If you have the freedom to decide something on your own, the decision is left to your discretion. You’re in charge.

Discretion traces back to the Latin verb discernere “to separate, to discern” from the prefix dis- “off, away” plus cernere “separate, sift.” If you use discretion, you sift away what is not desirable, keeping only the good. If you have the freedom to choose, something is “at your discretion.” Watch out when you hear the phrase, “viewer discretion advised” on TV or at the movies, you will be watching something quite violent or explicitly sexual.

PS: “viewers discretion advised”


A dissertation is a long piece of writing that uses research to bring to light an original idea. Don’t go to grad school unless you’re prepared to write, say, a 300-page dissertation on some topic.

In everyday speech, we sometimes accuse people of delivering dissertations when they overload us with dull information. If you’re annoyed with a long memo from your office manager about keeping the kitchen clean, you could mutter to a coworker, “How’d you like that dissertation Felix posted about rinsing out our mugs?”



sift:nv: sift is used in case of discretion.

To bake a cake, you sift the flour to get out the lumps. When you sift, you separate out one thing from another.

When you sort through the mail looking for the bills or go through your photos to find that shot of your dog, that’s sifting, too. Detectives sift through piles of evidence when investigating crimes, and you might sift through the hundred applications you get from drummers eager to join your band, to find Ms. Right. When you’re at the beach, you can sift sand through your fingers, and you might see big machines that sift the sand to clean it.

moot:nv: debatable, consider

When a point is moot, it’s too trivial to think about. If your basketball team loses by 40 points, the bad call by the official in the first quarter is moot: it isn’t important.

Though moot can mean to debate endlessly without any clear decision or to think about something carefully, it most often describes ideas and arguments that don’t really matter. If your plane is crashing, whether or not your socks match is a moot point. When someone accuses you of making a moot point, he’s basically saying, “Come on! Let’s talk about what’s important.” As with so many things, people don’t always agree on what’s moot and what’s not.

retroactive:adj: retrospective

The adjective retroactive refers to something happening now that affects the past. For example, a retroactive tax is one that is passed at one time, but payable back to a time before the tax was passed.

The Latin word retroagere, an ancestor of the adjective retroactive, means “drive or turn back,” and goes along with the meaning of the word. Sometimes governments pass rulings that are set as if they were in effect before the ruling was even made, and that means they are retroactive. On the bright side, you might be awarded a salary raise that is retroactive, meaning you’ll get paid more for work you did in the past. And, retroactive fads in clothing keep vintage clothing stores in business.

meander:nv: sinuous, wander

To meander means to wander aimlessly on a winding roundabout course. If you want some time to yourself after school, you might meander home, taking the time to window shop and look around.

Meander comes from a river in modern-day Turkey, the Maiandros, which winds and wanders on its course. Today, a stream or a path meanders, as does a person who walks somewhere in a roundabout fashion. If your speech meanders, you don’t keep to the point. It’s hard to understand what your teacher is trying to impart if he keeps meandering off with anecdotes and digressions. Pronounce meander with three syllables not two — me-AN-der.

conciliatory:adj. conciliate:v:

If you’re in a fight with a friend and you want to end it, you should make a conciliatory gesture, such as inviting her to a party you’re having. Conciliatory describes things that make other people less angry.

The context is often a situation in which a dispute is settled by compromise. A synonym is propitiatory, though this adjective usually refers to avoiding the anger of someone who has the power to harm. In the word conciliatory, the –ory suffix means “relating to or doing,” and the root is from Latin conciliatus, from conciliare “to bring together, win over,” from concilium “council.”


Inclement usually refers to severe or harsh weather that is cold and wet. When packing for a trip to the Caribbean bring tank tops and shorts, but don’t forget a raincoat in case of inclement weather.

This adjective can also refer to a person or action that is harsh and unmerciful. Inclement is from a Latin root formed from the prefix in- “not” plus clemens “clement.” This English adjective clement can mean either mild or merciful; the more commonly used noun clemency can mean mildness or mercy.

A desperate search for a Maine elementary school teacher missing since Sunday has so far resulted in more questions than clues.

