Test Yourself: Are You a Word Cognoscente?

A few weeks ago, you challenged yourself to pick out the grammar, spelling, and usage errors in a group of sample sentences. (Love a Challenge? Test  Yourself – Just for Fun) Thank you for your email – seems we struck a chord, and many of you enjoyed the challenge.

So let’s do it again! This time let’s take a look at words. For each of the following words, three possible answers are shown. Please select the best answer(s). Here goes:

  1. criticism

a. A negative comment or comments

b. A carefully thought out discussion of both the good and bad points of books, software, movies, and so forth

c. Disapproval of something, or someone

2. sanguine

a. Cheerful, optimistic, confident, hopeful

b. What the singer did, while drinking wine

c. Smart

3. apologist

a. Someone who says, “I’m sorry”

b. A NASA scientist

c. Someone who defends, supports, writes or speaks about something that is being criticized or attacked by someone else

4. decimate

a. A process used in mathematics

b. To destroy a large part

c. A way to classify books in the library

  1. egregious

a. Extremely bad, and readily noticed

b. A type of omelet

c. A skin rash

  1. spatial

a. A cooking utensil

b. Having to do with outer space

c. Something or someone unusual or different in a positive way

  1. clandestine

a. Something done in secret, or in a private place or way

b. A Scottish meeting

c. A future happening

  1. cognoscente

a. A type of Italian liqueur

b. A subject matter expert

c. An exotic perfume

 

ANSWER KEY

  1. criticism

a. A negative comment or comments

b. A carefully thought out discussion of both the good and bad points of books, software, movies, and so forth

c. Disapproval of something, or someone

 Answer: a., b., c.

While we tend to think of “criticism” as being always negative, or disapproving – and it generally is –  “criticism” can also be used, as in b., above, to mean nearly the opposite. So all three answers are correct.

  1. sanguine

a. Cheerful, optimistic, confident, hopeful

b. What the singer did, while drinking wine

c. Smart

Answer:  a.

“Sanguine” actually has a number of meanings, among them is consisting of, or relating to blood, as in bloodthirsty. It can also mean a ruddy complexion, or a blood-red color. First used in the 14th century, synonyms include bloody, homicidal, and murderous.

  1. apologist

a. Someone who says, “I’m sorry”

b. A NASA scientist

c. Someone who defends, supports, writes, or speaks about something that is being criticized or attacked by someone else

Answer: c.

  1. decimate

a. process used in mathematics

b. To destroy a large part

c. A way to classify books in the library

Answer: b.

“Decimate” comes from Latin meaning, “10th,” or “10,” and while it now is most often used to mean to destroy a large part of something, historically it was used to describe the process where every 10th man was selected by lot to be killed, or where a 10th part of something was destroyed. It was also used to mean to extract a tax of 10%.

  1. egregious

a. Extremely bad, and readily noticed

b. A type of omelet

c. A skin rash

Answer: a.

  1. spatial

a. A cooking utensil

b. Having to do with outer space

c. Something or someone unusual or different in a positive way

Answer: b.

“Spacial” is shown as a  “variant of spatial,” and each word has to do with the relationship of objects in space.

  1. clandestine

a. Something done in secret, or in a private place or way

b. A Scottish meeting

c. A future happening

Answer: a.

  1. cognoscente

a. A type of Italian liqueur

b. A subject matter expert

c. An exotic perfume

Answer: b.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this version of “test yourself,” and  – if you’re not already – are well on your way to being a “word cognoscente.”   What are your favorite words?   Let us hear from you.

 

Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

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