12 • Lesson 14 Word List


(adj) 1. Bitter or sour to the taste.
Cranberries are acerbic and require sweetening to make them palatable.

2. Biting or stinging in tone; sarcastic.
The comedian’s acerbic humor made her audience squirm even as they laughed.


(n) A groundless report or story, often one made up deliberately to deceive.
The newspaper story that claimed the athlete was distracted by problems at home was actually a canard concocted by her competitors.


(adj) Elegant in appearance and charming in manner.
Debonair and urbane, the British-born American film actor Cary Grant was one of the best-known leading men of all time.


(v) To lower oneself in one’s own estimation; to condescend.
In his drama Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw creates a character “of class” who deigns to interact with one beneath his social status.


(n) Mental deterioration associated with advanced age.
King Lear was in his dotage when he foolishly decided to divide his kingdom among his daughters.


(v) To impose something unwanted or unneeded on an unwilling recipient.
My friend, with good intentions, tried to foist some of her old clothes on me when she was cleaning out her closet.


(adj) 1. Tasteless.
Oscar insisted that a recipe without a dash of Tabasco sauce would make for insipid soup.

2. Lacking excitement; uninteresting.
I find sports so insipid that I fall asleep watching them.


(v) To misunderstand or misinterpret.
I’m afraid I misconstrued her silence as agreement and went ahead with the project.


(n) Excessive admiration of oneself.
The writer’s narcissism was blatant in his repeated reference to his beauty in his memoirs.

narcissistic (adj)


(adj) 1. Excessively proud.
She strode onto the stage with an overweening attitude that elicited only polite rather than enthusiastic applause.

2. Lacking restraint; immoderate.
The protagonist’s overweening insecurity was the flaw that led to his tragic life.


(n) A hymn of joy, praise, or appreciation.
Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ode that begins “Hail to thee, blithe spirit” is a paean to the skylark.


(n) Conversation marked by quick and witty verbal exchanges.
The repartee between the rock star and her accompanist had the fans at the concert laughing repeatedly.


(v) To express deep sadness or discontent; to long for something lost.
Rather than repine over the loss of Checkers, the children found a cat at the animal shelter to take her place.


(adj) Relating to clothing, especially tailored clothing.
Ben’s habitual attire of T-shirt and jeans expressed his casual attitude about his sartorial appearance.


(adj) Slender and graceful; having sleek lines.
Svelte ballerinas played the parts of the swans.


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