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A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS

NORMAN LEWIS
1.
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abash
cause to be embarrassed
abate
become less in amount or intensity
abdicate
give up, such as power, as of monarchs and emperors
aberration
a state or condition markedly different from the norm
abhor
find repugnant
abject
of the most contemptible kind
abnegate
deny or renounce
abortive
failing to accomplish an intended result
abridge
lessen, diminish, or curtail
absolute
perfect or complete or pure
absolve
grant remission of a sin to
abstinent
self-restraining
abstract
existing only in the mind
abstruse
difficult to penetrate
abysmal
resembling an abyss in depth; so deep as to be immeasurable
accolade
a tangible symbol signifying approval or distinction
accost
speak to someone
acerbic
sour or bitter in taste
acquiesce
to agree or express agreement
acrid
strong and sharp, as a taste
acrimonious
marked by strong resentment or cynicism
acumen
shrewdness shown by keen insight
acute
ending in a sharp point
adage
a condensed but memorable saying embodying an important fact
adamant
very hard native crystalline carbon valued as a gem
address

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.
32.
33.
34.
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.
46.
47.
48.
49.
50.
51.

the place where a person or organization can be found


adherent
someone who believes and helps to spread a doctrine
admonish
scold or reprimand; take to task
adroit
quick or skillful or adept in action or thought
adulation
servile flattery; exaggerated and hypocritical praise
adulterate
make impure by adding a foreign or inferior substance
adverse
in an opposing direction
aesthetic
characterized by an appreciation of beauty or good taste
affable
diffusing warmth and friendliness
affectation
a deliberate pretense or exaggerated display
affinity
a natural attraction or feeling of kinship
affluent
having an abundant supply of money or possessions of value
agenda
a list of matters to be taken up, as at a meeting
aggregate
a sum total of many heterogeneous things taken together
agnostic
a person who claims the existence of God is unknowable
agrarian
relating to rural matters
alacrity
liveliness and eagerness
allege
report or maintain
alleviate
provide physical relief, as from pain
allocate
distribute according to a plan or set apart for a purpose
alloy
a mixture containing two or more metallic elements
allusion
passing reference or indirect mention
aloof
remote in manner
altruism
the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of others
ambience
the atmosphere of an environment
ambiguous
having more than one possible meaning

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
52.
53.
54.
55.
56.
57.
58.
59.
60.
61.
62.
63.
64.
65.
66.
67.
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70.
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72.
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77.

ambivalent
uncertain or unable to decide about what course to follow
ameliorate
to make better
amenable
disposed or willing to comply
amenity
pleasantness resulting from agreeable conditions
amiable
diffusing warmth and friendliness
amnesty
a warrant granting release from punishment for an offense
amorous
inclined toward or displaying love
amorphous
having no definite form or distinct shape
anachronism
something located at a time when it could not have existed
analogy
drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity
anarchy
a state of lawlessness and disorder
anecdote
short account of an incident
anguish
extreme distress of body or mind
animosity
a feeling of ill will arousing active hostility
anomaly
deviation from the normal or common order or form or rule
antecedent
a preceding occurrence or cause or event
antipathy
a feeling of intense dislike
antithesis
exact opposite
apartheid
a social policy of racial segregation
apathy
an absence of emotion or enthusiasm
aphorism
a short pithy instructive saying
apocalypse
a cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the powers of evil
apocryphal
being of questionable authenticity
apotheosis
model of excellence or perfection of a kind
appease
make peace with
appreciate

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
be fully aware of; realize fully
apprehensive
in fear or dread of possible evil or harm
79.
approbation
official approval
80.
appropriate
suitable for a particular person, place, or situation
81.
aptitude
inherent ability
82.
arbiter
someone chosen to judge and decide a disputed issue
83.
arbitrary
based on or subject to individual discretion or preference
84.
arcane
requiring secret or mysterious knowledge
85.
archaic
so extremely old as seeming to belong to an earlier period
86.
archetype
something that serves as a model
87.
ardent
characterized by intense emotion
88.
arduous
characterized by effort to the point of exhaustion
89.
aristocratic
belonging to or characteristic of the nobility
90.
artful
not straightforward or candid
91.
artifice
a deceptive maneuver, especially to avoid capture
92.
ascendancy
the state when one person or group has power over another
93.
ascetic
someone who practices self denial as a spiritual discipline
94.
assiduous
marked by care and persistent effort
95.
assimilate
make alike
96.
assuage
provide physical relief, as from pain
97.
astute
marked by practical hardheaded intelligence
98.
attrition
the act of rubbing together
99.
audacity
aggressive boldness or unmitigated effrontery
100.
augment
enlarge or increase
101.
auspicious
auguring favorable circumstances and good luck
102.
austere
of a stern or strict bearing or demeanor
78.

