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Terms in this set (334)

: a solid piece of material (such as rock or wood) that has flat sides and is usually square or rectangular in shape

: an area of land surrounded by four streets in a city

: the length of one city block

: a compact usually solid piece of substantial material especially when worked or altered to serve a particular purpose: as
a : the piece of wood on which the neck of a person condemned to be beheaded is laid for execution
b : a mold or form on which articles are shaped or displayed
c : a hollow rectangular building unit usually of artificial material
d : a lightweight usually cubical and solid wooden or plastic building toy that is usually provided in sets
e : the casting that contains the cylinders of an internal combustion engine
f : starting block

a : obstacle
b : an obstruction of an opponent's play in sports; especially : a halting or impeding of the progress or movement of an opponent in football by use of the body
c (1) : interruption of normal physiological function (as of a tissue or organ); especially : heart block (2) : local anesthesia (as by injection) produced by interruption of the flow of impulses along a nerve
d : interruption or cessation especially of train of thought by competing thoughts or psychological suppression — compare writer's block

slang : head 1 <threatened to knock his block off>

: a wooden or metal case enclosing one or more pulleys and having a hook, eye, or strap by which it may be attached

: a piece of material (as wood or linoleum) having on its surface a hand-cut design from which impressions are to be printed

a (1) : a usually rectangular space (as in a city) enclosed by streets and occupied by or intended for buildings (2) : the distance along one of the sides of such a block
b (1) : a large building divided into separate functional units (2) : a line of row houses (3) : a distinctive part of a building or integrated group of buildings

: a platform from which property is sold at auction

a : a quantity, number, or section of things dealt with as a unit
b : bloc

a wall built out of concrete blocks
We took a walk around the block.
She lived on our block.
The store is three blocks down on the right.
Our hotel is a block from the ocean.
: the bottom or lowest part of something : the part on which something rests or is supported

: something (such as a group of people or things) that provides support for a place, business, etc.

: a main ingredient to which other things are added to make something

a (1) : the lower part of a wall, pier, or column considered as a separate architectural feature (2) : the lower part of a complete architectural design
b : the bottom of something considered as its support : foundation
c (1) : a side or face of a geometrical figure from which an altitude can be constructed; especially : one on which the figure stands (2) : the length of a base
d : that part of a bodily organ by which it is attached to another more central structure of the organism

a : a main ingredient <paint having a latex base>
b : a supporting or carrying ingredient (as of a medicine)

a : the fundamental part of something : groundwork, basis
b : the economic factors on which in Marxist theory all legal, social, and political relations are formed

: the lower part of a heraldic field

a : the starting point or line for an action or undertaking
b : a baseline in surveying
c : a center or area of operations: as (1) : the place from which a military force draws supplies (2) : a place where military operations begin (3) : a permanent military installation
d (1) : a number (as 5 in 56.44 or 57) that is raised to a power; especially : the number that when raised to a power equal to the logarithm of a number yields the number itself <the logarithm of 100 to the base 10 is 2 since 102 = 100> (2) : a number equal to the number of units in a given digit's place that for a given system of writing numbers is required to give the numeral 1 in the next higher place <the decimal system uses a base of 10>; also : such a system of writing numbers using an indicated base <convert from base 10 to base 2> (3) : a number that is multiplied by a rate or of which a percentage or fraction is calculated <to find the interest on $90 at 10 percent multiply the base 90 by .10>
e : root 6

a : the starting place or goal in various games
b : any one of the four stations at the corners of a baseball infield
c : a point to be considered <his opening remarks touched every base>

a : any of various typically water-soluble and bitter tasting compounds that in solution have a pH greater than 7, are capable of reacting with an acid to form a salt, and are molecules or ions able to take up a proton from an acid or able to give up an unshared pair of electrons to an acid
b : any of the five purine or pyrimidine bases of DNA and RNA that include cytosine, guanine, adenine, thymine, and uracil

: a price level at which a security previously declining in price resists further decline

: the part of a transformational grammar that consists of rules and a lexicon and generates the deep structures of a language
: used and accepted by most people : usual or traditional

: of a kind that has been around for a long time and is considered to be usual or typical

: common and ordinary : not unusual

: formed by agreement or compact

a : according with, sanctioned by, or based on convention
b : lacking originality or individuality : trite
c (1) : ordinary, commonplace (2) : nonnuclear 1 <conventional warfare>

a : according with a mode of artistic representation that simplifies or provides symbols or substitutes for natural forms
b : of traditional design

: of, resembling, or relating to a convention, assembly, or public meeting

The number sign is the conventional symbol for labeling something measured in pounds.
While microwaves heat up food more quickly, most food tastes better when it is cooked in a conventional oven.
Most of her books are conventional detective stories.
His views on dating are more conventional than those of some of his friends.

Synonym Discussion:
ceremonial, ceremonious, formal, conventional mean marked by attention to or adhering strictly to prescribed forms. ceremonial and ceremonious both imply strict attention to what is prescribed by custom or by ritual, but ceremonial applies to things that are associated with ceremonies <a ceremonial offering>, ceremonious to persons given to ceremony or to acts attended by ceremony <made his ceremonious entrance>. formal applies both to things prescribed by and to persons obedient to custom and may suggest stiff, restrained, or old-fashioned behavior <a formal report> <the headmaster's formal manner>. conventional implies accord with general custom and usage <conventional courtesy> and may suggest a stodgy lack of originality or independence <conventional fiction>.
: a statement or fact that explains why something is the way it is, why someone does, thinks, or says something, or why someone behaves a certain way

: a fact, condition, or situation that makes it proper or appropriate to do something, feel something, etc.

: the power of the mind to think and understand in a logical way

a : a statement offered in explanation or justification <gave reasons that were quite satisfactory>
b : a rational ground or motive <a good reason to act soon>
c : a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense; especially : something (as a principle or law) that supports a conclusion or explains a fact <the reasons behind her client's action>
d : the thing that makes some fact intelligible : cause <the reason for earthquakes> <the real reason why he wanted me to stay — Graham Greene>

a (1) : the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways : intelligence (2) : proper exercise of the mind (3) : sanity
b : the sum of the intellectual powers

archaic : treatment that affords satisfaction

— in reason
: rightly, justifiably

— within reason
: within reasonable limits

— with reason
: with good cause

I gave a reason for my absence.
Is there a reason for your strange behavior?
There is a reason why they don't want to come.
I can't give you the report for the simple reason that it isn't yet finished.
She explained her reasons for deciding to change jobs.
He wanted to know the reason for their decision.
Give me one good reason why I should believe you.
For obvious reasons, we can't do that yet.
For reasons of space, some of the charts and graphs have been omitted from the article.
She resigned for personal reasons.
—used to indicate that one specific person or thing is being referred to and no others

: special or more than usual

: having very definite opinions about what is good or acceptable

: of, relating to, or being a single person or thing <the particular person I had in mind>

obsolete : partial

: of, relating to, or concerned with details <gave us a very particular account of the trip>

a : distinctive among other examples or cases of the same general category : notably unusual <suffered from measles of particular severity>
b : being one unit or element among others <particular incidents in a story>

a : denoting an individual member or subclass in logic
b : affirming or denying a predicate to a part of the subject —used of a proposition in logic <"some men are wise" is a particular affirmative>

a : concerned over or attentive to details : meticulous <a very particular gardener>
b : nice in taste : fastidious
c : hard to please : exacting

The computer program will be of particular interest to teachers.
Pay particular attention to the poet's choice of words.
Our teacher is very particular when it comes to punctuation.

: a specific detail or piece of information

archaic : a separate part of a whole

a : an individual fact, point, circumstance, or detail <a hero in every particular — Ron Fimrite>
b : a specific item or detail of information —usually used in plural <wanted to know all the particulars of the incident> <bill of particulars>

a : an individual or a specific subclass (as in logic) falling under some general concept or term
b : a particular proposition in logic
— in particular
: in distinction from others : specifically

They wanted to know the facts down to every particular.
<requested a bill of particulars for the care he received in the hospital>

Synonym Discussion:
circumstantial, minute, particular, detailed mean dealing with a matter fully and usually point by point. circumstantial implies fullness of detail that fixes something described in time and space <a circumstantial account of our visit>. minute implies close and searching attention to the smallest details <a minute examination of a fossil>. particular implies a precise attention to every detail <a particular description of the scene of the crime>. detailed stresses abundance or completeness of detail <a detailed analysis of the event>.

special, especial, specific, particular, individual mean of or relating to one thing or class. special stresses having a quality, character, identity, or use of its own <special ingredients>. especial may add implications of preeminence or preference <a matter of especial importance>. specific implies a quality or character distinguishing a kind or a species <children with specific nutritional needs>. particular stresses the distinctness of something as an individual <a ballet step of particular difficulty>. individual implies unequivocal reference to one of a class or group <valued each individual opinion>.
: agreeing with what is thought to be right or acceptable

: treating people in a way that does not favor some over others

: not too harsh or critical

: pleasing to the eye or mind especially because of fresh, charming, or flawless quality

: superficially pleasing : specious <she trusted his fair promises>

a : clean, pure <fair sparkling water>
b : clear, legible

: not stormy or foul : fine <fair weather>

: ample <a fair estate>

a : marked by impartiality and honesty : free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism <a very fair person to do business with>
b (1) : conforming with the established rules : allowed (2) : consonant with merit or importance : due <a fair share>
c : open to legitimate pursuit, attack, or ridicule <fair game>

a : promising, likely <in a fair way to win>
b : favorable to a ship's course <a fair wind>

archaic : free of obstacles

: not dark <fair skin>

a : sufficient but not ample : adequate <a fair understanding of the work>
b : moderately numerous, large, or significant <takes a fair amount of time>

