Which word is right?

1. If you miss the school bus, are you faced with a predicament or a dilemma? 2. Is it your teacher's privilege or prerogative to stand in front of the class? 3. Why is a school lunchroom called a cafeteria and not a cafe? 4. If you do well in a spelling bee, is it an achievement, an exploit, or a feat? 5. Is your jacket a coat, or is your coat a jacket? 6. Which one finds something new - an inventor or a discoverer? 7. If your teacher offers a class trip as a reward for good attendance, is she offering the trip a motive or an incentive? 8. Does your school bell peal or chime? ANSWERS (1) A predicament. This unpleasant situation may be difficult and awkward to get out of, but at least it's not a dilemma. A dilemma poses two equally unacceptable alternatives. (2) Her prerogative. Both words mean a special right or advantage. However, a prerogative comes with official status or rank. A privilege can be granted for any reason, like a favor, and may have nothing to do with position. (3) A cafeteria generally implies self-service meals, whereas a cafe is a French coffeehouse with full service. (4) An achievement. This connotes difficulties and perhaps setbacks, all of which are overcome with hard work. An exploit suggests great courage or bravery. A feat emphasizes great skill or strength in an unusual pursuit, such as climbing Mt. Everest. (5) A coat is the general term for an outer garment worn outdoors or indoors, as in a lab coat, waistcoat, or housecoat. (Even a petticoat was once an outer garment.) All jackets are coats, but jackets are normally short. They may also be worn outdoors or indoors, as in a bed jacket or sports jacket. (6) An inventor always creates something new, while a discoverer finds something already in existence. Hydrogen was discovered in 1766. A hydrofoil (a boat that skims across the water on winglike structures) was invented in 1900. (7) An incentive. A motive is an inner urge that moves you to take action. An incentive is an exterior prompt, like a bonus, promotion, or prize. (8) Probably peal. Both peal and chime mean the ringing of bells. However, a chime is a melodious or tuneful ringing sound. Bells that chime are usually struck with a hammer; bells that peal are swung by means of ropes.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.