A Lesson in Vocab

Over the past few sessions, our 20th Century American Novel class has been focused on deciphering our As I Lay Dying readings.  Today, however, we took a break from dissecting the river crossing and the Bundren family tree, and focused on vocab.

Directions: Each pair has one sentence that uses the vocab word correctly and one sentence that uses the vocab word incorrectly.  Mark the sentence that incorrectly uses the vocab word with an X and explain why you made this decision.

  1. After suffusing the room with green paint, the painter looked at the walls and smiled.
  2. As the boy discussed his first love, his cheeks suffused with color.

Answer:  The first sentence is incorrect .  Suffused is a verb used to refer to color, liquid or light.  A room cannot suffuse.

  1. The trapped bird made a plaintive cry.
  2. The man’s decision was plaintive: he will ask for a raise tomorrow.

Answer: The first sentence is correct.  Plaintive means to sound sad or mournful.  Clearly, that might be the noise of a trapped bird, not a man asking for a raise. 

  1. When her competitor went out of business, the business woman showed her unabashed delight by running into the bathroom and laughing wickedly.
  2. Unabashed, the puppy put his tail between his legs and stood shaking in the corner.

Answer: The first sentence is correct.  Someone who is unabashed is not ashamed or apologetic.  

  1. The circumscribed woman rarely showed her feelings.
  2. A wide moat circumscribed the castle, adding to the king’s defense.

Answer:  The first sentence is incorrect.  Circumscribed refers to putting a circle (literally or figuratively) around something.  Circumscribed cannot be used to describe a person’s emotions.

  1. Watching my friend struggle with getting her homework done, I decided to abet her.
  2. And then the president proclaimed, “we will strike hard at terrorists and at the people who abet them.”

Answer: The first sentence is incorrect.  Abet  means to aid or help someone – specifically when they are doing something wrong.  We can assume that the girl doing her homework had no bad intentions.  

  1. Her resonant was intense; she sang with power and vibrancy.
  2. When reading novels by Thomas Hardy, I like to imagine the rural landscapes he describes as resonant with the smells of the farm animals and flowers.

Answer: The first sentence is incorrect.  This is a toughie.  The word resonant is most often used to describe sound as reverberating or echoing, however, in the first sentence resonant (and adjective) is used as a noun.  In addition, the definition “lasting presence or effect” applies to the second sentence.

Homework assignment (due Thursday) – Read and annotate: Pages 197-231.  Vocab: sullen (200, adjective); recapitulate (pg 207, verb); facade (pg 219, noun)

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