acquiesce (v) ad- to + quiescere to rest
to accept an unpleasant situation or comply to a demand reluctantly : Since the rest of the family wanted to drive to the beach, I stopped my protests and acquiesced.
Form: acquiescent = being inclined to acquiesce
Root family: [ad-] allude (to hint at indirectly), aspire (to strive for a lofty goal), adhere (stick fast (to)), advocate (to provide vocal support for)
Root family: [quies, quiet] quietude (a state of calmness), quiescence (a state of dormancy), disquiet (anxiety) Don't confuse with: acquaintance (a passing knowledge; a person one knows only slightly), aquatic (pertaining to water and particularly the creatures that live in it)
Mnemonic: When someone keeps badgering you noisily over and over to do something, you can make a (more) quiet scene by just acquiescing.
- capitulate (v) capit head
to surrender; to stop resisting : The corporation finally capitulated to the labor union's demands.
Form: capitulation = the act of surrendering
Root family: [cap, capit] capital (city that serves as administrative seat), decapitate (remove the head), captain (a person in command of a team, ship, or similar organization)
Don't confuse with: recapitulate (or recap) (summarize and restate)
- coerce (v) co- together + arcere to restrain
to force someone to do something by use of threats : I will not be coerced into betraying my friends.
Form: coercion = the act of forcing someone against his or her will
Root family: [con-, co-, com-, col-] conformist (one who conscientiously complies with the standards of a group, conventional (according to common practice), consensus (general agreement), conspire (to plot together), coalesce (to come together) Root family: [erc] exercise (physical activity)
Don't confuse with: co-opt (to divert something to a role other than it was intended for), commerce (the activity of buying and selling)
- concession (n) con- together + cedere to yield, to go
- the act of admitting reluctantly that something is true : I will make the concession that you have a point.
- something surrendered, as land or a right : The territory was gained as a concession from a neighboring country after the war.
Form: concede = to yield
Root family: [con-, co-, com-, col-] conformist (one who conscientiously complies with the standards of a group, conventional (according to common practice), consensus (general agreement), conspire (to plot together), coalesce (to come together), compliant (willing to obey), confluence (a place at which two things merge)
Root family: [ced, ces] precedent (a previous occurrence used as an example), recede (move back from a previous position), secede (withdraw from a formal union or alliance), proceed (go forth)
Don't confuse with: consensus
Don't confuse with: concession stand. Most people associate the word concession with concession stands, such as those that sell food at sporting events and assume that concession means food. However, in this context, the term concession refers to the fact that the owner of the venue (a company or town, perhaps), conceded to another party the right to sell food on its property. That is, the stadium owner granted a concession for someone else to run a stand.
- contrite (adj) con- together + tritus rubbed
remorseful; full of regret : Harold felt contrite after insulting Jacqueline and bought her flowers to make amends.
Form: contrition = an expression or feeling of remorse
Synonyms: penitent, chastened, rueful
Root family: [con-, co-, com-, col-] conformist (one who conscientiously complies with the standards of a group, conventional (according to common practice), consensus (general agreement), compliant (willing to obey)
Root family: [trit] attrition (a wearing down via sustained attack), trite (worn out; overused)
Don't confuse with: content (adj) (satisfied), trite (worn out: overused)
Don't confuse contrition with attrition (a wearing down via sustained attack).
Mnemonic: The word contrite comes from the Latin word contritus which means “ground to pieces,” from con- (together) + terere (to rub). This may be because the feeling of guilt—of contrition—feels like a grinding in the stomach.
- deference (n) de- down + ferre to bring
respect for or submission to the authority or opinion of another : The villagers showed their deference by removing their hats as the duke's coach passed them.
Forms: deferential = showing humility and respect, defer (to) = to submit to the authority or opinion of another
Synonyms: capitulation, submissiveness, acquiescence
Root family: [de-] decadent (excessively self-indulgent), derivative (imitative of someone else's work), deplore (to express strong disapproval), denounce (declare as bad), detract (reduce the value of something), debase (reduce in value), denigrate (criticize unfairly), condescend (to act superior to someone else)
Don't confuse with: difference (a point or way in which things are not the same), deferment (postponement)
Mnemonic: To defer can also mean “to postpone (a decision).” It is easy to confuse the two meanings of defer, particularly when you are thinking about applying to college. To keep the two straight, pay attention to the preposition that follows: if you are deferred from a college, the decision about your acceptance has been postponed to a later date; however, when you defer to another person, you are submitting to his or her authority or opinion.
