Word Choice Exercise (286)

Words have various connotations, something implied in a word in addition to its primary meaning. Choose the appropriate word according to its context in the following sentences.

  • Cutting the brake lines on the girl’s car was a ______ act on his part.

  • The people on the beach were horrified at the approach of the _____ wave.

  • Don’t you think that a dress covered by red sequins is a bit _____ to wear to a wedding?

  • Andrew Carnegie was noted for his _____ works, especially in the establishment of free libraries.

  • Do you know if this signature of Abraham Lincoln is _____?

Answers and Explanations

1. Cutting the brake lines on the girl’s car was a malicious act on his part.

Bad is a broad term that can include various degrees of ill will. Mischievous is usually applied to the playfulness of children. Malicious carries the connotation of evil intent to cause harm.

2. The people on the beach were horrified at the approach of the gigantic wave.

All three carry the sense of big, but only gigantic is strong enough to inspire fear.

3. Don’t you think that a dress covered by red sequins is a bit gaudy to wear to a wedding?

Colors can be "bright" or "loud" without being gaudy. The latter implies an absence of good taste as well as brightness.

4. Andrew Carnegie was noted for his philanthropic works, especially in the establishment of free libraries.

When a wealthy person bestows gifts to the public on a lavish scale, the most appropriate word is philanthropic.

5. Do you know if this signature of Abraham Lincoln is authentic?

All three words suggest genuineness, but in the context of a manuscript or a signature, authentic is the usual choice.

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