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personalenglishvocab (English vocabulary)

English vocabulary word definitions


Found below are definitions of unique and seldom-used English words.                                          Click here to return to the Personal menu

A – A  – A – A – A – A – A – A                                                                                                   

  • abash – make ashamed or dispirited, embarrass
  • abdicate – renounce or relinquish an office, power, or right
  • aberrant – straying from the right course, wandering
  • abet – encourage, aid by approval (especially in bad conduct)
  • abeyance – temporary suspension or inactivity
  • abject – low in condition, hopeless, servile, despicable
  • abjure – renounce solemnly, repudiate, forswear
  • ablution – washing, cleansing (especially ceremonial)
  • abnegate – renounce or deny oneself of rights or powers
  • abrogate – repeal or annul by authoritative act
  • abscond – hide or depart suddenly (especially to avoid legal process)
  • absolve – pardon, free, or release from obligation
  • abstemious – moderate, temperate (especially regarding food and drink)
  • abstruse – difficult to comprehend, profound
  • abysmal – like an abyss, immeasurably deep or low
  • acclivity – an upward slope
  • accost – approach and speak to, address
  • accrue – happen in due course, result from natural growth
  • acerbity – sourness of taste, harshness of temper or expression
  • acolyte – a novice (especially in a religious order), an attendant or assistant
  • acquiesce – consent or agree
  • acrid – sharp or biting to the tongue, pungent, severe
  • acrimony – bitterness of temper or expression
  • acumen – mental acuteness, keenness of perception or insight
  • adroit – dexterous, skilled, ingenious
  • affable – easy to approach, courteous, gracious
  • alacrity – cheerful willingness, eager promptitude, cheerful readiness
  • anachronism – an error in respect to dates or the order of historical events
  • anathema – a denunciation, accompanied by excommunication, by an ecclesiastical authority
  • animus – animosity, a grudge
  • antipathy – dislike, hatred * aplomb – self-confidence, assurance of manner
  • apocalypse – a revelation
  • apocryphal – of doubtful authorship or authenticity, spurious
  • apogee – the point of greatest distance from the earth in an orbit
  • apotheosis – glorified personification of a principle or idea
  • approbation – approval, commendation
  • arable – fit for plowing and tillage
  • asperity – harshness of temper, severity
  • assiduous – diligent, attentive, unremitting
  • augur – predict from omens, presage, foretell
  • augury – prophecy, divination
  • auspicious – well-omened, betokening success
  • austere – severely simple, unadorned, serious, morally strict, stern, harsh, rigorous
  • avarice – cupidity, stinginess, greed
  • automaton – a person who acts in a monotonous routine manner
  • axiom – a universal proposition, amply proved and easily verified

B – B – B – B – B – B – B – B

  • bailiwick – area of jurisdiction, activity, or influence
  • bamboozle – to deceive by trickery, to mystify
  • banal  – commonplace, trite
  • banshee – a wailing spirit that heralds death
  • bellicose – pugnacious, warlike, combative
  • bellwether – a sheep wearing a bell that leads the flock
  • benignant – kindly, benign
  • bilious – offensive, having an excess of bile
  • bilk – defraud, swindle
  • bivouac – an encampment without shelter
  • blench – draw back, flinch, quail
  • blithe – merry, joyous, glad
  • blue-blood – an aristocrat
  • bombastic – high-sounding, extravagant, stilted
  • boondoggle – useless, unproductive work
  • bourgeois – a person of the middle class, a tradesman
  • brackish – of salty water, stale
  • braggadocio – vanity, bragging
  • bromide – a trite remark
  • brook – to countenance, to bear, to put up with
  • bumpkin – an awkward fellow
  • bumptious – ebullient, brash
  • buxom – plump, healthy
  • bucolic – rustic, pastoral
  • burgeon – to sprout buds

