Vocabulary Lists  
Politics Politics – Scandals General Vocabulary     Politics  

Big Government: A negative term, used mainly by conservatives to describe government programs in areas where they believe government shouldn't be involved, especially those that spend money on social problems  

Bipartisan: A cooperative effort by two political parties  

Bleeding Heart: A term describing people whose hearts "bleed" with sympathy for the downtrodden; used to criticize liberals who favor government spending for social programs  

Bully Pulpit: The Presidency, when used by the President to inspire or moralize. Whenever the President seeks to rouse the American people, he is said to be speaking from the bully pulpit. When the term first came into use, "bully" was slang for "first rate" or "admirable."  

Campaign: (noun) An organized effort to win an election (verb) To strive for elected office  

Caucus: An informal meeting of local party members to discuss candidates and choose delegates to the party's convention  

Checks and Balances: The system of dividing power among the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) to prevent any one from having too much power. Each branch has some authority to check the power of the others, thereby maintaining a balance among the three.  
Coattails: The power of a popular candidate to gather support for other candidates in his or her party. Winning candidates are said to have coattails when they drag candidates for lower office along with them to victory.    

Collusion: Secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.  

Convention: A national meeting of a political party, where delegates formally elect a party's nominee  

Dark Horse: A long-shot candidate  

Delegate: A representative to a party's national convention chosen by local voters to vote for a particular candidate. Each state is assigned a certain number of delegates based on its population.  

Demagogue: A leader whose impassioned rhetoric appeals to greed, fear, and hatred, and who often spreads lies. Former U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy (see McCarthyism) is often cited as a classic demagogue.  

Fence Mending: What politicians do when they visit their electoral districts to explain an unpopular action. The term originated in 1879, when Ohio Senator John Sherman made a trip home that most people considered a political visit. Sherman insisted, however, that he was home "only to repair my fences."  

Filibuster: An attempt by a Senator or group of Senators to obstruct the passage of a bill, favored by the majority, by talking continuously. Because there is no rule in the Senate over how long a member can speak, a Senator can prevent a bill from coming up for a vote by talking endlessly. Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina set the record in 1957 by speaking for more than 24 hours without stopping.  

Fishing Expedition: An investigation with no defined purpose, often by one party seeking damaging information about another. Such inquiries are likened to fishing because they pull up whatever they happen to catch.  

Front Burner: Where an issue is placed when it must be dealt with immediately  
Gerrymander: The reorganization of voting districts by the party in power to insure more votes for their candidates. The term originated in 1811, when Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts signed a bill that changed districts to favor the Democrats. The shape of one new district supposedly resembled a salamander, provoking a Boston newspaper editor to say, "Salamander? Call it a Gerrymander!"  

GOP: Grand Old Party, nickname of the Republican Party. Not used anymore because there is nothing grand about Republicans.  

Grass Roots: Political activity that originates locally, or arises from ground level   Ideology: An integrated system of ideas about politics, values, and culture. Those who espouse an ideology are sometimes criticized as rigid and narrow-minded.  

Incumbent: A current officeholder   Inside the Beltway: The area inside the Capital Beltway, a highway that encircles Washington, D.C. An issue described as "inside the Beltway" is believed to be of concern only to the people who work in and with the federal government and of little interest to the nation at large.  

Lame Duck: An officeholder whose term has expired or cannot be continued, who thus has lessened power  

Left-wing: Liberal. The labeling system originated from the seating pattern of the French National Assembly, which put liberals on the left, moderates in the middle, and conservatives on the right.  

Lobby: A group seeking to influence an elected official, or the act of doing so. The term originated in the seventeenth century, when people waiting to speak with legislators at the English House of Commons waited in a large atrium outside the legislators' hall, called the lobby.  

Machine Politics: Politics controlled by a tightly-run organization that stresses discipline and rewards its supporters. Machines are usually found in large cities and are frequently accused of corruption.  

McCarthyism: The practice of smearing people with baseless accusations. Refers to the tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who in the 1950s destroyed the careers of many prominent Americans by branding them Communists.  

Muckraker: A journalist who seeks out the scandalous activities of public officials. Derived from the Man with the Muck Rake, a character in John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, who could never look up, only down.  

Nomination: When a political party chooses its official candidate for a particular office  

Nominee: The candidate chosen by a political party to run for a particular office  

Photo-Op: Short for "photo opportunity," an event staged specifically for news cameras to help a politician appear in magazines and newspapers, on television, or online

Platform: The positions that a party adopts, and stands on, at the beginning of an election campaign  

Political Party: An organization that seeks to achieve political power by electing its members to public office  

Political Suicide: A vote or action that is likely to be so unpopular with voters as to cause a politician's probable loss in the next election  

Poll: A survey used to gauge public opinion concerning issues or to forecast an election  

Pork Barrel: Wasteful and unnecessary projects that politicians secure for their local districts, usually to gain favor with local voters. The term dates from the days when salted pork was occasionally handed out to slaves from large barrels. An observer once wrote that the mad rush of politicians to get their district's share of treasury funds looked like slaves rushing to the pork barrel.  

