Definitions: (n.) 1. a strategic advantage with the power to act effectively–the power to get things done; 2. the mechanical advantage gained by using a lever; 3. the borrowing of money for investments; (v.) 1. to provide or supplement with leverage; 2. to use leverage for one’s advantage; 3. to borrow money for investment.
Examples: – We hired the lobbyists for their reputation of being able to exert great political leverage. – We must leverage our funds to buy the equipment we need so that our business can continue to grow. – The great review I received from my client should give me some leverage when I ask for a raise. – Right now, the client is really happy with our work; let’s see if we can leverage this goodwill to create some new business.
Tips: Think of the way you would use a lever to make a task easier. This is known as leverage. Thus, leverage refers to anything used to one’s advantage to make something easier. In business and finance, when you leverage an asset to borrow money, you are doing so to make even more money through investment. So, you leverage what you already have to gain even more.
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Definitions: someone who breaks the law or does wrong.
Synonyms: villain, knave, criminal, ruffian
Examples: – The school was vandalized by a group of miscreants last night. – Many people were upset that the alleged miscreant was not found guilty. – A hopeless miscreant, he seemed bent on doing harm to others. – Because he had no moral scruples, the miscreant thought nothing of stealing from others.
Tips: Miscreant comes from the Latin and French words for “not believing.” Miscreants do not believe in or adhere to the same moral or legal codes as others.
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Definitions: very angry
Examples: – Her boss became irate when she cost the company its biggest client. – His irate neighbors yelled at him for throwing such a loud party. – I was irate that she had forgotten to give me the message, but I kept my anger inside. – Shelly was irate with Jack for forgetting her birthday and didn’t speak to him for two weeks.
Tips: Think of the related noun rage, which means “explosive anger.” An irate person shows rage.
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Definitions: said or done without preparation, on the spot.
Synonyms: spontaneous, ad lib, unrehearsed, improvised, extemporaneous
Examples: – Upon receiving the award, the coach made an impromptu speech to his team. – Part of the debate is the impromptu question-and-answer session. – Could you deliver a short, impromptu toast during the cocktail hour? – My uncle has an uncanny ability to deliver hilarious, impromptu speeches without any preparation or advanced notice.
Tips: Impromptu comes from the Latin in promptu, “at hand in readiness.” A spontaneous, unprepared speech is an impromptu speech. Impromptu can also be an adverb that refers to delivering a speech without preparation and “off the cuff.” Impromptu can also be a noun denoting the actual, unrehearsed speech. Impromptu and extemporaneous are synonymous. Impromptu always refers to a speech or action done or said spontaneously, without planning. Extemporaneous can refer to both an impromptu speech as well as a speech that was practiced beforehand, but delivered without notes.
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Definitions: having little or no moral restriction, especially in sexual behavior.
Examples: – Although they engaged in a licentious lifestyle during their college years, the fraternity brothers eventually settled down into faithful marriages. – The older lady found the licentious behavior of today’s generation offensive. – She have reformed from her licentious lifestyle to one of self-restraint and chastity. – The young waitress was tired of the licentious men who came into her bar and overtly flirted with her.
Tips: Licentious comes from the Latin word licentia, “license.” Since a license is an authorization or permission to do something, think of licentious as a way of describing someone who feels they “have license” to act in an unrestrained manner, usually in an inappropriate or sexual way.
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Definitions: 1. good-natured and kind; 2. mild, especially sunny and good for life or growth.
Examples: – The genial sunshine and mild temperature was ideal for growing a variety of flowers and plants. – She was always a genial hostess, treating her guests with kindness and sincere attention. – I really like being around him because of his genial demeanor, which always puts me at ease and makes me happy. – He is a great person to have as a boss because of his genial manner.
Tips: Genial refers to something or someone pleasant. The environment can be genial and conducive for growing. A person can be genial and have a pleasant and kind demeanor. Genial, congenial, amiable and amicable all are synonymous when referring to someone’s kind and friendly demeanor. In medicine, genial refers to something related to the chin.
Examples: – She prefers to paint still life art and inanimate objects rather than people and animals. – The audience for tonight’s show has proved to be a rather inanimate crowd. – Our teacher had us come up with names for inanimate objects like the projector, which we called E.T. after the loveable alien. – At first, the dog’s body looked inanimate, but when we noticed it was still breathing we took her to the vet and she was resuscitated.
Tips: In language, inanimate can refer to nouns that stand for nonliving things. Think of the related word animated, which means “full of liveliness or activity.” When you add the negative in-, “not,” inanimate means “not alive” and can refer to things and concepts considered to be “without life.”
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Definitions: feeling or revealing little or no emotion.
Synonyms: inscrutable, apathetic, stoic
Antonyms: emotional, moved
Examples: – When they told her that she was adopted, she was surprisingly impassive, and they wondered if she had long suspected their secret. – An impassive expression is a real asset in a poker game. – The defendant remained impassive as evidence was being presented against him. – He was so impassive when we told him the bad news that I wasn’t sure how it affected him.
Tips: Impassive literally means “without passion or emotion,” but it can also connote the ability to hide emotion even if feelings are beneath the surface. Note: this word does NOT combine the negative im- “no” with passive “not actively taking part.” Impassive and stoic are synonymous. Impassive is unemotional or expressionless and usually describes someone who is showing no emotion in their face. Stoic can often be a compliment of someone who does not allow emotions to affect them and they are brave or patient in the face of adversity.
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Definitions: 1. threatening or suggesting evil, menace, or harm; 2. showing evil intention.
Synonyms: minatory, ominous
Antonyms: benevolent, good, benign, kind
Examples: – In the movie, the evil villain had a sinister plan to take over the world. – His sinister smile and squinted eyes scared the children. – The shadows of the trees looked sinister in the moonlight. – The depraved boy’s sinister plan to sabotage his classmate’s project in order to make his own work look better was foiled by the professor.
Tips: Sinister is derived from the Latin sinister, which means “on the left side.” Sinister has come to mean “evil” because of the old superstition that the left side of the body was unlucky. Think of sinister as a more sophisticated way of saying “bad” or “wicked.” Sinister is similar to the word depraved as both words are used to describe evil or corrupt character or behavior. Sinister is often used to describe a person or a situation that is threatening and projecting evil (“He looks sinister,” or “That is a sinister looking dog”), while depraved refers to a state of corruption that is inherent in a person (“He is a depraved man and I don’t think he can change his evil ways.”)
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Definitions: to forcefully break something apart
Synonyms: separate, break
Antonyms: unify, join
Examples: – The civil war will sunder the peace of the nation. – The controversial issue threatened to sunder the family. – The unity of the group could not be sundered. – The court forced the company to sunder, on the grounds that it had become a monopoly.
Tips: Sunder is derived from the Old English sundor, which means “separate.” This is also the source of the word sundry. However, sundry refers to a group of separate or miscellaneous things, and sunder refers to separating things by force.