Vocabulary Dictionary by zhangyun


                                                Vocabulary Dictionary
a capella           (adj.) without instrumental accompaniment

a la carte          (adj.) by the card or by the bill of fare; used to describe a meal that is ordered dish by
                           dish, with each dish having a separate price

aberrant            (adj.) deviating from what is normal or typical

abnegation          (noun) giving up of rights; self-denial

abscond             (verb) to run away and hide in order to escape the law

accolade            (noun) praise or approval; an embrace of greeting or salutation

acquiesce           (verb) to accept or submit without objection

ad hoc              (adj.) for this case only; temporary

adagio              (adv.) slowly, in music

adjudicate          (verb) to hear and settle a case by judicial procedure

Adonis              (adj.) an exceptionally handsome man

affidavit           (noun) a written statement made on oath, usually before a notary public

aficionado          (noun) fan; devotee

agnostic            (noun) a thinker who disclaims any knowledge of God

altercation         (noun) a quarrel; an angry or heated dispute

ambiguous           (adj.) having more than one possible meaning

ambivalent          (adj.) conflicting feelings toward a person

amiable             (adj.) friendly; pleasant

amicus curiae (noun) friend of the court; a lawyer who advises the court on a legal matter

amorphous           (adj.) without definite form; shapeless

amplitude           (noun) greatness of size; fullness; breadth of range

anachronism (noun) anything that is out of place in time

anarchy             (noun) the complete absence of government; political disorder and violence
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annihilate          (verb) to destroy completely

anon                (adv.) soon; shortly

antebellum          (adj.) before the war; especially before the American Civil War

antediluvian (adj.) old-fashioned; before the flood

anthropomorphism (noun) attributing human shape to gods, objects, and animals

apocalyptic         (adj.) pertaining to a revelation; foretelling imminent disaster

apocryphal          (adj.) of questionable or authenticity; false or counterfeit

apostate            (noun) one who forsakes his faith or principles

apotheosis          (noun) deification; an exalted or glorified ideal

appellate           (adj.) having the power to hear appeals and reverse lower court decisions

arbitrary           (adj.) selected at random

archeology          (noun) systematic recovery by scientific methods of material evidence remaining from
                           man’s life and culture in the past ages

archetype           (noun) model; original pattern; prototype

arson               (noun) the crime of setting fire to property in order to collect insurance

aspersion           (noun) the act of defaming; a damaging remark

assuage             (verb) to satisfy and slake; to lessen; allay; calm; relieve

atavism             (noun) reversion to a primitive life; resemblance to a remote ancestor

atonement           (noun) amends for wrong-doing

augury              (noun) the art of prophecy; an omen

authoritarian (adj.) characterized by unquestioning obedience to authority and by a rejection of
                     individual freedom of judgment and action

avant-garde (noun) the leaders of a movement; vanguard

avarice             (noun) greed

bacchanal           (noun) a drunken reveler; a follower of Bacchus, the god of wine

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badinage            (noun) playful, teasing talk; banter

baleful             (adj.) deadly; sinister

bane                (noun) cause of death, ruin, or distress

barrio              (noun) part of the city where Spanish-speaking people live; ghetto

barrister           (noun) lawyer in England
battery             (verb) a pounding; illegal beating

bellicose           (adj.) warlike; of a quarrelsome nature

benediction         (noun) a blessing; an invocation of divine blessing usually at the end of a religious

bequest             (noun) that which is given by inheritance; a gift specified in a will

betimes             (adv.) early; promptly; before it is too late

bicameral           (adj.) composed of two houses, chambers, or branches

biennial            (adj.) happening every two years

bilious             (adj.) bad-tempered; bitter

biopsy              (noun) the cutting out of a piece of tissue for diagnostic examination by a microscope

blasphemy           (noun) any irreverent or impious act or utterance

bombast             (noun) talk or writing that sounds grand or important but has little meaning

bonanza             (noun) rich pocket of ore; any source of wealth

bourgeois           (adj.) typical of the social middle class

boycott             (verb) to join with others to refuse to use, buy or deal with

bravado             (noun) pretended courage

bureaucracy (noun) a system that rigidly adheres to rules, paper forms, and routines

