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vocabulary
1000+ books

The Third Hundred Study Words for

Standardized Tests like the SAT® & ACT®

Ordered by Importance of Study
Based on the SAT® as redesigned for tests taken after January of 2016
Return to the Top 100 Words
evoke
Her story evoked sympathy.
evoked = aroused
DefinitionGenerally evoke means:
to call forth or cause — typically to arouse an emotion or bring a memory to mind
Word Statistics
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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defer
2 meanings
as in:
deferred the decision
The weather forced us to defer our departure another day.
defer = postpone or delay
DefinitionGenerally this sense of defer means:
postpone (hold off until a later time)
Word Statistics
Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
deferred to her wishes
I defer to her expertise.
defer = submit or yield
DefinitionGenerally this sense of defer means:
submit or yield (typically to another person's opinion because of respect for that person or their knowledge)
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superficial
She has only superficial knowledge on the subject.
superficial = relating to a surface rather than to anything deep or penetrating (often of injuries or thinking)
Word Statistics
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refute
The speaker refuted his opponent's arguments.
refuted = proved or argued that something is false
DefinitionGenerally refute means:
to prove or attempt to prove that something is false
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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inhibit
as in:
inhibited the growth of...
The drug inhibits the spread of cancer.
inhibits = to limit the activity of someone or something
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obsolete
The software is obsolete.
obsolete = no longer in general use because something better has replaced it
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trace
4 meanings
as in:
found a trace of
There was not a trace of the defendant's DNA at the crime scene.
trace = a tiny quantity or indication
DefinitionGenerally this sense of trace means:
a small quantity or indication

The exact meaning of this sense of trace is often subject to its context. For example:
  • "The plane disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean without leaving a trace." — any small indication that something was present
  • "She speaks English with just a trace of a southern accent." — a very small amount (especially an amount too small to be accurately measured)
Word Statistics
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
trace the origin or development
Early cat domestication is traced back to China over 5,000 years ago.
traced = found through investigation
DefinitionGenerally this sense of trace means:
to find, search, research, or keep track of

This sense of trace usually has to do with information. It's specific meaning depends on its context. Here are some representative samples by category:

  • to find or search for something through investigation — often the origin of something

    • "The police traced the call." — found out where it originated
    • "We are tracing the lost luggage" — searching for
    • "Can you trace the problem to its source?" — find through investigation
    • "She traced her family history to discover that her great-grandmother came to the United States from Lithuania when the Nazis occupied it." — discovered something through investigation

  • to research or report on the development of something

    • "She traced the history of the automobile in her paper." — researched the development of something
    • "Her presentation traced recent progress in alternative energy solutions." — reported on

  • to monitor or keep track of the progress or development of something

    • She traces the progress of at-risk students — monitors information
    • "I used binoculars to trace her progress up the mountain." — monitor, follow, or track

Word Statistics
Library12 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
trace a picture or outline
She used her finger to trace a route on the map.
trace = draw
DefinitionGenerally this sense of trace means:
copy the lines of an image; or draw an outline; or carefully draw a specific pattern

This sense of trace has to do with drawing, but it's specific meaning depends on its context. Here are some representative samples by category:

  • copying the outline of an image

    • "She used tracing paper to make a copy." — paper you can see through, so that when it is placed on a picture, you can use a pencil to follow the lines of the image being copied
    • She projected the image onto the wall, then hung a sheet of paper there, and traced the projected image onto the paper." — followed the lines with her pencil

  • draw an outline or a specific pattern

    • "She used her toe to trace half the fish symbol in the sand." — draw a simple outline
    • "The child used a stick to trace circles and swirls in the mud." — draw

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Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
traced a path
The followed a path that traces along the edges of a dark forest.
traces = follows or runs
DefinitionGenerally this sense of trace means:
to follow