: being such to the utmost : utter <a fair treat to watch him — New Republic>

hat's a fair question, and it deserves an honest reply.
He is known as a very fair man.
I try to be fair to my children.
He claims that the competition wasn't fair.
It's not fair that she gets to leave early and I don't.
a fair and impartial jury
a bargain that is fair to everyone
"What a bad movie!" "Be fair! Parts of it are actually pretty funny."
I can't say I liked the movie, but, to be fair, parts of it are pretty funny.
She did poorly on the test, but, to be fair, so did a lot of other people.
"You boys not looking for any trouble, are you?" The question was fair. Millat's Crew looked like trouble. —Zadie Smith, White Teeth, (2000) 2001

obsolete : beauty, fairness

: something that is fair or fortunate (see 1fair)

archaic : woman; especially : sweetheart

— for fair
: to the greatest extent or degree : fully <the rush is on for fair>

— no fair
: something that is not according to the rules <that's no fair>
a : a set of circumstances or conditions <is the statement true in all three cases>
b (1) : a situation requiring investigation or action (as by the police) (2) : the object of investigation or consideration

: condition; specifically : condition of body or mind
As marijuana goes mainstream, so
does its slang. Meet your budtender. »

a : an inflectional form of a noun, pronoun, or adjective indicating its grammatical relation to other words
b : such a relation whether indicated by inflection or not

: what actually exists or happens : fact <thought he had failed, but that wasn't the case>

a : a suit or action in law or equity
b (1) : the evidence supporting a conclusion or judgment (2) : argument; especially : a convincing argument <makes a good case for adopting the proposal>

a : an instance of disease or injury <a case of pneumonia>; also : patient
b : an instance that directs attention to a situation or exhibits it in action : example
c : a peculiar person : character

: oneself considered as an object of harassment or criticism <get off my case>

— in any case
: without regard to or in spite of other considerations : whatever else is done or is the case <war is inevitable in any case> <in any case the report will be made public next month>

— in case
: as a precaution <took an umbrella, just in case>

— in case of
: in the event of <in case of trouble, yell>

Synonym Discussion:

instance, case, illustration, example, sample, specimen mean something that exhibits distinguishing characteristics in its category. instance applies to any individual person, act, or thing that may be offered to illustrate or explain <an instance of history repeating itself>. case is used to direct attention to a real or assumed occurrence or situation that is to be considered, studied, or dealt with <a case of mistaken identity>. illustration applies to an instance offered as a means of clarifying or illuminating a general statement <a telling illustration of Murphy's Law>. example applies to a typical, representative, or illustrative instance or case <a typical example of bureaucratic waste>. sample implies a part or unit taken at random from a larger whole and so presumed to be typical of its qualities <show us a sample of your work>. specimen applies to any example or sample whether representative or merely existent and available <one of the finest specimens of the jeweler's art>.
: complete and total

: not limited in any way

: having unlimited power

a : free from imperfection : perfect <it is a most absolute and excellent horse — Shakespeare>
b : free or relatively free from mixture : pure <absolute alcohol>
c : outright, unmitigated <an absolute lie>

: being, governed by, or characteristic of a ruler or authority completely free from constitutional or other restraint <absolute power>

a : standing apart from a normal or usual syntactical relation with other words or sentence elements <the absolute construction this being the case in the sentence "this being the case, let us go">
b of an adjective or possessive pronoun : standing alone without a modified substantive <blind in "help the blind" and ours in "your work and ours" are absolute>
c of a verb : having no object in the particular construction under consideration though normally transitive <kill in "if looks could kill" is an absolute verb>

: having no restriction, exception, or qualification <an absolute requirement> <absolute freedom>

: positive, unquestionable <absolute proof>

a : independent of arbitrary standards of measurement
b : relating to or derived in the simplest manner from the fundamental units of length, mass, and time <absolute electric units>
c : relating to, measured on, or being a temperature scale based on absolute zero <absolute temperature>; specifically : kelvin <10° absolute>

: fundamental, ultimate <absolute knowledge>

: perfectly embodying the nature of a thing <absolute justice>

: being self-sufficient and free of external references or relationships <an absolute term in logic> <absolute music>

: being the true distance from an aircraft to the earth's surface <absolute altitude>

You can't predict the future with absolute certainty.
I have absolute faith in her ability to get the job done.
He swore an oath of absolute secrecy.
When it comes to using computers, I'm an absolute beginner.
The country is ruled by an absolute dictator.
The country is an absolute monarchy.
: forming or relating to the most important part of something

: of or relating to the basic structure or function of something

a : serving as an original or generating source : primary <a discovery fundamental to modern computers>
b : serving as a basis supporting existence or determining essential structure or function : basic

a : of or relating to essential structure, function, or facts : radical <fundamental change>; also : of or dealing with general principles rather than practical application <fundamental science>
b : adhering to fundamentalism

: of, relating to, or produced by the lowest component of a complex vibration

: of central importance : principal <fundamental purpose>

: belonging to one's innate or ingrained characteristics : deep-rooted <her fundamental good humor>

The Constitution ensures our fundamental rights.
There's a fundamental difference between these two political parties.
These ideas are of fundamental importance.
The revolution brought about a fundamental change in the country.
We need to make some fundamental changes in the way we do business.
We need to address these problems on a more fundamental level.

: one of the basic and important parts of something : a fundamental part

: something fundamental; especially : one of the minimum constituents without which a thing or a system would not be what it is

a : the principal musical tone produced by vibration (as of a string or column of air) on which a series of higher harmonics is based
b : the root of a chord

: the harmonic component of a complex wave that has the lowest frequency and commonly the greatest amplitude

Synonym Discussion:
essential, fundamental, vital, cardinal mean so important as to be indispensable. essential implies belonging to the very nature of a thing and therefore being incapable of removal without destroying the thing itself or its character <conflict is essential in drama>. fundamental applies to something that is a foundation without which an entire system or complex whole would collapse <fundamental principles of algebra>. vital suggests something that is necessary to a thing's continued existence or operation <cut off from vital supplies>. cardinal suggests something on which an outcome turns or depends <a cardinal rule in buying a home>.
: depending on something else that might or might not happen

: likely but not certain to happen : possible

: not logically necessary; especially : empirical

a : happening by chance or unforeseen causes
b : subject to chance or unseen effects : unpredictable
c : intended for use in circumstances not completely foreseen

: dependent on or conditioned by something else <payment is contingent on fulfillment of certain conditions>

: not necessitated : determined by free choice

: a group of people who go to a place together, do something together, or share some quality, interest, etc.

: a group of soldiers who come from a particular army and are working together with soldiers from other armies

: a representative group : delegation, detachment <a diplomatic contingent>

The group that makes up the largest contingent of voters in this area is the elderly.
A contingent of reporters waited in front of the court for the defendant to appear.
A British contingent was sent to assist the security forces.
Hollywood, Madison Avenue, the FCC, and a growing contingent in corporate America: It's hard to imagine a more formidable alliance pushing segregated television.

Synonym Discussion:

accidental, fortuitous, casual, contingent mean not amenable to planning or prediction. accidental stresses chance <any resemblance to actual persons is entirely accidental>. fortuitous so strongly suggests chance that it often connotes entire absence of cause <a series of fortuitous events>. casual stresses lack of real or apparent premeditation or intent <a casual encounter with a stranger>. contingent suggests possibility of happening but stresses uncertainty and dependence on other future events for existence or occurrence <the contingent effects of the proposed law>.
: doing things that require physical movement and energy

: involved in the activities of a group or organization : participating in an action or activity

: involving action or participation

: characterized by action rather than by contemplation or speculation <an active life>

: producing or involving action or movement

a of a verb form or voice : asserting that the person or thing represented by the grammatical subject performs the action represented by the verb <hits in "he hits the ball" is active>
b : expressing action as distinct from mere existence or state

: quick in physical movement : lively

: marked by vigorous activity : busy <the stock market was active>

: requiring vigorous action or exertion <active sports>

: having practical operation or results : effective <an active law>

a : disposed to action : energetic <took an active interest>
b : engaged in an action or activity <an active club member>
c of a volcano : currently erupting or likely to erupt — compare dormant 2a, extinct 1b
d : characterized by emission of large amounts of electromagnetic energy <an active galactic nucleus>

: engaged in full-time service especially in the armed forces <active duty>

: marked by present operation, transaction, movement, or use <an active account>

a : capable of acting or reacting : reacting readily <active nitrogen> <active ingredients>
b : tending to progress or to cause degeneration <active tuberculosis>
c of an electronic circuit element : capable of controlling voltages or currents
d (1) : requiring the expenditure of energy <active calcium ion uptake> (2) : functioning by the emission of radiant energy or sound <radar is an active sensor>

: still eligible to win the pot in poker

: moving down the line : visiting in the set —used of couples in contredanses or square dances

We stay active during the cold winter months by skiing and ice skating.
We are active members of our church.
While many give money to the organization, only a few are active participants.
She was politically active as a volunteer for her state representative.
They take an active interest in their children's education.
He has taken a more active role in the production of this album.
the bank's active and inactive accounts
: actually existing or happening : not imaginary

: not fake, false, or artificial

: important and deserving to be regarded or treated in a serious way

: of or relating to fixed, permanent, or immovable things (as lands or tenements)

a : not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory : genuine <real gold>; also : being precisely what the name implies <a real professional>
b (1) : occurring or existing in actuality <saw a real live celebrity> <a story of real life> (2) : of or relating to practical or everyday concerns or activities <left school to live in the real world> (3) : existing as a physical entity and having properties that deviate from an ideal, law, or standard <a real gas> — compare ideal 3b
c : having objective independent existence <unable to believe that what he saw was real>
d : fundamental, essential
e (1) : belonging to or having elements or components that belong to the set of real numbers <the real roots of an equation> <a real matrix> (2) : concerned with or containing real numbers <real analysis> (3) : real-valued <real variable>
f : measured by purchasing power <real income> <real dollars>
g : complete, utter <a real fiasco>

of a particle : capable of being detected — compare virtual

— for real

: in earnest : seriously <fighting for real>

: genuine <couldn't believe the threats were for real>

: genuinely good or capable of success (as in competition) <not yet sure if this team is for real>

The movie is based on real events.
The detective Sherlock Holmes is not a real person.
He has no real power; he is just a figurehead.
The battle scenes in the movie seemed very real to me.
The team has a real chance at winning.
There is a very real possibility that we will be moving to Maine.
In real life, relationships are not perfect.
The actor looks taller on TV than he does in real life.
He's always daydreaming and seems to be out of touch with the real world.
What is his real name?