Primary: A state election in which party members vote for a candidate from within their party. The vote determines how many of that state's delegates each candidate gets.  

Pundit: A political analyst, commentator, or columnist who usually works for a newspaper or magazine, or in broadcasting. Derived from a Hindi phrase meaning "learned one."  

Reactionary: A militant conservative; opposite of "radical," which means ultraliberal  

Red Tape: Government paperwork and procedures that are slow and difficult. Stems from an eighteenth-century British practice of binding official papers with a reddish twine.  

Rubber Chicken Circuit: The endless series of public dinners and luncheons politicians must attend to raise funds and make speeches. The food often includes chicken, which is cooked hours earlier and then reheated, giving it a rubbery texture.  

Silent Majority: The mass of Americans whose opinions are not loud and public, but who together have enormous power. Popularized by President Richard Nixon, who claimed that Vietnam War protesters comprised a minority, while a "silent majority" supported the war.  

Slate: Candidates for various offices running as a team; or a group of delegates running on behalf of one candidate.  

Smoke-Filled Room: The sort of place where behind-the-scenes political wheeling and dealing, often devious, occurs. Refers to the penchant of many political operatives for smoking cigars.  

Spin: A politician's attempt to shape the way the public looks at an issue or event, much the way a tennis player uses spin to direct the ball. Political advisers who spin are known as "spin doctors."  

Stump: To campaign in person on a local level  

Swing Vote: The undecided, usually independent, portion of the electorate that can "swing" the outcome of an election one way or the other  

Trial Balloon: An idea a politician suggests in order to observe the reaction. If public reaction is favorable, the politician takes credit for it; if not, the idea dies quickly.  

Whip: The party member who makes sure that all other members are present for crucial votes and that they vote in accordance with the party line. The term originated in British fox hunting, where the "whipper-in" was responsible for keeping the hounds from straying.  

Whistle-Stopping: The practice of making speeches in many towns in a short time, often during a single day. When politicians traveled by train, small towns were called whistle-stops. Politicians would use the stop to deliver a quick campaign speech, often from the back of the train, before heading to the next stop.  

Witch Hunt: A vindictive, often irrational, investigation that preys on public fears. Refers to witch hunts in 17th-century Salem, Massachusetts, where many innocent women accused of witchcraft were burned at the stake or drowned.  

