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Getting Smarter through Language

Intermediate Reading Course. Section 1: The Basics

Dealing with Vocabulary in Reading

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Instructions. Based on what you learned in this lesson, guess the meaning of each of the following words. Use only the contextual information in each sentence or scenario. Do not use a dictionary.

When you are finished, click “Answer” to check your answer.

Note. Your answers will not be submitted. When you leave this page, they will be deleted.

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1. What does “assuage” mean in the sentence below?

The professor tried to assuage students’ concerns about the final examination by giving them a complete review of the content and sample questions.

Your Guess:

To “assuage” means to make something less painful, severe, serious, etcetera.

In this sentence, the professor did things that would reduce students’ concerns about the final exam.

2. What does “desiccate” mean in the sentence below?

When Mary realized she had not watered her house plant in several days, its leaves were already completely desiccated.

Your Guess:

To “desiccate” means to remove the water from something.

In this sentence, the plants had no water for several days, so its leaves were desiccated, that is, they were dry.

3. What does “capricious” mean in the sentence below?

I was unfortunate to work for a very capricious manager in my very first job. One day he would be pleasant and let us leave early. The next day, he would not even let us take breaks and yelled at us for no good reason.

Your Guess:

“Capricious” people change their mood and behavior very quickly and for no apparent reason.

In this sentence, the manager’s mood and behavior changed from pleasant to unpleasant from one day to the next.

4. What does “corroborate” mean in the sentence below?

At first, we did not believe Joanna’s stories about her manager treating her poorly because he was always pleasant to everyone. One day, we overheard him call her “stupid” and tell her to get him coffee. That corroborated her complaints.

Your Guess:

To “corroborate” means to help prove something by providing evidence or proof.

In this scenario, overhearing Joanna’s boss treating her poorly provided evidence, or corroborated, her complaints about him.

5. What does “enervating” mean in the sentence below?

The heat is enervating for some people. They have so little energy to do anything they just want to stay indoors in a cool place.

Your Guess:

The adjective “enervating” comes from the verb “to enervate,” which means to make someone weak or tired.

If the heat is “enervating” for you, it makes you feel weak or tired—lacking energy.

6. What does “obdurate” mean in the sentence below?

Students begged and gave the professor good reasons why he should give them a chance to take the exam again, but the professor remained obdurate. They just had to accept their low grades.

Your Guess:

People are “obdurate” when they refuse to change despite what anyone says.

7. What does “garrulous” mean in the sentence below?

I wanted to sleep during my flight but ended up sitting next to a garrulous young man. He started talking the moment we got on the plane and didn’t stop until we said goodbye at the gate.

Your Guess:

“Garrulous” means having the habit of talking a lot, especially about unimportant things.

8. What does “acerbic” mean in the sentence below?

I don’t mind being criticized, but there is no need for you to be acerbic. I don’t care much about your sarcastic, negative tone.

Your Guess:

“Acerbic” means having a sharply critical or sarcastic tone.

9. What does “affable” mean in the sentence below?

Professor Ecks is a very affable man. The day we first met, we immediately got along. We talked for hours, and it felt as though I had known him for years.

Your Guess:

An “affable” person is friendly and easy to talk to.

10. What does “inconsequential” mean in the sentence below?

What color you paint the room is inconsequential to me. I have a lot more important things to worry about.

Your Guess:

Something “inconsequential” is unimportant or meaningless.

In this scenario, the speaker contrasts something inconsequential (that is, unimportant) with “more important things” to worry about.

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