: very or really

: very <he was real cool — H. M. McLuhan>

We had a real good time.
The water is real warm.
We went to bed real late.
: having a thin edge that is able to cut things or a fine point that is able to make a hole in things

: sudden and quick

: involving a sudden change in direction

: adapted to cutting or piercing: as
a : having a thin keen edge or fine point
b : briskly or bitingly cold : nipping <a sharp wind>

a : keen in intellect : quick-witted
b : keen in perception : acute <sharp sight>
c : keen in attention : vigilant <keep a sharp lookout>
d : keen in attention to one's own interest sometimes to the point of being unethical <a sharp trader>; also : corrupt, unethical <sharp business practices>

: keen in spirit or action: as
a : full of activity or energy : brisk <sharp blows>
b : capable of acting or reacting strongly; especially : caustic

: severe, harsh: as
a : inclined to or marked by irritability or anger <a sharp temper>
b : causing intense mental or physical distress <a sharp pain>
c : cutting in language or import <a sharp rebuke>

: affecting the senses or sense organs intensely: as
a (1) : having a strong odor or flavor <sharp cheese> (2) : acrid
b : having a strong piercing sound
c : having the effect of or involving a sudden brilliant display of light <a sharp flash>

a : terminating in a point or edge <sharp features>
b : involving an abrupt or marked change especially in direction <a sharp turn>
c : clear in outline or detail : distinct <a sharp image>
d : set forth with clarity and distinctness <sharp contrast>

a of a tone : raised a half step in pitch
b : higher than the proper pitch
c : major, augmented —used of an interval in music

: stylish, dressy

a sharp drop in temperature
He took a sharp left turn.
a sharp curve in the road
Her cheerful mood stands in sharp contrast to her dreary surroundings.
: knowledge that you get about someone or something : facts or details about a subject

: a service that telephone users can call to find out the telephone number for a specified person or organization

: the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence

a (1) : knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction (2) : intelligence, news (3) : facts, data
b : the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects
c (1) : a signal or character (as in a communication system or computer) representing data (2) : something (as a message, experimental data, or a picture) which justifies change in a construct (as a plan or theory) that represents physical or mental experience or another construct
d : a quantitative measure of the content of information; specifically : a numerical quantity that measures the uncertainty in the outcome of an experiment to be performed

: the act of informing against a person

: a formal accusation of a crime made by a prosecuting officer as distinguished from an indictment presented by a grand jury

They're working to collect information about the early settlers in the region.
The pamphlet provides a lot of information on recent changes to the tax laws.
He gave the police false information about his background.
The conference will give us an opportunity to exchange information with other researchers.
We can't make a decision until we have more information.
The tests have not yet uncovered any new information.
I don't like having to reveal personal information when I fill in a job application.
He's accused of withholding useful information.
I couldn't remember his number so I had to call information.
obsolete : end, conclusion

: a compromise of a fictitious suit used as a form of conveyance of lands

a : a sum imposed as punishment for an offense
b : a forfeiture or penalty paid to an injured party in a civil action

— in fine
: in short

: good, acceptable, or satisfactory

—used in an ironic way to refer to things that are not good or acceptable

: very good

a : free from impurity
b of a metal : having a stated proportion of pure metal in the composition expressed in parts per thousand <a gold coin .9166 fine>

a (1) : very thin in gauge or texture <fine thread> (2) : not coarse <fine sand> (3) : very small <fine print> (4) : keen <a knife with a fine edge> (5) : very precise or accurate <a fine adjustment> <trying to be too fine with his pitches>
b : physically trained or hardened close to the limit of efficiency —used of an athlete or animal

: delicate, subtle, or sensitive in quality, perception, or discrimination <a fine distinction>

: superior in kind, quality, or appearance : excellent <a fine job> <a fine day> <fine wines>

a : ornate 1 <fine writing>
b : marked by or affecting elegance or refinement <fine manners>

a : very well <feel fine>
b : all right <that's fine with me>

—used as an intensive <the leader, in a fine frenzy, beheaded one of his wives — Brian Crozier>

"Is there anything wrong?" "No, everything's fine."
The house looks fine to me.
I think that's a fine idea.
You did a fine job.
The house is in fine shape.
This is a fine example of what can go wrong when one person is given too much power.
He's a fine young man.
"Did you hurt yourself?" "No, I'm fine."

: not badly or poorly : well enough

: in an elegant and graceful way

: in small pieces

: finely: as
a : very well
b : all right

: with a very narrow margin of time or space <she had not intended to cut her escape so fine — Melinda Beck et al.>

She did fine on the test.
My mother is doing fine, thank you.
This'll do fine for now.
She talks and walks so fine, just like a great lady.
: a person or way of behaving that is seen as a model that should be followed

: someone or something that is mentioned to help explain what you are saying or to show that a general statement is true

: something or someone chosen from a group in order to show what the whole group is like

: one that serves as a pattern to be imitated or not to be imitated <a good example>

: a punishment inflicted on someone as a warning to others; also : an individual so punished

: one that is representative of all of a group or type

: a parallel or closely similar case especially when serving as a precedent or model

: an instance (as a problem to be solved) serving to illustrate a rule or precept or to act as an exercise in the application of a rule

— for example

: as an example <there are many sources of air pollution; exhaust fumes, for example>

He set a good example for the rest of us.
She gave several examples to show that the program is effective.
We've chosen three examples of contemporary architecture for closer study.
a classic example of a Persian rug
a fine example of the artist's work
The dictionary includes thousands of examples.

instance, case, illustration, example, sample, specimen mean something that exhibits distinguishing characteristics in its category. instance applies to any individual person, act, or thing that may be offered to illustrate or explain <an instance of history repeating itself>. case is used to direct attention to a real or assumed occurrence or situation that is to be considered, studied, or dealt with <a case of mistaken identity>. illustration applies to an instance offered as a means of clarifying or illuminating a general statement <a telling illustration of Murphy's Law>. example applies to a typical, representative, or illustrative instance or case <a typical example of bureaucratic waste>. sample implies a part or unit taken at random from a larger whole and so presumed to be typical of its qualities <show us a sample of your work>. specimen applies to any example or sample whether representative or merely existent and available <one of the finest specimens of the jeweler's art>.

model, example, pattern, exemplar, ideal mean someone or something set before one for guidance or imitation. model applies to something taken or proposed as worthy of imitation <a decor that is a model of good taste>. example applies to a person to be imitated or in some contexts on no account to be imitated but to be regarded as a warning <children tend to follow the example of their parents>. pattern suggests a clear and detailed archetype or prototype <American industry set a pattern for others to follow>. exemplar suggests either a faultless example to be emulated or a perfect typification <cited Joan of Arc as the exemplar of courage>. ideal implies the best possible exemplification either in reality or in conception <never found a job that matched his ideal>.
: a position in a society, organization, group, etc.

: a high position in a society, organization, group, etc.

ranks : the people or things that belong to a particular organization or group

a : row, series
b : a row of people
c (1) : a line of soldiers ranged side by side in close order (2) plural : armed forces (3) plural : the body of enlisted personnel
d : any of the rows of squares that extend across a chessboard perpendicular to the files
e British : stand 6

a : relative standing or position
b : a degree or position of dignity, eminence, or excellence : distinction <soon took rank as a leading attorney — J. D. Hicks>
c : high social position <the privileges of rank>
d : a grade of official standing in a hierarchy

: an orderly arrangement : formation

: an aggregate of individuals classed together —usually used in plural

: the order according to some statistical characteristic (as the score on a test)

: any of a series of classes of coal based on increasing alteration of the parent vegetable matter, increasing carbon content, and increasing fuel value

: the number of linearly independent rows or columns in a matrix

people of high rank and profession
She's not concerned about rank or wealth.
officers with the rank of captain
He rose to the rank of partner in the law firm.
He longed to join the upper social ranks.
military ranks such as private, corporal, and sergeant
He moved up through the ranks to become vice president of the company.
The organization's ranks have doubled in the past two years.
The flu swept through the ranks, infecting almost every soldier.
Several men were selected from the ranks.
: how someone or something does something : how someone or something behaves, appears, feels, etc.

: a method or system that can be used to do something

: a person's usual habits, actions, qualities, etc.

a : a thoroughfare for travel or transportation from place to place
b : an opening for passage <this door is the only way out of the room>

: the course traveled from one place to another : route <asked the way to the museum>

a : a course (as a series of actions or sequence of events) leading in a direction or toward an objective <led the way to eventual open heart operations — Current Biography>
b (1) : a course of action <took the easy way out> (2) : opportunity, capability, or fact of doing as one pleases <always manages to get her own way>
c : a possible decision, action, or outcome : possibility <they were rude—no two ways about it>

a : manner or method of doing or happening <admired her way of thinking>; also : method of accomplishing : means <that's the way to do it>
b : feature, respect <in no way resembles her mother>
c : a usually specified degree of participation in an activity or enterprise <active in real estate in a small way>

a : characteristic, regular, or habitual manner or mode of being, behaving, or happening <knows nothing of the ways of women>
b : ability to get along well or perform well <she has a way with kids> <a way with words>

: the length of a course : distance <has come a long way in her studies> <still have a way to go>

: movement or progress along a course <worked her way up the corporate ladder>

a : direction <is coming this way>
b : participant —usually used in combination <three-way discussion>

: state of affairs : condition, state <that's the way things are>

a plural but sometimes sing in constr : an inclined structure upon which a ship is built or supported in launching
b plural : the guiding surfaces on the bed of a machine along which a table or carriage moves

: category, kind —usually used in the phrase in the way of <doesn't require much in the way of expensive equipment — Forbes>

