to you today.

  1. Describe ...

For the mood or general "atmosphere":

Anything you deem suitable in Activity 8 in EXERCISE - Connotation. An old, deserted house
Your birthplace as you saw it in manhood The view from an eminence
A city as seen from a roof garden by night Your mother's Bible
A barnyard scene
The lonely old negro at the supper table A new immigrant gazing out upon the ocean he has crossed The downtown section at closing hour
A scene of quietude
A scene of bustle and confusion
A richly colored scene
A scene of dejection
A scene of wild enthusiasm
A scene of dulness or stagnation.

With attention to homely detail:

The old living-room
My aunt's dresses
Barker's riding-horse
The business street of the village
A cabin in the mountains
The office of a man approaching bankruptcy The Potters' backyard
The second-hand store
The ugliest man.

For general accuracy and vividness:

The organ-grinder
The signs of an approaching storm
The arrival of the train
Mail-time at the village post office
The crowd at the auction
The old fishing-boat
A country fair (or a circus)
The inside of a theater (or a church)
The funeral procession
The political rally
The choir.

<4. Mastery through Adapting Discourse to Audience>

For convenience, we have heretofore assumed that ideas and emotions, together with such expression of them as shall be in itself adequate and faithful, comprise the sole elements that have to be reckoned with in the use of words in combination. But as you go out into life you will find that these things, however complete they may seem, are not in practice sufficient. Another factor--the human--must have its place in our equation. You do not speak or write in a vacuum. Your object, your ultimate object at least, in building up your vocabulary is to address men and women; and among men and women the varieties of training, of stations, of outlooks, of sentiments, of prejudices, of caprices are infinite. To gain an unbiased hearing you must take persistent cognizance of flesh and blood.

In adapting discourse to audience you must have a supple and attentive mind and an impressionable and swiftly responsive temperament as well as a wide, accurate, and flexible vocabulary. Unless you are a fool, a zealot, or an incorrigible adventurer, you will not broach a subject at all to which your hearers feel absolute indifference or hostility. Normally you should pick a subject capable of interesting them. In presenting it you should pay heed to both your matter and your manner. You should emphasize for your listeners those aspects of the subject which they will most respond to or most need to hear, whether or not the phases be such as you would emphasize with other auditors. You should also speak in the fashion you deem most effective with them, whether or not it be one to which your own natural instincts prompt you.

Let us say you are discussing conditions in Europe. You must speak in one way to the man who has traveled and in an entirely different way to the man who has never gone abroad--in one way to the well-read man, in an entirely different way to the ignoramus. Let us say you are discussing urban life, urban problems. You must speak in one way to the man who lives in the city, in another to the man who lives in the country. Let us say you are discussing the labor problem. You must speak in one way to employers, in another to employees, possibly in a third to men thrown out of jobs, possibly in a fourth to the general public. Let us say you are discussing education, or literature, or social tendencies, or mechanical principles or processes, or some great enterprise or movement. You must speak in one way to cultivated hearers and in another to men in the street, and if you are a specialist addressing specialists, you will cut the garment of your discourse to their particular measure.

The same principle holds regardless of whether you expound, analyze, argue, recount, or describe. You must always keep a finger on the mental or emotional pulse of those whom you address. But your problem varies slightly with the form of discourse you adopt. In explanation, analysis, and argument the chief barriers you encounter are likely to be those of the mind; you must make due allowance for the intellectual limitations of your auditors, though many who have capacity enough may for some cause or other be unreceptive to ideas. In description you must reckon with the imaginative faculty, with the possibility that your hearers cannot visualize what you tell them--and you must make your words brief. In narration you must vivify emotional torpor; but lest in your efforts to inveigle boredom you yourself should induce it, you must have a wary eye for signals of distress.

EXERCISE - Adapting

  1. Explain to (a) a rich man, (b) a poor man the blessings of poverty.

  2. Discuss before (a) farmers, (b) merchants the idea that farmers (merchants) make a great deal of money.

  3. Explain to (a) the initiate, (b) the uninitiate some piece of mechanism, or some phase of a human activity or interest, which you know at first hand and regarding which technical (or at least not generally understood) terms are employed. (The exact subject depends, of course, upon your own observation or experience; you are sure to be familiar with something that most people know hazily, if at all. Bank clerk, chess player, bridge player, stenographer, journalist, truck driver, backwoods-man, mechanic--all have special knowledge of one kind or another and can use the particular terms it calls for.)

  4. Explain to (a) a supporter of the winning team, (b) a supporter of the losing team why the baseball game came out as it did.

  5. Discuss before (a) a Democratic, (b) a Republican audience your reasons for voting the Democratic (Republican) ticket in the coming election.

  6. Explain to (a) your own family, (b) the man who can lend you the money, why you wish to mortgage your house (any piece of property).

  7. Explain to the owner of an ill-conducted business why he should sell it, and to a shrewd business man why he should buy it.

  8. Discuss before (a) old men, (b) young men, (c) women the desirability of men's giving up their seats in street cars to women. (Also modify the question by requiring only young men to give up their seats, and then only to old people of either sex, to sick people, or to people with children in their arms.)

  9. Explain the necessity of restricting immigration to (a) prospective immigrants, (b) immigrants just granted admission to the country, (c) persons just refused admission, (d) exploiters of cheap labor, (e) ordinary citizens.

  10. Discuss the taking out of a life insurance policy with (a) a man not interested, (b) a man interested but uncertain what a policy is like, (c) a man interested and informed but doubtful whether he can spare the money,
  1. the man's wife (his prospective beneficiary), whose desires will have weight with him.

  1. Discuss the necessity of a reduction in wages with (a) unscrupulous employers, (b) kind-hearted employers, (c) the employees.

  2. Advocate higher public school taxes before (a) men with children, (b) men without children.

  3. Advocate a further regulation of the speed of automobiles before (a) automobile-owners, (b) non-owners.
  4. Urge advocacy of some reform upon (a) a clergyman, (b) a candidate for office.

  5. Combat before (a) advertisers, (b) a public audience, (c) a lawmaking body, the defacement of landscapes by advertising billboards.
  6. Describe life in the slums before (a) a rural audience, (b) charitable persons, (c) rich people in the cities who know little of conditions among the poor.

  7. Describe the typical evening of a spendthrift in a city to (a) a poor man, (b) a miser, (c) the spendthrift's mother, (d) his employer, (e) a detective who suspects him of theft.

  8. Describe the city of Washington (any other city) to (a) a countryman,
  1. a traveler who has not visited this particular city. (If it is Washington you describe, describe it also for children in whom you wish to inculcate patriotism.)

  1. Give (a) a youngster, (b) an experienced angler an account of your fishing trip.

  2. Recount for (a) a baseball fan, (b) a girl who has never seen a game, the occurrences of the second half of the ninth inning.

  3. Describe a fight for (a) your friends, (b) a jury.

  4. Narrate for (a) children, (b) an audience of adults some historical event.

  5. Give (a) your partner, (b) a reporter an account of a business transaction you have just completed.

  6. Narrate an escapade for (a) your father, (b) your cronies in response to a toast at a banquet with them.



Thus far we have studied words as grouped together into phrases, sentences, paragraphs, whole compositions. We must now enter upon a new phase of our efforts to extend our vocabulary. We must study words as individual entities.

You may think the order of our study should be reversed. No great harm would result if it were. The learning of individual words and the combining of them into sentences are parallel rather than successive processes. In our babyhood we do not accumulate a large stock of terms before we frame phrases and clauses. And our attainment of the power of continuous iteration does not check our inroads among individual words. We do the two things simultaneously, each contributing to our success with the other. There are plenty of analogies for this procedure. A good baseball player, for instance, tirelessly studies both the minutiae of his technique (as how to hold a bat, how to stand at the plate) and the big combinations and possibilities of the game. A good musician keeps unremitting command over every possible touch of each key and at the same time seeks sweeping mastery over vast and complex harmonies. So we, if we would have the obedience of our vocabularies, dare not lag into desultory attention to either words when disjoined or words as potentially combined into the larger units of thought and feeling.

We might therefore consider either the individuals first or the groups first. But the majority of speakers and writers pay more heed to rough general substance than to separate instruments and items. Hence we have thought best to begin where most work is going on already--with words in combination.

As you turn from the groups to the individuals, you must understand that your labors will be onerous and detailed. You must not assume that by nature all words are much alike, any more than you assume that all men are much alike. Of course the similarities are many and striking, and the fundamental fact is that a word is a word as a man is a man. But you will be no adept in handling either the one or the other until your knowledge goes much farther than this. Let us glance first at the human variations. Each man has his own business, and conducts it in his own way--a way never absolutely matched with that of any other mortal being. All this you may see. But besides the man's visible employment, he may be connected in devious fashions with a score of enterprises the public knows nothing about. Furthermore he leads a private life (again not precisely corresponding to that of any other), has his hobbies and aversions, is stamped with a character, a temperament of his own. In short, though in thousands of respects he is like his fellows, he has after all no human counterpart; he is a distinct, individual self. To know him, to use him, to count upon his service in whatsoever contingency it might bestead you, you must deem him something more than a member of the great human family. You must cultivate him personally, cultivate him without weariness or stint, and undergo inconvenience in so doing.

Even so with a word. Commonplace enough it may seem. But it has its peculiar characteristics, its activities undisclosed except to the curious, its subtle inclinations, its repugnances, its latent potentialities. There is no precise duplicate for it in all the wide domain of language. To know it intimately and thoroughly, to be on entirely free terms with it, to depend upon it just so far as dependence is safe, to have a sure understanding of what it can do and what it cannot, you must arduously cultivate it. Words, like people, yield themselves to the worthy. They hunger for friendship--and lack the last barrier of reserve which hedges all human communion. Thus, linguistically speaking, you must search out the individuals. You must step aside from your way for the sake of a new acquaintance; in conversations, in sermons, in addresses, in letters, in journalistic columns, in standard literature you must grasp the stranger by the hand and look him straight in the eye. Nor must you treat cavalierly the words you know already. You must study them afresh; you must learn them over and learn them better; you must come to understand them, not only for what they are, but for what they will do.

<What Words to Learn First>

What, then, is your first task? Somebody has laid down the injunction-- and, as always when anything is enjoined, others have given it currency-- that each day you should learn two new words. So be it,--but which two? The first two in the dictionary, or hitherto left untouched in your systematic conquest of the dictionary? The first two you hear spoken? The first two that stare at you from casual, everyday print? The first two you can ferret from some technical jargon, some special department of human interest or endeavor? In any of these ways you may obey the behest of these mentors. But are not such ways arbitrary, haphazard? And suppose, after doing your daily stint, you should encounter a word it behooves you to know. What then? Are you to sulk, to withhold yourself from further exertion on the plea of a vocabulary-builder's eight-hour day?

To adopt any of the methods designated would be like resolving to invest in city lots and then buying properties as you encountered them, with no regard for expenditure, for value in general, or for special serviceability to you. Surely such procedure would be unbusinesslike. If you pay out good money, you meditate well whether that which you receive for it shall compensate you. Likewise if you devote time and effort to gaining ownership of words, you should exercise foresight in determining whether they will yield you commensurate returns.

What, then, is the principle upon which, at the outset, you should proceed? What better than to insure the possession of the words regarding which you know this already, that you need them and should make them yours?

<The Analysis of Your Own Vocabulary>

The natural way, and the best, to begin is with an analysis of your own vocabulary. You are of course aware that of the enormous number of words contained in the dictionary relatively few are at your beck and bidding. But probably you have made no attempt to ascertain the nature and extent of your actual linguistic resources. You should make an inventory of the stock on hand before sending in your order for additional goods.

You will speedily discover that your vocabulary embraces several distinct classes of words. Of these the first consists of those words which you have at your tongue's end--which you can summon without effort and use in your daily speech. They are old verbal friends. Numbered with them, to be sure, there may be few with senses and connotations you are ignorant of-- friends of yours, let us say, with a reservation. Even these you may woo with a little care into uncurbed fraternal abandon. With the exception of these few, you know the words of the first class so well that without thinking about it at all you may rely upon their giving you, the moment you need them, their untempered, uttermost service. You need be at no further pains about them. They are yours already.

A second class of words is made up of those you speak on occasions either special or formal--occasions when you are trying, perhaps not to show off, but at least to put your best linguistic foot foremost. Some of them have a meaning you are not quite sure of; some of them seem too ostentatious for workaday purposes; some of them you might have been using but somehow have not. Words of this class are not your bosom friends. They are your speaking acquaintance, or perhaps a little better than that. You must convert them into friends, into prompt and staunch supporters in time of need. That is to say, you must put them into class one. In bringing about this change of footing, you yourself must make the advances. You must say, Go to, I will bear them in mind as I would a person I wished to cultivate. When occasion rises, you must introduce them into your talk. You will feel a bit shy about it, for introductions are difficult to accomplish gracefully; you will steal a furtive glance at your hearer perchance, and another at the word itself, as you would when first labeling a man "my friend Mr. Blank." But the embarrassment is momentary, and there is no other way. Assume a friendship if you have it not, and presently the friendship will be real. You must be steadfast in intention; for the words that have held aloof from you are many, and to unloose all at once on a single victim would well-nigh brand you criminal. But you will make sure headway, and will be conscious besides that no other class of words in the language will so well repay the mastering. For these are words you do use, and need to use more, and more freely--words your own experience stamps as valuable, if not indeed vital, to you.

The third class of words is made up of those you do not speak at all, but sometimes write. They are acquaintance one degree farther removed than those of the second class. Your task is to bring them into class two and thence into class one--that is, to introduce them into your more formal speech, and from this gradually into your everyday speech.

The fourth class of words is made up of those you recognize when you hear or read them, but yourself never employ. They are acquaintance of a very distant kind. You nod to them, let us say, and they to you; but there the intercourse ends. Obviously, they are not to be brought without considerable effort into a position of tried and trusted friendship. And shall we be absolutely honest?--some of them may not justify such assiduous care as their complete subjugation would call for. But even these you should make your feudal retainers. You should constrain them to membership in class three, and at your discretion in class two.

Apart from the words in class four, you will not to this point have made actual additions to your vocabulary. But you will have made your vocabulary infinitely more serviceable. You will be like a man with a host of friends where before, when his necessities were sorest, he found (along with some friends) many distant and timid acquaintance.

Outside the bounds of your present vocabulary altogether are the words you encounter but do not recognize, except (it may be) dimly and uncertainly. Some counselors would have you look up all such words in a dictionary. But the task would be irksome. Moreover those who prescribe it are loath to perform it themselves. Your own candid judgment in the matter is the safest guide. If the word is incidental rather than vital to the meaning of the passage that contains it, and if it gives promise of but rarely crossing your vision again, you should deign it no more than a civil glance. Plenty of ways will be left you to expend time wisely in the service of your vocabulary.

EXERCISE - Analysis

  1. Make a list of the words in class two of your own vocabulary, and similar lists for classes three and four. (To make a list for class one would be but a waste of time.) Procure if you can for this purpose a loose-leaf notebook, and in the several lists reserve a full page for each letter of the alphabet as used initially. Do not scamp the lists, though their proper preparation consume many days, many weeks. Try to make them really exhaustive. Their value will be in proportion to their accuracy and fulness.

  2. Con the words in each list carefully and repeatedly. Your task is to transfer these words into a more intimate list--those in class four into class three, those in three into two, those in two into one. You are then to promote again the words in the lower classes, except that (if your judgment so dictates) you may leave the new class three wholly or partially intact. To carry out this exercise properly you must keep these words in mind, make them part and parcel of your daily life. (For a special device for bringing them under subjection, see the next exercise.)

  3. To write a word down helps you to remember it. That is why the normal way to transfer a word from class four into class two is to put it temporarily into the intermediary class, three; you first see or hear the word, next write it, afterwards speak it. The mere writing down of your lists has probably done much to bring the words written into the circuit of your memory, where you can more readily lay hold of them. Also it has fortified your confidence in using them; for to write a word out, letter by letter, makes you surer that you have its right form. With many of your words you will likely have no more trouble; they will be at hand, anxious for employment, and you may use them according to your need. But some of your words will still stubbornly withhold themselves from memory. Weed these out from your lists, make a special list of them, copy it frequently, construct short sentences into which the troublesome words fit. By dint of writing the words so often you will soon make them more tractable.

  4. Make a fifth list of words--those you hear or see printed, do not understand the meaning of, but yet feel you should know. Obtain and confirm a grasp of them by the successive processes used with words in the preceding lists.

<The Definition of Words>

Another means of buttressing your command of your present vocabulary is to define words you use or are familiar with.

Do not bewilder yourself with words (like and, the) which call for ingenuity in handling somewhat technical terms, or with words (like thing, affair, condition) which loosely cover a multitude of meanings. (You may, however, concentrate your efforts upon some one meaning of words in the latter group.) Select words with a fairly definite signification, and express this as precisely as you can. You may afterwards consult a dictionary for means of checking up on what you have done. But in consulting it think only of idea, not of form. You are not training yourself in dictionary definitions, but in the sharpness and clarity of your understanding of meanings.

About the only rule to be laid down regarding the definition of verbs, adjectives, and adverbs is that you must not define a word in terms of itself. Thus if you define grudgingly as "in a grudging manner," you do not dissipate your hearer's uncertainty as to what the word means. If you define it as "unwillingly" or "in a manner that shows reluctance to yield possession," you give your hearer a clear-cut idea in no wise dependent upon his ability to understand the word that puzzled him in the first place.

Normally, in defining a noun you should assign the thing named to a general class, and to its special limits within that class; in other words, you should designate its genus and species. You must take care to differentiate the species from all others comprised within the genus. You will, in most instances, first indicate the genus and then the species, but at your convenience you may indicate the species first. Thus if you affirm, "A cigar is smoking-tobacco in the form of a roll of tobacco-leaves," you name the genus first and later the characteristics of the species. You have given a satisfactory definition. If on the other hand you affirm, "A cigar is a roll of tobacco-leaves meant for smoking," you first designate the species and then merely imply the genus. Again you have given a satisfactory definition; for you have permitted no doubt that the genus is smoking-tobacco, and have prescribed such limits for the species as exclude tobacco intended for a pipe or a cigarette.

In defining nouns by the genus-and-species method, restrict the genus to the narrowest possible bounds. You will thus save the need for exclusions later. Had you in your first definition of a cigar begun by saying that it is tobacco, rather than smoking-tobacco, you would have violated this principle; and you would have had to amplify the rest of your definition in order to exclude chewing-tobacco, snuff, and the like.

EXERCISE - Definition

  1. Define words of your own choosing in accordance with the principles laid down in the preceding section of the text.

  2. Define the following adjectives, adverbs, and verbs:
Miserable Rebuke Wise
Angrily Rapidly Boundless
Swim Paint Whiten
Haughtily Surly Causelessly

  1. So define the following nouns as to prevent any possible confusion with the nouns following them in parentheses:
Wages (salary) Ride (drive)
Planet (star) Truck (automobile)
Watch (clock) Reins (lines)
Jail (penitentiary) Iron (steel)
Vegetable (fruit) Timber (lumber)
Flower (weed) Rope (string)
Hail (sleet, snow) Stock (bond)
Newspaper (magazine) Street car (railway coach)
Cloud (fog) Revolver (rifle, pistol, etc.)
Mountain (hill)
Letter (postal card)
Creek (river)

  1. While remembering that the following words are of broad signification and mean different things to different people, define them according to their meaning to you:
Gentleman Courage
Honesty Beauty
Honor Good manners
Generosity A good while
Charity A little distance
Modesty Long ago

<How to Look Up a Word in the Dictionary>

So much for the words which are already yours, or which you can make yours through your own unaided efforts. For convenience we have grouped with them some words of a nature more baffling--words of which you know perhaps but a single aspect rather than the totality, or upon which you can obtain but a feeble and precarious grip. These slightly known words belong more to the class now to be considered than to that just disposed of. For we have now to deal with words over which you can establish no genuine rulership unless you have outside help.

You must own a dictionary, have it by you, consult it carefully and often. Do not select one for purchasing upon the basis of either mere bigness or cheapness. If you do, you may make yourself the owner of an out-of-date reprint from stereotyped plates. What to choose depends partly upon personal preference, partly upon whether your need is for comprehensiveness or compression.

If you are a scholar, Murray's many-volumed New English Dictionary may be the publication for you; but if you are an ordinary person, you will probably content yourself with something less expensive and exhaustive. You will find the Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, in twelve volumes, or _Webster's New International Dictionary an admirable compilation. The _New Standard Dictionary will also prove useful. All in all, if you can afford it, you should provide yourself with one or the other of these three large and authoritative, but not too inclusive, works. Of the smaller lexicons Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Webster's Secondary School Dictionary, the Practical Standard Dictionary, and the _Desk Standard Dictionary answer most purposes well.

A dictionary is not for show. You must learn to use it. What ordinarily passes for use is in fact abuse. Wherein? Let us say that you turn to your lexicon for the meaning of a word. Of the various definitions given, you disregard all save the one which enables the word to make sense in its present context, or which fits your preconception of what the word should stand for. Having engaged in this solemn mummery, you mentally record the fact that you have been squandering your time, and enter into a compact with yourself that no more will you so do. At best you have tided over a transitory need, or have verified a surmise. You have not truly learned the word, brought it into a vassal's relationship with you, so fixed it in memory that henceforth, night or day, you can take it up like a familiar tool.

This procedure is blundering, farcical, futile, incorrect. To suppose you have learned a word by so cursory a glance at its resources is like supposing you have learned a man through having had him render you some temporary and trivial service, as lending you a match or telling you the time of day. To acquaint yourself thoroughly with a word--or a man-- involves effort, application. You must go about the work seriously, intelligently.

One secret of consulting a dictionary properly lies in finding the primary, the original meaning of the word. You must go to the source. If the word is of recent formation, and is native rather than naturalized English, you have only to look through the definitions given. Such a word will not cause you much trouble. But if the word is derived from primitive English or from a foreign language, you must seek its origin, not in one of the numbered subheads of the definition, but in an etymological record you will perceive within brackets or parentheses. Here you will find the Anglo-Saxon (Old English), Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, Scandinavian, or other word from which sprang the word you are studying, and along with this authentic original you may find cognate words in other languages. These you may examine if you care to observe their resemblance to your word, but the examination is not necessary. It could teach you only the earlier or other forms of your word, whereas what you are after is the original meaning. This too is set down within the brackets; if your search is in earnest, you cannot possible miss it. And having discovered this original meaning, you must get it in mind; it is one of the really significant things about the word. Your next step is to find the present import of the word. Look, therefore, through the modern definitions. Of these there may be too many, with too delicate shadings in thought between them, for you to keep all clearly in mind. In fact you need not try. Consider them of course, but out of them seek mainly the drift, the central meaning. After a little practice you will be able to disengage it from the others.

You now know the original sense of the word and its central signification today. The two may be identical; they may be widely different; but through reflection or study of the entire definition you will establish some sort of connection between them. When you have done this, you have mastered the word. From the two meanings you can surmise the others, wherever and whenever encountered; for the others are but outgrowths and applications of them.

One warning will not be amiss. You must not suppose that the terms used in defining a word are its absolute synonyms, or may be substituted for it indiscriminately. You must develop a feeling for the limits of the word, so that you may perceive where its likeness to the other terms leaves off and its unlikeness begins. Thus if one of the terms employed in defining command is control, you must not assume that the two words are interchangeable; you must not say, for instance, that the captain controlled his men to present arms.

Such, abstractly stated, is the way to look up a word in the dictionary. Let us now take a concrete illustration. Starting with the word tension, let us ascertain what we can about it in the Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia. Our first quest is the original meaning. For this we consult the bracketed matter. There we meet the French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian kinsmen of the word, and learn that they are traceable to a common ancestor, the Latin tensio(n), which comes from the Latin verb tendere. The meaning of tensio(n) is given as "stretching," that of tendere as "stretch," "extend." Thus we know of the original word that in form it closely resembles the modern word, and that in meaning it involves the idea of stretching.

What is the central meaning of the word today? To acquaint ourselves with this we must run through the definitions listed. Here (in condensed form) they are. (1) The act of stretching. (2) In mechanics, stress or the force by which something is pulled. (3) In physics, a constrained condition of the particles of bodies. (4) In statical electricity, surface-density. (5) Mental strain, stress, or application. (6) A strained state of any kind, as political or social. (7) An attachment to a sewing-machine for regulating the strain of the thread. Now of these definitions (2), (3), (4), and (7) are too highly specialized to conduct us, of themselves, into the highway of the word's meaning. They bear out, however, the evidence of (1), (5), and (6), which have as their core the idea of stretching, or of the strain which stretching produces.

We must now lay the original meaning alongside the central meaning today, in order to draw our conclusions. We perceive that the two meanings correspond. Yet by prying into them we make out one marked difference between them. The original meaning is literal, the modern largely figurative. To be sure, the figure has been so long used that it is now scarcely felt as a figure; its force and definiteness have departed. Consequently we may speak of being on a tension without having in mind at all a comparison of our nervous system with a stretched garment, or with an outreaching arm, or with a tightly strung musical instrument, or with a taut rope.

What, then, is the net result of our investigation? Simply this, that tension means stretching, and that the stretching may be conceived either literally or figuratively. With these two facts in mind, we need not (unless we are experts in mechanics, physics, statical electricity, or the sewing-machine) go to the trouble of committing the special senses of tension; for should occasion bid, we can--from our position at the heart of the word--easily grasp their rough purport. And from other persons than specialists no more would be required.

EXERCISE - Dictionary

For each of the following words find (a) the original meaning, (b) the central meaning today. (Other words are given in the exercises at the end of this chapter.)

Bias Supersede Sly
Aversion Capital Meerschaum
Extravagant Travel Alley
Concur Travail Fee
Attention Apprehend Superb
Magnanimity Lewd Adroit
Altruism Instigation Quite
Benevolence Complexion Urchin
Charity Bishop Thoroughfare
Unction Starve Naughty
Speed Cunning Moral
Success Decent Antic
Crafty Handsome Savage
Usury Solemn Uncouth
Costume Parlor Window
Presumption Bombastic Colleague
Petty Vixen Alderman
Queen Doctor Engage

<Prying Into a Word's Past>

To thread with minute fidelity the mazes of a word's former history is the task of the linguistic scholar; our province is the practical and the present-day. But words, like men, are largely what they are because of what they have been; and to turn a gossip's eye upon their past is to procure for ourselves, often, not only enlightenment but also entertainment. This fact, though brought out in some part already, deserves separate and fuller discussion.

In the first place, curiosity as to words' past experience enables us to read with keener understanding the literature of preceding ages. Of course we should not, even so, go farther back than about three centuries. To read anything earlier than Shakespeare would require us to delve too deeply into linguistic bygones. And to read Shakespeare himself requires effort--but rewards it. Let us see how an insight into words will help us to interpret the Seven Ages of Man (Appendix 4).

In line 2 of this passage appears the word merely. In Shakespeare's time it frequently meant "altogether" or "that and nothing else." As here used, it may be taken to mean this, or to have its modern meaning, or to stand in meaning midway between the two and to be suggestive of both; there is no way of determining precisely. In line 12 the word pard means leopard. In line 18 saws means "sayings" (compare the phrase "an old saw"); modern means "moderate," "commonplace"; instances means what we mean by it today, "examples," "illustrations." (Line 18 as a whole gives us a vivid sense of the justice's readiness to speak sapiently, after the manner of justices, and to trot out his trite illustrations on the slightest provocation.) The word pantaloon in line 20 is interesting. The patron saint of Venice was St. Pantaleon (the term is from Greek, means "all-lion," and possibly refers to the lion of St. Mark's Cathedral). Pantaloon came therefore to signify (1) a Venetian, (2) a garment worn by Venetians and consisting of breeches and stockings in one. The second sense is preserved, substantially, in our term pantaloons. The first sense led to the use of the word (in the mouths of the Venetians' enemies) for "buffoon" and then (in early Italian comedy) for "a lean and foolish old man." It is this stock figure of the stage that Shakespeare evokes. In line 22 hose means the covering for a man's body from his waist to his nether-stock. (Compare the present meaning: a covering for the feet and the lower part of the legs.) In line 27 mere means "absolute." In line 28 sans means "without."

Of the words we have examined, only sans is obsolete, though pard, saws, and pantaloon are perhaps not entirely familiar. That is, only one word in the passage, so far as its outward form goes, is completely alien to our knowledge. But how different the matter stands when we consider meanings! The words are words of today, but the meanings are the meanings of Shakespeare. We should be baffled and misled as to the dramatist's thought if we had made no inquiries into the vehicle therefor.

In the second place, to look beyond the present into the more remote signification of words will put us on our guard against the reappearance of submerged or half-forgotten meanings. We have seen that the word tension may be used without conscious connection with the idea of stretching. But if we incautiously place the word in the wrong environment, the idea will be resurrected to our undoing. We associate ardor with strong and eager desire. For ordinary purposes this conception of the word suffices. But ardor is one of the children of fire; its primary sense is "burning" (compare arson). Therefore to pronounce the three vocables "overflowing with ardor" is to mix figures of speech absurdly. We should fall into a similar mistake if we said "brilliant fluency," and into a mistake of another kind (that of tautology or repetition of an idea) if we said "heart-felt cordiality," for cordiality means "feelings of the heart." Appreciate means "set a (due) value on." We may perhaps say "really appreciate," but scrupulous writers and speakers do not say "appreciate very much." A humor (compare humid) was once a "moisture"; then one of the four moistures or liquids that entered into the human constitution and by the proportions of their admixture determined human temperament; next a man's outstanding temperamental quality (the thing itself rather than the cause of it); then oddity which people may laugh at; then the spirit of laughter and good nature in general. Normally we do not connect the idea of moisture with the word. We may even speak of "a dry humor." But we should not say "now and then a dry humor crops out," for then too many buried meanings lie in the same grave for the very dead to rest peacefully together.

Even apart from reading old literature and from having, when you use words, no ghosts of their pristine selves rise up to damn you, you may profit from a knowledge of how the meaning of a term has evolved. For example, you will meet many tokens and reminders of the customs and beliefs of our ancestors. Thus coxcomb carries you back to the days when every court was amused by a "fool" whose head was decked with a cock's comb; crestfallen takes you back to cockfighting; and lunatic ("moonstruck"), disaster ("evil star"), and "thank your lucky stars" plant you in the era of superstition when human fate was governed by heavenly bodies.

Further, you will perceive the poetry of words. Thus to wheedle is to wag the tail and to patter is to hurry through one's prayers (paternoster). What a picture of the frailty of men even in their holiness flashes on us from that word patter! Breakfast is the breaking of the fast of the night. Routine (the most humdrum of words) is travel along a way already broken. _Goodby _is an abridged form of "God be with you." Dilapidated is fallen stone from stone. Daisy is "the day's eye," nasturtium (from its spicy smell) "the nose-twister," dandelion "the tooth of the lion." A lord is a bread-guard.

You will perceive, moreover, that many a dignified word once involved the same idea as some unassuming or even semi-disreputable word or expression involves now. Thus there is little or no difference in figure between understanding a thing and getting on to it; between averting something (turning it aside) and sidetracking it; between excluding (shutting out) and closing the door to; between degrading (putting down a step) and taking down a notch; between accumulating (heaping up) and making one's pile; between taking umbrage (the shadow) and being thrown in the shade; between ejaculating and throwing out a remark; between being on a tension and being highstrung; between being vapid and having lost steam; between insinuating (winding in) and worming in; between investigating and tracking; between instigating (goading on or into) and prodding up; between being incensed (compare incendiary) and burning with indignation; between recanting (unsinging) and singing another tune; between ruminating (chewing) and smoking in one's pipe. Nor is there much difference in figure between sarcasm (a tearing of the flesh) and taking the hide off; between sinister (left-handed) and backhanded; between preposterous (rear end foremost) and cart before the horse; between salary (salt-money, an allowance for soldiers) and pin-money; between pedigree (crane's foot, from the appearance of genealogical diagrams) and crowsfeet (about the eyes); between either precocious (early cooked), apricot (early cooked), crude (raw), or recrudescence (raw again) and half-baked. To ponder is literally to weigh; to apprehend an idea is to take hold of it; to deviate is to go out of one's way; to congregate is to flock together; to assail or insult a man is to jump on him; to be precipitate is to go head foremost; to be recalcitrant is to kick.

Again, you will perceive that many words once had more literal or more definitely concrete meanings than they have now. To corrode is to gnaw along with others, to differ is to carry apart, to refuse is to pour back. Polite is polished, absurd is very deaf, egregious is taken from the common herd, capricious is leaping about like a goat, cross (disagreeable) is shaped like a cross, wrong is wrung (or twisted). Crisscross is Christ's cross, attention is stretching toward, expression is pressed out, dexterity is right-handedness, circumstances are things standing around, an innuendo is nodding, a parlor is a room to talk in, a nostril is that which pierces the nose (thrill means pierce), vinegar is sharp wine, a stirrup is a rope to mount by, a pastor is a shepherd, a marshal is a caretaker of horses, a constable is a stable attendant, a companion is a sharer of one's bread.

On the other hand, you will find that many words were once more general in import than they have since become. Fond originally meant foolish, then foolishly devoted, then (becoming more general again) devoted. Nostrum meant our own, then a medicine not known by other physicians, then a quack remedy. Shamefast meant confirmed in modesty (shame); then through a confusion of fast with faced, a betrayal through the countenance of self-consciousness or guilt. Counterfeit meant a copy or a picture, then an unlawful duplication, especially of a coin. Lust meant pleasure of any sort, then inordinate sexual pleasure or desire. Virtue (to trace only a few of its varied activities) meant manliness, then the quality or attribute peculiar to true manhood (with the Romans this was valor), then any admirable quality, then female chastity. Pen meant a feather, then a quill to write with, then an instrument for writing used in the same way as a quill. A groom meant a man, then a stableman (in bridegroom, however, it preserves the old signification). Heathen (heath-dweller), pagan (peasant), and demon (a divinity) had in themselves no iniquitous savor until early Christians formed their opinion of the people inaccessible to them and the spirits incompatible with the unity of the Godhead. Words betokening future happenings or involving judgment tend to take a special cast from the fears and anxieties men feel when their fortune is affected or their destiny controlled by external forces. Thus omen (a prophetic utterance or sign) and portent (a stretching forward, a foreseeing, a foretelling) might originally be either benign or baleful; but nowadays, especially in the adjectival forms ominous and portentous, they wear a menacing hue. Similarly criticism, censure, and doom, all of them signifying at first mere judgment, have come--the first in popular, the other two in universal, usage--to stand for adverse judgment. The old sense of doom is perpetuated, however, in Doomsday, which means the day on which we are all to be, not necessarily sent to hell, but judged.

You will furthermore perceive that the exaggerated affirmations people are always indulging in have led to the weakening of many a word. Fret meant eat; formerly to say that a man was fretting was to use a vigorous comparison--to have the man devoured with care. Mortify meant to kill, then killed with embarrassment, then embarrassed. Qualm meant death, but our qualms of conscience have degenerated into mere twinges. Oaths are shorn of their might by overuse; confound, once a tremendous malinvocation, may now fall from the lips of respectable young ladies, and fie, in its time not a whit less dire, would be scarcely out of place in even a cloister. Words designating immediacy come to have no more strength than soup-meat seven times boiled. Presently meant in the present, soon and by and by meant forthwith. How they have lost their fundamental meaning will be intelligible to you if you have in ordering something been told that it would be delivered "right away," or in calling for a girl have been told that she would be down "in a minute."

You will detect in words of another class a deterioration, not in force, but in character; they have fallen into contemptuous or sinister usage. Many words for skill or wisdom have been thus debased. Cunning meant knowing, artful meant well acquainted with one's art, crafty meant proficient in one's craft or calling, wizard meant wise man. The present import of these words shows how men have assumed that mental superiority must be yoked with moral dereliction or diabolical aid. Words indicating the generality--indicating ordinary rank or popular affiliations--have in many instances suffered the same decline. Trivial meant three ways; it was what might be heard at the crossroads or on any route you chanced to be traveling, and its value was accordingly slight. Lewd meant belonging to the laity; it came to mean ignorant, and then morally reprehensible. Common may be used to signify ill-bred; vulgar may be and frequently is used to signify indecent. Sabotage, from a French term meaning wooden shoe, has come to be applied to the deliberate and systematic scamping of one's work in order to injure one's employer. Idiot (common soldier) crystallizes the exasperated ill opinion of officers for privates. (Infantry--an organization of military infants--has on the contrary sloughed its reproach and now enshrines the dignity of lowliness.) Somewhat akin to words of this type is knave, which first meant boy, then servant, then rogue. Terms for agricultural classes seldom remain flattering. Besides such epithets as hayseed and clodhopper, contemptuous in their very origin, villain (farm servant), churl (farm laborer), and boor (peasant) have all gathered unto themselves opprobrium; villain now involves a scoundrelly spirit, churl a contumelious manner, boor a bumptious ill-breeding; not one of these words is any longer confined in its application to a particular social rank. Terms for womankind are soon tainted. Wench meant at first nothing worse than girl or daughter, quean than woman, hussy than housewife; even woman is generally felt to be half-slighting. Terms affirming unacquaintance with sin, or abstention from it, tend to be quickly reft of what praise they are fraught with; none of us likes to be saluted as innocent, guileless, or unsophisticated, and to be dubbed silly no longer makes us feel blessed. Besides these and similar classes of words, there are innumerable individual terms that have sadly lost caste. An imp was erstwhile a scion; it then became a boy, and then a mischievous spirit. A noise might once be music; it has ceased to enjoy such possibilities. To live near a piano that is constantly banged is to know how noise as a synonym for music was outlawed.

A backward glance over the history of words repays you in showing you the words for what they are, and in having them live out their lives before you. Do you know what an umpire is? He is a non (or num) peer, a not equal man, an odd man--one therefore who can decide disputes. Do you know what a nickname is? It is an eke (also) name, a title bestowed upon one in addition to his proper designation. Do you know what a fellow, etymologically speaking, is? He is a fee-layer, a partner, a man who lays his fee (property) alongside yours. Do you know that matinee, though awarded to the afternoon, meant primarily a morning entertainment and has traveled so far from its original sense that we call an actual before-noon performance a morning matinee? Do you know the past of such words as bedlam, rival, parson, sandwich, pocket handkerchief? Bedlam, a corruption of Bethlehem, was a hospital for the insane in London; it came to be a general term for great confusion or discord. Rivals were formerly dwellers--that is, neighboring dwellers--on the bank of a stream; disputes over water-rights gave the word its present meaning. A person or parson, for the two were the same, was a mask (literally, that through which the sound came); then an actor representing a character in a play; then a representative of any sort; then the representative of the church in a parish. A sandwich was a stratification of bread and meat by the Earl of Sandwich, who was so loath to leave the gaming table that he saved time by having food brought him in this form. A kerchief was originally a cover for the head, and indeed sundry amiable, old-fashioned grandmothers still use it for this purpose. Afterward people carried it in their hands and called it a handkerchief; and when they transferred it to the pocket, they called it a pocket handkerchief or pocket hand head-cover. A scrutiny of such words should convince you that the reading of the dictionary, instead of being the dull occupation it is almost proverbially reputed to be, may become an occupation truly fascinating. For clustered about the words recorded in the dictionary are inexhaustible riches of knowledge and of interest for those who have eyes to see.


  1. For each of the following words look up (a) the present meaning if you do not know it, (b) the original meaning, (c) any other past meanings you can find.
Exposition Corn Cattle
Influence Sanguine Turmoil
Sinecure Waist Shrew
Potential Spaniel Crazy
Character Candidate Indomitable
Infringe Rascal Amorphous
Expend Thermometer Charm
Rather Tall Stepchild
Wedlock Ghostly Haggard
Bridal Pioneer Pluck
Noon Neighbor Jimson weed
Courteous Wanton Rosemary
Cynical Street Plausible
Grocer Husband Allow
Worship Gipsy Insane
Encourage Clerk Disease
Astonish Clergyman Boulevard
Realize Hectoring Canary
Bombast Primrose Diamond
Benedict Walnut Abominate
Piazza Holiday Barbarous
Disgust Heavy Kind
Virtu Nightmare Devil
Gospel Comfort Whist
Mermaid Pearl Onion
Enthusiasm Domino Book
Fanatic Grotesque Cheat
Auction Economy Illegible
Quell Cheap Illegitimate
Sheriff Excelsior Emasculate
Danger Dunce Champion
Shibboleth Calico Adieu
Essay Pontiff Macadamize
Wages Copy Stentorian
Quarantine Puny Saturnine
Buxom Caper Derrick
Indifferent Boycott Mercurial
Gaudy Countenance Poniard
Majority Camera Chattel.

  1. The following words are often used loosely today, some because their original meaning is lost sight of, some because they are confused with other words. Find for each word (a) what the meaning has been and (b) what the correct meaning is now.
Nice Awful Atrocious
Grand Horrible Pitiful
Beastly Transpire Claim
Weird Aggravate Uncanny
Demean Gorgeous Elegant
Fine Noisome Mutual (in "a mutual friend")
Lovely Cute Stunning
Liable Immense.  

  1. The following sentences from standard English literature illustrate the use of words still extant and even familiar, in senses now largely or wholly forgotten. The quotations from the Bible and Shakespeare (all the Biblical quotations are from the King James Version) date back a little more than three hundred years, those from Milton a little less than three hundred years, and those from Gray and Coleridge, respectively, about a hundred and seventy-five and a hundred and twenty-five years. Go carefully enough into the past meanings of the italicized words to make sure you grasp the author's thought.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.(1 Corinthians 13:13)

I prevented the dawning of the morning. (Psalms 119:147)

Our eyes wait upon the Lord our God. (Psalms 123:2)

The times of this ignorance God winked at. (Acts 17:30)

And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me; for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. (Luke 8:46)

To judge the quick and the dead. (1 Peter 4:5)

Be not wise in your own conceits. (Romans 12:16)

In maiden meditation, fancy-free. (Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream)

Is it so nominated in the bond? (Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice)

Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven. (Shakespeare: Hamlet)

The extravagant and erring spirit. (Said of a spirit wandering from the bounds of purgatory. Shakespeare: Hamlet)

The modesty of nature. (Shakespeare: Hamlet)

It is a nipping and an eager air. (Shakespeare: Hamlet)

Is mortals' chiefest enemy. (Shakespeare: Macbeth)

Most admired disorder. (Shakespeare: Macbeth)

Upon this hint I spake. (From the account of the wooing of Desdemona. Shakespeare: Othello)

This Lodovico is a proper man. A very handsome man. (Shakespeare: Othello)

Mice and rats and such small deer. (Shakespeare: King Lear)

This is no sound
That the earth owes. (Shakespeare: The Tempest)

Every shepherd tells his tale. (Milton: L'Allegro) Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies. (Rathe survives only in the comparative form rather. Milton: Lycidas)

Can honor's voice provoke the silent dust? (Gray: Elegy)

The silly buckets on the deck. (Coleridge: The Ancient Mariner)

  1. In technical usage or particular phrases a former sense of a word may be embedded like a fossil. The italicized words in the following list retain special senses of this kind. What do these words as thus used mean? Can you add to the list? To wit Might and main Time and tide Christmas_tide_ Sad bread A bank teller To tell one's beads Aid and abet Meat and drink Shop_lifter_ Fishing-tackle Getting off scot-free An earnest of future favors A brave old hearthstone Confusion to the enemy! Giving aid and comfort to the enemy Without let or hindrance A let in tennis _Quick_lime Cut to the quick Neat-foot oil To sound in tort (Legal phrase) To bid one God_speed_ I had as lief as not The child favors its parents On pain of death Widow's weeds I am bound for the Promised Land To carry a girl to a party (Used only in the South) To give a person so much to boot

  2. Each of the subjoined phrases contradicts itself or repeats its idea clumsily. The key to the difficulty lies in the italicized words. What is their true meaning?

A weekly journal
Ultimate end
Final ultimatum
Final completion
Previous preconceptions
Nauseating seasickness
Join together
Descend down
Prefer better
Argent silver
Completely annihilate
Unanimously by all
Most unique of all
The other alternative
Endorse on the back
Incredible to believe
A criterion to go by
An appetite to eat
A panacea for all ills
Popular with the people
Biography of his life
Autobiography of his own life
Vitally alive
A new, novel, and ingenious explanation Mutual dislike for each other
Omniscient knowledge of all subjects
A material growth in mental power
Peculiar faults of his own
Fly into an ebullient passion
To saturate oneself with gold and silver Elected by acclamation on a secret ballot.



Our investigation into the nature, qualities, and fortunes of single words must now merge into a study of their family connections. We do not go far into this new phase of our researches before we perceive that the career of a word may be very complicated. Most people, if you asked them, would tell you that an individual word is a causeless entity--a thing that was never begotten and lacks power to propagate. They would deny the possibility that its course through the world could be other than colorless, humdrum. Now words thus immaculately conceived and fatefully impotent, words that shamble thus listlessly through life, there are. But many words are born in an entirely normal way; have a grubby boyhood, a vigorous youth, and a sober maturity; marry, beget sons and daughters, become old, enfeebled, even senile; and suffer neglect, if not death. In their advanced age they are exempted by the discerning from enterprises that call for a lusty agility, but are drafted into service by those to whom all levies are alike. Indeed in their very prime of manhood their vicissitudes are such as to make them seem human. Some rise in the world some sink; some start along the road of grandeur or obliquity, and then backslide or reform. Some are social climbers, and mingle in company where verbal dress coats are worn; some are social degenerates, and consort with the ragamuffins and guttersnipes of language. Some marry at their own social level, some above them, some beneath; some go down in childless bachelorhood or leave an unkempt and illegitimate progeny. And if you trace their own lineage, you will find for some that it is but decent and middle-class, for some that it is mongrelized and miscegenetic, for some that it is proud, ancient, yea perhaps patriarchal.

It is contrary to nature for a word, as for a man, to live the life of a hermit. Through external compulsion or internal characteristics a word has contacts with its fellows. And its most intimate, most spontaneous associations are normally with its own kindred.

In our work hitherto we have had nothing to say of verbal consanguinity. But we have not wholly ignored its existence, for the very good reason that we could not. For example, in the latter portions of Chapter IV we proceeded on the hypothesis that at least some words have ancestors. Also in the analysis of the dictionary definition of tension we learned that the word has, not only a Latin forebear, but French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian kinsmen as well. One thing omitted from that analysis would have revealed something further--namely, that the word has its English kinfolks too. For the bracketed part of the dictionary definition mentions two other English words, tend and tense, which from their origin involve the same idea as that of tension-- the idea of stretching.

Now words may be akin in either of two ways. They may be related in blood. Or they may be related by marriage. Let us consider these two kinds of connection more fully.

<Words Related in Blood>

As an illustration of blood kinships enjoyed by a native English word take the adjective good. We can easily call to mind other members of its family: goodly, goodish, goody-goody, good-hearted, good-natured, good- humored, good-tempered, goods, goodness, goodliness, gospel (good story), goodby, goodwill, goodman, goodwife, good-for-nothing, good den (good evening), the Good Book. The connection between these words is obvious.

Next consider a group of words that have been naturalized: scribe, prescribe, ascribe, proscribe, transcribe, circumscribe, subscriber, indescribable, scribble, script, scripture, postscript, conscript, rescript, manuscript, nondescript, inscription, superscription, description. It is clear that these words are each other's kith and kin in blood, and that the strain or stock common to all is scribe or (as sometimes modified) script. What does this strain signify? The idea of writing. The scribes are a writing clan. Some of them, to be sure, have strayed somewhat from the ancestral calling, for words are as wilful--or as independent--as men. Ascribe, for example, does not act like a member of the household of writers, whatever it may look like. We should have to scrutinize it carefully or consult the record for it in that verbal Who's Who, the dictionary, before we could understand how it came by its scribal affiliations honestly. But once we begin to reflect or to probe, we find we have not mistaken its identity. Ascribe is the offspring of ad (to) and scribo (write), both Latin terms. It originally meant writing to a person's name or after it (that is, imputing to the person by means of written words) some quality or happening of which he was regarded as the embodiment, source, or cause. Nowadays we may saddle the matter on him through oral rather than written speech. That is, ascribe has largely lost the writing traits. But all the same it is manifestly of the writing blood.

The scribes are of undivided racial stock, Latin. Consider now the manu, or man, words which sprang from the Latin manus, meaning "hand." Here are some of them: manual, manoeuver, mandate, manacle, manicure, manciple, emancipate, manage, manner, manipulate, manufacture, manumission, manuscript, amanuensis. These too are children of the same father; they are brothers and sisters to each other. But what shall we say of legerdemain (light, or sleight, of hand), maintain, coup de main, and the like? They bear a resemblance to the man's and manu's, yet one that casual observers would not notice. Is there kinship between the two sets of words? There is. But not the full fraternal or sororal relation. The mains are children of manus by a French marriage he contracted. With this French blood in their veins, they are only half-brothers, half-sisters of the manu's and the man's.

Your examination of the family trees of words will be practical, rather than highly scholastic, in nature. You need not track every word in the dictionary to the den of its remote parentage. Nor need you bother your head with the name of the distant ancestor. But in the case of the large number of words that have a numerous kindred you should learn to detect the inherited strain. You will then know that the word is the brother or cousin of certain other words of your acquaintance, and this knowledge will apprise you of qualities in it with which you should reckon. To this extent only must you make yourself a student of verbal genealogy.