Cabal               (noun) a clique; a small group joined in a secret intrigue; a conspiracy

cadaver             (noun) dead body; corpse for dissection

calliope            (noun) a musical instrument fitted with steam whistles, played from a keyboard

camaraderie (noun) comradeship; good fellowship

Vocabulary Dictionary                                                                       Page 3 of 17
canon               (noun) an ecclesiastical or secular law or code of laws; any officially recognized set of

capital             (adj.) involving or punishable by the death penalty

capricious          (adj.) an inclination to do things impulsively

captious            (adj.) critical; quick to find fault; quibbling

carcinogen          (noun) any substance that causes cancer

cardiology          (noun) the medical study of the diseases and functioning of the heart

caste               (noun) a distinct social class or system
catharsis           (noun) the relieving of the emotions through art; the alleviation of fears by bringing them
                           to consciousness

censure             (noun) strong disapproval; a judgment condemning a person for misconduct

centenarian (noun) one who is 100 or older

chagrin             (noun) a feeling of annoyance or disappointment

churlish            (adj.) boorish; surly

circuitous          (adj.) having a circular or winding course

circumspect (adj.) careful; cautious

codicil             (noun) addition to a will; an appendix or supplement

coiffure            (noun) style of hair arrangement

collusion           (noun) a secret agreement for a deceitful or fraudulent purpose

comatose            (adj.) as if in a coma; lethargic

comestible          (adj.) suitable to be eaten

complaisant (adj.) willing to please; tending to consent to the wishes of others

conclave            (noun) a private or secret meeting; an assembly or gathering, especially one with
                           authority, power or influence

condiment           (noun) seasoning or relish for food, such as pepper, mustard, or sauce

contiguous          (adj.) adjacent; touching

contraband          (noun) goods forbidden by law to be exported

contrite            (adj.) crushed in spirit by feelings of guilt
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convivial           (adj.) festive; sociable

cortège             (noun) a group of attendants accompanying a person; a ceremonial procession

countermand (verb) to cancel or revoke a command; to call back

coup de grace (noun) the shot or blow which brings death; the finishing stroke

craven              (adj.) cowardly

crescendo           (noun) gradual increase in the volume or intensity of a sound

crotchety           (adj.) full of peculiar whims; eccentric

cuisine             (noun) style of cooking or preparing food

cul-de-sac          (noun) a passage or street with only one outlet; a situation from which there is no escape
culinary            (adj.) of the kitchen or cooking; suitable for use in cooking

culpable            (adj.) deserving condemnation or blame

debonair            (adj.) courteous, gracious; having a sophisticated charm

Decalogue           (noun) the Ten Commandments

decimate            (verb) to destroy a great number of

deign               (verb) to think something beneath one’s dignity; to condescend

deist               (noun) believer in the existence of God as the creator of the universe who after setting it
                           in motion abandoned it

demagogue           (noun) leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and
                           prejudices of the populace

demography (noun) the science of vital statistics, as of births, deaths, and population

demure              (adj.) modest; shy

denouement (noun) the final outcome of the intricacies of a plot

deposition          (noun) testimony under oath, especially in a written statement by a witness for use in
                           court in his absence

desperado           (noun) bold outlaw; dangerous criminal

détente             (noun) a relaxing or easing, especially of international tension

dichotomy           (noun) division into two, usually contradictory, parts or opinions
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dilatory            (adj.) slow; late doing things

dirge               (noun) a funeral hymn; a slow, sad song, poem or musical composition

disconsolate (adj.) sad; dejected; cheerless

disenfranchise             (verb) to deprive of the rights of citizenship; to deprive of a privilege

dispassionate (adj.) fair; impartial; calm

diurnal             (adj.) daily; of the daytime

draconian           (adj.) harsh or vigorous; a law or code of extreme severity

echelon             (noun) a level of command or authority or rank; a step-like formation of ships, troops, or

ecology             (noun) the science of the relationships between organisms and their environments

ecumenical          (adj.) universal

eke                 (verb) to supplement; to manage to make a living with difficulty; to use frugally

elfin               (adj.) fairylike; delicate; small and charmingly merry or mischievous

elite               (adj.) the best or most skilled members of a given social group

embezzle            (verb) to steal money which was entrusted to your care

entrepreneur (noun) one who organizes and manages a business undertaking

eon                 (noun) long, indefinite period of time; thousands of years

ephemeral           (adj.) short-lived; transitory

epicurean           (noun) devoted to the pursuit of pleasure; fond of good food, comfort and ease

epidemiology (noun) the branch of medicine which investigates the causes and controls of epidemics

epoch               (noun) noteworthy period

equity              (noun) something that is just, impartial and fair; the value of a business or property in
                           excess of any claim against it

erotic              (adj.) concerning sexual love and desire

esprit de corps            (noun) a sense of union and of common interests and responsibilities

