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vocabulary
1000+ books

100 Words Encountered in

Philosophy

Other Interests
theology
She studied theology at Yale Divinity School.
theology = the study of religion
DefinitionGenerally theology means:
the study of religion; or a particular system or school of religious beliefs
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abstract
3 meanings
as in:
abstract thought
We all agree that we want what's "best for the country", but that is an abstract concept and we cannot agree on which specific laws should be passed.
abstract = of a concept or idea not associated with any specific instance
DefinitionGenerally this sense of abstract means:
of a concept or idea not associated with any specific instance

or more rarely:

describing someone as distracted — thinking about something outside of the immediate conversation or circumstances
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as in:
read the abstract
The abstract is free, but there is a fee to see the entire article.
abstract = summary
DefinitionGenerally this sense of abstract means:
a summary; or to summarize — especially academic writing
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as in:
abstract art
She is an abstract painter.
abstract = not representing or imitating external reality or the objects of nature
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doctrine
She challenges accepted doctrine.
doctrine = generally accepted beliefs
DefinitionGenerally doctrine means:
a belief (or system of beliefs or principles) accepted as authoritative by some group
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socialism
She believes that more socialism would be more fair.
socialism = an economic system based on government ownership and control of all companies — with the ideal of equal benefits to all people
DefinitionGenerally socialism means:
an economic system based on government ownership or control of all important companies — with the ideal of equal benefits to all people
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Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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phenomenon
as in:
The phenomenon was observed...
It is a growing social phenomenon on high school campuses.
phenomenon = something that can be seen and is of special interest
DefinitionGenerally this sense of phenomenon means:
something that exists — especially something that can be seen or sensed and is of special interest
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empirical
Is her theory supported by empirical data?
empirical = based on experience or observation rather than theory
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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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temporal
as in:
temporal world
She focuses more on the spiritual while his main concern is with temporal existence.
temporal = concerned with the material (in contrast to the spiritual) world
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inconsistent
Her play is inconsistent. Sometimes she's unbeatable and other times she beats herself.
inconsistent = not the same at different times
DefinitionGenerally inconsistent means:
not the same in different parts or at different times

or:

not in agreement [with something else]
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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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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
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hypothesis
2 meanings
as in:
a study to test her hypothesis
The study will test the hypothesis that a good marriage is more important than a higher income when measuring happiness.
hypothesis = a seemingly reasonable, but unproven, idea based upon known facts
DefinitionGenerally this sense of hypothesis means:
a seemingly reasonable, but unproven, idea based upon known facts — often an idea to be tested
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as in:
Let's assume hypothetically that
For the purpose of discussion, let's accept that the hypothesis that she is guilty is true. What would we have expected her to do after the incident?
hypothesis = something that may not be true, but that is temporarily treated as true to advance a discussion or to further investigation
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utilitarian
She likes plain utilitarian kitchenware.
utilitarian = designed for usefulness rather than beauty or style
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objective
By any objective analysis, you would have to agree that...
objective = fact-based (not influenced by personal feelings or preferences)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of objective means:
fact-based without the influence of personal feelings or preferences
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insight
The book is full of insight on human nature.
insight = clear understanding of some aspects of a complex situation
DefinitionGenerally insight means:
a clear understanding of some aspect of a complex situation; or a tendency to have such understandings
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profound
as in:
profound sadness
Her apology was heartfelt—expressing profound sorrow and regret.
profound = of greatest intensity or emotional depth
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infer
Which of the following facts can you infer from the first paragraph?
infer = figure out or guess by reasoning
DefinitionGenerally infer means:
to figure out or guess by reasoning
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rhetoric
She uses convincing rhetoric, but makes bad decisions.
rhetoric = the use of words to make a point
DefinitionGenerally rhetoric means:
the use of words to make a point

or more rarely:

study of the technique and rules for using language effectively (especially to persuade)
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Nietzsche
Nietzsche famously said, "What does not destroy me, makes me stronger."
Nietzsche = influential German philosopher remembered for his concept of the superman and for his rejection of Christian values; considered, along with Kierkegaard, to be a founder of existentialism (1844-1900)
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sage
as in:
sage advice
Some call Warren Buffett the "Sage of Omaha".
sage = someone known for being wise
DefinitionGenerally this sense of sage means:
profound wisdom; or one known for being wise
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postmodernism