(Simple exercises in tracing blood relationships among words are given at the end of the chapter. Therefore the exercises assigned here are of a special character.)

  1. Each of the following groups is made up of related words, but the relationship is somewhat disguised. Consult the dictionary for each word, and learn all you can as to (a) its source, (b) the influence (as passing through an intermediate language) that gave it its present form, (c) the course of its development into its present meaning.
Captain Cathedral Governor
Capital Chaise Gubernatorial
Decapitate Chair  
Chef Shay Guardian
Cavalry Campaign Guarantee
Chivalry Champion Warrant
Camera Inept Incipient
Chamber Apt Receive
Serrated Inimical Poor
Sierra Enemy Pauper
Influence Espionage Work
Spy Wrought

  1. The variety of sources for modern English is indicated by the following list. Do not seek for blood kinsmen of these particular words, but think of all the additional words you can that have come into English from Indian, Spanish, French, any other language spoken today.
Alphabet (Greek) Piano (Italian)
Folio (Latin) Car (Norman)
Boudoir (French) Rush (German)
Binnacle (Portuguese) Sky (Icelandic)
Anger (Old Norse) Yacht (Dutch)
Isinglass (Low German) Hussar (Hungarian)
Slogan (Celtic) Samovar (Russian)
Polka (Polish) Chess (Persian)
Shekel (Hebrew) Tea (Chinese)
Algebra (Arabic) Kimono (Japanese)
Puttee (Hindoo) Tattoo (Tahitian)
Boomerang (Australian) Voodoo (African)
Potato (Haytian) Skunk (American Indian)
Guano (Peruvian)
Renegade (Spanish)
Buncombe (American)

<Words Related by Marriage>

That words marry and are given in marriage, is too generally overlooked. Any student of a foreign language, German for instance, can recall the thrill of discovery and the lift of reawakened hope that came to him when first he suspected, aye perceived, the existence of verbal matrimony. For weeks he had struggled with words that apparently were made up of fortuitous collocations of letters. Then in some beatific moment these huddles of letters took meaning; in instance after instance they represented, not a word, but words--a linguistic household. Let them be what they might--a harem, the domestic establishment of a Mormon, the dwelling-place of verbal polygamists,--he could at last see order in their relationships. To their morals he was indifferent, absorbed as he was in his joy of understanding.

In English likewise are thousands of these verbal marriages. We may not be aware of them; from our very familiarity with words we may overlook the fact that in instances uncounted their oneness has been welded by a linguistic minister or justice of the peace. But to read a single page or harken for thirty seconds to oral discourse with our minds intent on such states of wedlock is to convince ourselves that they abound. Consider this list of everyday words: somebody, already, disease, vineyard, unskilled, outlet, nevertheless, holiday, insane, resell, schoolboy, helpmate, uphold, withstand, rainfall, deadlock, typewrite, football, motorman, thoroughfare, snowflake, buttercup, landlord, overturn. Every term except one yokes a verbal husband with his wife, and the one exception (nevertheless) joins a uxorious man with two wives.

These marriages are of a simple kind. But the nuptial interlinkings between families of words may be many and complicated. Thus there is a family of graph (or write) words: graphic, lithograph, cerograph, cinematograph, stylograph, telegraph, multigraph, seismograph, dictograph, monograph, holograph, logograph, digraph, autograph, paragraph, stenographer, photographer, biographer, lexicographer, bibliography, typography, pyrography, orthography, chirography, calligraphy, cosmography, geography. There is also a family of phone (or sound) words: telephone, dictaphone, megaphone, audiphone, phonology, symphony, antiphony, euphonious, cacophonous, phonetic spelling. It chances that both families are of Greek extraction. Related to the graphs--their cousins in fact--are the grams: telegram, radiogram, cryptogram, anagram, monogram, diagram, logogram, program, epigram, kilogram, ungrammatical. Now a representative of the graphs married into the phone family, and we have graphophone. A representative of the phones married into the graph family, and we have phonograph. A representative of the grams married into the phone family, and we have gramophone. A representative of the phones married into the gram family, and we have phonogram. Of such unions children may be born. For example, from the marriage of Mr. Phone with Miss Graph were born phonography, phonographer, phonographist (a rather frail child), phonographic, phonographical, and phonographically.

Intermarriage between the phones and the graphs or grams is a wedding of equals. Some families of words, however, are of inferior social standing to other families, and may seek but not hope to be sought in marriage. Compare the ex's with the ports. An ex, as a preposition, belongs to a prolific family but not one of established and unimpeachable dignity. Hence the ex's, though they marry right and left, lead the other words to the altar and are never led thither themselves. Witness exclude, excommunicate, excrescence, excursion, exhale, exit, expel, expunge, expense, extirpate, extract; in no instance does ex fellow its connubial mate--it invariably precedes. The ports, on the other hand, are the peers of anybody. Some of them choose to remain single: port, porch, portal, portly, porter, portage. Here and there one marries into another family: portfolio, portmanteau, portable, port arms. More often, however, they are wooed than themselves do the pleading: comport, purport, report, disport, transport, passport, deportment, importance, opportunity, importunate, inopportune, insupportable. From our knowledge of the two families, therefore, we should surmise that if any marriage is to take place between them; an ex must be the suitor. The surmise would be sound. There is such a term as export, but not as portex.

Now it is oftentimes possible to do business with a man without knowing whether he is a man or a bridal couple. And so with a word. But the knowledge of his domestic state and circumstances will not come amiss, and it may prove invaluable. You may find that you can handle him to best advantage through a sagacious use of the influence of his wife.

EXERCISE - Marriage

  1. For each word in the lists of EXERCISE - Dictionary and Activity 1 for EXERCISE - Past, determine (a) whether it is single or married; (b) if it is married, whether the wedding is one between equals.

  2. Make a list of the married words in the first three paragraphs of the selection from Burke (Appendix 2). For each of these words determine the exact nature and extent of the dowry brought by each of the contracting parties to the wedding.

<Prying Into a Word's Relationships>

Hitherto in our study of verbal relationships we have usually started with the family. Having strayed (as by good luck) into an assembly of kinsmen, we have observed the common strain and the general characteristics, and have then "placed" the individual with reference to these. But we do not normally meet words, any more than we meet men, in the domestic circle. We meet them and greet them hastily as they hurry through the tasks of the day, with no other associates about them than such as chance or momentary need may dictate. If we are to see anything of their family life, it must be through effort we ourselves put forth. We must be inquisitive about their conjugal and blood relationships.

How, then, starting with the individual word, can you come into a knowledge of it, not in its public capacity, but in what is even more important, its personal connections? You must form the habit of asking two questions about it: (1) Is it married? (2) Of what family or families was it born? If you can get an understanding answer to these two questions, an answer that will tell you what its relations stand for as well as what their name is, your inquiries will be anything but bootless.

Let us illustrate your procedure concretely. Suppose you read or hear the word conchology. It is a somewhat unusual word, but see what you can do with it yourself before calling on the dictionary to help you. Observe the word closely, and you will obtain the answer to your first question. Conchology is no bachelor, no verbal old maid; it is a married pair.

Your second and more difficult task awaits you; you must ascertain the meaning of the family connections. With Mr. Conch you are on speaking terms; you know him as one of the shells. But the utmost you can recall about his wife is that she is one of a whole flock of ologies. What significance does this relationship possess? You are uncertain. But do not thumb the dictionary yet. Pass in mental review all the ologies you can assemble. Wait also for the others that through the unconscious operations of memory will tardily straggle in. Be on the lookout for ologies as you read, as you listen. In time you will muster a sizable company of them. And you will draw a conclusion as to the meaning of the blood that flows through their veins. Ology implies speech or study. Conchology, then, must be the study of conches.

Your investigations thus far have done more than teach you the meaning of the word you began with. They have brought you some of the by-products of the study of verbal kinships. For you no longer pass the ologies by with face averted or bow timidly ventured. You have become so well acquainted with them that even a new one, wherever encountered, would flash upon you the face of a friend. But now your desires are whetted. You wish to find out how much you can learn. You at last consult the dictionary.

Here a huge obstacle confronts you. The ologies, like the ports (above), are a haughty clan; they are the wooed, rather than the wooing, members of most marital households that contain them. Now the marriage licenses recorded in the dictionary are entered under the name of the suitor, not of the person sought. Hence you labor under a severe handicap as you take the census of the ologies. Let us imagine the handicap the most severe possible. Let us suppose that no ology had ever been the suitor. Even so, you would not be entirely baffled. For you could look up in the dictionary the ologies you your self had been able to recall. To what profit? First, you could verify or correct your surmise as to what the ological blood betokens. Secondly, you could perhaps obtain cross-references to yet other ologies than those you remembered.

But you are not reduced to these extremities. The ologies, arrogant as they are, sometimes are the applicants for matrimony, and the marriage registry of the dictionary so indicates. To be sure, they do not, when thus appearing at the beginning of words, take the form ology. They take the form log. But you must be resourceful enough to keep after your quarry in spite of the omission of a vowel or two. Also from some lexicons you may obtain still further help. You may find ology, logy, logo, or log listed as a combining form, its meaning given, and examples of its use in compounds cited.

By your zeal and persistence you have now brought together a goodly array of the ologies--all or most, let us say, of the following: conchology, biology, morphology, phrenology, physiology, osteology, histology, zoology, entomology, bacteriology, ornithology, pathology, psychology, cosmology, eschatology, demonology, mythology, theology, astrology, archeology, geology, meteorology, mineralogy, chronology, genealogy, ethnology, anthropology, criminology, technology, doxology, anthology, trilogy, philology, etymology, terminology, neologism, phraseology, tautology, analogy, eulogy, apology, apologue, eclogue, monologue, dialogue, prologue, epilogue, decalogue, catalogue, travelogue, logogram, logograph, logo-type, logarithms, logic, illogical. (Moreover you may have perceived in some of these words the kinship which exists in all for the loquy group--see (1) Soliloquy below.) Of course you will discard some items from this list as being too learned for your purposes. But you will observe of the others that once you know the meaning of ology, you are likely to know the whole word. Thus from your study of conchology you have mastered, not an individual term, but a tribe.

In conchology only one element, ology, was really dubious at the outset. Let us take a word of which both elements give you pause. Suppose your thought is arrested by the word eugenics. You perhaps know the word as a whole, but not its components. For by looking at it and thinking about it you decide that its state is married, that it comprises the household of Mr. Eu and his wife, formerly Miss Gen. But you cannot say offhand just what kind of person either Mr. Eu or the erstwhile Miss Gen is likely to prove.

Have you met any of the Eu's elsewhere? You think vaguely that you have, but cannot lay claim to any real acquaintance. To the dictionary you accordingly betake yourself. There you find that Mr. Eu is of a family quite respectable but not prone to marriage. Euphony, eupepsia, euphemism, euthanasia are of his retiring kindred. The meaning of the eu blood, so the dictionary informs you, is well. The gen blood, as you see exemplified in gentle, general, genital, engender, carries with it the idea of begetting, of producing, of birth, or (by extension) of kinship. Eugenics, then, is an alliance of well and begotten (or born).

Your immediate purpose is fulfilled; but you resolve, let us say, to make the acquaintance of more of the gens, whose number you have perceived to be legion. You are duly introduced to the following: genus, generic, genre, gender, genitive, genius, general, Gentile, gentle, gentry, gentleman, genteel, generous, genuine, genial, congeniality, congener, genital, congenital, engender, generation, progeny, progenitor, genesis, genetics, eugenics, pathogenesis, biogenesis, ethnogeny, palingenesis, unregenerate, degenerate, monogeny, indigenous, exogenous, homogeneous, heterogeneous, genealogy, ingenuous, ingenious, ingenue, engine, engineer, hygiene, hydrogen, oxygen, endogen, primogeniture, philoprogeniture, miscegenation. Some of these are professional rather than social; you decide not to leave your card at their doors. Others have assumed a significance somewhat un_gen_-like, though the relationship may be traced if you are not averse to trouble, Thus engine in its superficial aspects seems alien to the idea of born. But it is the child of ingenious (innate, inborn); ingenious is the inborn power to accomplish, and engine is the result of the application of that power. Whether you care to bother with such subtleties or not, enough gens are left to make the family one well worth your cultivation.

Thus by studying two words, conchology and eugenics, you have for the first time placed yourself on an intimate footing with three verbal families--the ologies, the eu's, and the gens. Observe that though you studied the ologies apart from the eu's and the gens, your knowledge--once you have acquired it--cannot be kept pigeonholed, for the ologies have intermarried with both the other families. Hence you on meeting eulogy can exclaim: "How do you do, Mr. Eu? I am honored in making your acquaintance, Mrs. Eu--I was about to call you by your maiden name; for I am a friend of your sister, the Miss Ology who married Mr. Conch. And you too, Mr. Eu--I cannot regard you as a stranger. I have looked in so often on the family of your brother--the Euphony family, I mean. What a beautiful literary household it is! Yet it has been neglected by the world-yea, even by the people who write. Well, the loss is theirs who do the neglecting." And genealogy you can greet with an equal parade of family lore: "Don't trouble to tell me who you are. I am hob and nob with your folks on both sides of the family, and my word for it, the relationship is written all over you. Mr. Gen, I envy you the pride you must feel in the prominence given nowadays to the eugenics household. And it must delight you, Miss Ology-that-was, that connoisseurs are so keenly interested in conchology. How are Grandfather Gen and Grandmother Ology? They were keeping up remarkably the last time I saw them." Do you think words will not respond to cordiality like this? They will work their flattered heads off for you!

EXERCISE - Relationships

  1. For each of the following words (a) determine what families are intermarried, (b) ascertain the exact contribution to the household by each family represented, and (c) make as complete a list as possible of cognate words.

Reject Oppose Convent Defer Omit Produce Expel

  1. Test the extent of the intermarriages among these words by successively attaching each of the prefixes to each of the main (or key) syllables. (Thus re-ject, re-fer, re-pel, etc.)

<Two Admonitions>

In tracing verbal kinships you must be prepared for slight variations in the form of the same key-syllable. Consider these words: wise, wiseacre, wisdom, wizard, witch, wit, unwitting, to wit, outwit, twit, witticism, witness, evidence, providence, invidious, advice, vision, visit, vista, visage, visualize, envisage, invisible, vis-a-vis, visor, revise, supervise, improvise, proviso, provision, view, review, survey, vie, envy, clairvoyance. Perhaps the last six should be disregarded as too exceptional in form to be clearly recognized. And certainly some words, as prudence from providentia, are so metamorphosed that they should be excluded from practical lists of this kind. But even in the words left to us there are fairly marked divergences in appearance. Why? Because the key-syllable has descended to us, not through one language, but through several. As good verbal detectives we should be able to penetrate the consequent disguises; for wis, wiz, wit, vid, vic, and vis all embody the idea of seeing or knowing.

On the other hand, you must take care not to be misled by a superficial resemblance into thinking two unrelated key-syllables identical. Let us consider two sets of words. The first, which is related to the tain group (see <Tain> below), has a key-syllable that means holding: tenant, tenement, tenure, tenet, tenor, tenable, tenacious, contents, contentment, lieutenant, maintenance, sustenance, countenance, appurtenance, detention, retentive, pertinacity, pertinent, continent, abstinence, continuous, retinue. The second has a key-syllable that means stretching: tend, tender, tendon, tendril, tendency, extend, subtend, distend, pretend, contend, attendant, tense, tension, pretence, intense, intensive, ostensible, tent, tenterhook, portent, attention, intention, tenuous, attenuate, extenuate, antenna, tone, tonic, standard. The form of the key-syllable for the first set of words is usually ten, tent, or tin; that for the second tend, tens, tent, or ten. You may therefore easily confuse the two groups until you have learned to look past appearances into meanings. Thenceforth the holdings and the stretchings will be distinct in your mind--will constitute two great families, not one. Of course individual words may still puzzle you. You will not perceive that tender, for example, belongs with the stretchings until you go back to its primary idea of something stretched thin, or that tone has membership in that family until you connect it with the sound which a stretched chord emits.


Each of the key-syllables given below is followed by (1) a list of fairly familiar words that embody it, (2) a list of less familiar words that embody it, (3) several sentences containing blank spaces, into each of which you are ultimately to fit the appropriate word from the first list. (The existence of the two lists will show you that learned words may have commonplace kinfolks.)

First, however, you are to study each word in both lists for (1) its exact meaning, (2) the influence of the key-syllable upon that meaning, (3) any variation of the key-syllable from its ordinary form. (A few words have been introduced to show how varied the forms may be and yet remain recognizable.)

Also, as an aid to your memory, you are to copy each list, underscoring the key-syllable each time you encounter it.

(The lists are practical, not meticulously academic. In many instances they contain words derived, not from a single original, but from cognates. No list is exhaustive.)

<Ag, act, ig> (carry on, do, drive): (1) agent, agitate, agile, act, actor, actuate, exact, enact, reaction, counteract, transact, mitigate, navigate, prodigal, assay, essay; (2) agenda, pedagogue, synagogue, actuary, redact, castigate, litigation, exigency, ambiguous, variegated, cogent, cogitate.

Sentences (inflect forms if necessary; for example, use the past tense, participle, or infinitive of a verb instead of its present tense): It was ____ into law. The legislators had been ____ by honest motives, but the popular ____ was immediate. The ____ of the mining company refused to let us proceed with the ____. Nothing could ____ the offense. The father was ____, the son ____. The student handed in his ____ at the ____ time designated. Though ____ enough on land, he could not ____ a ship. The ____ by missing his cue so ____ the manager that his good work thereafter could not ____ the ill impression.

<Burn, brun, brand> (burn): (1 and 2 combined) burn, burnish, brunette, brunt, bruin, brand, brandish, brandy, brown.

Sentences: He plucked a ____ from the ____. The ____ hair of the ____ was so glossy it seemed ____. He ____ his sword and bore the ____ of the conflict. After drinking so much ____ he saw snakes in his imagination, he staggered off into the woods and met Old ____ in reality.

<Cad, cas, cid> (fall): (1) cadence, decadent, case, casual, casualty, occasion, accident, incident, mischance, cheat; (2) casuistry, coincide, occidental, deciduous.

Sentences: The period was a ____ one. He, gave but ____ attention to the ____ of the music. On this ____ an ____ befell him. To the general it was a mere ____ that his ____ were heavy. As a result of this ____ he was accused of trying to ____ them.

<Cede, ceed, cess> (go): (1) cede, recede, secede, concede, intercede, procedure, precedent, succeed, exceed, success, recess, concession, procession, intercession, abscess, ancestor, cease, decease;

  1. antecedent, precedence, cessation, accessory, predecessor.

Sentences: He ____ the existence of a ____ that justified such ____. The delegate ____ his authority when he consented to ____ the territory. He would not ____ from his position or ____ for mercy. At ____ the pupils ____ in forming a ____. His ____ was suffering from an ____ at the time the Southern states ____. His agony ____ only with his ____.

<Ceive, ceit, cept, cip, cap(t)> (take): (1) receive, deceive, perceive, deceit, conceit, receipt, reception, perception, inception, conception, interception, accept, except, precept, municipal, participate, anticipate, capable, capture, captivate, case (chest, covering), casement, incase, cash, cashier, chase, catch, prince, forceps, occupy;

  1. receptacle, recipient, incipient, precipitate, accipiter, capacious, incapacitate.

Sentences: Though she ____ the officers, she did not prevent the ____ of the fugitive. He ____ that the man was very ____. The mayor skilfully ____ the alderman and proposed that ____ bonds be issued. The sight of the money ____ him and he quickly gave me a ____. He uttered musty ____, which were not always given a friendly ____. From the ____ of the movement he plotted to ____ the leadership in it. The ____ took part in the ____, but failed to ____ any of the game.

<Cide, cis(e)> (cut, kill): (1) decide, suicide, homicide, concise, precise, decisive, incision, scissors, chisel, cement; (2) patricide, fratricide, infanticide, regicide, germicide, excision, circumcision, incisors, cesura.

Sentences: He could not ____ whether to make the ____ with a ____ or a pair of ____. There was ____ evidence that he was the ____. In a few ____ sentences he explained why his friend could never have been a ____. The prim old lady had very ____ manners of speech.

<Cur, course> (run): (1) current, currency, incur, concur, occurrence, cursory, excursion, course, discourse, intercourse, recourse;

  1. curriculum, precursor, discursive, recurrent, concourse, courier, succor, corridor.

Sentences: He ____ in the request that payment be made in ____. The ____ was so strong that the ____ by steamer had to be abandoned. In the ____ of his remarks he had ____ to various shifts and evasions. By his ____ with one faction, though it was but ____, he ____ the enmity of the other. It was a disgraceful ____.

<Dic, dict> (speak, say): (1) dedicate, vindicate, indication, predicament, predict, addict, verdict, indict, dictionary, dictation, jurisdiction, vindictive, contradiction, benediction, ditto, condition;

  1. abdicate, adjudicate, juridical, diction, dictum, dictator, dictaphone, dictograph, edict, interdict, valedictory, malediction, ditty, indite, ipse dixit, on dit.

Sentences: The man ____ to drugs was ____ for ____ treatment of his wife, and the ____ were that the ____ would be against him. He said, on the contrary, that his character would be ____. The attorney for the defense ____ that the judge would rule that the matter did not lie within his ____. This would leave the prosecution in a ____. But the prosecution issued a strong ____ of this theory, and said ____ were favorable for proving the man guilty.

<Duce, duct> (lead): (1) induce, reduce, traduce, seduce, introduce, reproduce, education, deduct, product, production, reduction, conduct, conductor, abduct, subdue; (2) educe, adduce, superinduce, conducive, ducat, duct, ductile, induction, aqueduct, viaduct, conduit, duke, duchy.

Sentences: We ____ the company to ____ the fare. They ____ ten cents from the wages of each man, an average ____ of four per cent. They ____ us when they say we have wilfully lessened ____. The highwaymen ____ the ____. If you have an ____, you can ____ an idea in other words.

<Error> (wander): (1) error, erroneous, erratic, errand;

  1. errata, knight errant, arrant knave, aberration.

Sentences: That ____ fellow came on a special ____ to tell us we had made an ____. And his statement was ____ at that!

<Fact, fic(e), fy, fect, feat, feit> (make, do): (1) fact, factory, faction, manufacture, satisfaction, suffice, sacrifice, office, difficult, pacific, terrific, significant, fortification, magnificent, artificial, beneficial, verify, simplify, stupefy, certify, dignify, glorify, falsify, beautify, justify, infect, perfect, effect, affection, defective, feat, defeat, feature, feasible, forfeit, surfeit, counterfeit, affair, fashion;

  1. factor, factotum, malefaction, benefaction, putrefaction, facile, facsimile, faculty, certificate, edifice, efficacy, prolific, deficient, proficient, artifice, artificer, beneficiary, versification, unification, exemplification, deify, petrify, rectify, amplify, fructify, liquefy, disaffect, refection, comfit, pontiff, ipso facto, de facto, ex post facto, au fait, fait accompli.

Sentences: The opposing ____ by incredible ____ had found it ____ to take over the ____ of the goods. By this ____ it ____ what goodwill the owner of the ____ had for it, but it won the ____ of the public. The owner, though seemingly ____ at first, soon ____ a scheme to make the success of the enterprise more ____. By an ____ lowering of the price of his own goods and by ____ that those of his rivals were ____, he hoped to ____ the public mind with unjust suspicions. But all this did not ____. In truth the ____ of it was the hastening of his own ____ and a ____ heightening of the public ____ toward his rivals. His directors, seeing that his policy had failed to ____ itself, met in his ____ and urged him to take a more ____ attitude.

<Fer> (bear, carry): (1) transfer, prefer, proffer, suffer, confer, offer, referee, deference, inference, indifferent, ferry, fertile; (2) referendum, Lucifer, circumference, vociferate, auriferous, coniferous, pestiferous.

Sentences: With real ____ to their wishes he ____ to ____ the goods by ____. The ____ of the sporting writers was that the ____ was ____ to his duties. After ____ apart, the farmers ____ the use of their most ____ acres for this experiment. To be mortal is to ____.

<Fide> (trust, believe, have faith): (1) fidelity, confide, confident, diffident, infidel, perfidious, bona fide, defiance, affiance;

  1. fiduciary, affidavit, fiance, auto da fe, Santa Fe.

Sentences: He was ____ that the man was an ____. He had ____ in a ____ rascal. He had been ____ for years and had proved his ____. Though we are somewhat ____ in making it, you may be sure it is a ____ offer. His attitude toward his father is one of gross ____.

<Grade, gress> (walk, go): (1) grade, gradual, graduate, degrade, digress, Congress, aggressive, progressive, degree; (2) gradation, Centigrade, ingress, egress, transgression, retrogression, ingredient.

Sentences: His failure to ____ from college made him feel ____ especially as his cronies all received their ____. The engine lost speed ____ as it climbed the long ____. I ____ to remark that some members of ____ are more ____ than ____.

<Hab, hib> (have, hold): (1) habit, habitation, inhabitant, exhibit, prohibition, ability, debit, debt; (2) habituate, habiliment, habeas corpus, cohabit, dishabille, inhibit.

Sentences: The ____ of the island ____ an ____ to live without permanent ____. It was his ____ to glance first at the ____ side of his ledger, as he was much worried about his ____. Most women favor ____.

<Hale, heal, hol, whole> (sound): (1) hale, hallow, Hallowe'en, heal, health, unhealthy, healthful, holy, holiday, hollyhock, whole, wholesome;

  1. halibut, halidom.

Sentences: Though he lived in a ____ climate, he was ____. The food was ____, the man ____ and hearty. He did not think of a ____ as ____. We had ____ in our garden almost until ____. He wept at hearing the ____ name of his mother. For a ____ month the wound refused to ____.

<It> (go): (1) exit, transit, transition, initial, initiative, ambition, circuit, perishable; (2) itinerant, transitory, obituary, sedition, circumambient.

Sentences: The ____ was broken. It was his ____ shipment of ____ goods, and they suffered a good deal in ____. His ____ was to be regarded as a man of great ____. His ____ was less effective than his entrance.

<Ject> (throw): (1) eject, reject, subject, project, objection, injection, dejected, conjecture, jet, jetty; (2) abject, traject, adjective, projectile, interjection, ejaculate, jetsam, jettison.

Sentences: With ____ mien he watched the waves lash the ____. His scheme was ____ to much ridicule and then ____, and he himself was ____ from the room. From a pipe that ____ from the corner of the building came a ____ of dirty water. He could only ____ what their ____ was. The ____ brought immediate relief.

<Jud, jur, just> (law, right): (1) judge, judicious, judicial, prejudice, jurist, jurisdiction, just, justice, justify; (2) judicature, adjudicate, juridical, jurisprudence, justiciary, de jure.

Sentences: The eminent ____ said the matter did not lie within his ____. Though ____ in most matters, he admitted to ____ in this. The ____ said he would comment in an unofficial rather than a ____ way. She could not ____ her suspicions. He was not only ____ himself, but devoted to ____.

<Junct> (join): (1) junction, juncture, injunction, disjunctive, conjugal, adjust; (2) adjunct, conjunction, subjunctive, conjugate.

Sentences: A ____ force had entered their ____ relationships. At this ____ he gave the ____ that disturbances should cease. The tramp halted at the ____ to eat his lunch and ____ his knapsack.

<Jure> (swear): (1 and 2 combined) juror, jury, abjure, adjure, conjurer, perjury.

Sentences: They ____ their loyalty. He ____ them to remember their duty as ____. The ____ held the ____ guilty of ____.

<Leg, lig, lect> (read, choose, pick up): (1) elegant, illegible, college, negligent, diligent, eligible, elect, select, intellect, recollect, neglect, lecturer, collection, coil, cull; (2) legend, legion, legacy, legate, delegate, sacrilegious, dialect, lectern, colleague, lexicon.

Sentences: In ____ he listened to the ____ and took an occasional

note in an ____ hand. She ____ an ____ costume. They ____ the only man
who was ____. He did not ____ to take up the ____. He was ____ rather
than ____. Her mind was too ____ to ____ all the circumstances.

<Lig> (bind): (1 and 2 combined) ligament, ligature, obligation, ally, alliance, allegiance, league, lien, liable, liaison, alloy.

Sentences: It was a pleasure that knew no ____. To belong to the ____ carries ____. In studying anatomy you learn all about ____ and ____. The two nations were in ____. We may be sure of their ____. We will take a ____ upon your property. As a ____ officer he was ____ for the equipment which our ____ reported lost.

<Luc, lum, lus> (light): (1) lucid, translucent, luminous, illuminate, luminary, luster, illustrate, illustrious; (2) lucent, Lucifer, lucubration, elucidate, pellucid, relume, limn.

Sentences: The ____ author spoke very ____. He gave us a ____ explanation of a very abstruse subject. The material was ____ even to the rays of the feeblest of the heavenly ____. He ____ his theory by the following anecdote. This deed added ____ to his fame.

<Mand> (order): (1 and 2 combined) mandate, mandamus, mandatory, demand, remand, countermand, commandment.

Sentences: The superior court issued a writ of ____. The case was ____ to the lower court. His instructions were not discretionary, but ____. At your ____ the ____ has been issued. The ____ promptly ____ the orders of the offending officer.

<Mit, mis, mise> (send): (1) permit, submit, commit, remit, transmit, mission, missile, missionary, remiss, omission, commission, admission, dismissal, promise, surmise, compromise, mass, message; (2) emit, intermittent, missive, commissary, emissary, manumission, inadmissible, premise, demise.

Sentences: The ____ could only ____ why so many of his people had not attended ____. The ____ contained a ____ that no one would be held ____. The request was ____ that he would please ____. He ____ to his ____ without a protest. A ____ was appointed to investigate whether the territory should be granted ____ as a state. His ____ was such as to ____ him to tarry if he chose.

<Move, mote, mob> (move): (1) move, movement, removal, remote, promote, promotion, motion, motive, emotion, commotion, motor, locomotive, mob, mobilize, automobile, moment; (2) immovable, motivate, locomotor ataxia, mobility, immobile, momentum.

Sentences: The next ____ was his, and his ____ was profound. The ____ of the ____ from across the alley enabled the ____ to surge in a threatening ____ toward the rear of the building. At this ____ the ____ was great. The officer whose ____ had seemed so ____ was now enabled to ____ strong forces for the campaign. The ____ began a slow ____ forward. His exact ____ was not known.

<Pass, path> (suffer): (1) passion, passive, impassive, impassioned, compassion, pathos, pathetic, impatient, apathy, sympathy, antipathy; (2) passible, impassible, dispassionate, pathology, telepathy, hydropathy, homeopathy, allopathy, osteopathy, neuropathic, pathogenesis.

Sentences: With an ____ countenance he spoke of the ____ of our Lord. The ____ of the story moved her to ____. He allowed his ____ no further expression than through that one ____ shrug. With a ____ smile he settled back into dull ____. His plea was ____.

<Ped, pod> (foot): (1) pedal, pedestrian, pedestal, expedite, expediency, expedition, quadruped, impediment, biped, tripod, chiropodist, octopus, pew; (2) centiped, pedicle, pedometer, velocipede, sesquipedalian, antipodes, podium, polypod, polyp, Piedmont.

Sentences: A ____ suggested that we could ____ matters by each mounting a ____. The loss of the ____ was a serious ____ to the rider of the bicycle. The ____ had me place my foot on an artist's ____. The purpose of this nautical ____ was to capture a live ____. The ____ of having so large a ____ for the statue had not occurred to us. A ____ scarcely recognizable as human occupied my ____.

<Pell, pulse> (drive): (1) dispel, compel, propeller, repellent, repulse, repulsive, impulse, compulsory, expulsion, appeal; (2) appellate, interpellate.

Sentences: After the ____ of the attack the, mists along the lowlands were ____. His manner was ____, even ____. The revolutions of the ____ soon ____ the boatmen to shove farther off. After his ____ he ____ for a rehearing of his case. The act was ____, but he felt an ____ toward it anyhow.

<Pend, pense, pond> (hang, weigh): (1) pending, impending, independent, pendulum, perpendicular, expenditure, pension, suspense, expense, pensive, compensate, ponder, ponderous, preponderant, pansy, poise, pound; (2) pendant, stipend, appendix, compendium, propensity, recompense, indispensable, dispensation, dispensary, avoirdupois.

Sentences: The veterans felt great ____ while action regarding their ____ was ____. We shall ____ you. An arm of it stood in a position ____ to the ____ mass. He knew that fate was ____, and he watched the ____ swing back and forth slowly. He gave a ____ argument in favor of the ____ of the money. There is ____, that's for thoughts. Let us ____ the question whether the ____ is needful. She was a woman of rare social ____. Penny-wise, ____ foolish.

<Pet> (seek): (1 and 2 combined) petition, petulant, impetus, impetuous, perpetuate, repeat, compete, competent, appetite, centripetal.

Sentences: A great ____ force keeps the planets circling about the sun. The complaints of a ____ woman led him to ____ the prize. The sexual ____ leads men to ____ the race. The ____ was pronounced upon ____ authority to be ill drawn up. With ____ wrath he ____ the assertion. The ____ became noticeably weaker.

<Ply, plic, plicate> (fold): (1) ply, reply, imply, plight, suppliant, explicit, implicit, implicate, supplicate, duplicate, duplicity, complicate, complicity, accomplice, application, plait, display, plot, employee, exploit, simple, supple; (2) pliant, pliable, replica, explication, inexplicable, multiplication, deploy, triple, quadruple, plexus, duplex.

Sentences: We ____ the thief's ____ with questions. He ____ that others were ____ with him. The king ____ to the ____ that such ____ must never be ____ in the realm thereafter. It would be a ____ matter to ____ the order. The manager had ____ confidence in his ____. She admired his courage in this ____, perceived his ____ in the crime, and deplored his participation in the ____. They ____ him for an ____ promise that mercy would be shown. She was in a ____, for she had not had time to arrange her hair in its usual broad ____. He was ____ of body. The ____ was refused.

<Pose, pone> (place): (1) expose, compose, purpose, posture, position, composure, impostor, postpone, post office, positive, deposit, disposition, imposition, deponent, opponent, exponent, component;

  1. depose, impost, composite, apposite, repository, preposition, interposition, juxtaposition, decomposition.

Sentences: The ____ said he would ____ the manner in which the cashier had made away with the ____. The true ____ of the ____ was now known, yet he retained his ____. For you to make yourself an ____ of these wild theories is an ____ on your friends. The closing hour at the ____ is ____ thirty minutes on account of the rush of Christmas mail. He was ____ that his ____ had ____ the letter. One of the ____ elements in his ____ was gloom.

<Prise, prehend> (seize): (1) prize, apprise, surprise, comprise, enterprise, imprison, comprehend, apprehension; (a) reprisal, misprision, reprehend, prehensile, apprentice, impregnable, reprieve.

Sentences: He had no ____ as to what the ____ would ____. His ____ was so great that he could scarcely ____ the fact that the ____ was his. The judge ____ them of the likelihood that they would be ____.

<Prob> (prove): (1 and 2 combined) probe, probation, probate, probity, approbation, reprobate, improbable.

Sentences: The young ____ was placed on ____. The will was brought into the ____ court. It is ____ that such ____ as his will win the ____ of evil-doers.

<Rupt> (break): (1 and 2 combined) rupture, abrupt, interrupt, disrupt, eruption, incorruptible, irruption, bankrupt, rout, route, routine.

Sentences: The volcano was in ____. Though ____, he remained ____. The ____ of the barbarians ____ these reforms. The organization was ____ after having already been put to ____. The ____ he had chosen led to a ____ in their relationships. It was ____ work.

<Sed, sid(e), sess> (seat): (1) sedulous, sedentary, supersede, subside, preside, reside, residue, possess, assessment, session, seige;

  1. sediment, insidious, assiduous, subsidy, obsession, see (noun), assize.

Sentences: The ____ was so small that he scarcely noticed he ____ it. The officer was ____ in making the ____ upon every tax-payer fair. During the ____ Congress remained in ____. He ____ in the city and has a ____ occupation. When the officer who ____ is firm, such commotions will quickly ____. He ____ the disgraced commander.

<Sequ, secu, sue> (follow): (1) sequel, sequence, consequence, subsequent, consecutive, execute, prosecute, persecute, sue, ensue, suitor, suitable, pursuit, rescue, second; (2) obsequies, obsequious, sequester, inconsequential, non sequitur, executor, suite.

Sentences: On the ____ day they continued the ____. In the ____ chapter of the ____ the heroine is ____. The ____ of events is hard to follow. The ____ was that her brother began to ____ her ____. The district attorney ____ six ____ offenders, but thought it useless to bring any ____ offender to trial. It was a ____ occasion.

<Shear, share, shore> (cut, separate): (1 and 2 combined) shear, sheer, shred, share, shard, scar, score, (sea)shore, shorn, shroud, shire, sheriff.

Sentences: The ____ had on his face a ____ made by a ____ thrown at him. In that ____ an old custom for every one to ____ in the ____ the sheep. There was, instead of the usual ____ a cliff that rose from the sea. All ____ as the freshman was, he had hardly a ____ of his former dignity. The ____ was very one-sided. A ____ of mist was about him.

<Sign> (sign): (1) sign, signal, signify, signature, consign, design, assign, designate, resignation, insignificant; (2) ensign, signatory, insignia.

Sentences: He ____ his approval of the ____. The disturbance caused by his ____ was ____. He ____ no reason for ____ those particular men. As he could not write his own ____, I ____ the document for him. It was a ____ defeat.

<Solve, solu> (loosen): (r) solve, resolve, dissolve, solution, dissolute, resolute, absolute; (2) solvent, absolution, indissoluble, assoil.

Sentences: On account of his ____ course he had given his parents many a problem to ____. He ____ the powder in a cupful of water and ____ to give it to the patient. This ____ of the difficulty did not win the ____ approval of his employer. The obstacles were many, but he was ____.

<Spec(t), spic(e)</b/> (look): (1) spectator, spectacle, suspect, aspect, prospect, expect, respectable, disrespect, inspection, speculate, special, especial, species, specify, specimen, spice, suspicion, conspicuous, despise, despite, spite; (2) specter, spectrum, spectroscope, prospector, prospectus, introspection, retrospect, circumspectly, conspectus, perspective, specie, specification, specious, despicable, auspices, perspicacity, frontispiece, respite.

Sentences: His ____ was conducted in such a manner as to show the utmost ____. In ____ she noticed an odor of ____. From his ____ you would have taken him to be a ____ of wild animal. The ____ was better than we had ____ it to be. Though you have no ____ fondness for children, you will enjoy the ____ of them playing together. The ____ did not ____ what underhand tactics some of the players were resorting to. In ____ of all this, we made a ____ showing. The ____ is one you cannot ____. ____ this ____ of matters, she did not ____ the cause of her ____, but let him ____ what it might be.

<Spire, spirit> (breathe, breath): (1 and 2 combined) spirit, spiritual, perspire, transpire, respire, aspire, conspiracy, inspiration, expiration, esprit de corps.

Sentences: At the ____ of a few days it ____ that a ____ had actually been formed. The ____ of the division was such that every man ____ to meet the enemy forthwith. He was a man of much ____ and marked powers of ____. As he lay there, he merely ____ and ____; he had no thought whatsoever of things ____.

<Sta, sti(t), sist> (stand): (1) stand, stage, statue, stall, stationary, state, reinstate, station, forestall, instant, instance, distance, constant, withstand, understand, circumstance, estate, establish, substance, obstacle, obstinate, destiny, destination, destitute, substitute, superstition, desist, persist, resist, insist, assist, exist, consistent, stead, rest, restore, restaurant, contrast; (2) stature, statute, stadium, stability, instable, static, statistics, ecstasy, stamen, stamina, standard, stanza, stanchion, capstan, extant, constabulary, apostate, transubstantiation, status quo, armistice, solstice, interstice, institute, restitution, constituent, subsistence, pre-existence, presto.

Sentences: The ____ of the motion was that the student who had been expelled should be ____. He ____ in his ____ resolution to go on the ____. She could not ____ the pleas of ____ people. He ____ her to alight at the ____. In an ____ you shall ____ what the ____ was that drove me to tempt ____ thus. We had gone but a little ____ when I perceived by the hungry working of his jaws that his ____ was the ____ in the next block. No ____ could cause him to ____. She was ____ in a ____ at the bazaar.

<Stead> (place): (1 and 2 combined) stead, steadfast, instead, homestead, farmstead, roadstead, bestead.

Sentences: ____ of resting in a harbor, the ships were tossed about in an open ____. Little did it ____ him to cling to the old ____. A ____ nestled by the highway. To be known as ____ now stood him in good ____.

<Strict, string, strain> (bind): (1) district, restrict, strictly, stringent, strain, restrain, constrain; (2) stricture, constriction, boa constrictor, astringent, strait, stress.

Sentences: We ____ them by means of ____ regulations. He ____ them to this course by his mere example. He attended ____ to his duties. You should not ____ your pleasures in this way. The ____ of long effort was telling on him.

<Tact, tang, tain, ting, teg> (touch): (1) tact, contact, intact, intangible, attain, taint, stain, tinge, contingent, integrity, entire, tint; (2) tactile, tactual, tangent, distain, attaint, attainder, integer, disintegrate, contagion, contaminate, contiguous.

Sentences: His appointment is ____ upon his removing this ____ from his name. His ____ is such that no ____ with evil could leave any ____ upon him. The contents were ____. With ____ he hopes to ____ the ____ approval of his auditors. It was a dark ____. The reason is ____.

<Tail> (cut): (1 and 2 combined) detail, curtail, entail, retail, tailor, tally.

Sentences: He held the property in ____. He kept the reckoning straight by means of ____ cut in a shingle. He resolved to ____ expenses by visiting the ____ less often. We need not go into ____. The profit lies in the difference between wholesale and ____ prices.

<Tain> (hold--for related ten group see above under Two Admonitions): (1 and 2 combined) detain, abstain, contain, obtain, maintain, entertain, pertain, appertain, sustain, retain.

Sentences: Village life and things ____ thereto I shall willingly ____ from. I ____ that precepts of this kind in no sense ____ to public morals. If the gentleman can ____ the consent of his second, the chair will ____ the motion as he restates it. Though your forces may ____ heavy losses, they must ____ their position and ____ the enemy.

<Term, termin> (end, bound): (1 and 2 combined) term, terminus, terminal, terminate, determine, indeterminate, interminable, exterminate.

Sentences: At the ____ of the railroad stands a beautiful ____ station. The manner in which we may ____ the agreement remains ____. He ____ that rather than yield he would make the negotiations ____. During the second ____ they ____ all the rodents about the school.

<Tort> (twist): (1) torture, tortoise, retort, contort, distortion, extortionate, torch, (apple) tart, truss, nasturtium; (2) tort, tortuous, torsion, Dry Tortugas.

Sentences: By the light of the ____ he saw a ____ fowl by the fireside and a ____ in the cupboard. The ____ of his countenance was due to the ____ he was undergoing. ____ his face into a very knowing look, he ____ that a man with a ____ in his buttonhole and ____ shell glasses on his nose had leered at the girls as he passed.

<Tract, tra(i)> (draw): (1) tract, tractor, intractable, abstracted, retract, protract, detract, distract, attractive, contractor, trace, trail, train, trait, portray, retreat; (2) traction, tractate, distraught, extraction, subtraction.

Sentences: In an ____ manner he drove the ____ across a large ____ of ground. He ____ his gaze at the ____ girl. The ____ was now willing to ____ his statement that in the house as it stood there was no ____ of departure from the specifications. Down the weary ____ of the pioneer dashes the palatial modern ____. To be ____ was one of his ____. The artist ____ her as in a ____ state. The ____ of his forces ____ but little from his fame.

<Vene, vent> (come): (1) convene, convenient, avenue, revenue, prevent, event, inventor, adventure, convention, circumvent; (2) venire, venue, parvenu, advent, adventitious, convent, preventive, eventuate, intervention.

Sentences: The legislature ____ in order to pass a measure regarding the public ____. At the ____ the wily old politician was able to ____ his enemies. The ____ saw no means of ____ this infringement of his patent right. In that ____ we are likely to have an ____. Through the long, shaded ____ they strolled together.

<Vert, vers(e)> (turn): (1) avert, divert, convert, invert, pervert, advertize, inadvertent, verse, aversion, adverse, adversity, adversary, version, anniversary, versatile, divers, diversity, conversation, perverse, universe, university, traverse, subversive, divorce;

  1. vertebra, vertigo, controvert, revert, averse, versus, versification, animadversion, vice versa, controversy, tergiversation, obverse, transverse, reversion, vortex.

Sentences: Though he carried a large ____ of goods, he was ____ to ____ them. He had ____ forgotten that it was his wedding ____. The ____ was on ____ subjects. They ____ a broad area where nothing had been done to ____ the danger that threatened them. With ____ stubbornness he held to his ____ of the story. He held that the reading of ____ is ____ of masculine qualities. His professors at the ____ soon ____ him to new social and economic theories. Her husband was such a ____ creature that she resolved to secure a ____. Americans are the most ____ people in the ____. The anecdote ____ his ____ himself. Her answer not only was ____, it revealed her ____. He had undergone grave ____ in his time.

<Vince, vict> (conquer): (1 and 2 combined) evince, convince, province, invincible, evict, convict, conviction, victorious.

Sentences: He was ____ that the campaign against the rebels in the ____ could not be ____. He ____ a lively interest in my theory that the fugitive could not be ____. He felt an ____ repugnance to ____ the man, and this in spite of his ____ that the man was guilty.

<Voc, voke> (call, voice): (1) vocal, vocation, advocate, irrevocable, vociferous, provoke, revoke, evoke, convoke;

  1. vocable, vocabulary, avocation, equivocal, invoke, avouch, vouchsafe.

Sentences: He was a ____ ____ of the measure, but no sooner was the order issued than he wished it ____. In ____ the assembly he ____ the enthusiasm of his followers. That he should give ____ utterance to this thought ____ me; but the words, once spoken, were ____.

<Volve, volute> (roll, turn): (1) involve, devolve, revolver, evolution, revolutionary, revolt, voluble, volume, vault; (2) circumvolve, convolution, convolvulus.

Sentences: It ____ upon me to put down the ____. In this ____ the heroine is ____ and the hero handy with a ____. He was ____ in a ____ uprising. He had laid the papers away in a ____. The ____ of civilization is a tedious story.


Copy both sections (the first consists of fairly familiar terms, the second of less familiar terms) of each of the following word-groups. Find the key-syllable, underscore it in each word, observe any modifications in its form. Decide for yourself what its meaning is; then verify or correct your conclusion by reference to the dictionary. Study the influence of the key-syllable upon the meaning of each separate word; find the word's original signification, its present signification. Add to each word-group as many cognate words as you can (1) think of for yourself, (2) find in the dictionary by looking under the key-syllable. Fill the blanks in the sentences after each word-group with terms chosen from the first section of words in that group.

  1. Animosity, unanimous, magnanimity;
  2. animate, animadvert, equanimity.

Sentences: It was the ____ opinion that to so noble a foe ____ should be shown. The spiteful man continued to display his ____.

  1. Annual, annuity, anniversary, perennial, centennial, solemn;
  2. superannuate, biennial, millennium.

Sentences: The amateur gardener made the ____ discovery that the plant was a ____. The ____ celebration of the great man's birth took a ____ and imposing form in our city. By a happy coincidence the increase in his ____ came on wedding ____.

  1. Audit, auditor, auditorium, audience, inaudible, obey;
  2. aurist, auricular, auscultation.

Sentences: His voice may not have been ____, but it certainly did not fill the ____. Not one ____ in all that vast ____ but was willing to ____ his slightest suggestion. He was not willing that they should ____ his accounts.

  1. Automatic, automobile, autocrat, autobiography;
  2. autograph, autonomy.

Sentences: The ____ dictated to his secretary the third chapter of his ____. The habit of changing gear properly in an ____ becomes almost ____.

  1. Cant, descant, incantation, chant, enchant, chanticleer, accent, incentive;
  2. canto, canticle, cantata, recant, chantry, chanson, precentor.

Sentences: He ____ upon this topic in a queer, foreign ____. Such utterances are mere sanctimonious ____; I had rather listen to the ____ of a voodoo conjurer. The little girl from the city was ____ with the crowing of ____. The ____ of the choir somehow gave him the ____ to try again.

  1. Cent, per cent, century, centennial;
  2. centenary, centime, centurion, centimeter, centigrade.

Sentences: For nearly a ____ this family has been living on a small ____ of its income. I wouldn't give a ____ for ____ honors; I want my reward now.

  1. Chronic, chronological, chronicle;
  2. chronometer, synchronize, anachronism.

Sentences: It is a ____ record of changing activities and ____ ills. This page is a ____ of athletic news.

  1. Corps, corpse, corporal, corpulent, corporation, incorporate;
  2. corpus, habeas corpus, corporeal, corpuscle, Corpus Christi.

Sentences: The ____ gentleman said he did not believe in ____ punishment. The hospital ____ carried the ____ into the office of a great ____. He resolved to ____ this idea into the reforms he was introducing.

(1 and 2 combined) Creed, credulous, credential, credit, accredit, discredit, incredible.

Sentences: He was not so ____ as to suppose that his ____ would be accepted and his statements ____ without some investigation. It is to his ____ that he refused to be bound by his former religious ____. That such ____ has been heaped upon him is ____.