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ethos               (noun) the disposition, character, or attitude that distinguishes a particular group, epoch,
                           or region

euphemism           (noun) the substitution of an agreeable expression for one that may offend

euthanasia          (noun) the method of causing death painlessly; mercy killing

exhume              (verb) to dig out of the earth

expatriate          (noun) one who lives in a foreign country

extradition         (noun) turning over a fugitive from one jurisdiction to another

extrovert           (noun) a person who is active and expressive; a person who is outgoing

facetious           (adj.) joking, often inappropriately; witty, humorous

fait accompli (noun) something that is already done so that there is no use debating it

falsetto            (noun) a typically high-pitched male singing voice

fathom              (noun) measure of water depth equaling six feet

feisty              (adj.) touchy; excitable

flaccid             (adj.) weak; feeble; flabby

flippant            (adj.) disrespectful; saucy
florid              (adj.) ruddy; rosy; ornate

flotilla            (noun) small fleet of ships

freemasonry (noun) a secret or tacit brotherhood; instinctive sympathy

gainsay             (verb) to deny; to speak or act against; a contradiction

gargantuan          (adj.) huge; gigantic; prodigious

gastronomic (adj.) pertaining to the art and science of good eating

gauche              (adj.) awkward; lacking grace; without tact

genealogy           (noun) lineage; the science of family descent

generation          (noun) the period of time between the birth of one group and that of its offspring;
                           approximately 30 years

genteel             (adj.) well bred; refined; excessively polite

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gerrymander (verb) to divide an area into voting districts to give unfair advantage to one party in an

gesticulation (noun) the act of making gestures

gorgon              (noun) a repulsively ugly or terrifying woman

gossamer            (adj.) soft, sheer, gauzy fabric; anything light, delicate or insubstantial

gourmand            (noun) a glutton; a person with a hearty liking for good food and drink

grandee             (noun) nobleman of the highest rank

guttural            (adj.) of the throat; harsh, rasping sound

gynecology          (noun) branch of medicine that deals with women, their diseases and hygiene, and
                           medical care

habeas corpus              (noun) a court order requiring that a prisoner be produced to determine the
                           legality of his imprisonment

hacienda            (noun) large estate; country house

harangue            (noun) a long scolding speech; a tirade

harpy               (noun) a shrewish woman; a predatory person

hegemony            (noun) leadership; preponderant influence or authority

heinous             (adj.) hatefully or shockingly evil

hermetic            (adj.) made airtight by fusion or sealing
hierarchy           (noun) a group of persons or things arranged in order, rank, or grade; a system of church
                           government by clergymen in graded ranks

hobnob              (verb) to associate on very friendly terms

idiosyncrasies (noun) personal peculiarity

immaterial          (adj.) without substance; unimportant

immolate            (verb) to kill, as a sacrifice; to destroy or renounce for the sake of something else

impasse             (noun) difficulty without a solution

imperialism (noun) the policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or nation over countries

imperious           (adj.) overbearing; arrogant; domineering

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implacable          (adj.) not capable of being appeased or changed.

incarcerate         (verb) to jail; to confine

incommunicado              (adj.) without the means or right of communication with others as one held in
                           solitary confinement

indigenous          (adj.) produced, growing, or living naturally in a particular region

inexorable          (adj.) not to be moved by entreaty; relentless

infidel             (noun) a person who does not believe in any religion

infinitesimal (adj.) too small to be measured

ingenious           (adj.) clever; original; inventive; resourceful

ingénue             (noun) actress playing an innocent, inexperienced young woman

injunction          (noun) a command or order; a court order stopping a person or group from carrying out a
                           given action

intestate           (noun) having made no valid will; one who dies without a legal will