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
103.
autocratic
characteristic of an absolute ruler or absolute rule
104.
autonomous
existing as an independent entity
105.
avarice
reprehensible acquisitiveness; insatiable desire for wealth
106.
avow
to declare or affirm solemnly and formally as true
107.
avuncular
being or relating to an uncle
108.
awry
turned or twisted to one side
109.
axiom
a proposition that is not susceptible of proof or disproof
110.
banal
repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse
111.
bane
something causing misery or death
112.
bastion
projecting part of a rampart or other fortification
113.
beget
generate children
114.
belabor
beat soundly
115.
beleaguer
annoy persistently
116.
belie
be in contradiction with
117.
belittle
cause to seem less serious
118.
belligerent
characteristic of an enemy or one eager to fight
119.
bemused
perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements
120.
benefactor
a person who helps people or institutions
121.
benevolent
showing or motivated by sympathy and understanding
122.
benign
kindness of disposition or manner
123.
bequest
a gift of personal property by will
124.
bereft
sorrowful through loss or deprivation
125.
beset
assail or attack on all sides
126.
blasphemy
profane language
127.
blatant
without any attempt at concealment; completely obvious
128.
blight

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
any plant disease resulting in withering without rotting
129.
blithe
carefree and happy and lighthearted
130.
bourgeois
being of the property-owning class
131.
bovine
any of various wild or domestic cattle
132.
brevity
the attribute of being brief or fleeting
133.
broach
bring up a topic for discussion
134.
bucolic
devoted to raising sheep or cattle
135.
bureaucracy
a government administered primarily by nonelective officials
136.
burgeon
grow and flourish
137.
burlesque
a theatrical entertainment of broad and earthy humor
138.
cacophony
loud confusing disagreeable sounds
139.
cadence
the accent in a metrical foot of verse
140.
cajole
influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering
141.
callow
young and inexperienced
142.
candor
the quality of being honest and straightforward
143.
capitalism
an economic system based on private ownership of assets
144.
capitulate
surrender under agreed conditions
145.
capricious
determined by chance or impulse rather than by necessity
146.
caricature
a representation of a person exaggerated for comic effect
147.
castigate
inflict severe punishment on
148.
catalyst
substance that initiates or accelerates a chemical reaction
149.
categorical
relating to or included in a class or classes
150.
catharsis
purging the body to stimulate evacuation of the bowels
151.
catholic
free from provincial prejudices or attachments
152.
caustic
capable of destroying or eating away by chemical action
153.
celibacy
abstaining from sexual relations

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
154.
censure
harsh criticism or disapproval
155.
cerebral
of or relating to the brain
156.
chagrin
strong feelings of embarrassment
157.
charisma
personal attractiveness that enables you to influence others
158.
charlatan
a flamboyant deceiver
159.
chasm
a deep opening in the earth's surface
160.
chastise
censure severely
161.
chicanery
the use of tricks to deceive someone
162.
chimera
a grotesque product of the imagination
163.
choleric
characterized by anger
164.
chronic
long-lasting or characterized by long suffering
165.
chronicle
a record or narrative description of past events
166.
circuitous
deviating from a straight course
167.
circumlocution
an indirect way of expressing something
168.
circumscribe
to draw a geometric figure around another figure
169.
circumspect
heedful of potential consequences
170.
circumvent
surround so as to force to give up
171.
civil
of or occurring between or among citizens of the state
172.
clandestine
conducted with or marked by hidden aims or methods
173.
clemency
leniency and compassion shown toward offenders
174.
cliche
a trite or obvious remark
175.
clique
an exclusive circle of people with a common purpose
176.
coalesce
fuse or cause to grow together
177.
coerce
to cause to do through pressure or necessity
178.
cogent
powerfully persuasive
179.
cognitive

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
relating to or involving the mental process of knowing
180.
cognizant
having or showing knowledge or understanding or realization
181.
coherent
marked by an orderly and consistent relation of parts
182.
colloquial
characteristic of informal spoken language or conversation
183.
collusion
secret agreement
184.
commensurate
corresponding in size or degree or extent
185.
compelling
driving or forcing
186.
compendium
a publication containing a variety of works
187.
complacent
contented to a fault with oneself or one's actions
188.
complement
something added to embellish or make perfect
189.
complicity
guilt as a confederate in a crime or offense
190.
comprehensive
including all or everything
191.
comprise
be composed of
192.
conciliatory
making or willing to make concessions
193.
concise
expressing much in few words
194.
concord
a harmonious state of things and of their properties
195.
concurrent
occurring or operating at the same time
196.
condescend
behave in a patronizing manner
197.
condone
excuse, overlook, or make allowances for
198.
conducive
tending to bring about; being partly responsible for
199.
confluence
a place where things merge or flow together
200.
congenial
suitable to your needs
201.
congenital
present at birth but not necessarily hereditary
202.
conjecture
to believe especially on uncertain or tentative grounds
203.
conjure
summon into action or bring into existence
204.
connoisseur
an expert able to appreciate a field