  1. Crescent, increase, decrease, concrete, recruit, accrue, crew;
  2. crescendo, excrescence, accretion, increment.

Sentences: The ____ now had ____ evidence that military life was not altogether pleasant. In the olden days on the sea deaths from scurvy might bring about a dangerous ____ in the size of the ____. His courage ____ with the profits that ____ to him. The ____ moon rode in the sky.

  1. Cure, secure, procure, sinecure, curious, inaccurate;
  2. curate, curator.

Sentences: Occupying the position for a while will ____ of the notion that it is a ____. He was ____ to know so a bookkeeper had managed to ____ so high a salary. He ____ the equipment required.

(1 and 2 combined) Indignity, indignation, undignified, condign, deign, dainty.

Sentences: We must not be too ____ about visiting ____ punishment upon those responsible for this ____. He did not ____ to express his ____. It was an ____ act.

  1. Durable, endure, during, duration, obdurate;
  2. durance, duress, indurate, perdurable.

Sentences: ____ the whole interview she remained ____. It is a ____ cloth; it will ____ all sorts of weather. The session was one of prolonged ____.

  1. Finite, infinite, define, definite, confine, final, in fine, unfinished;
  2. definitive, infinitesimal.

Sentences: One cannot ____ the ____. He ____ himself to purely ____ topics. ____ it was a ____ offer and the ____ one he expected to make. The bridge is still ____.

  1. Flexibility, inflexible, deflect, inflection, reflection, reflex;
  2. circumflex, genuflection.

Sentences: The ____ influence of this act was great. I did not like the ____ of his voice. After some ____ he decided to remain ____. He was not to be ____ from his purpose. I could but admire the ____ of her tones.

  1. Fluent, affluent, influence, influenza, superfluous, fluid, influx, flush (rush of water), fluctuate;
  2. confluent, mellifluous, flux, reflux, effluvium, flume.

Sentences: When you ____ the basin, an ____ of water fills it again. He is an ____ man and a ____ writer. When I had ____, the doctor gave me a disgusting ____ to drink. The wind must have an ____ in making the waves ____ as they do. Any more would be ____.

  1. Fort, forte, effort, comfort, fortitude, fortify, fortress;
  2. aqua fortis, pianoforte.

Sentences: The defenders of the ____ held out with great ____. Though a ____ or two stood at important passes, the border was not really ____. His ____ was not public speaking. It was only by an ____ that he could ____ them.

  1. Fraction, infraction, fracture, fragility, fragment, suffrage, frail, infringe;
  2. diffract, refractory, frangible.

Sentences: It was in the course of his ____ of the rules that he suffered the ____ of his collar-bone. He told the committee of ladies that he was as fond of ____ as of ____. It is hardly a proof of ____ that he is so willing to ____ upon the rights of others. The ____ scaffolding bent and swung as he trod it.

(1 and 2 combined) Fugitive, fugue, refuge, subterfuge, centrifugal.

Sentences: Closing his eyes as if to listen better to the ____ was a little ____ of his. The upward movement of the missile was arrested by the ____ attraction of the earth. The ____ took ____ in an abandoned barn.

  1. Refund, confound, foundry, confuse, suffuse, profuse, refuse, diffuse;
  2. fusion, effusion, transfuse.

Sentences: With ____ cheeks and ____ utterance he made a ____ apology. The amount we lost through the defective work at your ____ should be ____ to us. Such a blow might ____ but not ____ him. He ____ the appointment.

  1. Belligerent, gesture, suggest, congested, digestion, register, jest;
  2. gerund, congeries.

Sentences: As he stopped before the cash ____ he gave a ____ which showed that his ____ was none too good. His look was ____, but he lightly made a ____. Amid the ____ traffic she stopped to ____ that pink would be more becoming than lavender.

  1. Relate, translate, legislate, elation, dilated, dilatory;
  2. collate, correlate, prelate, oblation, superlative, ablative.

Sentences: With ____ eyes he ____ the passage for me. The ____ was very ____ in agreeing upon the measure to be passed. He ____ the story with pride and ____.

  1. Locate, locality, locomotive, dislocate;
  2. locale, allocate, collocation.

Sentences: In trying to ____ the mine as near the fissure as possible he fell and ____ his hip. It was only ____ in that entire ____.

  1. Soliloquy, loquacious, loquacity, colloquial, eloquent, obloquy, circumlocution, elocution;
  2. magniloquent, grandiloquent, ventriloquism, interlocutor, locutory, allocution. (For related log and Ology words see above under Prying Into a Word's Relationships.)

Sentences: ____ always, he indulged at this time in a great deal of ____. Though it was mere ____, yet there was something ____ about it. Amid all this ____ he managed to rid himself of a good deal of ____ regarding Standish. Hamlet's ____ on suicide is a famous passage.

  1. Allude, elude, delude, ludicrous, illusory, collusion;
  2. prelude, postlude, interlude.

Sentences: Such evidence is ____, and belief in it is ____. He ____ to a possible ____ between them. The more credulous ones he ____, and the skeptical he manages to ____.

  1. Metrical, thermometer, barometer, pedometer, diametrically, geometry;
  2. millimeter, chronometer, hydrometer, trigonometry, pentameter.

Sentences: He was careful to consult both the ____ and the ____. He always wore a ____ on these trips. The two were ____ opposed to each other. The poet has great ____ skill. ____ is an exact science.

  1. Monotone, monotonous, monoplane, monopoly, monocle, monarchy, monogram, monomania;
  2. monosyllable, monochrome, monogamy, monorail, monograph, monolith, monody, monologue, monad, monastery, monk.

Sentences: His eye held a ____, his gold ring bore a ____ seal, and his voice was a stilted ____. One thing I hate about a ____ is the ____ reference to everything as his majesty's. He had a ____ of the trade in his town. He is suffering, not from madness, but from ____.

  1. Mortal, immortality, mortify, postmortem, mortgage, morgue;
  2. mortmain, moribund, A la mort.

Sentences: After a hasty ____ examination, the body was taken to the ____. She was ____ at this reminder of the ____ on her father's property. The ____ shall put on ____.

(1 and 2 combined) Mutual, mutation, permutation, commute, transmute, immutable, moult.

Sentences: As he ____ that morning he reflected upon the ____ and combinations of fortune. We suffer the ____ of this worldly life, but ourselves are not ____. God's love is ____, and our love for each other should be ____. Birds when they ____ are weakened in body and depressed in spirit.

  1. Native, prenatal, innate, nature, unnatural, naturalize, nation, pregnant, puny;
  2. denatured, nativity, cognate, agnate, nascent, renascence, nee.

Sentences: It was some ____ influence, he thought, that gave him his ____ physique. It was a ____ reply, but its heartlessness was ____. He was not ____ to the country, but ____. ____ in his ____ was the love of his own ____.

  1. Note, notion, notable, notice, notorious, cognizant, incognito, recognize, noble, ignoble, ennoble, ignore, ignorance, ignoramus, reconnoiter, quaint, acquaintance;
  2. notary, notation, connotation, cognition, prognosticate, reconnaissance, connoisseur.

Sentences: In complete ____ of the enemy's position, he decided that he would ____ it. ____ himself, he was ____ of what was going on about him. You must ____ the conduct of such an ____. His ____ with this ____ gentleman ____ him. He ____ but would not ____ this ____ fellow. The ____ is a ____ one. He could but ____ how ____ his brother had become.

  1. Panacea, panoply, panorama, pantomime, pan-American, pandemonium;
  2. pantheist, pantheon.

Sentences: Arrayed in all the ____ of savages, they acted the scene out in ____. From this point the ____ of the country-side unrolled itself before him. It is no ____ for human ills; any supposition that it is will lead to ____. It is a ____ movement.

  1. Peter, petrify, petrol, stormy petrel, petroleum, saltpeter, pier;
  2. petrology, parsley, samphire.

Sentences: As he walked along the ____, he observed the flight of the ____. The English name for gasoline is ____. ____ is used in the manufacture of gunpowder. He was almost ____ at hearing of this enormous stock of ____. The crowing of the cock caused ____ to weep bitterly.

(1 and 2 combined) Petty, petite, petit jury, petit larceny, petticoat, pettifogger.

Sentences: Charged with ____, he was tried by the ____. The contemptible ____ hid behind the ____ of his wife. She was a winsome maiden, dainty and ____. It is a ____ fault.

(1 and 2 combined) Philosophy, philanthropy, Philadelphia, bibliophile, Anglophile.

Sentences: His ____ was generous, but his ____ was not profound. That queer old ____ hangs to the library like a caterpillar. It was the love of humankind that caused Penn to name the city ____. Most Americans are not ____.

(1 and 2 combined) Cosmopolitan, metropolitan, politics, policy, police.

Sentences: Those who engage in ____ lack, as a rule, a ____ outlook. It is merely ____ intolerance of towns and villages. The ____ of the mayor was to increase the ____ force.

(1 and 2 combined) Potential, potency, potentate, impotent, omnipotent, plenipotentiary.

Sentences: So far from being ____, we possess a ____ difficult to estimate. The ____ sent an ambassador ____. A ____ solution of the problem is this. ____ God.

  1. Impute, compute, dispute, ill repute, reputation, disreputable;
  2. putative, indisputable.

Sentences: She could not ____ the cost. There was some ____ as to the cause of his ____. Let them ____ to me what motives they will. Though somewhat ____, he was extremely
solicitous about his ____.

  1. Abrogate, arrogate, interrogate, arrogant, derogatory, prerogative;
  2. surrogate, rogation, prorogue.

Sentences: In an ____ manner he ____ these ____ to himself. To ____ authority is to give opportunity for remarks ____ to one's reputation. He skilfully ____ the witness.

  1. Salmon, sally, assail, assault, insult, consult, result, exultation, desultory;
  2. salient, salacious, resilient.

Sentences: After the ____ the firing was ____. The defenders ____ out and ____ us, but the ____ of this effort only added to our ____. We sat there watching the ____ leap over the waterfall and ____ about our arrangements for taking them. To accept the remark as an ____ is to acknowledge the speaker as an equal.

  1. Science, conscience, unconscious, prescience, omniscience, nice;
  2. sciolist, adscititious, plebiscite.

Sentences: By his ____ understanding of the issues he was able to gain a reputation for ____. We thought he possessed ____, but he seemed ____ of his erudition. Except under the sharp necessities of ____, he was ruled by a ____ thoroughly tender.

  1. Sect, section, non-sectarian, dissect, insect, intersection, sickle, vivisection, segment;
  2. bisect, trisect, insection, sector, secant.

Sentences: He stood at the ____ of the roads, leaning on the shank of a sharp ____. The foreman of the ____ gang is a member of our ____. The boy was ____ an ____ with a butcher knife he had previously used to cut for himself a large ____ of the Sunday cake. It is a ____ movement. He defended the ____ of animals.

  1. Sense, consent, assent, resent, sentimental, dissension, sensation, sensibility, sentence, scent, nonsense;
  2. sentient, consensus, presentiment.

Sentences: A woman of her ____ would shrink from a ____ of this sort. He ____ in a single, crisp ____. To be ____ is to be guilty of ____. He had the good ____ to ____ to this course. He ____ such ____ and the causes that produced them. A hound hunts by ____.

  1. Despond, respond, correspond, corespondent, sponsor;
  2. sponsion, spouse, espouse.

Sentences: She ____ that her husband had been ____ with the ____. The ____ of the movement could as yet see no reason to ____.

(1 and 2 combined) Structure, instructor, construct, obstruct, instrument, destructive, misconstrue.

Sentences: The student ____ the intentions of his ____. He resolved to ____ every effort to complete the ____. The ____ was one that might easily be turned to ____ work. They ____ a grandstand overlooking the racetrack.

  1. Terrace, territory, subterranean, inter, terrier;
  2. terrene, tureen, terrestrial, terra cotta, Mediterranean, terra firma, parterre.

Sentences: The ____ was tearing a great hole in the ____ in order to ____ a bone. He found rich ____ deposits. The discoverers laid claim to the entire ____.

  1. Thesis, parenthesis, antithesis, anathema, theme, epithet, treasure;
  2. hypothesis, synthesis, metathesis.

Sentences: To set two ideas in ____ to each other makes both more vivid. By way of ____ he informed me that the subject was ____ to his father. On this ____ he can summon a host of picturesque ____. The ____ is one you will find it hard to establish. He was seeking Captain Kidd's buried ____.

(1 and 2 combined) Tumor, tumidity, tumult, tumulus, contumacy.

Sentences: The ____ of his joints was due to rheumatism. His ____ led to a ____ of opposition. So excited was he at the discovery of the ____ that he did not permit the ____ on his hand to restrain him from beginning the excavation.

(1 and 2 combined) Turbid, disturb, perturbation, turbulence, trouble, imperturbable.

Sentences: His ____ manner gave no hint of the ____ within him. The ____ sweep of the stream caused her not the slightest ____. Do not ____ yourself with the thought that you are putting me to any ____.

(1 and 2 combined) Pervade, invade, evasion, vade mecum.

Sentences: He promised that there would be no ____ of payments. Byron's Childe Harold was my ____ during my travels in Switzerland and Italy. The fragrance of heliotrope ____ the room. You must not ____ my privacy like this.

  1. Avail, prevail, prevalent, equivalent, valiant, validity, invalid, invalidate; (2) valetudinarian, valediction, valence.

Sentences: The ____ of the agreement has been thoroughly established. Our cause is just, and must ____. It is ____ to admitting that the terms are now ____. It was a ____ act and ____ the concessions previously wrested from us. The ____ impression is that mere ingenuity will not ____.

  1. Virtue, virile, virgin, virtually; (2) virago, virtuoso, triumvir.

Sentences: It was ____ a new arrangement. It is ____ soil. To be ____ and daring is every boy's dream. ____ is its own reward.

  1. Revive, survival, convivial, vivid, vivify, vivacious, vivisection;
  2. vive (le roi), qui vive, bon vivant, tableau vivant.

Sentences: He has a ____ manner, a ____ spirit. The ____ of the opposition to the ____ of animals is very marked. You cannot ____ a dead cause or scarcely ____ memories of it. The ____ coloring of her cheeks was a sure sign of health, or of skill.


Find the key-syllable (in a few instances the key-syllables) of each of the following words. How does it affect the meaning of the word? Does it appear, perhaps in disguised form, in any of the words immediately preceding or following? Can you bring to mind other words that embody it?

Innovation Commonwealth Welfare Wayfarer
Adjournment Rival Derivation Arrive
Denunciation Denomination Ignominy Synonym
Patronymic Parliament Dormitory Demented
Presumptuous Indent Dandelion Trident
Indenture Contemporary Disseminate Annoy
Odium Desolate Impugn Efflorescent
Arbor vitae Consider Constellation Disaster
Suburb Address Dirigible Dirge
Indirectly Desperate Inoperative Benevolent
Voluntary Offend Enumerate Dilapidate
Request Exquisite Exonerate Approximate
Insinuate Resurgence Insurrection Rapture
Exasperate Complacent Dimension Commensurate
Preclude Cloister Turnpike Travesty
Atone Incarnate Charnal Etiquette
Rejuvenate Eradicate Quiet Requiem
Acquiesce Ambidextrous Inoculate Divulge
Proper Appropriate Omnivorous Voracious
Devour Escritoire Mordant Remorse
Miser Hilarious Exhilarate Rudiment
Erudite Mark Marquis Libel
Libretto Vague Vagabond Extravagant
Souse Saucer Oyster Ostracize


With a few exceptions like the Hale-heal group above under Verbal Families, most verbal families of straight English or of Germanic- Scandinavian-English descent are easily recognizable as families. Witness the Good family and the Stead family. The families in which kinship may be overlooked are likely to be of Latin or Greek ancestry, though perhaps with a subsequent infusion of blood from some other foreign language, as French. Hitherto our approach to verbal families has been through the descendants, or through that quality in their blood which holds them together. But we shall also profit from knowing something of the founders of these families--from having some acquaintance with them as individuals. Below (in separate lists) the more prominent of Latin and of Greek progenitors are named, their meaning is given, and two or three of their living representatives (not always direct descendants) are designated. Starred [*] words are those whose progeny has not been in good part assembled in the preceding pages; for these words you should assemble all the living representatives you can. (Inflectional forms are given only where they are needed for tracing English derivatives.)

<Latin Ancestors of English Words>

Latin word Meaning English representatives
Ago, actum do, rouse agile, transact
*Alius other alias, inalienable
*Alter other alteration, adultery
*Altus high altitude, exalt
*Ambulo walk perambulator, preamble
*Amicus friend amicable, enemy
*Amo, amatum love inamorata, amateur, inimical
*Anima life animal, inanimate
Animus mind animosity, unanimous
Annus year annuity, biennial
*Aqua water aquarium, aqueduct
Audio, auditum hear audience, audit
*Bellum war rebel, belligerent
*Bene well benefit, benevolence
*Bonus good bonanza, bona fide
*Brevis short abbreviate, unabridged
Cado, casum fall cadence, casual
Caedo, cecidi, caesum cut, kill suicide, incision
Cano, cantum sing recant, chanticleer
Capio, captum take, hold capacious, incipient
*Caput, capitis head cape (Cape Cod), decapitate,
chapter, biceps
Cedo, cessum go concede, accessory
Centum hundred per cent, centigrade
*Civis citizen civic, uncivilized
*Clamo shout acclaim, declamation
*Claudo, clausum close, shut conclude, recluse, cloister, sluice
Cognosco (see Nosco)  
*Coquo, coxi, coctum cook decoction, precocious
*Cor, cordis heart core, discord, courage
Corpus body corpse, incorporate
Credo, credituin believe creed, discreditable
Cresco, cretum grow crescendo, concrete, accrue
*Crux, crucis cross crucifix, excruciating
Cura care curate, sinecure
Curro, cursum run occur, concourse
*Derigo, directum direct dirge, dirigible, address
*Dexter right, right hand ambidextrous, dexterity
Dico speak, say abdicate, verdict
*Dies day diary, quotidian
Dignus worthy, fitting dignity, condign
Do, datum give condone, data
*Doceo, doctum teach document, doctor
*Dominus lord dominion, danger
*Domus house domicile, majordomo
*Dormio sleep dormant, dormouse
Duco lead traduce, deduction
*Duo two dubious, duet
Durus hard durable, obdurate
Eo, itum go exit, initial
Error, erratum wander erroneous, aberration
Facio, feci, factum make, do manufacture, affect, sufficient,
Fero, latum carry transfer, relate
Fido trust, believe confide, perfidious
Finis end confine, infinity
Flecto, flexum bend reflection, inflexible
Fluo, fluxum flow influence, reflux
Fortis strong fortress, comfort
Frango, fractum break infringe, refraction
*Frater brother fraternity, fratricide
Fugio, fugitum flee centrifugal, fugitive
Fundo, fusum pour refund, profuse, fusion
Gero, gestum carry belligerent, gesture, digestion
Gradior, gressus walk degrade, progress
*Gratia favor, pleasure, ingratiate, congratulate,
  good-will disgrace
*Grex, gregis flock segregate, egregious
Habeo, habitum
Itum (see Eo)
have, hold habituate, prohibit
Jacio, jeci, jactum throw, hurl reject, interjection
Jungo, junctum join conjugal, enjoin, juncture
Juro swear abjure, perjury
Jus, juris law, right justice, jurisprudence
Judex (from jusdico) judge judgment, prejudice
Latum (see Fero)
young rejuvenate, juvenilia
*Laudo, laudatum praise allow, laudatory
Lego, lectum read, choose elegant, lecture, dialect
*Lex, legis law privilege, illegitimate,
*Liber book libel, library
*Liber free liberty, deliberate
Ligo bind obligation, allegiance, alliance
*Linquo, lictum leave delinquent, relict, derelict
*Litera letter illiterate, obliterate
Locus place collocation, dislocate
Loquor, locutus speak soliloquy, elocution
Ludo, lusum play prelude, illusory
/Lux, lucis light\ lucid, luminary
\Lumen, luminis /  
*Magnus great magnate, magnificent
*Malus bad, evil malaria, malnutrition
Mando order mandatory, commandment
Manus hand manual, manufacture
*Mare sea maritime, submarine
*Mater mother maternal, alma mater
*Medius middle mediocre, intermediate
*Mens mind mental, demented
*Miror wonder mirror, admirable
Mitto, missum send commit, emissary
*Mordeo, morsum bite mordant, morsel, remorse
Mors, mortis death mortal, mortify
Moveo, motum move remove, locomotive
*Multus many multiform, multiplex
Muto, mutatum change transmute, immutable, moult
Nascor, natus be born renascence, cognate
*Nihil nothing nihilism, annihilate
*Nomen, nominis name denomination, renown
*Norma rule abnormal, enormous
/Nosco, notum cognosco \  
\ cognitum know / notation, incognito
*Novus new novelty, renovate
*Nuntio announce denounce, renunciation
*Opus, operis work magnum opus, inoperative
*Pater father patrician, patrimony
Patior, passus suffer impatient, passion
Pello, pulsum drive propeller, repulse
Pendeo, pensum hang pendulum, appendix
Pendo, pensum weigh compendium, expense
Pes, pedis foot expedite, biped
Peto seek impetus, compete
*Plaudo, plausum clap, applaud explode, plausible
*Plecto, plexum braid perplex, complexion
*Pleo, pletum fill complement, expletive
*Plus, pluris more surplus, plural
Plico, plicatum fold reply, implicate
Pono, positum place opponent, deposit
Porto carry report, porter
Potens, potentis powerful impotent, potential
Prendo, prehensum seize comprehend, apprise
*Primus, primatis first primary, primate
Probo, probatum prove improbable, reprobate
*Pugno fight impugn, repugnant
Puto think impute, disreputable
*Quaero, quaesitum seek require, inquest, exquisite
*Rapio, raptum seize enraptured, surreptitious
*Rego, rectum rule, lead region, erect
*Rideo, risum laugh deride, risible
Rogo, rogatum ask prorogue, abrogate
Rumpo, ruptum break disrupt, eruption
Salio, saltum leap salient, insult
*Sanguis blood sang froid, ensanguined
Scio, scitum know prescience, plebiscite
Scribo, scriptum write prescribe, manuscript, escritoire
Seco, sectum cut secant, dissect
Sedeo, sessum sit supersede, obsession
Sentio, sensum feel presentiment, consensus
Sequor, secutus follow sequence, persecute, ensue
Signum sign insignia, designate
*Solus alone solitude, desolate
Solvo, solutum loosen solvent, dissolute
*Somnus sleep somnambulist, insomnia
*Sono sound consonant, resonance
*Sors, sortis lot sort, assortment
Specio, spectum look despicable, suspect
Spiro, spiratum breathe perspire, conspiracy
*Spondeo, sponsum promise respond, espouse
Sto, steti, statum stand constant, establish
Sisto, stiti, statum cause to stand consistent, superstition
Stringo, strictum bind stringent, restrict
Struo, structum build construe, destruction
Tango, tactum touch intangible, tact
Tempus, temporis time temporize, contemporary
Tendo, tensum stretch distend, intense
Teneo, tentuin hold tenure, detention
*Tendo try tentative, attempt
Terminus end, boundary terminal, exterminate
Terra earth territory, inter
Torqueo, tortum twist distort, tortuous
Traho, tractum draw extract, subtraction
Tumeo, tumidum swell tumor, contumacy
Turba tumult, crowd turbulent, disturb
*Unus one unify, triune, onion
*Urbs city urbane, suburban
Vado, vasum go pervade, invasion
Valeo, validum be strong prevail, invalid
Venio, ventum come intervene, adventure
Verto, versum turn divert, adverse
*Verus true verdict, veracity
*Via way obviate, impervious, trivial
Video, visum see provide, revise
Vinco, victum conquer province, convict
Vir man triumvir, virtue
Vivo, victum live vivacious, vivisect
Voco, vocatum call revoke, avocation
*Volo wish malevolent, voluntary
Volvo, volutum turn revolver, evolution
Vox voice equivocal, vociferate

<Latin Prefixes>

_Prefix Meaning English embodiments_
*A, ab from, away avert, abnegation, abstract
*Ad to adduce, adjacent, affect, accede
*Ante before antediluvian, anteroom
*Bi two biped, bicycle
*Circum around circumambient, circumference
*Cum, com,
con, co
with, together combine, consort, coadjutor
*Contra against contradict, contrast
*De from, negative
down, intensive
deplete, decry, demerit, declaim
*Di, dis asunder, away from,
divert, disbelief
*E, ex from, out of evict, excavate
*Extra beyond extraordinary, extravagant
*In in, into, not innate, instil, insignificant
*Inter among, between intercollegiate, interchange
into, within introduce, intramural
*Non negative nonage, nondescript
*Ob against, before  
  (facing), toward obloquy, obstacle, offer
*Per through, extremely persecute, perfervid, pursue,
pilgrim, pellucid
*Post after postpone, postscript
*Pre before prepay, preoccupy
*Pro before proceed, proffer
*Re back, again return, resound
*Retro back, backward retroactive, retrospective
*Se apart, aside seclude, secession
*Semi half semiannual, semicivilized
*Sub under, less than, subscribe, suffer, subnormal,
  inferior subcommittee
*Super above, extremely superfluous, supercritical, soprano
*Trans across, through transfer, transparent
*Ultra beyond, extremely ultramundane, ultraconservative

<Greek Ancestors of English Words> (Scientific terms in English are largely derived from the Greek)

_Greek word Meaning English representatives_
*Aner, andros, man, stamen androgynous, philander,
anthropos   philanthropy
*Archos chief, primitive archaic, architect
*Astron star asterisk, disaster
Autos self autograph, automatic, authentic
*Barvs heavy baritone, barites
*Biblos book Bible, bibliomania
*Bios life biology, autobiography, amphibious
*Cheir hand chiropody, chirurgical, surgeon
*Chilioi a thousand kilogram, kilowatt
*Chroma color chromo, achromatic
Chronos time chronic, anachronism
*Cosmos world, order cosmopolitan, microcosm
*Crypto hide cryptogam, cryptology
*Cyclos wheel, circle encyclopedia, cyclone
*Deca ten decasyllable, decalogue
*Demos people democracy, epidemic
*Derma skin epidermis, taxidermist
*Dis, di twice, doubly dichromatic, digraph
*Didonai, dosis give dose, apodosis, anecdote
*Dynamis power dynamite, dynasty
*Eidos form, thing seen idol, kaleidoscope, anthropoid
*Ethnos race, nation ethnic, ethnology
Eu well euphemism, eulogy
*Gamos marriage cryptogam, bigamy
*Ge earth geography, geometry
Genos family, race gentle, engender
Gramma writing monogram, grammar
Grapho write telegraph, lithograph
*Haima blood hematite, hemorrhage, anemia
*Heteros other heterodox, heterogeneous
*Homos same homonym, homeopathy
*Hydor water hydraulics, hydrophobia, hydrant
*Isos equal isosceles, isotherm
*Lithos stone monolith, chrysolite
Logos word, study theology, dialogue
Metron measure barometer, diameter
*Micros small microscope, microbe
Monos one, alone monoplane, monotone
*Morphe form metamorphosis, amorphous
*Neos new, young neolithic, neophyte
*Neuron nerve neuralgia, neurotic
Nomos law, science,
astronomy, gastronomy, economy
*Onoma name anonymous, patronymic
*Opsis view, sight synopsis, thanatopsis, optician
*Orthos right orthopedic, orthodox
*Osteon bone osteopathy, periosteum
*Pais, paidos child paideutics, pedagogue,
Pas, pan all diapason, panacea, pantheism
Pathos suffering allopathy, pathology
Petros rock petroleum, saltpeter
*Phaino show, be visible diaphanous, phenomenon,
epiphany, fantastic
Philos loving bibliophile, Philadelphia
*Phobos fear hydrophobia, Anglophobe
Phone sound telephone, symphony
*Phos light phosphorous, photograph
*Physis nature physiognomy, physiology
*Plasma form cataplasm, protoplasm
*Pneuma air, breath pneumatic, pneumonia
Polis city policy, metropolitan
*Polys many polyandry, polychrome,
Pous, pados foot octopus, chiropodist
*Protos first protoplasm, prototype
*Pseudes false pseudonym, pseudo-classic
*Psyche breath, soul,
psychology, psychopathy
*Pyr fire pyrography, pyrotechnics
*Scopos watcher scope, microscope
*Sophia wisdom philosophy, sophomore
*Techne art technicality, architect
*Tele far, far off telepathy, telescope
{*Temno cut }  
{*Tomos that which is } epitome, anatomy, tome
{ cut off }  
*Theos god theosophy, pantheism
*Therme heat isotherm, thermodynamics
{Tithenai place } epithet, hypothesis,
{Thesis a placing, } anathema
{ arrangement }  
*Treis three trichord, trigonometry
*Zoon animal zoology, protozoa, zodiac

<Greek Prefixes>

_Prefix Meaning English embodiments_
*A, an no, not aseptic, anarchy
*Amphi about, around, ambidextrous, amphitheater
(Latin ambi) both  
*Ana up, again anatomy, Anabaptist
*Anti against, opposite antidote, antiphonal, antagonist
*Cata down catalepsy, cataclysm
*Dia through, across diameter, dialogue
*Epi upon epidemic, epithet, epode, ephemeral
*Hyper over, extremely hypercritical, hyperbola
*Hypo under, in smaller
hypodermic, hypophosphate
*Meta after, over metaphysics, metaphor
*Para beside paraphrase, paraphernalia
*Peri around, about periscope, peristyle
*Pro before proboscis, prophet
*Syn together, with synthesis, synopsis, sympathy



Our first task in this volume was the study of words in combination. Our second was the study of individual words in two of their aspects--first, as they are seen in isolation, next as they are seen in verbal families. Now our third task confronts us. It is the study of words as they are associated, not in actual blood kinship, but in meaning.

Such an association in meaning may involve only two words (pairs) or larger groups. In this chapter we shall confine ourselves to the study of pairs.

Of the relationship between pairs there are three types. In the first the words are hostile to each other. In the second they may easily be confused with each other. In the third they are parallel with each other. We shall examine the three types successively.

But we must make an explanation first. Although we shall, in this and the following chapters, have frequent occasion to give the meanings of individual words, we shall give them without regard to dictionary methods. We shall not attempt formal, water-tight, or exhaustive definitions; our purpose is to convey, in the simplest and most human manner possible, brief general explanations of what the words stand for.


Pairs of the first type are made up of words by nature opposite to each other, or else thought of as opposite because they are so often contrasted. Here is a familiar, everyday list:

east, west straight, crooked myself, others
large, small pretty, ugly major, minor
laugh, cry walk, ride light, darkness
top, bottom hard, soft friend, enemy
sweet, sour clean, dirty temporal, spiritual
meat, drink merry, sad means, extremes
land, water private, public Jew, Gentile
man, woman noisy, quiet independent, dependent
old, new general, particular sublime, ridiculous
age, youth wholesale, retail give, receive
sick, well savage, civilized pride, humility
brain, brawn wealth, poverty constructive, destructive
soul, body positive, negative  

None of these words needs explaining. If you think of one of them, you will think of its opposite; at least its opposite will be lurking in the back of your mind. As proof of this fact you have only to glance at the following list, from which the second member of each pair is omitted:

hot-- black-- boy-- in--
off-- over-- love-- wrong--
strong-- wet-- first-- day--
long-- fast-- good-- hope--
least-- asleep-- buy-- left--
alive-- winter-- war-- succeed--
fat-- internal-- wise--

Many words of a more difficult kind are thus pitted against each other, and we learn them, not singly, but in pairs. At least we should. As good verbal hunters we should be alert to the chance of killing two birds with one stone.

Allopath and homeopath, for example, are difficult opposites. We know of the existence of the two classes of medical practitioners; we know that they use different methods; but beyond this our knowledge is likely to be hazy. Let us set out, then, to learn the two words. The best way is to learn them together. Allopathy means other suffering, homeopathy like suffering. An allopath uses remedies which create within the patient a condition that squarely conflicts with the further progress of the disease. A homeopath prescribes medicines (in small doses) which produce within the patient the same condition that the disease would produce; he "beats the disease to it," so to speak--takes the job himself and leaves the disease nothing to do. The allopath travels around a race-track in the opposite direction from the disease, and thwarts it through a head-on collision. The homeopath travels around the race-track in the same direction as the disease, and thwarts it by pulling at the reins. If we consider the two words together and get these ideas in mind, we shall have no further trouble with allopaths and homeopaths--except, perhaps, when they have rendered their services and presented their bills.

Objective and subjective are also a troublesome pair. A thing is objective if it is an actual object or being, if it exists in itself rather than in our surmises. A thing is subjective if it is the creature of a state of mind, if it has its existence in the thought or imagination of some person or other. Thus if I meet a bear in the wilds, that bear is objective; whatever may be the state of my thoughts, he is there--and it would be to my advantage to reckon with this fact. But if a child who is sent off to bed alone says there is a bear in the room, the bear is subjective; it is not a living monster that will devour anybody, but a creature called into the mind of the child through dread.

EXERCISE - Opposites

Study the following words in pairs. Consult the dictionary for actual meanings. Then test your knowledge by embodying each word of each pair in a sentence, or in an illustration like those of the race-track and the bear in the preceding paragraphs.

superior, inferior concord, discord
export, import domestic, foreign
fact, fiction prose, poetry
verbal, oral literal, figurative
predecessor, successor genuine, artificial
positive, negative practical, theoretical
optimism, pessimism finite, infinite
longitude, latitude evolution, revolution
oriental, occidental pathos, bathos
sacred, profane military, civil
clergy, laity capital, labor
ingress, egress element, compound
horizontal, perpendicular competition, cooeperation
predestination, freewill universal, particular
extrinsic, intrinsic inflation, deflation
dorsal, ventral acid, alkali
synonym, antonym prologue, epilogue
nadir, zenith amateur, connoisseur
anterior, posterior stoic, epicure
ordinal, cardinal centripetal, centrifugal
stalagmite, stalactite orthodox, heterodox
homogeneous, heterogeneous monogamy, polygamy
induction, deduction egoism, altruism
Unitarian, Trinitarian concentric, eccentric
herbivorous, carnivorous deciduous, perennial
esoteric, exoteric endogen, exogen
vertebrate, invertebrate catalectic, acatalectic

<Words Often Confused>

Pairs of the second type are made up of words which are often confused by careless writers and speakers, and which should be accurately discriminated.

Sometimes the words are actually akin to each other. Continuous- continual and enormity-enormousness are examples. Sometimes they merely look or sound much alike. Mean-demean and affect- effect are examples. Sometimes the things they designate are more or less related, so that the ideas behind the words rather than the words themselves are responsible for the confusion. Contagious-infectious and knowledge-wisdom are examples. Let us distinguish between the two members of each of the pairs named.

A thing is continuous if it suffers no interruption whatever, continual if it is broken at regular intervals but as regularly renewed. Thus "a continuous stretch of forest"; "the continual drip of water from the eaves."

Enormity pertains to the moral and sometimes the social, enormousness to the physical. Thus "the enormity of the crime," "the enormity of this social offense"; "the enormousness of prehistoric animals."

Demean is often used reproachfully because of its supposed relation to mean. But it has nothing to do with mean. The word with which to connect it is demeanor (conduct). Thus "We observed how he demeaned himself" implies no adverse criticism of either the man or his deportment. Both may be debased to be sure, but they may be exemplary.

To affect means to feign or to have an influence upon, to effect to bring to pass. Thus "He affects a fondness for classical music," "The little orphan's story affected those who heard it"; "We effected a compromise." Affect is never properly used as a noun. Effect as a noun means result, consequence, or practical operation. Thus "The shot took instant effect"; "He put this idea into effect."

A disease is contagious when the only way to catch it is through direct contact with a person already having it, or through contact with articles such a person has used. A disease is infectious when it is presumably caused, not by contact with a person, but through widespread general conditions, as of climate or sanitation.

Our knowledge is our acquaintance with a fact, or the sum total of our information. Our wisdom is our intellectual and spiritual discernment, to which our knowledge is one of the contributors. Knowledge comprises the materials; wisdom the ability to use them to practical advantage and to worthy or noble purpose. Knowledge is mental possession; wisdom is mental and moral power.

EXERCISE - Confused

  1. Consult the dictionary for the distinction between the members of each of the following pairs. In each blank of the illustrative sentences insert the word appropriate in meaning.

<Ability, capacity.> ____ to receive knowledge. ____ to impart knowledge.

<Abstain, refrain.> He ____ from laughter. He steadfastly ____ from evil courses.

<Abstinence, temperance.> Though he always displayed ____, he did not carry it to the point of ____.

<Accept, except.> I shall ____ most of the suggestions, but must ____ the one made by Mr. Wheeler.

<Accept, receive>. When the package was ____ at the local post office, Bayard refused to ____ it.

<Ache, pain>. The dull ____ of his head. A sharp ____ below shoulder-blade. I have known the ____ of cold hands. "My heart ____, and a drowsy numbness ____ My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk."

<Address, tact>. With firmness and ____ he set about reconciling the factions. Her ____ enabled her to perceive that something was amiss.

<Adhere, cohere>. The magnetized iron filings ____. The cold iron ____ to the boy's tongue.

<Adherence, adhesion>. The ____ of the heated particles to each other was instantaneous. Amid these trials their ____ to the cause was unshaken.

<Admission, admittance>. His ____ to the room was forced. He obtained ____ into a fraternal order.

<Admit, confess>. When he ____ that he had a weapon, he practically ____ that he had slain the man.

<Adverse, averse>. He was ____ to going. Their answer was ____.

<Advice, counsel>. In this emergency he sought ____. He asked my ____ as to the best place to hang the picture.

<Aggravate, irritate>. To let these mishaps ____ you is to ____ your suffering.

<Allusion, illusion>. It is an ____ to suppose that I made any ____ to you.

<Allusion, reference>. It was more than a possible ____; it was an unmistakable ____.

<Amateur, novice>. Though we call him a(n) ____, he is in skill by no means the ____ you might think him.

<Ambiguous, equivocal>. You are unintentionally ____. These words are deliberately ____.

<Anticipate, expect>. Since we ____ the enemy to advance, would it not be wise to ____ him?

<Appearance, aspect>. He was handsome in ____. The ____ of the sky was ominous.

<Apprehend, comprehend>. "Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, Such shaping fantasies, that ____ More than cool reason ever ____."

<Ardor, fervor>. The ____ of the worshipers. The ____ of the soldiers.

<Artist, artisan>. The ____ who was decorating the walls called to an ____ who was mixing mortar.

<Ascent, ascension>. We easily made the ____ of the slope, and from the summit witnessed the balloon ____.

<Ascent, assent.> He gave his ____ when I proposed that we wait for the others to complete the ____ to this point.

<Ascribe, impute.> I ____ it to you as a fault rather than ____ it to you as an honor.

<Assembly, assemblage.> It was an informal ____. The ____ considered the matters it had been called to discuss.

<Assent, consent.> When told that the measure would advance his interests, he ____; but he would not ____ to it.

<Avenge, revenge.> The injury was slight, but he ____ it with unsparing malice. "____, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints."

<Avocation, vocation.> The lawyer, besides his regular ____, had the collecting of birds' eggs as his ____.

<Aware, conscious.> Though not ____ of the seriousness of his malady, he was ____ of the pain it caused him.

<Balance, remainder.> Darrell added the ____ of the coins, but not even they brought about the ____ he sought between assets and obligations.

<Bashful, modest.> Though ____ socially, he was not what you would term a ____ man.

<Behavior, conduct.> His ____ in this time of trial was exemplary. She praised the ____ of the children at the party.

<Belief, faith.> He possibly had ____, but not an active ____.

<Benignant, benign.> Her social manner was ____. The ____ influence of sunlight.

<Beside, besides.> ____ his personal friends, many people he had not even met stood ____ his sickbed.

<Blanch, whiten.> At this threat the face of the heroine ____. With a pail of cheap paint he ____ the dingy wall.

<Blessing, benediction.> After telling his parishioners to be mindful of their ____, the clergyman pronounced the ____.

<Blockade, siege.> Daily attacks on exposed redoubts marked the progress of the ____. The fleet lay there in silent ____ of the port.

<Bravery, bravado.> The incident proved that his ____ was not founded in real ____.

<Bring, fetch.> When you come, ____ the official documents with you. ____ me the scales you will find in the granary yonder.

<Broad, wide.> A man with ____ shoulders stood in the ____, open doorway.

<Bury, inter.> After they had solemnly ____ their comrade, they ____ the treasure. They also ____ their comrade's dog.

  1. Consult the dictionary for the distinction between the members of each of the following pairs. Determine whether the words are correctly used in the illustrative sentences. (Some are; some are not.)

<Can, may.> Can I stay at home this afternoon, papa? Because of the floods, the train beyond doubt may not get through.

<Character, reputation.> His character among them was very good. A man's reputation can never be taken from him.

<Childish, childlike.> Your conduct is peevish; it is childishly so. Her innocence was childlike.

<Cite, quote.> He was always citing snatches of Tennyson. We might quote Hamlet's soliloquy on suicide as an example of Shakespeare's ability to go to the heart of deep questions.

<Claim, assert.> He claimed that Jefferson was our third President. He asserted that bears sleep through the winter.

<Clothing, costume.> At the masquerade ball we each wore special clothing. The mariner who had swum from the wreck to the desert shore had not a shred of costume.

<Comfort, ease.> Comfort after labor. The case of owning a home.

<Commercial, mercantile.> Petty commercial transactions. A mercantile treaty.

<Common, mutual.> This pavilion was the common play-house for the children of the neighborhood. Ward and Aker held this property as their mutual possession.

<Complement, compliment.> This addition is the complement of our quota. He paid his dancing partner a compliment.

<Complement, supplement.> His downrightness is the complement of his uprightness. As a supplement to his wages he received an occasional bonus.

<Complete, finish.> He put in the completing touches. He had finished the task.

<Composure, equanimity.> His composure was not to be shaken. After this inner tumult came equanimity.

<Comprehensible, comprehensive.> Numbers of such magnitude are scarcely comprehensible. That men by the million should die for a cause is a thing not really comprehensive.

<Compulsion, obligation.> Who does not feel within him a compulsion to help the weak? It was through obligation, through having slave-drivers stand over them, that these wretched folk built the pyramids.

<Congratulate, felicitate.> I congratulated my friend on his appointment to the commission. I also felicitated the stranger on his appointment.

<Consecutive, successive.> Three consecutive convictions proved the ability of the prosecuting attorney. The quiet passing of successive summer days.

<Contemptible, contemptuous.> Its size was insignificant, even contemptible. He won the prize by a contemptuous trick.

<Continuation, continuance.> The investigator was surprised to find the tradition of such long continuation. We waited impatiently for the continuance of the story in the next issue.

<Corporal, corporeal.> I am more and more amazed at the perfection of man's corporal frame. His corporeal vigor was unusual.

<Correct, rectify.> A man may correct many of his false judgments on current affairs by studying history. The mistake is ours; it shall be rectified.

<Cozy, snug.> The cozy fit of a garment. A snug place by the fire.

<Crawl, creep.> We crawled forward at dawn to surprise their outposts. In his humility he fairly crept on the earth.

<Credible, creditable.> I do not doubt it; it is entirely credible. The success of the antidote seemed scarcely creditable.

<Credit, accredit.> Though he is the official and credited ambassador, his assertions are not accredited.

<Cure, heal.> I cured the dog's wounds. The physician declared he could heal leprosy.

<Custom, habit.> "A custom more honor'd in the breach than the observance." Is it your custom to watch the clock while you eat? The habit in that region was to rise at cockcrow.

<Decided, decisive.> A decided battle. A decisive fault in manners.

<Definite, definitive.> We still await a definite edition of this author's works. His answer was so definitive that we no longer doubted what he meant.

<Demesne, domain.> Clive added India to the British demesne. The king went riding through his personal domain.

<Deprecate, depreciate.> The German mark has deprecated in value. He depreciated the praise they were lavishing upon him.

<Descent, dissent.> They tied themselves together with a rope in order to make their dissent safer. The dissent to a lower plane of conversation was what he most desired.

<Discovery, invention.> The discovery of the wireless telegraph is Marconi's chief claim to remembrance. The invention of a water passage between Tierra del Fuego and the mainland was the work of Magellan.

<Discriminate, distinguish.> He could not discriminate individuals at that distance. Any man can distinguish right from wrong.

<Disinterested, uninterested.> His course was entirely generous and disinterested. Most visitors to art galleries have an uninterested manner.

<Disposal, disposition.> This disposal of the matter is authoritative, final. His disposition of his forces was well-considered.

<Dissatisfied, discontented.> Though the colonists were dissatisfied for the moment, they could hardly be called discontented.

<Distinct, distinctive.> The distinct quality of his character was aggressiveness. There were four separate and distinctive calls.

<Dramatic, theatrical.> An affected, dramatic manner. A truly theatrical situation.

<Dry, arid.> A dry plain. An arid place to sleep in.

<Dumb, mute.> The man stood dumb with surprise. Always be kind to mute animals.

<Durable, lasting.> Our joy is durable. Oak is a lasting wood.

  1. Consult the dictionary for the distinction between the members of each of the following pairs. Frame sentences to illustrate the correct use of the words. (Some of the words in this list, as well as some in other parts of the chapter, are considered in larger groups in the chapters following.)
earth, world efficiency, efficacy
egoism, egotism eldest, oldest
elemental, elementary elude, evade
emigrate, immigrate enough, sufficient
envy, jealousy equable, equitable
equal, equivalent essential, necessary
esteem, respect euphemism, euphuism
evidence, proof exact, precise
exchange, interchange excuse, pardon
exempt, immune
expedite, facilitate
expect, suppose
facsimile, copy familiar, intimate
fancy, imagination farther, further
feeling, sentiment feminine, effeminate
fervent, fervid fewer, less
fluid, liquid first (or last) two, two first (or last)
food, feed foreign, alien
force, strength forgive, pardon
gayety, cheerfulness genius, talent
gentle, tame genuine, authentic
glance, glimpse
grieve, mourn
grateful, thankful
hanged, hung happen, transpire
happiness, pleasure healthy, healthful
hear, listen heathen, pagan
honorable, honorary
human, humane
horrible, horrid
illegible, unreadable image, effigy
imaginary, imaginative impending, approaching
imperious, imperial imply, infer
in, into inability, disability
ingenious, ingenuous intelligent, intellectual
insinuation, innuendo instinct, intuition
involve, implicate
irretrievable, irreparable
irony, sarcasm
judicious, judicial
justify, warrant
just, equitable
lack, want languor, lassitude
later, latter lawful, legal
lax, slack leave, let
lend, loan liable, likely
libel, slander lie, lay
like, love linger, loiter
look, see
luxurious, luxuriant
loose, lose
majority, plurality marine, maritime
martial, military moderate, temperate
mood, humor moral, ethical
moral, religious
myth, legend
mutual, reciprocal
natal, native nautical, naval
near, close necessaries, necessities
needy, needful
novice, tyro
noted, notorious
observance, observation observe, perceive
obsolete, archaic omnipresent, ubiquitous
on, upon oppose, resist
opposite, contrary oppress, depress
palliate, extenuate passionate, impassioned
pathos, pity patron, customer
peculiar, unusual perspicuity, perspicacity
permeate, pervade permit, allow
perseverance, persistence pertain, appertain
pictorial, picturesque pitiable, pitiful
pity, sympathy pleasant, pleasing
politician, statesman practicable, practical
precipitous, precipitate precision, preciseness
prejudice, bias prelude, overture
pride, vanity principal, principle
process, procedure procure, secure
professor, teacher progress, progression
propitious, auspicious proposal, proposition
tradition, legend truth, veracity
quiet, quiescent  
raise, rear raise, rise
ransom, redeem rare, scarce
reason, understanding reasonable, rational
recollect, remember regal, royal
reliable, trustworthy requirement, requisite
restive, restless reverse, inverse
ride, drive rime (or rhyme), rhythm
sacred, holy salutation, salute
scanty, sparse scholar, student
science, art scrupulous, conscientious
serf, slave shift, expedient
sick, ill silent, taciturn
sit, set skilled, skilful
slender, slim smart, clever
sociable, social solicitude, anxiety
stay, stop stimulus, stimulation
strut, swagger suppress, repress
termination, terminus theory, hypothesis
tolerate, permit torment, torture
tradition, legend truth, veracity
unbelief, disbelief unique, unusual
varied, various variety, diversity
venal, venial vengeance, revenge
verse, stanza vindictive, revengeful
visit, visitation visitant, visitor
wander, stray warn, caution
will, volition wit, humor
witness, see
worth, value
womanish, womanlike


Pairs of the third type are made up of words parallel in meaning. This class somewhat overlaps the second; many terms that are frequently confused are parallels, and parallelism is of course a cause of confusion.

Parallels are words that show likeness in meaning. Likeness, not sameness. Yet at one time actual sameness may have existed, and in many instances did. Nowadays this sameness has been lost, and the words have become differentiated. As a rule they still are closely related in thought; sometimes, however, the divergence between them is wide.

