Vocabulary Time!
Secondary School List #1

eavesdrop (verb)

Meaning: to listen without the speaker knowing.

Usage: often used when someone is listening to a conversation secretly.

Example: The jealous husband eavesdropped on his wife’s conversations.

Example: In this day and age, it’s hard not to eavesdrop on someone talking loudly on their mobile phone.

Example: Patricia eavesdropped on her friends talking.

accolade (noun)

Meaning: a form of praise, honor or award.

Usage: often used when someone gets an award for something they have done very well.

Example: The humble scientist has won many accolades from her research in diseases and vaccinations.

Example: Games provide a variety of accolades to win.

Example: Personal accolades did not interest the doctor. His duty was more important than honor.


venture (noun)

Meaning: a risky business decision or project that promises profit. Often used as a verb which means to go somewhere possibly dangerous.

Example: The young man’s business venture was not well thought-out. He might lose all his money.

Example: The explorers ventured out into the wild jungle where no man had been before.

Example: We nervously ventured onto the frozen ice of the lake.

acclimate (verb)

Meaning: to adapt, adjust, become used to a new situation or weather.

Usage: often used when talking about weather or situations that are not familiar.

Example: John has been acclimating to a new work and study schedule. He seems to always be exhausted.

Example: The man had lived in tropical climates his whole life so it was difficult for him to acclimate to the arctic weather.

lethargic (adj)

Meaning: to not have energy, alertness or activity.

Usage: often used to talk about people or animals that do no have energy, feel weak or sleepy.

Example: Frogs often become lethargic after a cold night.

Example: Jane felt lethargic after eating a buffet dinner with her family. She couldn’t even get up for dessert.

bane (noun)

Meaning: something that causes harm, misery or death.

Usage: often used to talk about things that cause us discomfort or inconvenience and are not really as serious as the true meaning.

Example: The humidity in Hong Kong is the bane of my existence.

Example: Rodents, insects and birds are a bane to those who tend gardens.

haggle (verb)

Meaning: to argue about something, usually a price.

Usage: often used to negotiate a price where those involved try to get the best deal for themselves.

Example: Mary haggled over the price of the souvenir before the shop keeper finally gave her the discount she wanted.

Example: My mother haggles like a professional negotiator. She got that car for half the price.

jocund (adj)

Meaning: describes someone or something that is merry and cheerful.

Usage: an older word that can be used to describe festive, happy ocasions as well as people.

Example: The happy and jocund faces of the children opening Christmas presents filled our hearts with joy.

Example: It was a jocund morning; all the animals were busy greeting the early spring that came after a bitter winter.

knack (noun)

Meaning: a special way of doing something.

Usage: someone who has a special talent, usually innate or natural. It can refer to a positive or negative ability.

Example: Peter has a special knack for talking nonsense about topics he doesn’t know much about.

Example: The young buck had a knack for getting into the King’s garden and pantry, feasting on the royal vegetables and even gnawing on the cured ham.

levity (noun)

Meaning: a manner that is usually light, humorous and not serious.

 Usage: often used to make a sad or somber situation a little less serious which might be inappropriate.

Example: Matt told a joke at the funeral to inject some levity, but it was a little too soon for humor.

Example: Trying to provide a moment of levity and brighten up her mood, Stephen showed his seriously ill daughter a funny video about cats.

nuance (noun)

Meaning: a very small difference in color, meaning or feeling.

Usage: often used to talk about something that has a subtle, but important detail or difference.

Example: Being aware of the nuances and intonations of native English speakers will help you improve fluency.

Example: Amazing singers have a nuance to their voices which goes beyond singing the notes perfectly.

deliberately (adv)

Meaning: to do something on purpsoe; intentional action.

Usage: often used to describe an action done by choice and sometimes in a careful and thoughtful manner.

Example The driver deliberately hit the cyclist in a fit of road rage.

Example: Scared of causing a fire, Jackie deliberately unplugged all of his many electronics before going on his holiday.

exasperating (adj)

Meaning: something that makes you very annoyed or displeased.

Usage: often used to describe a situation that makes you unhappy or irritated.

Example: Sitting next to a crying baby on a long flight can be an exasperating experience.

Example: Being in a traffic jam can be an exasperating experience for any driver.

thunderous (adj)

Meaning: so loud that you can’t hear anything else.

Usage: often used to describe something that has great volume or intensity.

Example: The thunderous fireworks in the sky shook the buildings.

Example: There was a thunderous ovation from the audience after the performance.

gullible (adj)

Meaning: easily fooled or tricked because of being too trusting.

Usage: often used to describe someone who believes things too quickly and without thought.

Example: Don’t be a gullible tourist that gets tricked by people who don’t mind cheating others.

Example: The young girl was gullible enough to believe his riduculous story.


obligation (noun)

Meaning: a job, duty or responsibility that you have.

