Vocabulary Quiz #1

By Mark Nichol

In each sentence, choose the correct word from the pair of similar terms. (If both words possibly can be correct, choose the more plausible one.)

1. He was __________ about whether the change was a good idea.
a) ambivalent
b) ambiguous

2. Her score on the test was _______________.
a) exceptionable
b) exceptional

3. His ________ companion became even more obnoxious as the night wore on.
a) arrant
b) errant

4. I asked them to ___________ my latest short story.
a) criticize
b) critique

5. She delivered the ____________ at her father’s memorial service.
a) elegy
b) eulogy

Solutions

1. He was ambivalent about whether the change was a good idea.

Ambivalent means contradictory or unsure. Ambiguous, on the other hand, involves something that can be understood in two or more possible ways.

2. Her score on the test was exceptional.

Exceptional is the right word in this context. Exceptionable means being likely to cause objection.

3. His arrant companion became even more obnoxious as the night wore on.

Arrant means without moderation, while errant means traveling or given to traveling.

4. I asked them to critique my latest short story.

Critique means to evaluate both the merits and demerits, while criticize usually means to find faults on something.

5. She delivered the eulogy at her father’s memorial service.

Eulogy is a a commendatory oration or writing, while elegy refers to a poem or song.

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6 Responses to “Vocabulary Quiz #1”

  • Catriona

    I disagree on this one:
    3. His ________ companion became even more obnoxious as the night wore on.
    a) arrant
    b) errant

    You say “arrant”, but that is a dated word meaning ‘complete, utter’, as in “What arrant nonsense!”

    “Errant” is a formal or humorous word meaning ‘erring or straying from the accepted course or standards’. Examples:
    – “That explains, in part, his decision last week to pardon the errant scientist.”
    – “In due course the errant professor is brought to his knees by a cabal of the politically correct”
    – “Unless we punish errant husbands, this abuse will continue.”

    https://premium.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/errant

  • venqax

    Very good topic! How about:

    The biochemical processes of the brain are extremely________.
    a) complicated
    b) complex

  • venqax

    @Catriona: I tink I half-agree. Arrant means complete or thoroughgoing. So, “arrant companion” makes no sense. But I don’t accept “errant” as meaning anything other than wondering, or rootless, etc. as in a “knight errant” and I think modern uses of it to mean “in error” or “off the reservation” of some kind is the result of a misidentification with the word error (cf. enormity/enormousness, noisesome/noisy). So unless the scientists, professors, or husband are actually roaming aimlessly around the countryside, I’d say pick a different word.

  • venqax

    Clarification (as if my words were important): When I said, “I think modern uses of it to mean “in error”…” i was not implying that the use of “errant” in that way was a modern invention. I think that use is quite old, in fact. I meant that to still use it to mean “in error” is misguided, IMO.

  • Agua Caliente

    This topic took me back more than couple of decades, to the first session of a collegiate editing class called “Editing for Science and Technology.” We students were given a short introductory quiz (not counted towards a grade). One of the questions was:
    The actor gave a _____ performance:
    a) credible
    b) creditable

    I knew both meanings and answered “b.” This was deemed incorrect. My hairs were prickled and I argued as best I could—to no avail, of course.

    Here, I’m not sure I like either arrant or errant.

  • venqax

    @Agua Caliente: I would have argued, too. Either of those works fine. Good example of Bad Question Syndrome which can infect multiple choice tests.

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