- demagogue (n) demos people + agogos leading
a leader who persuades followers through emotional populist appeal rather than rational argument : The nation had grown tired of its demagogues and elected a well-educated technocrat as its new leader.
Form: demagoguery = speechmaking by a political leader that appeals to popular prejudices
Root family: [dem] democracy (government elected by and representative of the people), demographics (the study of human populations), epidemic (a widespread occurrence of a disease)
Root family: [agog] pedagogy (the art of teaching), synagogue (a Jewish house of worship)
- despot (n) potentia power
a (usually cruel) ruler with absolute power : The colonists regarded King George as a despot.
Forms: despotism = the cruel exercise of absolute power, despotic = having the qualities of a despot
Root family: [poten] potentate (powerful ruler), impotence (ineffectiveness), potency (strength), omnipotent (all-powerful) Don't confuse with: depot (a railroad or bus station, or a large storage area)
- dictatorial (adj) dicere to declare
characteristic of a ruler with total power; tyrannical : Kevin was voted out of office because the other members objected to his dictatorial style.
Form: dictate (v) = to lay down authoritatively
Synonyms: autocratic, peremptory, overweening, overbearing, imperious
Root family: [dict] vindictive (vengeful), malediction (curse), dictum (command), benediction (blessing)
- diffident (adj) dis- away + fidere to trust
lacking in self-confidence; shy and modest : Kate had to overcome her natural diffidence in order to audition for the musical. Form: diffidence = lack of self-confidence
Root family: [dis-] disconcerting (unsettling), dispassionate (not influenced by strong emotions), disparate (very different; variegated), discrepancy (a lack of compatibility between facts or claims), disseminate (to cast widely)
Root family: [fid] fidelity (faithfulness), confidence (faith in oneself), perfidious (untrustworthy), infidel (nonbeliever)
Don't confuse with: indifferent (lacking concern), different, deferent (respectful of the authority of others)
Mnemonic: To avoid confusing it with words like different and deferent, focus on the root fidere (to trust): one who is diffident lacks confidence.
- domineering (adj) dominus lord, master
arrogantly overbearing : Some admired Dave's confidence, but others considered him arrogant and domineering.
Form: domineer = to act in a domineering manner
Synonyms: imperious, overbearing, dictatorial, despotic
Root family: [domit, domin] dominate (to have power over), dominion (sovereignty; control), domain (an area controlled by a ruler; a specific sphere of knowledge), predominant (acting as the most important or dominant element), indomitable (unconquerable)
- eminent (adj)
famous and respected in a particular domain : George is an eminent pediatric oncologist.
Forms: eminence = fame; recognized superiority, preeminent = well known as being superior
Don't confuse with: imminent (about to happen : The black clouds indicated that the storm was imminent), emanate (to spread out from : His confidence emanated from him like warmth from a fire), immanent (inherent : The rights of all humanity are immanent in the Constitution)
Mnemonic: Eminem was one of the first eminent white hip hop-artists.
- enthralling (adj) thrall slave
fascinating; captivating : The circus provided an enthralling array of exotic acts.
Forms: enthrall = to captivate, enthrallment = state of captivation
Synonyms: enchanting, beguiling, mesmerizing
Don't confuse with: appalling (shocking)
Mnemonic: Thrall was an old Norse word meaning “slave,” so to enthrall someone was to acquire great power over someone, as a master over a slave.
Usage: Enthralling, enchanting, beguiling, and mesmerizing offer different shades of meaning to “captivating.” Enthralling derives from the Norse word for “slave,” so it suggests a captivation almost against one's will; enchanting describes captivation as if by spell or charm (see incantation); beguiling likewise suggests the power of charm, but perhaps with deceitful motives; mesmerizing connotes a hypnotic power, since it derives from 18th century Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer whose theories led to the development of hypnosis.
- exploitative (adj)
intended to take selfish advantage of a situation or person : A free market system should allow new companies to exploit the changing demands of consumers.