The exact meaning of this sense of trace is often subject to its context. For example:
  • "The hunters traced the deer into the woods." — followed or tracked
  • "With soft kisses, she gently traced the scar running down his cheek." — followed
  • "The path traces along the edge of the forest." — follows
  • "A single tear traced its way down her cheek." — followed a specific path
Word Statistics
Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
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reflect
5 meanings
as in:
reflect in the mirror
She saw her face reflected in his sunglasses.
reflected = shown back
DefinitionGenerally this sense of reflect means:
show an image back (on a mirror or other shiny surface)
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Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
reflect American Values
Which choice best reflects the overall sequence of events in the passage?
reflects = expresses
DefinitionGenerally this sense of reflect means:
represent, demonstrate, or express
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as in:
I want to reflect on it.
At the beginning of this passage, the author reflects on her life as a waitress.
reflects = thinks carefully
DefinitionGenerally this sense of reflect means:
think carefully — possibly aloud or in writing
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as in:
reflect poorly on the school
The failing test scores would reflect poorly on the school.
reflect = influence opinion
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as in:
reflect the light/heat/sound
We're replacing all the warning signs with signs that reflect headlights in the dark.
reflect = bounce back light from
DefinitionGenerally this sense of reflect means:
bounce back (rather than absorbing)
Word Statistics
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
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despair
Don't despair—help is on the way!
despair = give up hope
DefinitionGenerally despair means:
hopelessness
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Library26 uses in 10 avg bks
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resolve
4 meanings
as in:
I resolved to stop drinking.
This year I resolved to lose a pound a week for 5 weeks.
resolved = decided
DefinitionGenerally this sense of resolve means:
to decide — typically a firm or formal decision
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Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
This committee hereby resolves...
The Security Council resolved that all parties should work together for the successful implementation of the National Peace Accords.
resolved = voiced an opinion by formal group vote
DefinitionGenerally this sense of resolve means:
make a decision or voice an opinion by formal group vote
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Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
Her resolve weakened.
She never waivered in her resolve to attend a good college.
resolve = determination (firmness of purpose)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of resolve means:
firmness of purpose (strong determination to do something)
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Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
How did you resolve the problem?
Three of the five issues have already been resolved.
resolved = solved or settled
DefinitionGenerally this sense of resolve means:
to solve a problem or settle a disagreement
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anxiety
She suffers from more than the usual pre-test anxiety.
anxiety = nervousness or worry
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Library20 uses in 10 avg bks
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essential
The essential feature of the pen is that it writes so consistently.
essential = absolutely necessary; or of greatest importance
DefinitionGenerally essential means:
absolutely necessary; or of the greatest importance

or:

the defining or most important aspect of something
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Library19 uses in 10 avg bks
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capital
She worked hard to raise capital to start their new company.
capital = cash (or more generally, material wealth — especially assets available for use in the production of further assets)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of capital means:
material wealth — especially assets available for use in the production of further assets
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Library17 uses in 10 avg bks
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earnest
Both sides were deeply in earnest, even passionate.
earnest = sincere or serious
DefinitionGenerally earnest means:
characterized by sincere belief

or:

intensely or excessively serious
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Library19 uses in 10 avg bks
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dwell
3 meanings
as in:
Don't dwell on it.
Don't dwell on the past.
dwell = think or talk about something longer than seems appropriate
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dwell means:
to think, communicate, or let attention stay on (or return to) something for a prolonged period
Word Statistics
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
It dwells in the forest.
The creature dwells in the forest.
dwells = lives in
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dwell means:
make one's home in; or to live in; or to stay (in a place)
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as in:
a modest dwelling
There is a second dwelling unit on the property.
dwelling = a home in which someone lives
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dwelling means:
a house or shelter in which someone lives
Word Statistics
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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recollect
I think I recollect that she was away at college that year.
recollect = remember
DefinitionGenerally recollect means:
to remember — especially experiences from long ago
Word Statistics
Library12 uses in 10 avg bks
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devour
3 meanings
as in:
devoured three sandwiches
The lions devoured the antelope.
devoured = ate rapidly and completely
DefinitionGenerally this sense of devour means:
eat rapidly and completely — usually due to being very hungry
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as in:
devours crime novels
She devoured everything he wrote.
devoured = read with eager interest
DefinitionGenerally this sense of devour means:
to read, listen, or watch with eager interest
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as in:
devoured by flames
The entire block was devoured in the fire.
devoured = consumed or destroyed completely
DefinitionGenerally this sense of devour means:
to consume or destroy completely
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malicious
I am not interested in hearing malicious gossip.
malicious = evil; or made with the intent to make others suffer
DefinitionGenerally malicious means:
wanting to see others suffer; or threatening evil
Word Statistics
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
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initiate
3 meanings
as in:
initiate discussions
The study concluded that women initiate divorce more frequently than men.
initiate = begin the process of
DefinitionGenerally this sense of initiate means:
to cause (something) to begin
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
initiate into the art of drumming
That weekend, she was initiated into the art of fly fishing.
initiated = introduced (did it for the first time)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of initiate means:
introduce to an activity or area of knowledge
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as in:
initiate into the fraternity
The photo is from the ceremony when she was initiated into the sorority.
initiated = accepted into the group in a special ceremony
DefinitionGenerally this sense of initiate means:
to accept someone's membership into an organization — typically in a ceremony — sometimes including a period of instruction and/or test
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skeptical
I am skeptical about her plan.
skeptical = doubtful (in this case, of the quality of the plan)
DefinitionGenerally skeptical means:
doubtful (that something is true)

