12 • Lesson 10 Word List

acumen

(n) Keenness of the mind; shrewdness.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legal acumen led to her appointment to a position on the Supreme Court.

apotheosis

(n) 1. The elevation of a person or thing to divine status.
Nero’s vanity was so great that nothing less than his apotheosis by the Roman senate could satisfy it.

2. The highest point or best example.
Many people view Beethoven’s music as the apotheosis of the Romantic movement.

askew

(adj, adv) Turned or twisted to one side; out of line.
The gate to the cow pasture had been knocked slightly askew and didn’t close properly.

compete
chasten

(v) To correct or improve by disciplining; to cause to be more careful or restrained.
The boy’s parents chastened him for arriving home after his curfew.

chastening (adj) Having the effect of humbling or restraining.

compete
demarcation

(n) 1. The act or process of setting a boundary; the boundary itself.
According to the 1953 armistice, the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) is the demarcation between North Korea and South Korea.

2. Separation; distinction.
In the summer haze, there was no clear line of demarcation between sea and sky.

compete
dictum*

(n) A statement or pronouncement.
The gym instructor’s dictum was “No pain, no gain.”

erstwhile

(adj) Of an earlier time; former.
My erstwhile companions have all gone their separate ways.

forte

(n) An activity at which a person excels.
Tennessee Williams was a poet and short-story writer, but his forte was playwriting.

habitué

(n) A person who regularly goes to a particular place.
Edward Hopper painted the habitués of all-night diners.

nonplus

(v) To cause to be at a loss as to what to say or do.
The guest’s continuing reticence nonplussed the host of the TV talk show.

peripatetic

(adj) Of or relating to going from place to place, especially on foot.
These peripatetic discussions among the lawyers took place between their offices and the courthouse.

compete
prodigal

(n) One who spends lavishly or wastefully.
During the Gilded Age of the second half of the nineteenth century, millionaires in the United States were often referred to as prodigals.

prodigal (adj)

sycophant

(n) One who uses flattery to win favor or to ingratiate himself or herself.
The Emperor’s sycophants would not dream of telling him the truth about his “new clothes.”

sycophantic (adj)

vacuous

(adj) Lacking intelligence or ideas; intellectual emptiness.
I couldn’t wait to leave the dinner because of the vacuous conversation at the table.

wraith

(n) A shadowy or ghostlike figure.
In the film, a wraith appeared out of the mist, pointed an accusing finger, and then was gone.

wraithlike (adj)

compete

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