— Look into above part of the sentence is without any tense in it so it is not bad to include such into your own writiting.

surreal:adj: unrealistic, dreamlike

If you see a goldfish fly out of a melting clock and offer you tango lessons, you’re having a surreal experience! Either that or you’re asleep and dreaming. Things that are surreal combine unrelated elements to create a bizarre scene.

The adjective surreal comes from Surrealism, a movement that produced films, writing, painting, and other art forms that often contained irrational, disjointed images. So, surreal describes something that’s a bizarre mix of elements, often jarring and seemingly nonsensical. Images can be surreal, like the melting clocks in Salvador Dali’s paintings, but so can strange, dream-like moments in everyday life.


You often hear that Congress is going to enact a new statute, which means that they will make it into a law. But enact also means to perform, like in a play. (Makes you wonder if the lawmakers are actors!)

Inside the word enact is that little word act, meaning “to do.” That makes sense, because when you enact something, you make it happen. And of course, we know that to act also means to perform, and so enact means “to act out,” like on stage. Now that the new rules have been enacted, you’ll have to stop wearing your gorilla suit to work. Even after Labor Day.



To ordain is to make someone a minister, priest, monk, or other member of the clergy. In the Catholic church, for example, a bishop ordains new priests.

When you say that people have been ordained, you usually mean that they’ve been invested with special religion-related powers. In many Buddhist traditions, senior monks ordain new monks and, increasingly, female monks (or nuns) as well. Occasionally, this chiefly religious verb is used to mean “officially declare” or “decree” in a secular matter, as when a court ordains desegregation.

sartorial: adj: tailor, one who patches and mends.

If it’s the day before a big event and you have no idea what to wear and nothing in your closet is going to cut it, you are facing a sartorial dilemma — one that pertains to clothing, fashion, or dressing.

Sartorial comes from the Modern Latin word sartor which means “tailor,” literally “one who patches and mends.” In English the adjectives sartorial and sartorially are used to refer to any matter pertaining to the consideration of clothing or fashion. The root word sartor has also made its way into the field of biology. The sartorius — a muscle in the leg and the longest muscle in the human body — gets its name because it is used when crossing the legs, also known as the “tailor’s position.”

dumbfound:v: = dumb+confound, nonplus

The verb dumbfound means to puzzle, mystify, or amaze. If people never expected you to amount to much in high school, but you grew up to be a rocket scientist, you will surely dumbfound your former classmates at your next reunion.

The word dumbfound is a combination of the words dumb and confound. Dumb, in the original sense, means unable to speak. Confound is from the Latin word confundere, which means to mix together as well as to confuse. Thus the blended word dumbfound has the sense of to confuse to the point of speechlessness. If you see a solar eclipse for the first time, it might dumbfound you.


To nonplus is to baffle or confuse someone to the point that they have nothing to say. Something weird and mysterious can nonplus you, like a play that is performed entirely by chickens.

If you know a little French or Latin, you’ll recognize that “non plus” means “no more.” When something bewildering nonpluses you, there’s no more you can say or do about it. A goal of getting poor grades, running with a bad crowd, and refusing to eat would leave your parents nonplussed. Sometimes people misuse nonplus to mean “unimpressed,” but that’s not correct: to nonplus is to puzzle, confuse, and dumbfound.


Use the adjective treacly to describe something that has a sticky, sweet flavor. Your dad’s chocolate pecan pie might be a little too treacly for your taste.

Something that’s way too sugary is treacly. Your little brother might love treats like fudge and caramels and syrupy soft drinks that just taste treacly to you. You can also use the word in a more figurative way, to talk about overly sweet talk or behavior, like the treacly language on a sentimental greeting card. Treacly comes from treacle — a British term for molasses — originally “an antidote to poison,” from the Greek root theriake, “antidote for poisonous wild animals.”

enjoin:v: official order

To enjoin is to issue an urgent and official order. If the government tells loggers to stop cutting down trees, they are enjoining the loggers to stop.