: motion or speed of a ship or boat through the water

— all the way
: to the full or entire extent : as far as possible <ran all the way home> <seated all the way in the back>

— by the way
: by way of interjection or digression : incidentally

— by way of
: for the purpose of
: by the route through : via

— in a way
: within limits : with reservations
: from one point of view

— in one's way also in the way
: in a position to be encountered by one : in or along one's course <an opportunity had been put in my way — Ellen Glasgow>
: in a position to hinder or obstruct

— on the way or on one's way
: moving along in one's course : in progress

— out of the way
: wrong, improper <didn't know I'd said anything out of the way>
a : in or to a secluded place
b : unusual, remarkable <there's nothing out of the way about the plan>
: done, completed <got his homework out of the way>

— the way
: in view of the manner in which <you'd think she was rich, the way she spends money>
: like, as <we have cats the way other people have mice — James Thurber>

We'll try doing it your way first.
Let me explain it this way.
You can pay for your purchase in one of two ways: by cash or by credit card.
Which door is the way in?
The back way was blocked.
This door is the only way out of the room.

method, mode, manner, way, fashion, system mean the means taken or procedure followed in achieving an end. method implies an orderly logical arrangement usually in steps <effective teaching methods>. mode implies an order or course followed by custom, tradition, or personal preference <the preferred mode of transportation>. manner is close to mode but may imply a procedure or method that is individual or distinctive <an odd manner of conducting>. way is very general and may be used for any of the preceding words <has her own way of doing things>. fashion may suggest a peculiar or characteristic way of doing something <rushing about in his typical fashion>. system suggests a fully developed or carefully formulated method often emphasizing rational orderliness <a filing system>.
: a group of people or things that belong together or have some shared quality : a particular type or variety of person or thing

a archaic : nature
b archaic : family, lineage

archaic : manner

: fundamental nature or quality : essence

a : a group united by common traits or interests : category
b : a specific or recognized variety <what kind of car do you drive>
c : a doubtful or barely admissible member of a category <a kind of gray>

a : goods or commodities as distinguished from money <payment in kind>
b : the equivalent of what has been offered or received

— all kinds of
: many <likes all kinds of sports>
: plenty of <has all kinds of time>

hawks and other birds of that kind
In this city, you'll find many kinds of people.
I like to try different kinds of food.
She described the color as a kind of red.
I think he's an accountant, financial adviser, or something of that kind.

Synonym Discussion:

type, kind, sort, nature, description, character mean a number of individuals thought of as a group because of a common quality or qualities. type may suggest strong and clearly marked similarity throughout the items included so that each is typical of the group <one of three basic body types>. kind may suggest natural grouping <a zoo seemingly having animals of every kind>. sort often suggests some disparagement <the sort of newspaper dealing in sensational stories>. nature may imply inherent, essential resemblance rather than obvious or superficial likenesses <two problems of a similar nature>. description implies a group marked by agreement in all details belonging to a type as described or defined <not all acts of that description are actually illegal>. character implies a group marked by distinctive likenesses peculiar to the type <research on the subject so far has been of an elementary character>.

: having or showing a gentle nature and a desire to help others : wanting and liking to do good things and to bring happiness to others

—used to make a formal request

chiefly dialect : affectionate, loving

a : of a sympathetic or helpful nature
b : of a forbearing nature : gentle
c : arising from or characterized by sympathy or forbearance <a kind act>

: of a kind to give pleasure or relief

A kind old woman took the cat in and nursed it back to health.
It was very kind of you to show me the way.
Thank you for your kind words.
: having no mistakes or flaws

: completely correct or accurate

: having all the qualities you want in that kind of person, situation, etc.

a : being entirely without fault or defect : flawless <a perfect diamond>
b : satisfying all requirements : accurate
c : corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept <a perfect gentleman>
d : faithfully reproducing the original; specifically : letter-perfect
e : legally valid

: expert, proficient <practice makes perfect>

a : pure, total
b : lacking in no essential detail : complete
c obsolete : sane
d : absolute, unequivocal <enjoys perfect happiness>
e : of an extreme kind : unmitigated <a perfect brat> <an act of perfect foolishness>

obsolete : mature

: of, relating to, or constituting a verb form or verbal that expresses an action or state completed at the time of speaking or at a time spoken of

a : certain, sure
b : contented, satisfied

of a musical interval : belonging to the consonances unison, fourth, fifth, and octave which retain their character when inverted and when raised or lowered by a half step become augmented or diminished

a : sexually mature and fully differentiated <a perfect insect>
b : having both stamens and pistils in the same flower <a perfect flower>

He drew a perfect circle.
She's a perfect baby. She hardly cries and she sleeps through the night.
His behavior is a perfect example of what not to do.
This is a perfect time to have a wedding.
Going to the museum was a perfect way to spend a rainy day.
"Is that a big enough piece of pie?" "Yes, it's perfect, thanks."

Synonym Discussion:

perfect, whole, entire, intact mean not lacking or faulty in any particular. perfect implies the soundness and the excellence of every part, element, or quality of a thing frequently as an unattainable or theoretical state <a perfect set of teeth>. whole suggests a completeness or perfection that can be sought, gained, or regained <felt like a whole person again after vacation>. entire implies perfection deriving from integrity, soundness, or completeness of a thing <the entire Beethoven corpus>. intact implies retention of perfection of a thing in its natural or original state <the boat survived the storm intact>.
: free from mistakes or errors

: able to produce results that are correct : not making mistakes

: free from error especially as the result of care <an accurate diagnosis>

: conforming exactly to truth or to a standard : exact <providing accurate color>

: able to give an accurate result <an accurate gauge>

The model is accurate down to the tiniest details.
Her novel is historically accurate.
The machines were not yet accurate enough to give useful results.

Synonym Discussion:

correct, rectify, emend, remedy, redress, amend, reform, revise mean to make right what is wrong. correct implies taking action to remove errors, faults, deviations, defects <correct your spelling>. rectify implies a more essential changing to make something right, just, or properly controlled or directed <rectify a misguided policy>. emend specifically implies correction of a text or manuscript <emend a text>. remedy implies removing or making harmless a cause of trouble, harm, or evil <set out to remedy the evils of the world>. redress implies making compensation or reparation for an unfairness, injustice, or imbalance <redress past social injustices>. amend, reform, revise imply an improving by making corrective changes, amend usually suggesting slight changes <amend a law>, reform implying drastic change <plans to reform the court system>, and revise suggesting a careful examination of something and the making of necessary changes <revise the schedule>.

correct, accurate, exact, precise, nice, right mean conforming to fact, standard, or truth. correct usually implies freedom from fault or error <correct answers> <socially correct dress>. accurate implies fidelity to fact or truth attained by exercise of care <an accurate description>. exact stresses a very strict agreement with fact, standard, or truth <exact measurements>. precise adds to exact an emphasis on sharpness of definition or delimitation <precise calibration>. nice stresses great precision and delicacy of adjustment or discrimination <makes nice distinctions>. right is close to correct but has a stronger positive emphasis on conformity to fact or truth rather than mere absence of error or fault <the right thing to do>.
: very obvious : not causing or allowing doubt

: easily understood

: free from doubt or confusion

a : bright, luminous
b : cloudless; specifically : less than one-tenth covered <a clear sky>
c : free from mist, haze, or dust <a clear day>
d : untroubled, serene <a clear gaze>

: clean, pure: as
a : free from blemishes <clear skin>
b : easily seen through : transparent <clear glass>
c : free from abnormal sounds on auscultation

a : easily heard <a loud and clear sound>
b : easily visible : plain <a clear signal>
c : free from obscurity or ambiguity : easily understood : unmistakable <a clear explanation>

a : capable of sharp discernment : keen <a clear thinker>
b : free from doubt : sure <not clear on how to proceed>

: free from guile or guilt : innocent <a clear conscience>

: unhampered by restriction or limitation: as
a : unencumbered by debts or charges <a clear estate>
b : net <a clear profit>
c : unqualified, absolute <a clear victory>
d : free from obstruction <clear passage>
e : emptied of contents or cargo
f : free from entanglement or contact <staying clear of controversy> <keep clear of the boundary>
g : bare, denuded <clear ground>

There are clear differences between the two candidates.
She's the clear favorite to win the election.
I'm not completely happy with the plan, but I see no clear alternative.
He was the clear winner.
She has made it abundantly clear that she does not support us.
It's not clear how much longer we'll have to wait.
"Changes will have to be made." "Yes, that's clear."
Her writing has a clear style.
The instructions weren't very clear about when we were supposed to begin.
I think I have a clear understanding of the problem.

Synonym Discussion:

clear, transparent, translucent, limpid mean capable of being seen through. clear implies absence of cloudiness, haziness, or muddiness <clear water>. transparent implies being so clear that objects can be seen distinctly <a transparent sheet of film>. translucent implies the passage of light but not a clear view of what lies beyond <translucent frosted glass>. limpid suggests the soft clearness of pure water <her eyes were limpid pools of blue>.clear, perspicuous, lucid mean quickly and easily understood. clear implies freedom from obscurity, ambiguity, or undue complexity <clear instructions>. perspicuous applies to a style that is simple and elegant as well as clear <a perspicuous style>. lucid suggests a clear logical coherence and evident order of arrangement <a lucid explanation>.

: in a clear manner

: all the way : completely or entirely

: in a clear manner <to cry loud and clear>

: all the way <drove clear across the state>

We drove clear across the state.
The ball rolled clear across the street.

