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Vocabulary Builder: Bilious

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Long Definition:

bil·ious [bil-yuh s] Pronunciation Key Show IPA Pronunciation

–adjective

1. Physiology, Pathology. pertaining to bile or to an excess secretion of bile.
2. Pathology. suffering from, caused by, or attended by trouble with the bile or liver.
3. peevish; irritable; cranky.
4. extremely unpleasant or distasteful: a long scarf of bright, bilious green.

[Origin: 1535–45; < L b?li?sus. See bile, -ous ]

bil·ious·ly, adverb
bil·ious·ness, noun

3. grumpy, crabby, cross, grouchy, dyspeptic.

Short Definition: Crabby

Sentences:

I’m always a bit bilious in the morning until after my first cup of coffee.
Scrooge’s bilious nature is well known.

Mnemonic:

Billy Goat > Crabby ; I imagine a billy goat at a seafood restaurant who goes crazy, butting everyone in sight, whenever he hears the word, “crab.” Note: It’s tempting on a word like this to think, “bilious reminds me of billy goat, and billy goats are grumpy, so there’s no need to come up with a mnemonic.” It will stick with you much longer if you go ahead and do a complete mnemonic.

Vocabulary Builder: Ludic

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Long Definition:

lu·dic      [loo-dik] Pronunciation Key Show IPA Pronunciation

–adjective

playful in an aimless way: the ludic behavior of kittens.

[Origin: 1935–40; < L l?d- (s. of l?dere to play) + -ic, perh. via F ludique, learned formation from same components]

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Same root as ludicrous.

Short Definition:
Playful

Sentences: 
Her ludic behavior was quite out of place in that ghastly mausoleum.
The king's ludic responses were a sure sign of too much drink.

Mnemonic:
Loo>tick>playful; I imagine a giant gray tick sitting on the loo (toilet) in a bus station.  The smell is horrific, but the tick is juggling, yoyo'ing, and throwing toilet paper rolls.  He's laughing hysterically because he's so playful.  Disturbing?  Funny?  You be the judge.  Memorable?  It certainly is for me.

Vocabulary Builder: Desuetude

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Long Definition:

des·ue·tude [des-wi-tood, -tyood ] Pronunciation Key Show IPA Pronunciation

–noun

the state of being no longer used or practiced.

[Origin: 1425–75; late ME < L désuét?do, equiv. to désué-, base of désuéscere to become disaccustomed to, unlearn ( dé- de- + suéscere to become accustomed to) + -t?d? -tude]

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Note: It’s usually used in the phrase “fallen into disuetude” or “passed into disuetude.”

Short Definition: Disuse

Sentences:
I sold my exercise equipment because, after my accident, it had fallen into desuetude.
Most of our New Year’s resolutions pass into desuetude within weeks.

Mnemonic:
Disco>sweat>disuse. I imagine a very popular disco filled with dancers and bright lights. I can see the disco ball flashing and hear the BeeGees playing. The dancers are sweating profusely. In fact, they’re sweating so much it’s beginning to flood the dance floor, run out the door and into the street. Everyone leaves in disgust. I can see the discotheque now, abandoned. There is a thick layer of dust on everything and spiderwebs on the disco ball. It’s fallen into disuse.

Vocabulary Builder: Aver

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Long Definition:

a·ver      [uhvur] Pronunciation Key Show IPA Pronunciation

–verb (used with object), a·verred, a·ver·ring.

1. to assert or affirm with confidence; declare in a positive or peremptory manner.
2. Law. to allege as a fact.

[Origin: 1350–1400; ME < MF averer < ML advér?re, equiv. to ad- ad- + -vér- (< L vérus true) + -?- thematic vowel + -re inf. suffix]

See maintain.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.


Short Definition: Assert

Sentences:
We can all aver that his manners are atrocious.
I will aver it again; I didn't take the cheesy poofs.

Mnemonic:
Hover craft > Assert (ass hurt).  I'm on the used hover craft lot talking to salesman.  He walks around the hover crafts, kicking the skirts and asserting their value.  Each time he makes a claim (an assertion) he pins a little button with a picture of a donkey (ass) on my rear (ass) and I yelp because it hurts.  Note: The short definition, assert, is an abstract concept and hard to picture in my mnemonic, so I convert it to a series of mnemonic symbols as well.  Now when I see the word "aver," I think "hover," and that starts my mnemonic sequence rolling and gets me to "assert."

Vocabulary Builder: Insuperable

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Long Definition:

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)Cite This Source Share This

in·su·per·a·ble [in-soo-per-uh-buh l] Pronunciation Key Show IPA Pronunciation

–adjective

incapable of being passed over, overcome, or surmounted: an insuperable barrier.

[Origin: 1300–50; ME < L insuper?bilis. See in-3, superable ]

in·su·per·a·bil·i·ty, in·su·per·a·ble·ness, noun
in·su·per·a·bly, adverb

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.


The etymology section above is a bit lacking. In- means not, and -super means over or surmountable, so insuperable literally means not surmountable.

Short Definition: Can’t get over

Sentences:
It’s usually used to describe odds, difficulties, or obstacles.
Her poor grades so far this semester have become an insuperable obstacle to her goal of getting a 4.0.
Against insuperable odds, the child was able to escape the burning building.