or more rarely:

generally tending to doubt what others believe
Word Statistics
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
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perish
...government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
Abraham Lincoln  --  Gettysburg Address
perish = be destroyed or cease to exist
DefinitionGenerally perish means:
to die — especially in an unnatural way

or:

to be destroyed or cease to exist
Word Statistics
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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static
He was raised in a static village community where most people farmed in the same manner as their grandparents.
static = not changing
DefinitionGenerally this sense of static means:
not moving or not changing
Word Statistics
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treacherous
The road through Afghanistan's Kabul gorge is even more treacherous than the Road of Death in Bolivia.
treacherous = dangerous
DefinitionGenerally treacherous means:
dangerous

or:

likely to betray; or guilty of betrayal
Word Statistics
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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dubious
She was dubious, but agreed to come with us anyway.
dubious = doubtful; or suspicious; or full of uncertainty
DefinitionGenerally dubious means:
doubtful — such as:
  • uncertain that something can be relied upon
  • uncertain about the quality or wisdom of something
  • a relatively gentle way of saying that the quality of something described as good is in such doubt that it is considered bad
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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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deference
They changed their strategy in deference to the President's wishes.
deference = respect
DefinitionGenerally deference means:
polite respect — often when submitting to another's wishes
Word Statistics
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pervasive
We were losing 35 to 0 at halftime and there was a pervasive sense of gloom in the locker room.
pervasive = existing throughout something
DefinitionGenerally pervasive means:
existing throughout something; or generally widespread
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unprecedented
Human impact on the environment is increasing at an unprecedented rate.
unprecedented = not having happened before
DefinitionGenerally unprecedented means:
not having happened before; or nothing similar having happened before
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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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plausible
She offered a plausible excuse.
plausible = apparently reasonable, but unproven
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complacent
He had become complacent after years of success.
complacent = contented (unworried and satisfied) — often to a fault
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deplete
The poorer a country's people are, the greater the temptation to deplete the country's forests and fisheries.
deplete = use up (resources or materials)
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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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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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lucrative
It is Google's most lucrative business.
lucrative = profitable
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pragmatic
She is a pragmatic problem solver.
pragmatic = concerned with practical matters
DefinitionGenerally pragmatic means:
concerned with practical matters — especially where quick results and/or practical experience triumph over theory
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solidarity
The incident threatens Arab solidarity.
solidarity = agreement and mutual support
DefinitionGenerally solidarity means:
a state of agreement and support — especially for political action
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disparage
She has a reputation for disparaging the efforts of her co-workers.
disparaging = criticizing or making seem less important
DefinitionGenerally disparage means:
to criticize or make seem less important — especially in a disrespectful or contemptuous manner
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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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altercation
The physical altercation between opposing players led to suspensions on both sides.
altercation = a noisy argument, confrontation, or fight
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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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egregious
She asked for triple damages due to egregious negligence.
egregious = exceptionally bad
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exemplify
When he said "Let's roll," his courage exemplified America's determination to defend itself.
exemplified = acted as an example
DefinitionGenerally exemplify means:
to act as an example
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mean
We have a mean annual rainfall of 23 inches.
mean = average
DefinitionGenerally this sense of mean means:
an average of n numbers computed by dividing the sum of the numbers by n; for example, 3 for the numbers 1,2, and 6