intractable         (adj.) hard to manage; unruly

iota                (noun) a very small quantity

ipso facto          (adv.) by the fact itself; by that very fact

iridescent          (adj.) displaying lustrous colors like those of a rainbow

jargon              (noun) a language full of specialized words; speech of a certain profession or work

jocund              (adj.) pleasant; agreeable
judiciously         (adv.) having, exercising, or characterized by sound judgment

juggernaut          (noun) any terrible, irresistible force; anything that extracts blind devotion or terrible

junket              (noun) a party, banquet, or outing; a trip taken by an official and paid for with public

junta               (noun) a political group which seeks to control a government; a faction or division

jurisprudence              (noun) the science or philosophy of law; a system of laws

knell               (verb/noun) to ring a slow, solemn way; a toll; to call or announce by a mournful
                           ringing; an omen of death or failure
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lackadaisical (adj.) lacking life, spirit, or zest

laissez-faire (adj.) hands-off policy; letting businesses operate without government

lame duck           (noun) elected official who remain in office for a brief period after a successor has been

larceny             (noun) theft

lariat              (noun) lasso; rope used for tethering grazing horses

liaison             (noun) the contact maintained between military or navel units in order to undertake
                           action; an illicit relationship between two people

licentious          (adj.) morally unrestrained

lien                (noun) the right to take and hold or sell the property of a debtor as security or payment
                           for a debt; mortgage

Lilliputian         (adj.) very small; tiny; narrow minded

lissome             (adj.) supple; limber; flexible

litigation          (noun) legal action or process

litigious           (adj.) quarrelsome; given to carrying on lawsuits

Machiavellian              (adj.) acting in accordance with the principles of government; subtly or
                           unscrupulously cunning or deceptive

machismo            (noun) manly self assurance; masculine drive; virility

macrocosm           (noun) the great world; the universe

magnitude           (noun) greatness of size or extent; importance or influence

magnum opus       (noun) a great work, especially of art or literature
malaise    (noun) a feeling of discomfort or uneasiness

malinger            (verb) to pretend illness to avoid duty

mañana              (noun/adv.)    tomorrow; some indefinite time in the future; later

manna               (noun) food miraculously provided for the Israelites in the wilderness; divine and
                           spiritual sustenance; anything badly needed that comes unexpectedly

mantra              (noun) a mystical formula of invocation or incantation in Hinduism and Buddhism

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martial             (adj.) inclined or disposed to war; brave; warlike

mastectomy (noun) the surgical removal of a breast

maverick            (noun) one who acts independently

megalopolis (noun) an extensive, heavily populated, continuously urban area

mercurial           (adj.) changeable; volatile

meretricious (adj.) flashy; tawdry

mete                (verb) to allot, distribute, or apportion

meticulous          (adj.) extremely careful in attending to details

microcosm           (noun) little world; miniature universe

micrometer          (noun) an instrument for measuring very small distances, angles, diameters

millennium          (noun) a span of a thousand years; a period of general righteousness and happiness

minimize            (verb) to reduce to a minimum; decrease to the least possible amount

minutia             (noun) small or trivial details; trifling matters

miscreant           (noun) villain; criminal; evil person

moot                (adj.) so hypothetical as to be meaningless

muckraker           (noun) one who searches for and exposes real or alleged corruption and scandal

mulct               (verb) to punish by a fine or by depriving of something; to exact by fraud or deceit

mutable             (adj.) inconstant; fickle; tending to frequent change

narcissism          (noun) excessive admiration of oneself

nemesis             (noun) agent of retribution; just punishment; the enemy

neurology           (noun) the medical science of the nervous system and its disorders

nihilism    (noun) total rejection of established laws and institutions; total destructiveness toward the
                   world and oneself
non compos mentis (adj.) incapable of handling one’s own affairs; insane

non sequitur (adj.) in logic this is a conclusion which does not follow from the evidence

nonchalant          (adj.) cool; indifferent; without warmth or animation

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noxious             (adj.) unwholesome; harmful to health

obdurate            (adj.) hardhearted; inflexible; not easily moved to pity

obstreperous (adj.) uncontrollably noisy; stubbornly resistant to control

obtuse              (adj.) slow to understand; dull

odyssey             (noun) a long series of wanderings, especially when filled with notable experiences or