 Usage: often used to talk about a requirement or payment.

Example: The only obligation students have is to perform their best in school.

Example: Parents have the obligation to take care of their children to the best of their ability.


frantic (adj)

Meaning: something that has uncontrolled excitement or emotion and has little order.

Usage: often used to describe someone’s wild and quick movements or a desperate attempt to do something.

Example: The frantic mother searched everywhere for her lost child. 

Example: Last minute Christmas shoppers created a frantic scene at the shopping centre.

manifest (verb)

Meaning: something that becomes visible or noticeable; makes an appearance. 

Usage: often used to describe someone or something that can now be seen or comes into view. 

Example: Halloween decorations and costumes manifest each year in October.

Example: The anger on the man’s face manifested after the rude server spilled his coffee and didn’t apologize.

swagger (noun)

Meaning: someone that walks in a confident and maybe arrogant way.

Usage: often used to describe someone that acts/walks in a way that is overly-assured or proud. Can also be used as a verb.

Example The rapper got out of his million dollar car with a swagger that no one at the party could ignore.

Example: Michelle swaggered through the school halls after she aced her exams.

deft (adj)

Meaning: someone that shows skill at movement or moving their body; especially their hands.

 Usage: often used to describe someone with athletic ability or gracefulness. Also used to describe skill of thought and mental ability.

Example: The football star’s deft handling of the ball made the defense look amateurish.

Example: The lawyer was so deft at prosecuting criminal cases, it was easy to get a conviction.

recuperate (verb)

Meaning: to get strength or health back to a normal level.

Usage: often used when someone needs to recover or take rest in order to get healthy or continue doing something. Can also mean to get money back.

Example: It took me a few days to recuperate after my battle with the flu.

Example: Allow your body to recuperate after any type of vigorous exercise.

meager (adj)

Meaning: small in amount, quality or extent.

Usage: often used to talk about a small portion(s) of something that is often not enough.

Example: People with a limited supply of food try to survive on meager portions.

Example: William lives off a meager salary so he doesn’t have any extra money.

Example: The meager rainstorm brought little rain.

checkered (adj)

Meaning: describes the ups and downs of someone’s past. In other words, the good and bad performances. Also used to describe squares with alternating colors.

Usage: often used to talk about someone’s career or life events marked with achievements and failures. 

Example: The businessman had a checkered past when it came to delivering what he promised to his clients.

Example: The student’s checkered performance in school leads to increased pressure to succeed.

veracious (adj)

Meaning: to habitually tell the truth and to be precisely accurate.

Usage: someone who is veracious speaks the truth – like your brutally honest friend who always lets you know what they think.

Example: The veracious witness gave an unbiased description of the events that led to the accident.

Example: The reporter gave a veracious account of the details and facts that led to the political scandal.

fatuous (adj)

Meaning: means lacking intelligence, silly or foolish.

Usage: describes someone or something that is unintelligent or doesn’t require the use of mental effort. Often used in a smug or self-satisfied way.

Example: “In the era of President Trump, politics is reduced to a fatuous, debilitating spectacle.” – Washington Post – 12 August 2018

Example: Expecting students to memorize stuff they’ll soon forget is fatuous.

penchant (noun)

Meaning: a strong preference or tendency.

Usage: when you want to talk about a strong liking, you might use the phrase “penchant for”.

Example: If you have a penchant for hamburgers, you might eat them every day or wish you did.

Example: Millenials have a penchant for using the “share economy”. That’s why sites and apps like Airbnb and Uber are so popular.

ensue (verb)

Meaning: an action that follows after or is the result.

Usage: often used when you want to talk about something that is likely to happen after another action.

Example: If you say something rude to someone, an argument may ensure due to your words.

Example: A struggle might ensure if a thief grabs a purse.

Example: A discussion may ensure if two sides disagree.

ungainly (adj)

Meaning: describes something that is lacking grace, inconvenient, not easy or has an awkward appearance.

Usage: use it to talk about people and things that are strange, complicated or clumsy.

Example: Some say that the giraffe is an ungainly creature.

Example: The notch on the top of some modern phones is an ungainly and lazy solution to removing large bezels and keeping front facing cameras.

flourish (verb)

Meaning: growth, success, development, the act of waving or an extra touch.

Usage: has many meanings, but often used for something that thrives or prospers.

Example: The battle royale style of game has flourished in the past year and a half with massive success coming from PUBG and Fortnite.

Example: The garden flourished with color in the springtime.

sultry (adj)

Meaning: describes conditions as hot, humid and stifling. Also describes attractiveness or passion.

Usage: when the weather is sultry, imagine sweltering heat. When someone does a sultry dance, it may be attractive to you. 

Example: The sultry summer weather in Hong Kong makes me reach for a tall glass of iced lemon tea.

Example: The actress gave an accurate and sultry performance of the pop star she was portraying.

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