CHAPTER 29 on Word Groups


Meaning: Very small

Use: Mildred was wearing exiguous clothing which was not sufficient for the cold weather she was being exposed to.


Meaning: Small in quantity

Use: Beatrice arrived in the foreign country with a meager knowledge of the language, but she has been learning more words every day.

PUNY (Adj.)

Meaning: Small and weak

Use: “Puny generally includes the significance of both smallness and feebleness; such as a puny animal, a puny subject, a puny power, a puny mind, or a puny excuse.”


Meaning: Very small in size or amount

Use: Any woman now seems to be able to make such a complaint and to be believed, with incredibly scanty evidence.


Meaning: Very small in size or amount

Use: The judge declared that the evidence presented by the prosecutor in the trial was much too skimpy to convict anyone.


Meaning: Present only in small amount

Use: The information about what really happened is still rather sparse.


Meaning: A small amount

Use: Although his history is based on a modicum of truth, most of the events he describes are fictitious.

IOTA (Noun)

Meaning: A very small amount

Use: She had not an iota of common sense.



Explanation: Contract (Noun) means a legal agreement between people, companies etc.


Meaning: 1) To cut short

2) Alter the accents in music so that strong beats become weak and vice versa.

Use: You can syncopate the word “building” as “bldg..”

ELIDE (Verb)

Meaning: 1) To make something short

2) To omit a sound or syllable when speaking

Use: Some unnecessary verbiage will need to be elided, but otherwise the article is publishable.


Meaning: To make (something) shorter

Use: Television coverage of the soccer match was truncated by a technical fault.


Meaning: To make (something) shorter especially to reduce (a word or name) to a shorter form

Use: Jonathan decided he would be abbreviating his name to “Jon”.


Meaning: To shorten (a book, a play etc.) by leaving out some parts

Use: Patricia wants to abridge the long essay into a shortened, easily read format.


Meaning: 1) To make (something) smaller or shorter

2) To become ill with (a disease)

Use: He was able to contract his lips into a thin line, a grimace, etc.


Meaning: A legally binding agreement

Use: They will make a legal contract for the marriage to take place in June.


Meaning: To reduce or limit something

Use: The new laws passed by the legislature were an effort to curtail the use of illegal drugs.


Meaning: To make (something) narrower, smaller or tighter

Use: Many lives are constricted by poverty and illness.




Meaning: Having good luck or happening because of good luck

Use: Keith and Jaime were fortunate that they got home before the storm hit their neighborhood.




Meaning: Unlucky

Use: Mr. Samee experienced the unfortunate experience of losing a lot of money at the racetrack at the beginning of the racing season.


Meaning: Having no luck

Use: The hapless student has found no reliable sources of information that can help him complete his research assignment.




Meaning: Happening by chance

Use: It was most fortuitous that Mr. Charles missed his train and arrived at the dock too late to sail on the Titanic which sank in the ocean.


Meaning: 1) Accidental

2) Happening or carried on according to chance rather than design or inherent nature.

Use: The point of view that art should be for art’ s sake and that moral considerations are adventitious to the study of art.


Meaning: Obtained or characterized by luck

Use: “There have been many serendipitous discoveries in science.”




Meaning: Said in a very strong, clear and definite way

Use: Though the captain claimed he was never, never sick at sea, he finally qualified his categorical denial: he was “hardly ever” sick at sea.


Meaning: Showing that something is certainly true

Use: The Archaeological department has conclusive proof that this temple was destroyed by radical forces in 1500 A.D.


Meaning: Certainly true

Use: If this is so, no judgment, however modest, is absolutely indubitable.


Meaning: Not able to be proved wrong

Use: The prosecutor, Mr. Biggs, told the jury at the trial that there was irrefutable evidence that the accused committed the crime as charged.


Meaning: Impossible to refute

Use: The prosecutor painstakingly built an irrefragable case.


Meaning: Not able to be doubted or questioned

Use: The video provided incontrovertible proof that the official was smoking marijuana at the party despite his claims of innocence.


Meaning: Said or done in a forceful or definite way

Use: They were emphatic about their political differences.




Meaning: 1) The feeling of being sure that what you believe or say is true.

2) The act of proving that a person is guilty of a crime in a court of law.

Use: Jane’s mother had a conviction that girls and women should always wear dresses or skirts, but not trousers, jeans, or slacks.


Meaning: State of feeling certain

Use: Because Greg’s certitude that war is so very wrong, he has decided never to join any military group.

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