Form: exploit (v) [ex PLOIT] = to make full use of, often in a selfish way
Don't confuse with: exploit (n) [EX ploit] (a bold feat)
- hierarchy (n) hieros sacred + arkhes ruler
a power structure in which members are ranked by status : Helen has spent many years working her way up the hierarchy of her law firm.
Form: hierarchical = pertaining to or characteristic of a hierarchy
Synonym: pecking order
Root family: [hiero] hieroglyphics (stylized and symbolic writing as found in ancient Egypt), hieratic (pertaining to priests)
Root family: [arch] monarchy (government ruled by a king or queen), autarchy (government ruled by an individual with absolute power), matriarchy (social order in which the female line of descent is predominant), anarchist
- imperious (adj) imperare to command
bossy and domineering : Glenda became resentful of her manager's imperious demands.
Synonyms: peremptory, overweening, overbearing, dictatorial, tyrannical
Root family: [imper, emper] imperialist (one who believes in the value of expanding an empire), empire (domain of a particularly ruler), imperial (royal)
Don't confuse with: impious (lacking reverence), impervious (unable to be affected), imperial (royal)
- impervious (adj) im- not + per- through
not able to be influenced (by) : Jonah was seemingly impervious to the swarming gnats.
Synonym: insusceptible (to)
Root family: [per-] perspicacious (showing keen insight), permeable (allowing liquids or gases to pass through), pervasive (widespread in a certain area)
Don't confuse with: imperious (domineering)
Mnemonic: A good raincoat is impervious to rain because it does not let water through (im- not + per through).
- indelible (adj) in- not + delere to destroy, to eliminate
forming an enduring impression; unforgettable : The ink created an indelible stain on my tie.
Synonyms: ineradicable, ingrained, enduring
Root family: [in-, im-] interminable (unending), indefatigable (untiring), ineffable (inexpressible in words), inscrutable (beyond understanding)
Root family: [delet] delete (to remove completely), deleterious (harmful)
Don't confuse with: inedible (repulsive to eat)
- insolent (adj)
rude and disrespectful : Craig grew from an insolent adolescent into a well-mannered young adult.
Form: insolence = rudeness and disrespectfulness
Synonyms: impertinent, impudent
Don't confuse with: indolent (lazy)
Mnemonic: Picture the insole of your shoe making really rude and disrespectful remarks to you about your foot odor.
- insubordination (n) in- not + sub- under + ordinare to rank
an act of defying authority; disobedience : The captain was irate about the act of insubordination by his first mate.
Forms: subordinate = lower in rank, subordination = the act of placing something in a position of lesser importance Synonyms: mutiny, recalcitrance
Root family: [in-, im-] insipid (flavorless), insuperable (impossible to overcome), inert (lacking vigor), interminable (unending), innocuous (harmless), ineffable (inexpressible in words), inscrutable (beyond understanding)
Root family: [sub-] submissive (meekly obedient), subvert (to undermine the authority of another), surreptitious (secret), subjugate (to dominate)
Root family: [ord] ordinal (relating to a ranking or order), ordain (to decree from a high authority)
Don't confuse subordination with subornation (the act of bribing someone to perform a criminal act, especially perjury)
- mandate (n) manus hand + dare to give
an official order or commission to do something : We objected to our teacher's mandate that we all write our essays according to her rigid formula.
Form: mandatory = required, usually by official order
Root family: [man] manipulate (to control skillfully), maneuver (a skillful movement), manual (done by hand rather than automatically)
Root family: [dar, don, dos, dot, dow] donation (charitable gift), endow (to donate funds to establish a position or project), antidote (a medicine to counteract a poison), dose (a recommended quantity of medicine), anecdote (a humorous or instructive story), dowry (property or money given to a husband by a bride's family), pardon (to forgive), rendition (the act of sending a foreign criminal to another country for interrogation)
Don't confuse with: mendacious (lying)
- obtrusive (adj) ob- toward + trudere to push
- (of things) prominent in an annoying way : Although cell phones themselves have become less physically obtrusive over time, their users have become far more obnoxious.
Synonyms: conspicuous, intrusive
- (of people) obnoxiously intrusive : Donna's questions seemed solicitous at first, but soon became obtrusive.
