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Organized by: Osama Bin Amer
In this lesson, we are vocabulary words that These words and cordial. Each of “polite,” but are used in specific ways than When you act civil you are polite, but in a way. Two people who may act civil, but not friendly, toward one another. going to look at denote polite behavior. are civil, courteous, these words means more nuanced and simply saying “polite.” toward another person, rather cold and formal don’t like each other
If you want to say “genuinely polite and considerate,” you should use the word courteous. When someone is described as courteous, it implies that the person has good manners and consideration for others. The word cordial goes beyond the word courteous when speaking about politeness and good manners. Someone who is cordial with others is polite, and also warm and friendly. Cordial can also be somewhat formal, especially when used as an adverb. An invitation to a party or event may say, “You are cordially invited,” which means, “You are formally (and warmly) invited.” So, if you were asked how you feel about your new coworker, and the two of you were polite, but didn’t particularly like each other, you may reply, “We’re civil to one another.” If you were describing someone who is genuinely polite and considerate, you would say the person is courteous. And if you were describing a warm, though somewhat formal, relationship between two people, you would describe it as cordial.
Do you know a more sophisticated way of saying 100% certain? Here are two great words to know: Categorical and unequivocal. If something is categorical, it is certain, absolute, and without possibility of change. Often in the media, we hear of somebody categorically denying something, which means denying it completely and unconditionally, without any qualifications; it is a complete and total denial. Categorical is often used to reject any suggestion of guilt or involvement in something nefarious (bad), as in, “I categorically deny any involvement in these plans.” Unequivocal means that something is completely clear, with no room for any misunderstanding. If you give someone an unequivocal answer to a question, your answer can’t possibly be misinterpreted. Unequivocally is best used to describe how you will answer a question. If you answer a question unequivocally, you are not trying to hide anything (or equivocate)--you are being straight, clear and forthright.
To recap: Politicians are known for avoiding straight answers. If a politician is asked a “yes-or-no” question, but he or she fails to provide a yes or no answer, you could say, “Why can’t he just answer the question unequivocally (without room for misinterpretation), with a yes or no answer?” If a politician is asked if he had been involved in a scandal, he would probably say”NO, I categorically (absolutely) deny any involvement.”
If, in a court of law, you were categorically and unequivocally denying guilt, you would be attesting to your innocence. What are some other words you might use to declare, state, or prove that something is true? The words attest, assert, affirm, aver, avow and contend are used to formally state that something is true, often in an official capacity. Attest can refer to giving testimony in a court of law. Attest is also used to mean that something has shown something else to be true, correct, or genuine. For example, “I can attest to his talent,” or, “His career success attests to his talent.” Attest is similar in meaning to assert, affirm, aver, and avow (all “a” words). To assert means, “To declare boldly, forcefully, and categorically.” Sometimes you need to assert your point of view, so that people will respect you and believe you. You can also assert yourself if you’re trying to gain respect and recognition. For example, a new employee might assert him or herself in a meeting, by confidently putting forth new ideas. To affirm means confirm or corroborate that something is true. “No one believed that there was an accident until I affirmed I saw it happen.” Aver means “to state confidently.” When you aver something you have verified the truth and veracity of your statement, and you know it to be 100% certain. Avow is similar to aver because it also means “to state that something is true,” but avow is best used to state, and often to admit, guilt or culpability. Avow should be used to state an open declaration. Here’s an example of correct usage for attest and avow: “I attest that he is innocent and was with me last night.” “I avow that I am guilty of the crime.” Again, avow tends to be used to state guilt or to acknowledge something bad. Finally, contend means to maintain or assert you point of view. While the “a” words we just discussed simply denote stating or declaring something, when you contend something, you may have to argue in defense of your statement. For instance, “I disagree with your view, and I contend that democracy will spread around the world.”