Enjoin looks like it should mean bring together, and at one time, it did have that meaning. But in current usage, the only thing enjoin brings together is a command and the person on the receiving end of that order. If your doctor enjoins you to stop smoking, he is suggesting strongly that you quit.




strongly infatuated.
“he became besotted with a local barmaid”
synonyms: infatuated with, smitten with, in love with, love-struck by, head over heels in love with, hopelessly in love with, obsessed with, passionate about, consumed with desire for, devoted to, doting on, greatly enamoured of, very attracted to, very taken with, charmed by, captivated by, enchanted by, enthralled by, bewitched by, beguiled by, under someone’s spell, hypnotized by;

intoxicated; drunk.

math logs

Due to traditional method use and got no answer with tedious calculation and consumed a lot of time. Please use logic instead from now on.
forgot to subtract the SD from mean, need to take care.


solve fully to get rid of such blunders.
If algebraic is confusing then use nice numbers instead to be sure. Don’t answer half-heartedly.

Math logs, 23% correct

Did not read the question properly, that follows what should have been determined first. Please look after it afterwards.
Lacking visualization due to haste.


Best example of backsolving…

An algebraic solution to this problem is quite complicated and unwieldy.  A much simpler solution method is backsolving.

As always, start with (C).  Let’s say P = 50%.  That means 50% gets paid as rent, so K = 0.5(5000) = 2500.  Then 12\dfrac{1}{2}21 of this gets paid for groceries, so L = 1250.  Then

13\dfrac{1}{3}31 (L) = (13)(1250)≈416\bigg(\dfrac{1}{3}\bigg)(1250)\approx416(31)(1250)416


416 + 500 < 1000, so 1250 – (416 + 500) > 1250 – 1000 > 250

With this choice, more than $250 would be left.  This is too high.

First of all, we know that (C) is not the right answer, but the tricky question is: in which direction should we eliminate answers.  Recall the P is the percent paid to rent & other fixed bills: as P goes up, the amount left over goes down.  If we want to get a smaller amount at the end, we need P to go up.  Thus, we eliminate (A), (B), and (C).

We could pick either of the remaining answers.  Pick (E), P = 70%.  Now, 70% goes to rent & other fixed expenses, so what’s left is 30%.  We know 10% of $5000 is $500, so 30% is three times this, $1500.  Thus, K = 1500.  Then 12\dfrac{1}{2}21 of this gets paid for groceries, so L = 750.

13\dfrac{1}{3}31 (L) = (13)\bigg(\dfrac{1}{3}\bigg)(31)(750) = 250

25\dfrac{2}{5}52 (L) = (25)\bigg(\dfrac{2}{5}\bigg)(52)(750) = 300

750 – 250 – 300 = 200

Bingo!  This leaves the exact right amount left.  Answer = (E)


Lacked visual and a bit was off the mind at beginning.
better to assume to have more confident at exam time
Did not believe that I can solve due to presentation of data into the table and somehow due to newness.


was unnerving at first glace, but seems decipherable.



Informal def helps here: SD is average of numbers away from the mean, that is here D


Acute thinking is needed, wherever a problem is not solvable then think can not be the case you must have been making gaffe somewhere in there.




Math Q logs

Did not know to read graph
did not know to read graph
Did not solve well, unnerved right away, due to its newness
Know need to find the actual number, we do not need the number given, can be used any numbers(10, 100) in that place

the fastest way to solve this problem doesn’t involve any arithmetic. We can do this short cut because the problem asks us for a percentage. It doesn’t actually matter how many birds there really are. Pretend that there were only 10 birds. If 20% are tagged, then two are tagged.

If we want half of the birds to be tagged, that would mean we would need to tag three more to get a total of five tagged birds.

Here’s the tricky part. The problem asks us what percentage needs to be tagged of the remaining untagged birds. That means that we need to tag three of the remaining eight (because two were already tagged, leaving eight untagged). That’s three over eight, or:

and the answer is (D).

If A, B, C and D are positive integers such that 4A = 9B, 17C = 11D, and 5C = 12A, then the arrangement of the four numbers from greatest to least is

{C, D, A, B} {B, A, C, D} {D, C, A, B} {D, C, B, A} {B, D, A, C}
Remark: written well in scratch paper but wrote again wrong inequality, b

If AB = BD, and AB is 3/5 of AC, what is the ratio of circumference of the larger semicircle to that of the combined circumference of the two semicircles?

6:5 5:3 9:25 5:6 25:36
In this case taking ratio as value is perfectly fine, as we have to find the ratio.
I solved in a bit messy way.



Since square ABCD has area 25, each side of the square must have length 5.