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
205.
consecrate
give entirely to a specific person, activity, or cause
206.
consensus
agreement in the judgment reached by a group as a whole
207.
consonant
a speech sound that is not a vowel
208.
construe
make sense of; assign a meaning to
209.
consummate
having or revealing supreme mastery or skill
210.
contentious
showing an inclination to disagree
211.
contiguous
having a common boundary or edge
212.
contingent
determined by conditions or circumstances that follow
213.
contrite
feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offenses
214.
contrived
showing effects of planning or manipulation
215.
conventional
following accepted customs and proprieties
216.
convivial
occupied with or fond of the pleasures of good company
217.
copious
large in number or quantity
218.
corollary
an inference following from the proof of another proposition
219.
corroborate
give evidence for
220.
cosmopolitan
composed of people from many parts of the world
221.
countenance
the appearance conveyed by a person's face
222.
coup
a sudden and decisive change of government by force
223.
covenant
an agreement between God and his people
224.
covert
secret or hidden
225.
covet
wish, long, or crave for
226.
credulous
showing a lack of judgment or experience
227.
criterion
the ideal in terms of which something can be judged
228.
cryptic
having a secret or hidden meaning
229.
culinary
of or relating to or used in cooking
230.
culminate

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
end, especially to reach a final or climactic stage
231.
culpable
deserving blame or censure as being wrong or injurious
232.
cursory
hasty and without attention to detail; not thorough
233.
curtail
terminate or abbreviate before its intended or proper end
234.
cynic
someone who is critical of the motives of others
235.
daunt
cause to lose courage
236.
dearth
an insufficient quantity or number
237.
debacle
a sudden and violent collapse
238.
debauchery
a wild gathering involving drinking and promiscuity
239.
debilitate
make weak
240.
decadent
marked by excessive self-indulgence and moral decay
241.
decimate
kill one in every ten, as of mutineers in Roman armies
242.
decorous
characterized by propriety and dignity and good taste
243.
deduce
reason from the general to the particular
244.
defame
charge falsely or with malicious intent
245.
deference
courteous regard for people's feelings
246.
definitive
clearly defined or formulated
247.
degenerate
a person whose behavior deviates from what is acceptable
248.
deleterious
harmful to living things
249.
delineate
represented accurately or precisely
250.
delude
be dishonest with
251.
deluge
a heavy rain
252.
demagogue
a leader who seeks support by appealing to popular passions
253.
denizen
a plant or animal naturalized in a region
254.
depravity
moral perversion; impairment of virtue and moral principles
255.
deprecate
express strong disapproval of; deplore

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
256.
deride
treat or speak of with contempt
257.
derogatory
expressive of low opinion
258.
desiccate
lacking vitality or spirit; lifeless
259.
despondent
without or almost without hope
260.
despot
a cruel and oppressive dictator
261.
destitute
poor enough to need help from others
262.
desultory
marked by lack of definite plan or regularity or purpose
263.
dialectical
relating to reasoning by the exchange of logical arguments
264.
dictum
an authoritative declaration
265.
didactic
instructive, especially excessively
266.
diffident
showing modest reserve
267.
digress
wander from a direct or straight course
268.
dilettante
an amateur engaging in an activity without serious intention
269.
discern
detect with the senses
270.
discreet
marked by prudence or modesty and wise self-restraint
271.
discrete
constituting a separate entity or part
272.
discriminate
marked by the ability to see or make fine distinctions
273.
disdain
lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
274.
disinterested
unaffected by concern for one's own welfare
275.
disparage
express a negative opinion of
276.
disparate
fundamentally different or distinct in quality or kind
277.
disseminate
cause to become widely known
278.
dissipate
to cause to separate and go in different directions
279.
dissolution
separation into component parts
280.
distend
cause to expand as it by internal pressure
281.
distinguish

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
mark as different
282.
docile
easily handled or managed
283.
doctrinaire
a stubborn person of arbitrary or arrogant opinions
284.
dogmatic
pertaining to a code of beliefs accepted as authoritative
285.
domestic
of or relating to the home
286.
dormant
inactive but capable of becoming active
287.
dubious
fraught with uncertainty or doubt
288.
duplicity
acting in bad faith
289.
ebullient
joyously unrestrained
290.
eccentric
conspicuously or grossly unconventional or unusual
291.
eclectic
selecting what seems best of various styles or ideas
292.
edify
make understand
293.
efface
remove by or as if by rubbing or erasing
294.
effusion
an unrestrained expression of emotion
295.
egalitarian
favoring social equality
296.
egocentric
limited to or caring only about yourself and your own needs
297.
egoist
a conceited and self-centered person
298.
egregious
conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible
299.
elicit
call forth, as an emotion, feeling, or response
300.
elliptical
rounded like an egg
301.
elusive
skillful at evading capture
302.
emigrate
leave one's country of residence for a new one
303.
eminent
standing above others in quality or position
304.
empirical
derived from experiment and observation rather than theory
305.
emulate
strive to equal or match, especially by imitating
306.
encroach
advance beyond the usual limit