Politics: Scandals  

Accusation: An assertion that someone is guilty of a fault or offence

Acolyte: An assistant to a priest or minister in a liturgical service

Allegation: A formal accusation against somebody

Alliance: The state of being confederated

Anonymity: The state of being unknown

Aspiration: A cherished desire

Assail: Attack someone physically or emotionally

Authoritarian: Characteristic of an absolute ruler or absolute rule Bamboozle: Conceal one's true motives from Beleaguer: Annoy persistently Benefit: Something that aids or promotes well-being Blame: An accusation that one is responsible for some misdeed Bribe: Payment made to corrupt a person in a position of trust Cadre: A nucleus of military personnel capable of expansion Career: The particular occupation for which you are trained Chicanery: The use of tricks to deceive someone Claim: Assert or affirm strongly Coercion: Using force to cause something to occur Collaboration: Act of working jointly Conceal: Prevent from being seen or discovered Confidence: Belief in yourself and your abilities Control: Power to direct or determine Corruption: Use of a position of trust for dishonest gain Coterie: An exclusive circle of people with a common purpose Covert: Secret or hidden Debacle: A sudden and violent collapse Deception: A misleading falsehood Defamation: An abusive attack on a person's character or good name Deficit: The property of being less than expected or required Deflect: Turn from a straight course or fixed direction Demagogue: A leader who seeks support by appealing to popular passions Denigrate: Charge falsely or with malicious intent Deny: Declare untrue; contradict Dictatorship: A form of government in which the ruler is unconstrained Embezzlement: The fraudulent appropriation of funds or property Empire: The domain ruled by a single authoritative sovereign Endorsement: The act of approving Engagement: A meeting arranged in advance Expose: Show; make visible or apparent Extortion: Unjust exaction, as by the misuse of authority Feud: A bitter quarrel between two parties Fiasco: A complete failure or collapse Fray: Wear away by rubbing Furor: An interest followed with exaggerated zeal Gain: Obtain Greedy: Immoderately desirous of acquiring something Hypocrisy: Pretending to have qualities or beliefs that you do not have Ignorant: Uneducated in general; lacking knowledge or sophistication Illegal: Prohibited by law or by official or accepted rules Illicit: Contrary to accepted morality or convention Impunity: Exemption from punishment or loss Incident: A single distinct event Influence: A power to affect persons or events Infringement: An act that disregards an agreement or a right Integrity: An undivided or unbroken completeness with nothing wanting Intimidation: The act of scaring a weaker person to make them do something Irresponsible: Showing lack of care for consequences Laconic: Brief and to the point Lobby: (N) A group of persons engaged in lobbying especially as representatives of a particular interest group; (V, intransitive) To conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation; (V, transitive) 1. To promote (something, such as a project) or secure the passage of (legislation) by influencing public officials; 2. To attempt to influence or sway (someone, such as a public official) toward a desired action Malfeasance: Wrongful conduct by a public official Manipulate: Influence or control shrewdly or deviously Massive: Containing a great quantity of matter Mendacity: The tendency to be untruthful Mercurial: Liable to sudden unpredictable change Obscure: Not clearly understood or expressed Onerous: (on-er-ous ) Not easily borne; wearing Opportunist: A person who places expediency above principle Parry: Impede the movement of Partial: Being or affecting only a segment Patriarchy: A form of social organization in which men hold power Patronage: The business given to an establishment by its customers Persecution: Causing someone to suffer Plagiarism: Taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own Plutocracy: A political system governed by the wealthy people Prestidigitation: Manual dexterity in the execution of tricks Privilege: A special advantage or benefit not enjoyed by all Proxy: A person authorized to act for another Rebut: Overthrow by argument, evidence, or proof Reckless: Marked by defiant disregard for danger or consequences Recrimination: Mutual accusations Refute: Overthrow by argument, evidence, or proof Regime: The governing authority of a political unit Reputation: The general estimation that the public has for a person Resignation: The act of giving up, as a claim or office or possession Retaliation: Action taken in return for an injury or offense Revelation: The act of making something evident Saga: A narrative telling the adventures of a hero or a family Scandal: A disgraceful event Scandalous: Giving offense to moral sensibilities Scapegoat: Someone who is punished for the errors of others Sloth: A disinclination to work or exert yourself Solicit: Request urgently or persistently Subterfuge: Something intended to misrepresent the nature of an activity Tainted: Touched by rot or decay Tarnish: Make or become dirty or spotty Temptation: The act of influencing by exciting hope or desire Tycoon: A very wealthy or powerful businessperson Unethical: Not conforming to approved standards of social behavior Unjust: Not fair; marked by injustice or partiality or deception Unsavory: Morally offensive   General Vocabulary   Abate: become less in amount or intensity   Abdicate: give up, such as power, as of monarchs and emperors   Aberration: A state or condition markedly different from the norm   Abstain: Choose not to consume   Accolade: A tangible symbol signifying approval or distinction   Acrimony: A rough and bitter manner   Acquiesce: To assent tacitly; submit or comply silently or without protest; agree     Adulation: excessive flattery or praise.   