Let’s take the smaller shaded square and label one side as x. And we’ll label one side of the larger shaded square as y.

Our goal is to find x.

Since each side of the entire square has length of 5, we know that x + y = 5.

The question tells us that the area of the larger shaded square is 9 times the area of the smaller shaded square. In other words, y2^22 is 9 times x2^22. So:

9x2^22 = y2^22

We can now take the square root of both sides of the equation to get:

3x = y

Now, we can solve for x. Let’s take our first equation, x + y = 5, and replace y with 3x (because we know that 3x = y).

x + y = 5

x + 3x = 5

4x = 5

x = 54\dfrac{5}{4}45

So the answer is B.


Whenever combination of variable is asked, don’t think to start solving for single variable, but in combined.

If we simply add or subtract these equations as is, we don’t get equal coefficients on A and B.  Notice, though, we could multiply the top equation by 2 then subtract the bottom equation:

That procedure led directly to the answer.  The cost of 1 apple and 1 banana is $1.30.


When should I implement the two different percent increase strategies? When should I use the formula of taking the differences between the two numbers, then dividing by the original. And when should I take a number and divide by the other number to see the percent increase (as in this example).


It all comes down to the wording of these problems, which can be admittedly confusing. There are a lot of different ways to word the questions, but we can break them down into two categories:

Category 1

The original amount is contained in the result: look for the phrase “is what percent of“. Here, you simply use new/old * 100


Car sales increased from 500 in July to 600 in August. August car sales are what percent of July car sales? 600/500 * 100 = 120%

The second category is probably a bit more common.

Category 2

Comparing the difference to the original: look for the phrase “is what percent greater/less than”. Here, use the formula (new-old)/old * 100


Car sales increased from 500 in July to 600 in August. August car sales are what percent greater than July car sales? (600-500)/500 * 100 = 20%




Melpomene High School has 400 students, and Thalia High School has 700 students. The following table shows the percentage breakdown for various groups in each school.

The total number of people in honor society at Melpomene High School, regardless of other activities, is approximately what percent higher than the total number of people in honor society at Thalia High School, regardless of other activities?

2% 8% 19% 29% 56%
19% is the answer,
Lets think this way, 4 is what percent higher than 2.
(4-2)/2*100 % = 50% , in the similar fashion above question can be solved.

In this question, we need to find the two numbers, and then find how much bigger one is than the other.

At Melpomene, the four categories that include the honor society add up to 16% + 26% + 10% + 4% = 56%, and 56% of 400 = (0.56)*400 = 224 students.

At Thalia, the four categories that include the honor society add up to 2% + 15% + 8% + 2% = 27%, and 27% of 700 = (0.27)*700 = 189 students.

The question really is: 224 is what percent higher than 189? Estimate — 10% of 189 is approximately 19. 189 + 19 = 208, a 10% increase. 208 + 19 = 227, a 20% increase, and that’s just over 224, so 224 should be very close to, maybe slight less than, a 20% increase. This leads us to the answer of (C).


Melpomene High School has 400 students, and Thalia High School has 700 students. The following table shows the percentage breakdown for various groups in each school.

How many non-band members at Melpomene, regardless of other activities, would have to join the band so that they had the same number of band members as does Thalia High School?

12 25 38 46 65
Ans is 25.

This question is just asking us to figure out the number in the band at Thalia and at Melpomene, and then subtract them.

At Melpomene, the four categories that include the band add up to 11% + 14% + 26% + 4% = 55%, and 55% of 400 = (0.55)*400 = 220 students.

At Thalia, the four categories that include the band add up to 8% + 10% + 15% + 2% = 35%, and 35% of 700 = (0.35)*700 = 245 students.

The difference is 25 students. Answer = (B).


Q: I thought the question was asking about non-band members. Why are we adding up band members?

A: There are two important phrases in the question that will help explain. 🙂 First “regardless of other activities” means that we should only pay attention to whether or not someone is in the band. So, whether someone is in “band only,” “honor society & band only,” “band & athletic team only,” (and so on) we will count them as band members. Second, “would have to join the band” means that we want to know how many people who are not in the band (non-band members) would need to join the band. So, we need to find out how many people are in the band in both schools. Then we can see how many band members there are at Thalia and at Melpomene. Once we find out that there are 245 at Thalia and 220 at Melpomene, we know that 25 students would have to join band at Melpomene. That way there are the same number of band members at both schools.

