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Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 3rd Edition

accession noun [U ]
1. the time when someone starts a position of authority, especially king or queen
1926 was the year of Emperor Hirohito's accession to the throne.
2. the time when a country officially joins a group of countries or signs an agreement
Poland's accession to the EU

albeit conjunction FORMAL

The evening was very pleasant, albeit a little quiet.
He tried, albeit without success.

annotate verb [T ] FORMAL

to add a short explanation or opinion to a text or drawing
Annotated editions of Shakespeare's plays help readers to understand old words.

annotation noun [C or U]
The annotation of literary texts makes them more accessible.
The revised edition of the book includes many useful annotations.

appal (-ll-) , US USUALLY appall verb [T ]

to make someone have strong feelings of shock or of disapproval
I was appalled at/by the lack of staff in the hospital.
The state of the kitchen appalled her.

appalling adjective
1. shocking and very bad
appalling injuries
Prisoners were kept in the most appalling conditions.
2. very bad
appalling weather
The journey home was appalling.

attire noun [U ] FORMAL

clothes, especially of a particular or formal type
I hardly think jeans are appropriate attire for a wedding.

belated adjective
coming later than expected
a belated apology
They did make a belated attempt to reduce the noise.
Belated birthday greetings!

belatedly adverb

bicker verb [I ] DISAPPROVING

to argue about things which are not important
Will you two stop bickering!
They're always bickering with each other about/over their personal problems.

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Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 3rd Edition

bifurcate verb [I ] FORMAL

(of roads, rivers, branches) to divide into two parts
A sample of water was taken from the point where the river bifurcates.

bleak adjective
1. If weather or a place is bleak, it is cold, empty and not welcoming or attractive
The house stands on a bleak, windswept moor.
2. If a situation is bleak, there is little or no hope for the future
The economic outlook is bleak.

brazen sth out phrasal verb [M ]

to act confidently and not admit that a problem exists
I decided to brazen it out and hoped they wouldn't notice the scratch on the car.

callous adjective
unkind or cruel; without sympathy or feeling for other people
It might sound callous, but I don't care if he's homeless. He's not living with me!

callously adverb

callousness noun [U]

chaotic adjective
in a state of chaos
The house is a bit chaotic at the moment - we've got all these extra people staying and we're still
He's a chaotic sort of a person - always trying to do twenty things at once.

chronic adjective LONG LASTING

1. (especially of a disease or something bad) continuing for a long time
chronic diseases/conditions
chronic arthritis/pain
a chronic invalid
There is a chronic shortage of teachers.

chum up phrasal verb UK OLD-FASHIONED INFORMAL

to become friends
She chummed up with some girls from Bristol on holiday.

clad adjective LITERARY

(of people) dressed, or (of things) covered
A strange figure appeared in the doorway, clad in white.
an ivy-clad wall
an armour-clad vehicle

comatose adjective
1. SPECIALIZED in a coma
2. INFORMAL very tired or in a deep sleep because of extreme tiredness, hard work or too much

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Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 3rd Edition

By midnight I was virtually comatose.

constrain verb [T often passive ]

to control and limit something
The country's progress was constrained by a leader who refused to look forward.

constrained adjective
1. constrained to do sth
forced to do something against your will
Don't feel constrained to do what he says - he's got no authority.
2. describes behaviour that is forced and unnatural
a constrained voice/manner

cordial adjective FRIENDLY

1. friendly, but formal and polite
a cordial smile/greeting/welcome/reception
Relations between the two leaders are said to be cordial.

cordial adjective STRONG

2. FORMAL(of a feeling, especially dislike) strong
The two statesmen are known to have a cordial dislike for each other.

cordially adverb FORMAL

You are cordially invited to attend our annual wine-tasting evening.
On a personal level, they came to be cordially disliked.

countenance noun FORMAL FACE

1. [C or U] the appearance or expression of someone's face
He was of noble countenance.

countenance noun FORMAL APPROVAL

2. [U] approval
We will not give/lend countenance to any kind of terrorism.

cynical adjective DISAPPROVING

1. believing that people are only interested in themselves and are not sincere
I think she takes a rather cynical view of men.
I've always been deeply cynical about politicians.
2. describes the use of someone's feelings or emotions to your own advantage
She works in that most cynical of industries - advertising.
He praises my cooking but it's just a cynical ploy to get me to make his meals.

cynically adverb

cynicism noun [U]

He's often been accused of cynicism in his attitude towards politics.