Adulterate: make something worse by adding to it   Adversity: A state of misfortune or affliction   Aesthetic: relating to beauty or good taste   Amicable: friendly and agreeable spirit   Amok: behave in an out of control fashion   Anachronistic: chronologically misplaced   Anachronism: Something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, especially a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time:   Analogous: comparable or similar   Andragogy: The art or science of teaching adults   Angst: An acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety   Anomaly: Deviation from the normal or common order or form or rule   Anecdote: A short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person   Antidote: A remedy that stops or controls the effects of a poison   Antithesis: the exact opposite of someone, something, or some idea   Antonym: A word of opposite meaning   Apathetic: Having no emotion, feeling, or concern   Assuage: to provide relief and make less intense   Asylum: protection granted by a country for a political refugee who has left their native country, or a place of safety   Audacious: willing to take bold risks   Avant-garde: Radically new or original   Banal: Lacking originality so it’s boring   Baroque: Relating to an elaborately ornamented style of art and music   Benevolent: Showing or motivated by sympathy and understanding   Bias: A partiality preventing objective consideration of an issue   Binary: something that consists of two parts   Boisterous: Full of rough and exuberant animal spirits   Bona fide: Not counterfeit or copied   Boondoggle: Work of little or no value done merely to look busy   Bourgeois: Being of the property-owning class   Brazen: Unrestrained by convention or propriety   Bravado: A swaggering show of courage   Brogue: A thick and heavy shoe   Brusque: Marked by rude or peremptory shortness   Buttress: something that gives support to another structure   Byzantine: Excessively complicated, typically involving a great deal of administrative detail; relating to the Eastern Orthodox Church   Cacophony: Loud confusing disagreeable sounds   Camaraderie: The quality of affording easy familiarity and sociability   Canny: Showing self-interest and shrewdness in dealing with others   Capacious: Large in the amount that can be contained   Caprice: A sudden, impulsive, and seemingly unmotivated notion or action; policy changes that seem to be motivated by nothing more than caprice   Capricious: Determined by chance or impulse (caprice) rather than by necessity; given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior   Capitulate: Surrender under agreed conditions   Carpe diem: the idea of living in the moment and not worrying about the future (translates to “seize the day”)   Carte blanche: Complete freedom or authority to act   Cartographer: one who creates maps   Caustic: Capable of destroying or eating away by chemical action; marked by incisive sarcasm   Caveat: a warning about a particular statement that should be remembered   Charisma: Personal attractiveness that enables you to influence others   Circumspect: carefully thinking about all the possible consequences and effects before doing something   Clairvoyant: Seeing events in the future; someone who can perceive things not present to the senses   Cloying: Disgusting or distasteful by reason of excess; overly sweet or sentimental   Collaborate: Work together on a common enterprise or project   Colloquial: using informal language in conversation   Compassion: A deep awareness of and sympathy for another's suffering   Compromise: An accommodation in which both sides make concessions   Condescending: Characteristic of those who treat others with arrogance   Conditional: Imposing or depending on or containing an assumption   Condone: to accept and allow   Conformist: Someone who follows established standards of conduct   Conundrum: A difficult problem   Convergence: The act of coming closer   Crude: in a natural or raw state   Daunting: task that appears difficult to complete, intimidating   Decorum: behavior that is well-mannered   Déjà vu: The experience of thinking a new situation already occurred   Deleterious: Harmful to living things   Demagogue: A leader who seeks support by appealing to popular passions   Diatribe: abusive and bitter attack through speech or writing   Dichotomy: a difference between two opposite things; a classification into two opposed parts or subclasses   Diction: The clearness and effectiveness of enunciation when speaking, or choice of words   Didactic: Designed to teach people something   Digress: to go off on a tangent, leave the main subject   Digression: A message that departs from the main subject   Dilettante: A person having a superficial interest in an art, a branch of knowledge, or activity without serious intention; an admirer or lover of the arts   Diligent: Quietly and steadily persevering in detail or exactness   Disheveled: In disarray; extremely disorderly   Discern: to perceive or recognize something   Discredit: The state of being held in low esteem   Disdain: Lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike   Disingenuous: not honest or sincere   Disparate: different from each other, unlike   Divergent: tending to move apart in different directions   Eclectic: elements from a diverse range of sources   Elan: Enthusiastic and assured vigor and liveliness   Empathy: Understanding and entering into another's feelings   Emulate: Strive to equal or match, especially by imitating   Ennui (on-wee): The feeling of being bored by something tedious   Enervating: Causing weakness or debilitation   Ephemeral: Anything short-lived, as an insect that lives only for a day   Epitome: A standard or typical example   Equanimity: Steadiness of mind under stress   Equivocate: Be deliberately ambiguous or unclear   Esoteric: Understandable only by an enlightened inner circle   Erudite: having or showing great knowledge   Eschew: deliberately avoid using something   Ethereal: extremely light and delicate that seems heavenly   Euphemism: An inoffensive expression substituted for an offensive one   Evanescent: Tending to vanish like vapor   Exacerbate: to turn an already bad situation worse   Exemplary: Worthy of imitation   Extenuating: Partially excusing or justifying   Existential: relating to human existence or the experience of existing   Extrapolate: to predict or estimate something based on known information   Fait accompli: An irreversible accomplishment   Fastidious: Giving careful attention to detail   Faux pas: a socially awkward or tactless act   Fiasco: A complete failure or collapse   Finagle: Achieve something by means of trickery or devious methods   Florid: Elaborately or excessively ornamented   Forbearance: A delay in enforcing rights or claims or privileges   