Mnemonic:

Inca>soup>pear>can’t get over – I picture an Inca man high in the Andes Mountains, perhaps in Macchu Picchu, sitting next to a gigantic gray stone wall. He’s eating an enormous bowl of steaming hot soup with big green pears floating in it. He takes several slurping sips and then tries to scale the stone wall. He scrabbles and he scrambles, but he can’t get over it.

Vocabulary Builder: Refulgent

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Long Definition:

re·ful·gent [ri-fuhl-juh nt] Pronunciation Key Show IPA Pronunciation

–adjective

shining brightly; radiant; gleaming: Crystal chandeliers and gilded walls made the opera house a refulgent setting for the ball.

[Origin: 1500–10; <>refulgent- (s. of refulgéns, prp. of refulgére to radiate light). See re-, fulgent ]

re·ful·gence, re·ful·gen·cy, re·ful·gent·ness, noun
re·ful·gent·ly, adverb

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.


Short Definition: Shining brightly

Sentences:
Her refulgent smile made her a natural choice for the toothpaste commercial.
The student’s refulgent intellect was evident to all her professors.
The star Sirius is known for it’s refulgency in the winter sky.

Mnemonic:
Reef fool > shining brightly. I’m floating on a life raft in the middle of the ocean late at night. I hear the sound of waves crashing and notice a bright light ahead. When I get closer I can see it’s a fool (like a jester) standing on a hidden reef. The waves are crashing on the reef and will tear my life raft apart if I don’t do something. The reef fool has a big letter ‘F’ , for ‘fool,’ (to help me remember he’s a fool and not a jester) emblazoned on his shirt and it’s shining brightly in the night like a lighthouse beacon.

Vocabulary Builder: Contumacious

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Long Definition:

con·tu·ma·cious      [kon-toomey-shuh s, -tyoo] Pronunciation Key Show IPA Pronunciation

–adjective

stubbornly perverse or rebellious; willfully and obstinately disobedient.

[Origin: 1590–1600; contumacy + -ous ]

con·tu·ma·cious·ly, adverb
con·tu·ma·cious·ness, con·tu·mac·i·ty      [kon-toomas-i-tee, -tyoo ] Pronunciation Key Show IPA Pronunciation, noun

contrary, pigheaded, factious, refractory, headstrong, intractable.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.


Short Definition: Pigheaded

Sentences: 
His contumacious nature landed him in the county jail; he shouldn't have mouthed off to that cop.
Contumacity is never appreciated by elementary teachers; they would prefer students do as they're told and promptly.

Mnemonic:
Cone tomato – pigheaded .  I was walking across campus the other day carrying an orange, plastic traffic cone filled with rotten, dripping tomatoes.  The juice was running down the sides of the cone and getting all over me, and the smell was horrific.  I saw a young boy struggling with his mother, and trying to run across a busy street.  The mother was trying hard to keep the bratty kid on the sidewalk, but the boy was throwing a fit.  I slammed the traffic cone onto the boy's head like a dunce cap, tomato pulp flying everywhere, and his head morphed into a squealing pig's head.

Vocabulary Builder: Adventitious

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Long Definition:

ad·ven·ti·tious      [ad-vuh n-tishuhs] Pronunciation Key Show IPA Pronunciation

–adjective

1. associated with something by chance rather than as an integral part; extrinsic.
2. Botany, Zoology. appearing in an abnormal or unusual position or place, as a root.

[Origin: 1595–1605; < L advent?cius lit., coming from without, external, equiv. to ad- ad- + ven- (s. of ven?re to come) + -t(us) ptp. suffix + -?cius -itious ]

ad·ven·ti·tious·ly, adverb
ad·ven·ti·tious·ness, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.


Short Definition:  abnormal

Sentences:
His arrogant behavior today was adventitous; he's normally quite humble and polite.
We found a small gemstone in the mine, but it's presence must be adventitious as this region is not known for such gems.

Mnemonic:
Hat vent tissues > ape snore mole – The Cat in the Hat's hat is so tall it has vents on the side to help with circulation.  The cat carries around a gigantic box of tissues to wipe the vents clean.  He can't reach the vents while he's wearing the hat, however, so he's followed by a trained purple ape who sounds like he's constantly snoring.  However, when you look closely, you notice that the snoring is coming from a giant hairy mole on the side of the ape's neck (that's an adventitious mole).
With this word, the short definition is so abstract that I encoded it with a mnemonic as well.

Vocabulary Builder: Ersatz

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Long Definition:

er·satz      [er-zahts, -sahts, er-zahts, sahts] Pronunciation Key Show IPA Pronunciation

–adjective

1. serving as a substitute; synthetic; artificial: an ersatz coffee made from grain.

–noun

2. an artificial substance or article used to replace something natural or genuine; a substitute.

[Origin: 1870–75; < G Ersatz a substitute (deriv. of ersetzen to replace) ]

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.


Short Definition: Substitute

Sentences: 
Did you know you can use plain unsweetened yogurt as an ersatz sour cream?
We gaving the whining puppy an ersatz mother by wrapping a ticking alarm clock in a warm blanket.

Mnemonic (you'll remember it better if you come up with your own):
Ear zits.  Yesterday I woke up and my ears were covered with huge painful zits.  I pulled out my Halloween costume and used the big fake plastic ears from my dwarf costume to cover up my own ears.  I wore those ears as substitutes.