: a clear space or part

: a high arcing shot over an opponent's head in badminton

— in the clear
: in inside measurement
: free from guilt or suspicion
: in plaintext : not in code or cipher <a message sent in the clear>
: not having any doubt about something : convinced or sure

—used with it to say that something is known to be true or correct

—used to refer to something or someone that is not named specifically

: fixed, settled <a certain percentage of the profit>

: of a specific but unspecified character, quantity, or degree <the house has a certain charm>

a : dependable, reliable <a certain remedy for the disease>
b : known or proved to be true : indisputable <it is certain that we exist>

a : inevitable <the certain advance of age>
b : incapable of failing : destined —used with a following infinitive <she is certain to do well>

: assured in mind or action <I am certain they are right>

— for certain
: as a certainty : assuredly <the cause is not known for certain>

— of a certain age
: of a somewhat advanced age : no longer young <remembered by people of a certain age>

I'm fairly certain that I'll be on time.
<a certain person told me that today is your birthday>

Synonym Discussion:
sure, certain, positive, cocksure mean having no doubt or uncertainty. sure usually stresses the subjective or intuitive feeling of assurance <felt sure that I had forgotten something>. certain may apply to a basing of a conclusion or conviction on definite grounds or indubitable evidence <police are certain about the cause of the fire>. positive intensifies sureness or certainty and may imply opinionated conviction or forceful expression of it <I'm positive that's the person I saw>. cocksure implies presumptuous or careless positiveness <you're always so cocksure about everything>.
: a document, film, painting, etc., which is created by someone and from which a copy or translation is made

: a person who is different from other people in an appealing or interesting way

archaic : the source or cause from which something arises; specifically : originator

a : that from which a copy, reproduction, or translation is made
b : a work composed firsthand

a : a person of fresh initiative or inventive capacity
b : a unique or eccentric person

I gave her a copy of the report and kept the original.
This isn't a reprint, it's an original.
Compared to other actresses of her generation, she is a true original.

: happening or existing first or at the beginning

: made or produced first : not a copy, translation, etc.

: not like others : new, different, and appealing

: of, relating to, or constituting an origin or beginning : initial <the original part of the house>

a : not secondary, derivative, or imitative <an original composition>
b : being the first instance or source from which a copy, reproduction, or translation is or can be made

: independent and creative in thought or action : inventive <an original artist>

Their original idea was to fix their old car, but they decided to buy a new one instead.
The word's original meaning was very different from its current meaning.
I gave her a copy and kept the original document myself.
The book has been translated into English from the original Spanish.
The concept is very original.
The car has a highly original design.
She has a very original and creative mind.
He is admired as an original American composer.

Synonym Discussion:

new, novel, original, fresh mean having recently come into existence or use. new may apply to what is freshly made and unused <new brick> or has not been known before <new designs> or not experienced before <starts the new job>. novel applies to what is not only new but strange or unprecedented <a novel approach to the problem>. original applies to what is the first of its kind to exist <a man without one original idea>. fresh applies to what has not lost its qualities of newness such as liveliness, energy, brightness <a fresh start>.
: not mixed with anything else

: clean and not harmful in any way

: having a smooth and clear sound that is not mixed with any other sounds

a (1) : unmixed with any other matter <pure gold> (2) : free from dust, dirt, or taint <pure springwater> (3) : spotless, stainless
b : free from harshness or roughness and being in tune —used of a musical tone
c of a vowel : characterized by no appreciable alteration of articulation during utterance

a : being thus and no other : sheer, unmitigated <pure folly>
b (1) : abstract, theoretical <pure research> (2) : a priori <pure mechanics>
c : not directed toward exposition of reality or solution of practical problems <pure literature>
d : being nonobjective and to be appraised on formal and technical qualities only <pure form>

a (1) : free from what vitiates, weakens, or pollutes (2) : containing nothing that does not properly belong
b : free from moral fault or guilt
c : marked by chastity : continent
d (1) : of pure blood and unmixed ancestry (2) : homozygous in and breeding true for one or more characters
e : ritually clean

: having exactly the talents or skills needed for a particular role <a pure shooter in basketball>

The company bottles only the purest water.
the pure notes of the flute

Synonym Discussion:

chaste, pure, modest, decent mean free from all taint of what is lewd or salacious. chaste primarily implies a refraining from acts or even thoughts or desires that are not virginal or not sanctioned by marriage vows <they maintained chaste relations>. pure differs from chaste in implying innocence and absence of temptation rather than control of one's impulses and actions <the pure of heart>. modest and decent apply especially to deportment and dress as outward signs of inward chastity or purity <preferred more modest swimsuits> <decent people didn't go to such movies>.
: very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary

: very basic and important

: having extreme political or social views that are not shared by most people

: of, relating to, or proceeding from a root: as
a (1) : of or growing from the root of a plant <radical tubers> (2) : growing from the base of a stem, from a rootlike stem, or from a stem that does not rise above the ground <radical leaves>
b : of, relating to, or constituting a linguistic root
c : of or relating to a mathematical root
d : designed to remove the root of a disease or all diseased and potentially diseased tissue <radical surgery> <radical mastectomy>

: of or relating to the origin : fundamental

a : very different from the usual or traditional : extreme
b : favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions
c : associated with political views, practices, and policies of extreme change
d : advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs <the radical right>

slang : excellent, cool

The computer has introduced radical innovations.
There are some radical differences between the two proposals.
The new president has made some radical changes to the company.
a radical wing of extremists

: a person who favors extreme changes in government : a person who has radical political opinions

a : a root part
b : a basic principle : foundation

a : root 6
b : a sound or letter belonging to a radical

: one who is radical

: free radical; also : a group of atoms bonded together that is considered an entity in various kinds of reactions or as a subunit of a larger molecule

a : a mathematical expression indicating a root by means of a radical sign
b : radical sign

He was a radical when he was young, but now he's much more moderate.
<radicals staged large, violent protests in the hopes of toppling the government>
: most important

: most basic or essential

: happening or coming first

: first in order of time or development : primitive <the primary stage of civilization> <the primary lesion of a disease>

a : of first rank, importance, or value : principal <the primary purpose>
b : basic, fundamental <security is a primary need>
c : of, relating to, or constituting the principal quills of a bird's wing
d : of or relating to agriculture, forestry, and the extractive industries or their products
e : expressive of present or future time <primary tense>
f : of, relating to, or constituting the strongest of the three or four degrees of stress recognized by most linguists <the first syllable of basketball carries primary stress>

a : direct, firsthand <primary sources of information>
b : not derivable from other colors, odors, or tastes
c : preparatory to something else in a continuing process <primary instruction>
d : of or relating to a primary school <primary education>
e : of or relating to a primary election <a primary candidate>
f : belonging to the first group or order in successive divisions, combinations, or ramifications <primary nerves>
g : directly derived from ores <primary metals>
h : of, relating to, or being the amino acid sequence in proteins <primary protein structure>

: resulting from the substitution of one of two or more atoms or groups in a molecule <a primary amine>; especially : being or characterized by a carbon atom having a bond to only one other carbon atom

: of, relating to, involving, or derived from primary meristem <primary tissue> <primary growth>

: of, relating to, or involved in the production of organic substances by green plants <primary productivity>

: providing primary care <a primary physician>

The economy was the primary focus of the debate.
The family is the primary social unit of human life.
The primary function of our schools is to educate our young people.
We just started our primary flight training.
The book is based mainly on primary sources rather than secondary sources.

: an election in which members of the same political party run against each other for the chance to be in a larger and more important election

: something that stands first in rank, importance, or value : fundamental —usually used in plural

: the celestial body around which one or more other celestial bodies revolve; especially : the more massive usually brighter component of a binary star system

: one of the usually 9 or 10 strong quills on the distal joint of a bird's wing — see wing illustration

a : primary color
b : the sensation of seeing primary colors

a : caucus
b : an election in which qualified voters nominate or express a preference for a particular candidate or group of candidates for political office, choose party officials, or select delegates for a party convention

: the coil that is connected to the source of electricity in an induction coil or transformer —called also primary coil
: most important

: most important, consequential, or influential : chief <the principal ingredient> <the region's principal city>

: of, relating to, or constituting principal or a principal

Usage Discussion of PRINCIPAL: Although nearly every handbook and many dictionaries warn against confusing principle and principal, many people still do. Principle is only a noun; principal is both adjective and noun. If you are unsure which noun you want, read the definitions in this dictionary.

Vegetables are the principal ingredients in this soup.
She is the principal cellist of the orchestra.
If any suspect that Griswold was exaggerating, they should reflect on the fact that the principal Supreme Court case justifying the invocation of the national security privilege was based on a governmental lie.

: the person in charge of a public school

: the person in charge of a university or college

: an amount of money that is put in a bank or lent to someone and that can earn interest

: a person who has controlling authority or is in a leading position: as
a : a chief or head man or woman
b : the chief executive officer of an educational institution
c : one who engages another to act as an agent subject to general control and instruction; specifically : the person from whom an agent's authority derives
d : the chief or an actual participant in a crime
e : the person primarily or ultimately liable on a legal obligation
f : a leading performer : star

: a matter or thing of primary importance: as
a (1) : a capital sum earning interest, due as a debt, or used as a fund (2) : the corpus of an estate, portion, devise, or bequest
b : the construction that gives shape and strength to a roof and is usually one of several trusses; broadly : the most important member of a piece of framing

the new high school principal
One of the principals in the assassination plot has been arrested.
: relating to or involving general ideas or qualities rather than specific people, objects, or actions

of art : expressing ideas and emotions by using elements such as colors and lines without attempting to create a realistic picture

a : disassociated from any specific instance <an abstract entity>
b : difficult to understand : abstruse <abstract problems>
c : insufficiently factual : formal <possessed only an abstract right>

: expressing a quality apart from an object <the word poem is concrete, poetry is abstract>

a : dealing with a subject in its abstract aspects : theoretical <abstract science>
b : impersonal, detached <the abstract compassion of a surgeon — Time>

: having only intrinsic form with little or no attempt at pictorial representation or narrative content <abstract painting>

abstract ideas such as love and hate
"Honesty" is an abstract word.
The word "poem" is concrete, the word "poetry" is abstract.
It is true that the atrocities that were known remained abstract and remote, rarely acquiring the status of knee-buckling knowledge among ordinary Americans. Because the savagery of genocide so defies our everyday experience, many of us failed to wrap our minds around it. —Samantha Power, New York Times Book Review, 14 Mar. 2002

: a brief written statement of the main points or facts in a longer report, speech, etc.