The diagram shows the 44 nations that occupy the continent of Europe.  (The diagram excludes Russia, which occupies both Europe & Asia.)  Every dot is a smaller nation, with a national population less than 500,000; the circles are nations each with more than half a million people.  Those nations in the “NATO” circle, as of 2013, are members of the NATO military alliance.  Those nations in the “euro” circle, as of 2013, use the euro as their primary currency.

Of the nations with national populations more than half a million people, approximately what percent of European nations are neither members of NATO nor primary users of the euro?

25% 27% 31% 47% 75%
Ans is: 11/36

it took Ellen 6 hours to ride her bike a total distance of 120 miles. For the first part of the trip, her speed was constantly 25 miles per hour. For the second part of her trip, her speed was constantly 15 miles per hour. For how many miles did Ellen travel at 25 miles per hour?

60 62.5 66 2/3 75 90
Read question well, then solve for the answer. OK. 75
Paucity of discernment,  needed to work on the big triangle first.. 9 root3 is answer.
Never use formula here. Instead the logic below. Ok
Calculate like this, instead
Every sort of answer choice is given, better to solve till you reach an exact answer than solving in mind and getting wrong. In this legs are equal.
can be solved in another way too.



how 2 can be made 4, what percent of increase is needed to get 4. that is 100%. Similar idea would be enough for this question.


2 is what percent less than 4, (4-2)/4 = 50%, in this similar fashion above question can be solved. Ok.




oct-02-2018 October 5, 2018 (8 words) Learning, completed
magoosh October 1, 2018 (44 words) Learning, listing, completed
hom.aug.16.2018 August 29, 2018 (27 words) completed, most learned
homo.24.aug.2018 August 29, 2018 (18 words) completed, most leaned
homo.19.aug.2018 August 19, 2018 (2 words) completed
hom.aug.04.2018 August 14, 2018 (72 words)
hom.aug.08.2018 August 13, 2018 (54 words)
hom.aug.02.2018 August 3, 2018 (108 words)
hom-7.31.2018 July 31, 2018 (24 words)
hom-7.30.2018 July 30, 2018 (38 words)
homophones-july-2018 July 28, 2018 (14 words)  