Why did words having the same meaning find lodgment in the language in the first place? The law of linguistic economy forbids any such happening, and only through sheer good fortune did English come to possess duplications. The original Anglo-Saxon did not contain them. But the Roman Catholic clergy brought to England the language of religion and of scholarship, Latin. Later the Normans, whose speech as a branch of French was an offshoot of Latin, came to the island as conquerors. For a time, therefore, three languages existed side by side in the country--Anglo- Saxon among the common folk, Latin among the clergy, and Norman-French at the court and among the nobility. The coalescing of the three (or of the two if we count Latin in its direct and indirect contributions as one) was inevitable. But other (mostly cognate) languages also had a part in the speech that was ultimately evolved. The Anglo-Saxon element was augmented by words from Dutch, Scandinavian, and the

Germanic tongues in general; and Latin was reinforced by Greek. Thus to imply, as is sometimes done, that modern English is simply a blend of Anglo-Saxon and Latin elements is misleading. Native and classic are the better terms to use, provided both are used broadly. Native must include not only Anglo-Saxon but the other Germanic elements as well, and classic must include French and Greek as well as Latin.

The welding of these languages made available two--in some instances more than two--words for a single object or idea. What became of these duplicates? Sometimes one of the words was dropped as needless. Oftentimes, however, both were retained--with such modifications in meaning that thereafter they designated, not the same object or idea, but different forms or aspects of it. Thus they became parallels, and the new language waxed rich with discriminations which neither of the component tongues had possessed.

Scott in Ivanhoe gives the basis upon which the unification of the languages proceeded. The jester Wamba in conversation with the swineherd Gurth explains how the Anglo-Saxon term took on the homelier, rougher, more workaday uses and left the more refined and fastidious uses for the Norman-French. A domestic animal, says Wamba, was cared for by the conquered people, and in consequence bore while living a "good Saxon" name--swine, ox, or calf; but it was served at the tables of the conquerors, and therefore when ready for consumption bore a "good Norman-French" name--pork, beef, or veal. "When the brute [a sow] lives, and is in charge of a Saxon slave, she goes by her Saxon name; but becomes Norman and is called pork, when she is carried into the castle hall to feast among the nobles.... He [a calf] is Saxon when he requires tendance, and takes a Norman name [Monsieur de Veau] when he becomes matter of enjoyment."

Let us see how Scott's contention fares if we extend his list of terms relative to animal life. As throughout the rest of this chapter, with the single and necessary exception of List B, the first word in each pair is native, the second classic:


sheep, mutton deer, venison horse, equine
cow, bovine bull, taurine sheep, ovine
wolf, lupine hog, porcine bear, ursine
fox, vulpine cat, feline dog, canine
fish, piscatorial mouse, vermin rat, rodent
mankind, humanity man, masculine woman, feminine
childish, infantile boyish, puerile  

A glance at this list will show that, at least as regards animal life, the native word is likely to be the more familiar and unpretentious. But we must not leap to the conclusion that, taking the language as a whole, the simple, easy word is sure to be native, the abstruse word classic. In the following list one word in each pair is simpler, oftentimes much simpler, than the other; yet both are of classic origin. (In some instances the two are doublets; that is, they spring from the same stem.)


boil, effervesce plenty, abundance force, coerce
clear, transparent sound, reverberate echo, reverberate
toil, labor false, perfidious prove, verify
join, unite join, annex try, endeavor
carry, convey save, preserve save, rescue
safe, secure poor, pauper poor, penurious
poor, impecunious native, indigenous strange, extraneous
excuse, palliate excusable, venial cannon, ordnance
corpse, cadaverous parish, parochial fool, stultify
fool, idiot rule, govern governor, gubernatorial
wages, salary nice, exquisite haughty, arrogant
letter, epistle pursue, prosecute use, utility
use, utilize rival, competitor male, masculine
female, feminine beauty, esthetics beauty, pulchritude
beautify, embellish poison, venom vote, franchise
vote, suffrage taste, gust tasteful, gustatory
tasteless, insipid flower, floral count, compute
cowardly, pusillanimous tent, pavilion money, finance
monetary, pecuniary trace, vestige face, countenance
turn, revolve bottle, vial grease, lubricant
oily, unctuous revive, resuscitate faultless, impeccable
scourge, flagellate power, puissance barber, tonsorial
bishop, episcopal carry, portable fruitful, prolific
punish, punitive scar, cicatrix hostile, inimical
choice, option cry, vociferate ease, facility
peaceful, pacific beast, animal chasten, castigate
round, rotunda imprison, incarcerate bowels, viscera
boil, ebullient city, municipal color, chromatics
nervous, neurotic pleasing, delectable accidental, fortuitous
change, mutation lazy, indolent fragrance, aroma
pay, compensate face, physiognomy joy, rapture
charitable, eleemosynary blame, blaspheme priest, presbyter
coy, quiet prudent, provident pupil, disciple
story, narrative pause, interval despise, abhor
doctor, physician fate, destiny country, rustic
aged, senile increase, increment gentle, genteel
clear, apparent eagle, aquiline motion, momentum
nourishment, nutrition pure, unadulterated closeness, proximity
number, notation ancestors, progenitors confirm, corroborate
convert, proselyte
egotism, megalomania
benediction, benison treasury, thesaurus

Sometimes the native word is less familiar than the classic:


seethe, boil loam, soil fare, travel
abide, remain bestow, present bestow, deposit
din, noise quern, mill learner, scholar
shamefaced, modest hue, color tarnish, stain
ween, expect leech, physician shield, protect
steadfast, firm withstand, resist straightway, immediately
dwelling, residence heft, gravity delve, excavate
forthright, direct tidings, report bower, chamber
rune, letter borough, city baleful, destructive
gainsay, contradict
hoard, treasure
cleave, divide hearten, encourage

Again, the native word is sometimes less emphatic than the classic:


fly, soar old, venerable flood, cataclysm
steep, precipitous wonder, astonishment speed, velocity
sparkle, scintillate stir, commotion stir, agitate
strike, collide learned, erudite small, diminutive
scare, terrify burn, combustion fire, conflagration
fall, collapse uproot, eradicate skin, excoriate
hate, abominate work, labor bright, brilliant
hungry, famished eat, devour twisted, contorted
thin, emaciated sad, lugubrious mirth, hilarity

Despite these exceptions, the native word is in general better known and more crudely powerful than the classic. Thus of the pair sweat-perspiration, sweat is the plain-spoken, everyday member, perspiration the polite, even learned member. The man of limited vocabulary says sweat; even the sophisticated person, unless there is occasion to soften effects, finds sweat the more natural term. No one would say that a horse perspires. No one would say that human beings must eat their bread in the perspiration of their faces. But sweat is a word of connotation too vigorous (though honest withal) for us to use the term in the drawing room. A questionable woman in The Vicar of Wakefield betrays her lack of breeding by the remark that she is in a muck of sweat.

The native word, besides being in itself simpler and starker than the classic, makes stronger appeal to our feelings and affections. In nearly every instance the objects and relationships that have woven themselves into the very texture of our lives are designated by native terms. Even if they are not so designated solely, they are so designated in their more cherished aspects. We warm more to the native fatherly than to the classic paternal. We have a deeper sentiment for the native home than for the classic residence.

That the native is the more downright term may be seen from the following words. (These pairs are of course merely illustrative. With them might be grouped a few special pairs, like devilish-diabolical and church - ecclesiastical, of which the first members are classic in origin but of such early naturalization into English that they may be regarded as native.)


belly, stomach belly, abdomen navel, umbilicus
suck, nurse naked, nude murder, homicide
dead, deceased dead, defunct dying, moribund
lust, salacity lewd, libidinous read, peruse
lie, prevaricate hearty, cordial following, subsequent
crowd, multitude chew, masticate food, pabulum
eat, regale meal, repast meal, refection
thrift, economy sleepy, soporific slumberous, somnolent
live, reside rot, putrefy swelling, protuberant
soak, saturate soak, absorb stinking, malodorous
spit, saliva spit, expectorate thievishness, kleptomania
belch, eructate sticky, adhesive house, domicile
eye, optic walker, pedestrian talkative, loquacious
talkative, garrulous wisdom, sapience bodily, corporeal
name, appellation finger, digit show, ostentation
nearness, propinquity wash, lave handwriting, chirography
waves, undulations shady, umbrageous fat, corpulent
muddy, turbid widow, relict horseback, equestrian
weight, avoirdupois blush, erubescence  

The word of classic origin in many instances survives only or mainly in the form of an adjective; as a noun (or other part of speech) it has completely or largely disappeared. This fact may be observed in lists already given, particularly List A. It may also be observed in the following words:


moon, lunar star, stellar star, sidereal
sun, solar earth, terrestrial world, mundane
heaven, celestial hell, infernal earthquake, seismic
ear, aural head, capital hand, manual
foot, pedal breast, pectoral heart, cardial
hip, sciatic tail, caudal throat, guttural
lung, pulmonary bone, osseous hair, hirsute
tearful, lachrymose early, primitive sweet, dulcet,
sweet, saccharine young, juvenile bloody, sanguinary
deadly, mortal red, florid bank, riparian
hard, arduous wound, vulnerable written, graphic
spotless, immaculate sell, mercenary son, filial
salt, saline meal, farinaceous wood, ligneous
wood, sylvan cloud, nebulous glass, vitreous
milk, lacteal water, aquatic stone, lapidary
gold, aureous silver, argent iron, ferric
honey, mellifluous loving, amatory loving, erotic
loving, amiable wedded, hymeneal plow, arable
priestly, sacerdotal arrow, sagittal wholesome, salubrious
warlike, bellicose timely, temporary fiery, igneous
ring, annular soap, saponaceous nestling, nidulant
snore, stertorous window, fenestral twilight, crepuscular
soot, fuliginous hunter, venatorial  

The fact that English is a double-barreled language, and that of parallel terms one is likely to be native and the other classic, is interesting in itself. Our lists of parallels, however, though (with the exception of List B) they are arranged to bring out this duality of origin, have other and more vital uses as material for exercises. For after all it matters little whether we know where a word comes from, provided we know thoroughly the meaning and implications of the word itself. The lists already given and those to follow show the more important words actually yoked as parallels. Your task must be to ascertain the differences in import between the words thus joined.

EXERCISE - Parallels


Study the discriminations between the members of the following pairs. At each blank in the illustrative sentences insert the appropriate word.

<Brotherly, fraternal.> Brotherly is used of actual blood kinship, or indicates close feeling, deep affection, or religious love. Fraternal is used less personally and intimately; it normally betokens that the relations are at least in part formal (as relations within societies). "The sight of the button on the stranger's lapel caused Wilkes to give him the cabalistic sign and ask his ____ assistance." "Though the children of different parents, we bear for each other a true ____ devotion." "Because we both are newspaper men I feel a ____ interest in him."

<Daily, diurnal.> Daily, the popular word, is often used loosely. We may say that we eat three meals daily without implying that we have never gone dinnerless. Diurnal, the scientific term, is used exactly, whether applying to the period of daylight or to the whole twenty-four hours. A diurnal flower closes at night; a diurnal motion is precisely coincident with the astronomical day. In poetry, however, diurnal is often used for daily. "Give us this day our ____ bread." "The ____ rotation of the earth on its axis is the cause of our day and night." "Fred and I went for our ____ ramble through the hills."

<Cold, frigid.> Which is the more popular word? Let us see. Would the man in the street be more likely to use one than the other? Which one? Does this answer our question? Another question: Which word is the more inclusive in meaning? Again, let us see. A blacksmith is beating iron; does the iron grow cold or frigid? Which term, then, approaches the closer in meaning to the idea of mere coolness? On the other hand, may that same term represent a temperature far beyond mere coolness? Would you speak of a morning as bitterly cold or bitterly frigid? Now think of the term you have not been using. Can it convey as wide meanings, or is it limited in range? Does the word frigid carry for you a geographical suggestion (to the frigid zone)? Do you yourself use the term? If so, do you use it chiefly (perhaps entirely) in connection with human temperament or demeanor? Is cold used thus figuratively also? Which is the more often thus used? "I suffer from ____ hands and feet." "The slopes of Mont Blanc are ____ with eternal snow." "He did not warm to the idea at all. His inclinations are absolutely ____."

<Manly, virile>. Manly implies possession of traits or qualities a man should possess; it may be used of immature persons. Virile implies maturity and robust masculinity; it is also used of

the power to procreate. "A ____ lad." "A ____ reply." "____ energy."
"____ and aggressive." "____ forbearance,"

<Inner, internal>. Inner is somewhat within, or more within than something else is; it is also used in figurative and spiritual senses. Internal is entirely within. "The ____ organs of the human body." "The ____ layer of the rind." "The injury was ____." "The ____ nature of man." "The ____ meaning of the occurrence."

<Height, altitude>. "He was five feet, eleven inches in height." Can you substitute altitude? Is altitude used of persons? "At an altitude of eleven feet from the ground." Would height be more natural? Does altitude betoken great height? If so, does Hamlet speak jestingly when he greets the player, "Your ladyship is nearer heaven than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine?" What of the sentence: "The altitude of Galveston was not sufficient to protect it from the tidal wave"? Does the magnitude or importance of the object (Galveston) compensate for its lack of elevation and thus justify altitude? Could height be substituted? If so, would the words above sea-level have to follow it? Does this fact give you a further clue as to the distinction between the two words? You are comparing the elevation of two peaks, both plainly visible; you measure them merely by your eye. Do you say "This exceeds the other in height" or "This exceeds the other in altitude"? Suppose the peaks are so distant from each other that the two are not visible simultaneously, and suppose you are speaking from a knowledge of the scientific measurements. Do you say "This exceeds the other in height" or "This exceeds the other in altitude"?

<Talk, conversation>. Talk may be one-sided and empty. Conversation requires that at least two shall participate, and it is not spoken of as empty, though it may be trivial. "Our ____ was somewhat desultory." "Thought is less general than ____." "His ____ was so lively that I had no chance to interrupt" "That is meaningless ____."

<Homesickness, nostalgia>. All of us have heard physicians call commonplace ailments by extraordinary names. When homesickness reaches the stage where a physician is or might be called in, it becomes nostalgia. The latter term suggests morbid or chronic suffering. A healthy boy away from home for the first time is homesick. An exile who has wasted himself with pining for his native land is nostalgic. "His ____ was more than ____; it had so preyed upon his thoughts that it had grown into ____."

Rise, ascend. Rise is the more general term, but it expresses less than ascend in degree or stateliness. "He had foretold to them that he would ____ into heaven." "Do not ____ from your seat." "The diver slowly ____ to the surface." "The travelers ____ the mountain."

<Sell, vend>. Sell is the more dignified word socially, but may express greater moral degradation. Vend is used of the petty (as that which can be carried about in a wagon), and may suggest the pettily dishonest. "That man would ____ his country." "We shall ____ a million dollars' worth of goods." "The hucksters ____ their wares."


Study the discriminations between the members of the following pairs. Determine whether the words are correctly used in the illustrative sentences. (Some are; some are not.)

<Friendly, amicable>. Friendly denotes goodwill positive in quality though perhaps limited in degree; we may be friendly to friends, enemies, or strangers. Amicable is negative, denoting absence of open discord: it is used of those persons between whom some connection already exists. "The newcomer has an amicable manner." "Both sides were cautious, but at last they reached a friendly settlement." "I have only amicable feelings for an enemy who is thus merciful." "The two met, if not in a friendly, at least in an amicable way."

<Willing, voluntary>. Both words imply an act of the will; but willing adds positive good-nature, desire, or enthusiasm, whereas voluntary conveys little or nothing of the emotional attitude. Voluntary is often thought of in contrast with mechanical. "They made willing submission." "They rendered whole-hearted and voluntary service." "Though torn by desire to return to his mother, he willingly continued his journey away from her." "The sneeze was unwilling."

<Greedy, voracious.> Greedy denotes excessiveness (usually habitual) of appetite or, in its figurative uses, of desire; it nearly always carries the idea of selfishness. Voracious denotes intense hunger or the hasty and prolonged consumption of great quantities of food; it may indicate, not habitual selfishness, but the stress of circumstances. "Nobody else I know is so greedy as he." "The young poet was voracious of praise." "Trench, though a capital fellow, was so hungry that he ate voraciously."

<Offspring, progeny.> Offspring is likely to be used when our thought is chiefly on the children, progeny when our thought is chiefly on the parents. Offspring may be used of one or many; progeny is used in collective reference to many. "He was third among the progeny who won distinction." "They are the progeny of very rich parents." "Clayton left his offspring well provided for."

<Ghost, spirit.> Ghost is the narrower term. It never expresses, as spirit does, the idea of soul or of animating mood or purpose. With reference to incorporeal beings, it denotes (except in the phrase "the Holy Ghost") the reappearance of the dead in disembodied form. Spirit may denote a variety of incorporeal beings--among them angels, fairies (devoid of moral nature), and personalities returned from the grave and manifested--seldom visibly--through spiritualistic tappings and the like. "The superstitious natives thought the spirit of their chief walked in the graveyard." "The ghost of the ancestors survives in the descendants." "I can call spirits from the vasty deep."

<Foe, enemy.> Nowadays the chief difference between the two terms is that foe is the more used in poetry, enemy in prose. But foe tends to express the more personal and implacable hostility. We do not think of foes as bearing any friendship for each other; enemies may, or they may be enemies in public affairs but downright friends in their private relations. A man is hardly spoken of as being his own foe, but he may be his own enemy. "For the moment we found ourselves foes." "Suspicion is an enemy to content." "I paid a tribute to my friend, who was the dominant personality among the enemy."

<Truth, veracity.> Truth has to do with the accuracy of the statement, of the facts; veracity with the intention of the person to say nothing false. "I cannot vouch for the veracity of the story, but I can for the truth of the teller." "Though he is not a man of veracity, I believe he is now speaking the truth." "Veracity, crushed to earth, will rise again."

<Break, fracture>. Break is the broader term. It need not refer clearly to the operation or result of external force, nor need it embody the idea that this force is brought against a hard substance. In these respects it differs from fracture, as also in the fact that it may designate a mere interruption. Furthermore it has figurative uses, whereas fracture is narrowly literal. "There was a fracture in the chain of mountains." "The break in his voice was distinct." "The fracture of the bones of his wrist incapacitated him." "The fracture of the rope."

<Hug, embrace>. To hug is to clasp violently or enthusiastically, and perhaps ludicrously. To embrace is to clasp in a more dignified, perhaps even in a formal, way; the term also means to include, to comprise. "This topic embraces the other." "Did you see that ardent bumpkin embracing his sweetheart?" "Her sister gave her a graceful but none too cordial hug." "The wounded bear hugged the hunter ferociously."

<Shorten, abridge>. The two terms overlap; but there is a fairly strong tendency to use shorten for reduction in length, and abridge for reduction in quantity or mass. Both words are used figuratively as well as literally. "The tyrant shortened the privileges of his subjects." "We shortened the rope." "The teacher abridged the recitation." "The report of the committee appears in abridged form in Volume 2 of our records."


With the help of the dictionary discriminate between the members of the following pairs. Determine whether the words are correctly used in the illustrative sentences. (Some are; some are not.)

<Fiery, inflammable>. "He delivered a fiery address." "The underbrush was dry and fiery." "Your disposition is too inflammable."

<Lean, attenuated>. "The fat man had grown attenuated." "Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look." "The hot metal was then drawn into an attenuated wire." "Only a lean line of our soldiers faced the dense masses of the enemy."

<Home-like, domestic>. "The scene was quiet and domestic." "It is home-like, inexpressibly dear." "To Waltham, heartsick from his wanderings, the room in all its arrangements was thoroughly domestic."

<Vigilant, watchful>. "We must be vigilant if we would maintain our liberty." "He was wakeful, even watchful, though not from set purpose." "He was vigilant for evidences of friendship."

<Building, edifice>. "It is a big, barn-like building." "Spare yonder sacred edifice." "This is the most imposing building I ever saw."

<Hole, aperture>. "I poked a stick into the aperture which the crawfish had made." "Through the aperture of the partly open door I gazed out on the street." "The hole of the hornet's nest was black with the emerging and angry insects."

<Farming, agriculture>. "Two hundred students graduated this year from the college of farming." "For long years he had devoted himself to the homely, grinding tasks of agriculture." "I have looked rather carefully into the theories of farming."

<Rest, repose>. "He obtained some repose even while standing." "We wished for a moment's rest from our exertions." "Worn out, he was compelled to seek repose." "Lincoln's face in repose was very melancholy."

<Help, aid>. "The man was so injured he could do nothing for himself; I had to aid him." "Help, help!" "Aid us, O God, in our sore distress." "The little fellow could not quite get the bundle to his shoulder; a passerby helped him."

<Hide, conceal>. "By refraining from comment he hid his connection with the affair." "Wild creatures hide themselves by means of their protective coloring." "The frost on the panes conceals the landscape from you." "Do not hide your misdeeds from your mother."


In the following list only the native member of each pair is given. Determine what the classic member is, and frame sentences to illustrate the correct use of the two words. (Make a conscientious effort to find the classic member by means of its parallelism with the native. If, and after, you definitely fail in any instance to find it, obtain a clue to it through study of the words in List G. Every pair in that list is clearly suggestive of one or more pairs in this list.)

nightly,-- motherly,--
breadth,-- buy,--
hot,-- fall,--
thought,-- sleeplessness,--
fatherly,-- yearly,--
outer,-- depth,--
womanly,-- speech,--


Discriminate between the members of each of the following pairs, and frame sentences to illustrate the correct use of the two words.

freedom, liberty well, cistern
freedom, independence give, donate
free, acquit happen, occur
door, portal lessen, abate
begin, commence lessen, diminish
behead, decapitate forefathers, ancestors
belief, credence friend, acquaintance
belief, credulity lead, conduct
swear, vow end, finish
curse, imprecate end, complete
curse, anathema end, terminate
die, expire warn, admonish
die, perish warn, caution
die, succumb rich, affluent
lively, vivacious wealthy, opulent
walk, ambulate help, assistance
leave, depart help, succor
leave, abandon answer, reply
go with, accompany find out, ascertain
go before, precede take, appropriate
hasten, accelerate shrewd, astute
quicken, accelerate breathe, respire
speed, celerity busy, industrious
hatred, animadversion growing, crescent
fearful, timorous grow, increase


Cover with a piece of paper the classic (right-hand) members of the following pairs, and if possible ascertain what they are by studying the native members. Frame sentences to illustrate the correct use of both words in each pair.

neighborhood, vicinity hang, impend
hang, suspend rash, impetuous
flood, inundation drunk, intoxicated
harmful, injurious tool, instrument
mind, intellect mad, insane
birth, nativity sail, navigate
sailor, mariner ship, vessel
lying, mendacious upright, erect
early, premature upright, vertical
first, primary shake, vibrate
raise, elevate swing, oscillate
lift, elevate leaves, foliage
greet, salute beg, importune
choose, select beggar, mendicant
choose, elect smell, odor
same, identical sink, submerge
name, nominate dip, immerse
follow, pursue room, apartment
follow, succeed see, perceive
teach, instruct see, inspect
teach, inculcate sight, visibility
teacher, pedagogue sight, vision
tiresome, tedious sight, spectacle
empty, vacant glasses, spectacles
farewell, valediction    


Cover with a piece of paper the native (left-hand) members of the following pairs, and if possible ascertain what they are by studying the classic members. Frame sentences to illustrate the correct use of both words in each pair.

skin, cuticle thunder, fulminate
skin, integument sleep-walking, somnambulism
hide, epidermis bird, ornithology
fleshly, carnal bird, aviary
hearer, auditor bee, apiary
snake, serpent bending, flexible
heap, aggregation wrinkle, corrugation
laugh, cachinnation slow, dilatory
laughable, risible lime, calcimine
fear, trepidation coal, lignite
live, exist man, anthropology
bridal, nuptial winter, hibernate
wed, marry gap, hiatus
husband/wife, spouse right, ethical
shore, littoral showy, ostentatious
forswear, perjure spelling, orthography
steal, peculate time, chronology
steal, embezzle handbook, manual
lockjaw, tetanus hole, cavity
mistake, error dig, excavate
mistake, erratum boil, tumor
wink, nictation tickle, titillate
blessing, benediction dry, desiccated
wet, humid warm, tepid
flirt, coquet forgetfulness, oblivion
fiddle, violin sky, firmament
sky, empyrean flatter, compliment
flee, abscond flight, fugitive
forbid, prohibit hinder, impede
hold, contain    


For each of the following pairs frame a sentence which shall contain one of the members. Can the other member be substituted without affecting the meaning of the sentence? Read the discrimination of Height-altitude in EXERCISE - Parallels. Ask yourself similar questions to bring out the distinction between the two words you are considering.

threat, menace call, summon
talk, commune cleanse, purify
short, terse short, concise
better, ameliorate lie, recline
new, novel straight, parallel
lawful, legitimate law, litigation
law, jurisprudence flash, coruscate
late, tardy watch, chronometer
foretell, prognosticate king, emperor
winding, sinuous hint, insinuate
burn, incinerate fire, incendiarism
bind, constrict crab, crustacean
fowls, poultry lean, incline
flat, level flat, vapid
sharpness, acerbity sharpness, acrimony
shepherd, pastor word, vocable
choke, suffocate stifle, suffocate
clothes, raiment witness, spectator
beat, pulsate mournful, melancholy
beginning, incipient drink, imbibe
light, illuminate hall, corridor
stair, escalator anger, indignation
fight, combat sleight-of-hand, prestidigitation
build, construct tree, arbor
ask, interrogate wench, virgin
frisk, caper fill, replenish
water, irrigate silly, foolish
coming, advent feeling, sentiment
old, antiquated forerunner, precursor
sew, embroider unload, exonerate
grave, sepulcher readable, legible
tell, narrate kiss, osculate
nose, proboscis striking, percussion
green, verdant stroke, concussion
grass, verdure bowman, archer
drive, propel greed, avarice
book, volume stingy, parsimonious
warrior, belligerent bath, ablution
owner, proprietor wrong, incorrect
bow, obeisance top, summit
kneel, genuflection food, nutrition
work, occupation seize, apprehend
shut, close field, agrarian

Turn back to Lists A, B, C, D, E, and F. Discriminate between the members of each pair contained in these lists. Frame sentences to illustrate the correct use of the words.



In considering pairs we have, without using the word, been studying synonyms. For most pairs are synonyms (or in some instances antonyms) that hunt in couples. We must now deal with synonyms, and incidentally antonyms, as they associate themselves in larger groups.

A vocabulary is impoverished. Why? Nine times in ten, because of a disregard of synonyms. Listen to the talk of the average person. Whatever is pleasing is fine or nice or all to the good; whatever is displeasing is bum or awful or a fright. Life is reflected, not as noble and complex, but as mean and meager. Out of such stereotyped utterance only the general idea emerges. The precise meaning is lazily or incompetently left to the hearer to imagine. The precise meaning? There is none. A person who does not take the trouble to speak clearly has not taken the trouble to think clearly.

But the master of synonyms expresses, instead of general, hazy, commonplace conceptions, the subtlest shadings of thought and feeling. He has so trained himself that he selects, it may be unconsciously, from a throng of possible words. One word may be strong, another weak. One may be broad, another narrow. One may present an alternative in meanings, another permit no liberty of choice. One may be suggestive, another literal or colorless. One may penetrate to the core of the idea, another strike only in the environs. With these possibilities the master of synonyms reckons. He must have the right word. He chooses it, not at haphazard, but in conformity with a definite purpose.

For synonyms are not words that have the same meaning. They are words that have similar meanings. They may be compared to circles that overlap but do not coincide. Each embraces a common area, but each embraces also an area peculiar to itself. Though many words cluster about a given idea, rarely if ever are even two of these words entirely equivalent to each other. In scope, in suggestion, in emotional nuance, in special usage, or what not, is sure to lurk some denial of perfect correspondence. And of synonyms, so of antonyms. Antonyms are words opposite in meaning; but the opposition, for the same reasons as the likeness, is seldom or never absolute.

In your study of synonyms you will find most of the dictionaries previously named of great help. You may also profitably consult the following books of synonyms (heavy, scholastic works not suited for ordinary use are omitted):

<Books of Plain Synonyms and Antonyms>

Edith B. Ordway
Synonyms and Antonyms. A compact, practical volume, with antonyms (in italics for contrast) immediately following synonyms.
Louis A. Flemming
Putnam's Word Book. A book of the ordinarily used synonyms of words, with antonyms after some of them, and with lists of associated words wherever these are likely to be useful.
Samuel Fallows
100,000 Synonyms and Antonyms. A handy little volume, with useful lists of various kinds in appendices.
Richard Soule
Dictionary of English Synonyms [revised and enlarged by George H. Howison]. A much larger and more expensive book than the others, and less practical for ordinary use, but fuller in treatment of material, with words of more than one meaning carefully divided into their various senses.

<Synonyms with Word Discriminations>

George Crabb
English Synonyms. A standard volume for over 100 years. Has close distinctions, but is somewhat scholarly for ordinary use. Revised edition of 1917, omitting illustrative quotations from literature, not so good as editions before that date.
James C. Fernald
English Synonyms, Antonyms, and Prepositions. A pleasing book to read, with much information about the use of words and their shades of meaning (with exercises), also with proper prepositions to follow words. Material taken from the Standard Dictionary.
Peter Mark Roget
Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. Issued in many editions and revisions. Words grouped under general ideas. An excellent book for serious and laborious study, but not for quick use.

<How to Acquire Synonyms>

The best principle for the extension of one's mastery of synonyms is the principle already used over and over in this book--that of proceeding from the known to the unknown. It is the fundamental principle, indeed, of any kind of successful learning. We should build on what we have, fit each new piece of material into the structure already erected. But normally it is our ill fortune to learn through chance rather than through system. We perceive elucidation here, draw an inference there. These isolated fragments of knowledge may mislead rather than inform us.

The principle of proceeding from the known to the unknown may be applied to synonyms in various ways. Two of these--the two of most importance--we must consider here.

First, you should reckon with your personal, demonstrated needs. Just as you have already analyzed your working vocabulary for its general limits and shortcomings, so should you analyze it with particular reference to your poverty in synonyms. Watch your actual speech; make a list of the words--nouns, verbs, and adjectives particularly--that you employ again and again. Make each of these words the starting-point for a linguistic exploring expedition. First, write the word down. Then under it write all the synonyms that come forthwith to your mind. These constitute your present available stock; in speaking or writing you could, if you kept yourself mentally alert, summon them on the moment. But the list, as you know, is not exhaustive. Draw a line under it and subjoin such synonyms as come to you after reflection. These constitute a second stock, not instantaneously available, yet to be tagged as among your resources. Next add a list of the synonyms you find through research, through a ransacking of dictionaries and books of synonyms. This third stock, but dimly familiar if familiar at all, is in no practical sense yours. And indeed some of the words are too abstruse, learned, or technical for you to burden your memory with them. But many--most--are worth acquiring. By writing down the words of these three classes you have done something to stamp them upon your memory as associates. You must now make it your business to bring them into use. Never call upon them for volunteers, but like a wise commander summon the individual that can rightly perform a particular service. Thus will your speech, perhaps vague and indolent now, become exact, discriminating, competent, vital.

In the second place, you should obtain specific and detailed command of general ideas. Not of out-of-the-way ideas. But of the great basic ideas that are the common possession of all mankind. For through these basic ideas is the most natural and profitable approach to the study of synonyms. Each of them is represented by a generic word. So elementary are idea and word alike that a person cannot have the one in mind without having the other ready and a-quiver on his tongue. Every person is master of both. But it is unsafe to predicate the person's acquaintance with the shades and phases of the idea, or with the corresponding discriminations in language. He may not know them at all, he may know them partially, he may know them through and through. Let us suppose him ignorant of them but determined to learn. His progress, both in the thought and in the language, will be from the general to the specific. His acquaintance with the idea in the large he will gradually extend to an acquaintance with it in detail, and his command of the broad term for it he will little by little supplement with definite terms for its phases. An illustration will make this clear.

We are aware that the world is made up of various classes and conditions of men. How did we learn this? Let us go back to the time when our minds were a blank, when we were babes and sucklings, when we had not perceived that men exist, much less that mankind is infinitely complex. A baby comes slowly to understand that all objects in the universe are divisible into two classes, human and non-human, and that a member of the former may be separated from the others and regarded as an individual. It has reached the initial stage of its knowledge on the subject; it has the basic idea, that of the individual human being. As soon as it can speak, it acquires a designating term--not of course the sophisticated human being, but the simpler man. It uses this word in the generic sense, to indicate any member of the human race; for as yet it knows nothing and cares nothing about differences in species. With increasing enlightenment, however, it discerns five species, and distinguishes among them by swelling this branch of its vocabulary to five words: man (in the sense of adult male), woman, boy, girl, baby. (To be sure, it may chance to have acquired a specific term, as boy or baby, before the generic term man; but if so, it has attached this term to some particular individual, as the grocer's boy or itself, rather than to the individuals of a species. Its understanding of the species as a species comes after its understanding of the genus.) As time passes, it divides mankind into yet further species by sundry other methods: according to occupation, for example, as doctors, chauffeurs, gardeners; to race or color, as white men; negroes, Malays, Chinese; to disposition, as heroes, gift-givers, teasers, talkers; and so on. It perceives moreover that species are made up of sub-species. Thus instead of lumping all boys together it begins to distinguish them as big boys, little boys, middle-sized boys, boys in long trousers, boys in short trousers, barefoot boys, schoolboys, poor boys, rich boys, sick boys, well boys, friends, enemies, bullies, and what not. It even divides the sub-species. Thus it classifies schoolboys as bright boys, dullards, workers, shirkers, teachers' favorites, scapegoats, athletes, note-throwers, truant-players, and the like. And of these classes it may make yet further sub-divisions, or at least it may separate them into the individuals that compose them. In fine, with its growing powers and experience, it abandons its old conception that all persons are practically alike, and follows human nature through the countless ramifications of man's status, temperament, activities, or fate. And it augments its vocabulary to keep pace, roughly at least, with its expanding ideas. In thought and terminology alike its growth is from genus to species.

So it is with all our ideas and with all our words to cap them. We radiate from an ascertained center into new areas of knowledge; we proceed from the broad, fundamental, generic to the precise, discriminatory, specific. Upon this natural law are based the exercises in this chapter and the two to follow. The starting-point is always a word representative of an elementary idea--a word and an idea which everybody knows; the advance is into the unknown or the unused, at any rate into the particular. Now fundamental ideas are not very numerous, and these exercises include the commoner ones. Such a method of studying synonyms must therefore yield large and tangible results.

One matter, however, should be explained. Most books of synonyms start with a word and list all the terms in any way related to it. The idea of the compilers is that the more they give the student the more they help him. But oftentimes by giving more than is strictly pertinent they actually hinder and confuse him. They may do this in various ways, of which two must be mentioned. First, they follow an idea too far afield. Thus in listing the synonyms of love they include such terms as kindness and lenity, words only through stretched usage connected with love. Secondly, they trace, not one meaning of a word, but two or more unrelated meanings when the word chances to possess them. Thus in listing the synonyms of cry they include both the idea of weeping and the idea of calling or screaming. What are the results of these methods? The student finds a clutter where he expects rationalized order; he finds he must exclude many words which lie in the borders and fringes of the meaning. Moreover he finds mere chance associations mingled with marked kinships. In both cases he finds dulled distinctions.

This book offers synonyms that are apropos and definite rather than comprehensive. Starting with a basic idea, it finds the generic term; it then disregards dim and distant relationships, confines itself rigorously to one of perhaps two or three legitimate senses, and refuses to consider the peculiar twists and devious ways of subsidiary words when they wander from the idea it is tracing. It thus deliberately blinds itself to much that is interesting. But this partial blindness enables it to concentrate attention upon the matter actually under study, to give sharper distinctions and surer guidance.


After three introductory groups (dealing with thoroughly concrete ideas and words) the synonyms in this exercise are arranged alphabetically according to the first word in each group.

This first word is generic. It is immediately followed by a list of its synonyms. These are then informally discriminated or else (in a few instances) questions are asked about them. Perhaps a few less closely related synonyms are then listed for you to discriminate in a similar way. Finally, illustrative sentences are given. Each blank in these you are to fill with the word that conveys the meaning exactly. (To prevent monotony and inattention, the number of illustrative sentences varies. You may have to use a particular word more than once, and another word not at all.)

<Walk, plod, trudge, tread, stride, stalk, strut, tramp, march, pace, toddle, waddle, shuffle, mince, stroll, saunter, ramble, meander, promenade, prowl, hobble, limp, perambulate.>

Any one may be said to walk who moves along on foot with moderate speed. He plods if he walks slowly and heavily, and perhaps monotonously or spiritlessly as well. He trudges if he walks toilsomely and wearily, as though his feet were heavy. He treads if his walk is suggestive of a certain lightness and caution--if, for instance, he seems half-uncertain whether to proceed and sets one foot down carefully before the other. He strides if he takes long steps, especially in a firm, pompous, or lofty manner. He stalks if there is a certain stiffness or haughtiness in his walking. He struts if he walks with a proud or affectedly dignified gait, especially if he also raises his feet high. He tramps if he goes for a long walk, as for pleasure or enjoyment out-of-doors. He marches if he walks in a measured, ordered way, especially in company with others. He paces if he engages in a measured, continuous walk, as from nervousness, impatience, or anger. He toddles if his steps are short, uneven, and unsteady, like those of a child. He waddles if his movement is ungainly, with a duck-like swaying from side to side. He shuffles if he drags his feet with a scraping noise. He minces if he takes short steps in a prim, precise, or affectedly nice manner. He strolls or saunters if he goes along in an easy, aimless, or idle fashion. He rambles if he wanders about, with no definite aim or toward no definite goal. He meanders if he proceeds slowly and perhaps listlessly in an ever-changing course, as if he were following the windings of the crooked Phrygian river, Meander. He promenades if he walks in a public place, as for pleasure or display. He prowls if he moves about softly and stealthily, as in search of prey or booty. He hobbles if he jerks along unevenly, as from a stiff or crippled condition of body. He limps if he walks lamely. He perambulates when he walks through, perhaps for observation or inspection. (Perambulates is of course a learned word.)

Assignment for further discrimination: <sneak, shamble, amble, wander, stamp, slouch, gad, gallivant, glide, hike>.

Sentences: They ____ down the lane in the moonlight. Rip Van Winkle loved to ____ about the mountains. "The plowman homeward ____ his weary way." The old man ____ down the street with his cane. The excavators ____ about the ruins in search of relics. He ____ about the room, almost bursting with importance. The nervous man ____ up and down the station platform. They ____ along the beach at the sea resort. The baby learned to ____ when it was eleven months old. The two of them ____ about the field all day hunting rabbits. A ghost, so they tell me, ____ about the haunted house at midnight. He carefully ____ the plank that spans the abyss. The baby ____ toward us with outstretched arms. The Chinaman ____ out of the back room of the laundry in his carpet slippers. They caught glimpses of gaunt wolves ____ about their campfire. He was terrified when the giant ____ into the room. The fat lady ____ down the aisle of the street car. The sick man will ____ a few steps each day until he is stronger. A turkey cock ____ about the barnyard. A boy with a rag tied around his toe ____ painfully down the street. They reported to the police that a man had been ____ about the place. She held her skirts daintily and ____ along as if she were walking on eggs. The lovers ____ along the banks of the stream. He ____ through the hall like a conqueror. The children wore themselves out by ____ through the snow to school. We ____ through the meadows, often stooping to pick flowers as we went. The soldiers ____ into camp at nightfall.

<Laugh, giggle, snicker, titter, chuckle, guffaw, cachinnate.>

What differences in human nature, conditions, and disposition are revealed by laughter! If a person gives audible expression to mirth, gayety, or good-humor, the simplest word to apply to what he does is laugh. But suppose a girl, with slight or insufficient provocation, engages in silly or foolish though perhaps involuntary laughter. We should say she giggles. Suppose a youngster is amused at an inappropriate moment and but partly suppresses his laughter; or suppose he wilfully permits the breaking forth of just enough laughter to indicate disrespect. He snickers. Suppose a person gives a little, light laugh; or more especially, suppose a crowd gives such an one as the result of slight, simultaneous amusement. Our word now is titters. Suppose we laugh low or gently or to ourselves. We chuckle. Suppose some one laughs loudly, boisterously, even coarsely, in a manner befitting a lumber camp rather than a drawing room. That person guffaws. Suppose a man engages in explosive and immoderate laughter. He cachinnates.

Assignment for further discrimination: <chortle, roar>.

Second assignment: Name all the words you can that designate inaudible laughter (for example, <smile, smirk, grin>).

Sentences: The rough fellow ____ in the lecturer's face. "If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not ____?" He kept ____ at the thought of the surprise he would give them. "The swain mistrustless of his smutted face, While secret laughter ____ round the place." The ill-bred fellow was ____ with strident, violent, irritating sounds. "The little dog ____ to see such sport." The audience ____ when the speaker's glasses began to slip from his nose. The girl kept ____ in a way that embarrassed us both. The small boy ____ when the preacher's notes fluttered out of the Bible to the floor. The rude fellows ____ at this evidence of my discomfiture. He ____ very kindly and told me not to feel any regrets. The little maids tried to be polite, but ____ irrepressibly.

<Look, glance, gaze, stare, peer, scan, scrutinize, gloat, glare, glower, lower, peek, peep, gape, con, pore, ogle.>

A person simply directs his eyes to see. He looks. But eyes may speak, we are told, and since this person undergoes many changes of mood and purpose, we shall let his eyes tell us all they will about his different manners of looking. At first he but looks momentarily (as from lack of time) or casually (as from lack of interest). He glances. Soon he makes a business of looking, and fastens his eyes for a long time on something he admires or wonders at. He gazes. Presently he looks with a blank, perhaps a rude, expression and with eyes opened widely; he may be for the moment overcome with incomprehension, surprise, or fright, or perhaps he wishes to be insolent. He stares. Now he is looking narrowly or closely at something that he sees with difficulty. He peers. The next moment he looks over something with care or with an encompassing sweep of vision. He scans it. His interest thoroughly enlisted, he looks at it carefully point by point to see that it is right in each detail. He scrutinizes it. He then alters his mood, and looks with scornful or malignant satisfaction upon something he has conquered or has power over. He gloats. Anger, perhaps fierceness, takes possession of him, and he looks with piercing eyes. He glares. Threat mingles with anger, and in all likelihood he looks scowlingly or frowningly. He glowers. An added expression of sullenness or gloom comes into his look. He lowers. He throws off his dark spirit and looks slyly and playfully, let us say through a small opening. He peeks. Playfulness gives place to curiosity; he looks quickly and furtively, perhaps through some tiny aperture, and probably at something he has no business to see. He peeps. The while he looks his mouth falls open, as from stupidity or wonder. He gapes. He looks at something a long time to study it. He cons or pores. His study is not of the thing itself; it is meditation or reverie. He pores. A member of the opposite sex is present; he looks at her with the effort of a flirt to attract attention to himself, or less scrupulous, he directs toward her amorous or inviting glances. He ogles.

Assignment for further discrimination: <leer, view, survey, inspect, regard, watch, contemplate>.

Sentences: The inspecting officer ____ the men's equipment. The student ____ his lessons carefully. At this unexpected proposal Dobbett merely ____. Jimmie ____ at the fellow who had kicked the pup. The inquisitive maid ____ into all the the closets. He ____ over his fallen adversary. The bookkeeper ____ over his ledger. In the darkened hallway he ____ at the notices on the bulletin board. "The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, Doth ____ from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven." From the way her father ____ the foolish, young man should have known it was time to go. He ____ long and lovingly upon the scenes he was leaving. The newcomer ____ insolently at his host and ____ the young ladies.

<Abandon, desert, forsake.>

Abandon denotes absolute giving up, as from force of circumstances or shirking of responsibility. Desert refers to leaving or quitting in violation of obligation, duty, or oath. Forsake, which may involve no culpability, usually implies a breaking off of intimate association or attachment.

Sentences: The sailor ____ his ship. Necessity compelled him to ____ his friends in a time of sore trouble. They hated to ____ their old haunts. A brave man never ____ hope. An unscrupulous man will ____ his principles when it is to his advantage. "When my father and my mother ____ me, then the Lord will take me up." We ____ our attempt to save the ship.

<Abase, debase, degrade, humble, humiliate, disgrace.>

To abase is to bring down so that the victim feels himself lowered in estate or external condition. To debase is to produce a marked decline in actual worth or in moral quality. To degrade is to lower in rank or status. To humble is to lower in dignity or self-esteem, or as used reflexively, to restrain one's own pride; the word often implies that the person has been over-proud or arrogant. To humiliate is to deprive of self-esteem or to bring into ignominy. To disgrace is to bring actual shame upon.

Sentences: They ____ the guilty officer from captain to lieutenant. A man should ____ himself before God. He had so ____ himself that I no longer expected good of him. His detection at cheating had ____ him before the students. By successive overlords they had been ____ into a condition of serfdom. The aristocratic old lady was ____ by her loss of social position. The conversion of so much bullion into money had ____ the coinage.

<Answer, reply, response, rejoinder, retort, repartee.>

An interesting thing about the answer group is that the generic term has a somewhat strong rival in reply, itself fairly inclusive. We must therefore discriminate rather fully between answer and reply. The former is a return in words to a question, a communication, or an argument. The latter suggests a more or less formal answer, as one carefully prepared or intelligently thought out. We might give an answer offhand, but are less likely to give a reply so. We may give any kind of answer to a question, but if we give a reply, the implication is that we have answered it definitely, perhaps satisfactorily. On the other hand, in controversial matters we may, though we by no means always do, imply a more conclusive meeting of objections through answer than through reply. A response is an expected answer, one in harmony with the question or assertion, or in some way carrying the thought farther. A rejoinder is a quick reply to something controversial or calling forth opposition. A retort is a short, sharp reply, such as turns back censure or derision, or as springs from anger. A repartee is an immediate and witty reply, perhaps to a remark of similar character which it is intended to surpass in cleverness.

Sentences: The detailed ____ to our letter should reach us within a week. The plays of Oscar Wilde abound in brilliant ____. The speaker's ____ to the heckler was incisive and scathing. My ____ to that third question in the examination in history was incorrect. The congregation read the ____ in unison. You have enumerated objections to my course; here is their ____. "This is no ____, thou unfeeling man. To excuse the current of thy cruelty." There was silence throughout the chamber as the old statesman rose to make his ____. To the tenderfoot's remark the guide mumbled an indifferent ____. Our appeal for the sufferers elicited but a poor ____.

<Ask, inquire, question, interrogate, interpellate, query, quiz, catechize, request, beg, solicit, entreat, beseech, crave, implore, supplicate, importune, petition.>

From the general tree of asking grow many branches, different in size, in the direction they take, in the shades of meaning they cast. What can we learn from a rapid scrutiny of each? That to inquire is to ask for specific information. That to question is to keep asking in order to obtain detailed or reluctantly given information. That to interrogate is to question formally, systematically, or thoroughly. That to interpellate is to question as of unchallenged right, as in a deliberative body. That to query is to bring a thing into question because of doubt as to its correctness or truth. That to _quiz_is to question closely and persistently, as from meddlesomeness, opposition, or curiosity. That to catechize is to question in a minute, perhaps impertinent, manner in order to ascertain one's secrets or the amount of his knowledge or information. That to request is to ask formally and politely. That to beg is to ask for deferentially or humbly, especially on the ground of pity. That to solicit is to ask with urgency. That to entreat is to ask with strong desire and moving appeal. That to beseech is to ask earnestly as a boon or favor. That to crave is to ask humbly and abjectly, as though unworthy of receiving. That to implore is to ask with fervor and intense earnestness. That to supplicate is to ask with urgent or even desperate appeal. (Both implore and supplicate imply humility, as of a prayer to a superior being.) That to importune is to ask for persistently, even wearyingly. That to petition is to ask a superior, usually in writing, for some favor, grant, or right.

Assignment for further discrimination: <plead, pray>.

Sentences: The leader of the minority ____ the upholders of the measure sharply as to a secret understanding. I ____ you to keep your promise. I shall ____ that solution for the present. The colonists ____ Great Britain for a redress of grievances. She ____ the governor to grant her husband a pardon. A child is naturally inquisitive and ____ many questions. I ____ you to show mercy. On bended knees he ____ God's forgiveness. "I'm stopp'd by all the fools I meet And ____ in every street." The policeman ____ the suspect closely. The prosecuting attorney ____ the witness. We are ____ funds to aid the famine-stricken people of India. He ____ me about your health. You should ____ at the office about the lost package. She ____ your presence at the party. Every one resents being ____. I ____ you to care for the child after I am gone. A fool can ____ questions a wise man can't answer. She annoyed them by constantly ____ them for favors. The reporter ____ into the causes of the riot. "____ and it shall be given you." I ____ your pardon, though I well know I do not deserve it. The man ____ me to give him some money for food.

<Burn, scorch, singe, sear, parch, char, incinerate, cremate, cauterize.>

If you consume or injure something by bringing it in contact with fire or heat, you burn it. If you do not consume it but burn it superficially so as to change the texture or color of its surface, you scorch it. If you burn off ends or projections of it, you singe it. If you burn its surface to dryness or hardness, you sear it. If you dry or shrivel it with heat, you parch it. If through heat you reduce it to a state of charcoal, or cinders, you char it. If you burn it to ashes, you incinerate it. (This word is learned and but little used in ordinary discourse.) If you burn a dead body to ashes, you cremate it. If you burn or sear anything with a hot iron or a corrosive substance, you cauterize it.

