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vocabulary
1000+ books

100 Words Encountered in

Fine Arts & Music

Other Interests
elegant
as in:
an elegant gown
She was an elegant bride.
elegant = refined and tasteful in appearance, behavior or style
Word Statistics
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
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abstract
as in:
abstract art
She is an abstract painter.
abstract = not representing or imitating external reality or the objects of nature
Word Statistics
Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 500
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subtle
as in:
a subtle shade of blue
a subtle, but unmistakable warning
subtle = understated so as not to draw attention to itself
Word Statistics
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 500
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bronze
She received the bronze medal at the Olympics.
bronze = a metal alloy of copper and (usually) tin (that is given at the Olympics for a third place finish)
DefinitionGenerally bronze means:
a reddish brown metal that is made of copper and (usually) tin

or:

the reddish-brown color of the metal (such as a bronze tan)

or:

something made of the alloy — such as a sculpture
Word Statistics
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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contemporary
as in:
contemporary design
It's easier to find outstanding books when selecting from those that have been in print for a long time, but were it not for that I would prefer modern literature with its contemporary language, issues, and ideas.
contemporary = characteristic of or belonging to the present time
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 500
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contemporaneous
The recession in Asia was contemporaneous with that in the United States.
contemporaneous = occurring in the same period of time; or of the same period
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 500
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acquire
Children acquire language at an amazing rate.
acquire = obtain (come into the possession of something)
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Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 500
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renaissance

(with an uppercase "R")
We're visiting the museum to see the exhibit of Renaissance art.
Renaissance = the period of European history known for a revival of intellectual and artistic achievement (14th through mid-17th centuries)
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medieval
The story takes place during medieval times.
medieval = relating to or belonging to the Middle Ages
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Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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exposition
It was displayed at the famous exposition in Paris in 1900.
exposition = a collection of things on public display
DefinitionGenerally exposition means:
a systematic interpretation or explanation of a specific topic

or:

a collection of things (goods or works of art etc.) on public display
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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emerge
China recently emerged as a world power.
emerged = came out (became)
DefinitionGenerally emerge means:
to come out, or to appear
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Library42 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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aesthetic
It was not aesthetically pleasing.
aesthetically = in a manner that is beautiful or tasteful
DefinitionGenerally aesthetic means:
related to beauty or good taste — often referring to one's appreciation of beauty or one's sense of what is beautiful

or:

beautiful or tasteful
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Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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pretentious
Some people think she's pretentious, but I admire her ambition.
pretentious = acting more impressive than is deserved
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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convention
as in:
conventional behavior
It was once conventional wisdom that the earth was flat.
conventional = normal or typical
DefinitionGenerally this sense of convention means:
something regarded as normal or typical
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Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 100
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encore
The audience loved the performance and called for one encore after another.
encore = an extra or repeated performance — especially of music given in response to audience demand
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transparent
as in:
transparent shower door
The transparent shower door shows water spots.
transparent = able to be seen through with clarity
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opaque
as in:
opaque shower door
They are engineering a window that can convert from transparent to opaque with the push of a button.
opaque = not able to see through at all
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premiere
We saw the film's world premiere in Hollywood.
premiere = the first public performance of something
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essence
To make things better, to enjoy each other's company, and to empathize are essence of humanity.
essence = the defining or most important aspect of something
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render
as in:
rendered with, or rendered from
The pianist rendered the Beethoven sonata beautifully.
rendered = played (portrayed or gave her interpretation of)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of render means:
to portray or create something in a particular way; or to interpret, translate, or extract from

(see word notes for more detailed definitions based on context)
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Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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paramount
The children's well-being is paramount.
paramount = most important
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mosaic
The museum preserved a beautiful mosaic floor.
mosaic = art consisting of a design made of small pieces of colored stone or glass
DefinitionGenerally mosaic means:
art consisting of a design made of small pieces of colored stone or glass

or more rarely:

anything comprised of many differing parts of equal importance, but varying appearance
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genre
Jazz is his favorite musical genre.
genre = a style or kind - especially in the arts
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explicit
2 meanings
as in:
explicit instructions
She gave us explicit instructions.
explicit = precisely and clearly expressed
DefinitionGenerally this sense of explicit means:
precise and clear so there is no confusion or doubt about what was/is said
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as in:
explicit photos and pornography
The computer has a filter that blocks explicit photos and pornography.
explicit = expressing or displaying sexual activity or nudity in a manner that leaves little to the imagination
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 100
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opera
She is a popular opera singer.
opera = a classical music play in which most of the dialogue is sung
DefinitionGenerally opera means:
a musical play with orchestra in which most dialogue is sung — (typically associated with classical music and often in a language foreign to the audience)