hom-7.26.2018 July 28, 2018 (8 words)
SE-july-16-2k18-mnhtn July 28, 2018 (10 words)
magoosh-advanced7 July 27, 2018 (13 words)
magooshTC July 27, 2018 (54 words)
SC magoosh-06-july-2018 July 26, 2018 (10 words)
SC magoosh-06-july-2018 July 24, 2018 (27 words)
Homophones-july-10-2018 July 24, 2018 (87 words)
Homophones-june12-2018 July 9, 2018 (98 words)
Homophones-V July 7, 2018 (110 words)
Suba2kgre June 13, 2018 (92 words)
1024gre June 11, 2018 (77 words)
Homophones — 23April — 2018 June 11, 2018 (62 words)
may 02 2018 May 2, 2018 (5 words)
20-dec-2017 May 1, 2018 (22 words)
22-oct-2017-IV April 26, 2018 (15 words)
27-oct-2017-IV April 26, 2018 (16 words)
6-jan-2018 April 20, 2018 (23 words)
9-jan-2018 April 20, 2018 (67 words)
13-april-2018 April 20, 2018 (4 words)
4-nov-2017 April 20, 2018 (28 words)
18-oct-2016-III April 19, 2018 (51 words)
10-jan-2018 April 18, 2018 (81 words)
Homophones-VII April 17, 2018 (14 words)
Homophones April 16, 2018 (111 words)
Homophones-VI April 16, 2018 (96 words)
18-oct-2016 April 16, 2018 (52 words)
10oct2017 April 16, 2018 (11 words)
16-jan-2016 April 16, 2018 (44 words)
5lb April 13, 2018 (12 words)
Homophones-13april-2018 April 13, 2018 (3 words)
16-nov-2017-Barren April 13, 2018 (22 words)
ETS-16-feb April 13, 2018 (9 words)
13-jan-2018 April 13, 2018 (20 words)
10-april-2018 April 10, 2018 (1 words)
20-jan-2018 April 9, 2018 (142 words)
4-april-2018 April 4, 2018 (2 words)
5lb-tc April 3, 2018 (44 words)
feb-03-2018 April 3, 2018 (39 words)
Homophones-IV April 2, 2018 (44 words)
Homophones-III March 7, 2018 (50 words)
8-jan-2018 February 20, 2018 (55 words)
ETS February 17, 2018 (48 words)
30-jan-2018 February 8, 2018 (100 words)
07-feb-2018 February 7, 2018 (5 words)
9-dec-2017 January 26, 2018 (39 words)
30-oct-HFW-Barren January 19, 2018 (11 words)
Homophones-II January 19, 2018 (44 words)
2-jan-2017 January 19, 2018 (15 words)
Homophones January 14, 2018 (2 words)
01-jan-2018 January 5, 2018 (15 words)
GRE High Frequency Words December 19, 2017 (334 words)
7-nov-2017 December 8, 2017 (9 words)
17-nov-2017-Barren December 8, 2017 (10 words)
21-oct-2017 December 8, 2017 (14 words)
4-dec-2017 December 4, 2017 (1 words)
21-nov-2017-hfw November 30, 2017 (15 words)
20-nov-2017-hfw November 30, 2017 (8 words)
26-nov-2017 November 26, 2017 (4 words)
30-oct-HFW-Barren-II November 16, 2017 (12 words)
27-oct-2017-III October 27, 2017 (18 words)
27-oct-2017-II October 27, 2017 (18 words)
27-oct-2017-5TC October 27, 2017 (18 words)
20-oct-2017-II October 27, 2017 (15 words)
19-0ct-2018 October 24, 2017 (45 words)
22-oct-2017-II October 24, 2017 (15 words)
22-oct-2017-V October 23, 2017 (13 words)
22-oct-2017-III October 23, 2017 (15 words)
22-oct-2017 October 23, 2017 (15 words)
20-oct-2017 October 23, 2017 (15 words)
18-oct-2016-II October 21, 2017 (50 words)
12oct2017 October 19, 2017 (30 words)



A high school valedictorian is an exemplar of dedication and hard work. Most parents would love for their children to emulate a student with such excellent grades.

Notice the similarity between the words exemplar and example. This word can mean both “perfect example” and “typical example.” A fireman can be an exemplar of courage, and a building can be an exemplar of the architecture from a certain period.

The definition of an exemplar is person or thing that is considered as a pattern to be copied. An example of an exemplar is a person that others try to imitate, such as Michael Jackson. An example of an exemplar is a copy of a manuscript.


You’ve heard the old saying “Pride comes before the fall?” Well, you could just as easily say pride is a precursor to the fall. A precursor is something that happens before something else.

You don’t have to be a dead languages scholar to guess that this word springs from a Latin source — praecursor, “to run before.” A precursor is usually related to what it precedes. It’s a catalyst or a harbinger, leading to what follows or providing a clue that it’s going to happen. Binging on holiday candy is a precursor to tummy aches and promises to exercise more. Draconian policies in unstable nations are often a precursor to rebellion.

impunity:n: exemption, freedom

If doing something usually results in punishment, but you do it with impunity, you will not be punished for the deed. Students are not allowed to chew gum in school, but teachers do it with impunity. Not fair!

The noun, impunity, comes from the Latin roots im- “not” plus poena “punishment,” a root which has also produced the word pain. Impunity, then, is the freedom from punishment or pain. If someone has committed a punishable offense but does not have to fear punishment, he or she does it “with impunity.” Cybercriminals operate with impunity from some Eastern European countries.

chaste:n: celibate, continent

If you belong to a chastity club, you might have to take a pledge to be chaste until marriage. Chaste can be defined as “pure and virtuous,” but basically it means “not having sex.”

This word is related to the Latin source of the verb castrate “to remove a man’s testicles,” so it’s definitely related to sex. And chaste is from the same Latin source as the noun caste “a Hindu social class separated from other classes.” So the word chaste means no sex, and the word caste means pure and virtuous.

erotic: adjn: titilating

Use erotic to describe a sexy, sexy person. What makes that person so sexy? Maybe his or her erotic attitude or looks, meaning “arousing.”