: an abstract work of art (such as a painting)

: a summary of points (as of a writing) usually presented in skeletal form; also : something that summarizes or concentrates the essentials of a larger thing or several things

an artist admired for his abstracts
<the scientist wrote a bare-bones abstract of his research and conclusions>
: an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts or events

: an idea that is suggested or presented as possibly true but that is not known or proven to be true

: the general principles or ideas that relate to a particular subject

: the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another

: abstract thought : speculation

: the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art <music theory>

a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action <her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn>
b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances —often used in the phrase in theory <in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all>

: a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena <the wave theory of light>

a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation
b : an unproved assumption : conjecture
c : a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject <theory of equations>

a widely accepted scientific theory
Her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn.
There are a number of different theories about the cause of the disease.
She proposed a theory of her own.
Investigators rejected the theory that the death was accidental.
There is no evidence to support such a theory.
He is a specialist in film theory and criticism.
The immune surveillance theory of cancer holds that in a way we all do have cancer, that a healthy immune system fights off rogue cells as they appear. —Sallie Tisdale, Harper's, June 2007

Synonym Discussion:

hypothesis, theory, law mean a formula derived by inference from scientific data that explains a principle operating in nature. hypothesis implies insufficient evidence to provide more than a tentative explanation <a hypothesis explaining the extinction of the dinosaurs>. theory implies a greater range of evidence and greater likelihood of truth <the theory of evolution>. law implies a statement of order and relation in nature that has been found to be invariable under the same conditions <the law of gravitation>.
: a small area of a surface that is different from other areas

: a small amount of a substance that is on something

: a small mark or lump on your skin, on the surface of a plant, etc.

: a taint on character or reputation : fault <the only spot on the family name>

a : a small area visibly different (as in color, finish, or material) from the surrounding area
b (1) : an area marred or marked (as by dirt) (2) : a circumscribed surface lesion of disease (as measles) or decay <spots of rot> <rust spots on a leaf>
c : a conventionalized design used on playing cards to distinguish the suits and indicate values

: an object having a specified number of spots or a specified numeral on its surface

: a small quantity or amount : bit

a : a particular place, area, or part
b : a small extent of space

— on the spot
: right away <She was hired on the spot.>
: at the place of action <The reporter was reporting on the spot.>
: in difficulty or danger <The question put me on the spot.>

plural usually spot : a small croaker (Leiostomus xanthurus) of the Atlantic coast with a black spot behind the opercula

a : a particular position (as in an organization or a hierarchy)
b : a place or appearance on an entertainment program

: spotlight

: a position usually of difficulty or embarrassment

: a brief announcement or advertisement broadcast between scheduled radio or television programs

: a brief segment or report on a broadcast especially of news
— on the spot

: at once : immediately

: at the place of action

a : in a responsible or accountable position
b : in a difficult or trying situation

The wood still has some rough spots.
The chair's original paint is still visible in spots.
He fell through a weak spot in the ice.
The tablecloth had a couple of spots.
There were mud spots on the back of his pants.
rust spots on the metal
I noticed some red spots on my arms.
spots of rot on the leaf
a teenager with spots on his face
This looks like a good spot for a picnic.

finance : relating to goods or shares that are paid for and delivered immediately instead of at a future time

a : being, originating, or done on the spot or in or for a particular spot <spot coverage of the news>
b : available for immediate delivery after sale <spot commodities>
c (1) : paid out upon delivery <spot cash> (2) : involving immediate cash payment <a spot transaction>
d (1) : broadcast between scheduled programs <spot announcements> (2) : originating in a local station for a national advertiser
e : performing occasionally when needed <a spot starter>

: made at random or restricted to a few places or instances <a spot check>; also : selected at random or as a sample

the difference between futures and spot commodities
the spot price of wheat
: very loving and gentle : showing affection and love for someone or something

of food : easy to chew or bite : not tough

: painful when touched

a : having a soft or yielding texture : easily broken, cut, or damaged : delicate, fragile <tender feet>
b : easily chewed : succulent

a : physically weak : not able to endure hardship
b : immature, young <children of tender age>
c : incapable of resisting cold : not hardy <tender perennials>

: marked by, responding to, or expressing the softer emotions : fond, loving <a tender lover>

a : showing care : considerate, solicitous <tender regard>
b : highly susceptible to impressions or emotions : impressionable <a tender conscience>

a : appropriate or conducive to a delicate or sensitive constitution or character : gentle, mild <tender breeding> <tender irony>
b : delicate or soft in quality or tone <never before heard the piano sound so tender — Elva S. Daniels>

obsolete : dear, precious

a : sensitive to touch or palpation <the bruise was still tender>
b : sensitive to injury or insult : touchy <tender pride>
c : demanding careful and sensitive handling : ticklish <a tender situation>
d of a boat : easily tipped by an external force

He gave her a tender look.
She was tender and loving with her new child.
Cook the pasta until it is just tender.
Her wrist was swollen and tender.

: an unconditional offer of money or service in satisfaction of a debt or obligation made to save a penalty or forfeiture for nonpayment or nonperformance

: an offer or proposal made for acceptance: as
a : an offer of a bid for a contract
b : tender offer

: something that may be offered in payment; specifically : money

: one that tends: as
a (1) : a ship employed to attend other ships (as to supply provisions) (2) : a boat for communication or transportation between shore and a larger ship (3) : a warship that provides logistic support
b : a car attached to a steam locomotive for carrying a supply of fuel and water
: something that you say, give, or do to show respect or affection for someone

: something that proves the good quality or effectiveness of something

: money or goods that a ruler or country gives to another ruler or country especially for protection

a : a payment by one ruler or nation to another in acknowledgment of submission or as the price of protection; also : the tax levied for such a payment
b (1) : an excessive tax, rental, or tariff imposed by a government, sovereign, lord, or landlord (2) : an exorbitant charge levied by a person or group having the power of coercion
c : the liability to pay tribute

a : something given or contributed voluntarily as due or deserved; especially : a gift or service showing respect, gratitude, or affection <a floral tribute>
b : something (as material evidence or a formal attestation) that indicates the worth, virtue, or effectiveness of the one in question <the design is a tribute to his ingenuity>

The concert was a tribute to the musician.
Yellow ribbons were tied on trees as a tribute to the soldiers at war.
an event at which artists and musicians paid tribute to the famous composer
The country was forced to pay tribute.
The ruler paid a tribute every year.

Synonym Discussion:

encomium, eulogy, panegyric, tribute, citation mean a formal expression of praise. encomium implies enthusiasm and warmth in praising a person or a thing <received encomiums from literary critics>. eulogy applies to a prepared speech or writing extolling the virtues and services of a person <delivered the eulogy at the funeral service>. panegyric suggests an elaborate often poetic compliment <her lyrical memoir was a panegyric to her mentor>. tribute implies deeply felt praise conveyed either through words or through a significant act <the concert was a musical tribute to the early jazz masters>. citation applies to the formal praise of a person offered in a military dispatch or in awarding an honorary degree <earned a citation for bravery>.
: a feeling of closeness and understanding that someone has for another person because of their similar qualities, ideas, or interests

: a liking for or an attraction to something

: a quality that makes people or things suited to each other

: relationship by marriage

a : sympathy marked by community of interest : kinship
b (1) : an attraction to or liking for something <people with an affinity to darkness — Mark Twain> <pork and fennel have a natural affinity for each other — Abby Mandel> (2) : an attractive force between substances or particles that causes them to enter into and remain in chemical combination
c : a person especially of the opposite sex having a particular attraction for one

a : likeness based on relationship or causal connection <found an affinity between the teller of a tale and the craftsman — Mary McCarthy> <this investigation, with affinities to a case history, a psychoanalysis, a detective story — Oliver Sacks>
b : a relation between biological groups involving resemblance in structural plan and indicating a common origin

There's always been an affinity between us.
He never felt any affinity with the other kids in his neighborhood.
Jefferson's personal debts continued to mount ... . His addiction to French wine, like his affinity for French ideas, never came to grips with the more mundane realities. —Joseph J. Ellis, American Heritage, May/June 1993

Synonym Discussion:

attraction, affinity, sympathy mean the relationship existing between things or persons that are naturally or involuntarily drawn together. attraction implies the possession by one thing of a quality that pulls another to it <felt an attraction to danger>. affinity implies a susceptibility or predisposition on the part of the one drawn <an affinity for mathematics>. sympathy implies a reciprocal or natural relation between two things that are both susceptible to the same influence <two minds in sympathy>.
: a comparison of two things based on their being alike in some way
: the act of comparing two things that are alike in some way

: inference that if two or more things agree with one another in some respects they will probably agree in others

a : resemblance in some particulars between things otherwise unlike : similarity
b : comparison based on such resemblance

: correspondence between the members of pairs or sets of linguistic forms that serves as a basis for the creation of another form

: correspondence in function between anatomical parts of different structure and origin — compare homology

He does, though, suffer from the occupational deformation of international relations specialists: an enthusiasm for ransacking the past in search of precedents, analogies, patterns, and cycles that might explain the present and forecast the future. —Tony Judt, New York Book Review, 10 Apr. 2003
People who do this call themselves "white-hat" hackers—good people who show other people their vulnerabilities. Take the following analogy: I've designed a great new lock pick, and I'm going to give this great new gadget away to show everyone that the typical door lock is ineffective against my new pick. —John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine, 4 Apr. 2000
It has often been said that movie stars are the royalty of America. (The better analogy, really, is that the royals are the movie stars of Britain.) —Neal Gabler, Life: The Movie, 1998
Parts of the far-infrared sky look like colonies of spiders gone mad. The fine structure seen there is called cirrus, by analogy with filamentary clouds on Earth. —Virginia Trimble et al., Sky & Telescope, January 1995,