Formidable: something that inspires fear or respect   Fortitude: Strength of mind that enables one to endure adversity   Fortuitous: Occurring by happy chance   Foster: Providing nurture though not related by blood or legal ties   Fraught: Filled with or attended with   Freudian slip: A slip-up that (according to Sigmund Freud) results from the operation of unconscious wishes or conflicts and can reveal unconscious processes in normal healthy individuals   Frugal: Avoiding waste   Glib: Artfully persuasive in speech   Gregarious: Temperamentally seeking and enjoying the company of others   Hackneyed: overused to the point it lacks significance   Halcyon: calm and peaceful   Harbinger: Something indicating the approach of something or someone   Haughty: arrogant and unfriendly; showing arrogant superiority   Hedonist: Someone motivated by desires for sensual pleasures   Heresy: A belief that rejects the orthodox tenets of a religion   Hypothesis: A tentative insight that is not yet verified or tested   Iconoclast: someone who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions   Idiosyncratic: Peculiar to the individual   Idyllic: Charmingly simple and serene   Impetuous: characterized by undue haste and lack of thought   Impute: attribute or credit to   Incantation: A use of spells or verbal charms spoken or sung as a part of a ritual of magic; also, a written or recited formula of words designed to produce a particular effect   Inconsequential: Lacking worth or importance   Indelicate: Slightly indecent, offensive, or improper   Indenture: a formal contract or document   Indolent: wanting to avoid activity or work   Infinitesimal: Immeasurably small   Insidious: Working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way   Inevitable: incapable of being avoided or prevented   Intrepid: Invulnerable to fear or intimidation   Intuitive: spontaneously derived from or prompted by a natural tendency   Invocation: 1. a: The act or process of petitioning for help or support; specifically, often capitalized: a prayer of entreaty (as at the beginning of a service of worship); b: a calling upon for authority or justification; 2. A formula for conjuring (incantation); 3. An act of legal or moral implementation (enforcement)   Jubilation: A feeling of extreme joy   Juxtaposition: the fact of placing two things side by side, usually in contrast   Junket: Dessert made of sweetened milk coagulated with rennet   Kitsch: Excessively garish or sentimental art   Laconic: Using very few words, brief   Leery: cautious based on suspicions   Litany: Any long and tedious address or recital   Lobbyist: Someone who is employed to persuade how legislators vote   Longevity: The property of having lived for a considerable time   Loquacious: a very talkative person   Lurid: Glaringly vivid and graphic; marked by sensationalism   Machiavellian: Of or relating to amoral or conniving political principles   Malaise: A general feeling of discomfort, uneasiness, or depression   Maleficent: Working or productive of harm or evil   Malinger: Avoid responsibilities and duties   Mantra: 1. A mystical formula of invocation; 2. or incantation   Matriculate: become a student at a college or university   Maverick: an independent-minded person   Maudlin: Effusively or insincerely emotional   Melancholy: a feeling of sadness, depression, or unhappiness   Mercenary: A person hired to fight for another country than their own   Minimalist: A conservative advocating only minor reforms in government   Misnomer: An incorrect or unsuitable name   Monetary: relating to money or currency   Mundane: Found in the ordinary course of events   Myriad: an extremely large, uncountable number of things   Narcissist: Someone who is excessively self-centered   Nefarious: Extremely wicked and evil   Nirvana: The beatitude that transcends the cycle of reincarnation   Nonchalant: Marked by blithe unconcern   Non sequitur: a reply that has no relevance to what preceded it Nouveau-riche: characteristic of someone who has risen economically or socially but lacks the social skills appropriate for this new position   Obfuscate: make something unclear and obscure   Oblivion: 1. The fact or condition of not remembering: a state marked by lack of awareness or consciousness; 2. The condition or state of being forgotten or unknown   Ogle: (oh-gle) Stare or look at, especially with amorous intentions   Onerous: involving great effort and difficulty   Opulent: Rich and superior in quality   Ostentatious: Intended to attract notice and impress others   Orator: A person who delivers a speech; one who excels at speaking in public   Ostentatious: Intended to attract notice and impress others   Ostracize: Expel from a community or group   Panacea: Hypothetical remedy for all ills or diseases   Paradox: A statement that contradicts itself   Paragon: a model of excellence or perfection   Partisan: strongly in favor of a person or cause   Patrician: someone related to a noble or wealthy family   Parched: Dried out by heat or excessive exposure to sunlight   Pedagogy: the method and practice of teaching in education   Pedantic: obsessing over little details and rules   Peevish: Easily irritated or annoyed   Pejorative: negative language that is used to belittle or criticize   Perfidious: Tending to betray   Perfunctory: Hasty and without attention to detail; not thorough   Philistine: A person who is uninterested in intellectual pursuits   Piety: respect and devotion to a religion or higher power   Pragmatic: concentrating on practical results and facts instead of opinion   Preamble: an opening statement that prepares what’s to come   Precocious: Characterized by exceptionally early development   Pretentious: Creating an appearance of importance or distinction   Pristine: still pure and in its original condition   Procrastinate: Postpone doing what one should be doing   Prognosticate: to forecast the future   Prohibition: an act of forbidding something   Prominence: The state of being widely known or eminent   Formidable: Extremely impressive in strength or excellence Acrimony: A rough and bitter manner Ecstatic: Feeling great rapture or delight Concession: The act of yielding Acquisition: The act of contracting or assuming possession of something Respite: A pause from doing something Ignominious: Deserving or bringing disgrace or shame Barrage: The rapid and continuous delivery