The word erotic came into English from French — of course! — and can be traced back to the Greek word erōtikos, from erōs or erōt-, meaning “sexual love.” The adjective erotic is often used to describe a person’s carnal desires, but it can be used to characterize anything that’s sexual in nature or that arouses sexual desires, such as the erotic themes in a racy movie, an erotic dancer in a club, or erotic images in a painting.

clamber: nv: scramble

To clamber is to climb awkwardly. Hamlet’s Ophelia was said to have been clambering on a weak branch of a willow when she met her “muddy death.” It’s never a good idea to clamber, let alone on weak willow branches.

We associate the word clamber far more often with toddlers (than Shakespearean tragedy). Toddlers are known for naturally clumsy, ill-coordinated movements we deem cute not foolish. Suitably enough, the word comes from the delightful and long obsolete Middle English word clamb, meaning the past tense of climb, a word that has all the happy logic of a toddler’s imagination.


To clamor is to make a demand — LOUDLY. It’s usually a group that clamors — like Americans might clamor for comprehensive health care coverage.

The noun clamor is often used specifically to describe a noisy outcry from a group of people, but more generally, the word means any loud, harsh sound. You could describe the clamor of sirens in the night or the clamor of the approaching subway in the tunnel.

circumspect: adj: discreet, prudent

If you are circumspect, you think carefully before doing or saying anything. A good quality in someone entrusted with responsibility, though sometimes boring in a friend.

The word circumspect was borrowed from Latin circumspectus, from circumspicere “to be cautious.” The basic meaning of Latin circumspicere is “to look around.” Near synonyms are prudent and cautious, though circumspect implies a careful consideration of all circumstances and a desire to avoid mistakes and bad consequences.

circumvent: v: dodge

1. find a way around (an obstacle).
“if you come to an obstruction in a road you can seek to circumvent it”

give in:v: cease fighting or argument, admit defeat

reconnaissance: n:

Reconnaissance is checking out a situation before taking action. Often it’s used as a military term, but you could also do reconnaissance on a new employee before you hire her, or a resort before you take a vacation.

Reconnaissance is a noun, and it technically means “the act of reconnoitering.” Whoa. Never heard that word before? Reconnoitering is just a fancy way of saying that you’re checking something out — sometimes in a sneaky way. If you like a girl in your Spanish class, you might ask a friend to do some reconnaissance to find out what she’s like. The word comes from the French reconnaître, which means “recognize.”


The Renaissance was the period in Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries when there was a surge of interest in and production of art and literature. “Renaissance art” describes the style of art that came out of this period.

When you see the word Renaissance spelled with a capital R, you can be sure it’s referring to the European cultural movement, or the art, literature, and architecture it inspired. The Renaissance began in Italy, largely as an growth of interest in classical art and ideas. The word itself comes from the French phrase renaissance des lettres, used by the 19th century historian Jules Michelet. In Old French renaissance means “rebirth.”


To chide someone is to ride them or get on their case, without really getting in their face.

People have been nagging since well before the 12th century, when the word chide came along as a new way to say “complain” or “rail.” If you want to remind someone of a flaw they have or an error they keep repeating, you might chide them with sarcasm, humor, or some seriousness. Where a sharp elbow in the ribs lets you know “Stop it, right now!,” a chide is more like a gentle elbow in the belly, saying “Come on, you’re late; did you forget your watch again?”

complimentary: adj:

If you say something complimentary, like “Grandma, that plastic flower looks so pretty in your hair,” you are flattering, praising or admiring someone.

“Resembling a compliment” is one way to define the word complimentary, when you use it in the sense of giving praise. A second meaning of complimentary is “free.” If your hotel includes breakfast with the price of your room, they may call it a complimentary breakfast. It’s easy to get complimentary confused with complementary, which sounds exactly the same but means “filling in or completing.”

complementary: adjn:

If something is complementary, then it somehow completes or enhances the qualities of something else. If your beautiful voice is completely complementary to your brother’s song writing skills, you should form a family band!

You’ve probably heard of “complementary colors,” colors that are opposite in hue on the color wheel but actually go well together. When combined, they make a harmonious palette. People’s personalities can also be complementary, as can certain food pairings. But be careful not to confuse this adjective with the closely spelled complimentary, which means “supplied free of charge.”