Diction Exercise (407)

Some words are their own opposites. Each of the following sentences contains an example of such words. Choose the definition that fits the context of the sentence.

  • The doctor asked the company to screen their latest film privately in the hospital.

  • The new ruling on same sex marriage was expected to cleave the congregation.

  • The officers were sanctioned for unbecoming behavior.

  • When we got there, the Jeep was fast in the mud.

  • The safety of the President lies within the oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.

Answers and Explanations

1. The doctor asked the company to screen their latest film privately in the hospital.

Correct: display for viewing
Other uses of screen as a verb: "She screens her telephone calls by looking at the Caller ID; she doesn’t answer calls from unfamiliar area codes" (examine in order to make a decision). "When patients share a room, they are screened from one another by a curtain" (concealed).

2. The new ruling on same sex marriage was expected to cleave the congregation.

Correct: divide
One meaning of the verb cleave is "to split in two" or "separate" with a sharp instrument": "Gawain knew he was expected to cleave the Green Knight’s head from his shoulders." Cleave also means, "to attach closely, as if with glue": "Some people cleave to outdated ideas even when presented with evidence to the contrary."

3. The officers were sanctioned for unbecoming behavior.

Correct: punished
One meaning of sanction is to impose a penalty of some kind: "The legal team was sanctioned for alleged jury tampering." Another meaning of sanction is "to approve": "After some debate, the committee sanctioned the appointment of the new judge."

4. When we got there, the Jeep was fast in the mud.

Correct: at a standstill
fast (adjective): rapid. Example: "That boy on the track team is fast."
fast (adjective): firmly fixed. "The harpoon was fast in the whale’s back."

5. The safety of the President lies within the oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.

Correct: careful review
oversight (noun): watchful care. "Each counsellor is responsible for the oversight of eighty students."
oversight (noun): error of omission "The gravity of the oversight regarding security resulted in the dismissal of the department director."

Related Articles

Subscribe to our articles and exercises