C – C – C – C – C – C – C – C

  • cabal – a secret scheme or intrigue, a group of plotters
  • caboodle – the whole crowd or     collection
  • cacophony – discordant sounds, dissonance
  • calumny – a false accusation of crime or misconduct, slander
  • canard – false story, hoax
  • capacious – capable of holding much, roomy
  • captious – prone to find fault, hyper-critical
  • carp – to find fault
  • castigate – to criticize sharply, punish, correct
  • censorious – faultfinding, carping
  • catholic – universal in extent or nature
  • caveat – a warning or an axiom
  • celerity – rapidity of motion, swiftness
  • certitude – certainty, complete freedom from doubt
  • chattel – a movable piece of personal property
  • chauvinism – excessive devotion to a cause
  • choler – anger, ill-temper, irascibility
  • churlish – rude, surly, coarse
  • clandestine – secret, covert, furtive
  • cloistered – secluded
  • cogent – convincing, forcible
  • comeuppance – a humiliating or humbling experience
  • commute – substitute another thing for, esp. reduce the severity of a punishment
  • complicity – the state of being an accomplice
  • compunction – a slight regret or prick of conscience
  • concupiscence – a sensual appetite or desire
  • congruous – well adapted, appropriate, consistent
  • conjugal – pertaining to marriage, connubial
  • connubial – pertaining to marriage, conjugal
  • consanguinity – relationship by blood
  • consummate – bring to completion or perfection, complete, perfect
  • contumely – contemptuous abuse
  • conundrum – a riddle or hard question, enigma
  • convivial – fond of feasting, gay, jovial, festive
  • copious – abundant, plentiful
  • coquette – a flirt
  • corpulence – fatness, obesity
  • corporeal – bodily, material, not spiritual
  • credulity – willingness to believe, gullibility
  • cupidity – immoderate greed, avarice
  • curmudgeon – a churlish person, grouch
  • cursory – hasty and superficial, as in a glance
  • cutpurse – pick-pocket

D – D – D – D – D – D – D – D

  • dank – unpleasantly damp, humid, moist
  • declivity – a downward slope
  • decorous – well-behaved, proper, seemly
  • decrepit – weakened by old age, infirm
  • demagogue – an unprincipled popular orator or leader, a rabble rouser
  • demur – take exception, object
  • denigrate – blacken in reputation, defame
  • denizen – dweller, inhabitant, citizen
  • deprecate – plead against, express disapproval of
  • diabolical – devilish, infernal
  • diadem – a crown, a jeweled headband
  • diametrical – absolute, complete
  • diatribe – a bitter and abusive denunciation
  • didactic – instructive, expository
  • disingenuous – deceitful, dishonest
  • disparate – essentially different, unequal
  • disparage – speak unkindly of, discredit
  • doleful – showing sorrow, sad
  • dour – hard, inflexible, sour in mien
  • doyen – a dean, a senior member
  • doxology – a hymn or psalm praising God
  • draconian – rigorous, harshly oppressive
  • dram – a very small amount or portion
  • drivel – to talk foolishly, foolish talk
  • dudgeon – resentment, sullen anger
  • dupe – deceive, trick, mislead
  • duplicity – bad faith, hypocrisy, double dealing
  • duress – restraint of personal liberty, imprisonment

E – E – E – E – E – E – E – E

  • ebullient – greatly excited, demonstrative, boiling
  • eclectic – consisting of collections from various sources
  • effete – worn out by age, staled by usage, exhausted
  • efficacious – having power adequate to an intended purpose 
  • effusive – gushing
  • egregious – extraordinarily flagrant
  • emolument – salary or fees for services
  • enigma – a riddle, anything puzzling
  • enmity – hostility, hatred, ill will, antagonism
  • ennui – weariness or discontent arising from lack of interest, boredom
  • ephemeral – lasting a very short time, transitory
  • eschew – shun
  • esoteric – understood by only a select few, secret, mysterious
  • ethereal – airy, light, intangible
  • euphemism – the use of a mild word in place of a plainer but more offensive one
  • execrate – utterly detest, abhor
  • execration – a curse, a denunciation
  • expunge – blot or wipe out, erase
  • extirpate – pull up by the roots, eradicate