with regard to philosophy
My grandmother complains that the postmodern worldview too often leaves us without a shared sense of what is right and wrong.
postmodern = a worldview that denies the possibility of empirical or valid universal explanations and emphasizes the existence of different worldviews and concepts of reality
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sophistry
Where facts failed her, she used sophistry.
sophistry = the use of seemingly believable, but invalid arguments that display ingenuity in reasoning
DefinitionGenerally sophistry means:
seemingly believable, but invalid arguments that display ingenuity in reasoning
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premise
as in:
the premise of the argument
Her logic is fine except that it assumes a false premise.
premise = something assumed to be true that can be used to build a logical argument
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dilemma
It is an ethical dilemma.
dilemma = a situation in which a difficult choice must be made between imperfect alternatives
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Marxism
As a child, he adopted a Castro-inspired Marxism.
Marxism = belief in the economic and political theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels that hold that human actions and institutions are economically determined and that class struggle is needed to create historical change and that capitalism will ultimately be superseded by communism
DefinitionGenerally Marxism means:
belief in the economic and political theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels that hold that human actions and institutions are economically determined and that class struggle is needed to create historical change and that capitalism will ultimately be replaced by communism
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utopia
We thought we could create a utopia, but we failed because we overestimated human nature.
utopia = an imaginary place considered to be perfect or ideal
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tautology

a linguistic tautology
It is an intentional tautology as when Gertrude Stein said "A rose is a rose is a rose."
tautology = useless repetition in different words (such as "unmarried bachelor")
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existential
as in:
existential philosophy
It was a moment of existential angst when nothing made sense any more.
existential = not knowing what is important

(relating to existentialism; a philosophical movement that assumes each person is free to determine what is essential in his/her existence rather than that being determined by a god and/or authority figures)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of existential means:
relating to existentialism; a philosophical movement that assumes each person is free to determine what is essential in his/her existence rather than that being determined by a god and/or authority figures
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deduce
She trusts only what she can measure or can deduce from measurement.
deduce = conclude by reasoning
DefinitionGenerally deduce means:
conclude by reasoning — especially reasoning from the general to the particular
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Ph.D
She is a research scientist who earned her Ph.D in physics.
Ph.D = a research doctorate usually based on at least 3 years graduate study and a dissertation; the highest degree awarded in universities in many fields of study
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abnegate
The monk practices self-abnegation.
abnegation = voluntarily giving something up (in this case, luxuries)
DefinitionGenerally abnegate means:
to renounce or reject in various senses, such as:
  • "to abnegate his responsibilities as a father" — to reject or ignore a duty
  • "to practice self-abnegation" — to deny oneself (voluntarily give something up such as a luxury)
  • "to abnegate her faith" — to reject a belief
  • "to abnegate her legal rights" — to give up a claim, title, or position of power
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abstruse
The professor's lectures were so abstruse that students tended to avoid them.
abstruse = difficult to understand
DefinitionGenerally abstruse means:
difficult to understand; or not known by the great majority of people
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accord
4 meanings
as in:
according to, or in accord with
She will get a fair trial in accordance with the law.
accordance = keeping with; or agreement with
DefinitionGenerally this sense of accord means:
in keeping with; or in agreement/harmony/unity with
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as in:
reached an accord
They're hoping to have a stronger climate-change accord by the end of the year.
accord = agreement
DefinitionGenerally this sense of accord means:
an agreement
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as in:
done of her own accord
She was not forced. She did it of her own accord.
own accord = mind
DefinitionGenerally this sense of accord means:
mind — voluntarily (without anyone asking)
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as in:
accord her the respect deserved
They expect to be accorded the same respect as any other nuclear armed nation.
accorded = given special treatment
DefinitionGenerally this sense of accord means:
to give someone special treatment — especially respect
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acknowledge
She acknowledged that she might have forgotten.
acknowledged = admitted
DefinitionGenerally acknowledge means:
express recognition of someone or something; or admit something
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acquire
Children acquire language at an amazing rate.
acquire = obtain (come into the possession of something)
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affirm
Maria affirmed that she has complete faith in the other members of the team.
affirmed = expressed a firm belief
DefinitionGenerally affirm means:
a firm statement that something is true

or:

expressing emotional support or encouragement for someone
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Agamemnon
The 2004 film, Troy, depicted Agamemnon in an especially unsympathetic manner.
Agamemnon = Greek mythology:  the king who lead the Greeks against Troy in the Trojan War
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agnostic
He's agnostic — about the existence of God and the proof of any non-physical belief.
agnostic = someone who is doubtful or noncommittal about something — especially belief in God
DefinitionGenerally agnostic means:
a person who believes they lack true knowledge about the existence of God (but believes that God might exist)

or more rarely:  someone who is doubtful or noncommittal about something
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altruism
She is known for her kindness, compassion, and altruism.
altruism = unselfish concern for the welfare of others
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ambivalent
Polling indicates the public is ambivalent on the subject. Their opinions change depending upon the latest headlines.
ambivalent = uncertain or unable to decide about what course to follow
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anachronism
The printed version is an expensive anachronism from an earlier time.
anachronism = something out of place for it's time - typically something that belongs in the past
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anarchy
It's not the government I want, but it's better than anarchy.
anarchy = the complete absence of political authority
DefinitionGenerally anarchy means:
the complete absence of political authority; or more generally, complete absence of order
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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
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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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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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annihilate
The terrorist wants to annihilate a major American city.
annihilate = to completely destroy or defeat
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antagonism
the inherent antagonism of capitalism and socialism
antagonism = opposing principles
DefinitionGenerally antagonism means:
hostility or opposition

or:

the relation between opposing principles, forces, or factors
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anthology
She read an anthology of classic American literature.
anthology = a collection of literary works or music
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anthropology
She majored in anthropology and just finished a report for the State Department that describes tribal customs in eastern Africa.
anthropology = the social science that studies the origins and social relationships of human beings
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antipathy
Cooperation is fueled by a shared antipathy toward Iran.
antipathy = strong dislike
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antithesis
Her theory is the antithesis of mine.
antithesis = exact opposite
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aphorism
She often quotes St. Augustine's aphorism, "Love the sinner and hate the sin."
aphorism = a short saying intended to impart wisdom
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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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approbation
She is not motivated by popular approbation.
approbation = approval
DefinitionGenerally approbation means:
approval - often official
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arrogant
She is rude and arrogant.
arrogant = having an excessive sense of superiority
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assert
2 meanings
as in:
asserted her opinion that...
The defense also asserts that the defendant has no previous record.
asserts = says (that something is true — especially something disputed)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of assert means:
to say that something is true — especially something disputed
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as in:
asserted her authority
She says women should assert themselves more.
assert = to be forceful in exercising rights
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atheist
While many atheist decline any non-material reality, others have a spiritual outlook on life.
atheist = someone who does not believe in the existence of god
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atom
The world was forever changed when we learned to split the atom.
atom = the smallest part of any material that cannot be broken up by chemical means; comprised of a nucleus of protons and neutrons surrounded by orbiting electrons
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august
I am humbled to be chosen as a steward of this august institution.
august = majestic or greatly admired — especially due to high rank or age
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avarice
We can try both to minimize greed and avarice and to channel them into directions beneficial to society.
avarice = excessive desire for wealth
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banal
The movie was banal, but it led to a fascinating conversation.
banal = too commonplace to be interesting or entertaining
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beatitude
Her favorite Beatitude is "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth."
beatitude = one of the nine sayings of Jesus at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount
DefinitionGenerally beatitude means:
a state of supreme happiness

or:

one of the nine sayings of Jesus at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount which begin with "blessed" ("beatus" in Latin)
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benevolent
They called themselves The Benevolent Association because their mission was to help others.
benevolent = kind, generous, or charitable
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bombastic
The media relishes her bombastic style.
bombastic = pompous or pretentious talk or writing

(often using difficult words to make something sound more important than it is or to make the speaker sound more intelligent)
DefinitionGenerally bombastic means:
pompous or pretentious talk or writing

(often using difficult words in an attempt to make something sound more important than it is or to make the speaker sound more intelligent)
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Brahman
The nature of Brahman is described differently in various philosophical schools.
Brahman = the supreme spirit found in Hinduism
DefinitionGenerally Brahman means:
the supreme spirit found in Hinduism

or:

Brahmin (highest rank in the traditional Hindu caste system)
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brevity
I'm not sure they appreciated her speech, but I know they liked its brevity.
brevity = the use of just a few words; or lasting a short time
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cadence
The sound of the waves crashing on the shore had a comforting cadence.
cadence = rhythm or recurring pattern
DefinitionGenerally cadence means:
rhythm or recurring pattern of sounds or movements
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censor
The Chinese devote enormous resources to censoring the Internet.
censoring = suppressing everything considered politically unacceptable
DefinitionGenerally this sense of censor means:
to remove or suppress anything considered obscene, immoral, or politically unacceptable

or:

a person who does such suppression
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censure
They censured him for bringing dishonor upon the Senate.
censured = formally criticized
DefinitionGenerally censure means:
harsh criticism; or formal criticism from an organization — such as the U.S. Senate
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certitude
Her certitude has given way to doubt.
certitude = certainty
DefinitionGenerally certitude means:
total certainty or (more rarely) something that is certain to happen
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circumlocution
She isn't known for circumlocution or subtlety.
circumlocution = an unnecessarily wordy (or possibly evasive, or indirect) way of saying something
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circumscribe
I will not let their expectations circumscribe how I live my life.
circumscribe = restrict  the boundaries of
DefinitionGenerally circumscribe means:
to restrict something within set limits; or draw a circle around or surround
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circumspect
She's too circumspect to make that kind of mistake.
circumspect = thoughtful of all circumstances and consequences
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cite
4 meanings
as in:
references cited in the endnotes
Sources are cited in the endnotes.
cited = mentioned a source of information — usually as proof or an example that supports an idea
DefinitionGenerally this sense of cite means:
to mention a source of information — usually as proof or an example that supports an idea
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as in:
cited from the President's speech
She cited Polonius' advice to his son from Shakespeare's Hamlet: "Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice."
cited = quoted (to make a point)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of cite means:
to quote someone (to make a point)
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as in:
cited for valor
She was cited for valor in Iraq.
cited = commended or praised publicly
DefinitionGenerally this sense of cite means:
commend or praise publicly — especially someone in the military
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as in:
cited for speeding
She was cited for speeding.
cited = charged (with breaking the law)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of cite means:
to officially mention someone in a legal matter - especially to charge someone with breaking the law or to demand they appear in court
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coerce
It is better to convince than to coerce.
coerce = force someone to do something
DefinitionGenerally coerce means:
force to do — possibly  by physical, moral or intellectual means
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cogent
It is difficult to decide because both sides offer cogent arguments.
cogent = powerfully persuasive
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commend
I commend you for a good job.
commend = praise
DefinitionGenerally commend means:
praise or recommend
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common law
The United States inherited its common law from Great Britain.
common law = a system of jurisprudence based on judicial precedents rather than statutory laws; (also called "case law")
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communism
A challenge with communism is that it is harder to know how to allocate capital when prices are subjective rather than the product of individual valuations.
communism = an economic system that abolishes private ownership of property with the goal of a classless society
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compassion
If I see one hungry child, I feel compassion, but when I hear of a million hungry children, I'm overwhelmed and turn my mind to other things.
compassion = sympathy for another's suffering and wanting to help
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complicity
Many suspect the complicity of top officials.
complicity = guilt as an accomplice in a crime or offense
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concordance
2 meanings
as in:
a Bible concordance
It is a concordance of the complete works of Shakespeare.
concordance = an index of all main words in a book or body of work along with the immediate contexts where each word is found and/or an indication of where to find the context
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as in:
degree of concordance
There is a strong concordance of views between the United States and countries in Western Europe.
concordance = agreement — often of opinions or of two variables
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confound
She confounded her critics.
confounded = frustrated
DefinitionGenerally confound means:
to confuse or cause to be unable to think clearly

or:

to refute or frustrate
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congenial
She has a congenial relationship with her colleagues.
congenial = agreeable or compatible in a positive way
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conjecture
She dismissed it as mere conjecture.
conjecture = a conclusion or opinion based on inconclusive evidence
DefinitionGenerally conjecture means:
a conclusion or opinion based on inconclusive evidence; or the act of forming of such a conclusion or opinion
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construe
The executive branch does not construe the provision as requiring it to share additional information with Congress.
construe = interpret
DefinitionGenerally construe means:
to interpret something as having a specific meaning
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contented
She grew more contented with age.
contented = satisfied
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corporeal
Her time of corporeal suffering will soon pass.
corporeal = regarding the body as opposed to the mind or spirit
DefinitionGenerally corporeal means:
having material or physical form or substance

or:

regarding the body as opposed to the mind or spirit
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