An abridged dictionary

How to tell the real meaning of words you don't know.

When I'm reading, I hate to stop to look up unfamiliar words. Fortunately, I don't need to rely on a dictionary. I can figure out the meanings of words using my extraneous knowledge of English word roots, prefixes, and suffices.

I don't need to look up "salacious," for instance, because I immediately recognize that it refers to specially discounted prices, as in, "The Fourth of July is a salacious holiday." I quickly see that "strident" means walking with long steps and that a "barista" is a female lawyer. My perfidious knowledge of the English language enables me to deduct the meaning of any unfamiliar word. For example:

quotidian – a person fond of repeating the words of famous people

cellophane – past tense of "cellphone"

pro bono – a fan of the U2 lead singer

penultimate – the supreme writing instrument

cartographer – a photographer specializing in automobiles

shutterbug – a photographer specializing in insects

pretension – before stress

lassitude – demeanor of a young Scottish woman

gustatory – with brief surges of wind

photosynthesis – the act of combining pictures

yawl – southern term for sailboat

dreadnought – fear of the zero

idiomatic – a transmission suitable for the less-than-brilliant driver

autocrat – government official who regulates cars

plutocrat – government official responsible for canine cartoon characters and former planets

placebo – the site of a gazebo

utilitarian – an employee of the electric company

unctuous – having the characteristics of an uncle

Polynesia – the ability to remember everything

prolapsed – descended temporarily to amateur status

votive – democratic

oxymoron – hyperventilating dullard

commutation – act of traveling to and from work

ostracize – to shun large, flightless birds

promenade – a beverage served at square dances

gyroscope – an instrument for examining sandwiches

blunderbuss – a mass transit faux pas

polyphonic – owning several telephones

egress – female egret

• Dale Roberts, a college career counselor, lives in Asheville, N.C.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to An abridged dictionary
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today