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
307.
endemic
native to or confined to a certain region
308.
enervate
weaken mentally or morally
309.
enfranchise
grant freedom to, as from slavery or servitude
310.
engender
make children
311.
enigma
something that baffles understanding and cannot be explained
312.
enormity
the quality of extreme wickedness
313.
ephemeral
anything short-lived, as an insect that lives only for a day
314.
epigram
a witty saying
315.
epitome
a standard or typical example
316.
equanimity
steadiness of mind under stress
317.
equitable
fair to all parties as dictated by reason and conscience
318.
equivocal
open to two or more interpretations
319.
erudite
having or showing profound knowledge
320.
esoteric
understandable only by an enlightened inner circle
321.
espouse
choose and follow
322.
ethereal
characterized by lightness and insubstantiality
323.
euphemism
an inoffensive expression substituted for an offensive one
324.
evanescent
tending to vanish like vapor
325.
exacerbate
make worse
326.
exacting
severe and unremitting in making demands
327.
exalt
praise, glorify, or honor
328.
exasperate
make furious
329.
exemplify
be characteristic of
330.
exhaustive
performed comprehensively and completely
331.
exhort
spur on or encourage especially by cheers and shouts
332.
exigency

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
a pressing or urgent situation
333.
existential
relating to or dealing with the state of being
334.
exonerate
pronounce not guilty of criminal charges
335.
expatriate
a person who is voluntarily absent from home or country
336.
expedient
appropriate to a purpose
337.
expedite
process fast and efficiently
338.
explicit
precisely and clearly expressed or readily observable
339.
extol
praise, glorify, or honor
340.
extraneous
not belonging to that in which it is contained
341.
extrapolate
draw from specific cases for more general cases
342.
extricate
release from entanglement of difficulty
343.
extrovert
a person directed toward others as opposed to the self
344.
exult
feel extreme happiness or elation
345.
fabrication
the act of making a product from raw materials
346.
facetious
cleverly amusing in tone
347.
facile
arrived at without due care or effort; lacking depth
348.
faction
a dissenting clique
349.
farcical
broadly or extravagantly humorous
350.
fastidious
giving careful attention to detail
351.
fatalist
someone who feels powerless to change his or her destiny
352.
fatuous
devoid of intelligence
353.
fauna
all the animal life in a particular region or period
354.
fecund
capable of producing offspring or vegetation
355.
felicity
pleasing and appropriate manner or style
356.
fervor
feelings of great warmth and intensity
357.
fetter
a shackle for the ankles or feet

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
358.
fidelity
the quality of being faithful
359.
figurative
not literal
360.
finesse
subtly skillful handling of a situation
361.
flagrant
conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible
362.
flaunt
display proudly
363.
flout
treat with contemptuous disregard
364.
foible
a minor weakness or peculiarity in someone's character
365.
foment
try to stir up
366.
forbear
a person from whom you are descended
367.
forgo
do without or cease to hold or adhere to
368.
forsake
leave someone who needs or counts on you; leave in the lurch
369.
fortuitous
occurring by happy chance
370.
founder
a person who establishes some institution
371.
fraternal
like or characteristic of or befitting a brother
372.
frenetic
excessively agitated
373.
frugal
avoiding waste
374.
furtive
secret and sly or sordid
375.
futile
producing no result or effect
376.
garrulous
full of trivial conversation
377.
genre
a kind of literary or artistic work
378.
genteel
marked by refinement in taste and manners
379.
gesticulate
show, express or direct through movement
380.
glut
supply with an excess of
381.
grandiloquent
lofty in style
382.
grandiose
impressive because of unnecessary largeness or grandeur
383.
gratuitous

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
unnecessary and unwarranted
384.
gravity
the force of attraction between all masses in the universe
385.
gregarious
temperamentally seeking and enjoying the company of others
386.
guile
shrewdness as demonstrated by being skilled in deception
387.
hackneyed
repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse
388.
hapless
deserving or inciting pity
389.
harbinger
something indicating the approach of something or someone
390.
hedonism
an ethical system that values the pursuit of pleasure
391.
hegemony
the dominance or leadership of one social group over others
392.
heresy
a belief that rejects the orthodox tenets of a religion
393.
hermetic
completely sealed or airtight
394.
heyday
the period of greatest prosperity or productivity
395.
hiatus
an interruption in the intensity or amount of something
396.
hierarchy
a series of ordered groupings within a system
397.
histrionic
characteristic of acting or a stage performance
398.
homily
a sermon on a moral or religious topic
399.
homogeneous
all of the same or similar kind or nature
400.
husbandry
the practice of cultivating the land or raising stock
401.
hyperbole
extravagant exaggeration
402.
hypothetical
a conjectural possibility or circumstance
403.
iconoclast
someone who attacks cherished ideas or institutions
404.
ideology
an orientation that characterizes the thinking of a group
405.
idiosyncrasy
a behavioral attribute peculiar to an individual
406.
idyllic
charmingly simple and serene
407.
ignominy
a state of dishonor
408.
illicit
contrary to accepted morality or convention

