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Getting Smarter through Language

Intermediate Reading Course. Section 1: The Basics

Figuring Out the Meaning of Words While Reading



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 “restive” mean in the sentence below?

When they announced the concert was going to be delayed for an hour, the crowd became restive. They started shouting, booing, and throwing paper cups on the stage.

Your Guess:

When a concert is delayed, people get irritated and impatient while waiting. They get “restive.”

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

Kelly was afraid of nothing. She always believed in herself even when she did something difficult. Her sister Ann, on the other hand, was very diffident. Even when she knew how to do something well, she was afraid she was going to fail.

Your Guess:

Kelly is described as very confident. Her sister Ann, is described as the opposite of confident, that is, she is described as “diffident.”

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

The concerned parents consulted a psychologist to understand their child’s aberrant behavior. Somehow they knew that the child was acting strangely and differently from other children his age.

Your Guess:

“Aberrant” behavior is different from the usual or natural behavior.

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

By the time the police went to the man’s house to arrest him, he had already absconded in the middle of the night. There was no sign of him or the money he had stolen.

Your Guess:

To “abscond” in the middle of the night means to leave secretly to hide yourself—usually to escape legal trouble.

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

Steel is a very strong metal. When exposed to high temperatures, it becomes malleable so that you can shape it into different objects.

Your Guess:

From experience, you should know that it is easy to change the shape of metals when they are very hot because they become “malleable,” that is, easy to stretch and bend.

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

The violent explosion destroyed the entire house. It is hard to believe that everyone got out unscathed. What a miracle!

Your Guess:

In a violent explosion, you expect people to be seriously harmed or injured. In this scenario, they got out “unscathed,” that is, unharmed or uninjured.

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

The modern, colorful painting looked incongruous with the rest of the room, which was decorated with dark colors and 17th century furniture.

Your Guess:

Things are “incongruous” with each other when they do not fit together or seem unusual or unexpected.

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

You don’t not have to explain to me what I need to do. I am fully cognizant of my responsibilities.

Your Guess:

To be “cognizant” of something means to know or to be aware of something. In this scenario, if you are “fully cognizant” of your responsibilities, no one needs to tell you what your responsibilities are.

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

Hurry up! There’s no time to dawdle. You’re acting as if we have all the time in the world!

Your Guess:

To “dawdle” means to move or act slowly.

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

Guadalupe was very distraught when she got the call from the fire department and learned that her house had caught fire. She sat in her office for several minutes not knowing what to do next.

Your Guess:

When you feel “distraught,” you are very upset, sometimes so upset that you do not know what to do.

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“What should I learn next?”

Go back to this lesson or go on to the next lesson to learn about antonyms and synonyms as context clues.

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