Form: unobtrusive = not tending to get in the way
Synonyms: officious, meddlesome
Root family: [trus, trud] extrude (to thrust out), abstruse (very difficult to understand), intruder (one who pushes in where he or she is unwelcome)
- pacify (v) pax peace
to quell the agitation of something; to make peaceful : The lullaby seemed to pacify the crying baby.
Form: pacifist = one who advocates for peace rather than war
Synonyms: propitiate, appease, mollify, placate
Root family: [pac, peas] appease (to pacify), pact (a peace agreement)
Usage: The words pacify, placate, appease, propitiate, mollify, and conciliate all share the meaning of “making someone feel better,” but they offer different shades of meaning. To pacify is to calm someone down, like a crying child, but to placate is to pacify and gain favor at the same time. To appease is to calm someone down by complying (perhaps reluctantly) with his or her demands, but to propitiate is to make a deliberate show of pleasing someone (as a god or superior). To mollify is to soothe, as a mother soothes an anxious child, but to conciliate is to win over someone who may not trust you.
- pervasive (adj) per- through + vadere to go
widespread : Bigotry is still pervasive in this region, and fear of outsiders is preventing its economic development.
Form: pervade = to be present throughout a region or area
Root family: [per-] perspicacious (showing keen insight), permeable (allowing liquids or gases to pass through), impervious (not able to be influenced)
Root family: [vad] invade (to intrude on a region and occupy it), evade (to escape or avoid)
Don't confuse with: perverse (showing a stubborn desire to do something unacceptable)
- potent (adj) potentia power
particularly powerful, influential, or effective : Oprah's endorsement is a potent marketing tool.
Forms: impotent = weak and ineffective, potency = strength
Synonyms: formidable, efficacious, redoubtable
Root family: [poten] despot (cruel ruler), potentate (powerful ruler), omnipotent (all-powerful)
Don't confuse with: potable (drinkable)
- predominant (adj) dominat ruled, governed
acting as the main element or the most powerful influence : After their demoralizing defeat, the predominant mood among the players was gloom.
Form: predominance = the state of being the controlling influence
Synonyms: paramount, foremost
Root family: [domit, domin] dominate (to have power over), dominion (sovereignty; control), domain (an area controlled by a ruler; a specific sphere of knowledge), domineering (overbearing), indomitable (unconquerable)
Don't confuse with: preeminent (highly distinguished)
- propagate (v)
- to spread and promote : The followers of Plato propagated the concept of “ideal forms” that transcended ordinary sensory experience.
- to breed, as organisms : The poison ivy propagated throughout the garden.
Form: propagation = the process of spreading or breeding
Synonyms: disseminate, promulgate
Don't confuse with: propaganda (biased and misleading information used to promote a particular political cause), prognosticate (to foretell an event)
- recluse (n) re- back + claudere to close
a person who lives a solitary lifestyle : Scout and Jem Finch were fascinated by Boo Radley, a mysterious recluse who lived near them.
Form: reclusive = solitary
Root family: [re-] revoke (to take back), renounce (to give up or put aside publicly), reciprocate (to respond in kind), resigned (accepting of an undesirable situation), regress (to return to a less developed state)
Root family: [clud, clus, claus, clois] claustrophobia (fear of being in enclosed spaces), cloister (seclude as in a monastery), exclusive (highly restricted), preclude (render impossible), secluded (isolated)
Don't confuse reclusive with exclusive (highly restricted)
- relinquish (v) re- (intensive) + linquere to abandon
to voluntarily give up : Simmons relinquished his position in order to start his own company.
Root family: [linqu, lict] delinquent (failing in one's duties), relic (a surviving object of historical value), derelict (shamefully negligent in one's duties)
Don't confuse with: distinguish (to recognize as different)
- ruthless (adj)
without mercy : The piranhas attacked with ruthless abandon.
Synonyms: callous, inhumane
- sanction (n) sanctus holy
- official approval : The king gave his sanction to the agreement among the nobles.
Form: sanction (v) = to give official approval to
- a penalty, usually one imposed by one government upon another : The United Nations voted to impose sanctions on the rogue nation until its government freed its dissidents.