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
409.
imminent
close in time; about to occur
410.
immutable
not subject or susceptible to change or variation
411.
impartial
free from undue bias or preconceived opinions
412.
impeccable
without fault or error
413.
imperial
of a dominion under control of a single authority
414.
impervious
not admitting of passage or capable of being affected
415.
impetuous
characterized by undue haste and lack of thought
416.
implement
a piece of equipment or a tool used for a specific purpose
417.
impotent
(of a male) unable to copulate
418.
impugn
attack as false or wrong
419.
inane
devoid of intelligence
420.
inaugurate
commence officially
421.
incandescent
emitting light as a result of being heated
422.
incantation
a ritual reciting of words believed to have a magical effect
423.
incense
make furious
424.
incessant
uninterrupted in time and indefinitely long continuing
425.
incipient
only partly in existence; imperfectly formed
426.
incisive
demonstrating ability to recognize or draw fine distinctions
427.
incongruous
lacking in harmony or compatibility or appropriateness
428.
incorrigible
impervious to correction by punishment
429.
increment
the amount by which something increases
430.
indifferent
marked by a lack of interest
431.
indigenous
originating where it is found
432.
indigent
poor enough to need help from others
433.
indignant
angered at something unjust or wrong
434.
indolent

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
disinclined to work or exertion
435.
indulgent
given to yielding to the wishes of someone
436.
ineffable
defying expression or description
437.
inept
generally incompetent and ineffectual
438.
inert
unable to move or resist motion
439.
inexorable
not to be placated or appeased or moved by entreaty
440.
infamous
known widely and usually unfavorably
441.
infatuated
marked by foolish or unreasoning fondness
442.
infer
conclude by reasoning
443.
infinitesimal
immeasurably small
444.
ingenuous
lacking in sophistication or worldliness
445.
inherent
existing as an essential constituent or characteristic
446.
injunction
a judicial remedy to prohibit a party from doing something
447.
innate
present at birth but not necessarily hereditary
448.
innocuous
not injurious to physical or mental health
449.
inordinate
beyond normal limits
450.
insatiable
impossible to satisfy
451.
insidious
working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way
452.
insinuate
suggest in an indirect or covert way; give to understand
453.
insipid
lacking interest or significance or impact
454.
insolent
marked by casual disrespect
455.
instigate
provoke or stir up
456.
insular
relating to or characteristic of or situated on an island
457.
insurgent
in opposition to a civil authority or government
458.
integral
existing as an essential constituent or characteristic
459.
intractable
difficult to manage or mold

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
460.
intransigent
impervious to pleas, persuasion, requests, reason
461.
intrinsic
belonging to a thing by its very nature
462.
introspective
given to examining own sensory and perceptual experiences
463.
inundate
fill or cover completely, usually with water
464.
invective
abusive language used to express blame or censure
465.
inveterate
habitual
466.
irascible
quickly aroused to anger
467.
ironic
displaying incongruity between what is expected and what is
468.
irrevocable
incapable of being retracted
469.
itinerant
traveling from place to place to work
470.
judicious
marked by the exercise of good judgment in practical matters
471.
juxtapose
place side by side
472.
kinetic
relating to the motion of material bodies and their forces
473.
labyrinth
complex system of paths in which it is easy to get lost
474.
laconic
brief and to the point
475.
lament
a cry of sorrow and grief
476.
lampoon
ridicule with satire
477.
languish
become feeble
478.
largess
liberality in bestowing gifts
479.
latent
potentially existing but not presently evident or realized
480.
laud
praise, glorify, or honor
481.
legacy
a gift of personal property by will
482.
lethargy
inactivity; showing an unusual lack of energy
483.
levity
a manner lacking seriousness
484.
libel
a false and malicious publication
485.
litigate

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
engage in legal proceedings
486.
loquacious
full of trivial conversation
487.
lucid
transparently clear; easily understandable
488.
lugubrious
excessively mournful
489.
luminous
softly bright or radiant
490.
machination
a crafty and involved plot to achieve your ends
491.
magnanimous
noble and generous in spirit
492.
magnate
a very wealthy or powerful businessman
493.
malaise
a general feeling of discomfort, uneasiness, or depression
494.
malfeasance
wrongful conduct by a public official
495.
malinger
avoid responsibilities and duties
496.
malleable
capable of being shaped or bent
497.
mandate
a document giving an official instruction or command
498.
manifest
clearly revealed to the mind or the senses or judgment
499.
manifesto
a public declaration of intentions
500.
marshal
a military officer of highest rank
1.
martial
suggesting war or military life
2.
martyr
one who voluntarily suffers death
3.
matriculate
enroll as a student
4.
maudlin
effusively or insincerely emotional
5.
maverick
someone who exhibits independence in thought and action
6.
maxim
a saying that is widely accepted on its own merits
7.
mediate
act between parties with a view to reconciling differences
8.
mellifluous
pleasing to the ear
9.
mendacious
given to lying
10.
mendicant
a pauper who lives by begging

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.
32.
33.
34.
35.
36.