F – F – F – F – F – F – F – F

  • factious – opposing, contentious
  • fastidious – hard to please, overnice
  • faux pas – a false step, social error, mistake
  • fawn – to show affection, as a dog, by hand-licking, hence to cringe and flatter
  • fecund – prolific, fertile
  • fatuous – complacently silly, inane
  • felonious – criminal
  • ferret (out) – to drive out of a hiding place, search out (as a criminal)
  • fetid – having an offensive odor, stench
  • fiddle-faddle – nonsense, trivialities, balderdash
  • filch – to steal, to pilfer
  • filial – pertaining to a son or daughter
  • flippant – disrespectful, treating serious things lightly
  • flotsam – floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo
  • foible – a weakness, a whimsy
  • four-flusher – a pretender
  • founder – fill and sink (ship), go lame (horse), fail utterly
  • fractious – cross, peevish, unruly
  • frenetic – frenzied, chaotic
  • fulsome – offensively excessive, insincere
  • fustian – high-flown speech, bombast

G – G – G – G – G – G – G – G

  • gaffe – social blunder
  • gainsay – contradict, dispute
  • garrulous – talkative, verbose
  • germane – closely allied, relevant
  • goldbrick – swindle, cheat, shirk, loaf
  • gormandize – eat voraciously
  • gregarious – fond of company, sociable

H – H – H – H – H – H – H – H

  • hackneyed – stale or trite by overuse
  • halcyon – calm, quiet, undisturbed
  • harangue – a long and vehement speech, a tirade
  • harbinger – a forerunner, something that gives notice of an upcoming event
  • haymaker – a decisive blow, a knockout punch
  • hector – bully, tease, harass
  • hedonism – the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest good
  • hegemony – leadership or predominance
  • herculean – having or requiring prodigious strength, endurance
  • hiatus – a space where something is missing, a gap or break
  • hinterland – a remote region
  • hodgepodge – a jumbled mixture
  • horrific – arousing horror
  • hubris – arrogance
  • hyperbole – obvious exaggeration

I – I – I – I – I – I – I – I

  • icon – a sacred image
  • iconoplast – one who challenges cherished beliefs
  • immolate – kill as a sacrificial victim
  • impeccable – without fault or blemish, irreproachable
  • impertinent – rude, forward, insolent
  • impudent – offensively forward in behavior, insolent, saucy
  • inane – silly, unintelligent
  • inchoate – rudimentary, just started
  • incorrigible – resistant to correction or reform, beyond reform
  • indefatigable – not easily fatigued, not yielding to fatigue
  • indolent – lazy, sluggish * indomitable – cannot be subdued or repressed
  • inexorable – not to be persuaded or removed, unrelenting
  • ineffable – inexpressible, too sacred to speak of
  • ingenuous – free from guile, candid, naive
  • inimical – harmful, like an enemy, hostile
  • imperious – domineering
  • insidious – operating stealthily with evil intent, treacherous
  • inscrutable – not to be read by investigation, unfathomable, incomprehensible
  • insipid – lacking flavor or savor, uninteresting, dull
  • insolent – contemptuous, rude, disrespectful, insulting
  • insouciant – carefree, unconcerned
  • insular – detached, hemmed in, provincial, narrow-minded
  • interlope – intrude without right
  • invective – vehement denunciation or vituperation, censorious, abusive
  • inveigh – make a verbal attack
  • inveigle – lead astray artfully, entice
  • inveterate – firmly established or addicted by habit or custom
  • invidious – prompted by envy or ill will, unfair, odious
  • irascible – easily provoked to anger, hot-tempered

J – J – J – J – J – J – J – J

  • jabberwocky – gibberish, nonsensical speech
  • jackanapes – an impertinent or obstreperous fellow
  • jetsam – goods thrown overboard to lighten a ship
  • jocund – cheerful, merry
  • juggernaut – an irresistible force

K – K – K – K – K – K – K – K 

  • ken – range of sight or knowledge
  • knave – rascal

L – L – L – L – L – L – L – L

  • laconic – expressing much in few words, pithy
  • languid – sluggish from weakness, fatigue, or lack of energy, spiritless, listless
  • largess – a liberal gift, generous bestowal of gifts
  • lascivious – inciting to lust, wanton, lewd
  • laudatory – praising
  • legerdemain – sleight of hand, conjuring, trickery
  • lexicon – dictionary
  • libation – ceremonial pouring of wine, a drink, a tippling
  • libertine – dissolute, licentious
  • libidinous – lewd, lustful
  • licentious – lewd, dissolute, immoral
  • limpid – transparent, clear, lucid
  • lissome – supple
  • litany – a ceremonial prayer with responses
  • lithe – easily bent, pliant, flexible, supple
  • loggerhead – a stupid person
  • loquacious – talkative, chatty