In lesson you will learn words that describe freeing someone of guilt? Exculpate, exonerate, vindicate and absolve are words you can use in the context of freeing or relieving someone. Exculpate means, “to free from guilt.” You may have heard the Latin phrase mea culpa, which translates to “my guilt, my fault,” and you have most likely
heard the word culprit, “someone who is guilty.” To exculpate is “to free from guilt.” Exculpate and its synonym absolve are formal terms. Exculpate is often used in legalese to discuss release from blame, while absolve is often used in the religious setting to forgive someone’s sins. Exonerate is similar to exculpate in its meaning, “to absolve of guilt,” but exonerate also means “to release from an obligatory debt or duty.” Exonerate essentially means “to clear.” For example, “The judge exonerated (cleared) him of all charges and related punishment.” To vindicate is to clear someone of guilt or suspicion. Vindication refers to the evidence used to vindicate someone. For a memory trick, note how vindicate sounds a little like “win the case.” If you win your court case, you will be vindicated and proven to be free from blame in a court of law. When a judge exonerates (frees, clears) someone of all wrongdoing, he also vindicates that person. To recap: If you wanted to say “free from all blame,” in a very formal way, you would use the word exculpate. In a trial court, a jury would exonerate someone if they thought he or she was not guilty of committing a crime. The evidence presented to the jury would vindicate the defendant. The person would be freed and absolved of participation in the crime.
In this lesson, we’ll focus on words used to describe a difficult situation or problem. These words are: quandary, predicament, dilemma and conundrum. Quandary is a good word to use when faced with a problem that has no easy solution. If you had a quandary on your hands, you would have a hard time making a decision. Quandary is similar to predicament and dilemma, with slightly different applications. Predicament is best used to denote a situation that is difficult to get out of. Dilemma is best used to denote a situation where you have to make a difficult decision between two alternatives. Quandary is best used to describe a state of not being able to make a decision. A conundrum is an intricate and difficult problem with a seemingly impossible solution. One more word to note here is qualm. A qualm is the feeling of doubt or uneasiness that you feel when faced with a quandary, predicament, dilemma or conundrum. Let’s review: If you flew to Chicago to give an important presentation, but you forgot your presentation slides back at your office, you would be in a --predicament (difficult situation). If you were responsible for hiring a new employee and you liked two candidates equally, this would be a ---- dilemma (difficult choice). If you received two great job offers and you could not, for the life of you, decide which one to take, you would be in a real ---- quandary (state of not being able to make a decision). And finally, making last minute travel
plans during the holidays can prove to be a real ---- conundrum (difficult problem).
In this lesson we will review two words you should use when discussing the gathering of information: cull and glean. Cull is a phrasal verb, which means that it is always used in the context of culling something from something else. When you cull information, you collect and gather information from various places. Another definition of cull is “to remove selected things,” so when culling information, you could look at it as discarding worthless or unnecessary information, and keeping only the important information about a particular thing. A systems analyst, for example, may cull information from extensive data to form a concise report. Glean is used in a similar way, but refers specifically to obtaining small amounts of information about something, over some time. When you glean information, you may have a hard time putting together the whole story. For example, “From what I was able to glean, we may be firing our ad agency, but I don’t have all the information yet, so I’m not sure.” To recap: Use the verb cull when you are gathering information from various sources to put together the full story. Use the verb glean when you have only limited information, obtained over a period of time, and you don’t necessarily know all the facts.
In this last lesson, we will review two verbs that mean explain. These two verbs are elucidated and illuminate. Elucidate is related to the English word lucid, meaning “clear and easy to understand.” When you elucidate something, you make it more clear and easy to understand. Elucidate is a good word to use when you want to sound a little more formal or sophisticated. For instance, “I didn’t quite get your point. Could you elucidate?” Both lucid and elucidate are derived from the same Latin word that means, “Light.” So, when you elucidate, you shine light on something that was previously dark or unclear, so now it is clear and easily understood. In the same vein, illuminate means “to shed light on something,” both in the literal and figurative sense. The adjective illuminating is also great to use when describing something that provides information to make something easier to understand, as in, “That article provided some illuminating (clarifying) information on the reasons for the recession.” To recap, use elucidate to say, “clarify” and use illuminating to say, “Clarifying.”
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