mentor
a wise and trusted guide and advisor
mercenary
a person hired to fight for another country than their own
mercurial
liable to sudden unpredictable change
metamorphosis
striking change in appearance or character or circumstances
microcosm
a miniature model of something
milieu
the environmental condition
minuscule
very small
misanthropic
hating mankind in general
mitigate
lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
mollify
cause to be more favorably inclined
monolithic
imposing in size or bulk or solidity
moribund
being on the point of death
morose
showing a brooding ill humor
mortify
cause to feel shame
mundane
found in the ordinary course of events
munificent
very generous
myopia
eyesight abnormality in which distant objects appear blurred
myriad
a large indefinite number
narcissism
an exceptional interest in and admiration for yourself
nebulous
lacking definite form or limits
nefarious
extremely wicked
neologism
a newly invented word or phrase
nepotism
favoritism shown to relatives or friends by those in power
nihilism
complete denial of established authority and institutions
nominal
relating to or constituting or bearing or giving a name
nostalgia

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
37.
38.
39.
40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.
46.
47.
48.
49.
50.
51.
52.
53.
54.
55.
56.
57.
58.
59.
60.
61.

longing for something past


notorious
known widely and usually unfavorably
novel
an extended fictional work in prose
noxious
injurious to physical or mental health
nuance
a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitude
obdurate
stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing
obfuscate
make obscure or unclear
oblique
slanting or inclined in direction or course or position
oblivion
the state of being disregarded or forgotten
obscure
not clearly understood or expressed
obsequious
attempting to win favor from influential people by flattery
obtuse
of an angle, between 90 and 180 degrees
officious
intrusive in a meddling or offensive manner
onerous
not easily borne; wearing
opaque
not transmitting or reflecting light or radiant energy
opulent
rich and superior in quality
orthodox
adhering to what is commonly accepted
ostensible
appearing as such but not necessarily so
ostentatious
intended to attract notice and impress others
painstaking
characterized by extreme care and great effort
palliate
lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
palpable
capable of being perceived
paltry
contemptibly small in amount
panacea
hypothetical remedy for all ills or diseases
paradigm
a standard or typical example
paradox
a statement that contradicts itself

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
62.
63.
64.
65.
66.
67.
68.
69.
70.
71.
72.
73.
74.
75.
76.
77.
78.
79.
80.
81.
82.
83.
84.
85.
86.
87.

parochial
relating to or supported by or located in a parish
parody
a composition that imitates or misrepresents a style
parsimonious
excessively unwilling to spend
partisan
a fervent and even militant proponent of something
patent
a document granting an inventor sole rights to an invention
paternal
characteristic of a father
pathology
the branch of medical science that studies diseases
patriarch
the male head of family or tribe
patrician
a person of refined upbringing and manners
patronize
assume sponsorship of
paucity
an insufficient quantity or number
peccadillo
a petty misdeed
pedantic
marked by a narrow focus on or display of learning
pedestrian
a person who travels by foot
pejorative
expressing disapproval
penchant
a strong liking
penitent
feeling or expressing remorse for misdeeds
peremptory
putting an end to all debate or action
perennial
lasting three seasons or more
perfidy
an act of deliberate betrayal
perfunctory
hasty and without attention to detail; not thorough
peripatetic
traveling especially on foot
periphery
the outside boundary or surface of something
perjury
criminal offense of making false statements under oath
permeate
spread or diffuse through
pernicious

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
exceedingly harmful
perquisite
an incidental benefit for certain types of employment
89.
pertinent
being of striking appropriateness
90.
perturb
disturb in mind or make uneasy or cause to be worried
91.
peruse
examine or consider with attention and in detail
92.
pervade
spread or diffuse through
93.
petulant
easily irritated or annoyed
94.
philanthropy
the act of donating money or time to promote human welfare
95.
philistine
a person who is uninterested in intellectual pursuits
96.
pious
having or showing or expressing reverence for a deity
97.
pivotal
being of crucial importance
98.
placate
cause to be more favorably inclined
99.
plaintive
expressing sorrow
100.
platitude
a trite or obvious remark
101.
plebeian
of or associated with the great masses of people
102.
plethora
extreme excess
103.
poignant
keenly distressing to the mind or feelings
104.
polarize
cause to concentrate about two conflicting positions
105.
polemic
a controversy, especially over a belief or dogma
106.
ponderous
having great mass and weight and unwieldiness
107.
portent
a sign of something about to happen
108.
postulate
maintain or assert
109.
pragmatic
concerned with practical matters
110.
precedent
an example that is used to justify similar occurrences
111.
precept
rule of personal conduct
112.
precipitate
bring about abruptly
88.