M – M – M – M – M – M – M – M

  • Machiavelian – ruthless, unscrupulous
  • machinations – plans or schemes with evil intents
  • magnanimous – generous, high-minded, noble
  • malfeasance – performance of a wrongful act
  • malingerer – one who feigns illness, a faker
  • melancholy – a gloomy state of mind, depression
  • mellifluous – smoothly and sweetly flowing
  • milquetoast – a timid person
  • mien – a person’s bearing, manner, or appearance
  • minion – an obsequious favorite, or a subordinate
  • mollycoddle – to pamper, to spoil
  • morass – a bog or swamp
  • mordant – biting, sarcastic
  • mores – customs of behavior

N – N – N – N – N – N – N – N

  • narcissism – an abnormal tendency to admire one’s own perfections
  • nefarious – unspeakably wicked
  • nemesis – an agent of vengeance
  • nepotism – undue favoritism to relatives
  • noisome – ill-smelling, disgusting, injurious
  • noxious – injurious
  • numinous – spiritually elevated

O – O – O – O – O – O – O – O

  • obdurate – resisting entreaty, hardhearted
  • obfuscate – darken, obscure, bewilder
  • obsequious – fawning, servile, deferential
  • obstreperous – noisy, unruly
  • odious – deserving of hate, repugnant
  • omnibus – comprising or providing for many objects or items
  • opprobrious – abusive, vile, insulting
  • opprobrium – infamy, reproach
  • ostentation – a pretentious display

P – P – P – P – P – P – P – P

  • palindrome – word or sentence that reads the same frontward or backward
  • panoply – a splendid array
  • paradigm – model, pattern
  • paragon – a model of perfection
  • parallax – the apparent shifting of an object when the observer’s position changes
  • parlance – way of speaking, language
  • parsimonious – excessively frugal, stingy
  • patronize – treat with condescension
  • paucity – smallness of quantity or number
  • penchant – a strong inclination or predilection
  • penurious – stingy, miserly
  • perfidy – breach of faith, treachery
  • perigee – the point of the orbit of a satellite of the earth which is nearest the earth
  • perihelion – the point of the orbit of a planet or comet which is nearest the sun
  • pernicious – highly injurious, ruinous
  • perquisite – extra payment received because of one’s regular work, as a tip
  • perspicacious – mentally acute, bright
  • platitude – a trite, obvious remark
  • platonic – solely spiritual, not sensual
  • plebeian – pertaining to the common people, vulgar
  • pertinacious – stubbornly holding to an opinion or purpose, pertinacity
  • philander – make trifling love to a woman, flirt
  • phlegmatic – apathetic, unexcitable
  • piker – one who bets or spends in a small way
  • plenary – full, unqualified, fully attended or constituted
  • plenitude – abundance, fullness
  • plethora – over-fullness, superabundance
  • poignant – biting, painfully acute, affecting

Q – Q – Q – Q – Q – Q – Q – Q

  • quaff – drink deeply
  • quintessence – the concentrated and purest essence of anything, the perfect form
  • quixotic – absurdly romantic or chivalrous, impractical

R – R – R – R – R – R – R – R

  • rambunctious – boisterous
  • rapacious – greedy, grasping, predatory
  • recalcitrant – refusing to submit, refractory
  • recondite – hard to understand, deep in meaning
  • redoubtable – causing dread or respect, formidable
  • repast – a meal
  • reprehensible – highly blameworthy
  • reprobate – one who is profligate or unprincipled, wicked, degenerate
  • requite – repay, recompense
  • repudiate – refuse to acknowledge or pay, cast away, renounce
  • repugnant – highly distasteful, offensive
  • respite – an interval of rest or relief, postponement
  • reticent – disposed to be silent, reserved
  • reverie – a state of fanciful meditation, daydream
  • ribald – coarsely humorous
  • rotund – round or rounded out, bulbous, obese
  • rue – repent of, feel regret for, feel sorrow for