of communication   Prone: likely to do something   Propriety: Correct behavior   Prosaic: Lacking wit or imagination   Prosperity: The condition of having good fortune   Provident: 1. Making provision for the future: prudent; 2. frugal, saving   Provocative: Serving or tending to excite or stimulate   Prudence: 1. The ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason 2. Sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs 3. Skill and good judgment in the use of resources 4. Caution or circumspection as to danger or risk   Prudent: Marked by sound judgment; having wisdom with the future in mind characterized by, arising from, or showing prudence: such as a. Marked by wisdom or judiciousness b. Shrewd in the management of practical affairs c. Marked by circumspection d. Provident, frugal   Querulous: Habitually complaining   Quibble: A minor objection or criticism   Quid pro quo: Something for something   Quintessential: A perfect, model example of a specific quality   Rancorous: Showing deep-seated resentment   Reclusive: Withdrawn from society; seeking solitude   Reconciliation: The reestablishment of cordial relations   Referendum: A legislative act referred for approval to a popular vote   Relegate: Dismiss to a lower rank or less important position   Renege: To not fulfill a commitment   Renovation: The act of improving by renewing and restoring   Rescind: To take back, repeal   Restrained: Under control   Reverence: A feeling of profound respect for someone or something   Revel: Take delight in   Rhetoric: Study of the technique for using language effectively   Sagacity: The ability to understand and discriminate between relations   Sage: A very wise person   Salient: Most important or prominent   Scintillating: Having brief brilliant points or flashes of light   Scrutinize: Examine carefully for accuracy   Simpleton: a foolish or gullible person   Shoddy: poorly made or done   Shrewd: having or displaying sharp judgement, being clever   Spartan: Unsparing and uncompromising in discipline or judgment   Spontaneous: Said or done without having been planned in advance   Spurious: Plausible but false; not real or genuine   Stigma: A symbol of disgrace or infamy   Stoic: Someone who can persevere through pain or struggle without complaining   Suave: (swahv) 1. Smoothly though often superficially gracious and sophisticated; 2. Smooth in texture, performance, or style   Svengali: Someone (usually maleficent) who tries to persuade or force another person to do his bidding   Sycophant: A person who tries to please someone to gain an advantage   Sublime: Something excellent, awe-inspiring, or impressive   Submissive: Inclined or willing to give in to orders or wishes of others   Substantiate: Establish or strengthen as with new evidence or facts   Subtle: Difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze   Supercilious: behaving as one is superior to others   Superficial: Of, affecting, or being on or near the surface   Superfluous: more than enough; more than is needed, desired, or required   Surreptitious: Marked by quiet and caution and secrecy   Symbiotic: Relationships between people that are mutually beneficial, or dependent, to each other   Syntax: rules that dictate how words are used to form phrases and sentences   Tactful: Having a sense of what is considerate in dealing with others   Teetotaler: A total abstainer   Tete-a-tete: A private conversation between two people   Tenacious: Stubbornly unyielding   Tirade: A speech of violent denunciation   Transcendent: beyond the ordinary experience   Transient: Lasting a very short time   Tryst: A secret rendezvous, especially between lovers   Ubiquitous: Existing or being everywhere at the same time; constantly encountered, widespread   Unilateral: action that is done by or affects only one side   Unrequited: Not returned in kind   Untenable: Incapable of being defended or justified   Venerable: Profoundly honored   Vernacular: the language spoken by people of a certain region or group   Vicarious: 1. Experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another; 2. a. Serving instead of someone or something else; b. that has been delegated; 3. Performed or suffered by one person as a substitute for another or to the benefit or advantage of another   Vile: Morally reprehensible   Vilify: to communicate very harsh things about someone   Vindicate: to clear from blame or suspicion   Waft: A long flag; often tapering   Wary: Marked by keen caution and watchful prudence   White elephant: A valuable possession whose upkeep is excessively expensive   Zealot: Someone who is uncompromising and fanatical about an ideal   Zealous: Marked by active interest and enthusiasm     Bad   1. a. Failing to reach an acceptable standard; synonym: poor b. Unfavorable c. Not fresh; Synonym: spoiled d. Not sound; Synonym: dilapidated   poor quality (Thesaurus.com) atrocious awful cheap crummy dreadful lousy poor rough sad unacceptable blah bummer diddly downer garbage gross imperfect inferior junky synthetic abominable amiss bad news beastly bottom out careless cheesy crappy cruddy defective deficient dissatisfactory erroneous fallacious faulty godawful grody grungy icky inadequate incorrect not good off raunchy slipshod stinking substandard the pits unsatisfactory   substandard, inferior, second-rate, second-class, unsatisfactory, inadequate, unacceptable, not up to scratch, not up to par, deficient, imperfect, defective, faulty, shoddy, amateurish, careless, negligent, miserable, sorry, incompetent, inept, inexpert, ineffectual; awful, atrocious, appalling, execrable, deplorable, terrible, abysmal; informal: crummy, rotten, godawful, pathetic, useless, woeful, bum, lousy, not up to snuff     b. Not appropriate in a particular situation. synonyms: inauspicious, unfavorable, inopportune, unpropitious, unfortunate, disadvantageous, adverse, inappropriate, unsuitable, untoward   2. Not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome, for example, “bad weather”; synonyms: unpleasant, disagreeable, unwelcome; unfortunate, unlucky, unfavorable; terrible, dreadful, awful, grim, distressing   a. (of something causing pain, danger, or other unwelcome consequences) severe or serious. Synonyms: severe, serious, grave, critical, acute; formal: grievous   b. Having a harmful effect on. Synonyms: harmful, damaging, detrimental, injurious, hurtful, inimical, destructive, ruinous, deleterious; unhealthy, unwholesome   3. Failing to conform to standards of moral virtue or acceptable conduct. Synonyms: wicked, evil, sinful, immoral, morally wrong, corrupt, base, black-hearted, reprobate, amoral; criminal, villainous, nefarious, iniquitous, dishonest, dishonorable, unscrupulous, unprincipled; informal: crooked, dirty; dated: dastardly   4. (of a part of the body) injured, diseased, or painful. Synonyms: injured, wounded, diseased; dated: game   5. (of food) decayed; putrid. Synonyms: rotten, decayed, decomposed, decomposing, putrid, putrefied, off, moldy; spoiled, rancid, rank, unfit for human consumption; addled; skunky   6. Regretful, guilty, or ashamed about something. Synonyms: guilty, conscience-stricken, remorseful, guilt-ridden, ashamed, contrite, sorry, full of regret, regretful, shamefaced   7. Worthless; not valid. Synonyms: invalid, worthless; counterfeit, fake, false, bogus, fraudulent; informal: phony, dud     ==========================   Cacophony: A harsh, discordant mixture of sounds. Synonyms: din, racket, noise, clamor, discord, dissonance, discordance, uproar   Ennui (on-wee): A feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement. Synonyms: boredom, tedium, listlessness, lethargy, lassitude, languor, weariness, enervation   Aquiver: You’ve got a serious case of the feels, but you’re not sure how to talk about it without saying “the feels”? Try this tasty word, which means you’re so overcome with emotion that you’re practically trembling.   Example: “Am I excited for the new Star Wars sequel? I’m aquiver with excitement!”   Interview, hiring, smart word, glib   4Glib You can’t put your finger on it, but something about the way that guy is talking sounds completely insincere and douchey. He thinks he has all the solutions, but he’s just blowing smoke up your ass. To learn how to hire someone who’s not so cocky, check out How Savvy Bosses Always Land the Perfect Employee.   Example: “I know you think you’re being helpful, but you’re being way too glib.”   Ghost, couple arguing, smart word, umbrage   5Umbrage Can you imagine how much more fun Twitter fights would be if people responded to insults that hurt their feelings with, “Dear sir, I take umbrage to that comment?” Yes, it means “offense” or “annoyance.”   Example: “I know you’re just an Internet troll with no sense of right or wrong, but you didn’t have to cause me so much umbrage.”   smart word, non-sequitur   6Non-sequitur It’s when the subject in a conversation gets changed without warning, usually abruptly. It’s a nice way of saying, “Have you even been listening to me?” Its latin translation, literally: “it does not follow.”   Example: “Wait, why did you just bring up astronauts? I thought we were talking about mud races. That was a weird non-sequitur.”   Running, productivity, more time, smart word, vamoose   7Vamoose It just sounds like something a Looney Tunes character would say—but it’s actually a legitimate word, meaning “to leave hurriedly.” Originally derived from the Spanish word vamos, which means “let’s go,” modern usage takes it up a notch: When it’s time to vamoose, danger is probably imminent.   Example: “I don’t know how a mountain lion got in the room either, but we’ll talk about it later. Vamoose, man, vamoose!”   boost your productivity, smart word   8Ubiquitous You could say “That stuff is everywhere,” and you’d probably be understood. But then you’re missing all the fun of language. A word like “ubiquitous” communicates the same idea, but it’s the deep-dish pizza of vocabulary. You have to eat it with a fork. (Officially, it means: “found everywhere.”)   Example: “Oh yeah, I’ve seen plenty of guys with hipster beards. They’re ubiquitous.”   Boss Bully, smart word   9Nefarious Evil is just evil, but when it goes the extra mile into Bond villain territory, that’s when it becomes nefarious.   Example: “The way he runs his business, it’s just so… nefarious.”       young couple arguing, still single, argument fight, smart word   10Capricious Sure, you could ask your wife or girlfriend why she’s being so moody and unpredictable. Or you take a safer tactic, and use a word that isn’t quite so negatively loaded.   Example: “You seem a little capricious tonight, dear, is everything okay?”   Team, leadership, smart word   11Boondoggle No, we’re not kidding. It’s an actual word, referring to any activity that pretends to be useful but is really just a big waste of your valuable time.   Example: “Of all the company meetings we’ve had this year, this was the biggest boondoggle!”   Job candidate, recruiting, interview   12Sycophant Calling somebody a “suck-up” or a “brown-noser” feels so juvenile, like an insult you’d hurl at somebody in high school. You can do better. And unless they know what it means, “sycophant” can even sound like a compliment.   Example: “No, you totally deserve that raise. You’re the biggest sycophant in the office.”   music fall asleep faster weird laws, smart word   13Mellifluous When music hits you right in the feels, it’s hard to explain why you love it so much. Instead of saying “Damn this is good,” try a slightly more expressive word like “mellifluous.” It means a smooth, flowing sound that hits your ears in just the right way.   Example: “I can’t stop listening to the new Arcade Fire record. It’s so damn mellifluous.”   smart word   14Brogue Telling a pal “your leather shoes are badass” makes you sound like a frat dude. If you’re going to compliment somebody on his sturdy, rugged-looking footwear, use a word with a sense of history. If it was good enough for Irish workers during the 18th century, it’s good enough for you.   Example: “I like your brogues, bro.”       Job candidate, recruiting, interview, smart word   15Perfunctory Just by using the word “perfunctory,” you’re being the opposite of perfunctory. (See what we did there?) The only ones who make a perfunctory, halfhearted effort are the ones who aren’t really sure if being called “perfunctory” is a snub but can’t be bothered to look it up.   Example: “The interviewer asked all the perfunctory questions. He didn’t seem truly interested.”   couple trying new sex positions, smart word   16Tryst Words like “affair” and “one-night stand” sound so judgy. If you’re having a secret meeting with somebody you shouldn’t be alone with, and it’s possible one or more of you weren’t wearing pants, well my good sir, that’s a tryst.   