Focus on learning some of the most popularly used difficult-but-common words in the English language. The objective here is to familiarize yourself with the most common senses of the difficult words you are most likely to come across. (1)
Opulent: having wealth and luxury
e.g. Now that he had filed for bankruptcy, it would be difficult for him to maintain his opulent lifestyle.
Insolent: rude and disrespectful
e.g. He was simply offering his advice out of goodwill, but your response was insolent and inappropriate.
Malleable: easily adaptable or changeable
e.g. In this economic environment, people are malleable to economic reforms.
Emanate: come from a source
e.g. The sounds emanating from next door were so disturbing that we finally called the police.
Flaunt: to show off in an ostentatious way
e.g. Nobody likes her because she is always flaunting her wealth in her jewels and her furs.
Homage: high respect or honor
e.g. Even the Queen paid homage to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country.
Contrition: sadness or remorse over past wrong actions
e.g. The judge gave him the maximum sentence because he showed no contrition even when confronted by his victims.
Baneful: harmful or destructive influence
e.g. The custody of the children was taken from the parents because of the baneful influence of their lifestyle on their children.
Fledging: young and inexperienced.
e.g. As a fledging reporter, he was quite nervous when he interviewed the President.
Catch-22: an impossible situation, a predicament
e.g. He found himself in a catch-22: he could not stay, but he did not have the means to leave.
Debacle: a complete failure
e.g. The bailout, to many, was a financial debacle.
Oblique: indirect or unclear.
e.g. The young man’s testimony was oblique to be of any use as a witness for the police.
Consternation: sudden amazement.
e.g. The plunge of the Dow Jones Industrial Average caused a great deal of consternation in the financial markets worldwide.
Incorrigible: incapable of being reformed (often used in a lighthearted, ironic sense).
e.g. You’re incorrigible, forever getting into scrapes and causing mischief.
Elucidate: explain in full or make clear
e.g. To throw more light on the issue, the President began to elucidate his statement.
Cumbersome: hard to manage, or troublesome
e.g. The task of tidying up the entire basement is not only exhaustive but also cumbersome to a nine-year-old kid.
Incognito: hidden or unknown with the purpose of intentionally changing appearance.
e.g. Many movie stars wear dark sunglasses in hopes of remaining incognito at public places.
Nether: lower, such as the nether regions of something are the parts that lie beneath or beyond the main part.
e.g. Dante takes the reader on a journey to the nether regions of hell.
Clandestine: secretive or kept hidden from authorities.
e.g. Nowadays, terrorists may use the Internet for their clandestine communication with one another.
Déjà vu (pronounced as day-zhuh VOO): (French) something “already seen” in the past.