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Test Your Vocabulary

“The richer and more copious one’s vocabulary and the greater one’s awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one’s thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together. If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing.”
―Henry Hazlitt, Thinking as a Science

Here is another of our intermittent vocabulary tests. The answers directly follow the quiz.

1. arcane

A) evil
B) sweet
C) mysterious
D) curved

2. temerity

A) boldness
B) fear
C) inflexibility
D) foresight

3. feckless

A) uninformed
B) sterile
C) incompetent
D) distasteful

4. precipitous

A) unexpected
B) edgy
C) clean
D) steep

5. stolid

A) muscular
B) impassive
C) watchful
D) confused

6. egregious

A) outrageous
B) angry
C) desperate
D) life-changing

7. trenchant

A) watery
B) sharp
C) melodic
D) handy

8. assuage

A) demolish
B) predict
C) relieve
D) condemn

9. protean

A) healthy
B) versatile
C) unruly
D) implausible

10. oxymoron

A) a complete fool
B) a muscular bully
C) a legal document that voids a contract
D) a phrase that seems to contradict itself


1: C) mysterious. Their arcane habits and practices shocked our Western eyes.

2: A) boldness. He had the temerity to disobey the judge’s orders.

3: C) incompetent. Rita’s feckless cousin just lost another job.

4: D) steep. The young hikers turned back, unwilling to scale the precipitous cliffs.

5: B) impassive. I wished that my class of stolid undergraduates were more interested in what was happening around them.

6: A) outrageous. This was an egregious act of betrayal.

7: B) sharp. Oscar’s trenchant wit won him many an argument.

8: C) relieve. To assuage her guilt, she decided to change her ways.

9: B) versatile. He is a protean musician who can play in almost any style.

10: D) a phrase that seems to contradict itself. Isn’t “jumbo shrimp” an oxymoron?

Because of the e-newsletter’s large readership, please submit your English usage questions through GrammarBook.com’s Grammar Blog.

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and Punctuation

by Jane Straus, Lester Kaufman, and Tom Stern

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Rules for Writing Good: Writing Tips
Beginning this week, we are going to run selections from a perverse set of rules that are guilty of the very mistakes they seek to prevent. English teachers, students, scientists, and writers have been circulating these self-contradictory rules for more than a century.

1. Don’t be a person whom people realize confuses who and whom.

2. Never use no double negatives.

3. When writing, participles must not be dangled.

68 One-Minute English Usage Videos

English In A Snap: 68 One-Minute English Usage Videos FREE 

Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.

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