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vocabulary
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100 Words Encountered in

Religion & Spirtuality

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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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consecrate
The priest consecrated the chapel.
consecrated = made holy (typically by means of religious rites)
DefinitionGenerally consecrate means:
make holy by means of religious rites
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Judaism
Jerusalem is a holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Judaism = the oldest of the three major monotheistic religions — whose believers are known as Jews
DefinitionGenerally Judaism means:
the oldest of the three major monotheistic religions —  having its spiritual and ethical principles embodied chiefly in the Torah and in the Talmud
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testament
His success raising numerous small contributions is testament to his popularity.
testament = evidence for something
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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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denomination
as in:
the Baptist denomination
Downtown synagogues, mosques and churches of various denominations joined to assist the homeless.
denominations = a group of religious congregations (such as churches, temples, masques...) sharing distinctive beliefs and belonging to the same organization
DefinitionGenerally this sense of denomination means:
a group of religious congregations (such as churches, temples, masques...) sharing distinctive beliefs and belonging to the same organization

or more rarely (and less formally):  any categorization of people
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catholic
When the Apostles Creed uses the word "catholic", it does not reference the church headed by the Pope, but rather a universal church.
catholic = universal; or inclusive of a wide range of people or interests
DefinitionGenerally this sense of catholic means:
universal or inclusive of a wide range of people or interests
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serene
While I lie awake worrying, she sleeps serenely.
serenely = calmly and peacefully
DefinitionGenerally serene means:
calm and untroubled
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anguish
I felt unbearable anguish when my 4-year-old child died from brain cancer.
anguish = extreme distress
DefinitionGenerally anguish means:
extreme distress of body or mind
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parable
Many people have heard the parable of the prodigal son.
parable = a short story told to teach a moral lesson — especially those told by Jesus in the New Testament
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Islam
Islam is predominant in northern Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
Islam = the monotheistic religious system of Muslims founded in Arabia in the 7th century and based on the teachings of Muhammad as laid down in the Koran; the world's second most practiced religion
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atone
To atone for sins is a common religious theme.
atone = make amends
DefinitionGenerally atone means:
make amends for — especially a sin

(To make amends is to try to mend or makeup for a wrong.)
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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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Protestant
Protestant churches deny universal authority of the Pope.
Protestant = any of the Western churches that separated from the Roman Catholic Church during the Reformation
DefinitionGenerally Protestant means:
a member of or relating to any of the Western churches that separated from the Roman Catholic Church during the Reformation
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reign
as in:
She reigned over England
The arranged marriage solidified the alliance between two of Europe's most important reigning families.
reigning = ruling
DefinitionGenerally this sense of reign means:
rule (like that of a king or queen); or the time during which one ruled
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disciple
She was his favorite student and disciple.
disciple = someone who believes and helps to spread the teachings of another
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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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Hinduism
Hindu/Muslim discord resulted in partitioning and violence in post-colonial India.
Hindu = the third most common religion; polytheistic (many gods) with most adherents in India
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canon
as in:
a canonical requirement
Their actions violate the canon of proportional response.
canon = an official or established rule or principle; or a collection of such rules or principles (often in reference to rules or principles of a church)
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monk
a Tibetan monk wearing an orange robe
monk = a male member of a religious order typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience
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monastery
Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries was the largest legally enforced transfer of property in English history since the Norman Conquest.
monasteries = the residences of religious communities
DefinitionGenerally monastery means:
the residence of a religious community
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gospel
2 meanings
as in:
a gospel song
The earliest surviving complete copy of the gospels dates back to the 4th century.
gospels = the four books in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) that Christian's believe tell the story of Jesus Christ's life and teachings
DefinitionGenerally this sense of gospel means:
the religious teachings of Jesus

or:

one of the four books in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) that Christian's believe tell the story of Jesus Christ's life and teachings

or:

a type of vocal music that originated in African-American churches in the United States
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as in:
they consider it gospel
She takes it as gospel.
gospel = an unquestionable truth
DefinitionGenerally this sense of gospel means:
a set of beliefs firmly held by a group

or:

an unquestionable truth
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parish
Are we talking about a governmental or a religious parish?
parish = a local church community

or in Louisiana:  a jurisdiction of government like a county
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Koran
Many of the people and events recounted in Koran are also recorded in the Old Testament.
Koran = the sacred writings of Islam said to be revealed by God to the prophet Muhammad during his life at Mecca and Medina
DefinitionGenerally Koran means:
Islam:  the sacred writings of Islam said to be revealed by God to the prophet Muhammad during his life at Mecca and Medina
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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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revelation
It was a revelation to me. Until they gave us those tests, I had no idea that I was better than most people at clerical accuracy.
revelation = something previously unknown and now learned (revealed)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of revelation means:
something that was previously unknown — especially something that is surprising; or making such a thing known
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Jerusalem
Palestinians demanded that Israel halt construction in East Jerusalem.
Jerusalem = capital and largest city of the modern state of Israel; a holy city for Jews, Christians and Muslims
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baptism
She was baptized at the same church as her grandmother.
baptized = "spiritually renewed" in a Christian ceremony
DefinitionGenerally baptism means:
a Christian ceremony signifying spiritual cleansing and rebirth