S – S – S – S – S – S – S – S

  • sacrosanct – exceedingly sacred
  • sagacious – wise
  • salacious – impure, obscene, lewd, ribald
  • salubrious – favorable to health
  • sanctimonious – hypocritically devout
  • sanguine – hopeful, cheerful, confident
  • sapient – wise
  • sardonic – sneering, sarcastic
  • saturnine – morose, phlegmatic
  • sententious – given to the use of maxims
  • sentient – having the power of feeling or perception
  • serendipity – an assumed talent for making discoveries by accident
  • simony – the selling of ecclesiastical offices or indulgences
  • specious – apparently, but not actually, sound; deceptive
  • squalid – dirty, filthy, degraded
  • spoliate – despoil, plunder
  • stilted – stiffly formal
  • stolid – impassive
  • strident – creaking, harsh, grating
  • sullen – morose, gloomy
  • sully – stain, defile
  • supercilious – haughty, contemptuous
  • superfluous – more than is needed
  • supernal – lofty, celestial
  • surcease – cessation, end
  • surly – ill-humored, ill-tempered
  • surreptitious – done by stealth, clandestine
  • sycophant – a servile flatterer
  • sybarite – a self-indulgent, luxury-loving person
  • sylph – an imaginary being or slender woman
  • symbiosis – the living together of different species of organisms
  • syllogism – two premises and a conclusion

T – T – T – T – T – T – T – T

  • taciturn – saying little, reserved in speech
  • tantamount – equivalent in value, force, or effect
  • tautology – needless repetition of the same idea in other words
  • tawdry – showy but tasteless, gaudy, cheap
  • telepathy – communication between minds by means other than the ordinary and normal
  • temerity – boldness, rashness
  • tenet – any opinion, principle, or doctrine held to be true
  • termagant – a quarrelsome or shrewish woman
  • tinhorn – a professional gambler who bets small amounts, a piker
  • tipple – to drink alcohol habitually
  • transmogrify – transform, as if by magic
  • travesty – a debased likeness, a grotesque imitation
  • trepidation – nervous agitation
  • trite – stale, hackneyed
  • trope – a figure of speech, a metaphor
  • tripe – anything worthless
  • truculent – overbearing, cruel
  • truncate – reduce in size by cutting off a part
  • tryst – an appointed meeting between lovers
  • turpitude – wickedness, depravity
  • twaddle – talk in a trivial and tedious manner, idle talk

U – U – U – U – U – U – U – U

  • unctuous – oily, suave
  • unction – the act of anointing with oil, anything soothing
  • uxorious – overly fond of one’s wife

V – V – V – V – V – V – V – V 

  • vulpine – fox-like, crafty
  • vacuous – showing no intelligence, blank, empty, unfilled
  • vagary – a capricious or extravagant thought or action
  • vapid – lacking animation or flavor
  • veracity – truthfulness or accuracy
  • verbose – wordy, loquacious
  • vicissitude – change of condition, good or bad fortune
  • vilify – treat with contempt, defame
  • vitiate – make faulty or imperfect, contaminate, spoil
  • vixen – female fox, ill-tempered woman
  • voracious – ravenous
  • voluptuous – suggestive of pleasure
  • voyeur – a person who enjoys observing sexual acts

W – W – W – W – W – W – W – W

  • winsome – charming
  • waif – a homeless child, vagabond
  • wanton – unrestrained, wild, reckless, dissolute

X – X – X – X – X – X – X – X

  • xenophobia – dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.

Y – Y – Y – Y – Y – Y – Y – Y

  • yen – yearning

Z – Z – Z – Z – Z – Z – Z – Z

  • zany – unconventional, bizarre
  • zealot – a fanatical person
  • zenith – highest point
  • zephyr – soft, gentle breeze
  • zest – enthusiasm
  • zilch – nothing, zero
  • zinger – striking or amusing remark
  • zither – stringed musical instrument

 


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