Sentences: The hired girl ____ the cloth in ironing it. By getting too close to the fire he ____ the nap of his flannels. The doctor at once ____ the wound. The cook had picked the chicken and now ____ its down over the coals. I used to ____ grains of field corn on the cookstove, while my mother prepared dinner. Shelley's body was ____ on a funeral pyre. The lecturer spoke of the time when the whole earth might be ____. The earth was ____ and all growing things were ____ by the intense summer heat.

<Busy, industrious, diligent, assiduous, sedulous.>

From much of the talk that we hear nowadays it might be supposed that the earnest devotion of one's self to a task is a thing that has disappeared from the earth. But a good many people are exhibiting this very devotion. Let us see in what different degrees. The man who actively applies himself to something, whether temporarily or habitually, is busy. The man who makes continued application to work a principle or habit of life, is industrious. The man who applies himself aggressively to the accomplishment of some specific undertaking or pursuit, is diligent. The man who quietly and determinedly sticks to a task until it is accomplished, no matter what its difficulties or length, is assiduous. The man who makes steady and painstaking application to whatever he is about, is sedulous.

Sentences: Early in life he acquired ____ habits. By patient and ____ study you may overcome those defects of your early education. "How doth the ____ little bee improve each shining hour." The manager gave such ____ attention to details that he made few mistakes. He is ____ at present. Oh, yes, he is always ____. "Nowher so ____ a man has he ther has, And yet he seemed ____ than he was."

<Concise, terse, succinct, compendious, compact, sententious, pithy, laconic, curt.>

Words descriptive of brief utterance are, in nearly every instance, in their origin figurative. The brevity is brought out by comparison with something that is noticeably short or small. Let us examine the words of our list for their figurative qualities. A concise statement is one that is cut down until a great deal is said in a few words. A terse statement is rubbed off, rid of unessentials. A succinct statement has its important thoughts bound into small compass, as by a girdle. A compendious statement weighs together the various thoughts and aspects of a subject; it shows by means of a few effective words just what these amount to, gives a summary of them. A compact statement has its units of thought fastened together into firmness of structure; its brevity is well-knit. A sententious statement gives feelings or opinions_ in a strikingly pointed or axiomatic way, so that they can be easily grasped and remembered; if sententious is unfavorably used, the statement may be filled with paraded platitudes. A pithy statement gives the very pith, the heart of a matter; it is sometimes slightly quaint, always effective and arresting. A laconic statement is made in the manner of the Spartans, who hated talk and used as few words as possible. A curt statement is made short; its abruptness is oftentimes more or less rude.

Sentences: "A tale should be judicious, clear, ____. The language plain, and incidents well link'd." "Charles Lamb made the most ____ criticism of Spenser when he called him the poet's poet." With a ____ disdainful answer she turned away. The sermon was filled with ____ sayings. By omitting all irrelevant details, he made his statement of the case ____. It requires great skill to give a ____ statement of what such a treatise contains. A proverb is a ____ statement of a truth.

<Death, decease, demise.>

Men are as mindful of rank and pretension in their terms for the cessation of life as in their choice of tombstones for the departed. Death is the great, democratic, unspoilable word. It is not too good for a clown or too poor for an emperor. Decease is a more formal word. Its employment is often legal--the death proves to be of sufficient importance for the law (and the lawyers) to take notice. Demise, however, is outwardly the most resplendent term of all. It implies that the victim cut a wide swath even in death. It is used of an illustrious person, as a king, who transmits his title to an heir. Ordinary people cannot afford a demise. If the term is applied to their shuffling off of this mortal coil, the use is euphemistic and likely to be stilted.

Sentences: "The crown at the moment of ____ must descend to the next heir." "____ is a fearful thing." "In their ____ they were not divided." At the ____ of his father he inherited the estate. "Each shall take His chamber in the silent halls of ____." "Many a time I have been half in love with easeful ____."

<Early, primitive, primeval, primordial, primal, pristine.>

Early is the simple word for that which was in, or toward, the beginning. That is primitive which has the old-fashioned or simple qualities characteristic of the beginning. That is primeval which is of the first or earliest ages. That is primordial which is first in origin, formation, or development. That is primal which is first or original. (The word is poetic.) That is pristine which has not been corrupted from its original state.

Assignment for further discrimination: <aboriginal, prehistoric.>

Sentences: It was a hardy mountain folk that preserved the ____ virtues. The ____ history of mankind is shrouded in uncertainty. "This is the forest ____." "It hath the ____ eldest curse upon 't, A brother's murder." "A ____ leaf is that which is immediately developed from the cotyledon." As the explorers penetrated farther into the country, they beheld all the ____ beauties of nature. Some countries still use the ____ method of plowing with a stick.

<Face, countenance, features, visage, physiognomy.>

We hear some one say that he reads faces. How? Through long study of them and what they indicate. The human race as a whole has been reading faces through the centuries. It has felt such need to label certain recurring aspects of them that it has invented the designating terms. Of these terms the simple, inclusive one is of course face itself. If, however, we are thinking of the face as its look or expression reveals thoughts, emotions, or state of mind, our term is countenance. If we are thinking of it as distinguished or individualized by the contour, lines, etc., we speak of the features. If we are thinking of its external appearance or aspect, we call it the visage. If, finally, we are thinking of it as indicative of mind, disposition, or fundamental character, we say physiognomy.

Assignment for further discrimination: <lineaments>.

Sentences: His grotesque ____ reminded one of a gargoyle. It is said that the ____ of persons living constantly together tend to become alike. "Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling ____." The teacher told the students to wash their ____ every morning. "A ____ more in sorrow than in anger." The firm but kind ____ of the old statesman shone happily at this ovation. "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then ____ to ____." She turned an eager ____ up to me as she spoke. One's ____ is moulded by one's thoughts. Cosmetics injure the ____. His clear-cut ____ impressed his employer.

<Financial, monetary, pecuniary, fiscal.>

Financial is usually applied to money matters of considerable size or moment. Monetary applies to money, coin, or currency as such. Pecuniary refers to practical matters in which money is involved, though not usually in large amounts. Fiscal refers especially to the time when money, receipts, and accounts are balanced or reckoned.

Sentences: A ____ reward has been offered. We gave the unfortunate man ____ assistance. The ____ system of the country was sound. It was Hamilton who more than any one else shaped the ____ policies of the new government. Experts audit the company's accounts at the end of the ____ year. The ____ interests of the country were behind the bill.

<Flee, abscond, decamp.>

To flee is to run away from what one would avoid, as danger, arrest, or the like. To abscond is to steal off secretly and hide one's self, as from some disgraceful reason or to avoid arrest. To decamp is to leave suddenly in great haste to get away; the word is often used humorously.

Sentences: They went to have their money refunded, but the swindler had ____. The bank teller ____ after having squandered most of the deposits. Yes, we were in proximity to a polecat, and without further parley we ____. "Resist the devil, and he will ____ from you." William Wallace, when pursued by the English, ____ into the Highlands.

<Foretell, predict, prophesy, forecast, presage, forebode, portend, augur, prognosticate.>

Foretell is the general word for stating or perceiving beforehand that which will happen. Predict implies foretelling based on well-founded or precise knowledge. Prophesy often implies supernatural inspiration to foretell correctly. The word is especially so used in connection with the Scriptures; but in the Scriptures themselves it frequently expresses insight and admonition without the element of foretelling. Forecast involves a marked degree of conjecture. Presage usually means to give as a presentiment or warning. Forebode expresses an uncertain foreknowledge of vague impending evil. Portend indicates the likelihood that something will befall which is threatening or evil in its consequences. Augur means foretelling from omens. Prognosticate means foretelling through the study of signs or symptoms.

Sentences: "For we know in part, and we ____ in part." (Insert in the blank, successively, the terms just distinguished. In each instance how is the meaning affected? Do any of the terms fail to make sense at all? Which term do you think the right one? Bearing in mind the distinctions we have made, frame sentences of your own to embody the terms.)

<Get, acquire, obtain, procure, attain, gain, win, earn.>

Get, the general term, may be used of whatever one comes by whatsoever means to possess, experience, or realize. To acquire is to get into more or less permanent possession, either by some gradual process or by one's determined efforts. To obtain is to get something desired by means of deliberate effort or request. To procure is to get by definitely planned effort something which, in most instances, is of a temporary nature or the possession of which is temporary. To attain is to get through striving that which one has set as a goal or end of his desire or ambition. To gain is to get that which is advantageous. To win is to get as the result of successful competition or the overcoming of opposition. To earn is to get as a deserved reward for one's efforts or exertions.

Sentences: With such wages as those, he can barely ____ a living. He ____ a pardon by appealing to the governor. The speaker ____ his point by forcing his opponent to admit that the figures were misleading. By buying in June I can ____ a good overcoat at half price. Did you ____ only seven thousand dollars for your house? Walpole believed in ____ one's ends in the surest and easiest way possible. It is illegal to ____ money through false pretences. A junior ____ the prize in the oratorical contest. Kirk ____ his advancement by taking a personal interest in the firm's welfare. The painter ____ a foreign accent while he was studying in Paris. He ____ their gratitude by loyally serving them. It was through sacrifices that he ____ an education.

<Give, bestow, grant, confer, present>.

We give that which we transfer from our own to another's possession or ownership, usually without compensation. We bestow that which we give gratuitously, or of which the recipient stands in especial need. We grant that which has been requested by one dependent upon us or inferior to us, and which we give with some formality. From a position of superiority we confer as a favor or honor that which we might withhold or deny. We present that which is of importance or value and which we give ceremoniously.

Assignment for further discrimination: <furnish, supply, impart>.

Sentences: William the Conqueror ____ English estates upon his followers. The rich man ____ his wonderful art collection to the museum. My application for a leave of absence has been ____. The ticket agent ____ us complete information. Every year he ____ alms upon the poor in that neighborhood. The school board may ____ an increase in the salaries of teachers. Many merchants ____ premiums with the articles they sell. The college ____ an honorary degree upon the distinguished visitor. The Pilgrims ____ thanks to God for their preservation. "Not what we ____, but what we share."

<Haste, celerity, speed, hurry, expedition, despatch>.

What did John Wesley mean by saying, "Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry"? Does Lord Chesterfield's saying "Whoever is in a hurry shows that the thing he is about is too big for him" help explain the distinction? Explain the distinction (taking speed in the modern sense) in the saying "The more haste, ever the worse speed." "The tidings were borne with the usual celerity of evil news." Give the well-known saying in four simple words that express the same idea. Which of the two statements is the more forceful? Which is the more literary? Why did Prescott use the former in his Ferdinand and Isabella? "Despatch," says Lord Chesterfield, "is the soul of business." What does despatch suggest about getting work done that haste or speed does not? In which way would you prefer for your employee to go about his task--with haste, with speed, or with despatch? "With winged expedition, Swift as the lightning glance, he executes His errand on the wicked." Why is it that this use of expedition in Milton's lines is apt? Would despatch have served as well? If not, why not?

<Hate, detest, abhor, loathe, abominate, despise>.

To hate involves deep or passionate dislike, sometimes bred of ill-will. To detest involves an intense, vehement, or deep-seated antipathy. To abhor involves utter repugnance or aversion, with an impulse to recoil. To loathe involves disgust because of physical or moral offensiveness. To abominate involves strong moral aversion, as of that which is odious or wicked. To despise is to dislike and look down upon as inferior.

Sentences: When he had explained his fell purpose, I could only ____ him. Who would not ____ a slimy creature like Uriah Heep? It is natural for us to ____ our enemies. She ____ greasy food. There suddenly in my pathway was the venomous reptile, darting out its tongue; oh, I ____ snakes! A wholesome nature must ____ such principles as these. A child ____ to kiss and make up. The pampered young millionaire ____ those who are simply honest and kind. These daily practices of her associates she ____.

<Healthful, wholesome, salutary, salubrious, sanitary, hygienic>. (With this group contrast the Disease group below.)

The words of this group are assuredly blessed. Every one of them has to do with the giving, promotion, or preservation of health. But health is of various kinds, and therefore the words apply differently. Healthful is the most inclusive of them; it means that the thing it refers to is full of health for us. Wholesome also is a very broad term; what is wholesome is good for us physically, mentally, or morally. Salutary is confined to that which affects for good our moral (including civic and social) welfare, especially if it counteracts evil influences or propensities. Salubrious is confined to the physical; it is used almost solely of healthful air or climate. Sanitary and hygienic apply to physical well-being as promoted by the eradication of the causes for sickness, disease, or the like; sanitary, however, is used of measures and conditions affecting people in general, whereas hygienic connects itself with personal habits.

Assignment for further discrimination: The word healthy is often confused with healthful. You have already discriminated between these two terms, but you should renew your knowledge of the distinction between them.

Sentences: Colorado is noted for its ____ air. He offered the young people some ____ advice. A person should brush his teeth every day for ____ reasons. In spite of its horrors, the French Revolution has had a ____ effect upon civilization. Damp, low places do not have a ____ climate. Cities in the middle ages were not ____. His is a very ____ way of life. My doctor recommends buttermilk as ____.

<Heavy, weighty, burdensome, onerous>.

He knew that it was a ____ responsibility. (Insert the four words in the blank space in turn, and analyze the differences in meaning thus produced.)

<Liberal, generous, bountiful, munificent>.

He made a ____ donation to the endowment fund. (Insert the four words in the blank space in turn, and analyze the differences in meaning.)

<Masculine, male, manly, manlike, manful, mannish, virile>.

"A man's a man for a' that," sang the poet. So he is, but not all the adjectives allusive to his state are equally complimentary. Masculine betokens the qualities and characteristics belonging to men. Male designates sex and is used of animals as well as human beings. Manly (used of boys as well as men) implies the possession of qualities worthy of a man, as strength, courage, sincerity, honesty, independence, or even tenderness. Manlike refers to qualities, attributes, or foibles characteristically masculine. Manful suggests the valor, prowess, or resolution properly belonging to men. Mannish (a derogatory word) indicates superficial or affected qualities of manhood, especially when inappropriately possessed by a woman. Virile applies to the sturdy and intrepid qualities of mature manhood.

Sentences: The Chinese especially prize ____ children. He was a ____ little fellow. She walked with a ____ stride. With ____ courage he faced the crisis. It was a ____ defense of an unpopular cause. ____ strength is the complement of female grace. The old sailor still retained the rugged and ____ strength of a man much younger. With ____ bluntness he told her what he thought. Such gentleness is not weak; it is ____. He made a ____ struggle against odds. "His ____ brow Consents to death, but conquers agony." Now isn't that assumption of omniscience ____?

<Name, appellation, designation, denomination, title, alias>.

A name is the word or words by which a person or thing is called or known. If the name be descriptive or characterizing, even though in a fanciful way, it is an appellation. If it particularizes an individual through reference to distinctive quality or nature, perhaps without employing any word the individual is usually known by, it is a designation. If it specifies a class, especially a religious sect or a kind of coin, it is a denomination. If it is an official or honorary description of rank, office, place within a profession, or the like, it is a title. If it is assumed, as to conceal identity, it is an alias.

Assignment for further discrimination: <cognomen, patronymic, nom de plume, pseudonym>.

Sentences: Yes, it is a five-dollar gold piece, though one doesn't often see a coin of that ____ nowadays. The Little Corporal is the ____ applied to Napoleon by his soldiers. The eldest son of the king of England bears the ____ of the Prince of Wales. The government issues stamps in various ____. "That loafer" was his contemptuous ____ of the man who could not find work. "Duke" is the highest ____ of nobility in England. The crook was known to the police under many ____. At the battle of Bull Run Jackson received the ____ "Stonewall." "What's in a[n] ____? that which we call a rose By any other ____ would smell as sweet." The head of the American government bears the ____ of President. The Mist of Spring was the little Indian maiden's ____. His ____ was Thornberg.

<Old, ancient, olden, antique, antiquated, archaic, obsolete, venerable, immemorial, elderly, aged, hoary, decrepit, senile, superannuated>.

We reserve the right to judge for ourselves when told that something-- especially a joke--is "the very latest." So may we likewise discriminate among degrees of age. Old is applied to a person or thing that has existed for a long time or that existed in the distant past. The word may suggest a familiarity or sentiment not found in ancient, which is used of that which lived or happened in the remote past, or has come down from it. Olden applies almost wholly to time long past. Antique is the term for that which has come down from ancient times or is made in imitation of the style of ancient times, whereas antiquated is the term for that which has gone out of style or fashion. Archaic and obsolete refer to words, customs, or the like, the former to such as savor of an earlier period though they are not yet completely out of use, the latter to such as have passed out of use altogether. Immemorial implies that a thing is so old that it is beyond the time of memory or record. Elderly is applied to persons who are between middle age and old age. Aged is used of one who has lived for an unusually long time. Hoary refers to age as revealed by white hair. Venerable suggests the reverence to be paid to the dignity, goodness, or wisdom of old age. Decrepit conveys a sense of the physical infirmities and weakness which attend old age; senile of the lessening powers of both body and mind that result from old age. Superannuated is applied to a person who on account of old age has been declared incapable of continuing his activities.

Sentences: He liked to read romances of the ____ days. Dana records that he once saw a man so ____ that he had to raise his eyelids with his fingers. Many writers use ____ words to give quaintness to their work. He liked to sit around in his ____ clothes. "The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bower, Molest her ____ solitary reign." Some of these ____ sequoia trees were old before the white man discovered this continent. They are building the church in the ____ Roman style of architecture. "Be not ... the last to lay the ____ aside." Many of Chaucer's words, being ____, cannot possibly be understood without a glossary. Most churches now have funds for ____ ministers. A man is as ____ as he feels; a woman is as ____ as she looks. The ____ old man could scarcely hobble across the room. What better proof that he is ____ do you ask than that he babbles constantly about what happened when he was young? "I am a very foolish fond ____ man, Fourscore and upward." They revered the ____ locks of the old hero. At sixty a man is considered a[n] ____ person. That the earth is flat is a[n] ____ idea. The young warriors listened respectfully to the ____ chief's advice. They unearthed a[n] ____ vase. "____ wood best to burn, ____ wine to drink, ____ friends to trust, and ____ authors to read." His favorite study was ____ history. "Grow ____ along with me." "The most ____ heavens, through thee, are fresh and strong."

<Pay, compensate, recompense, remunerate, requite, reimburse, indemnify>.

Most men are willing to receive what is due them. They might even be persuaded to receive a bit more. Why should they not be as scrupulous to receive what they are entitled to in the medium of language as of money? Sometimes they are. Offering to pay some people instead of to compensate them is like offering a tip to the wrong person. Why? Because there is a social implication in compensate which is not contained in pay. To pay is simply to give what is due, as in wages (or even salary), price, or the like. To compensate is to make suitable return for service rendered. Does compensate not sound the more soothing? But save in exceptional circumstances the downrightness of pay has no hint of vulgarity. To recompense is to make a return, especially if it is not monetary, for work, pains, trouble, losses, or suffering; or some quality or blessing (as affection or happiness) may be said to recompense one. To remunerate is to disburse a large amount to a person, or to give it to him as a reward, or otherwise to make him a return in a matter of importance. To requite is to put a just value upon one's work, deeds, or merit and to make payment strictly in accordance with his deserts. To reimburse is to make good what some one has spent for you. To indemnify is to secure some one against loss or to make restitution for damages he has sustained.

Assignment for further discrimination: <disburse, reward>.

Sentences: Let us ____ him for his efforts in our behalf. Let us ____ their kindness with kindness, their cruelty with cruelty. To ____ them adequately for such patriotic sacrifices is of course impossible. The government demanded that it be ____ for the injury to its citizens. I shall ____ you for all sums expended. He ____ the bill by a check. The success of her children ____ a mother for her sacrifices for them. Wages are ____ to laborers; salaries are ____ to judges.

<Proud, arrogant, presumptuous, haughty, supercilious, insolent, insulting>.

Most persons feel in their hearts that their claims and merits are superior to those of other people. But they do not like for you, in describing them, to imply that their self-appraisal is too high. "Comparisons are odious," and therefore in comparing their fancied with their real selves you must choose your terms carefully. Of the words that suggest an exaggerated estimate of one's merits or privileges the broadest, as well as the least offensive, is proud. In fact this word need not carry the idea of exaggeration. A proud man may but hold himself in justifiable esteem, or wish to measure up to the demands of his station or to the expectations of others. On the other hand, he may overvalue his attainments, possessions, connections, etc. To say that the man is arrogant means that he combines with pride a contempt for others, that he claims for himself greater attention, consideration, or respect than he is entitled to. To say that he is presumptuous makes him an inferior (or at least not a superior) who claims privileges or takes liberties improperly. To say that he is haughty means that he assumes a disdainful superiority to others, especially through fancied or actual advantage over them in birth or social position. To say that he is supercilious means that he maintains toward others an attitude of lofty indifference or sneering contempt. To say that he is insolent means that he is purposely and perhaps coarsely disrespectful toward others, especially toward his superiors. To say that he is insulting means that he gives or offers personal affront, probably in scornful or disdainful speech.

Assignment for further discrimination: <scornful, imperious, contumelious, impudent, impertinent>.

Sentences: He was ____ in replying to the questions. She paid no attention to his words, but kept looking at him with a[n] ____ smile. He was ____ in acting as if he were their equal. The hot-tempered fellow answered this ____ remark with a blow. She resented his presuming to speak to her, and turned away in a[n] ____ manner. The servant was ____ to her mistress. Are you not very ____ of your family connections? The old man was so ____ that he expected people to raise their hats to him and not to sit down till he gave permission.

<Punish, chastise, chasten>.

To punish a person is to inflict pain or penalty upon him as a retribution for wrong-doing. There may be, usually is, no intention to improve the offender. To chastise him is to inflict deserved corporal punishment upon him for corrective purposes. To chasten him is to afflict him with trouble for his reformation or spiritual betterment. The word is normally employed in connection with such affliction from God.

Assignment for further discrimination: <castigate, scourge>.

Sentences: "Hearing oftentimes The still, sad music of humanity, Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power To ____ and subdue." Ichabod Crane freely used his ferule in ____ his pupils. "Whom the Lord loveth he ____." A naughty child should be ____.

<Rich, wealthy, affluent, opulent>.

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Substitute wealthy for rich. Is the meaning exactly the same? Is Goldsmith's description of the village preacher--"passing rich with forty pounds a year"--as effective if wealthy is substituted? What is the difference between riches and wealth? Which implies the greater degree of possession, which the more permanence and stability? Which word suggests the more personal relationship with money? Which word the more definitely denotes money or its immediate equivalent? Why do we say "get-rich-quick schemes" rather than "get-wealthy-quick schemes"? What besides the possession of wealth does affluent suggest? Could we say that a rich miser lives in affluence? If not, why not? A poor clerk who has ten dollars to spend as he pleases may feel affluent. A rich banker may be a man of affluence in his town. What power does this suggest that he has besides the possession of a great deal of money? Explain all that Swift implies by the word opulence in the quotation "There in full opulence a banker dwelt, Who all the joys and pangs of riches felt." If you substitute affluence, what different impression do you get?

<Rural, rustic, pastoral, bucolic>.

"The rural inhabitants of a country." Are the people being spoken of favorably, unfavorably, or neutrally? How would the meaning be affected if they were called rustic inhabitants? Would you ordinarily speak of the rural or the rustic population to distinguish it from the urban? Would you speak of rural or rustic activities? rural or rustic manners? When the two adjectives may be employed, is one of them unflattering? Is a rustic bridge something to be ashamed of? a rustic chair? a rustic gate? What, then, is the degree of reproach that attaches to each of the two adjectives? the degree of commendation? Wherein do pastoral scenes differ from rural? pastoral amusements from rustic? Can you trace a connection between the pastor of a church and a pastoral life? Do you often hear the word bucolic? In what mood is it oftenest uttered? Which of the four adjectives best fits into Goldsmith's dignified lament: "And ____ mirth and manners are no more"?

<Silent, reserved, uncommunicative, reticent, taciturn>. (This group may be contrasted with the Talkative group, below.)

We pass through a crowded room and notice that some of its occupants are not adding their voices to the chatter. We resolve to study these unspeaking persons. Some of them merely have nothing to say, or are timid or preoccupied; or it may be they deliberately have set themselves not to talk. These are silent. Some plainly desire not to talk, it may be in general or it may be upon some particular topic; they may (but need not) regard themselves as superior to their associates, or for some other reason let aloofness or coldness creep into their manner. These are reserved. Others withhold information that persons about them are, or would be, interested in. These are uncommunicative. Others maintain their own counsel; they neglect opportunities to reveal their thoughts, plans, and the like. These are reticent. Others are disinclined--and habitually, we perceive--to talking. These are taciturn.

Sentences: The ____ prisoner evaded all questions. He was as ____ as nature itself; he never gave his views upon any subject. He was ____ about the firm's affairs, especially toward persons who seemed inquisitive. We knew there had been a love affair in his life, but he was ____ on the subject. She sat ____ throughout the discussion. If to be ____ is golden, Lucas should have been a billionaire.

<Sing, chant, carol, warble, troll, yodel, croon, hum, chirp, chirrup>.

You hear a "concord of sweet sounds," not instrumental but vocal, and wish to tell me so. You say that some person sings. Then you recall that I am something of an expert in music, and you cast about for the word that shall state specifically the kind of singing that is being done. Does the person sing solemnly in a more or less uniform tone? You tell me that he chants. Does he sing gladly, spontaneously, high-spiritedly, as if his heart were pouring over with joy? You say that he carols. Does he sing with vibratory notes and little runs, as in bird-music? You say that he warbles. Does he sing loudly and freely? You say that he trolls. Does he sing with peculiar modulations from the regular into a falsetto voice? You say that he yodels. Does he sing a simple, perhaps tender, song in a low tone (as a lullaby to an infant)? You say that he croons. Does he sing with his lips closed? You say that he hums. Does he utter the short, perhaps sharp, notes of certain birds and insects? You say that he chirps or chirrups.

Assignment for further discrimination: <trill, pipe, quaver, peep, cheep, twitter>.

Sentences: A cricket ____ in the grass outside the door. He abstractedly gazed out of the window and ____ a few strains of an old song. Listen, they are ____ the Te Deum. "And ____ still dost soar, and soaring ever ____." A strange, uncanny blending of false and true notes it is when the Swiss mountaineers are ____. Negroes, as a race, love to ____. As she soothes the child to sleep she ____ a "rock-a-bye-baby."

<Suave, bland, unctuous, fulsome, smug>.

Suave implies agreeable persuasiveness or smooth urbanity. Bland suggests a soothing or coaxing kindness of manner, one that is sometimes lacking in sincerity. Unctuous implies excessive smoothness, as though one's manner were oiled. The word carries a decided suggestion of hypocrisy. Fulsome suggests such gross flattery as to be annoying or cloying. Smug suggests an effeminate self-satisfaction, usually not justified by merit or achievement.

Assignment for further discrimination: <complaisant, elegant, trim, dapper, spruce, genteel, urbane, well-bred, gracious, affable, benign>.

Sentences: He thought his answer exceedingly brilliant and settled back into his chair with ____ complacency. "____ the smile that like a wrinkling wind On glassy water drove his cheek in lines." They were irritated by his ____ praise. Although he disliked them, he greeted them with ____ cordiality. "A bankrupt, a prodigal, ... that used to come so ____ upon the mart; let him look to his bond." ____ as a diplomat.

<Talkative, loquacious, garrulous, fluent, voluble, glib>. (This group may be contrasted with the Silent group, above.)

A little while ago you were in a crowded room and made a study of the persons disposed to silence. But your study was carried on under difficulties, for many of those about you showed a tendency to copious or excessive speech. One woman entered readily into conversation with you and convinced you that her natural disposition was to converse a great deal. She was talkative. From her you escaped to a man who soon proved that he talked too much and could run on with an incessant flow of words, perhaps employing many of them where a few would have sufficed. He was loquacious. The two of you were joined by an old gentleman who forthwith began to talk wordily, tediously, continuously, with needless repetitions and in tiresome detail; you suspected that he had suffered a mental decline from age, and that he might be excessively fond, in season and out of season, of talking about himself and his opinions. He was garrulous. You broke away from these two and fell into the hands of a much more agreeable interlocutor. He talked with a ready, easy command of words, so that his discourse flowed smoothly. He was fluent. He introduced you to a lady whose speech possessed smoothness and ease in too great degree; it fairly rolled along, as a hoop does downhill. The lady was voluble. Into your triangular group broke a newcomer whose speech had in it a flippant, or at least a superficially clever, fluency. He was glib. Leaving these three to fight (or talk) it out as best they might, you grabbed your hat and hurried outside for a fresh whiff of air.

Assignment for further discrimination: <chattering, long-winded, prolix, wordy, verbose>.

Sentences: The insurance agent was so ____ a talker that I was soothed into sleepiness by his voice. The ____ old man could talk forever about the happenings of his boyhood. Through ____ descriptions of life in the city the dapper summer boarder entranced the simple country girl. I met a ____ fellow on the train, and we had a long conversation. She was so ____ that I spent half the afternoon with her and learned nothing.

<Weak, debilitated, feeble, infirm, decrepit, impotent>.

Weak is the general word for that which is deficient in strength. Debilitated is used of physical weakness, in most instances brought on by excesses and abuses. Feeble denotes decided or extreme weakness, which may excite pity or contempt. Infirm is applied to a person whose weakness or feebleness is due to age. Decrepit is used in reference to a person broken down or worn out by infirmities, age, or sickness. Impotent implies such loss or lack of strength or vitality as to render ineffective or helpless.

Assignment for further discrimination: <enervated, languid, frail>.

Sentences: "Here I stand, your slave, A poor, ____, weak, and despis'd old man." A[n] ____ old man shuffled along with the aid of a cane. Though still in his youth, he was ____ from intemperance and fast living. A fellow who does that has a[n] ____ mind. He staggered about trying to strike his opponent, but rage and his wound rendered him for the time ____. The grasp of the old man was so ____ that the cup trembled in his hand. "Like rich hangings in a homely house, So was his will in his old ____ body." After his long illness he was as ____ as a child. He made but a[n] ____ attempt to defend himself.

<Wise, learned, erudite, sagacious, sapient, sage, judicious, prudent, provident, discreet>. (Compare the distinction between knowledge and wisdom under Words Often Confused above.)

Wise implies sound and discriminating judgment, resulting from either learning or experience. Learned denotes the past acquisition of much information through study. Erudite means characterized by extensive or profound knowledge. Sagacious implies far-sighted judgment and intuitive discernment, especially in practical matters. Sapient is now of infrequent use except as applied ironically or playfully to one having or professing wisdom. Sage implies deep wisdom that comes from age or experience. Judicious denotes sound judgment or careful discretion in weighing a matter with reference to its merits or its consequences. Prudent conveys a sense of cautious foresight in judging the future and planning for it upon the basis of the circumstances at hand. Provident suggests practical foresight and careful economy in preparing for future needs. Discreet denotes care or painstakingness in doing or saying the right thing at the right time, and the avoidance thereby of errors or unpleasant results.

Sentences: Against the time when his children would be going to college he had been ____. "Most ____ judge!" The ____ old warrior could not be deceived by any such ruse. "Be ye therefore as ____ as serpents, and harmless as doves." The ____ advice of his elders was wasted on him. The course was ____, not rash. He was ____ in avoiding all reference to the subject. "Type of the ____, who soar but never roam, True to the kindred points of heaven and home." Even by those scholars, those specialists, he was deemed ____. How ____ the young man is! "Where ignorance is bliss, 'Tis folly to be ____." Is it ____ to spend money thus lavishly? He considered the matter well and gave a most ____ answer. To spend every cent of one's income is surely not to be ____.

<Work, labor, toil, drudgery>.

All of us, at times anyhow, get out of as much work as we can. We even use the word work and its synonyms loosely and indolently. Perhaps this is a literary aspect of the labor problem. If, however, we can shake off our sluggishness and exert ourselves in discriminating our terms, we shall use work as a general word for effort, physical or mental, to some purposive end; labor for hard, physical work; toil for wearying or exhaustive work; and drudgery for tedious, monotonous, or distasteful work, especially of a low or menial kind.

Sentences: It required the ____ of thousands of men to complete the tunnel. To be condemned to the galleys meant a life of unending ____. The man who enjoys his ____ will succeed. Twenty years of incessant ____ had extinguished in him every spark of ambition. He was weary after the ____ of the day. All ____ and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Through the heart-breaking ____ of thousands the pyramids were built to commemorate a few. He was sentenced to hard ____.



You have now seen enough of the method of discriminating synonyms to take more of the responsibility for such work upon yourself. In this chapter, therefore, the plan followed in Exercise A is abandoned and no discriminations are supplied you.


For some of the generic words in Exercise A you will find antonyms in Exercise C. Here is a list:

In Exercise A: walk, laugh, busy, hate, masculine, old

In Exercise C: run, cry, idle, love, feminine, young.

Now each of the generic terms in C is followed by a list of its synonyms. But for the six generic terms just given let us see how many synonyms you can find for yourself. Simply study each word in turn, think of all the synonyms for it you can summon, strike out those you consider far-fetched. Then compare your list with the list under the antonym in Exercise A; if possible, improve your list by means of this comparison. Finally, compare your revised list with the list in Exercise C.

In Exercise C are two generic terms that carry the same idea (but not in the same part of speech) as generic terms in Exercise A. They are as follows:

In Exercise A: sing, death

In Exercise C: song, die.

Take song and die. First, find all the satisfactory synonyms you can for yourself. Then if possible improve your list by studying the list under the corresponding word in Exercise A. Finally, compare your revised list with the one in Exercise C.


After three introductory groups (dealing with thoroughly concrete ideas and words) the synonyms in this exercise are arranged alphabetically according to the first word in each group.

Discriminate the words in each group, and fill each blank in the illustrative sentences with the word that conveys the meaning exactly.

<See, perceive, descry, distinguish, espy, discern, note, notice, watch, observe, witness, behold, view>.

Sentences: The intruder he ____ in the early dawn-light might have been man or beast; he could not have ____ one from the other. After a long search I ____ on the map the name of the town. The teacher ____ the throwing of the paper wad, but thought best not to ____ it. "He that hath eyes to ____, let him ____." I ____ the encounter. "I hope to ____ my Pilot face to face When I have crossed the bar." "When my eyes turn to ____ for the last time the sun in heaven." I sat by the flower and ____ the bee plunder it. The scrawl on the paper was meaningless, but at length by close attention he ____ secret writing. "Your young men shall ____ visions, and your old men shall dream dreams." He had ____ human nature manifesting itself under various conditions.

<Kill, slay, slaughter, massacre, butcher, murder, assassinate, execute, hang, electrocute, guillotine, lynch, despatch, decimate, crucify>.

Sentences: With the jawbone of an ass Samson ____ a thousand of his enemies. It was his duty as sheriff to ____ the criminal, and the method decreed by the state was that he should ____ him. Previously the method of carrying out a sentence of death had been to ____ the criminal. On our left wing we lost one man in ten: thus our lines were literally ____ On our right wing, where we advanced to the attack in the open, our men were simply ____. After the garrison had laid down its arms the Indians ____ men, women, and children. "I would not ____ thy soul." During the French Revolution many of the nobility were ____. In the country late fall is the time to ____ hogs. Thinking that his accomplice was no longer of use, he quietly ____ him. The anarchist who had ____ the governor was taken by a mob and ____.

<Sleep, slumber, repose, nap, doze, drowze, lethargy, dormancy, coma, trance, siesta>.

Sentences: Since he had not exerted himself beforehand, his state was one of ____ rather than one of ____. The sultry heat of the day put him into a ____. "Not poppy, nor mandragora, Nor all the ____ syrops of the world, Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet ____ Which thou ow[n]edst yesterday." Light and pleasant be thy ____. "And still she slept an azure-lidded ____." From the ____ induced by his injury the physicians were unable to arouse him. "Oh ____! it is a gentle thing, Beloved from pole to pole!" "The poppied warmth of ____ oppress'd Her soothed limbs, and soul fatigued away." In Spanish-speaking South American countries every one expects to take his ____. He lay down under the tree for a short ____ and had just fallen into a preliminary ____ when the picnic party arrived. "Macheth does murder ____, the innocent ____, ____ that knits up the ravel'd sleave of care."

<Abolish, repeal, rescind, revoke, abrogate, annul, nullify, cancel, reverse>.

Sentences: A declaration of war would of course ____ the treaty. The legislature has the right to ____ old laws as well as to enact new ones. Because they left his grounds littered with paper, he ____ their privilege of holding picnics there. The king ____ the decree that the conspirators should be exiled. Slavery was ____ by the Emancipation Proclamation. The emperor ____ many of the ancient rights of the people. They ____ the mortgage when he paid the money. The violation of these provisions has ____ the contract. It was an ill day for France when the Edict of Nantes was ____ by Louis XIV. The Supreme Court ____ the decision of the lower tribunal. The Mormons have officially ____ polygamy. The codicil ____ some of the earlier provisions in his will.

<Acquit, exculpate, exonerate, absolve>.

Sentences: He ____ himself from all blame. The king ____ them from their allegiance. The teacher ____ the student who had been suspected of theft. The father confessor ____ the penitent. The jury ____ the man on the first ballot.

<Afraid, fearful, frightened, alarmed, scared, aghast, terrified, timid, timorous.> (This group may be compared with the Fear group, below.)

Sentences: One child was to ____ to speak to the strangers; the other too ____ to do anything but squall. "If Caesar hide himself, shall they not whisper 'Lo, Caesar is ____'?" Any one might have been ____ by this noise in a room said to be haunted; and for my part, I stood ____.

<Allay, alleviate, mitigate, assuage, mollify, relieve.>

Sentences: The judge ____ the severity of the punishment. They collected funds to ____ the sufferings of the poor. He could not ____ the wrath of the angry man. Shall we try to ____ their fears by telling them the accident may have been less calamitous than they have heard? A mustard plaster ____ the pain. The grief of the mother was ____ by the presence of her child. This experience had by no means ____ his temper.

<Allow, permit, suffer, tolerate.>

Sentences: Visitors are not ____ to see the king. The over-running of yard by the neighbors' chickens is a nuisance I shall not ____. "____ little children to come unto me." The use of bicycles and velocipedes on the pavement, though not ____ by the city, is good-naturedly ____ by most of the citizens. She ____ her children to play in the street.

<Ascribe, attribute, impute.>

Sentences: I ____ my failure to poor judgment. He ____ sinister motives for their actions. So many ideal characteristics have been ____ to Washington that it is difficult to think of him as a man.

<Awkward, clumsy, ungainly, gawky, lanky.>

Sentences: An elephant is ____ in its movements. Some ____ countrymen hung around the circus entrance. He was tall and ____; he seemed to be a mere prop on which clothes were hung. Isn't that man ____ in his carriage? The fingers of the ball-players might as well have been thumbs, so ____ were they from the cold. Girls throw a ball in a[n] ____ manner.

<Bite, nibble, gnaw, chew, masticate, champ>.

Sentences: Fletcher taught people to ____ their food well. The mouse ____ the cheese, but the trap did not spring. A horse ____ his bits. When I ____ into the apple, I found that it was sour. The rat ____ a hole through the board.

<Break, crack, fracture, sever, rend, burst, smash, shatter, shiver, splinter, sunder, rive, crush, batter, demolish, rupture>. (After discriminating these terms for yourself, see the treatment of break, fracture under <Break, fracture> above under Parallels.)

Sentences: "____ my timbers!" the old salt exclaimed. The anaconda is an immense serpent that wraps itself about its victim and ____ it. The child blew the soap bubble wider and wider till it ____. "You may ____, you may ____ the vase if you will." Looking closely at the eggs, she perceived that one of them was ____. With a board the thoughtless child ____ the anthill. During a violent fit of coughing he ____ a blood vessel. The thick cloud was ____ and the sunshine streamed through.

<Careful, cautious, wary, circumspect, canny>.

Sentences: A mouse must be ____ lest it be caught in a trap. He had learned to be ____ in advancing his radical opinions. The man was a Scot and therefore ____. With a ____ movement I opened the door to investigate the strange noise. He was ____ in checking up the accounts. Be extremely ____ in your behavior, for they are watching to criticize you.

<Condescend, deign, vouchsafe>.

Sentences: The king ____ them safe conduct through the country. He would not ____ to touch the money that had been gained dishonestly. His ____ manner irritated them. The master ____ to hear the complaints of the servants.

<Confirm, corroborate, substantiate, verify_.

Sentences: He ____ the charge with positive proof. The finding of Desdemona's handkerchief ____ Othello's belief that she was guilty. The other witnesses ____ his testimony. The doctor ____ the appointment his assistant had made for him. He ____ his results by repeating the experiment a number of times.

<Courage, bravery, resolution, dauntlessness, gallantry, boldness, intrepidity, daring, valor, prowess, fortitude, heroism>. (With this group contrast the Fear group, below.)

Sentences: It seemed they must be driven from their works but they held to them with the utmost ____. He had the ____ to fight an aggressive battle, but not the ____ to stand for long days upon the defensive; less still did he have the ____ to disregard unjust criticism. The silent ____ of the women who bide at home surpasses the ____ the warriors who engage in battle. He had the dashing ____ of a cavalry officer.

<Cruel, brutal, ferocious, fierce, savage, barbarous, truculent, merciless, unmerciful, pitiless, ruthless, fell>. (With this group contrast the Kind group, below.)

Sentences: "But with the whiff and wind of his ____ sword The unnerved father falls." "Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are, That bide the pelting of this ____ storm." The ____ fellow could cause suffering to a child without the least tinge of remorse. Such conduct is unheard of in civilized communities; it is ____, it is ____. "I must be ____ only to be kind."

<Cry, weep, sob, snivel, whimper, blubber, bawl, squall, howl, wail>.

Sentences: "____ no more, woeful shepherds; ____ no more." The woman covered her face with her hands and ____, while the children ____. He ____ a forced regret at the death of his uncle, and asked that the will be read, "Rachel ____ for her children." "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and ____ with them that ____." "I could lie down like a tired child And ____ away this life of care Which I have borne and yet must bear." "An infant ____ in the night." "What's Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba That he should ____ for her?" I was disgusted at the sight of that overgrown boy standing in the corner ____. "You think I'll ____; No, I'll not ____: I have full cause of ____, but this heart Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws Or ere I'll ____."

<Cut, cleave, hack, haggle, notch, slash, gash, split, chop, hew, lop, prune, reap, mow, clip, shear, trim, dock, crop, shave, whittle, slice, slit, score, lance, carve, bisect, dissect, amputate, detruncate, syncopate.>

Sentences: "I'll ____ around your heart with my razor, And shoot you with my shotgun too." "O Hamlet! thou hast ____ my heart in twain." By the pressure of his hands he could ____ an apple. With his new hatchet George began ____ at the cherry tree. He carelessly ____ off a branch or two. The horses were ____ the rank grass. An old form of punishment was to ____ the nose of the offender. The nobleman ordered the groom to ____ the tails of the carriage horses. You should ____ your meadows in the summer and ____ your grapevines in the late fall or early winter. "Do you," asked the barber, "wish your hair ____ or ____?" ____ to the line. It is painful to see Dodwell trying to ____ a turkey. In geometry we learned to ____ angles, in biology to ____ cats. The bad man in the West ____ his gunstock each time he shot a tenderfoot. Betty, will you ____ this cucumber? "'Mark's way,' said Mark, and ____ him thro' the brain."

<Deadly, mortal, fatal, lethal>.

Sentences: He has a ____ disease. The spirit of Virgil guided Dante through the ____ shades. Cyanide of potassium is a ____ poison. He struck a ____ blow.

<Defeat, subdue, conquer, overcome, vanquish, subjugate, suppress>.

Sentences: Napoleon ____ his enemies in many battles, but he was not able to ____ them. The new governor general ____ the uprising. He was ____ in the election. Caesar ____ many countries and made them swear allegiance to Rome. "Who ____ by force Hath ____ but half his foe." The militia ____ the rioters.

<Deny, contravene, controvert, refute, confute>.

Sentences: He produced evidence to ____ the charge. They could not ____ the facts we presented. It is difficult to ____ those who are spreading these rumors, yet all right-minded people think the rumors false. "I put thee now to thy book-oath; ____ it if thou canst." Either admit or ____ the truth of this allegation. Such a law ____ the first principles of justice.

<Destroy, demolish, raze, annihilate, exterminate, eradicate, extirpate, obliterate.>

Sentences: All the ferocious wild animals are gradually being ____. As weeds from a field, so is it difficult to ____ all the faults from man's nature. But how shall we ____ the cause of this disease? Fire ____ the bank. The wrecking crew ____ the building. She tried to ____ the terrible scene from her memory. "____ all that's made To a green thought in a green shade." The cyclone ____ the church. The Spanish Inquisition tried to ____ heresy. "____ out the written troubles of the brain." The army was not only defeated; it was ____. "A bold peasantry, their country's pride. When once ____, can never be supplied."

<Die, expire, perish, decease, succumb.>

Sentences: All men are mortal and must ____. "As wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked ____ at the presence of God." "I still had hopes, my long vexations past, Here to return, and ____ at home at last." The late ____ Mr. Brown left all his property to his family. "Cowards ____ many times before their deaths." "The poor beetle, that we tread upon, In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great As when a giant giant ____." "Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not ____ from the earth." "Thus on Maeander's flowery margin lies Th' ____ swan, and as be sings he dies." Over a thousand people ____ in the fire at the theater. "To ____, to sleep; to sleep: perchance to dream." He ____ to a lingering disease. "Aye, but to ____, and go we know not where; To lie in cold obstruction and to rot." "Wind my thread of life up higher, Up, through angels' hands of fire! I aspire while I ____."

<Dip, douse, duck, plunge, immerge, immerse, submerge, sink, dive.>

Sentences: He ____ his head under the hydrant. The Baptists ____ at baptism. She ____ the cloth into the dye. The sophomores ____ the freshmen into the icy water of the lake. Paul Jones could not ____ the enemy's ship; he therefore resolved to board it. The wreck lay ____ in forty fathoms of water. Uncle Tom ____ overboard to rescue the child. When the gun is discharged, the loon does not rise from the water; it ____ Lewis became badly strangled when the other boys ____ him.

<Disease, sickness, illness, indisposition, ailment, affection, complaint, disorder, distemper, infirmity, malady.> (With this group contrast the healthful group.)

Sentences: He was suffering the ____ of age. Cancer is still in many instances an incurable ____ The ____ of the lady ended as soon as the maid told her the callers had gone away. It was an old ____ of the tonsils, but this time the child's ____ was slight. "To help me through this long ____, my life."

<Disloyal, false, unfaithful, faithless, traitorous, treasonable, treacherous, perfidious.>

Sentences: The king discovered many ____ schemes among those who pretended to be his loyal supporters. England's enemies have long called her "____ Albion." They were afraid the Indian guide would betray them by some ____ action. "O you beast! O ____ coward! O dishonest wretch!" He was ____ to his adopted country. "Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, ____, lecherous, kindless villain! O! vengeance!"

<Do, perform, execute, accomplish, achieve, effect.>

Sentences: An officer ____ the orders with despatch. He ____ a mighty name for himself. "If it were ____ when 'tis ____ then 'twere well It were ____ quickly." Constant efforts will ____ miracles. The student ____ the problems quickly. The doctor hopes his new treatment will ____ a cure. "God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to ____." He persevered till he ____ his purpose. He always ____ more than was expected of him.

<Dress, clothes, clothing, garments, apparel, raiment, habiliments, vestments, attire, garb, habit, costume, uniform.>

Sentences: The spy concealed his identity by wearing the ____ of a monk. The soldiers wore blue ____. She was an excellent horsewoman, and rode in a fashionable ____. "No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old ____." Millions of men left farms and factories and shops to don the ____ of war. The invitation specified that the men should wear evening ____. The store specialized in women's wearing ____. A person should wear warm ____ in winter. The king appeared in his royal ____. He always wore expensive ____. The bishop entered in his clerical ____. "The ____ oft proclaims the man." The theatrical ____ was full of spangles. One's ____ should never be conspicuous.

<Drink, imbibe, sip, sup, swallow, quaff, tipple, tope, guzzle, swig.>

Sentences: "She who, as they voyaged, ____ With Tristram that spiced magic draught." Plants ____ moisture through their roots. "A little learning is a dang'rous thing; ____ deep, or taste not the Pierian spring." He ____ down the liquor in a couple of huge draughts. On the fan was a picture of Japanese maidens daintily ____ tea. "____ to me only with thine eyes." His red nose betrayed the fact that he constantly ____.

<Elicit, extract, exact, extort.>

Sentences: They ____ payment to the last cent. The police ____ a confession from the prisoner by intimidating him. This terrible suffering ____ our sympathy. His resolve to begin again after his failure ____ their admiration. "But lend it rather to thine enemy; Who if he break, thou mayst with better face ____ the penalty." They ____ all the information they could by questioning the child.

<Embarrass, disconcert, discompose, discomfit, confuse, confound, agitate, abash, mortify, chagrin, humiliate.>

Sentences: The annoying little raids ____ the enemy. Such conclusive proof of his lies completely ____ him. His sudden proposal ____ her. He stood ____ in the presence of the king. The traveler was ____ by the many turns in the road. She was ____ by the delay in having dinner ready. She was ____ by her husband's ill manners. The possibility that her daughter might have been in the accident ____ her. I was ____ at being so cleverly outwitted.

<Excuse, pardon, forgive, condone.>

Sentences: We should ____ even those who do us wrong. "Father, ____ them; for they know not what they do." I trust you will ____ my being late. Ignorance ____ no one before the law. The governor ____ the convict. He thought it better to ____ the offense than to try to punish it.