omniscient          (adj.) having infinite knowledge; knowing all things

ontology            (noun) the branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of being

oracular            (adj.) uttered or delivered as if divinely inspired; ominous

ostentatious (adj.) pretentious or excessive display

ostracism           (noun) rejection or exclusion from a group or society by general consent

paean               (noun) any song of praise, joy, or triumph

palatable           (adj.) pleasing or acceptable to the taste; acceptable to the mind

palatial            (adj.) like a palace; large and ornate

paleontology (noun) the study of fossils and ancient forms

palladium           (noun) anything believed to provide protection or safety

palmetto            (noun) small palm tree

palpitant           (adj.) rapidly and strongly beating; throbbing

pantheism           (noun) the doctrine that the universe, conceived of as a whole, is God

partisan            (noun) an adherent or supporter of a person, party, or cause

pathology           (noun) the scientific study of the nature of disease, its causes, processes, development,
                           and consequences

peccadillo          (noun) a small sin or fault

pedantic    (adj.) stressing trivial points of learning; lacking a sense of proportion in scholarship
penultimate (adj.) next to the last

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perjury             (noun) the deliberate, willful giving of false, misleading, or incomplete testimony by a
                           witness under oath in a criminal procedure

perpetrator         (noun) a person who commits an offense

pettifogger         (noun) a petty, quibbling, unscrupulous lawyer

philanderer (noun) one who engages in passing love affairs

phoenix             (noun) a person or thing of peerless beauty or excellence

picayune            (adj.) of little value or account; petty or prejudiced

piece de resistance        (noun) the principal dish of a meal; the main item or event in a series

piquant             (adj.) agreeably pungent or stimulating to the taste; pleasantly sharp or bitter; exciting;

plagiarism          (noun) passing off someone else’s workings or ideas as your own

plumb               (adj.) perfectly vertical; directly; to test or sound with a plumb line measure; to discover
                           the facts of; to understand

poignant            (adj.) painfully affecting the feelings, deeply moving

pontifical          (adj.) ornate; stiff; having the pomp and dignity of a high priest or pope

pretentious         (adj.) making claims to some distinctions; showy

primeval            (adj.) original; belonging to the first or the earliest age

probation           (noun) a period of testing or trial; the condition that the convicted demonstrates good
                           behavior in order to stay out of jail

prodigious          (adj.) exciting wonder; extraordinary in size or degree

proletariat         (adj.) the working class; the unpropertied class

prosthesis          (noun) replacement for a missing part of a body

protocol            (noun) forms of ceremony and etiquette observed by diplomats and heads of states; the
                           first copy of a treaty

proxy               (noun) an agent or substitute; a document giving one authority to act for another

psychic             (noun) of the psyche or mind; beyond natural or known physical processes

psychopath          (noun) a person afflicted with a mental disorder

psychotherapy              (noun) using forms of mental treatment to cure nervous disorders

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quail               (verb) to draw back in fear; to lose courage or heart; to cower

quatrain            (noun) a stanza or poem of four lines, usually with alternate rhymes

quid pro quo (adj.) one thing in return for another

quintessence (noun) the most perfect embodiment of something; the purest or most typical instance

quisling            (noun) traitor; collaborator

quixotic            (adj.) romantically idealistic; impractical

rapprochement              (noun) the reestablishment of cordial relations

reactionary         (noun) a person who favors political conservatism or extreme rightism

recalcitrant        (adj.) unruly; refusing to obey authority

recession           (noun) the act of withdrawing or going back; a moderate and temporary decline in
                           economic activity

recidivist          (noun) a person with a tendency to relapse; chronic offender; habitual criminal

refection           (noun) refreshment, especially with food or drink

renegade            (noun) deserter; turncoat; traitor

repartee            (noun) quick, witty reply

repast              (noun) a meal, mealtime

reprisal            (noun) the practice of using political or military force without actually resorting to war;

repugnant           (adj.) marked by repugnance; contrary to a person’s tastes or principles

resonant            (adj.) echoing; reinforced and prolonged by reflection

ribald              (adj.) coarse; vulgar in language; irreverent

rigmarole           (noun) confused, incoherent, foolish talk; a complicated and petty procedure

roil                (verb) to make a liquid cloudy or muddy; to stir up or agitate

rubric              (noun) title, heading, or direction in a book written or printed in red or otherwise
                           distinguished from the rest of the text

ruck                (noun) a heap or stack; large quantity or crowd; mass of ordinary people or things