or:

a challenging experience that initiates or purifies
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divine
2 meanings
as in:
to forgive is divine
Her pies are divine.
divine = wonderful
DefinitionGenerally this sense of divine means:
wonderful; or god-like or coming from God
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as in:
divined from tea leaves
She claims she can divine the future with a crystal ball.
divine = to predict or discover something supernaturally (as if by magic)
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righteousness
extremism fed by unquestioned belief in the righteousness of their cause
righteousness = moral correctness
DefinitionGenerally righteousness means:
morally correct
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pious
The cartoon with a drawing of Muhammad outraged many pious Muslims.
pious = highly religious
DefinitionGenerally pious means:
behaving in a highly moral or religious manner

or less commonly:  behaving highly moral in a self-righteous or holier-than-thou manner
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providence
On the eve of battle, he prayed that providence was in our favor.
providence = luck; or God's plan
DefinitionGenerally this sense of providence means:
resulting from God's intervention or plan; or lucky — especially with regard to when something happened
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advent
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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Mecca
Non-Muslims are prohibited from entering Mecca.
Mecca = the birthplace of Muhammad and the holiest city of Islam (located in western Saudi Arabia)
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clergy
Under labor law, the clergy can be required to uphold the beliefs of the religion they have chosen.
clergy = formal religious leaders (typically in Christianity)
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monotheism
the three great monotheistic religions:  Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
monotheistic = belief in a single God
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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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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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karma
I wouldn't do that. It's bad karma.
karma = the good or bad luck one earns through virtuous or evil acts

or in Hinduism and Buddhism:  incarnation-effecting personal actions
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Jesuit
The University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy is an outstanding college-prep school.
Jesuit = a member of the Society of Jesus (known for their schools and missionary work)
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Puritans
The Pilgrims who we remember on Thanksgiving were Puritans.
Puritans = English Protestants who in the 16th and 17th centuries thought there were too many rituals in worship and who stressed hard work above pleasure
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omnipotent
She believes God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.
omnipotent = all powerful
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omniscient
She believes God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.
omniscient = all-knowing; i.e., to know everything
DefinitionGenerally omniscient means:
all-knowing (to know everything)
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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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dogmatic
The dogmatic coach is fond of saying, "My way's the right way. Your way's the wrong way!"
dogmatic = prone to stating opinions as absolute truth
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Rama
Rama is the main central character of the Ramayana.
Rama = Hindu Religion:  avatar of Vishnu whose name is synonymous with God
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crusade
as in:
First Crusade to Jerusalem
Resentments date back to the Crusades.
Crusades = any of the more or less continuous military expeditions in the 11th to 13th centuries when Christian powers of Europe invaded Muslims in the Holy Land in the Middle East
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Zoroastrianism
There are small Zoroastrian communities all over the world.
Zoroastrian = related to a religion founded in Persia in the 6th century BC by Zoroaster; based on concept of struggle between light and dark (good and evil)
DefinitionGenerally Zoroastrianism means:
a religion founded in Persia in the 6th century BC by Zoroaster; based on concept of struggle between light and dark (good and evil)
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Krishna
There are many stories of Krishna's mischievous youth.
Krishna = 8th and most important avatar of Vishnu; incarnated as a handsome young man playing a flute
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Holy Communion
There are those who would like to deny Holy Communion to pro-choice politicians, but most see such a policy as violating the separation of church and state.
Holy Communion = sharing of bread and wine to remember Jesus' death (also called Eucharist)
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imam
The Imam was trained in Saudi Arabia.
imam = the man who leads prayers in a mosque
DefinitionGenerally imam means:
Islam:  the man who leads prayers in a mosque

or for Shiites:  a recognized authority on Islamic theology and law, and is a spiritual guide
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Zen
The study compares the mental benefits of Zen meditation to those of prayer.
Zen = school of Buddhism asserting that enlightenment can come through meditation and intuition
DefinitionGenerally Zen means:
school of Buddhism asserting that enlightenment can come through meditation and intuition rather than faith
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jihad
They urged a jihad against Jews and crusaders.
jihad = a holy war waged by Muslims against infidels
DefinitionGenerally jihad means:
a holy war waged by Muslims against infidels; or any relentless battle for a belief

or more rarely:  a holy struggle or striving by a Muslim for a moral, spiritual, or political goal
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kosher
It is a kosher deli with great corned beef on rye.
kosher = conforming to Jewish dietary law
DefinitionGenerally kosher means:
conforming to Jewish dietary law

or:

anything that is proper or legitimate (usually used in the negative; such as: Things at the company don't seem kosher.)
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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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Thomas More
The film, A Man for all Seasons is based on the life of Thomas More.
Thomas More = English statesman who accepted execution rather than take an oath against his beliefs; executed by Henry VIII; coined the word "utopia" (1478-1535)
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avatar
as in:
an avatar of the god, Vishnu
Many avatars of Vishnu appear in Hindu literature.
avatars = an earthly manifestation of one of the Hindu gods in human or animal form
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Taliban
The Taliban enforced a strict Muslim code of behavior.
Taliban = a fundamentalist Islamic militia; between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban militia took over Afghanistan and set up an Islamic government
DefinitionGenerally Taliban means:
a fundamentalist Islamic militia; between 1996 and 2001, they took over Afghanistan and set up an Islamic government
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mullah
He is a mullah from Iran.
mullah = a Muslim trained in the doctrine and law of Islam
DefinitionGenerally mullah means:
a Muslim trained in the doctrine and law of Islam

or:

a term of respect for a Muslim male who is thought to be especially wise
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abhor
She abhors violence.
abhors = hates or detests
DefinitionGenerally abhor means:
to hate or detest something
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abide
3 meanings
as in:
abide by her decision
I can't abide her continual complaints.
abide = tolerate
DefinitionGenerally this sense of abide means:
to tolerate or put up with something
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as in:
abide in the forest
She abides in the forest.
abides = lives
DefinitionGenerally this sense of abide means:
to live in a place

or more rarely:  to live with someone or something
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as in:
an abiding desire to
I have an abiding interest in the subject.
abiding = enduring
DefinitionGenerally this sense of abide means:
to remain or endure
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abridge
The new law might abridge our freedom of speech.
abridge = reduce
DefinitionGenerally abridge means:
reduce in scope while retaining essential elements — especially to a book
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absolve
The committee absolved her of any wrong doing.
absolved = found blameless
DefinitionGenerally absolve means:
to find someone blameless; or forgive; or relieve (of a requirement or obligation)
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abstain
2 meanings
as in:
12 votes yes and 3 abstained
She abstained from the vote because her sister was bidding for the job.
abstained = formally did not vote either "yes" or "no" (so that other voters made the decision)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of abstain means:
to formally not vote either "yes" or "no" (so that other voters will make the decision)
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as in:
abstained from alcohol
I abstain from alcohol
abstain = keep away (choose not to do something)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of abstain means:
choose not to do something
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accustomed
In the United States we're accustomed to forming our own opinion about the promises of advertisements and politicians.
accustomed = used to (have adapted to and have an expectation of)
DefinitionGenerally accustomed means:
psychologically or physically used to something
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acquaint
You should acquaint yourself with the new computer program.
acquaint = cause to know better
DefinitionGenerally acquaint means:
to cause to know; or to cause to be familiar with
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adjure
2 meanings
as in:
I adjure you
I adjure you.
adjure = ask for earnestly or command solemnly
DefinitionGenerally this sense of adjure means:
to appeal earnestly or command solemnly
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as in:
I adjure all allegiance
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and adjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign...
The oath of citizenship in the United States
adjure = confirm by oath
DefinitionGenerally this sense of adjure means:
to confirm by oath
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admonish
He admonished the child for his bad behavior
admonished = expressed disapproval
DefinitionGenerally admonish means:
to express disapproval to someone of their actions; or to warn or advise someone
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allegiance
We owe no allegiance to the outdated ideas of our political party.
allegiance = loyalty
DefinitionGenerally allegiance means:
loyalty to a person, group, or cause
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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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anathema
Coal power plants are anathema to the environmental group.
anathema = someone or something that is intensely disliked
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annihilate
The terrorist wants to annihilate a major American city.
annihilate = to completely destroy or defeat
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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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antediluvian
Someone needs to replace her and her antediluvian ideas.
antediluvian = ancient
DefinitionGenerally antediluvian means:
very old; or relating to the period before the biblical flood
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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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antithesis
Her theory is the antithesis of mine.
antithesis = exact opposite
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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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apparition
Hamlet saw an apparition at midnight.
apparition = a ghostlike figure
DefinitionGenerally apparition means:
a ghostlike figure or its appearance

or more rarely:

an unexpected or strange appearance
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apprehensive
She is apprehensive about her new job.
apprehensive = worried over possible misfortune
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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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ardent
I am her most ardent fan.
ardent = enthusiastic (feeling intense emotion)
DefinitionGenerally ardent means:
showing or feeling intense emotion — typically strong positive feelings such as enthusiasm or love
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arrogant
She is rude and arrogant.
arrogant = having an excessive sense of superiority
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ascend
We saw the rocket ascend.
ascend = move or slope upward
DefinitionGenerally ascend means:
to move or slope upward
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ascetic
The ascetic life has been more pronounced in Hinduism and Buddhism than in other major religions.
ascetic = the practice of self-denial
DefinitionGenerally ascetic means:
someone who practices self-denial (often to encourage spiritual growth); or relating to such self-denial

or:

severely plain (without decoration)
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assiduous
She is an assiduous student who expects to earn A's.
assiduous = diligent (showing care and persistent effort)
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attain
She was the first woman to attain the rank of general.
attain = gain or reach something with effort
DefinitionGenerally attain means:
to gain or reach something with effort
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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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auspicious
With good weather and no traffic, we had an auspicious start on our journey.
auspicious = favorable; or suggestive of good things to come
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