<Explain, expound, interpret, elucidate.>

Sentences: The minister ____ the doctrine of predestination. The tribesman ____ his chief's words for us. He ____ his meaning by giving clear examples. Joseph was called upon to ____ Pharaoh's dream. Can you ____ the reason for your absence? Various scholars have ____ the passage differently.

<Fat, fleshy, stout, plump, buxom, corpulent, obese, portly, pursy, burly, pudgy, chubby.>

Sentences: "There live not three good men unhanged in England, and one of them is ____ and grows old." A[n] ____ rosy-faced child walking beside a girl just pleasantly ____ came past the garden. The ____ lady was talking with a[n] ____, ill-conditioned man. "So ____, blithe, and debonair." "He's ____ and scant of breath." The ruffian was a[n] ____ fellow. They were ____ in varying degrees: one was ____, one ____, and one downright ____.

<Fear, dread, fright, apprehension, affright, alarm, dismay, timidity, consternation, panic, terror, horror, misgiving, anxiety, scare, tremor, trepidation.> (With this group compare the Afraid group, above, and contrast the Courage group, also above.)

Sentences: "Like one, that on a lonesome road Doth walk in ____ and ____." "His scepter shows the force of temporal power, The attribute to awe and majesty, Wherein doth sit the ____ and ____ of kings." ____ changed to ____ when we perceived the corpse. Washington felt some ____ as to the loyalty of Charles Lee, but was amazed to find his force retreating in ____, indeed almost in a[n] ____.

<Feminine, female, womanly, womanlike, womanish, effeminate, ladylike.>

Sentences: She possessed every ____ charm. He gave a[n] ____ start of curiosity. The pistil is considered the ____ organ of a flower. It was once not thought ____ for a woman to ride astride a horse. He inherited the throne through the ____ line. Patience is one of the greatest of ____ virtues. The hired girl in her finery minced along with a[n] ____ step. Some people consider it ____ to wear a wrist watch. Her ____ heart was touched at the sight. It is ____ to jump at the sight of a mouse.

<Fight, combat, struggle, scuffle, fray, affray, attack, engagement, assault, onslaught, brawl, melee, tournament, battle, conflict, strife, clash, collision, contest, skirmish, encounter, brush, bout, set-to.>

Sentences: "A darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of ____ and flight." The ____ upon Fort Sumter was the direct cause of the Civil War. The ____ between our forces and theirs was brief and trivial; it was only a cavalry ____. There is an excellent account of a knightly ____ in Ivanhoe. We repelled their general ____; then ourselves advanced; the ____ of our lines with theirs soon resulted in an inextricable ____. A chance ____ of small forces at Gettysburg brought on a terrible ____. There had long been ____ between the two factions within the party. Angered by what had begun as a playful ____, one of the men challenged the other to ____.

<Fleeting, transient, transitory, ephemeral, evanescent.>

Sentences: It is the lot of every one to endure many sorrows in this ____ life. They saw for a short while a[n] ____ comet. The ____ glories of dawn had merged into the sordid realities of daytime. The remark made but a[n] ____ impression upon him. The ____ moments sped away. "Art is long, and time is ____." Joy is ____. Much of the popular literature of the day is ____ in character.

<Frank, candid, open, artless, guileless, ingenuous, unsophisticated, naive.>

Sentences: It was a[n] ____ excuse. It was a pleasure to meet a person so simple and ____. He was ____ to say that he did not like the arrangement. "Who, mindful of the unhonored dead, Dost in these lines their ____ tale relate." "The Moor is of a free and ____ nature." He gave them his ____ opinion.

<Frustrate, foil, thwart, counteract, circumvent, balk, baffle, outwit.>

Sentences: The schemers were themselves ____. He was ____ by the many contradictory clues. Circumstances ____ all his plans to get rich. The parents ____ the attempt of the couple to elope. The guard ____ the prisoner's attempt to escape. He was ____ at every turn. They put forth a statement to ____ the influence of their opponents' propaganda. By slipping away during the night, Washington ____ the enemy. The politician by his shrewdness ____ the attempt to discredit him.

<Glad, happy, cheerful, mirthful, joyful, joyous, blithe, gay, frolicsome, merry, jolly, sportive, jovial, jocular, jocose, jocund.>

Sentences: "The milkmaid singeth ____." "And all went ____ as a marriage bell." "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring ____ tidings of good things." A ____ Lothario. "So buxom, ____, and debonair." As ____ as a fawn. He kept smiling, for he was in ____ mood. "You are sad Because you are not ____; and 'twere as easy For you to laugh and leap, and say you are ____, Because you are not sad." He longed for the ____ life of a ____ English squire.

<Habit, custom, usage, practice, wont.>

Sentences: ____ makes perfect. The immigrants kept up many of the ____ of their native land. "God fulfils himself in many ways, Lest one good ____ should corrupt the world." It was his ____ to walk among the ruins. An old ____ permits a man to kiss a girl who is standing under mistletoe. ____ establishes many peculiar idioms in a language. He acquired the ____ of smoking. "It is a ____. More honor'd in the breach than the observance." De Quincey was a victim of the opium ____. "Age cannot wither her, nor ____ stale Her infinite variety." "'Tis not his ____ to be the hindmost man."

<Harass, annoy, irritate, vex, fret, worry, plague, torment, molest, tease, tantalize.>

Sentences: The merchant ____ about his financial losses. "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and ____ his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more." The children never lost an opportunity to ____ the teacher. The other pupils ____ him because he was the teacher's favorite. The newcomer was ____ by their frequent questions. Don't ____ the child by holding the grapes beyond its reach. "He was met even now As mad as the ____ sea." Ah, but I am ____ by doubts and fears. "The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wand'ring near her secret bower, ____ her ancient, solitary reign." The child ____ because the rain kept it indoors. When the joke was discovered, they almost ____ the life out of him. I was ____ at their discovering my predicament. "You may as well forbid the mountain pines To wag their high tops, and to make no noise When they are ____ with the gusts of heaven."

<Hinder, restrain, obstruct, impede, hamper, retard, check, curb, clog, encumber, forestall, suppress, repress, prevent.>

Sentences: Baggage ____ the progress of an army. It is the purpose of modern medicine to ____ disease. The accumulations of dust and grease ____ the machine. "My tears must stop, for every drop ____ needle and thread." By acknowledging his fault he hoped to ____ criticism. Though before she had been unable to ____ her tears, she could now scarcely ____ a yawn. A fallen tree ____ his further progress. The horse was ____ with a heavy burden, and the unsure footing of the trail further ____ the ascent. His jealous colleagues ____ his plans in every way they could.

<Hole, cavity, excavation, pit, cache, cave, cavern, hollow, depression, perforation, puncture, rent, slit, crack, chink, crevice, cranny, breach, cleft, chasm, fissure, gap, opening, interstice, burrow, crater, eyelet, pore, bore, aperture, orifice, vent, concavity, dent, indentation. >

Sentences: The explorers, having eaten all the provisions they had carried with them, hurried back to their ____. The battering-ram at last made a[n] ____ in the walls. The ____ in the log had been caused by the intense heat. He tore off the check along the line of the ____. The ____ in the earth gradually deepened and narrowed into a[n] ____. Pyramus and Thisbe made love to each other through a[n] ____ in a wall. "Once more unto the ____, dear friends, once more." The ____ in the mountain ranges of Virginia influenced strategy during the Civil War. Several ____ in the toe of one of his shoes apprised me that he had a sore foot. The supposed ____ in the rock turned out to be a[n] ____ that led into a dark but spacious ____. He suffered a[n] ____ of one of his tires near the place where the laborers were making the ____. It was a gun of very large ____. The ____ in the percolator was made by a flatiron aimed at Mr. Wiggins' head.

<Idle, inert, lazy, indolent, sluggish, slothful.>

Sentences: "He also that is ____ in his work is brother to him that is a great waster." "The ____ singer of an empty day." Mighty, ____ forces lie locked up in nature, waiting for man to release them. He was a[n] ____, good-for-nothing fellow whose whole business in life was to keep out of work. "For Satan finds some mischief still For ____ hands to do." He was too ____ to do his work well. "The ____ yawning drone." His steps were so ____ one would almost think he was not moving. "As ____ as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean." "I talk of dreams, Which are the children of an ____ brain, Begot of nothing but vain fantasy."

<Ignorant, illiterate, uninformed, uneducated, untutored, unlettered, unenlightened.>

Sentences: Without public schools most children would be ____; without missionaries many barbarous tribes would remain ____. Andrew Jackson was ____ that peace had been declared when he fought the battle of New Orleans. Even the wisest men are ____ upon some subjects. "Lo, the poor Indian, whose ____ mind Sees God in clouds or hears Him in the wind!" The mountain whites, though often totally ____, are nevertheless a shrewd folk. "Their name, their years, spelt by th' ____ muse, The place of fame and elegy supply." The percentage of ____ persons is constantly decreasing in America.

<Incline, tip, lean, cant, slant, slope, tilt, list, careen, dip.>

Sentences: He ____ the bucket of water over. The vessel ____ to the stern and began to sink. The ship ____ to larboard. He ____ the top of the picture away from the wall. The sprinter ____ forward and touched the tips of his fingers against the ground. The gable ____ sharply. The hill ____ gently. The cowboy had ____ his hat fetchingly.

<Journey, voyage, tour, pilgrimage, trip, jaunt, excursion, junket, outing, expedition.>

Sentences: The people protested the expenditure of money for a Congressional ____ to investigate the Philippine Islands. Each Sunday there is a[n] ____ at half fare between the two cities. He conducted a party on a summer ____ through Europe. Last summer I took a[n] ____ to the Yellowstone National Park. It was a long ____ from Philadelphia to Boston by stage coach. They hurriedly arranged for a[n] ____ to the woods. Magellan was the first man to make a[n] ____ around the globe. The scientific body organized a[n] ____ to explore the polar regions. Thousands of Mohammedans make an annual ____ to Mecca.

<Kind, compassionate, merciful, lenient, benignant, benign, clement, benevolent, charitable, gracious, humane, sympathetic.> (With this group compare the Cruel group, above.)

Sentences: The weather was ____. She was as ____ as a queen. "Thou dost wear The Godhead's most ____ grace." Cowper was too ____ to tread upon a worm needlessly. A judge in sentencing a convicted man may be as ____ as circumstances and the law allow. ____ neutrality. "Blessed are the ____." "She was so ____ and so pitous She wolde wepe if that she sawe a mous Caught in a trappe." "____ hearts are more than coronets."

<Love, affection, attachment, fondness, infatuation, devotion, predilection, liking.>

Sentences: Between the two young people had grown a[n] ____ which now ripened into ____. "The course of true ____ never did run smooth." The mad ____ of Mark Antony for Cleopatra was the cause of his downfall. She had only a[n] ____ for him, but he an unqualified ____ for her. "Man's ____ is of his life a thing apart; 'Tis woman's whole existence." He shows a marked ____ for the companionship of women. My ____ for the tart was enhanced by my ____ for the girl who baked it. That boy shows a[n] ____ for horses, and a positive ____ for dogs.

<Margin, edge, limit, border, boundary, bound, bourn, brim, rim, brink, verge, skirt, confine.>

Sentences: He had reached the ____ of endurance. In writing, leave a wide ____ on the left side of the page. "Borrowing dulls the ____ of husbandry." "The extravagant and erring spirit hies To his ____." Within the ____ of reason. He stood on the ____ of ruin. The rock at the ____ of the canon is called the ____ rock. I was on the ____ of doing a very indiscreet thing. "The undiscover'd country from whose ____ No traveler returns." Fill your glasses to the ____.

<Matrimonial, conjugal, connubial, nuptial, marital.>

Sentences: "However old a ____ union, it still garners some sweetness." A court of ____ relations. "Contented toil, and hospitable care, And kind ____ tenderness are there." "To the ____ bower I led her, blushing like the morn." She finally decided that he had no ____ intentions. "And hears the unexpressive ____ song In the lest kingdoms meek of joy and love."

<Occupation, employment, calling, pursuit, vocation, avocation, profession, business, trade, craft.>

Sentences: He gave his life to literary ____. My brother found ____ as a tutor in a rich family. Colleges are trying to direct their students into the ____ they are best fitted for. Andrew Johnson was a tailor by ____. Medicine is a very ancient ____. The shoemaker was very skilled at his ____. After losing his hand he could no longer engage in his ____ as telegrapher. The grocer carries on only a wholesale ____. He considered his ____ to the ministry a sacred duty. "Sir, 'tis my ____ to be plain." Do you find collecting coins a pleasant ____?

<Pacify, appease, placate, propitiate, conciliate, mollify>.

Sentences: We ____ our hunger when we reached the inn. In olden times men tried to ____ the offended gods by offering human sacrifices. They ____ the angry man by promising to hear his grievances immediately. The premier thought he could ____ this particular faction by offering its leader a seat in the cabinet. "Chiron ____ his cruel mind With art, and taught his warlike hands to wind The silver strings of his melodious lyre." A friendly word will usually ____ one's enemies.

<Part, piece, portion, section, subdivision, fraction, instalment element, component, constituent, ingredient, share, lot, allotment>.

Sentences: One ____ in his success was his courage. She was studying the ____ of the pie; he the chances of getting another ____. Is it ____ and ____ alike? "I live not in myself, but I become ____ of that around me." "Act well your ____; there all the honor lies." He owned a[n] ____ of land near the city limits; a speculator bought a[n] ____ of this and divided it into city lots. "I am a[n] ____ of all that I have met." The purchaser, having only a[n] ____ of this sum in ready money, offered to pay in ____.

<Pay, hire, salary, wages, fee, stipend, honorarium>.

Sentences: Give the manager his ____, the workmen their ____. "The laborer is worthy of his ____." He received his weekly ____ from the parsimonious old man. The ____ for enrolment is ten dollars. "This is ____ and ____, not revenge."

<Polite, civil, obliging, courteous, courtly, urbane, affable, complaisant, gracious>.

Sentences: He was ____ enough, but not definitely ____. "So ____ that he ne'er ____." Though he had never lived in a city, much less in the circle of royalty, his manners were ____, even ____. Your desire to please is shown in your ____ greeting. "Damn with faint praise, assent with ____ leer, And without sneering teach the rest to sneer."

<Quarrel, altercation, disagreement, contention, controversy, breach, rupture, dispute, dissension, bickering, wrangle, broil, squabble, row, rumpus, ruction, spat, tiff, fuss, jar, feud.>

Sentences: It was only a little ____ between lovers. The ____ between the partners was over the right of the senior to make contracts for the firm; it grew into an angry ____. It was a long-drawn political ____. At the meeting of our committee the chairman and one of the members had a sharp ____ over a point of order. A[n] ____ in some minor matters led to a[n] ____ in their friendship. "Thrice is he armed that hath his ____ just" Those chattering, choleric fellows are always engaged in ____; last night they on meeting had a[n] ____ which brought on a long-drawn ____, and when their friends joined in, there was a noisy ____. I have seen all sorts of ____, from a trivial childish ____ to a grim ____ of mountaineers.

<Raise, lift, heave, hoist, erect, rear, elevate, exalt, enhance.>

Sentences: Let the Lord be ____. "As some tall cliff that ____ its awful form." Because of this success his reputation was ____. The horse ____ when the machine began to ____ the huge block of stone by means of a crane. "I will ____ up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help." The load was too heavy for him to carry; in fact he just managed to ____ it into the wagon.

<Relinquish, waive, renounce, surrender, forego, resign, abdicate.>

Sentences: The defense ____ objection to the first of these points. The refugee was willing to ____ his right to resist extradition. The teacher ____ her position at the end of the year. The king ____ when the people rose in revolt. He ____ his command of the army. Do you ____ your claim in this mine? The bankrupt ____ his property to the receiver to help pay his debts.

<Renounce, abjure, forswear, recant, retract, repudiate>.

Sentences: He ____ the statement. Thereupon Henry Esmond ____ his allegiance to the House of Stuart. It is a serious matter for a government to ____ its debts. Did the heretic ____? Do you ____ the devil and all his works? "The wounded gladiator ____ all fighting, but soon forgetting his former wounds resumes his arms." He had broken his solemn oath; he was ____.

<Reprove, rebuke, reprimand, admonish, chide, upbraid, reproach, scold, rate, berate>.

Sentences: "He ____ their wanderings but relieved their pain." "Many a time and oft In the Rialto you have ____ me About my moneys and my usances." They ____ the man who had taken the savings of the poor, and ____ him against such schemes thereafter. The general ____ his subordinate.

<Robber, bandit, brigand, ladrone, desperado, buccaneer, freebooter, pirate, corsair, raider, burglar, footpad, highwayman, depredator, spoiler, despoiler, forager, pillager, plunderer, marauder, myrmimdon>. (With this group compare the Steal group, below.)

Sentences: Every boy has his period of wanting to be a ____. Treasure Island is one of the best ____ stories ever written. The ____ lurks in dark passageways and steals upon his victim. The fierce followers of Achilles were called ____. The men sent out by the army as ____ seemed to the people of the countryside more like ____. The fearless ____ had soon gathered about him a band of ____. Robin Hood was no ____ of poor folk. The outcast became a ____ among the mountaineers of northern Italy. Every, boy likes to read of the bold ____ who sailed the Spanish Main. Union plans were often upset by daring Confederate ____, such as Stuart, Morgan, and Forrest.

<Run, scamper, scurry, scuttle, scud, scour, pace, gallop, trot, lope, sprint, sweep>.

Sentences: Swift horsemen ____ the country in search of the fugitive. Wherever they came, the inhabitants ____ for shelter. "The dish ____ away with the spoon." For his horse to ____ made difficult riding, to ____ made comfortable riding, to ____ made exhilarating riding. "He may ____ that readeth it." The old sailing-boat ____ before the wind. "Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift As meditation or the thoughts of love, May ____ to my revenge." The rats ____ across the floor. "He who fights and ____ away May live to fight another day."

<Say, utter, pronounce, announce, state, declare, affirm, aver, asseverate, allege, assert, avouch, avow, maintain, claim, depose, predicate, swear, suggest, insinuate, testify>. (With this group compare the Speak and Talk groups, below.)

Sentences: It was something I merely ____ in passing; I would not ____ to it. I could not ____ in court, and therefore had to ____ before a notary. The scientist ____ that a seismograph will infallibly record earthquakes. He solemnly ____ that he would not ____ exemption from the draft.

<Shine, beam, gleam, glisten, glister, glitter, glare, flare, flash, sparkle, twinkle, dazzle, glimmer, glow, radiate, scintillate, coruscate>.

Sentences: The gorgeous parade ____ the boy. "____, ____, little star." He was witty that night; he fairly ____ At this compliment the old lady ____. "Now fades the ____ landscape on the sight." A rocket ____ in the darkness. She ____ her elderly wooer a look of defiance; then her eyes softened and ____ with amusement. "All that ____ is not gold." "How far that little candle throws his beams! So ____ a good deed in a naughty world.". The old man ____ into sudden anger.

<Slander, defame, asperse, calumniate, traduce, vilify, malign, libel, backbite>.

Sentences: A newspaper must be careful not to ____ any one. Too many supposedly religious people ____ their fellow believers. I do not ____ your motives. He ____ the character of everybody who chances to possess one.

<Smell, odor, savor, scent, fragrance, aroma, perfume, redolence, tang, stench>.

Sentences: The ____ of the flowers in the vase mingled with the ____ of boiling cabbage in the kitchen. The ____ of spring is on the meadows. So keen was the hound's sense of ____ that he quickly picked up the ____ again. Any smoker likes the ____ of a good cigar. The ____ of the handkerchief was delicate. Though it was a disagreeable ____, I should hardly call it a[n] ____. The ____ of spices told him that his mother was baking his favorite cake, and he also detected the ____ of coffee. The ____ of the ocean was in the air. He sniffed the ____ of frying bacon.

<Song, ballad, ditty, lullaby, hymn, anthem, dirge, chant, paean, lay, carol, lilt>.

Sentences: "They learn in suffering what they teach in ____." The mother crooned a[n] ____ to her babe. The Highland girl sang a moving old ____ worshipers sang a[n] ____ of praise. Charles Wesley wrote many ____. As I approached the cathedral, I could hear the ____ of lark's outside and the ____ of the choir within. "Our sweetest ____ are those that tell of saddest thought." "A[n] ____ for her the doubly dead in that she died so young."

<Speak, discourse, expatiate, descant, comment, argue, persuade, plead, lecture, preach, harangue, rant, roar, spout, thunder, declaim, harp>. (With this group compare the Say group, above, and the Talk group, below.)

Sentences: "His virtues Will ____ like angels trumpet-tongu'd against The deep damnation of his taking-off." "Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest, ... Come I to ____ in Caesar's funeral." "Ay me! what act, That ____ so loud and ____ in the index?" "Hadst thou thy wits and didst ____ revenge, It could not move thus." "Thou canst not ____ of that thou dost not feel." "Nay, if thou'lt mouth, I' ____ as well as thou." While the politician ____ in the senate chamber upon theoretical ills, the agitator outside ____ the mob about actual ones. "For murder, though it have no tongue, will ____ With most miraculous organ."

<Spend, expend, disburse, squander, waste, lavish>.

Sentences: Large sums were ____ in rebuilding the devastated regions of France. ____ your money, but do not ____ it. One should not ____ more than one earns. The king ____ great sums upon his favorites. The political boss ____ the money among his henchmen. "The younger son ... ____ his substance with riotous living."

<Spot, blotch, speckle, fleck, dapple, smear, smutch, brand, defacement, blemish, stain, discoloration, speck, mark, smudge, flaw, defect,

Sentences: A ____ in the crystal. The ____ of Cain. A life free from ____. "Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul; And there I see such black and grained ____ As will not leave their tinct." From the standpoint of theatrical effectiveness A ____ in the 'Scutcheon is one of the best of Browning's plays. An eruption of the skin made a yellow ____ on his right hand. Dragging my sleeve across the fresh ink had made a ____ upon the page. The ____ of foam by the roadside proved that his horse had been going fast. The ____ at the end of his fingers told me he was a cigarette-smoker. On the left foreleg of the horse was a slight ____.

<Stay, tarry, linger, stop, sojourn, remain, abide, live, reside, dwell, lodge.>

Sentences: The Israelites ____ in Egypt. He ____ to chat with us, but could not ____ overnight. I ____ in a wretched tavern. "I can ____, I can ____ but a night." "I did love the Moor to ____ with him." "He that shall come will come, and will not ____." "I will ____ in the house of the Lord forever." "If ye ____ in me, and my words ____ in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." "I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to ____ in the tents of wickedness." The guests ____ in the cheerful drawing-room.

<Steal, abstract, pilfer, filch, purloin, peculate, swindle, plagiarize, poach>. (With this group, which excludes the idea of violence, compare the Robber group, above.)

Sentences: I am of raid that our son ____ the purse from the gentleman. No one knows how long the cashier has been ____ the funds of the bank. To take our money on such unsound security is to ____ us. He slyly ____ a handkerchief or two. This paragraph is clearly ____. "Thou shalt not ____." Many government employees seem to think that to ____ is their privilege and prerogative. The crown jewels have been ____, She ____ a number of petty articles. A well-known detective story by Poe is called The ____ Letter. "Who ____ my purse ____ trash.... But he that ____ from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed." "A cut-purse of the empire and the rule, That from a shelf the precious diadem ____, And put it in his pocket!"

<Strike, hit, smite, thump, beat, cuff, buffet, knock, whack, belabor, pommel, pound, cudgel, slap, rap, tap, box.>

Sentences: ____ him into the middle of next week. He ____ and ____ the poor beast unmercifully. "As of some one gently ____, ____ at my chamber door." "Unto him that ____ thee on the one cheek offer also the other." "Bid them come forth and hear me, Or at their chamber door I'll ____ the drum Till it cry sleep to death." "One whom I will ____ into clamorous whining." "____ for your altars and your fires!" By means of heavy stones the squaws ____ the corn into meal.

<Sullen, surly, sulky, crabbed, cross, gruff, grum, glum, morose, dour, crusty, cynical, misanthropic, saturnine, splenetic.>

Sentences: "Between us and our hame [home], Where sits our ____, ____ dame, Gathering her brows like gathering storm, Nursing her wrath to keep it warm." A ____ old bachelor. A ____ Scotchman. He hated all men; he was truly ____. He sat ____ and silent all day; by nightfall he was truly ____.

<Talk, chat, chatter, prate, prattle, babble, gabble, jabber, tattle, twaddle, blab, gossip, palaver, parley, converse, mumble, mutter, stammer, stutter.> (With this group compare the Say and Speak groups, above.)

Sentences: It was a queer assembly, and from it arose a queer medley of sounds: the baby was ____, the old crone ____, the gossip ____, the embarrassed young man ____, the child ____ the tale-bearer ____, the hostess ____ with the most distinguished guest, and the trickster ____ with his intended victim. "Blest with each talent and each art to please, And born to write, ____, and live with ease." "I wonder that you will still be ____ Signor Benedick; nobody marks you."

<Tear, rend, rip, lacerate, mangle.>

Sentences: The explosion of the shell ____ his flesh. The tailor ____ the garment along the seam. I'll ____ this paper into bits. Those savages would ____ you limb from limb. She ____ her dress on a nail. The cogs caught his hand and ____ it. How could such reproaches fail to ____ my feelings?

<Throw, pitch, hurl, dash, fling, cast, toss, flip, chuck, sling, heave, launch, dart, propel, project.>

Sentences: Suddenly he ____ the glittering coins away. Goliath learned to his cost that David could ____ a stone. The explosion of the gunpowder ____ the bullet from the gun. "____ down your cups of Samian wine!" The children amused themselves by ____ the ball back and forth. He ____ himself dejectedly into a seat. The thief ____ a glance beside him. The mischievous boy ____ a stone through the window. They ____ some of the cargo overboard to lighten the boat. The eager fisherman ____ the fly for the trout. The untidy fellow ____ the towel in a corner.

<Whip, chastise, castigate, flagellate, scourge, lash, trounce, thrash, flog, maul, drub, switch, spank, bastinado.> (This group limits the field of the Punish group in Exercise A, and extends the list of synonyms.)

Sentences: The drunken driver ____ the excited horses. The zealot was accustomed to ____ himself. The ruler bade that the Christians be ____. The teacher ____ the small children gently, but he unsparingly ____ the big ones. "My father hath ____ you with whips, but I will ____ you with scorpions." The bully was always ____ men smaller than himself till one of them turned on him and ____ him thoroughly.

<Wicked, sinful, felonious, illegal, immoral, heinous, flagitious, iniquitous, criminal, vicious, vile.>

Sentences: "I am fled From this ____ world, with ____ worms to dwell." A[n] ____ assault. "The ____ prize itself Buys out the law." It was, though not a[n] ____ act, a most ____ one. "There the ____ cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest."

<Young, youthful, boyish, girlish, juvenile, puerile, immature, callow, adolescent.>

Sentences: The plan had all the faults of ____ judgment. Many great authors have written books of ____ fiction. The bird, which was still ____, was of course unable to fly. "Such sights as ____ poets dream On summer eves by haunted stream." He was in that ____ stage of development when one is neither a boy nor a man. "I was so ____, I loved him so, I had No mother, God forgot me, and I fell." He made a[n] ____ attempt to impress them with his importance. "Bacchus ever fair, and ever ____." A red necktie gave him a more ____ appearance. The self-satisfied air of a[n] ____ youth is often trying to his elders.


In this exercise each group of synonyms is followed by quotations from authoritative writers in which the words are discriminatingly employed. Find the meaning of each italicized word in these quotations, and differentiate the word accurately from the others in that group. Substitute for it other words from the group, and observe precisely how the meaning is affected.

(So many of the quotations are from poetry that these will be printed as verse rather than, as in the preceding exercises, in continuous lines like prose.)

<Affront, insult, indignity.>

A moral, sensible, and well-bred man
Will not affront me,--and no other can. An old affront will stir the heart Through years of rankling pain.

The way to procure insults is to submit to them. A man meets with no more respect than he exacts.

It is often better not to see an insult than to avenge it.

Even a hare, the weakest of animals, may insult a dead lion.

To a native of rank, arrest was not merely a restraint, but a foul personal indignity.

<Dishonor, disgrace, ignominy, infamy, obloquy, opprobrium>.

His honor rooted in dishonor stood,
And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.

It is hard to say which of the two we ought most to lament,--the unhappy man who sinks under the sense of his dishonor, or him who survives it.

Could he with reason murmur at his case Himself sole author of his own disgrace?

Whatever disgrace we may have deserved, it is almost always in our power to re-establish our character.

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes I all alone beweep my outcast state.

Their generals have been received with honor after their defeat; yours with ignominy after conquest.

Wilful perpetuations of unworthy actions brand with most indelible characters of infamy the name and memory to posterity.

And when his long public life, so singularly chequered with good and evil, with glory and obloquy, bad at length closed forever, it was to Daylesford that he retired to die.

Great opprobrium has been thrown on her name.

<Fame, honor, renown, glory, distinction, reputation, repute, celebrity, eminence, notoriety>.

Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives, Live register'd upon our brazen tombs.

Men have a solicitude about fame; and the greater share they have of it, the more afraid they are of losing it.

Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
. . . . . . . .
But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes
And perfect witness of all-judging Jove;
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed.

When faith is lost, when honor dies, The man is dead.

Act well your part; there all the honor lies.

The Athenians erected a large statue of Aesop, and placed him, though a slave, on a lasting pedestal, to show that the way to honor lies open indifferently to all.

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not honor more.

That nation is worthless which does not joyfully stake everything on her honor.

By heaven methinks it were an easy leap To pluck bright honor from the pale-fac'd moon.

That merit which gives greatness and renown diffuses its influence to a wide compass, but acts weakly on every single breast.

Speak no more of his renown,
Lay your earthly fancies down,
And in the vast cathedral leave him,
God accept him, Christ receive him.

The young warrior did not fly; but met death as he went forward in his strength. Happy are they who dies in youth, when their renown is heard!

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Glory long has made the sages smile; 'tis something, nothing, words, illusion, wind.

Not once or twice in our rough island-story The path of duty was the way to glory.

He was a charming fellow, clever, urbane, free-handed, with all that fortunate quality in his appearance which is known as distinction.

Never get a reputation for a small perfection if you are trying for fame in a loftier area.

One may be better than his reputation or his conduct, but never better than his principles.

I see my reputation is at stake
My fame is shrewdly gor'd.

CASSIO. Reputation, reputation, reputation! O! I have lost my reputation. I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation! IAGO. As I am an honest man, I thought you had received some bodily wound.

You have a good repute for gentleness and wisdom. Celebrity sells dearly what we think she gives.

Kings climb to eminence
Over men's graves.

Notoriety is short-lived; fame is lasting.

<Hatred, hate, animosity, ill-will, enmity, hostility, bitterness, malice, malevolence, malignity, rancor, resentment, dudgeon, grudge, spite>.

The hatred we bear our enemies injures their happiness less than our own.

Hate is like fire; it makes even light rubbish deadly.

He generously forgot all feeling of animosity, and determined to go in person to his succor.

That thereby he may gather The ground of your ill-will, and so remove it.

No place is so propitious to the formation either of close friendships or of deadly enmities as an Indiaman.

There need be no hostility between evolutionist and theologian.

Shall we be thus afflicted in his wreaks, His fits, his frenzy, and his bitterness?

Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice.

Every obstacle which partisan malevolence could create he has had to encounter.

His flight is occasioned rather by the malignity of his countrymen than by the enmity of the Egyptians.

Where the soul sours, and gradual rancor grows, Imbitter'd more from peevish day to day.

Peace in their mouthes, and all rancor and vengeance in their hartes [hearts].

For them the gracious Duncan have I murder'd; Put rancors in the vessel of my peace Only for them.

Her resentment against the king seems not to have abated.

Mrs. W. was in high dudgeon; her heels clattered on the red-tiled floor, and she whisked about the house like a parched pea upon a drum-head.

If I can catch him once upon the hip,
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.

Men of this character pursue a grudge unceasingly, and never forget or forgive.

And since you ne'er provoked their spite, Depend upon't their judgment's right.

<Marriage, matrimony, wedlock>. (With this group compare the matrimonial group in Exercise C, above.)

Marriages are made in heaven.

Hasty marriage seldom proveth well.

A man finds himself seven years older the day after his marriage.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments.

Marriage is the best state for man in general; and every man is a worse man in proportion as he is unfit for the married state.

Matrimony--the high sea for which no compass has yet been invented.

Wedlock's a lane where there is no turning.

What is wedlock forced, but a hell,
An age of discord and continual strife?

<Mercy, clemency, lenity, leniency, lenience, forbearance>.

Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;

  It blesseth him that gives and him that takes;
       *       *       *       *       *
  And earthly power doth then show likest God's
  When _mercy_ seasons justice.

Clemency is the surest proof of a true monarch.

Lenity will operate with greater force, in some instances, than vigor.

All the fellows tried to persuade the Master to greater leniency, but in vain.

It will be necessary that this acceptance should be followed up by measures of the utmost lenience.

There is however a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.

<Pity, sympathy, compassion, commiseration, condolence>.

Careless their merits or their faults to scan, His pity gave ere charity began.

For pity melts the mind to love.

For pitee renneth [runneth] soon in gentle herte [heart].

Our sympathy is cold to the relation of distant misery.

Man may dismiss compassion from his heart, but God will never.

It is unworthy a religious man to view an irreligious one either with alarm or aversion; or with any other feeling than regret, and hope, and brotherly commiseration.

Their congratulations and their condolences are equally words of course.

<Poverty, want, need, destitution, indigence, penury>.

Is there for honest poverty
That hings [hangs] his head, and a' that?

Not to be able to bear poverty is a shameful thing, but not to know how to chase it away by work is a more shameful thing yet.

Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch, Would that its tone could reach the Rich, She sang this "Song of the Shirt!"

Poverty is dishonorable, not in itself, but when it is a proof of laziness, intemperance, luxury, and carelessness; whereas in a person that is temperate, industrious, just and valiant, and who uses all his virtues for the public good, it shows a great and lofty mind.

Want is a bitter and hateful good,
Because its virtues are not understood; Yet many things, impossible to thought, Have been by need to full perfection brought.

Hundreds would never have known want if they had not first known waste.

O! reason not the need; our basest beggars Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs, Man's life is cheap as beast's.

The Christian inhabitants of Thessaly would be reduced to destitution.

It is the care of a very great part of mankind to conceal their indigence from the rest.

Chill penury repress'd their noble rage, And froze the genial current of the soul.

Chill penury weighs down the heart itself; and though it sometimes be endured with calmness, it is but the calmness of despair.

Where penury is felt the thought is chain'd, And sweet colloquial pleasures are but few.

<Regret, compunction, remorse, contrition, penitence, repentance>.

Regrets over the past should chasten the future.

He acknowledged his disloyalty to the king with expressions of great compunction.

Through no disturbance of my soul,
Or strong compunction in me wrought, I supplicate for thy control.

God speaks to our hearts through the voice of remorse.

To err is human; but contrition felt for the crime distinguishes the virtuous from the wicked.

Christian penitence is something more than a thought or an emotion or a tear; it is action.

Repentance must be something more than mere remorse for sins; it comprehends a change of nature befitting heaven.

<Stubborn, obstinate, pertinacious, intractable, refractory, contumacious>.

For fools are stubborn in their way, As coins are harden'd by th' allay;
And obstinacy's ne'er so stiff
As when 'tis in a wrong belief.

They may also laugh at their pertinacious and incurable obstinacy.

He who is intractable, he whom nothing can persuade, may boast himself invincible.

There is a law in each well-order'd nation To curb those raging appetites that are Most disobedient and refractory.

He then dissolved Parliament, and sent its most refractory members to the Tower.

If he were contumacious, he might be excommunicated, or, in other words, be deprived of all civil rights and imprisoned for life.


The following list of synonyms is given for the convenience of those who wish additional material with which to work. This is a selected list and makes no pretense to completeness. It is suggested that you discriminate the words within each of the following groups, and use each word accurately in a sentence of your own making.

Abettor, accessory, accomplice, confederate, conspirator. Acknowledge, admit, confess, own, avow.
Active, agile, nimble, brisk, sprightly, spry, bustling. Advise, counsel, admonish, caution, warn. Affecting, moving, touching, pathetic.
Agnostic, skeptic, infidel, unbeliever, disbeliever. Amuse, entertain, divert.
Announce, proclaim, promulgate, report, advertise, publish, bruit, blazon, trumpet, herald.
Antipathy, aversion, repugnance, disgust, loathing. Artifice, ruse, trick, dodge, manoeuver, wile, stratagem, subterfuge, finesse.
Ascend, mount, climb, scale.
Associate, colleague, partner, helper, collaborator, coadjutor, companion, helpmate, mate, team-mate, comrade, chum, crony, consort, accomplice, confederate.
Attach, affix, annex, append, subjoin.
Attack, assail, assault, invade, beset, besiege, bombard, cannonade, storm.

Begin, commence, inaugurate, initiate, institute, originate, start, found. Belief, faith, persuasion, conviction, tenet, creed. Belittle, decry, depreciate, disparage.
Bind, secure, fetter, shackle, gyve.
Bit, jot, mite, particle, grain, atom, speck, mote, whit, iota, tittle, scintilla.
Bluff, blunt, outspoken, downright, brusk, curt, crusty. Boast, brag, vaunt, vapor, gasconade.
Body, corpse, remains, relics, carcass, cadaver, corpus. Bombastic, sophomoric, turgid, tumid, grandiose, grandiloquent, magniloquent.
Boorish, churlish, loutish, clownish, rustic, ill-bred. Booty, plunder, loot, spoil.
Brittle, frangible, friable, fragile, crisp. Building, edifice, structure, house.

Call, clamor, roar, scream, shout, shriek, vociferate, yell, halloo, whoop.
Calm, still, motionless, tranquil, serene, placid. Care, concern, solicitude, anxiety.
Celebrate, commemorate, observe.
Charm, amulet, talisman.
Charm, enchant, fascinate, captivate, enrapture, bewitch, infatuate, enamor.
Cheat, defraud, swindle, dupe.
Choke, strangle, suffocate, stifle, throttle. Choose, pick, select, cull, elect.
Coax, wheedle, cajole, tweedle, persuade, inveigle. Color, hue, shade, tint, tinge, tincture. Combine, unite, consolidate, merge, amalgamate, weld, incorporate, confederate.
Comfort, console, solace.
Complain, grumble, growl, murmur, repine, whine, croak. Confirmed, habitual, inveterate, chronic. Connect, join, link, couple, attach, unite. Continual, continuous, unceasing, incessant, endless, uninterrupted, unremitting, constant, perpetual, perennial. Contract, agreement, bargain, compact, covenant, stipulation. Copy, duplicate, counterpart, likeness, reproduction, replica, facsimile. Corrupt, depraved, perverted, vitiated.
Costly, expensive, dear.
Coterie, clique, cabal, circle, set, faction, party. Critical, judicial, impartial, carping, caviling, captious, censorious. Crooked, awry, askew.
Cross, fretful, peevish, petulant, pettish, irritable, irascible, angry. Crowd, throng, horde, host, mass, multitude, press, jam, concourse. Curious, inquisitive, prying, meddlesome.

Dainty, delicate, exquisite, choice, rare. Danger, peril, jeopardy, hazard, risk.
Darken, obscure, bedim, obfuscate.
Dead, lifeless, inanimate, deceased, defunct, extinct. Decay, decompose, putrefy, rot, spoil.
Deceit, deception, double-dealing, duplicity, chicanery, guile, treachery. Deceptive, deceitful, misleading, fallacious, fraudulent. Decorate, adorn, ornament, embellish, deck, bedeck, garnish, bedizen, beautify.
Decorous, demure, sedate, sober, staid, prim, proper. Deface, disfigure, mar, mutilate.
Defect, fault, imperfection, disfigurement, blemish, flaw. Delay, defer, postpone, procrastinate.
Demoralize, deprave, debase, corrupt, vitiate. Deportment, demeanor, bearing, port, mien. Deprive, divest, dispossess, strip, despoil. Despise, contemn, scorn, disdain.
Despondency, despair, desperation.
Detach, separate, sunder, sever, disconnect, disjoin, disunite. Determined, persistent, dogged.
Devout, religious, pious, godly, saintly. Difficulty, hindrance, obstacle, impediment, encumbrance, handicap. Difficulty, predicament, perplexity, plight, quandary, dilemma, strait. Dirty, filthy, foul, nasty, squalid.
Discernment, perception, penetration, insight, acumen. Disgraceful, dishonorable, shameful, disreputable, ignominious, opprobrious, scandalous, infamous.
Disgusting, sickening, repulsive, revolting, loathsome, repugnant, abhorrent, noisome, fulsome.
Dispel, disperse, dissipate, scatter.
Dissatisfied, discontented, displeased, malcontent, disgruntled. Divide, distribute, apportion, allot, allocate, partition. Doctrine, dogma, tenet, precept.
Dream, reverie, vision, fantasy.
Drip, dribble, trickle.
Drunk, drunken, intoxicated, inebriated. Dry, arid, parched, desiccated.

Eat, bolt, gulp, gorge, devour.
Encroach, infringe, intrench, trench, intrude, invade, trespass. End, conclude, terminate, finish, discontinue, close. Enemy, foe, adversary, opponent, antagonist, rival. Enough, adequate, sufficient.
Entice, inveigle, allure, lure, decoy, seduce. Erase, expunge, cancel, efface, obliterate. Error, mistake, blunder, slip.
Estimate, value, appreciate.
Eternal, everlasting, endless, deathless, imperishable, immortal. Examination, inquiry, inquisition, investigation, inspection, scrutiny, research, review, audit, inquest, autopsy. Example, sample, specimen, instance.
Exceed, excel, surpass, transcend, outdo. Expand, dilate, distend, inflate.
Expel, banish, exile, proscribe, ostracize. Experiment, trial, test.
Explicit, exact, precise, definite.

Faculty, gift, endowment, aptitude, attribute, talent, predilection, bent. Failing, shortcoming, defect, fault, foible, infirmity. Famous, renowned, celebrated, noted, distinguished, eminent, illustrious. Fashion, mode, style, vogue, rage, fad.
Fast, rapid, swift, quick, fleet, speedy, hasty, celeritous, expeditious, instantaneous.
Fasten, tie, hitch, moor, tether.
Fate, destiny, lot, doom.
Fawn, truckle, cringe, crouch.
Feign, pretend, dissemble, simulate, counterfeit, affect, assume. Fiendish, devilish, diabolical, demoniacal, demonic, satanic. Fertile, fecund, fruitful, prolific.
Fit, suitable, appropriate, proper.
Flame, blaze, flare, glare, glow.
Flat, level, even, plane, smooth, horizontal. Flatter, blandish, beguile, compliment, praise. Flexible, pliable, pliant, supple, limber, lithe, lissom. Flit, flutter, flicker, hover.
Flock, herd, bevy, covey, drove, pack, brood, litter, school. Flow, pour, stream, gush, spout.
Follow, pursue, chase.
Follower, adherent, disciple, partisan, henchman. Fond, loving, doting, devoted, amorous, enamored. Force, strength, power, energy, vigor, might, potency, cogency, efficacy. Force, compulsion, coercion, constraint, restraint. Free, liberate, emancipate, manumit, release, disengage, disentangle, disembarrass, disencumber, extricate.
Freshen, refresh, revive, renovate, renew. Friendly, amicable, companionable, hearty, cordial, neighborly, sociable, genial, complaisant, affable.
Frighten, affright, alarm, terrify, terrorize, dismay, appal, daunt, scare.
Frown, scowl, glower, lower.
Frugal, sparing, saving, economical, chary, thrifty, provident, prudent.

Game, play, amusement, pastime, diversion, fun, sport, entertainment. Gather, accumulate, amass, collect, levy, muster, hoard. Ghost, spirit, specter, phantom, apparition, shade, phantasm. Gift, present, donation, grant, gratuity, bequest, boon, bounty, largess, fee, bribe.
Grand, magnificent, gorgeous, splendid, superb, sublime. Greet, hail, salute, address, accost.
Grief, sorrow, distress, affliction, trouble, tribulation, woe. Grieve, lament, mourn, bemoan, bewail, deplore, rue. Guard, defend, protect, shield, shelter, screen, preserve.

Habitation, abode, dwelling, residence, domicile, home. Harmful, injurious, detrimental, pernicious, deleterious, baneful, noxious.
Have, possess, own, hold.
Headstrong, wayward, wilful, perverse, froward. Help (noun), aid, assistance, succor.
Help (verb), assist, aid, succor, abet, second, support, befriend. Hesitate, falter, vacillate, waver.
Hide, conceal, secrete.
High, tall, lofty, elevated, towering.
Hint, intimate, insinuate.
Hopeful, expectant, sanguine, optimistic, confident. Hopeless, despairing, disconsolate, desperate. Holy, sacred, hallowed, sanctified, consecrated, godly, pious, saintly, blessed.

Impolite, discourteous, inurbane, uncivil, rude, disrespectful, pert, saucy, impertinent, impudent, insolent.
Importance, consequence, moment.
Impostor, pretender, charlatan, masquerader, mountebank, deceiver, humbug, cheat, quack, shyster, empiric.
Imprison, incarcerate, immure.
Improper, indecent, indecorous, unseemly, unbecoming, indelicate. Impure, tainted, contaminated, polluted, defiled, vitiated. Inborn, innate, inbred, congenital.
Incite, instigate, stimulate, impel, arouse, goad, spur, promote. Inclose, surround, encircle, circumscribe, encompass. Increase, grow, enlarge, magnify, amplify, swell, augment. Indecent, indelicate, immodest, shameless, ribald, lewd, lustful, lascivious, libidinous, obscene.
Insane, demented, deranged, crazy, mad.
Insanity, dementia, derangement, craziness, madness, lunacy, mania, frenzy, hallucination.
Insipid, tasteless, flat, vapid.
Intention, intent, purpose, plan, design, aim, object, end. Interpose, intervene, intercede, interfere, mediate. Irreligious, ungodly, impious, godless, sacrilegious, blasphemous, profane.
Irritate, exasperate, nettle, incense.

Join, connect, unite, couple, combine, link, annex, append.

Kindle, ignite, inflame, rouse.

Lack, want, need, deficiency, dearth, paucity, scarcity, deficit. Lame, crippled, halt, deformed, maimed, disabled. Large, great, big, huge, immense, colossal, gigantic, extensive, vast, massive, unwieldy, bulky.
Laughable, comical, comic, farcical, ludicrous, ridiculous, funny, droll. Lead, guide, conduct, escort, convoy.
Lengthen, prolong, protract, extend.
Lessen, decrease, diminish, reduce, abate, curtail, moderate, mitigate, palliate.
Lie (noun), untruth, falsehood, falsity, fiction, fabrication, mendacity, canard, fib, story.
Lie (verb), prevaricate, falsify, equivocate, quibble, shuffle, dodge, fence, fib.
Likeness, resemblance, similitude, similarity, semblance, analogy. Limp, flaccid, flabby, flimsy.
List, roll, catalogue, register, roster, schedule, inventory. Loud, resonant, clarion, stentorian, sonorous. Low, base, abject, servile, slavish, menial. Loyal, faithful, true, constant, staunch, unwavering, steadfast. Lurk, skulk, slink, sneak, prowl.

Make, create, frame, fashion, mold, shape, form, forge, fabricate, invent, construct, manufacture, concoct.
Manifest, plain, obvious, clear, apparent, patent, evident, perceptible, noticeable, open, overt, palpable, tangible, indubitable, unmistakable. Many, various, numerous, divers, manifold, multitudinous, myriad, countless, innumerable.
Meaning, significance, signification, import, purport. Meet, encounter, collide, confront, converge. Meeting, assembly, assemblage, congregation, convention, conference, concourse, gathering, mustering.
Melt, thaw, fuse, dissolve, liquefy.
Memory, remembrance, recollection, reminiscence, retrospection. Misrepresent, misinterpret, falsify, distort, warp. Mix, compound, amalgamate, weld, combine, blend, concoct. Model, pattern, prototype, criterion, standard, exemplar, paragon, archetype, ideal.
Motive, incentive, inducement, desire, purpose. Move, actuate, impel, prompt, incite.

Near, nigh, close, neighboring, adjacent, contiguous. Neat, tidy, orderly, spruce, trim, prim. Needful, necessary, requisite, essential, indispensable. Negligence, neglect, inattention, inattentiveness, inadvertence, remissness, oversight.
New, novel, fresh, recent, modern, late, innovative, unprecedented. Nice, fastidious, dainty, finical, squeamish. Noisy, clamorous, boisterous, hilarious, turbulent, riotous, obstreperous, uproarious, vociferous, blatant, brawling. Noticeable, prominent, conspicuous, salient, signal.

Order (noun), command, mandate, behest, injunction, decree. Order (verb), command, enjoin, direct, instruct. Oversight, supervision, direction, superintendence, surveillance.