Synonym Discussion:
likeness, similarity, resemblance, similitude, analogy mean agreement or correspondence in details. likeness implies a closer correspondence than similarity which often implies that things are merely somewhat alike <a remarkable likeness to his late father> <some similarity between the two cases>. resemblance implies similarity chiefly in appearance or external qualities <statements that bear little resemblance to the truth>. similitude applies chiefly to correspondence between abstractions <two schools of social thought showing points of similitude>. analogy implies likeness or parallelism in relations rather than in appearance or qualities <pointed out analogies to past wars>.
: the physical or social setting in which people live or in which something happens or develops

: the physical or social setting in which something occurs or develops : environment

Theirs was a bohemian milieu in which people often played romantic musical chairs. —Edmund White, New York Review of Books, 12 Feb. 2009
People in France admire the United States, and much of what passes for anti-Americanism is limited to the intellectual milieu of Paris. —Jonathan Alter et al., Newsweek, 29 May 2000
She might stay home, might marry and live as a housewife. And if her milieu does not sanction such a solution, there are, she knows, milieux which do. —David Mamet, Jafsie and John Henry: Essays, 1999
Certainly there are very few American milieus today in which having read the latest work of Joyce Carol Oates or Richard Ford is more valuable, as social currency, than having caught the latest John Travolta movie or knowing how to navigate the Web. —Jonathan Franzen, Harper's, April 1996
They're caught in their own hazy milieu—working, smoking, talking, drinking. —Gerri Hirshey, Rolling Stone, 12 Nov. 1992
<young, innovative artists thrive in the freewheeling milieu that a big city offers>

Synonym Discussion:
background, setting, environment, milieu, mise-en-scène mean the place, time, and circumstances in which something occurs. background often refers to the circumstances or events that precede a phenomenon or development <the shocking decision was part of the background of the riots>. setting suggests looking at real-life situations in literary or dramatic terms <a militant reformer who was born into an unlikely social setting>. environment applies to all the external factors that have a formative influence on one's physical, mental, or moral development <the kind of environment that produces juvenile delinquents>. milieu applies especially to the physical and social surroundings of a person or group of persons <an intellectual milieu conducive to artistic experimentation>. mise-en-scène strongly suggests the use of properties to achieve a particular atmosphere or theatrical effect <a gothic thriller with a carefully crafted mise-en-scène>.
: capable of being done or used
: capable of succeeding
: capable of living or of developing into a living thing

: capable of living; especially : having attained such form and development as to be normally capable of surviving outside the mother's womb <a viable fetus>

: capable of growing or developing <viable seeds> <viable eggs>

a : capable of working, functioning, or developing adequately <viable alternatives>
b : capable of existence and development as an independent unit <the colony is now a viable state>
c (1) : having a reasonable chance of succeeding <a viable candidate> (2) : financially sustainable <a viable enterprise>

The departure point for a viable peace deal—either with Syria or the Palestinians—must not be based purely on what the political traffic in Israel will bear, but on the requirements of all sides. —Aaron David Miller, Newsweek, 12 Jan. 2009
As gene therapy begins to enjoy some preliminary successes, scientists at the World Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees drug testing for the Olympics, have started to worry that dopers might now see abuse of gene therapy in sport as a viable option, though the practice was banned by WADA in 2003. —Patrick Barry, Science News, 2 Aug. 2008
Under today's forest management practices, few trees die natural deaths and fewer still attain the girth of the old-growth trees that supported the ivory-bill. The sad fact is that there is really no place in the United States today where a viable population of ivory-bills could persist even if captive reared birds were on hand to stock a release program. —John Terborgh, New York Review of Books, 26 Apr. 2007
To ponder [John] Updike's work in now old-fashioned sociopolitical terms, it might be said that he examines our struggle to maintain a viable center for our inner life while enduring the most revolutionary force in history—American capitalism. —Robert Stone, New York Times Book Review, 18 June 2006
At stake is the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth. Or, as one eminent scientist put it, the pending question is whether the combination of an opposable thumb and a neocortex is a viable combination on this planet. —Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006
When a patient agrees to forego a bed at the Portland VA—so far 75% of viable candidates have agreed to do so—a small "strike force" swings into action. The patient is sent home, typically with various medicines, oxygen tanks, and sometimes, a mobile X-ray machine. A nurse visits every day to perform tests, provide IV infusions and monitor medications. As a backup, a physician is on 24-hour standby for emergencies. —Gautam Naik, Wall Street Journal, 19 Apr. 2006
Another truth is that corks expire with age. A few wineries recognize that fact and recork their library wines every 25 years or so, but that's not a viable process for most collectors. —James Laube, Wine Spectator, 31 Mar. 2005
a viable solution to the problem
He could not suggest a viable alternative.
Is she a viable candidate?
a : a religious truth that one can know only by revelation and cannot fully understand
b (1) : any of the 15 events (as the Nativity, the Crucifixion, or the Assumption) serving as a subject for meditation during the saying of the rosary (2) capitalized : a Christian sacrament; specifically : eucharist
c (1) : a secret religious rite believed (as in Eleusinian and Mithraic cults) to impart enduring bliss to the initiate (2) : a cult devoted to such rites

a : something not understood or beyond understanding : enigma
b obsolete : a private secret
c : the secret or specialized practices or ritual peculiar to an occupation or a body of people <the mysteries of the tailor's craft>
d : a piece of fiction dealing usually with the solution of a mysterious crime

: profound, inexplicable, or secretive quality or character <the mystery of her smile>

Synonym Discussion:
mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes. mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation <the mystery of the stone monoliths>. problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern <problems created by high technology>. enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret <his suicide remains an enigma>. riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction <the riddle of the reclusive pop star>. puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution <the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police>.
: a short story about an interesting or funny event or occurrence

: a usually short narrative of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident

Like many Jesuits who then ate most of their meals in refectories, McKenzie was a master raconteur with endless anecdotes, stories, and one-liners. —Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, Commonweal, 11 Sept. 2009
If Antony had won, of course, the story would have been very different. Indeed, despite the dominance of the Augustan version of events, a few hostile anecdotes about the young Octavian probably offer a glimpse of what Antony's side was saying. —Mary Beard, New York Review of Books, 12 Feb. 2009
Alexander's use of the family's private papers—the Waughs were prolific writers of letters and diaries as well as books—not only adds richly to the entertainment value of his account but also serves to illuminate just how tangled are the threads of filial love, hurt, awe, and competitiveness that run through their work. Although he ranges freely over two centuries of family anecdotes, amusing and appalling by turn, the dominant figure here is, as it should be, Evelyn. —Evelyn Toynton, Harper's, August 2007
Any competent science reporter knows anecdotes are not data and that one dramatic story proves nothing. —Editor & Publisher, 4 Nov. 2002
Deeply convinced of her own unattractiveness, frequently lonely and unimaginably needy, Joplin was a person who lived all over the page. It is impossible to read about her and not crave more anecdotes and personal details of such a wanton, tragic life. —Kim France, New York Times Book Review, 2 May 1999
He told us all sorts of humorous anecdotes about his childhood.
<told us once again that anecdote about the dog and the bike>
: a feeling of worry usually shared by many people
: something that causes people to worry
: a feeling of being interested in and caring about a person or thing

a : marked interest or regard usually arising through a personal tie or relationship
b : an uneasy state of blended interest, uncertainty, and apprehension

: something that relates or belongs to one : affair <it's no concern of yours>

: matter for consideration

: an organization or establishment for business or manufacture <a banking concern>

: contrivance, gadget

They have expressed concern about the cost of the project.
There is some concern that the economy might worsen.
I share your concern about these problems.
Their friend's health is a constant source of concern.
The governor needs to address voters' concerns about the economy.
They have raised concerns about the cost of the project.
Their friend's health is a constant concern.
His concern with the well-being of his family is obvious.
She has always shown genuine concern for the poor.
I appreciate your concern, but there's really nothing you can do to help.

Synonym Discussion:
care, concern, solicitude, anxiety, worry mean a troubled or engrossed state of mind or the thing that causes this. care implies oppression of the mind weighed down by responsibility or disquieted by apprehension <a face worn by years of care>. concern implies a troubled state of mind because of personal interest, relation, or affection <crimes caused concern in the neighborhood>. solicitude implies great concern and connotes either thoughtful or hovering attentiveness toward another <acted with typical maternal solicitude>. anxiety stresses anguished uncertainty or fear of misfortune or failure <plagued by anxiety and self-doubt>. worry suggests fretting over matters that may or may not be real cause for anxiety <financial worries>.
: getting what is wanted in a clever and often deceptive way

: dexterous or crafty in the use of special resources (as skill or knowledge) or in attaining an end <a cunning plotter>

: displaying keen insight <a cunning observation>

: characterized by wiliness and trickery <cunning schemes>

: prettily appealing : cute <a cunning little kitten>

... this cat has made his way into the Fitness Center for cunning reasons of his own and reveals himself only to certain privileged individuals. —Joyce Carol Oates, Harper's, June 2008
Throughout his time hunting the vampire, Manolito had been wounded and poisoned on many occasions, but still he'd survived because he'd always used his brain. He was cunning and shrewd and very intelligent. —Christine Feehan, Dark Possession, 2007
I have recounted the advice I received from an old-timer about how to keep raccoons out of garbage cans—advice that eventually included the purchase of a combination lock. ("A raccoon's cunning, but he's got no head for figures.") —Calvin Trillin, New Yorker, 11 Oct. 1993
So the Leader went into his den and looked at his children—two very cunning little cubs, lying on the floor. —Hugh Lofting, The Story of Doctor Dolittle, 1920
A cunning politician is often found skulking under the clerical robe, with an outside all religion, and an inside all political rancour. —Washington Irving, A History of New York, 1809, in History, Tales and Sketches, (1977) 1983
She was cunning enough to fool me.
<a cunning, underhanded plan to win the election by preying on people's fears and prejudices>

Synonym Discussion:
clever, adroit, cunning, ingenious mean having or showing practical wit or skill in contriving. clever stresses physical or mental quickness, deftness, or great aptitude <a person clever with horses>. adroit often implies a skillful use of expedients to achieve one's purpose in spite of difficulties <an adroit negotiator>. cunning implies great skill in constructing or creating <a filmmaker cunning in his use of special effects>. ingenious suggests the power of inventing or discovering a new way of accomplishing something <an ingenious software engineer>.

sly, cunning, crafty, wily, tricky, foxy, artful, slick mean attaining or seeking to attain one's ends by guileful or devious means. sly implies furtiveness, lack of candor, and skill in concealing one's aims and methods <a sly corporate raider>. cunning suggests the inventive use of sometimes limited intelligence in overreaching or circumventing <the cunning fox avoided the trap>. crafty implies cleverness and subtlety of method <a crafty lefthander>. wily implies skill and deception in maneuvering <the wily fugitive escaped the posse>. tricky is more likely to suggest shiftiness and unreliability than skill in deception and maneuvering <a tricky political operative>. foxy implies a shrewd and wary craftiness usually involving devious dealing <a foxy publicity man planting stories>. artful implies indirectness in dealing and often connotes sophistication or cleverness <elicited the information by artful questioning>. slick emphasizes smoothness and guile <slick operators selling time-sharing>.

