Neophyte (noun)

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Definitions:
1. someone just starting out at something–a beginner; 2. someone new to a religion.

Synonyms:
student, amateur

Examples:
– When she married Jim, she became a Catholic neophyte. – Undergraduate students are generally neophytes in their chosen majors and need guidance from experienced professors. – The neophyte on the team surprised everyone when she scored the winning goal. – I’m a neophyte when it comes to baking, so I’m a little nervous about how my first apple pie will turn out.

Tips:
The word neophyte, in Latin, literally means “newly planted,” which captures the idea of someone being newly committed to something.

Murmur (noun, ,, verb)

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Definitions:
(n.) 1. a low, unclear sound; 2. a quiet complaint; 3. an abnormal sound of the heart; (v.) 1. to make a low, unclear, continuous sound; 2. to complain in a quiet or discreet way; 3. to speak very softly or unclearly

Synonyms:
lament, complaint, mutter

Examples:
– A murmur of complaint was heard from the audience when the sound system failed. – She murmured something under her breath when the teacher handed out the homework assignment. – The murmur of a distant siren could be heard for miles. – The sleepy girl murmured good-night as her mother tucked her into bed.

Tips:
Murmur is a word that, when spoken, sounds like what it means. It’s an indistinct sound, often uttered under one’s breath. The noun murmur usually describes a soft and hard-to-hear sound. The verb murmur usually refers to someone speaking or complaining in a low tone.

Obeisance (noun)

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Definitions:
The fact of obeying or respecting someone, or something you do that expresses this.

Synonyms:
respect, homage, allegiance, bow, curtsy

Antonyms:
condemnation, dishonor, disloyalty, censure

Examples:
– The boy’s obeisance to his babysitter seemed disingenuous, and she was sure he was disrespecting her behind her back. – He bowed deeply in obeisance to the queen. – His obeisance at our meeting seemed rather formal and unnecessary. – The professor demanded obeisance from all his students.

Tips:
Obeisance denotes respect. It is related to the word obey and was originally taken from the French word for “obedience.”

Discourse (noun)

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Definitions:
Communication of thought by words; talk, conversation. A formal discussion of a subject in speech or writing, as a dissertation, treatise, sermon, etc.

Synonyms:
communication, conversation, discussion

Antonyms:
quiet, silence

Examples:
It is sweet and refreshing to pursue our old subjects of discourse. Making notes fo them for ourselves we discourse of them to others.

Origins:
Late Middle English (denoting the process of reasoning): from Old French discours,from Latin discursus ‘running to and fro'(in medieval Latin ‘argument’), from the verb discurrere, from dis ‘away’ + currere ‘to run” the verb influenced by French discourir.

Exemplary (adjective)

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Definitions:
1. worthy of imitation; 2. serving as a perfect model or example; 3. designed to be severe and serve as a warning to others (as in a punishment).

Synonyms:
laudable, quintessential, cautionary, praiseworthy, dissuasive

Antonyms:
awful, atypical, substandard

Examples:
– Through exemplary conduct and fierce determination, he climbed his way to the top ranks of the military. – Through the exemplary jail sentence for the 15 year old, the judge hoped to curb violent behavior amongst other young gang members. – He ran an exemplary project, which I want everyone to use as a model for future success. – I believe every U.S. soldier exemplifies the courage and character of our great nation.

Tips:
An across-the-board definition for exemplary is “to serve as an example.” A judge, for instance, may award “exemplary damages” to be a warning to other would-be criminals. “Exemplary behavior” is praiseworthy and is an example of the right way to be. Exemplify is a related verb and means “to demonstrate,” usually referring to demonstrating the “right” way of doing something.

Faction (noun)

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Definitions:
1. a self-seeking party or group (generally within a government) that is the dissenting minority within a larger group; this clique of partisans holds slightly different beliefs and interests than the rest of the group; 2. party strife and intrigue; 3. a literary work or film that blends fiction into factual elements

Synonyms:
dissension, group, discord, caucus

Antonyms:
entirety, whole, peace, unity

Examples:
– There were two major Roman political factions: the populares and the optimates. – There is a faction in the Democratic party that supports tax cuts and strong defense. – I remember a faction of girls in grade school who were mean and nasty toward all of their classmates. – The president didn’t realize that there was a faction within the board of directors, meeting to plan his removal.

Tips:
For the word faction, think “separation and dissension.” A faction will make it difficult to move forward on an issue, since there is a passionate disagreement. A faction will “fracture” the binding glue of the organization. In politics, this may indicate the various political parties in the country, as well as factions within parties.

Extant (adjective)

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Definitions:
describes something very old, yet still existing–not lost or destroyed.

Synonyms:
surviving, undestroyed, existent, remaining

Antonyms:
dead, destroyed, gone, departed

Examples:
– It is challenging for biologists to track extant plant species in the rainforest, as some of them are destroyed daily. – The Discovery channel did a series on extant Mesoamerican artifacts and their significance to the culture. – Because he is so recluse, J.D. Salinger is probably one of the most famous extant authors that people mistake for being dead. – Many people thought the ancient writings were destroyed, so you can imagine the historian’s joy when he learned that they were extant and carefully preserved in a case.

Tips:
Extant is used to refer to something old, but still existing. An author or artist can be distinguished as extant. When discussing literature or manuscripts, extant refers to archaic works, those that could logically have been lost or destroyed. Biologists hold lists of genera classifications for extant species to specify those which are not extinct.

Flaccid (adjective)

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Definitions:
lacking firmness or resilience.

Synonyms:
inelastic, flimsy, droopy

Examples:
– The flaccid asparagus was not well received at the luncheon. – The skier’s muscles atrophied and became flaccid during the five weeks in which she had to wear a cast. – The man flaccid handshake did not make a good first impression. – In business, it is considered totally unacceptable to have a flaccid handshake.

Tips:
Flaccid is derived from the Latin flaccidus, from flaccus, “flabby.” The word flaccid is a more sophisticated way of commenting on a person’s limp handshake, but can also be used to describe other things that are weak or limp.

Enervate (verb and adjective )

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Definitions:
Verb 1. Make someone feel drained of energy or vitality. Adjective (Literary) 1. Lacking in energy or vitality.

Synonyms:
debilitate, disable, exhaust, fatigue

Antonyms:
aid, assist, energize, help, invigorate

Examples:
Why, indeed, plunge into dissipations which enervate the body and dull the brain? She was careful not to enervate him by luxury or weak indulgence.

Origins:
Early 17th century : From Latin enervat- ‘weakened (by extraction of the sinews’) from the verb enervare, from e- (variant of ex) ‘out of’ + nervus ‘sinew’

Equivocal (adjective )

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Definitions:
Not clear and seeming to have two opposing meanings, or confusing and able to be understood in two different ways.

Synonyms:
ambiguous, dubious, evasive, muddled

Antonyms:
certain, clear, definite, sure, determined

Examples:
There was six or seven of them, all briefly worded, some direct some equivocal. Of course I did neither and there fell on us an odd, equivocal silence.

Origins:
Mid 16th century: from late Latin aequivocus, from Latin aequus, ‘equally’ + vocare ‘to call’