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
113.
precipitous
extremely steep
114.
preclude
make impossible, especially beforehand
115.
precursor
something indicating the approach of something or someone
116.
predilection
a predisposition in favor of something
117.
preeminent
greatest in importance or degree or significance
118.
preempt
acquire for oneself before others can do so
119.
premise
a statement that is held to be true
120.
prepossess
cause to be preoccupied
121.
prerogative
a right reserved exclusively by a person or group
122.
prevail
be larger in number, quantity, power, status or importance
123.
pristine
immaculately clean and unused
124.
prodigal
recklessly wasteful
125.
prodigious
great in size, force, extent, or degree
126.
prodigy
an unusually gifted or intelligent person
127.
profane
grossly irreverent toward what is held to be sacred
128.
profess
confess one's faith in, or allegiance to
129.
proficient
having or showing knowledge and skill and aptitude
130.
profligate
unrestrained by convention or morality
131.
profound
situated at or extending to great depth
132.
profuse
produced or growing in extreme abundance
133.
proletariat
a social class comprising those who do manual labor
134.
proliferate
grow rapidly
135.
prolific
intellectually productive
136.
promulgate
state or announce
137.
propensity
a natural inclination
138.
propitious

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
presenting favorable circumstances
139.
proponent
a person who pleads for a cause or propounds an idea
140.
proponent
a person who pleads for a cause or propounds an idea
141.
proprietary
protected by trademark or patent or copyright
142.
propriety
correct behavior
143.
prosaic
lacking wit or imagination
144.
proscribe
command against
145.
proselytize
convert or try to convert someone to another religion
146.
protagonist
the principal character in a work of fiction
147.
protract
lengthen in time; cause to be or last longer
148.
provident
giving something useful for the future
149.
provincial
associated with an administrative district of a nation
150.
provisional
under terms not final or fully worked out or agreed upon
151.
proximity
the property of being close together
152.
prudent
marked by sound judgment
153.
purportedly
believed or reputed to be the case
154.
putative
purported
155.
qualify
describe or portray the character or peculiarities of
156.
qualitative
involving distinguishing attributes
157.
querulous
habitually complaining
158.
quixotic
not sensible about practical matters
159.
ramification
a development that complicates a situation
160.
rancor
a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will
161.
rapacious
living by preying on other animals
162.
rebuke
an act or expression of criticism and censure
163.
rebut
overthrow by argument, evidence, or proof

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
164.
recalcitrant
stubbornly resistant to authority or control
165.
recant
formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief
166.
reciprocal
concerning each of two or more persons or things
167.
reclusive
withdrawn from society; seeking solitude
168.
recondite
difficult to penetrate
169.
recrimination
mutual accusations
170.
redolent
having a strong pleasant odor
171.
redundant
more than is needed, desired, or required
172.
refute
overthrow by argument, evidence, or proof
173.
reiterate
to say, state, or perform again
174.
relegate
assign to a lower position
175.
relentless
never-ceasing
176.
relinquish
turn away from; give up
177.
remonstrate
argue in protest or opposition
178.
Renaissance
period of European history at the close of the Middle Ages
179.
renounce
turn away from; give up
180.
reparation
something done or paid in expiation of a wrong
181.
repercussion
a remote or indirect consequence of some action
182.
replenish
fill something that had previously been emptied
183.
replete
filled to satisfaction with food or drink
184.
reprehensible
bringing or deserving severe rebuke or censure
185.
reprisal
a retaliatory action against an enemy in wartime
186.
reproach
express criticism towards
187.
reprove
take to task
188.
repudiate
refuse to acknowledge, ratify, or recognize as valid
189.
requisite

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
necessary for relief or supply
190.
resolute
firm in purpose or belief
191.
respite
a pause from doing something
192.
reticent
reluctant to draw attention to yourself
193.
revere
regard with feelings of respect
194.
rhetoric
study of the technique for using language effectively
195.
rigorous
rigidly accurate; allowing no deviation from a standard
196.
robust
sturdy and strong in form, constitution, or construction
197.
rogue
a deceitful and unreliable scoundrel
198.
rudimentary
being in the earliest stages of development
199.
ruminate
reflect deeply on a subject
200.
rustic
characteristic of rural life
201.
saccharine
overly sweet
202.
sacrilege
blasphemous behavior
203.
sacrosanct
must be kept sacred
204.
sagacious
acutely insightful and wise
205.
salient
having a quality that thrusts itself into attention
206.
salutary
tending to promote physical well-being; beneficial to health
207.
sanctimonious
excessively or hypocritically pious
208.
sanguine
confidently optimistic and cheerful
209.
sardonic
disdainfully or ironically humorous
210.
scintillate
emit or reflect light in a flickering manner
211.
scrupulous
characterized by extreme care and great effort
212.
scrutinize
examine carefully for accuracy
213.
secular
someone who is not a clergyman or a professional person
214.
sedition
an illegal action inciting resistance to lawful authority