: cleverness or skill especially at tricking people in order to get something

a : knowledge, learning
b : magic art

: dexterous skill and subtlety (as in inventing, devising, or executing) <high-ribbed vault ... with perfect cunning framed — William Wordsworth>

: craft, slyness

Examples of cunning
The writing is best in the play's later scenes, when More deploys his legal cunning to help him weasel out of a political trap set by the oleaginous Thomas Cromwell ... —John Lahr, New Yorker, 20 Oct. 2008
Tsvetaeva was lacking, moreover, in any instinct for cunning or self-preservation, or even for what might be called mere getting along ... —Claudia Roth Pierpont, New Yorker, 7 Feb. 1994
He could see no change, save that in the eyes there was a look of cunning and in the mouth the curved wrinkle of the hypocrite. —Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
He may be a fraud, but you have to admire his cunning.
<the cunning with which Tom Sawyer was able to get others to whitewash the fence for him>

Synonym Discussion:
art, skill, cunning, artifice, craft mean the faculty of executing well what one has devised. art implies a personal, unanalyzable creative power <the art of choosing the right word>. skill stresses technical knowledge and proficiency <the skill of a glassblower>. cunning suggests ingenuity and subtlety in devising, inventing, or executing <a mystery plotted with great cunning>. artifice suggests technical skill especially in imitating things in nature <believed realism in film could be achieved only by artifice>. craft may imply expertness in workmanship <the craft of a master goldsmith>.
: not easily stopped or pulled apart : firm or strong
: continuing for a long time
: very determined to do something

a : not easily pulled apart : cohesive <a tenacious metal>
b : tending to adhere or cling especially to another substance <tenacious burs>

a : persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired <a tenacious advocate of civil rights> <tenacious negotiators>
b : retentive <a tenacious memory>

But raw capitalism has also proved tenacious, evolving its own means of endlessly restimulating consumption ... —Nicholas Fraser, Harper's, November 2003
This "Southern Operation" would seal off China from outside help, thus underwriting victory in Japan's frustrating four-year war against Chiang Kai-shek's feckless but tenacious Chinese army. —David M. Kennedy, Atlantic, March 1999
We have been nominally democratic for so long that we presume it is our natural condition rather than the product of persistent effort and tenacious responsibility. —Benjamin R. Barber, Harper's, November 1993
Some people claim that by election day this year François Mitterrand had very little power besides the power of his own tenacious, authoritative, and austere persona. —Jane Kramer, New Yorker, 30 May 1988
The company has a tenacious hold on the market.
<a tenacious trainer, she adheres to her grueling swimming schedule no matter what>

Synonym Discussion:
strong, stout, sturdy, stalwart, tough, tenacious mean showing power to resist or to endure. strong may imply power derived from muscular vigor, large size, structural soundness, intellectual or spiritual resources <strong arms> <the defense has a strong case>. stout suggests an ability to endure stress, pain, or hard use without giving way <stout hiking boots>. sturdy implies strength derived from vigorous growth, determination of spirit, solidity of construction <a sturdy table> <people of sturdy independence>. stalwart suggests an unshakable dependability <stalwart environmentalists>. tough implies great firmness and resiliency <a tough political opponent>. tenacious suggests strength in seizing, retaining, clinging to, or holding together <tenacious farmers clinging to an age-old way of life>.
: occurring occasionally, singly, or in irregular or random instances <sporadic protests> <a sporadic disease>

The law was indeed tightened, prohibiting the employment of illegal aliens on the valid assumption that removing the magnet of jobs is necessary to stem illegal immigration. But enforcement was sporadic at best, and has now virtually ceased. —Mark Krikorian, National Review, 26 Jan. 2004
I left Madras twenty years ago. Two marriages and three children later I am a different man from the one who left. My return visits have been sporadic. But there is great delight in a homecoming. —Abraham Verghese, Atlantic , February 2001
The Bronx begins here physically, and it began here historically as well; this was the site of Jonas Bronck's farmhouse. Not much is known about him: he was a Swedish sea captain who was induced to settle the area by the Dutch West India Company. A peace treaty signed at Bronck's house ended years of sporadic but bloody skirmishes between the Dutch and the Weckquasgeeks. —Marcus Laffey, New Yorker, 15 May 2000
Sporadic cases of the disease were reported.
<sporadic loud noises kept startling everyone>

Synonym Discussion:
infrequent, uncommon, scarce, rare, sporadic mean not common or abundant. infrequent implies occurrence at wide intervals in space or time <infrequent family visits>. uncommon suggests a frequency below normal expectation <smallpox is now uncommon in many countries>. scarce implies falling short of a standard or required abundance <jobs were scarce during the Depression>. rare suggests extreme scarcity or infrequency and often implies consequent high value <rare first editions>. sporadic implies occurrence in scattered instances or isolated outbursts <sporadic cases of influenza>.

Medical Definition of sporadic

: occurring occasionally, singly, or in scattered instances <sporadic diseases>—compare endemic, epidemic

: arising or occurring randomly with no known cause <sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease>
: very careful about doing something correctly
: careful about doing what is honest and morally right

: having moral integrity : acting in strict regard for what is considered right or proper

: punctiliously exact : painstaking <working with scrupulous care>

While many assume that a conservative reading of the Constitution will lead inevitably to a conservative interpretation, Amar has argued, in scholarly articles and in a previous book, "The Bill of Rights," that paying scrupulous attention to the text, history and structure of the Constitution often reveals support for liberal outcomes. —James Ryerson, New York Times Book Review, 6 Nov. 2005
Most clients praise the lawyer effusively. Rubenstein declares that Grubman never represents both parties in any one matter, is scrupulous in disclosing his relations to all his clients and abides by the conflict rules of the legal profession. —Johnnie L. Roberts, Newsweek, 6 Aug. 2001
Tax-shelter proliferation has reached such epidemic proportions that it has actually spurred a backlash among the more conscientious members of the tax profession. A few scrupulous tax lawyers have anonymously leaked details of shelter schemes to the IRS. —Franklin Foer, New Republic, 5 June 2000
She was always scrupulous about her work.
The work requires scrupulous attention to detail.
Less scrupulous companies find ways to evade the law.

Synonym Discussion:
upright, honest, just, conscientious, scrupulous, honorable mean having or showing a strict regard for what is morally right. upright implies a strict adherence to moral principles <a stern and upright minister>. honest stresses adherence to such virtues as truthfulness, candor, fairness <known for being honest in business dealings>. just stresses conscious choice and regular practice of what is right or equitable <workers given just compensation>. conscientious and scrupulous imply an active moral sense governing all one's actions and painstaking efforts to follow one's conscience <conscientious in the completion of her assignments> <scrupulous in carrying out the terms of the will>. honorable suggests a firm holding to codes of right behavior and the guidance of a high sense of honor and duty <a difficult but honorable decision>.

careful, meticulous, scrupulous, punctilious mean showing close attention to detail. careful implies attentiveness and cautiousness in avoiding mistakes <a careful worker>. meticulous may imply either commendable extreme carefulness or a hampering finicky caution over small points <meticulous scholarship>. scrupulous applies to what is proper or fitting or ethical <scrupulous honesty>. punctilious implies minute, even excessive attention to fine points <punctilious observance of ritual>.
: likely to cause people to argue or disagree
: involving a lot of arguing
: likely or willing to argue

: likely to cause disagreement or argument <a contentious issue>

: exhibiting an often perverse and wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes <a man of a most contentious nature>

In the perpetual skirmish between science and religion, biological evolution is a contentious battle ground. —Barry A. Palevitz, Skeptical Inquirer, July/August 1999
Creator Jim Davis had spent two years fine-tuning the contentious relationship between the grouchy cat, his milquetoast owner, Jon (Davis' pen-and-ink alter ego), and befuddled dog Odie—in a strip he'd thought would be called Jon. —Beth Johnson, Entertainment Weekly, 19 June 1998
Historians, admittedly a contentious lot, have failed even to agree on what to call King Philip's War. —Jill Lepore, The Name of War, 1998
My mental attitude when drinking is both contentious and malicious, and while in this mood and state I was the author of statements which I know to be wholly unfounded. —Theodore Dreiser, The Titan, 1914
After a contentious debate, members of the committee finally voted to approve the funding.
The dispute involves one of the region's most contentious leaders.

Synonym Discussion:
belligerent, bellicose, pugnacious, quarrelsome, contentious mean having an aggressive or fighting attitude. belligerent often implies being actually at war or engaged in hostilities <belligerent nations>. bellicose suggests a disposition to fight <a drunk in a bellicose mood>. pugnacious suggests a disposition that takes pleasure in personal combat <a pugnacious gangster>. quarrelsome stresses an ill-natured readiness to fight without good cause <the heat made us all quarrelsome>. contentious implies perverse and irritating fondness for arguing and quarreling <wearied by his contentious disposition>.