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sacrilegious        (adj.) disrespectful or irreverent behavior or attitude toward anything regarded as sacred

sardonic            (adj.) sarcastic; bitter; sneering

saturnine           (adj.) sluggish; gloomy; grave

savior faire        (noun) a ready knowledge of what to do or say; tact

scabrous            (adj.) rough with small points or knobs; bumpy; scaly; full of difficulties

schism              (noun) a separation or division into factions

schizophrenia (noun) a mental disorder characterized by delusions of persecution and omnipotence;
                     often referred to as having a “split personality”

scintilla           (noun) the least trace; a particle

score               (noun) twenty people or objects; twenty years

scrutinize          (verb) to examine closely

serpentine          (adj.) evilly cunning or subtle; treacherous; coiled

shunt               (verb) to move or turn to one side; to shift or switch from one track; to turn away

siesta              (noun) midday nap

simulacrum (noun) a slight, unreal, or superficial likeness or resemblance

sinuous             (adj.) bending; wavy

smidgen             (noun) a small amount; a bit

Socratic            (adj.) pertaining to Socrates

soupcon             (noun) a slight trace or flavor; a very small amount

splenetic           (adj.) irritable; bad tempered

staccato            (adj.) crisp and sharp attack, used especially in music

stygian             (adj.) gloomy and dark; hellish

subliminal          (adj.) below the threshold of comprehension; subconscious

subsistence         (noun) existence; means of support or livelihood; often the barest

subversion          (noun) ruination or complete destruction; corruption

suffrage            (noun) the right to vote
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surrogate           (noun) a substitute

svelte              (adj.) slender and graceful; suave; polished

sycophant           (noun) self-seeking flatterer; fawning parasite; one who attempts to win favor or advance
                           himself through flattery

syncretism          (noun) an attempt or tendency to combine or reconcile differing beliefs, as in philosophy
                           or religion

tawdry              (adj.) cheap; gaudy; showy

teeming             (adj.) swarming; fertile

tenuous             (adj.) unsubstantial; flimsy; physically thin

tercentenary (noun) a period of 300 years

tête-à-tête         (noun) intimate conversation between two people; head to head

theodicy            (noun) a vindication of divine justice in the face of the existence of evil

therapeutic         (adj.) curative; serving to heal

thrall              (noun) a slave or bondman; a person under the moral or psychological influence of
                           something or someone else

titanic             (adj.) of enormous size, strength, or power

tithe               (noun) one-tenth, or tenth part, of something paid as a contribution or tax to support a
                           religious establishment

torero              (noun) bullfighter on foot

tort                (noun) any wrongful act not involving breach of contract for which a civil suit can be

totalitarian        (adj.) of or pertaining to a centralized government in which those in control grant
                           neither recognition nor toleration to parties of differing opinions

tour de force (noun) a feat of strength or skill

toxicology          (noun) the study of the nature, effects, and detection of poisons and the treatment of

transition          (noun) process or period of passing from on condition, place, or action to another; change

trauma              (noun) an emotional experience that has a lasting effect

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trepidation         (noun) nervous agitation, horror, terror, panic

tribunal            (noun) a seat or court of justice

truculent           (adj.) fierce; cruel; savage

tryst               (adj.) an appointment, as by lovers; to meet

untrammeled (adj.) unhampered; unrestrained

vacuous             (adj.) empty; stupid

vendetta            (noun) blood feud; prolonged feud marked by bitter hostility

venue               (noun) the location where a trial is held

viable              (adj.) able to live; likely to survive; workable

viands              (noun) foods of various kinds, especially choice dishes

vignette            (noun) an anecdote; a brief literary composition

vis-à-vis           (adj.) a person or thing that is face to face with another; opposite

vista               (noun) a far reaching intellectual view; a view or prospect, especially seen through a
                           long, narrow avenue or passage; a mental view extending over a long period of
                           time or embracing many remembrances or experiences

voluptuous          (adj.) sensuous; full of sensual delights and pleasures

voracious           (adj.) having a huge appetite; very eager, ravenous

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