Form: sanction (v) = to impose a penalty
Root family: sanctimonious (acting morally superior), sanctify (to make holy), sanctity (sacredness), sanctuary (place of refuge) Mnemonic: Sanction is an unusual word because its two meanings are nearly opposite. It derives from sanctus (holy) and originally referred to any decree by a church representative, such as the Pope, which officially condemned or approved something. In modern usage, the positive sense (official approval) is usually intended when the words is applied in a domestic context, but in the negative sense (an official penalty) when applied to foreign affairs.
- sequester (v)
to isolate from outside influences : Andrew Wiles sequestered himself for months at a time to work on proving Fermat's theorem.
Synonyms: cloister, seclude, segregate
Don't confuse with: semester (one half of an academic year)
Mnemonic: Picture a sequined quester (that is, someone like Frodo Baggins or Don Quixote who is on a quest, wearing a sequined cape) who is being sequestered in a dungeon by an evil nemesis.
- servile (adj) servus slave
- excessively willing to serve others : The new intern is helpful without being servile.
Form: servility = the quality or habit of being servile
Synonyms: obsequious, sycophantic, deferential, fawning, ingratiating
- pertaining to or akin to slave labor : She accepted even the most servile task with good nature.
- subjugate (v) sub- under + jugum yoke (< jungere to join)
to bring under one's domination : The West Indians were subjugated by the early European settlers.
Form: subjugation = the act or process of dominating
Synonyms: vanquish, subdue
Root family: [sub-] submissive (meekly obedient), subvert (to undermine the authority of another), surreptitious (secret)
Root family: [junc, join] conjunction (a part of speech, such as and, but, or or, used to join clauses or terms in a list), disjoint (separate and nonoverlapping), juncture (a place where things join)
Don't confuse with: subjunctive (relating to the mood of verbs indicating something imagined, wished, possible, or counter to fact), conjugate (to give different forms of a verb)
Mnemonic: Imagine a lowly royal subject trapped under the gate outside the royal palace and being held there by the royal guards. He is clearly a victim of subjugation.
- tenacious (adj) tenere to hold
holding fast to a position or claim; stubbornly persistent : Reynolds is a tenacious debater and will rarely yield a single point to an opponent.
Form: tenacity = stubborn persistence
Synonyms: dogged, unflagging, obdurate, staunch, indefatigable, obstinate, intransigent
Root family: [ten, tain] retain (to hold back), abstain (to refrain), attention (the process of focusing mental energy), sustain (to keep something going), untenable (not able to be defended or maintained)
Don't confuse tenacity with temerity (boldness).
Usage: You can be stubborn in many ways. If you are tenacious, you “hold fast” to a position (tenax = holding tight) like a pit bull holding on to a bone. When you refuse to change your mind even in the face of substantial evidence, you are being obstinate. If you refuse to compromise with or accommodate another person or position, you are intransigent. When you “kick back” at someone who is trying to guide you or change your mind, you are being recalcitrant (recalcitrare = to kick back at something). If your stubbornness is an attempt to fulfill a duty or commitment, you are more noble than pigheaded, so you are steadfast or resolute.
- tractable (adj) tractare to pull, to handle
easily managed or influenced : The children proved to be more tractable after they had been given their afternoon snack.
Form: intractable = difficult to manage
Root family: [tract] abstract (lacking concrete existence), protract (to extend in time), tractor (vehicle that pulls farm instruments), detract (reduce the value of someone or something)
Don't confuse with: trackable (able to be followed)
Mnemonic: Something tractable is pull-able (tractare = to pull), which means it's easy to manage, handle, or control.
- unremitting (adj) un- not + re- back + mittere to send
incessant; never decreasing in intensity : The unremitting winds threatened to tear the roof off the house.
Form: remit =  to cease from inflicting something,  to send payment,  to refer to an authority
Synonyms: relentless, inexorable, unabating, interminable
Root family: [re-] recluse (a person who lives a solitary lifestyle), refute (to prove something false), revoke (to take back), renounce (to give up or put aside publicly), reciprocate (to respond in kind), resigned (accepting of an undesirable situation), regress (to return to a less developed state), relegate (to place in a lower rank)
Root family: [miss, mit] submissive (meekly obedient), dismiss (send away), intermittent
□ usurper (n)
one who forcibly takes a position of power : Henry was the usurper of his uncle's throne.
Forms: usurp = to take power by force, usurpation = act of usurping
Don't confuse usurpation with usury (the practice of charging excessively high interest rates for loans)