or:

the art form (or describing something as related to it) that consists of musical plays with orchestra in which most dialogue is sung
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Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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patron
as in:
a patron of the arts
She is well known as a patron of the arts in our city.
patron = someone who contributes money to an organization
DefinitionGenerally this sense of patron means:
someone who contributes money to an organization

or:

a supporter of an organization or person
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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prominent
She is a prominent member of our community.
prominent = well-known
DefinitionGenerally prominent means:
well-known — especially of a person who is respected

or:

conspicuous (easily noticed) because of position or importance
Word Statistics
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
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flourish
2 meanings
as in:
the business is flourishing
The children are flourishing.
flourishing = thriving (growing or developing well)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of flourish means:
to thrive (grow or develop well)
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Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
dismissed them with a flourish
She entered with a great flourish.
flourish = showy gesture
DefinitionGenerally this sense of flourish means:
a showy gesture

or:

the act of waving — a hand or an item
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vertical
The architect used long vertical lines to pull the eye upward.
vertical = oriented straight up and down (90 degrees relative to the floor)
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horizontal
Paintings in which horizontal lines dominate, tend to be relaxing.
horizontal = in line with the floor, horizon, or another flat base
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coherent
She is more coherent now than she was just after the accident an hour ago.
coherent = sensible and clear; or describing parts as fitting together in a consistent or pleasing manner
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SATtop 1000
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diverse
The college wants a diverse student body.
diverse = varied — in this case consisting of a population of different kinds of people — such as different ethnic groups and genders
DefinitionGenerally diverse means:
varied (having variety amongst things of the same kind) — especially with regard to ideas or members of a population group
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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muse
as in:
She was his muse
She was his muse. He hasn't written anything of quality since she left.
muse = the source of an artist's inspiration
DefinitionGenerally this sense of muse means:
the source of an artist's inspiration - especially a person or mythological goddess
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successor
He was President Lincoln's successor.
successor = replacement (in this case, the next President of the United States)
DefinitionGenerally successor means:
replacement — typically a person who takes the job of another person, but it can also be a thing that replaces something else
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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discern
The second picture has more pixels, but the human eye can't discern the difference.
discern = to notice or understand something — often something that is not obvious
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accompany
The nurse accompanied the old woman everywhere.
accompanied = traveled along with
DefinitionGenerally accompany means:
to travel along with; or to be present with at the same time and/or location

or:

to perform with
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Library28 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 10
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animate
3 meanings
as in:
animated by her strong belief
The right to pursue happiness is an animating principle of American government.
animating = inspiring people to action
DefinitionGenerally this sense of animate means:
inspire, make more lively, or bring to life
Word Statistics
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
an animated cartoon
She won an award for best animated cartoon.
animated = moving
DefinitionGenerally this sense of animate means:
make a moving cartoon (a film technique that uses a set of gradually changing pictures to simulate movement when played in series)
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Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
animate v. inanimate
Is it animate or inanimate?
inanimate = alive
DefinitionGenerally this sense of animate means:
alive; or (more rarely) an animal—not a plant; or (more rarely still) the degree to which as an animal feels and thinks
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postmodernism
2 meanings

with regard to art
She uses words as a prominent part of her paintings as is sometimes done in postmodern art.
postmodern = usually used to describe the period of art which followed the modern period and which responded to the modern period by dismissing the importance of  logic, simplicity, and order
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with regard to music
Her music does not respect boundaries between sonorities as is sometimes done in postmodern music.
postmodern = dismissing conventional ideas about the importance of  logic, simplicity, and order in music — often experimental or eclectic by combining different forms and genres of music
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harmonious
as in:
soothing, harmonious music
The changes created a more harmonious melody.
harmonious = pleasing — especially of music or sound
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tapestry
as in:
the tapestry hangs in the museum
The tapestry depicts the building of the Notre Dame Cathedral.
tapestry = a heavy fabric with a woven picture or design — often hung on a wall for display
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symphony
We heard the Vienna Symphony.
symphony = an orchestra that plays classical music
DefinitionGenerally symphony means:
a long and complex piece of music — typically for full orchestra in four parts;