= (1+2+6) / 3
= 9 / 3
= 3
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although
Although she knows a lot about the business, she still has a lot to learn from her mother.
although = even though (used to connect contrasting ideas)
DefinitionGenerally although means:
even though (Used to connect contrasting ideas. At the start of a sentence, other synonyms could include words and phrases such as however, yet, all the same, on the other hand, still, even so, and nonetheless.)
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thus
Increase law enforcement reduced the supply of the drug and thus increased the cost, but the improvement was partially offset when the increased cost encouraged more supply.
thus = therefore (for that reason)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of thus means:
therefore (for that reason; or what follows is so because of what was just said)
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therefore
Kim is taller than Ashley. Ashley is taller than Anna. Therefore, Kim is taller than Anna.
therefore = for that reason
DefinitionGenerally therefore means:
for that reason (what follows is so because of what was just said)
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intrigue
2 meanings
as in:
she was intrigued
She was intrigued by his surprising comment.
intrigued = interested, curious, or fascinated
DefinitionGenerally this sense of intrigue means:
cause to be interested, curious, or fascinated
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as in:
involved in intrigue
I try to avoid political intrigue.
intrigue = secret schemes or plots
DefinitionGenerally this sense of intrigue means:
a secret scheme or plot
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confide
She confided in her parents.
confided = told with the understanding that what was told would be kept secret
DefinitionGenerally confide means:
tell with the understanding that what is told will be kept secret
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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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inquiry
They created a commission of inquiry to look into the matter.
inquiry = investigation
DefinitionGenerally inquiry means:
the act of asking a question or performing an investigation
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lament
She lamented the loss.
lamented = expressed grief or regret
DefinitionGenerally lament means:
to express grief or regret
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petty
2 meanings
as in:
a petty crime
She handles petty crimes.
petty = of less importance
DefinitionGenerally this sense of petty means:
of less importance — at times implying insignificance
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as in:
don't be petty
I'm disgusted with their small-minded pettiness.
pettiness = focusing on an unimportant flaw; or attempting to make someone suffer for an unimportant wrong
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indulge
She indulges her children more than is good for them.
indulges = allows them to get their way (gives into their desire)
DefinitionGenerally indulge means:
to give into a desire or enjoy something — especially in excess of what is thought good—such as a desire to eat too much cake, or be too lazy

or:

to allow or help someone to get their way or enjoy something — especially something that (probably because of excess) is not considered to be good or proper
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indulgent
Indulgent parents risk spoiling their children.
indulgent = treating with extra kindness or leniency (in this case, not demanding enough of the children)
DefinitionGenerally indulgent means:
to treat with extra kindness or tolerance
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variation
2 meanings
as in:
a variation on a theme
Scientists are worried about a new variation of the virus.
variation = version (something that is different than others of its type)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of variation means:
something that is different than others of its type (synonyms could include: adaptation, version, alternate form)
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as in:
a 60% variation
They found a variation of 600% in the cost of having a baby—largely determined by which hospital was selected for delivery.
variation = difference
DefinitionGenerally this sense of variation means:
difference — typically between things of the same type, or within a limited range
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nostalgia
The music makes me feel nostalgic.
nostalgic = happiness that come with the memory of good times combined with a hint of sadness that those times are over
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mentor
The famous professor mentored her during her years in graduate school
mentored = acted as guide and advisor for someone with less experience
DefinitionGenerally mentor means:
someone who guides and advises another who is less experienced; or the act of providing such guidance
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adversary
She is his greatest adversary.
adversary = opponent
DefinitionGenerally adversary means:
an opponent
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eminent
She is an eminent scholar.
eminent = standing above others in attainment or reputation
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austere
He took a vow of silence and leads an austere life at the monastery.
austere = lacking luxury (and stern)
DefinitionGenerally austere means:
a notable absence of luxury, comfort, or decoration

or:

of a person:  stern in manner; or practicing great self-denial
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