Pale, pallid, wan, colorless, blanched, ghastly, ashen, cadaverous. Patience, forbearance, resignation, longsuffering. Penetrate, pierce, perforate.
Place, office, post, position, situation, appointment. Plan, design, project, scheme, plot.
Playful, mischievous, roguish, prankish, sportive, arch. Plentiful, plenteous, abundant, bounteous, copious, profuse, exuberant, luxuriant.
Plunder, rifle, loot, sack, pillage, devastate, despoil. Pretty, beautiful, comely, handsome, fair. Profitable, remunerative, lucrative, gainful. Prompt, punctual, ready, expeditious.
Pull, draw, drag, haul, tug, tow.
Push, shove, thrust.
Puzzle, perplex, mystify, bewilder.

Queer, odd, curious, quaint, ridiculous, singular, unique, bizarre, fantastic, grotesque.

Rash, incautious, reckless, foolhardy, adventurous, venturous, venturesome.
Rebellion, insurrection, revolt, mutiny, riot, revolution, sedition. Recover, regain, retrieve, recoup, rally, recuperate. Reflect, deliberate, ponder, muse, meditate, ruminate. Relate, recount, recite, narrate, tell.
Replace, supersede, supplant, succeed.
Repulsive, unsightly, loathsome, hideous, grewsome. Requital, retaliation, reprisal, revenge, vengeance, retribution. Responsible, answerable, accountable, amenable, liable. Reveal, disclose, divulge, manifest, show, betray. Reverence, veneration, awe, adoration, worship. Ridicule, deride, mock, taunt, flout, twit, tease. Ripe, mature, mellow.
Rise, arise, mount, ascend.
Rogue, knave, rascal, miscreant, scamp, sharper, villain. Round, circular, rotund, spherical, globular, orbicular. Rub, polish, burnish, furbish, scour.

Sad, grave, sober, moody, doleful, downcast, dreary, woeful, somber, unhappy, woebegone, mournful, depressed, despondent, gloomy, melancholy, heavy-spirited, sorrowful, dismal, dejected, disconsolate, miserable, lugubrious.
Satiate, sate, surfeit, cloy, glut, gorge. Scoff, jeer, gibe, fleer, sneer, mock, taunt. Secret, covert, surreptitious, furtive, clandestine, underhand, stealthy. Seep, ooze, infiltrate, percolate, transude, exude. Sell, barter, vend, trade.
Shape, form, figure, outline, conformation, configuration, contour, profile.
Share, partake, participate, divide.
Sharp, keen, acute, cutting, trenchant, incisive. Shore, coast, littoral, beach, strand, bank. Shorten, abridge, abbreviate, curtail, truncate, syncopate. Show (noun), display, ostentation, parade, pomp, splurge. Show, exhibit, display, expose, manifest, evince. Shrink, flinch, wince, blench, quail.
Shun, avoid, eschew.
Shy, bashful, diffident, modest, coy, timid, shrinking. Sign, omen, auspice, portent, prognostic, augury, foretoken, adumbration, presage, indication.
Simple, innocent, artless, unsophisticated, naive. Skilful, skilled, expert, adept, apt, proficient, adroit, dexterous, deft, clever, ingenious.
Skin, hide, pelt, fell.
Sleepy, drowsy, slumberous, somnolent, sluggish, torpid, dull, lethargic. Slovenly, slatternly, dowdy, frowsy, blowzy. Sly, crafty, cunning, subtle, wily, artful, politic, designing. Smile, smirk, grin.
Solitary, lonely, lone, lonesome, desolate, deserted, uninhabited. Sour, acid, tart, acrid, acidulous, acetose, acerbitous, astringent. Speech, discourse, oration, address, sermon, declamation, dissertation, exhortation, disquisition, harangue, diatribe, tirade, screed, philippic, invective, rhapsody, plea.
Spruce, natty, dapper, smart, chic.
Stale, musty, frowzy, mildewed, fetid, rancid, rank. Steep, precipitous, abrupt.
Stingy, close, miserly, niggardly, parsimonious, penurious, sordid, Storm, tempest, whirlwind, hurricane, tornado, cyclone, typhoon Straight, perpendicular, vertical, plumb, erect, upright. Strange, singular, peculiar, odd, queer, quaint, outlandish. Strong, stout, robust, sturdy, stalwart, powerful. Stupid, dull, obtuse, stolid, doltish, sluggish, brainless, bovine. Succeed, prosper, thrive, flourish, triumph. Succession, sequence, series.
Supernatural, preternatural, superhuman, miraculous. Suppose, surmise, conjecture, presume, imagine, fancy, guess, think, believe.
Surprise, astonish, amaze, astound.
Swearing, cursing, profanity, blasphemy, execration, imprecation.

Teach, instruct, educate, train, discipline, drill, inculcate, instil, indoctrinate.
Thoughtful, contemplative, meditative, reflective, pensive, wistful. Tire, weary, fatigue, exhaust, jade, fag. Tool, implement, instrument, utensil.
Trifle, dally, dawdle, potter.
Try, endeavor, essay, attempt.
Trust, confidence, reliance, assurance, faith. Turn, revolve, rotate, spin, whirl, gyrate.

Ugly, homely, uncomely, hideous.
Unwilling, reluctant, disinclined, loath, averse.

Watchful, vigilant, alert.
Wave (noun), billow, breaker, swell, ripple, undulation. Wave (verb), brandish, flourish, flaunt, wigwag. Weariness, languor, lassitude, enervation, exhaustion. Wearisome, tiresome, irksome, tedious, humdrum. Wet (adjective), humid, moist, damp, dank, sodden, soggy. Wet (verb), moisten, dampen, soak, imbrue, saturate, drench Whim, caprice, vagary, fancy, freak, whimsey, crotchet. Wind, breeze, gust, blast, flaw, gale, squall, flurry. Wind, coil, twist, twine, wreathe.
Winding, tortuous, serpentine, sinuous, meandering. Wonderful, marvelous, phenomenal, miraculous. Workman, laborer, artisan, artificer, mechanic, craftsman. Write, inscribe, scribble, scrawl, scratch.

Yearn, long, hanker, pine, crave.


Write three synonyms for each of the following words. Discriminate the three, and embody each of them in a sentence.

Accomplish Conduct (noun) Humble Scream
Agree Conspicuous Indifferent Shrewd
Anger Cringe Misfortune Shudder
Attempt Difficult Obey Skill
Big Disconnect Object (noun) Soft
Brute Erratic Object (verb) Splash
Business Flash Obligation Success
Careless Fragrant Occupied Sweet
Climb Gain Oppose Trick
Collect Generous Persist Wash
Commanding Grim Revise Worship
Compel Groan Room  


Supply eight or ten intervening words between each of the following pairs. Arrange the intervening words in an ascending scale.

Dark, bright Wet, dry
Savage, civilized Beautiful, ugly
Friend, enemy Hope, despair
Wise, foolish Love, hate
Enormous, minute Admirable, abominable
Curse, bless Pride, humility



In Chapter VII you made a study of printed distinctions between synonyms. In Chapter VIII you were given lists of synonyms and made the distinctions yourself. Near the close of Chapter VIII you were given words and discovered for yourself what their synonyms are. This third stage might seem to reveal to you the full joys and benefits of your researches in this subject. Certainly to find a new word for an old one is an exhilarating sort of mental travel. And to find a new word which expresses exactly what an old one expressed but approximately is a real acquisition in living. But you are not yet a perfectly trained hunter of synonyms. Some miscellaneous tasks remain; they will involve hard work and call your utmost powers into play.

Of these tasks the most important is connected with the hint already given that many words, especially if they be generic words, have two or more entirely different meanings. Let us first establish this fact, and afterwards see what bearing it has on our study of synonyms.

My friend says, "I hope you will have a good day." Does he mean an enjoyable one in general? a profitable or lucrative one, in case I have business in hand? a successful one, if I am selling stocks or buying a house? Possibly he means a sunshiny day if I intend to play golf, a snowy day if I plan to go hunting, a rainy day if my crops are drying up. The ideas here are varied, even contradictory, enough; yet good may be used of every one of them. Good is in truth so general a term that we must know the attendant circumstances if we are to attach to it a signification even approximately accurate. This does not at all imply that good is a term we may brand as useless. It implies merely that when our meaning is specific we must set good aside (unless circumstances make its sense unmistakable) in favor of a specific word.

Things is another very general term. In "Let us wash up the things" it likely means dishes or clothes. In "Hang your things in the closet" it likely means clothes. In "Put the things in the tool-box" it likely means tools. In "Put the things in the sewing-basket" it likely means thread, needles, and scissors. In "The trenches are swarming with these things" it likely means cooties. A more accurate word is usually desirable. Yet we may see the value of the generality in the saying "A place for everything, and everything in its place."

Good and things are not alone in having multitudinous meanings. There are in the language numerous many-sided words. These words should be studied carefully. True, they are not always employed in ambiguous ways. For example, right in the sense of correct is seldom likely to be mistaken for right in the sense of not-left, but a reader or hearer may frequently mistake it for right in the sense of just or of honorable. In the use of such words, therefore, we cannot become too discriminating.


This exercise concerns itself with common words that have more than one meaning. Make your procedure as follows. First, look up the word itself. Under it you will find a number of defining words. Then look up each of these in turn, until you have the requisite number and kind of synonyms. (The word is sure to have more synonyms than are called for.) You will have to use your dictionary tirelessly.

<Bare.> Find three synonyms for bare as applied to the body; three for it as applied to a room.

<Bear.> Give three other words that might be used instead of bear in the sentence "The pillar bears a heavy weight"; three in the sentence "He bore a heavy load on his back"; three in the sentence "He bore the punishment that was unjustly meted out to him"; three in the sentence "He bore a grudge against his neighbor"; two in the sentence "The field did not bear a crop last year."

<Bold.> Give ten synonyms for bold as applied to a warrior; ten as applied to a young girl. Observe that the synonyms in the first list are favorable in import and suggest the idea of bravery, whereas those in the second list are unfavorable and suggest the idea of brazenness. How do you account for this fact? Can you think of circumstances in which a young girl might be so placed that the favorable synonyms might be applied to her?

<Bright.> Give as many words as you can, at least twelve, that can be used instead of bright as applied to a light, a diamond, a wet pavement, or a live coal. Give three words for bright as applied to a child of unusual intelligence; two as applied to an occasion that promises to turn out well; two as applied to a career that has been signally successful.

<Clear.> Give five synonyms for clear as applied to water: ten as applied to a fact or a statement; three as applied to the sky or atmosphere; three as applied to the voice; two as applied to a passageway or a view; three as applied to one's judgment or thinking.

<Close.> Give three words that could be substituted for close as applied to the atmosphere in a room; four as applied to a person who is uninclined to talk about a matter; three as applied to something not far off; four as applied to a friend; five as applied to a person who is reluctant to spend money; five as applied to a translation; five as applied to attention or endeavor.

<Discharge.> Substitute in turn four words for discharge in the sentence "The judge discharged the prisoner"; two in the sentence "The foreman discharged the workman"; two in the sentence "The hunter discharged the gun"; three in the sentence "The sore discharged pus"; two in the sentence "My neighbor discharged the debt"; two in the sentence "He discharged his duty."

<Dull>. Name three words besides <I>dull_ that could be applied to a blade or a point; five to a person with slow intellect; three to indifference toward others; two to a color; three to a day that is not cheerful; five to talk or discourse that is not interesting.

<Fair>. Substitute five words for fair in the sentence "He gave a fair judgment in the case"; three in the sentence "The son made a fair showing in his studies"; four in the sentence "She had a fair face"; two in the sentence "Her complexion was fair"; three in the sentence "Let no shame ever fall upon your fair name."

<False>. Find two words that you can substitute for false as applied to a signature, to a report or a piece of news, to jewels or money, to a friend.

<Fast>. Name two words I might substitute for fast in the sentence "Drive the stake until it is fast in the ground"; three in the sentence "He made a fast trip for the doctor"; six in the sentence "By leading a fast life he soon squandered his inheritance."

<Firm>. Substitute four words for firm in the sentence "I made the board firm by nailing it to the wall"; three in the sentence "The water froze into a firm mass"; five in the sentence "He was firm in his determination to proceed."

<Flat>. Instead of flat use in turn four other words in the sentence "This is a flat piece of ground"; five in the sentence "It was as flat a story as ever wearied company"; three in the sentence "The cook having forgotten the salt, the soup was flat"; four in the sentence "I am surprised by your flat refusal."

<Free>. Free may be applied to a person not subject to a tax or a disease, to a person who has been released from confinement or restraint, to a person who is not reserved or formal in his relations to others, to a person who is willing to give. Out of your own resources substitute as many words as you can for free in each of these sentences. Now look up free in a dictionary or book of synonyms. What proportion of its synonyms were you able to think up unaided?

<Great>. Give three synonyms for great as applied to size, to number, to a man widely known for notable achievement, to an error or crime, to price.

<Hard>. Give six synonyms for hard as applied to a rock; six as applied to a task or burden; six as applied to a problem or situation; ten as applied to one's treatment of others.

<Harsh>. Give three words that can be applied instead of harsh to a sound; three that can be applied instead of harsh to the voice; five that can be applied to one's treatment of others; five that can be applied to one's disposition or nature.

<Just>. Substitute five words for just in the sentence "You are just in your dealings with others"; three in the sentence "A just punishment was meted out to him"; three in the sentence "They made a just division of the property"; two in the sentence "He had a just claim to the title."

<Plain>. Give six words that can be substituted for plain, as applied to a fact or statement; four as applied to the decorations of a room; two as applied to the countenance; four as applied to a surface; three as applied to a statement or reply.

<Poor>. Give five words that can be used instead of poor as applied to a person who is without money or resources; ten as applied to a person lacking in flesh; three as applied to clothing that is worn out; five as applied to land that will bear only small crops or no crops at all; two as applied to an occasion that does not promise to turn out well.

<Quick>. Give six words that could be used instead of quick as applied to a train or a horse in travel; six as applied to the movements of a person about a room or to his actions in the performance of his work; four to a disposition or temper that is easily irritated.

<Serious>. Give five synonyms for serious as applied to one's countenance or expression; three as applied to a problem or undertaking; two as applied to a disease or to sickness.

<Sharp>. Give two synonyms for sharp as applied to a blade or a point; six as applied to a pain or to grief; four as applied to a remark or reply; ten as applied to one's mind or intellect; three as applied to temper or disposition; three as applied to an embankment; three as applied to the seasoning of food; three as applied to a cry or scream.

<Stiff>. Give six synonyms for stiff as applied to an iron rod; three as applied to an adversary; six as applied to one's manner or bearing; two as applied to one's style of writing or speaking.

<Strong>. Give three synonyms for strong as applied to a person in regard to his health; ten as applied to him in regard to his muscularity of physique; four as applied to a fortress; three as applied to a plea or assertion; three as applied to an argument or reason; three as applied to determination; two as applied to liquor; three as applied to a light; two as applied to corrective measures; two as applied to an odor.

<Vain>. Give five synonyms for vain as applied to a man who overvalues himself or his accomplishments; six as applied to an attempt that comes to nothing; three as applied to hopes that have little chance of fulfilment.

<Weak>. Substitute five synonyms for weak in the sentence "I was very weak after my illness"; four in the sentence "The fortress was especially weak on the side toward the plain"; three in the sentence "He made a weak attempt to defend his actions"; three in the sentence "Many of these arguments are weak"; three in the sentence "Hamlet is usually interpreted as being weak of will"; three in the sentence "The liquor was so weak it had no taste"; three in the sentence "The lace was weak and soon tore."

<Wild>. Give two words instead of wild as applied to animals; two as applied to land; three as applied to people who have not been civilized; three as applied to a storm, an uncontrolled temper, or a mob; three as applied to a scheme that has no basis in reason or practicality.


In Exercise H you started with ideas and objects, and had to find words of a given meaning that could be applied to them. In this exercise you start with the words, and must find the ideas and objects.

<Base>. To what is base applied when inferior, cheap, worthless could be used as its synonyms? To what is it applied when debased, impure, spurious, alloyed, counterfeit could be used? When mean, despicable, contemptible, shameful, disgraceful, dishonorable, discreditable, scandalous, infamous, villainous, low-minded could be used? When ignoble, servile, slavish, groveling, menial could be used? When plebeian, obscure, untitled, vulgar, lowly, nameless, humble, unknown could be used?

<Mortal>. Can you properly contrast mortal with immortal existence? mortal with porcine existence? Is porcine existence also mortal? Is mortal existence also porcine? What adjective pertaining to mankind forms a true contrast to porcine? What is a synonym for mortal in its broad sense? in its narrow sense?

<Severe>. To what is severe applied when harsh, stern, rigorous, drastic, austere, hard could be substituted for it? When plain, unembellished, unadorned, chaste could be substituted? When acute, violent, extreme, intense, sharp, distressing, afflictive could be substituted? When keen, cutting, biting, stinging, caustic, critical, trenchant could be substituted?


Reread the discussion of good and things in Many-sided Words. Then for each of the words listed below collect or compose twenty or more sentences in which the word is used. As largely as possible, take them from actual experience. In doing this you must listen to the use of the word in everyday talk. After you have made your list of sentences as varied and extensive as you can, try to substitute synonyms that will express the idea more accurately. Note whether a knowledge of the attendant circumstances is necessary to an understanding of the original word, to an understanding of the word substituted for it.

Bad Fine Matter Affair
Nice Common Case Boost


Analyze each of the words given below into its various uses or applications. Then for it in each of these applications assemble as many synonyms as you can unaided. Finally, have recourse to a dictionary or book of synonyms for the further extension of your lists.

(By way of illustration, let us take the word quiet. Through meditation and analysis we discover that it may be applied (a) to water or any liquid not in motion, (b) to a place that is without sound, (c) to a place shut off from activity or bustle, (d) to a person who is not demonstrative or forward in manner. We then think of all the words we can that can be substituted for it in each of these uses. No matter how incompletely or unsatisfactorily we feel we are performing this task, we must not give it over until we have found every word we can summon. Then we turn to a dictionary or book of synonyms. Thus for quiet we shall assemble such synonyms as (a) calm, still, motionless, placid, tranquil, serene, smooth, unruffled, undisturbed, pacific, stagnant;

  1. silent, still, noiseless, mute, hushed, voiceless; (c) secluded, sequestered, solitary, isolated, unfrequented, unvisited, peaceful, untrodden, retired; (d) demure, sedate, staid, reserved, meek, gentle, retiring, unobtrusive, modest, unassuming, timid, shrinking, shy.)
Barren Keep Pure Solid
Certain Liberal Rare Sorry
Cold Light (adjective) Rich Spread
Cool Light (noun) Right Straight
Deep Long Rude Still
Dry Low Short Sure
Easy Mean Simple Thick
Foul Narrow Slow Thin
Full New Small Tender
Gentle Obscure Smooth True
Grand Odd Sober Warm
Particular Soft Yield

<Literal vs. Figurative Applications>

One of the most interesting things to watch in the study of words is their development from a literal to a figurative application. The first man who broke away from the confines of the literal meaning of a word and applied the word to something that only in a figurative sense had qualities analogous to the original meaning, was creating poetry. He was making an imaginative flight comparable in daring to the Wright brothers' first aeronautic flight. But as the word was used over and over in this figurative way the imaginative flight became more and more commonplace. At last it ceased to be imaginative at all; through frequent repetition it had settled into the matter of course. A glance back at the Concise group above will show you that with time the comparison which was once the basis and the life of the figurative use of words is dulled, obscured, even lost.

As a further enforcement of this fact, let us analyze the word rough. In its literal application, it may designate any surface that has ridges, projections, or inequalities and is therefore uneven, jagged, rugged, scraggy, or scabrous. Now frequently a man's face or head is rough because unshaved or uncombed; also the fur of an animal is rough. Hence the term could be used for unkempt, disheveled, shaggy, hairy, coarse, bristly. "The child ran its hand over its father's rough cheek" and "The bear had a rough coat" are sentences that even the most unimaginative mind can understand. We speak of rough timber because its surface has not been planed or made smooth. We speak of a rough diamond because it is unpolished, uncut. Note that all these uses are literal, that in each instance some unevenness of surface is referred to.

But man, urged on by the desire to say what he means with more novelty, strikingness, or force, applied the word to ideas that have no surfaces to be uneven. He imagined what these ideas would be like if they had surfaces. Of course in putting these conceptions into language he was creating figures of speech, some of them startlingly apt, some of them merely far-fetched. He said a man had a rough voice, as though the voice were like a cactus in its prickly irregularities. By rough he meant what his fellows meant when they spoke of the voice as harsh, grating, jarring, discordant, inharmonious, strident, raucous, or unmusical. Going farther, that early poet said the weather was rough. He thought of clement weather as being smooth and even, but of inclement, severe, stormy, tempestuous, or violent weather as being full of projections to rend and harass one. Thus an everyday use of the term today was once wrenched and immoderate speech. Possibly the first man who heard of rough weather was puzzled for a moment, then amused or delighted as he caught the figure. It did not require great originality to think of a crowd as rough in its movements. But our poet applied the idea to an individual. To him a rude, uncivil, impolite, ungracious, uncourteous, unpolished, uncouth, boorish, blunt, bluff, gruff, brusk, or burly person was as the unplaned lumber or the unpolished gem; and we imitative moderns still call such a man rough. But we do not think of the man as covered with projections that need to be taken off, unless forsooth we receive rough treatment at his hands. And note how far we have journeyed from the original idea of the word when we say "I gave the report a rough glance," meaning cursory, hasty, superficial, or incomplete consideration.

Many very simple words, including several of those already treated in this chapter, are two-sided in that they are both literal and figurative.


Trace each of the following words from its literal to its figurative applications, giving synonyms for each of its uses.

Open Bright Stiff Hard
Low Cool Sharp Flat
Keen Strong Dull Raw
Odd Warm Deep

<Imperfectly Understood Facts and Ideas>

Thus far in this chapter we have been considering many-sided words. We must now turn to a certain class of facts and ideas that deserve better understanding and closer analysis than we usually accord them.

These facts and ideas are supposed to be matters of common knowledge. And in their broad scope and purport they are. Because acquaintance with them is taken for granted it behooves us to know them. Yet they are in reality complicated, and when we attempt to deal with them in detail, our assurance forsakes us. All of us have our "blind sides" intellectually-- quake to have certain areas of discussion entered, because we foresee that we must sit idly by without power to make sensible comment. Unto as many as possible of these blind sides of ourselves we should pronounce the blessed words, "Let there be light." We have therefore to consider certain matters and topics which are supposed to belong to the common currency of social information, but with which our familiarity is less thoroughgoing than it should be.

What are these facts and topics? Take for illustration the subject of aeronautics. Suppose we have but the vaguest conception of the part played or likely to be played by aircraft in war, commerce, and pleasure. Suppose we are not aware that some craft are made to float and others to be driven by propellers. Suppose such terms as Zeppelin, blimp, monoplane, biplane, hydroplane, dirigible have no definite import for us. Does not our knowledge fall short of that expected of well-informed men in this present age?

Or take military terms. Everybody uses them--clergymen, pacifists, clubmen, social reformers, novelists, tramps, brick-layers, Big-Stickers. We cannot escape them if we would. We ourselves use them. But do we use them with precise and masterly understanding? You call one civilian colonel and another major; which have you paid the higher compliment? You are uncertain whether a given officer is a colonel or a major, and you wish to address him in such fashion as will least offend his sensitiveness as to rank and nomenclature; which title--colonel or major--is the less perilous? You are told that a major has command of a battalion; does that tell you anything about him? You are told that he has command of a squadron, of a brigade, of a platoon; do these changes in circumstances have any import for you? If not, you have too faltering a grasp upon military facts and terminology.

The best remedy for such shortcomings is to be insatiably curious on all subjects. This of course is the ideal; nobody ever fully attains it. Nevertheless Exercise M will set you to groping into certain broad matters relevant to ordinary needs. Thereafter, if your purpose be strong enough, you will carry the same methods there acquired into other fields of knowledge.

You may object that all this is as much mental as linguistic--that what is proposed will result in as large accessions of general information as of vocabulary. Let this be admitted. Deficiencies of language are often, perhaps almost invariably, linked with deficiencies of knowledge. To repair the one we must at the same time repair the other. This may seem a hard saying to those who seek, or would impart, mere glibness of phrase without regard for the substance--who worship "words, words, words" without thought of "the matter." There is such a thing as froth of utterance, but who has respect therefor or is deceived thereby? Speech that is not informed is like a house without a foundation. You should not desire to possess it. Abroad in this world of ours already are too many people who darken counsel by words without knowledge.


A second lieutenant is the commissioned officer of lowest grade in the United States army. Name all the grades from second lieutenant to the grade that is highest.

An admiral is the officer of highest grade in the United States navy. Name all the grades down to that which is lowest.

Name as many as possible of the different ranks of the clergy in the Roman Catholic Church, in the Church of England.

Give ascendingly the five titles in the British nobility.

Name the different kinds of vehicles.

Name the different kinds of schools.

Name all the different kinds of boats and ships (both ancient and modern) you can think of.

Give the nautical term for the right side of a ship, for the left side of a ship, for the front, for the rear, for the forward portion, for the rear portion.

Name the various kinds of bodies of water (oceans, rivers, lagoons, etc.)

Give all the terms of relationship of persons, both by blood and by marriage. What relation to you is your grandfather's brother? your cousin's daughter?

Name all the bones of the human head.

Give the names of the different parts of a typical flower.

Name as many elements as you can. What is the number usually given? What was the last element discovered, and by whom?

Name the elements of which water is composed. Name the principal elements in the composition of the air.

Make as long a list as possible (up to thirty) of words that appeal to the sense of sight (especially color words and motion words), to the sense of hearing, of smell, of taste, of touch.

Find words descriptive of various expressions in the human face.

Name all the terms you can associated with law, with medicine, with geology.

Name the planets, the signs of the zodiac, as many constellations as you can.

Name the seven colors of the spectrum, and for each name give all the synonyms you can. What are the primary colors? the secondary colors?

Give the various races into which mankind has been divided, and the color of each.

Name every kind of tree you can think of, every kind of flower, every kind of animal, every kind of bird.



You have already mastered many words, but a glance at any page of the dictionary will convince you that you have not mastered all. Nor will you, ever. Their number is too great, and too many of them are abstrusely technical.

Nevertheless there remain many words that you should bring into your vocabulary. Most of them are not extremely usual; on the other hand they are not so unusual that you would encounter them but once in a lifetime. The majority of them are familiar to you, perhaps; that is, you will have a general feeling that you have seen them before. But this is not enough. Do you know exactly what they mean? Can you, when the occasion comes, use them?-use them promptly and well? This is the test.

Many of the words are absolutely new so far as this book is concerned. They have not been discussed or attached to any list. Many are not entirely new. They have appeared, but not received such emphasis that they are sure to stand fast in your memory. Or some cognate form of them may have been mastered, yet they themselves may remain unknown. Thus you may know commendation but not commendatory, credulous but not incredulity, invalid but not invalidate or invalidity. One of the best of all ways to extend your vocabulary is to make each word of your acquaintance introduce you to its immediate kinsmen, those grouped with it on the same page of the dictionary.

This chapter puts you on your mettle. Hitherto you have been given instructions as to the way to proceed, Now you must shift for yourself. The words, to be sure, are corraled for you. But you must tame them and break them, in order that on them you may ride the ranges of human intercourse. If you have not yet learned how to subdue them to your will and use, it would be futile to tell you how. You have been put in the way of mastering words. The task that henceforth confronts you is your own. You must have at it unaided.

It is true that, in the exercise that follows, specific help is given you on a limited number of the words. But this help is only toward discovering the words for yourself before you have seen them in a list. And for most of the words not even this meager assistance is given.

EXERCISE - Supplementary

Each of the following groups of words is preceded by sentences in which blanks should be filled by words from that group. But do your best to fill these blanks properly before you consult the group at all. You must learn to think of, or think up, the right word instead of having it pointed out to you.

These benefits were not inherent in the course he had taken; they were purely ____. Anything which existed before Noah's flood is called ____. His left hand, which had ceased, to grow during his childhood, was now withered from its long ____. Certain books once belonging to the Bible have been discarded by the Protestants as ____. When Shakespeare makes Hector quote Aristotle, who lived long after the siege of Troy, he is guilty of an ____. Whatever causes the lips to pucker, as alum or a green persimmon, is spoken of as ____.

Abash, abbreviate, abduct, aberrant, aberration, abeyance, abhorrent, abject, abjure, aboriginal, abortive, abrade, abrasion, abrogate, absolution, abstemious, abstention, abstruse, accelerate, accentuate, acceptation, accessary, accession, accessory, acclamation, acclivity, accolade, accomplice, accost, acerbity, acetic, achromatic, acidulous, acme, acolyte, acoustics, acquiescence, acquisitive, acrimonious, acumen, adage, adamantine, addict, adduce, adhesive, adipose, adjudicate, adolescence, adulation, adulterate, advent, adventitious, aerial, affability, affidavit, affiliate, affinity, agglomerate, agglutinate, aggrandizement, agnostic, alignment, aliment, allegorical, alleviate, altercation, altruistic, amalgamate, amatory, ambiguity, ambrosial, ameliorate, amenable, amenity, amity, amnesty, amulet, anachronism, analytical, anathema, anatomy, animadversion, annotate, anomalous, anonymous, antediluvian, anterior, anthology, anthropology, antinomy, antiquarianism, antiseptic, aphorism, apocryphal, aplomb, apostasy, apparatus, apparition, appellate, appertain, appetency, apposite, approbation, appurtenance, aquatic, aqueous, aquiline, arbitrary, archaic, arduous, aromatic, arrear, articulate, ascetic, asperity, asphyxiate, asseverate, assiduity, assimilate, astringent, astute, atrophy, attenuate, auditory, augury, auscultation, austerity, authenticate, authenticity, auxiliary, avidity.

The man wished to fight; he was in ____ mood. There is only a handful of these things; yes, a mere ____. Slight mishaps like these lead to quips and mutual ____. His conduct is odd, grotesque, ____.

Baccalaureate, badinage, bagatelle, baleful, ballast, banality, baneful, beatitude, bellicose, belligerent, benefaction, beneficent, benison, betide, bibulous, bigotry, bizarre, bombastic, burlesque.

This effect was not obtained all at once; it was ____. These subjects belong to the same general field of knowledge as those; the two sets are ____. He is a skilled judge of art, a ____. The Southern states were unwilling to remain in the Union; they could be kept only by ____. Monks take upon themselves the vow of ____. No, this animal does not live on vegetation; it is a ____ animal.

Cacophonous, cadaverous, cadence, callow, calumny, capillary, captious, cardinal, carnal, carnivorous, castigate, cataclysm, catastrophe, category, causality, cavernous, celebrity, celibacy, censorious, ceramics, cerebration, certitude, cessation, charlatan, chimerical, chronology, circuitous, circumlocution, citation, clandestine, clarify, clemency, coadjutor, coagulate, coalesce, coercion, cogency, cognizant, cohesion, coincidence, collusion, colossal, comatose, combustible, commendatory, commensurate, commiserate, communal, compatibility, compendium, complaisant, comport, composite, compulsive, compulsory, computation, concatenate, concentric, concessive, concomitant, condign, condiment, condolence, confiscatory, confute, congeal, congenital, conglomerate, congruity, connivance, connoisseur, connubial, consensus, consistence, consort, constriction, construe, contentious, context, contiguity, contiguous, contingent, contortion, contravene, contumacious, contumacy, contumelious, convergent, conversant, convivial, correlate, corrigible, corroborate, corrosive, cosmic, covenant, crass, credence, crescent, criterion, critique, crucial, crucible, cryptic, crystalline, culmination, culpable, cumulative, cupidity, cursive, cursory, cutaneous, cynosure.

His course was not prescribed for him by superiors; his powers were ____. The suppression of these anarchistic tendencies has required ____ measures. She was just entering society, and was proving herself a popular ____. Yes, this tree loses its leaves every year; it is a ____ tree. He pretends that his ____ are sound, because he can read the stars.

Debilitate, debonair, debutante, decadence, decapitate, deciduous, declivity, decompose, decorous, dedicatory, deduction, deferential, deficiency, deglutition, dehiscence, delectable, delete, deleterious, delineate, deliquescent, demarcation, demimonde, demoniac, denizen, denouement, deprecate, depreciate, derelict, derogatory, despicable, desuetude, desultory, deteriorate, diacritical, diagnosis, diaphanous, diatribe, didactic, diffusive, dilatory, dilettante, dipsomania, dirigible, discommode, discretionary, discursive, disintegrate, disparity, dispensable, disseminate, dissimulation, dissonant, distain, divagation, divination, divulge, dolor, dorsal, drastic, dubiety, duress, dynamic.

These facts do not circulate except among a limited group of people; they are therefore ____. The departure of the children of Israel from Egypt was a general ____. His philosophy, instead of conforming to a single system, was ____. Lamb wrote admirable letters; he has a delightful ____ style. The period at which our days and nights are of equal length is the ____ period.

Ebullient, ecclesiastical, echelon, eclectic, ecstatic, edict, eerie, effervescent, efficacious, effrontery, effulgence, effusion, egregious, eleemosynary, elicit, elite, elucidate, embellish, embryonic, emendation, emissary, emission, emollient, empiric, empyreal, emulous, encomium, endue, enervate, enfilade, enigmatic, ennui, enunciate, environ, epicure, epigram, episode, epistolary, epitome, equestrian, equilibrium, equinoctial, equity, equivocate, eradicate, erosion, erotic, erudition, eruptive, eschew, esoteric, espousal, estrange, ethereal, eulogistic, euphonious, evanescent, evangelical, evict, exacerbate, excerpt, excommunicate, excoriate, excruciate, execrable, exegesis, exemplary, exhalation, exhilarate, exigency, exodus, exonerate, exorbitant, exotic, expectorate, expeditious, explicable, explicit, expunge, extant, extemporaneous, extrinsic.

He deceives himself by this argument, for the argument is utterly ____. No complicated action can be planned in absolute detail; much must depend on ____ circumstance.

Fabricate, fabulous, facetious, factitious, fallacious, fallible, fastidious, fatuous, feasible, feculence, fecundity, felicitous, felonious, fetid, feudal, fiducial, filament, filtrate, finesse, flaccid, flagitious, floriculture, florid, fluctuate, foible, forfeiture, fortuitous, fractious, franchise, frangible, frontal, froward, furtive.

The advice was both unasked and unwelcome; it was purely ____. Throughout the World War the ____ of Germany over the other Central European powers was unquestioned. Buffaloes naturally go together in herds; they are ____.

Galaxy, galleon, garrulity, gesticulate, gormand, granivorous, grandiloquent, gravamen, gratuitous, gregarious, habitue, hallucination, harbinger, hardihood, heckle, hectic, hedonist, hegemony, heinous, herbivorous, heretic, hermaphrodite, heterodox, heterogeneous, hibernate. histrionic, hoidenism, homiletics, homogeneous, hydraulic, hypothesis.

We cannot understand God's ways; they are ____. Nor need we expect to change them; they are ____. If an animal has no backbone, it is ____. A boy so confirmed in his faults that we cannot correct them is ____.

Idiosyncrasy, illicit, immaculate, immanent, imminent, immobile, immure, immutable, impalpable, impeccable, impecunious, imperturbable, impervious, implacable, implicit, impolitic, imponderable, importunate, imprecation, impromptu, improvise, imputation, inadvertent, inamorata, inanity, incarcerate, inchoate, incidence, incision, incongruent, inconsequential, incontinent, incorporeal, incorrigible, incredulity, incumbent, indecorous, indigenous, indigent, indite, indomitable, ineluctable, inexorable, inexplicable, inferential, infinitesimal, infinitude, infraction, infusion, inhibit, innocuous, innuendo, inopportune, insatiable, inscrutable, insidious, inspissated, insulate, intangible, integral, integument, interdict, internecine, intractable, intransigent, intrinsic, inure, invalidate, inveigh, inveigle, invertebrate, invidious, irrefragable, irrefutable, irrelevant, irreparable, irrevocable, iterate.

He overpraised people; he was always engaged in extravagant ____ of somebody or other. The small man who has written a book becomes pretentious at once and regards himself as one of the ____. Thatcher is always engaged in lawsuits; he is the most ____ man I ever saw.

Jocose, jocund, jurisprudence, juxtaposition, kaleidoscopic, labyrinth, lacerate, lackadaisical, lacrimal, laity, lambent, lampoon, largess, lascivious, laudable, laudation, lavation, legionary, lethargic, licentious, lineal, lingual, literati, litigious, loquacity, lubricity, lucent, lucre, lucubration, lugubrious.

Those soldiers are fighting, not for principle, but for pay; they are ____. Iron that is not heated cannot be hammered into shape; it is not ____.

Machination, macrocosm, magisterial, magniloquent, maladroit, malfeasance, malignity, malleable, mandate, matutinal, medieval, mephitic, mercenary, mercurial, meretricious, metamorphose, meticulous, microcosm, misanthropic, misogyny, misprision, mitigate, monitor, mortuary, mundane, mutable.

It is a government by the few; therefore an ____. All the men of influence in the state give offices to their kinsmen; the system is one of ____. Yes, grandfather is eighty years old today; he has become an ____.

Nebulous, nefarious, negation, neophyte, nepotism, neurotic, noisome, nomenclature, nonchalant, non sequitur, nucleus, nugatory, obdurate, objurgation, obligatory, obloquy, obsequious, obsession, obsolete, obstreperous, obtrusive, obtuse, obverse, obviate, occult, octogenarian, officious, olfactory, oleaginous, oligarchy, ominous, onomatopceia, opacity, opaque, opprobrious, oracular, orthodox, oscillate, osculate, ostensible, ostentation, ostracize, outre, ovation, overture.

In England the eldest son inherits the title and the estate, but Americans do not take to a system of ____. You are always putting off until tomorrow what you could do today; do you think it pays to ____ thus? An ambassador whose powers are unlimited is called an ambassador ____. Beasts or men that are given to plundering are ____.

Pabulum, pageantry, paginate, palatial, palliate, palpable, panacea, panegyric, panorama, paradoxical, paramount, parasite, parochial, paroxysm, parsimonious, parturition, patois, patriarchal, patrician, patrimony, peccadillo, pecuniary, pedantic, pellucid, pendulous, penultimate, penurious, peregrination, perfunctory, peripatetic, periphery, persiflage, perspicacious, perspicuity, pertinacious, pharmaceutic, phenomenal, phlegmatic, phraseology, pictorial, piquant, pique, plagiarize, platitudinous, platonic, plebeian, plenipotentiary, plethora, pneumatic, poignant, polity, poltroon, polyglot, pontifical, portentous, posterior, posthumous, potent, potential, pragmatic, preamble, precarious, precocious, precursor, predatory, predestination, predicament, preemptory, prelate, preliminary, preposterous, prerequisite, prerogative, presentiment, primogeniture, probation, probity, proclivity, procrastinate, prodigal, prodigious, prodigy, profligate, progenitor, proletarian, prolific, prolix, promiscuous, promissory, propaganda, propensity, prophylactic, propinquity, propitiatory, propitious, proprietary, prorogue, proselyte, prototype, protuberant, provender, proximity, prurient, psychical, psychological, puerile, pug-nacious, puissant, punctilious, pungent, punitive, pusillanimous, putrescent, pyrotechnics.

The coil of wire, being ____, instantly resumed its original shape. Some one must arrange these papers for publication; will you be their ____? Poe's mind had a bent toward ____: it could reason out a whole chain of circumstances from one or two known facts. He showed a disposition not to comply with these instructions; yes, he was ____.

Rabbinical, rancorous, rapacious, ratiocination, rational, raucous, recalcitrant, recant, recapitulate, recession, reciprocal, reciprocate, recluse, recondite, recreant, recrudescence, rectilinear, rectitude, recumbent, redactor, redress, redound, refractory, refulgent, rejuvenate, relevant, rendezvous, rendition, reparation, repercussion, repertory, replenish, replete, replevin, reprehend, reprobate, repulsive, requisite, rescind, residue, residuum, resilient, resplendent, resurgence, resuscitate, reticulate, retribution, retrograde, retrospect, rigorous, risible, rodomontade, rudimentary, ruminate.

His position carries no responsibility; it is a ____. The moon revolves about the earth, and is therefore the earth's ____. His work keeps him at his desk all day; it is ____ work. Your words incite men to disorder and rebellion; they are ____.

Saccharine, sacerdotal, sacrament, sacrilege, salient, salubrious, sardonic, satellite, saturnine, schism, scurrilous, sectarian, secular, sedative, sedentary, seditious, sedulous, segregate, seismograph, senescent, sententious, septuagenarian, sequester, sibilant, similitude, sinecure, sinuous, solicitous, solstice, somnolent, sophisticated, sophistry, sorcery, spasmodic, specious, spirituelle, splenetic, spontaneity, sporadic, spurious, stipend, stipulate, stoical, stricture, stringency, stultify, stupendous, sublimity, suborn, subpoena, subsidiary, subsidy, substratum, subtend, subterfuge, subterranean, subvention, subvert, sudorific, supercilious, supernal, supervene, supine, supposititious, surreptitious, surrogate, surveillance, susceptible, sustenance, sycophantic, syllogism, sylvan, symmetrical, symposium, synchronize, synonymous, synopsis, synthesis.

The small stream flows into the larger one and is its ____. The thick glass roof lets through sufficient light for us to see by; it is ____. You will not find him hard to manage; he has spirit enough, yet is ____.

Tactile, tangible, tantamount, temerity, tenable, tenacious, tentative, tenuous, termagant, terrestrial, testimentary, thaumaturgic, therapeutic, titular, torso, tortuous, tractable, traduce, transcendent, transfiguration, transient, transitory, translucent, transverse, travesty, tribulation, tributary, truculent, truncate, turbid, turpitude, tyro.

He is so extravagantly fond of his wife that I should call him ____. Christ died for others; it was a ____ death. The most notable quality in Defoe's narrative is its likeness to actual facts, or in a word, its ____.

Ubiquity, ulterior, ululation, umbrage, unanimous, undulate, urbanity,
usurious, uxorious, vacillate, vacuous, vandalism, variegate velocity,
venal, venereal, venial, venous, veracious, verdant, verisimilitude,

vernacular, versatile, vestal, vibratory, vicarious, vicissitude, virulence, viscid, viscous, vitiate, vitreous, vituperate, vivacious, volatile, volition, voluminous, voluptuary, voluptuous, voracious, votive, vulnerable, whimsical, zealot.



DO you never, while occupying a dental chair and deploring the necessity that drives you to that uncomfortable seat, admire the skill of the dentist in the use of his instruments? A great many of these instruments lie at his hand. To you they appear bewildering, so slightly different are they from each other. Yet with unerring readiness the dentist lays hold of the one he needs. Now this facility of his is not a blessing with which a gracious heaven endowed him. It is the consequence and reward of hard study, and above all of work, hard work.

You have been ambitious of like skill in the manipulation of words. Had you not been, you would never have undertaken this study. You have perceived that when you speak or write, words are your instruments. You have wished to learn how to use them. Now for every idea you shall ever have occasion to express await throngs of vocables, each presenting its claims as a fit medium. These you must pass in instantaneous review, these you must expertly appraise, out of these you must choose the words that will best serve your purpose. With practice, you will make your selections unconsciously. You will never, of course, quite attain the infallibility of the dentist; for linguistic instruments are more numerous than dental, and far more complex. But you will more and more nearly approximate the ideal, will more and more nearly find that right expression has become second nature with you.

All this is conditioned upon labor faithful and steadfast. Without labor you will never be adept. At the outset of our study together we warned you that, though we should gather the material and point the way, you yourself must do the work. This book is not one to glance through. It is one to dwell with, to toil with. It exacts much of you-makes you, for each page you turn, pay with the sweat of your brain.

But, assuming that you have done your part, what have you gained? Without answering this question at all fully, we may at this juncture engage in a brief retrospect.

First of all, you have rid yourself of the notion that words are dead things, unrealities worthy of no more than wooden and mechanical employment. As much as anything else in the world, words are alive and responsive, are fraught with unmeasured possibilities of good or ill. You have taken due cognizance of the fact that words must be considered in the aggregate as well as individually, and have reckoned with the pitfalls and dangers as well as with the advantages of their use in combination. But the basis of everything is a keener knowledge of words severally. You have therefore come to study words with the zest and insight you exhibit (or should exhibit) in studying men. Incidentally, you have acquired the habit of looking up dictionary definitions, not merely to satisfy a present need, but also to add permanently to your linguistic resources.

You have carried the study of individuals farther. You have come to know words inside and out. Such knowledge not only assists you in your dealings with your contemporaries; it illuminates for you great literature of the past that otherwise would remain obscure. How much keener, for example, is your understanding of Shakespeare's passage on the Seven Ages of Man because of your thorough acquaintance with the single word pantaloon! How quickly does the awe for big words slip from you when you perceive that precocious is in origin the equivalent of half-baked! What intimacy of insight into words you feel when you find that a companion is a sharer of one's bread! What a linking of language with life you discover when you learn the original signification of presently, of idiot, of rival, of sandwich, of pocket handkerchief! And what revelations as into a mystic fraternalism with words do you obtain when you confront such a phrase as "the bank teller" or "cut to the _quick"!

_Not only have words become more like living beings to you; you have learned to think of them in relations analogous to the human. You can detect the blood kinship, for example, between prescribe and manuscript, and know that the strain of fact or fie or fy in a word is pretty sure to betoken making or doing. You know that there are elaborate intermarriages among words. You recognize phonograph, for example, as a married couple; you even have confidential word as to the dowry brought by each of the contracting parties to the new verbal household.

You have discovered, further, that the language actually swarms with "pairs"--words joined with each other not in blood or by marriage but through meaning. You have so familiarized yourself with hundreds of these pairs that to think of one word is to call the other to mind.

Finally, and in many respects most important of all, you have acquired a vast stock of synonyms. You have had it brought to your attention that the number of basic ideas in the world is surprisingly small; that for each of these ideas there is in our language one generic word; that most people use this one word constantly instead of seeking the subsidiary term that expresses a particular phase of the idea; and that you as a builder of your vocabulary must, while holding fast to the basic idea with one hand, reach out with the other for the fit, sure material of specific words. Nor have you rested in the mere perception of theory. You have had abundant practice, have yourself covered the ground foot by foot. You can therefore proceed with reasonable freedom from the commoner ideas of the human mind to that expression of definite aspects of them which is anything but common.

You have not, of course, achieved perfection. There still is much for you to do. There always will be. Nevertheless in the ways just reviewed, and in various other ways not mentioned in this chapter, you have made yourself verbally rich. You are one of the millionaires of language. When you speak, it is not with stammering incompetence, but with confident readiness. When you write, it is with energy and assurance in the very flow of the ink. Where you had long been a slave, you have become a freeman and can look your fellows in the eye. You have the best badge of culture a human being can possess. You have power at your tongue's end. You have the proud satisfaction of having wrought well, and the inspiration of knowing that whatever verbal need may arise, you are trained and equipped to grapple with it triumphantly.


Appendix I


(An editorial)

To an individual who from whatever motives of personal advantage or mere curiosity has made himself an observer of current tendencies, the drift of our rural population cityward gives food for serious reflection. This drift is one of the most pronounced of the social and economic phenomena of the day. Its consequences upon the life, welfare, and future of the great nation to which we are proud to acknowledge our whole-hearted allegiance are matters of such paramount importance to all concerned that we should turn aside more often than we do from the distracting exactions of our ordinary activities to give them prolonged and earnest consideration.

A generation or so ago human beings were content to spend the full term of their earthly existence amid rural surroundings, or if in their declining days they longed for more of the comforts and associations which are among the cravings of mortality, it was an easy proposition to move to the nearest village or, if they were too high and mighty for this simple measure to satisfy them, they could indulge in the more grandiose performance of residing in the county seat. But nowadays our people want more. Rich or poor, tall or dumpy, tottering grandmothers or babies in swaddling-clothes, they long for ampler pastures. Their brawny arms or hoary heads must bedeck nothing less than the metropolis itself, and perchance put shoulders to the wheel in the incessant grind of the urban treadmill. Can you beat it? Unquestioned profit does not attend the migration. It stands to reason that some of the very advantages sought have been sacrificed on the altar of the drift cityward. Let us say you have your individual domicile or the cramped and sunless apartment you dub your habitation within corporate limits. Does that mean that the privileges of the city are at your disposal, so that you have merely to reach forth your hand and pluck them? Well, hardly! You certainly do not reside in the downtown section, or if you do, you wish to heaven you didn't. And you can reach this section only with delay and inconvenience, whether in the hours of business or in the subsequent period devoted to the glitter of nocturnal revelry and amusement.

But whatever the disadvantages of the city, the people who endure them are convinced that to go back to the vines and figtrees of their native heath would be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Why? Well, for one thing, there is no such thing as leisure in the areas that lie beyond those vast aggregations of humanity which constitute our cities. Not only are there innumerable and seemingly interminable chores that must follow the regular occupations of the day, but a thousand emergencies due to chance, weather, or the natural cussedness of things must be disposed of as they arise, regardless of what plans the rustic swain cherishes for the use of his spare time. Urban laborers have contrived by one means or another to bring about a limitation of the number of hours per diem they are forced to toil. To the farmers such an alleviation of their hardships is not within the realm of practicability. They kick about it of course. They say it's a blooming nuisance. But neither their heartburnings nor their struggles can efface it as a fact.

