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# Word for the Day

  The wielding of power through cruelty and terror… despotism   Despotism is a way of ruling in which the leader has total, unchecked power. Joseph Stalin purged the Soviet Union of all his opponents in order to rule the country through despotism. He didn’t have many friends.   Despotism can also describe tyranny, the wielding of power…

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# Word for the Day

  impulsive and unpredictable… capricious   Capricious is an adjective to describe a person or thing that’s impulsive and unpredictable, like a bride who suddenly leaves her groom standing at the wedding altar.   You can criticize a fickle-minded person as capricious, but it could just as well describe quickly changing weather, as in “capricious spring storms.” It’s…

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# Word for the Day

To get angry easily… irascible   If you’re irascible, you get angry easily — perhaps blowing up in rage when someone brushes into you.   Irascible comes from the Latin root ira, which means “anger” or “rage,” the same root that gives us the word ire, “anger.” The -sc in the middle of irascible, means “becoming,” so irascible doesn’t just mean you’re angry —…

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# Word for the Day

Being calm.  Almost without emotion.   stoic   Being stoic is being calm and almost without any emotion. When you’re stoic, you don’t show what you’re feeling and you also accept whatever is happening.   The noun stoic is a person who’s not very emotional. The adjective stoicdescribes any person, action, or thing that seems emotionless and almost blank. Mr. Spock,…

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# Word for the Day

A casual little drawing… doodle   A doodle is a casual little drawing you do, often while you’re doing something else, like talking on the phone or listening to a teacher’s lecture. Your history notebook might be equal parts notes and doodles.   A doodle can vary from a meaningless scribble or scrawl to a detailed picture of…

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# Word for the Day

Shoddy stuff… schlock   Schlock is cheap, shoddy stuff that’s for sale. You might browse through a gift shop hoping to buy the perfect memento, but find nothing but schlock.   Schlock isn’t made well, and it’s not really worth much. It’s an informal word for trashy, junky merchandise — or trashy, low-rent movies, TV shows, or…

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# Word for the Day

To act snobby and superior… supercilious   Supercilious people think very highly of themselves, more highly than of others. If your sister tends to act snobby and superior, you can describe her as supercilious.   You might expect Nobel Prize winners to be supercilious — after all, they’ve reached the very heights of their profession. But one-on-one,…