or:  an orchestra that plays such; or such a performance
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Mozart
She loves the 21st piano concerto by Mozart.
Mozart = prolific Austrian composer and child prodigy; widely considered to be one of the masters of the classical style (1756-1791)
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derivative
a highly derivative prose style
derivative = something developed from something else
DefinitionGenerally derivative means:
something developed from something else such as:
  • a word based on another word
  • a mathematical value from a function
  • the value of a financial instrument
  • a work of art such as a film or painting that lacks ideas not previously expressed in other works of art
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Cupid
Cupid is the Roman counterpart to the Greek Eros.
Cupid = Roman mythology:  god of love; a small, winged boy whose arrows make those struck fall in love
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Aphrodite
In Roman mythology, Venus is the counterpart to the Greek Aphrodite.
Aphrodite = Greek mythology:  goddess of love and beauty
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Bacchus
Dionysus is the Greek counterpart to the better known Roman Bacchus.
Bacchus = Roman mythology:  god of wine
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Zeus
Jupiter is the Roman counterpart to the Greek Zeus.
Zeus = Greek mythology:  the most supreme of the gods
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Hercules
Heracles is the Greek mythological equivalent of the Roman Hercules.
Hercules = mythological Roman hero famous for his strength and for performing 12 immense labors to gain immortality
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forte
as in:
forte mezzo
the forte passages in the composition
forte = a description in music:  to be played relatively loudly
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Richard Wagner
Wagner built his own opera house to better stage works as he imagined them.
Wagner = German composer, music theorist, and essayist, primarily known for his groundbreaking symphonic-operas (1813-1883)
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concerto
with Bach's Brandenburg Concertos playing in the background
concertos = music written for orchestra and one (or more) solo instruments
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Medusa
The fashion company, Versace, uses the image of Medusa as a trademark.
Medusa = Greek mythology:  a woman with snakes for hair and the ability to turn people to stone if they looked at her
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Pandora
Pandora's box is frequently referenced in Western culture.
Pandora = Greek mythology:  the first woman; she was presented with a container of humanity's evils and of hope
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Pegasus
Pegasus is the mascot of TriStar Pictures.
Pegasus = Greek mythology:  the immortal winged horse; as the flying horse of the Muses it is a symbol of highflying imagination
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polyphonic
as in:
polyphonic music
It's a recording of a polyphonic song written during the late Middle Ages.
polyphonic = having two or more independent but harmonically related melodies
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staccato
I love the music's staccato notes.
staccato = music:  separating notes by cutting them short and crisp
DefinitionGenerally this sense of staccato means:
in music, the separating notes by cutting them short and crisp

or:

sounds that are short and crisp
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crescendo
Campaigning reached a crescendo the day before the election.
crescendo = maximum intensity
DefinitionGenerally crescendo means:
a gradual increase in intensity; or the time of maximum intensity — especially in the loudness of music
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rondo
The most common rondo forms are ABACA and ABACABA.
rondo = a musical form in which one recurring theme is interspersed with a series of new themes
DefinitionGenerally rondo means:
a musical form in which one recurring theme is interspersed with a series of new themes; often used in the last movement of a sonata
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perceptive
She made a perceptive observation.
perceptive = of something noticed that many people might have missed
DefinitionGenerally perceptive means:
to be better at noticing things than most people
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kinetic art
A few kinetic artists use illusion to give a sense of movement rather than using wind, water, electricity or some of other form of kinetic energy.
kinetic artists = artists whose art has motion as an important element
DefinitionGenerally kinetic art means:
art in which motion is an important element
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Thalia
Thalia is often shown holding a comic mask.
Thalia = Greek mythology:  the Muse of comedy and pastoral poetry
DefinitionGenerally Thalia means:
Greek mythology:  the Muse of comedy and pastoral poetry

or:

Greek mythology:  one of the three Graces
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Minotaur
The Labyrinth was built to hold the Minotaur.
Minotaur = Greek mythology:  a creature that was part man and part bull
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Florence
Florence attracts millions of tourists each year.
Florence = city in central Italy that was the center of the Italian Renaissance from 14th to 16th centuries; provincial capital of Tuscany
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theme
as in:
theme of the novel
The party had a 1950's theme.
theme = an idea that is unifying or recurrent
DefinitionGenerally this sense of theme means:
a basic idea that underlies what is being said or done — especially in a literary or artistic work
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acclaim
the book was released to great acclaim
acclaim = praise enthusiastically and publicly
DefinitionGenerally acclaim means:
to praise enthusiastically and publicly
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accordion
An accordion wall can be closed to divide the room.
accordion = characterized by narrower parallel folds when closed and wider when open — such as a door or musical instrument with that characteristic
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acquiesce
She is opposed, but will ultimately acquiesce to the will of the majority.
acquiesce = reluctantly comply
DefinitionGenerally acquiesce means:
reluctant or unenthusiastic compliance, consent, or agreement
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adroit
She is an exceptionally adroit pianist.
adroit = skillful
DefinitionGenerally adroit means:
skillful in action or thought
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advent
2 meanings
as in:
the advent of
the advent of the computer
advent = an arrival (especially of an important event or invention)
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as in:
it is Advent
Christians began celebrating Advent in the fourth century.
Advent = Christianity:  the period that includes the four Sundays preceding Christmas
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affectation
She is comfortable in her own skin and meets strangers without affectation.
affectation = behaving in an artificial way to make an impression
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aficionado
He is an aficionado of fine cigars.
aficionado = someone who is enthusiastic about a particular subject
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alcove
a beautiful room with an alcove window
alcove = a recessed or secluded space — such as in a room or garden
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allegory
In Plato's allegory, the prisoners in the cave represent people living in ignorance.
allegory = a fictional story whose characters, items, or events are symbolic to express a deeper meaning
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amorous
She doesn't think of him in an amorous way.
amorous = sexual or romantic
DefinitionGenerally amorous means:
with sexual desire; or relating to sex or feelings of romantic love
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anarchist
An anarchist group claimed responsibility for the explosion.
anarchist = someone who favors eliminating all government
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anecdote
Her autobiography is sprinkled with amusing anecdotes.
anecdotes = short, true stories
DefinitionGenerally anecdote means:
a short story that is true — often told for amusement or to make a point
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anonymous
2 meanings
as in:
an anonymous author
Everyone wonders who has been sending her anonymous love letters.
anonymous = (written by) someone who did not reveal their name or identity
DefinitionGenerally this sense of anonymous means:
an unknown person, or of an unknown person — such as an unknown author, or donation of an unknown person
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as in:
an anonymous, uninteresting house
Mine is the third house on a block of anonymous brick houses.
anonymous = lacking individuality or interesting features
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anteroom
He was searched again in the anteroom before entering her office.
anteroom = a room leading to a larger or more important room
DefinitionGenerally anteroom means:
a room leading to a larger or more important room — especially a waiting room
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apostle
2 meanings
as in:
an apostle for the cause
an apostle of revolution
apostle = an ardent early supporter of a cause or reform

or:

any important Christian missionary — especially the first to a country or region
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as in:
chosen by Jesus
Paul claimed the role of Apostle to the Gentiles.
Apostle = Christianity:  one of the original 12 disciples (followers) chosen by Jesus Christ to preach his gospel
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appreciate
as in:
We hope our home will appreciate
The home appreciated in value.
appreciated = increased in value
DefinitionGenerally this sense of appreciate means:
to increase in value
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apprehend
2 meanings
as in:
apprehend the situation
She doesn't yet apprehend the seriousness of the charge against her.
apprehend = to understand
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as in:
apprehend the criminal
Police are determined to apprehend the murderer.
apprehend = to capture and arrest someone suspected of breaking the law
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apprehension
3 meanings
as in:
apprehension about finals
She looked around the examination room with apprehension.
apprehension = worry about what is to come
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as in:
apprehension of the criminal
The tip led to the criminal's apprehension in Mexico.
apprehension = the capture of a criminal
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as in:
conscious apprehension is limited
Apprehension precedes comprehension.
apprehension = to understand

or:

in psychology and philosophy:  immediate awareness prior to analysis and judgment
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apprentice
She is a carpenter's apprentice.
apprentice = one who works for an expert to learn a trade
DefinitionGenerally apprentice means:
one who works for an expert to learn a trade; or (as a verb) performance of that kind of work
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archaic
When I first started reading Shakespeare, it seemed archaic.
archaic = so extremely old as to seem to belong to an earlier period
DefinitionGenerally archaic means:
so extremely old as to seem to belong to an earlier period; or obsolete
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archangel
In the movie, John Travolta played a seemingly irreverent archangel.
archangel = an angel of high rank
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archetype
She identifies six boyfriend archetypes.
archetypes = different types of typical examples
DefinitionGenerally archetype means:
a very typical or the original example of something
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articulate
He is thoughtful and articulate.
articulate = has the ability to clearly express things with words
DefinitionGenerally this sense of articulate means:
clearly expressed with words; or the act of or ability to clearly express with words
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assortment
a great assortment of cars was on display
assortment = a collection containing a variety of a sort of a thing
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aura
The place has an aura of romance.
aura = a distinctive but intangible quality surrounding a person or thing
DefinitionGenerally aura means:
a distinctive but intangible quality surrounding a person or thing

or:

paranormal:  a radiant light surrounding a person that is said to be seen by those sensitive to another's life force; or drawn around the head of a saint
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