Again, the means of entertainment are more limited, and that by a big lot, with the farmer than with those who dwell in the cities. It is all very well to talk about the blessings of the rural telephone, rural free delivery, and the automobile. These things do make communication easier than it used to be, but after all they're only a drop in the bucket and do little to stop the drift cityward. We may remark just here that if you live a thousand miles from nowhere and are willing to drive your Tin Lizzie into town for "the advantages," you aren't likely to get much even along the line of the movies, and you'll get less still if what you're after is an A-1 school for your progeny.

Finally, the widespread impression that the farmer is a bloated and unscrupulous profiteer has done much to disgust him with his station and employment in life. We don't say he's the one and only when it comes to the virtues. Maybe he hasn't sprouted any wings yet. What if he hasn't? The cities, with their brothels, their big business, and their municipal governments--you wouldn't have the face to say that there's anything wrong with them, now would you? Oh, no! Of course not! The farmer pays high for his machinery and goes clear to the bottom of his pocketbook when he has to buy shoes or a sack of flour, but let him have a steer's hide or a wagon load of wheat to sell, and it's somebody else's ox that's gored. Consumers pay big prices for farm products, goodness knows, but they don't pay them to the farmer. Not on your tintype. The middleman gets his, you needn't question that. We beg pardon a thousand times. We mean the middle_men_. There's no end to those human parasites.

And so farmer after farmer breaks up the old homestead and contributes his mite to the drift cityward. What will be the result that comes out of it all? The effect upon the farmer deserves an editorial all to itself. Here we must limit ourselves to the effects on the future of our beloved American nation. And even these we can now do no more than mention; we lack space to elaborate them. One effect, if the tendency continues, will be such a reduction in home-produced foodstuffs that we shall have to import from other countries lying abroad a good portion of the means of our physical sustenance, and shall face such an increase in the cost of the same that thousands and thousands of our people will find it increasingly harder as the years pass by to maintain their relative economic position. Another effect will be that our civilization, which to this point has sprawled over broad acres, will become an urban civilization, penned in amid conditions, restraints, privations, and perhaps also opportunities unprecedented in our past history and unknown to the experience we have had hitherto. A final effect will be that our most conservative class, the rural populace, will no longer present resistance that is formidable to the innovations which those who hold extreme views are forever exhorting us to embrace; and the result may well be that the disintegration of this staying and stabilizing element in our citizenship--one that retards and mollifies if it does not inhibit change--will produce consequences in its train which may be as dire as they are difficult to foretell.

Appendix 2


(From the Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies) By EDMUND BURKE

In this character of the Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole; and as an ardent is always a jealous affection, your Colonies become suspicious, restive, and untractable whenever they see the least attempt to wrest from them by force, or shuffle from them by chicane, what they think the only advantage worth living for. This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English Colonies probably than in any other people of the earth, and this from a great variety of powerful causes; which, to understand the true temper of their minds and the direction which this spirit takes, it will not be amiss to lay open somewhat more largely.

First, the people of the Colonies are descendants of Englishmen. England, Sir, is a nation which still, I hope, respects, and formerly adored, her freedom. The Colonists emigrated from you when this part of your character was most predominant; and they took this bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to liherty, but to liberty according to English ideas, and on English principles. Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres in some sensible object; and every nation has formed to itself some favorite point, which by way of eminence becomes the criterion of their happiness. It happened, you know, Sir, that the great contests for freedom in this country were from the earliest times chiefly upon the question of taxing. Most of the contests in the ancient commonwealths turned primarily on the right of election of magistrates; or on the balance among the several orders of the state. The question of money was not with them so immediate. But in England it was otherwise. On this point of taxes the ablest pens, and most eloquent tongues, have been exercised; the greatest spirits have acted and suffered. In order to give the fullest satisfaction concerning the importance of this point, it was not only necessary for those who in argument defended the excellence of the English Constitution to insist on this privilege of granting money as a dry point of fact, and to prove that the right had been acknowledged in ancient parchments and blind usages to reside in a certain body called a House of Commons. They went much farther; they attempted to prove, and they succeeded, that in theory it ought to be so, from the particular nature of a House of Commons as an immediate representative of the people, whether the old records had delivered this oracle or not. They took infinite pains to inculcate, as a fundamental principle, that in all monarchies the people must in effect themselves, mediately or immediately, possess the power of granting their own money, or no shadow of liberty can subsist. The Colonies draw from you, as with their life-blood, these ideas and principles. Their love of liberty, as with you, fixed and attached on this specific point of taxing. Liberty might be safe, or might be endangered, in twenty other particulars, without their being much pleased or alarmed. Here they felt its pulse; and as they found that beat, they thought themselves sick or sound. I do not say whether they were right or wrong in applying your general arguments to their own case. It is not easy, indeed, to make a monopoly of theorems and corollaries. The fact is, that they did thus apply those general arguments; and your mode of governing them, whether through lenity or indolence, through wisdom or mistake, confirmed them in the imagination that they, as well as you, had an interest in these common principles.

They were further confirmed in this pleasing error by the form of their provincial legislative assemblies. Their governments are popular in an high degree; some are merely popular; in all, the popular representative is the most weighty; and this share of the people in their ordinary government never fails to inspire them with lofty sentiments, and with a strong aversion from whatever tends to deprive them of their chief importance.

If anything were wanting to this necessary operation of the form of government, religion would have given it a complete effect. Religion, always a principle of energy, in this new people is no way worn out or impaired; and their mode of professing it is also one main cause of this free spirit. The people are Protestants; and of that kind which is the most adverse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion. This is a persuasion not only favorable to liberty, but built upon it. I do not think, Sir, that the reason of this averseness in the dissenting churches from all that looks like absolute government is so much to be sought in their religious tenets, as in their history. Every one knows that the Roman Catholic religion is at least coeval with most of the governments where it prevails; that it has generally gone hand in hand with them, and received great favor and every kind of support from authority. The Church of England too was formed from her cradle under the nursing care of regular government. But the dissenting interests have sprung up in direct opposition to all the ordinary powers of the world, and could justify that opposition only on a strong claim to natural liberty. Their very existence depended on the powerful and unremitted assertion of that claim. All Protestantism, even the most cold and passive, is a sort of dissent. But the religion most prevalent in our Northern Colonies is a refinement on the principle of resistance; it is the dissidence of dissent, and the protestantism of the Protestant religion. This religion, under a variety of denominations agreeing in nothing but in the communion of the spirit of liberty, is predominant in most of the Northern Provinces, where the Church of England, notwithstanding its legal rights, is in reality no more than a sort of private sect, not composing most probably the tenth of the people. The Colonists left England when this spirit was high, and in the emigrants was the highest of all; and even that stream of foreigners which has been constantly flowing into these Colonies has, for the greatest part, been composed of dissenters from the establishments of their several countries, who have brought with them a temper and character far from alien to that of the people with whom they mixed.

Sir, I can perceive by their manner that some gentlemen object to the latitude of this description, because in the Southern Colonies the Church of England forms a large body, and has a regular establishment. It is certainly true. There is, however, a circumstance attending these Colonies which, in my opinion, fully counterbalances this difference, and makes the spirit of liberty still more high and haughty than in those to the northward. It is that in Virginia and the Carolinas they have a vast multitude of slaves. Where this is the case in any part of the world, those who are free are by far the most proud and jealous of their freedom. Freedom is to them not only an enjoyment, but a kind of rank and privilege. Not seeing there, that freedom, as in countries where it is a common blessing and as broad and general as the air, may be united with much abject toil, with great misery, with all the exterior of servitude; liberty looks, amongst them, like something that is more noble and liberal. I do not mean, Sir, to commend the superior morality of this sentiment, which has at least as much pride as virtue in it; but I cannot alter the nature of man. The fact is so; and these people of the Southern Colonies are much more strongly, and with an higher and more stubborn spirit, attached to liberty than those to the northward. Such were all the ancient commonwealths; such were our Gothic ancestors; such in our days were the Poles; and such will be all masters of slaves, who are not slaves themselves. In such a people the haughtiness of domination combines with the spirit of freedom, fortifies it, and renders it invincible.

Permit me, Sir, to add another circumstance in our Colonies which contributes no mean part towards the growth and effect of this untractable spirit. I mean their education. In no country perhaps in the world is the law so general a study. The profession itself is numerous and powerful; and in most provinces it takes the lead. The greater number of the deputies sent to the Congress were lawyers. But all who read, and most do read, endeavor to obtain some smattering in that science. I have been told by an eminent bookseller, that in no branch of his business, after tracts of popular devotion, were so many books as those on the law exported to the Plantations. The Colonists have now fallen into the way of printing them for their own use. I hear that they have sold nearly as many of Blackstone's Commentaries in America as in England. General Gage marks out this disposition very particularly in a letter on your table. He states that all the people in his government are lawyers, or smatterers in law; and that in Boston they have been enabled, by successful chicane, wholly to evade many parts of one of your capital penal constitutions. The smartness of debate will say that this knowledge ought to teach them more clearly the rights of legislature, their obligations to obedience, and the penalties of rebellion. All this is mighty well. But my honorable and learned friend on the floor, who condescends to mark what I say for animadversion, will disdain that ground. He has heard, as well as I, that when great honors and great emoluments do not win over this knowledge to the service of the state, it is a formidable adversary to government. If the spirit be not tamed and broken by these happy methods, it is stubborn and litigious. Abeunt studia in mores. This study renders men acute, inquisitive, dexterous, prompt in attack, ready in defence, full of resources. In other countries, the people, more simple, and of a less mercurial cast, judge of an ill principle in government only by an actual grievance; here they anticipate the evil, and judge of the pressure of the grievance by the badness of the principle. They augur misgovernment at a distance, and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.

The last cause of this disobedient spirit in the Colonies is hardly less powerful than the rest, as it is not merely moral, but laid deep in the natural constitution of things. Three thousand miles of ocean lie between you and them. No contrivance can prevent the effect of this distance in weakening government. Seas roll, and months pass, between the order and the execution; and the want of a speedy explanation of a single point is enough to defeat a whole system. You have, indeed, winged ministers of vengeance, who carry your bolts in their pounces to the remotest verge of the sea. But there a power steps in that limits the arrogance of raging passions and furious elements, and says, So far shalt thou go, and no farther. Who are you, that you should fret and rage, and bite the chains of nature? Nothing worse happens to you than does to all nations who have extensive empire; and it happens in all the forms into which empire can be thrown. In large bodies the circulation of power must be less vigorous at the extremities. Nature has said it. The Turk cannot govern Egypt and Arabia and Kurdistan as he governs Thrace; nor has he the same dominion in Crimea and Algiers which he has at Brusa and Smyrna. Despotism itself is obliged to truck and huckster. The Sultan gets such obedience as he can. He governs with a loose rein, that he may govern at all; and the whole of the force and vigor of his authority in his center is derived from a prudent relaxation in all his borders. Spain, in her provinces, is, perhaps, not so well obeyed as you are in yours. She complies, too; she submits; she watches times. This is the immutable condition, the eternal law of extensive and detached empire.

Then, Sir, from these six capital sources--of descent, of form of government, of religion in the Northern Provinces, of manners in the Southern, of education, of the remoteness of situation from the first mover of government-from all these causes a fierce spirit of liberty has grown up. It has grown with the growth of the people in your Colonies, and increased with the increase of their wealth; a spirit that unhappily meeting with an exercise of power in England which, however lawful, is noc reconcilable to any ideas of liberty, much less with theirs, has kindled this flame that is ready to consume us.

Appendix 3


(Matthew 13:3,8 and 18-23)

And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

Some fell upon stony places, where they bad not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

But be that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it.

Yet he hath not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Appendix 4


(As You Like It, II, vii, 139-166) By WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whaling school-boy, with his satchel, And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lin'd, With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side, His youthful hose well say'd, a world too wide For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Appendix 5


(From Robinson Crusoe)
By Daniel Defoe

And now our case was very dismal indeed; for we all saw plainly that the sea went so high that the boat could not escape, and that we should be inevitably drowned. As to making sail, we had none, nor, if we had, could we have done anything with it; so we worked at the oar towards the land, though with heavy hearts, like men going to execution; for we all knew that when the boat came near the shore, she would be dashed in a thousand pieces by the beach of the sea. However, we committed our souls to God in the most earnest manner; and the wind driving us towards the shore, we hastened our destruction with our own hands, pulling as well as we could towards land.

What the shore was, whether rock or sand, whether steep or shoal, we knew not; the only hope that could rationally give us the least shadow of expectation, was if we might happen into some bay or gulf, or the mouth of some river, where by great chance we might have run our boat in, or got under the lee of the land, and perhaps made smooth water. But there was nothing of this appeared; but as we made nearer and nearer the shore, the land looked more frightful than the sea.

After we had rowed, or rather driven, about a league and a half, as we reckoned it, a raging wave, mountain-like, came rolling astern of us, and plainly bade us expect the coup de grace. In a word, it took us with such a fury that it overset the boat at once; and separating us as well from the boat as from one another, gave its not time hardly to say, "O God!" for we were all swallowed up in a moment.

Nothing can describe the confusion of thought which I felt, when I sank into the water; for though I swam very well, yet I could not deliver myself from the waves so as to draw breath, till that wave having driven me, or rather carried me, a vast way on towards the shore, and having spent itself, went back, and left me upon the land almost dry, but half dead with the water I took in. I had so much presence of mind, as well as breath left, that seeing myself nearer the mainland than I expected, I got upon my feet, and endeavored to make on towards the land as fast as I could, before another wave should return and take me up again; but I soon found it was impossible to avoid it; for I saw the sea come after me as high as a great hill, and as furious as an enemy, which I had no means or strength to contend with: my business was to hold my breath, and raise myself upon the water, if I could; and so by swimming to preserve my breathing, and pilot myself towards the shore if possible; my greatest concern now being that the wave, as it would carry me a great way toward the shore when it came on, might not carry me back again with it when it gave back towards the sea.

The wave that came upon me again buried me at once twenty or thirty feet deep in its own body, and I could feel myself I carried with a mighty force and swiftness towards the shore a very great way; but I held my breath, and assisted myself to swim still forward with all my might. I was ready to burst with holding my breath, when as I felt myself rising up, so, to my immediate relief, I found my head and hands shoot out above the surface of the water; and though it was not two seconds of time that I could keep myself so, yet it relieved me greatly, gave me breath and new courage. I was covered again with water a good while, but not so long but I held it out; and finding the water had spent itself, and began to return, I struck forward against the return of the waves, and felt ground again with my feet. I stood still a few moments to recover breath, and till the waters went from me, and then took to my heels, and ran with what strength I had, farther towards the shore. But neither would this deliver me from the fury of the sea, which came pouring in after me again; and twice more I was lifted up by the waves and carried forwards as before, the shore being very flat.

The last time of these two had well-nigh been fatal to me; for the sea having hurried me along, as before, landed me, or rather dashed me, against a piece of a rock, and that with such force as it left me senseless, and indeed helpless, as to my own deliverance; for the blow, taking my side and breast, beat the breath as it were quite out of my body; and had it returned again immediately, I must have been strangled in the water; but I recovered a little before the return of the waves, and seeing I should be covered again with the water, I resolved to hold fast by a piece of the rock, and so to hold my breath, if possible, till the wave went back. Now, as the waves were not so high as at first, being nearer land, I held my hold till the wave abated, and then fetched another run, which brought me so near the shore that the next wave, though it went over me, yet did not so swallow me up as to carry me away; and the next run I took I got to the mainland; where, to my great comfort, I clambered up the cliffs of the shore, and sat me down upon the grass, free from danger and quite out of the reach of the water. I was now landed, and safe on shore, and began to look up and thank God that my life was saved, in a case wherein there was some minutes before scarce any room to hope. I believe it is impossible to express, to the life, what the ecstasies and transports of the soul are when it is so saved, as I may say, out of the very grave: and I do not wonder now at that custom, when a malefactor, who has the halter about his neck, is tied up, and just going to be turned off, and has a reprieve brought to him--I say, I do not wonder that they bring a surgeon with it, to let him blood that very moment they tell him of it, that the surprise may not drive the animal spirits from the heart, and overwhelm him.

"For sudden joys, like griefs, confound at first."

I walked about on the shore, lifting up my hands, and my whole being, as I may say, wrapt up in a contemplation of my deliverance; making a thousand gestures and motions, which I cannot describe; reflecting upon all my comrades that were drowned, and that there should not be one soul saved but myself; for, as for them, I never saw them afterwards, or any sign of them, except three of their bats, one cap, and two shoes that were not fellows.

I cast my eyes to the stranded vessel, when, the breach and froth of the sea being so big, I could hardly see it, it lay so far off; and considered, Lord! how was it possible I could get on shore?

After I had solaced my mind with the comfortable part of my condition, I began to look round me, to see what kind of place I was in, and what was next to be done: and I soon found my comforts abate, and that, in a word, I bad a dreadful deliverance: for I was wet, had no clothes to shift me, nor anything either to eat or drink, to comfort me; neither did I see any prospect before me but that of perishing with hunger, or being devoured by wild beasts: and that which was particularly afflicting to me was, that I had no weapon, either to hunt and kill any creature for my sustenance, or to defend myself against any other creature that might desire to kill me for theirs. In a word, I had nothing about me but a knife, a tobacco-pipe, and a little tobacco in a box. This was all my provision; and this threw me into terrible agonies of mind, that for awhile I ran about like a madman. Night coming upon me, I began with a heavy heart, to consider what would be my lot if there were any ravenous beasts in that country, seeing at night they always come abroad for their prey.

All the remedy that offered to my thoughts, at that time, was to get up into a thick busby tree, like a fir, but thorny, which grew near me, and where I resolved to sit all night, and consider the next day what death I should die, for as yet I saw no prospect of life. I walked about a furlong from the shore, to see if I could find any fresh water to drink, which I did to my great joy; and having drunk, and put a little tobacco in my mouth to prevent hunger, I went to the tree, and getting up into it, endeavored to place myself so that if I should sleep I might not fall. And having cut me a short stick, like a truncheon, for my defense, I took up my lodging; and being excessively fatigued, I fell fast asleep, and slept as comfortably as, I believe, few could have done in my condition, and found myself more refreshed with it than I think I ever was on such an occasion.

When I waked it was broad day, the weather clear, and the storm abated, so that the sea did not rage and swell as before; but that which surprised me most was, that the ship was lifted off in the night from the sand where she lay, by the swelling of the tide, and was driven up almost as far as the rock which I at first mentioned, where I had been so bruised by the wave dashing me against it. This being within about a mile from the shore where I was, and the ship seeming to stand upright still, I wished myself on board, that at least I might save some necessary things for my use.

When I came down from my apartment in the tree, I looked about me again, and the first thing I found was the boat, which lay, as the wind and sea had tossed her up, upon the land, about two miles on my right hand. I walked as far as I could upon the shore to have got to her; but found a neck, or inlet, of water between me and the boat, which was about half a mile broad; so I came back for the present, being more intent upon getting at the ship, where I hoped to find something for my present subsistence.

A little after noon I found the sea very calm and the tide ebbed so far out, that I could come within a quarter of a mile of the ship. And here I found a fresh renewing of my grief; for I saw evidently that if we had kept on board, we had been all safe: that is to say, we had all got safe on shore, and I had not been so miserable as to be left entirely destitute of all comfort and company, as I now was. This forced tears to my eyes again; but as there was little relief in that, I resolved, if possible, to get to the ship-, so I pulled off my clothes, for the weather was hot to extremity, and took the water. But when I came to the ship, my difficulty was still greater to know how to get on board; for, as she lay aground, and high out of the water, there was nothing within my reach to lay hold of. I swam round her twice, and the second time I espied a small piece of rope, which I wondered I did not see at first, hanging down by the fore-chains so low that, with great difficulty, I got hold of it, and by the help of that rope got up into the forecastle of the ship. Here I found that the ship was bulged, and had a great deal of water in her hold; but that she lay so on the side of a bank of hard sand, or rather earth, that her stern lay lifted up upon the bank, and her head low, almost to the water. By this means all her quarter was free, and all that was in that part was dry; for you may be sure my first work was to search, and to see what was spoiled and what was free. And, first, I found that all the ship's provisions were dry and untouched by the water, and being very well disposed to eat, I went to the bread-room, and filled my pockets with biscuit, and ate it as I went about other things, for I had no time to lose. I also found some rum in the great cabin, of which I took a large dram, and which I had, indeed, need enough of to spirit me for what was before me. Now I wanted nothing but a boat, to furnish myself with many things which I foresaw would be very necessary to me.

It was in vain to sit still and wish for what was not to be had; and this extremity roused my application. We had several spare yards, and two or three large spars of wood, and a spare topmast or two in the ship: I resolved to fall tp work with these, and I flung as many of them overboard as I could manage for their weight, tying every one with a rope, that they might not drive away. When this was done I went down the ship's side, and pulling them to me I tied four of them together at both ends, as well as I could, in the form of a raft, and laying two or three short pieces of plank upon them, crossways, I found I could walk upon it very well, but that it was not able to bear any great weight, the pieces being too light. So I went to work, and with the carpenter's saw I cut a spare topmast into three lengths, and added them to my raft, with a great deal of labor and pains. But the hope of furnishing myself with necessaries encouraged me to go beyond what I should have been able to have done upon another occasion.

My raft was now strong enough to bear any reasonable weight. My next care was what to load it with, and how to preserve what I laid upon it from the surf of the sea: but I was not long considering this. I first laid all the planks or boards upon it that I could get, and having considered well what I most wanted, I first got three of the seamen's chests, which I had broken open and emptied, and lowered them down upon my raft; the first of these I filled with provisions--viz., bread, rice, three Dutch cheeses, five pieces of dried goat's flesh (which we lived much upon), and a little remainder of European corn, which had been laid by for some fowls which we brought to sea with us, but the fowls were killed. There had been some barley and wheat together; but, to my great disappointment, I found afterwards that the rats had eaten or spoiled it all. As for liquors, I found several cases of bottles belonging to our skipper, in which were some cordial waters; and, in all, about five or six gallons of arrack. These I stowed by themselves, there being no need to put them into the chest, nor any room for them. While I was doing this, I found the tide began to flow, though very calm; and I had the mortification to see my coat, shirt, and waistcoat, which I had left on shore upon the sand, swim away. As for my breeches, which were only linen, and open-kneed, I swam on board in them and my stockings. However, this put me upon rummaging for clothes, of which I found enough, but took no more than I wanted for present use, for I had other things which my eye was more upon; as, first, tools to work with on shore: and it was after long searching that I found out the carpenter's chest, which was indeed a very useful prize to me, and much more valuable than a ship-lading of gold would have been at that time. I got it down to my raft, whole as it was, without losing time to look into it, for I knew in general what it contained.

My next care was for some ammunition and arms. There were two very good fowling-pieces in the great cabin, and two pistols. These I secured first, with some powder-horns, a small bag of shot, and two old rusty swords. I knew there were three barrels of powder in the ship, but knew not where our gunner had stowed them; but with much search I found them, two of them dry and good, the third had taken water. Those two I got to my raft, with the arms. And now I thought myself pretty well freighted, and began to think how I should get to shore with them, having neither sail, oar, nor rudder; and the least capful of wind would have overset all my navigation.

I had three encouragements: first, a smooth, calm sea; secondly, the tide rising, and setting in to the shore; thirdly, what little wind there was blew me towards the land. And thus, having found two or three broken oars, belonging to the boat, and besides the tools which were in the chest, two saws, an axe, and a hammer, with this cargo I put to sea. For a mile, or thereabouts, my raft went very well, only that I found it drive a little distant from the place where I had landed before: by which I perceived that there was some indraught of the water, and consequently, I hoped to find some creek or river there, which I might malze use of as a port to get to land with my cargo.

As I imagined, so it was. There appeared before me a little opening of the land. I found a strong current of the tide set into it; so I guided my raft as well as I could, to keep in the middle of the stream.

But here I had like to have suffered a second shipwreck, which, if I had, I think verily would have broken my heart; for, knowing nothing of the coast, my raft ran aground at one end of it upon a shoal, and not being aground at the other end, it wanted but a little that all my cargo had slipped off towards the end that was afloat, and so fallen into the water. I did my utmost, by setting my back against the chests, to keep them in their places, but could not thrust off the raft with all my strength; neither durst I stir from the posture I was in; but holding up the chests with all my might, I stood in that manner near half an hour, in which time the rising of the water brought me a little more upon a level; and a little after, the water still rising, my raft floated again, and I thrust her off with the oar I had into the channel, and then driving up higher, I at length found myself in the mouth of a little river, with land on both sides, and a strong current or tide running up. I looked on both sides for a proper place to get to shore, for I was not willing to be driven too high up the river; hoping in time to see some ship at sea, and therefore resolved to place myself as near the coast as I could.

At length I spied a little cove on the right shore of the creek, to which, with great pain and difficulty, I guided my raft, and at last got so near, that reaching ground with my oar, I could thrust her directly in. But here I had like to have dipped all my cargo into the sea again; for that shore lying pretty steep-that is to say, sloping--there was no place to land but where one end of my float, if it ran on shore, would lie so high, and the other sink lower, as before, that it would endanger my cargo again. All that I could do was to wait till the tide was at the highest, keeping the raft with my oar like an anchor, to hold the side of it fast to the shore, near a flat piece of ground, which I expected the water would flow over; and so it did. As soon as I found water enough, for my raft drew about a foot of water, I thrust her upon that flat piece of ground, and there fastened or moored her, by sticking my two broken oars into the ground-one on one side, near one end, and one on the other side, near the other end; and thus I lay till the water ebbed away, and left my raft and all my cargo safe on shore.

Appendix 6


One of the best ways to know words is through seeing them used by the masters. For this reason, as well as for many others, you should read extensively in good literature. The following lists of prose works may prove useful for your guidance. They are not intended to be exclusive, not intended to designate "the hundred best books." Rather do they name some good books of fairly varied types. These are not all of equal merit, even in their use of words. Some use words with nice discrimination, some with splendid vividness and force. For each author only one or two books are named, but in many instances you will wish to read further in the author, perhaps indeed his entire works.

<Biography and Autobiography>

Boswell, James: Life of Samuel Johnson

Bradford, Gamaliel: Lee the American; American Portraits, 1875-1900

Franklin, Benjamin: Autobiography

Grant, U. S.: Personal Memoirs

Irving, Washington: Life of Goldsmith

Paine, A. B.: Life of Mark Twain

Walton, Izaak: Lives

<Essays, Adventure, etc.>

Addison, Joseph: Spectator Papers

Bryce, Sir James: The American Commonwealth

Burke, Edmund: Speech on Conciliation

Burroughs, John: Wake Robin

Chesterton, G. K.: Heretics

Crothers, S. M.: The Gentle Reader

Dana, R. H., Jr.: Two Years Before the Mast

Darwin, Charles: Origin of Species

Emerson, R. W.: Essays

Irving, Washington: Sketch Book

Lincoln, Abraham: Speeches and Addresses

Lucas, E. V.: Old Lamps for New

Macaulay, T. B.: Essays

Muir, John: The Mountains of California

Thoreau, H. D.: Walden

Twain, Mark: Life on the Mississippi


Allen, James Lane: The Choir Invisible

Austen, Jane
Pride and Prejudice
Barrie, Sir James M.: Sentimental Tommie Bennett, Arnold: The Old Wives' Tale Blackmore, R. D.: Lorna Doone Bunyan, John: Pilgrim's Progress Cable, G. W.: Old Creole Days Conrad, Joseph: The Nigger of the Narcissus Defoe, Daniel: Robinson Crusoe Dickens, Charles: David Copperfield Eliot, George: Adam Bede Galsworthy, John: The Patrician Goldsmith, Oliver: The Vicar of Wakefield Hardy, Thomas: The Return of the Native Harte, Bret: The Luck of Roaring Camp (short story) Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet Letter Hergesheimer, Joseph: Java Head Hudson, W. H.: Green Mansions Kingsley, Charles: Westward Ho! Kipling, Rudyard: Plain Tales from the Hills (short stories) London, Jack: The Call of the Wild Merrick, Leonard: _The Man Who Understood Women (volume of short stories); The Actor Manager Mitchell, S. Weir: Hugh Wynne, Free Quaker Norris, Frank: The Octopus Poe, Edgar Allan: The Fall of the House of Usher (short story) Poole, Ernest: The Harbor Scott, Sir Walter: Ivanhoe Smith, F. Hopkinson: Colonel Carter of Cartersville Stevenson, R. L.: Treasure Island Tarkington, Booth: Monsieur Beaucaire Thackeray, W. M.: Vanity Fair Twain, Mark: Huckleberry Finn Wells, H. G.: Tono Bungay Wharton, Edith: Ethan Frome Wister, Owen: The Virginian


The index comprises, besides miscellaneous items, four large classes of matter: (1) topics, including many minor ones not given separate textual captions; (2) all individual words and members of pairs explained or commented on in the text; (3) the key syllables, but not the separate words, of family groups; (4) the first or generic term, but not the other terms, in all assemblies of synonyms; hence, this book can be used as a handbook of ordinarily used synonyms.

Abandon, Synonyms of,
Abase, Synonyms of,
Abettor, Synonyms of,
Abolish, Synonyms of,
Abstract vs. concrete terms. Also see Words Absurd
Acknowledge, Synonyms of,
Acquit, Synonyms of,
Act family
Active, Synonyms of,
Advise, Synonyms of,
Aeronautics, Familiar terms in,
Affecting, Synonyms of,
Affront, Synonyms of,
Afraid, Synonyms of,
Ag family
Agnostic, Synonyms of,
Allay, Synonyms of,
Allow, Synonyms of,
Amuse, Synonyms of,
Analysis. See Vocabulary and Synonyms Analysis, Rhetorical,
Anglo-Saxon words in modern English. See Native words Anim family
Anni, annu family
Announce, Synonyms of,
Answer, Synonyms of,
Antipathy, Synonyms of,
Artifice, Synonyms of,
Ascend, Synonyms of,
Ascribe, Synonyms of,
Ask, Synonyms of,
Associate, Synonyms of,
Attach, Synonyms of,
Attack; Synonyms of,
Audi, auri family
Audience, Adapting discourse to,
Auto family
Awkward, Synonyms of,

Bald heads
Begin, Synonyms of,
Belief, Synonyms of,
Belittle, Synonyms of,
Bind, Synonyms of,
Bit, Synonyms of,
Bite, Synonyms of,
Blood relationships between words.

Small groups of words so related. Also see Words

Bluff, Synonyms of,
Boast, Synonyms of,
Body, Synonyms of,
Bombastic, Synonyms of, Books of synonyms, List of, Boor
Boorish, Synonyms of,
Booty, Synonyms of,
Boys, Kinds of,
Brand, brun family
Break, Synonyms of,
Brittle, Synonyms of,
Building, Synonyms of,
Burke, Edmund. See Causes for the American Spirit of Liberty Burn family
Burn, Synonyms of,
Burn with indignation
Busy, Synonyms of,
By and by

Cad family
Call, Synonyms of,
Calm, Synonyms of,
Cant family
Cap(t) family
Care, Synonyms of,
Careful, Synonyms of,
Cart before the horse,
Cas family
"Castaway, The" (Defoe). Comments and assignments on, "Causes for the American Spirit of Liberty" (Burke).

Comments and assignments on,

Cede, ceed, cess family
Ceive, ceit, cept family
Celebrate, Synonyms of, Celibates, Verbal, Censure
Cent family
Cent family
Charm (noun), Synonyms of,
Charm (verb), Synonyms of,
Chant family
Cheat, Synonyms of,
Child. See How a child becomes acquainted, etc. Choke, Synonyms of,
Choose, Synonyms of,
Chron family
Cid family
Cide family
Cip family
Cis(e) family
Classes of words, in general, (also see Words);

in your own vocabulary,

Classic words, distinguished from native; in modern English, Clear
Close the door to,
Coax, Synonyms of,
Coleridge, S. T., Quotation from,
Color, Synonyms of,
Combine, Synonyms of,
Comfort, Synonyms of,
Complain, Synonyms of,
Concise, Synonyms of,
Condescend, Synonyms of,
Confirm, Synonyms of,
Confirmed, Synonyms of,
Connect, Synonyms of,
Continual, Synonyms of,
Continuous, continual
Contract, Synonyms of,
Copy, Synonyms of,
Corp(s) family
Corrupt, Synonyms of,
Costly, Synonyms of,
Coterie, Synonyms of,
Courage, Synonyms of,
Course family
Crease, cresce, cret, crue family
Cred, creed family
Critical, Synonyms of,
Crooked, Synonyms of,
Cross, Synonyms of,
Crowd, Synonyms of,
Cruel, Synonyms of,
Cry, Synonyms of,
Cur family
Cure family
Curious, Synonyms of,
Cut, Synonyms of,

Dainty, Synonyms of,
Danger, Synonyms of,
Darken, Synonyms of,
Dead, Synonyms of,
Deadly, Synonyms of,
Death, Synonyms of,
Decay, Synonyms of,
Deceit, Synonyms of,
Deceptive, Synonyms of,
Decorate, Synonyms of,
Decorous, Synonyms of,
Deface, Synonyms of,
Defeat, Synonyms of,
Defect, Synonyms of,
Definitions, of words; Dictionary vs. informal;

How to look up in a dictionary,

Defoe, Daniel. See The Castaway
Delay, Synonyms of,
Demoralize, Synonyms of,
Deny, Synonyms of,
Deportment, Synonyms of,
Deprive, Synonyms of,
Despise, Synonyms of,
Despondency, Synonyms of,
Destroy, Synonyms of,
Detach, Synonyms of,
Determined, Synonyms of,
Devout, Synonyms of,
Dic, dict family
Dictionaries, List of; How to use,
Die, Synonyms of,
Difficulty, Synonyms of,
Dign family
Dip, Synonyms of,
Dirty, Synonyms of,
Discernment, Synonyms of,
Discords, Verbal
Discourse, at first hand; adapted to audience, Disease, Synonyms of,
Disgraceful, Synonyms of,
Disgusting, Synonyms of,
Dishonor, Synonyms of,
Disloyal, Synonyms of,
Dispel, Synonyms of,
Dissatisfied, Synonyms of,
Divide, Synonyms of,
Do, Synonyms of,
Doctrine, Synonyms of,
Doom, Doomsday
Dream, Synonyms of,
Dress, Synonyms of,
"Drift of Our Rural Population Cityward, The" (Editorial),

Comments and assignments,

Drink, Synonyms of,
Drip, Synonyms of,
Drunk, Synonyms of,
Dry, Synonyms of,
Duc, duct family
Dur(e) family

Early, Synonyms of,
Eat, Synonyms of,
Editorial. See The Drift of Our Rural Population Cityward Effect
Elicit, Synonyms of,
Embarrass, Synonyms of,
Encroach, Synonyms of,
End, Synonyms of,
Enemy, Synonyms of,
Enni family
Enormity, enormousness
Enough, Synonyms of,
Entice, Synonyms of,
Erase, Synonyms of,
Error family
Error, Synonyms of,
Estimate, Synonyms of,
Eternal, Synonyms of,
Eu family
Ex family
Example, Synonyms of,
Exceed, Synonyms of,
Excuse, Synonyms of,
Expand, Synonyms of,
Expel, Synonyms of,
Experiment, Synonyms of,
Explain, Synonyms of,
Explanation (Exposition)
Explicit, Synonyms of,

Face, Synonyms of,
Fact family
Faculty, Synonyms of,
Failing, Synonyms of,
Fame, Synonyms of,
Families, Verbal,
Famous, Synonyms of,
Fashion, Synonyms of,
Fast, Synonyms of,
Fasten Synonyms of,
Fat, Synonyms of,
Fate, Synonyms of,
Fawn, Synonyms of,
Fear, Synonyms of,
Feat, fect, feit family
Feign, Synonyms of,
Feminine, Synonyms of,
Fer family
Fertile, Synonyms of,
Fic(e) family
Fiendish, Synonyms of,
Fight, Synonyms of,
Financial, Synonyms of,
Fin(e) family
Fit, Synonyms of,
Flag, The
Flame, Synonyms of,
Flat, Synonyms of,
Flatter, Synonyms of,
Flect, flex family
Flee, Synonyms of,
Fleeting, Synonyms of,
Flexible, Synonyms of,
Flit, Synonyms of,
Flock, Synonyms of,
Flock together
Flow, Synonyms of,
Flu, fluence, flux family
Follow, Synonyms of,
Follower, Synonyms of,
Fond, Synonyms of,
Force, Synonyms of,
Foretell, Synonyms of,
Fort family
Fossils in modern English, List of,
Found family
Fract, frag family
Frank, Synonyms of,
Franklin, Benjamin, and Spectator Papers, Fraternal
Free, Synonyms of
French and Norman-French words occurring in modern English Freshen, Synonyms of,
Friendly, Synonyms of,
Frighten, Synonyms of,
Frown, Synonyms of,
Frugal, Synonyms of,
Frustrate, Synonyms of,
Fug(e) family
Fuse family
Fy family

Game, Synonyms of,
Gather, Synonyms of,
Gen family
General facts and ideas with which acquaintance assumed, General ideas, as best basis for study of synonyms, General vs. specific terms. Also see Words Genus and species
Ger, gest family
Germanic words in modern English
Get, Synonyms of,
Get on to
"Gettysburg Address" (Lincoln); Comments on, Ghost
Ghost, Synonyms of,
Gift, Synonyms of,
Give, Synonyms of,
Glad, Synonyms of,
Go out of one's way
Good family
Grade family
Gram family
Grand, Synonyms of,
Graph family
Gray hair
Greek prefixes List of,
Greek stems, List of,
Greek words in modern English
Greet, Synonyms of,
Gress family
Grief, Synonyms of,
Grieve, Synonyms of,
Guard, Synonyms of,

Hab family
Habit, Synonyms of,
Habitation, Synonyms of,
Hale family
Harass, Synonyms of,
Harmful, Synonyms of,
Haste, Synonyms of,
Hate, Synonyms of,
Hatred, Synonyms of,
Have, Synonyms of,
Head foremost
Headstrong, Synonyms of,
Heal family
Healthful, Synonyms of,
Heavy, Synonyms of,
Help (noun), Synonyms of,
Help (verb), Synonyms of,
Hesitate, Synonyms of,
Hib family
Hide, Synonyms of,
High, Synonyms of,
Hinder Synonyms of,
Hint, Synonyms of,
Hot family
Hole, Synonyms of,
Holy, Synonyms of,
Hopeful, Synonyms of,
Hopeless, Synonyms of,
How a child becomes acquainted with the complexity of life and language Hug,
Ig family
Ignorant, Synonyms of,
Imperfectly understood facts and ideas
Impolite, Synonyms of,
Importance, Synonyms of,
Imposter, Synonyms of,
Imprison, Synonyms of,
Improper, Synonyms of,
Impure, Synonyms of,
In a minute
Inborn, Synonyms of,
Incite, Synonyms of,
Incline, Synonyms of,
Inclose, Synonyms of,
Increase, Synonyms of,
Indecent, Synonyms of,
Insane, Synonyms of,
Insanity, Synonyms of,
Insipid, Synonyms of,
Intention, Synonyms of,
Interpose, Synonyms of,
Irreligious, Synonyms of,
Irritate, Synonyms of,
It family
"Ivanhoe" (Scott), Quotation from,
Ject family
Join, Synonyms of,
Journey, Synonyms of,
Jud family
Jump on
Junct family
Jur, jus family
Jure family

Key-syllables, Variations in form of; Misleading resemblance between;

Lists of,

Kill, Synonyms of,
Kind, Synonyms of,
Kindle, Synonyms of,
Kinships between words. See Blood relationships between words;

Marriages between words; Words


Lack, Synonyms of,
Lame, Synonyms of,
Large, Synonyms of,
Late family
Latin prefixes, List of,
Latin stems, List of,
Latin words in modern English. See Classic words Laugh, Synonyms of,
Laughable, Synonyms of,
Lead, Synonyms of,
Lect, leg family
Lengthen, Synonyms of,
Lessen, Synonyms of,
Liberal, Synonyms of,
Lie (noun), Synonyms of,
Lie (verb), Synonyms of,
Lig family
Likeness, Synonyms of,
Limp, Synonyms of,
List, Synonyms of,
Literal vs. figurative terms and applications. Also see Words Loc, loco, local, locate family
Locu family
Log family
Look, Synonyms of,
Loose use of words
Loquy family
Lose steam
Loud, Synonyms of,
Love, Synonyms of,
Low, Synonyms of,
Loyal, Synonyms of,
Luc, lum, lus family
Lude, lus family
Lurk, Synonyms of,

Make, Synonyms of,
Make one's pile
Man, as a generic term,
Man, manu family
Mand family
Manifest, Synonyms of,
Many, Synonyms of,
Many-sided words
Margin, Synonyms of,
Marriage, Synonyms of,
Marriages between words. Also see Words Marshal
Masculine, Synonyms of,
Matrimonial, Synonyms of,
Meaning, Synonyms of,
Meet, Synonyms of,
Meeting, Synonyms of,
Melt, Synonyms of,
Memory, Synonyms of,
Mercy, Synonyms of,
Mere, merely
Meter, metri family
Military terms, Familiar
Mis(e), mit family
Misrepresent, Synonyms of,
Mix, Synonyms of,
Mob family
Model, Synonyms of,
Mono family
Mort family
Mot(e) family
Motive, Synonyms of,
Move family
Move, Synonyms of,
Mot(e) family

Name, Synonyms of,
Nat(e) family
Native words, distinguished from classic; in modern English, Near, Synonyms of,
Neat, Synonyms of,
Needful, Synonyms of,
Negligence, Synonyms of,
New, Synonyms of,
Nice, Synonyms of,
Noble family
Noisy, Synonyms of,
Not(e), nor(e) family
Noticeable, Synonyms of,

Occupation, Synonyms of,
Old, Synonyms of,
Ology family
Omen, ominous
Order (noun), Synonyms of,
Order (verb), Synonyms of,
Oversight, Synonyms of,

Pacify, Synonyms of,
Pairs, Three types of; Lists of or assignments in; as Synonyms, Pale, Synonyms of,
Pan family
"Parable of the Sower"; Comments and assignments on, "Parable of the Prodigal Son"; Comments on, Parallels
Part, Synonyms of,
Parts of Speech, Wrong,
Pass, path family
Patience, Synonyms of,
Pay (noun), Synonyms of,
Pay (verb), Synonyms of,
Ped family
Pend, pense family
Penetrate, Synonyms of,
Pet family
Petit, petty family
Petr, peter family
Phil(e) family
Phone family
Pity, Synonyms of,
Place, Synonyms of,
Plan, Synonyms of,
Playful, Synonyms of,
Plentiful, Synonyms of,
Plic(ate), ply family
Plunder, Synonyms of,
Pocket handkerchief
Pod family
Poli family
Polite, Synonyms of,
Pond family
Pone, pose family
Port family
Portent, portentous
Poten(t) family
Poverty, Synonyms of,
Prehend family
Pretty, Synonyms of,
Prise family
Prob family
Prod up
Profitable, Synonyms of,
Prompt, Synonyms of,
Proud, Synonyms of,
Pull, Synonyms of,
Pulse family
Punish, Synonyms of,
Push, Synonyms of,
Put(e) family
Puzzle, Synonyms of,

Quarrel, Synonyms of,
Queer, Synonyms of,
Quickly, Dame
Quotations from literature, embodying old senses of words

Raise, Synonyms of,
Rash, Synonyms of,
Reading Lists
Rebellion, Synonyms of,
Recover, Synonyms of,
Reflect, Synonyms of,
Regret, Synonyms of,
Relate, Synonyms of,
Relinquish, Synonyms of,
Renounce, Synonyms of,
Replace, Synonyms of,
Reprove, Synonyms of,
Repulsive, Synonyms of,
Requital, Synonyms of,
Responsible, Synonyms of,
Reveal, Synonyms of,
Reverence, Synonyms of,
Rich, Synonyms of,
Ridicule, Synonyms of,
Ripe, Synonyms of,
Rise, Synonyms of,
Robber, Synonyms of,
Rog, rogate family
Rogue, Synonyms of,
Round, Synonyms of,
Rub, Synonyms of,
Run, Synonyms of,
Rapt family
Rural, Synonyms of,

Sad, Synonyms of,
Sal, sail family
Satiate, Synonyms of,
Say, Synonyms of,
Scandinavian words in modern English
Science, scit(e) family
Scoff, Synonyms of,
Scott, Sir Walter, Quotation from,
Scribe, script family
Secret, Synonyms of,
Sect family
Secu, sequ family
Sed family
See, Synonyms of,
Seep, Synonyms of,
Sell, Synonyms of,
Sens(e), sent family
"Seven Ages of Man, The" (Shakespeare); Comments and assignments on, Severe
Shakespeare, William. See The Seven Ages of Man Shamefaced
Shape, Synonyms of,
Share, Synonyms of,
Sharp, Synonyms of,
Shear family
Shine, Synonyms of,
Shore family
Shore, Synonyms of,
Shorten, Synonyms of,
Show (noun), Synonyms of,
Show (verb), Synonyms of,
Shrink, Synonyms of,
Shun, Synonyms of,
Shy, Synonyms of,
Sid(e) family
Sign family
Sign, Synonyms of,
Silent, Synonyms of,
Simple, Synonyms of,
Sing, Synonyms of,
Sing another tune
Sist family
Skilful, Synonyms of,
Skin, Synonyms of,
Slander, Synonyms of,
Sleep, Synonyms of,
Sleepy, Synonyms of,
Slovenly, Synonyms of,
Sly, Synonyms of,
Smell, Synonyms of,
Smile, Synonyms of,
Smoke in one's pipe
Solitary, Synonyms of,
Solve, solu family
Song, Synonyms of,
Sources for modern English, Variety of,
Sour, Synonyms of,
Speak, Synonyms of,
Spect, spic(e) family
"Spectator Papers, The" (Addison)
Speech, Synonyms of,
Spend, Synonyms of,
Spire, spirit family
Spond, spons(e) family
Spot, Synonyms of,
Spruce, Synonyms of,
Sta, sti family
Stale, Synonyms of,
Stay, Synonyms of,
Stead family
Steal, Synonyms of,
Steep, Synonyms of,
Stingy, Synonyms of,
Storm, Synonyms of,
Straight, Synonyms of,
Strain, string, strict family
Strange, Synonyms of,
Strike, Synonyms of,
Strong, Synonyms of,
Struct, stru(e) family
Stubborn, Synonyms of,
Stupid, Synonyms of,
Suave, Synonyms of,
Succeed, Synonyms of,
Succession, Synonyms of,
Sue family
Sullen, Synonyms of,
Sult family; Superfluous details,
Supernatural, Synonyms of,
Suppose, Synonyms of,
Surprise, Synonyms of,
Swearing, Synonyms of,
Synonyms, Necessity for; Similar not identical in meaning;

List of books of; How to acquire; Analysis of your use of; Progress from the general to the specific; Pertinent rather than comprehensive; Lists of, or assignments in, (also see Pairs)

Tact family
Tail family
Tain family
Take down a notch
Take hold of
Take the hide off
Take umbrage
Talk (noun)
Talk (verb), Synonyms of,
Talkative, Synonyms of; Tameness,
Tang family
Teach, Synonyms of,
Tear, Synonyms of,
Telegrams and night letters
Ten, tent family
Tend, tens, tent, ten family
Tennyson, Alfred, Quotation from,
Term, termin family
Ter(re), terra family
Thank your lucky stars
Thesis, theme family
Thoughtful, Synonyms of,
Throw, Synonyms of,
Throw in the shade
Throw out a remark
Tin family
Tire, Synonyms of,
Tool, Synonyms of,
Tone, Unity of. See Discords, Verbal
Tort family
Tract, tra(i) family
Trifle, Synonyms of,
Trust, Synonyms of,
Try, Synonyms of,
Tum family
Turb family
Turn, Synonyms of,

Ugly, Synonyms of,
Unwilling, Synonyms of,

Vade, vasion family
Vail, vol(e) family
Veal, veau
Vene, vent family
Vers(e), vert family
Vid family
Vince, vict family
Vir family
Vis family
Viv(e) family
Voc, voke family
Vocabulary, Ready, wide, or accurate; Speaking or writing;

Analysis of your own

Volve, volute family

Walk. Synonyms of,
Watchful, Synonyms of,
Wave (noun), Synonyms of,
Wave (verb), Synonyms of,
Weak, Synonyms of,
Weariness, Synonyms of,
Wearisome, Synonyms of,
_Classes of words, Abstract vs.
Wet (adjective), Synonyms of,
Wet (verb), Synonyms of,
Whim, Synonyms of,
Whip, Synonyms of,
Wicked, Synonyms of,
Wind, Synonyms of,
Wind (verb), Synonyms of,
Winding, Synonyms of,
Wis, wit family
Wise, Synonyms of,
Wonderful, Synonyms of,
Words, as realities; as instruments; to be learned in various ways;

like people; in combination; Individual; to learn first; The past of; Buried meanings of; Poetry of; Dignified and unassuming; Literal, concrete, and specifc; General; Exaggerative; Debased; as celibates; related in blood or by marriage; examined for relationships; related in meaning; often confused; Native and classic; Many-sided; Supplementary list of. Also see _concrete terms, Literal vs. figurative terms, General vs. specific terms, Slang, Vocabulary, Synonyms, Fossils, Loose use of words

Work, synonyms of,
Workman, Synonyms of,
Worm in
Write, Synonyms of,
Writing as an aid to memory

Yearn, Synonyms of,
Young, Synonyms of,


End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Century Vocabulary Builder by Creever & Bachelor


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