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
215.
sensory
relating to or concerned in sensation
216.
sentient
endowed with feeling and unstructured consciousness
217.
sequester
keep away from others
218.
serendipity
good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries
219.
servile
submissive or fawning in attitude or behavior
220.
singular
being a single and separate person or thing
221.
slander
words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another
222.
sloth
a disinclination to work or exert yourself
223.
solicitous
full of anxiety and concern
224.
solvent
capable of meeting financial obligations
225.
soporific
sleep inducing
226.
sordid
foul and run-down and repulsive
227.
spawn
the mass of eggs deposited by fish or amphibians or mollusks
228.
specious
plausible but false
229.
sporadic
recurring in scattered or unpredictable instances
230.
spurious
plausible but false
231.
squalor
sordid dirtiness
232.
squander
spend thoughtlessly; throw away
233.
stagnation
a state of inactivity
234.
static
not in physical motion
235.
staunch
firm and dependable especially in loyalty
236.
steadfast
marked by firm determination or resolution; not shakable
237.
stigmatize
to condemn or openly or formally or brand as disgraceful
238.
stipulate
make an express demand or provision in an agreement
239.
stoic
seeming unaffected by pleasure or pain; impassive
240.
stratum

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
one of several parallel layers of material
241.
stricture
severe criticism
242.
strife
bitter conflict; heated often violent dissension
243.
stringent
demanding strict attention to rules and procedures
244.
stymie
hinder or prevent the progress or accomplishment of
245.
subjugate
make subservient; force to submit or subdue
246.
sublime
of high moral or intellectual value
247.
subordinate
an assistant subject to the authority or control of another
248.
substantive
having a firm basis in reality and therefore important
249.
subtle
difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze
250.
subversive
in opposition to a civil authority or government
251.
succinct
briefly giving the gist of something
252.
succumb
consent reluctantly
253.
supercilious
having or showing arrogant superiority to
254.
superficial
of, affecting, or being on or near the surface
255.
superfluous
more than is needed, desired, or required
256.
surreptitious
marked by quiet and caution and secrecy
257.
surrogate
someone who takes the place of another person
258.
sycophant
a person who tries to please someone to gain an advantage
259.
synthesis
the combination of ideas into a complex whole
260.
tacit
implied by or inferred from actions or statements
261.
taciturn
habitually reserved and uncommunicative
262.
tangential
of superficial relevance if any
263.
tangible
perceptible by the senses especially the sense of touch
264.
tantamount
being essentially equal to something
265.
tautological
characterized by unnecessary repetition

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
266.
temerity
fearless daring
267.
temperate
not extreme
268.
tenable
based on sound reasoning or evidence
269.
tenacious
stubbornly unyielding
270.
tenet
a religious doctrine proclaimed as true without proof
271.
tentative
hesitant or lacking confidence; unsettled in mind or opinion
272.
tenuous
very thin in gauge or diameter
273.
terse
brief and to the point
274.
theology
the rational and systematic study of religion
275.
tirade
a speech of violent denunciation
276.
torpor
a state of motor and mental inactivity
277.
touchstone
a basis for comparison
278.
tout
advertize in strongly positive terms
279.
transcend
be greater in scope or size than some standard
280.
transgress
act in disregard of laws, rules, contracts, or promises
281.
transient
lasting a very short time
282.
trepidation
a feeling of alarm or dread
283.
turpitude
a corrupt or depraved or degenerate act or practice
284.
ubiquitous
being present everywhere at once
285.
unconscionable
greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderation
286.
unctuous
unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating
287.
uniform
clothing of distinctive design worn by members of a group
288.
unremitting
uninterrupted in time and indefinitely long continuing
289.
unwitting
not aware or knowing
290.
urbane
showing a high degree of refinement
291.
usurp

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
seize and take control without authority
292.
utilitarian
having a useful function
293.
utopia
ideally perfect state
294.
vacillate
be undecided about something
295.
vapid
lacking significance or liveliness or spirit or zest
296.
vehement
marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions
297.
venal
capable of being corrupted
298.
venerate
regard with feelings of respect and reverence
299.
veracity
unwillingness to tell lies
300.
verbose
using or containing too many words
301.
verisimilitude
the appearance of truth; the quality of seeming to be true
302.
vernacular
the everyday speech of the people
303.
vestige
an indication that something has been present
304.
vex
disturb, especially by minor irritations
305.
viable
capable of life or normal growth and development
306.
vicarious
experienced at secondhand
307.
vicissitude
a variation in circumstances or fortune
308.
vilify
spread negative information about
309.
vindicate
show to be right by providing justification or proof
310.
vindictive
disposed to seek revenge or intended for revenge
311.
virtuoso
someone who is dazzlingly skilled in any field
312.
virulent
extremely poisonous or injurious; producing venom
313.
visionary
a person with unusual powers of foresight
314.
vitiate
make imperfect
315.
vitriolic
harsh, bitter, or malicious in tone
316.
vocation
the particular occupation for which you are trained

A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS


NORMAN LEWIS
317.
vociferous
conspicuously and offensively loud
318.
volatile
liable to lead to sudden change or violence
319.
volition
the act of making a choice
320.
wanton
lewd or lascivious woman
321.
willful
done by design
322.
wistful
showing pensive sadness
323.
zealous
marked by active interest and enthusiasm