Example: “No, we never officially dated. We just had the occasional tryst.”   Angry boss, first heart attack, smart word   17Vitriol : It’s also the name for sulfuric acid, which is powerful enough to burn through just about anything. That’s how it works with the emotion as well. If you have vitriol for someone, well, they’re far from your favorite person.   Example: “Don’t even bring up that guy’s name. The amount of vitriol I have for that jackass, I can’t even explain.”   headache, smart word   18Catch-22 Rarely does such a simple word (or a word and a number) express such a complicated idea. You can thank Joseph Heller for coining the term in his 1962 novel Catch-22. It’s a paradox where there’s no escape: You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you ever find yourself in a situation where there are no easy answers and either choice seems seems like a dead end, what you have is an old-fashioned catch-22.   Example: “You have to have money to make money. It’s a catch-22.”   bromance listening talking smart word   19Obtuse If it’s starting to seem like an expanded vocabulary is just an excuse to be more creative with your insults, you might be right. But if you’re so dim and slow-witted that you don’t realize that being called obtuse isn’t adulation, maybe you a little bit deserved it?   Example: “Don’t worry, he’s too obtuse to realize we’re talking about him.”       Man Stressed at Work, smart word   20Quagmire We don’t mean the Family Guy character, but a swampy marsh, or any difficult or precarious situation. If you’re stuck in a quagmire, you’re in quite the predicament.   Example: “Until he pays off the IRS, Bob’s in one heck of a financial quagmire.”       lost, smart word   21Flummoxed We live in a scary, uncertain world, and it’s easy to feel bewildered or confused. But you can add a little color to your consternation by using a word that sounds like it belongs in a British comedy.   Example: “I was following the GPS, I have no idea how we got this lost. I’m flummoxed!”       Couple, friends, smart word   22Cajole When somebody’s pushing for you to do something you’d rather not be doing, you could accuse them of trying to bully or dupe you—what we once called “peer pressure” in high school—or you could hit them with a word that gives them pause. That alone might make them back off.   Example: “Nice try, but you’re not going to cajole me into drinking another beer.”   is my relationship doomed couple fighting on couch, smart word   23Caustic We’ve all been caught in the act of being a jerk for no reason. But who wants to say, “Sorry, I was a jerk for no reason?” Here’s a better way to explain.   Example: “No, I didn’t really mean it when I said you would die alone and unloved. I was being caustic.”   Couple, sex, in bed, optimize, smart word   24Fait Accompli You were gonna lobby for a raise at work but your boss is already planned on giving you one? It’s a fait accompli! Your partner’s been pestering you to do the dishes but they’ve already loaded the washer? Another fait accompli! If there’s a cooler, more French, way of saying “Already done,” we haven’t heard it. (It’s not always a good thing, though—when HR puts a frustrating new policy into effect and only tells you after the fact, that’s a fait accompli, too.)   Example: “What’s that, dear? It’s okay if I have an orgasm now? Well, no need. Fait accompli!”   Secrets, relationships, couple, fall, smart word   25Gregarious A truly great word gives people pause, forcing them to wonder if it really means what they think it is. Gregarious sounds like an endorsement—and it is; it means somebody is sociable and fond of other people’s company—but phonetically it’s a little too close to “gangrene.” They could ask, but that would mean admitting they don’t know what the word means.   Example: “You know why I like you? You’re one of the most gregarious people I know.”   Procrastination, productivity, smart word   26Fastidious A fun word because it changes depending on the context. Used to describe somebody who’s obsessed with the small details and can be very difficult to please, it’s obviously meant as a compliment when you say, “You’re an excellent cook, you must be very fastidious in the kitchen.” Great for the office, but maybe not so much when it’s used in the bedroom.   Example: “It’s six hours and you still haven’t had an orgasm? You’re being way too fastidious.”   smart word, crying, emotional   27Maudlin Feeling a little tearfully sentimental? Or choked-up with emotion for no apparent reason? Describe what you’re feeling with a word that manages to have some gravitas (despite it normally being used to diss something as overly sentimental). Ernest Hemingway was never weepy, but he definitely had his (drunk) maudlin moments.   Example: “Sorry, reading about all these Neo-Nazi marches just made me maudlin remembering Obama.”       shock, panic, smart word   28Flabbergasted That feeling you get when you read the news every morning, and you’re like, “Is this real? Is that actually happening? This can’t be real life.” That’s you being flabbergasted.   Example: “Hell yes I saw Game of Thrones last week. I’m still flabbergasted.”   man refuses to drink, smart word   29Teetotaler Whether you’re a recovering alcoholic or have never touched a drop, abstaining completely from alcohol qualifies somebody as a teetotaler. Where on earth does it come from? Nobody’s entirely sure. It might have something to do with drinking tea: It first came into fashion during England’s temperance movement of the early 19th century. (Richard Turner, the guy who most likely came up with the word, liked it so much that he put in on his gravestone.)   Example: “Are you sure you want to invite him to your bachelor party? He’s a teetotaler.”   Marriage, couple, smart word, empathy   30Empathy You should really know what this means by now—it might not be the most popular word in 2017, but it’s definitely one we should try using more often. People with even the slightest sensitivity to other people’s feelings might as well have super powers.   Example: “I know you think he’s a jerkface because of his political beliefs, but let’s try to have a little empathy, okay?”   Now that you know the words you should be adding to your arsenal, here’s a reminder of what needs to go: 40 Things Men Over 40 Should Never Say.