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Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 3rd Edition

dent noun [C ]
a small hollow mark in the surface of something, caused by pressure or by being hit
a dent in the door of a car

dent verb [T ]
1. to make a small hollow mark in the surface of something
I dropped a hammer on the floor, and it dented the floorboard.
2. If you dent someone's confidence or pride, you make them feel less confident or proud
His confidence was badly dented when he didn't get into the football team.

dereliction noun FAILURE

1. [C or U] (a) failure to do what you should do
What you did was a grave dereliction of duty.

elicit verb [T ] FORMAL

to get or produce something, especially information or a reaction
Have you managed to elicit a response from them yet?
The questionnaire was intended to elicit information on eating habits.
They were able to elicit the support of the public.

ferocious adjective
frightening and violent
a ferocious dog
a ferocious battle
She's got a ferocious (= very bad) temper.
The president came in for some ferocious criticism.

ferry verb [T usually + adv/prep ]

to transport people or goods in a vehicle, especially regularly and often
I spend most of my time ferrying the children about.

fodder noun [U ] ANIMAL FOOD

1. food that is given to cows, horses and other farm animals


2. people or things that are useful for the stated purpose
Politicians are always good fodder for comedians (= they make jokes about them).

gory adjective
involving violence and blood
a very gory film
the gory details of the operation

hail verb CALL

1. [T] SLIGHTLY FORMAL to call someone in order to attract their attention
Shall we hail a taxi?
I tried to hail her from across the room.

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Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 3rd Edition

hearsay noun [U ]
information you have heard, although you do not know whether it is true or not
The evidence against them is all hearsay.

hoax noun [C ]
a plan to deceive someone, such as telling the police there is a bomb somewhere when there is not
one, or a trick
The bomb threat turned out to be a hoax.
He'd made a hoax call claiming to be the President.

hover verb
1. [I usually + adverb or preposition] to stay in one place in the air, usually by moving the wings
A hawk hovered in the sky, waiting to swoop down on its prey.
I heard the noise of a helicopter hovering overhead.
2. [I usually + adverb or preposition] to stand somewhere, especially near another person, eagerly
or nervously waiting for their attention
A waiter hovered at the table, ready to take our order.
I could sense him behind me, hovering and building up the courage to ask me a question.
3. [I + adverb or preposition] to stay at or near a particular level
Inflation is hovering at 3%.

huff noun [C ] INFORMAL

1. an angry and offended mood
Ted's gone into one of his huffs again.
2. in a huff
angry and offended
She's in a real huff because I forgot her birthday.
Julia criticized some aspect of his work and he left/went off in a huff.

huff and puff

1. to breathe loudly, usually after physical exercise
We were huffing and puffing by the time we'd climbed to the top of the hill.
2. INFORMAL DISAPPROVING to complain loudly and express disapproval
They huffed and puffed about the price but eventually they paid up.

impel verb [T ] (-ll-)

to make someone feel that they must do something
[+ to infinitive] She was in such a mess I felt impelled to (= felt I had to) offer your services.
I wonder what it is that impels him to exercise all the time.

impending adjective [before noun ]

describes an event, usually something unpleasant or unwanted, that is going to happen soon
impending disaster/doom
Lineker announced his impending retirement from international football before the 1992
European Championships.

insurmountable adjective FORMAL

(especially of a problem or a difficulty) so great that it cannot be dealt with successfully
insurmountable difficulties

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Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 3rd Edition

This small country is faced with an insurmountable debt.

lame duck noun [C ] UNSUCCESSFUL

1. an unsuccessful person or thing

largesse , largess noun [U ] FORMAL

willingness to give money, or money given to poor people by rich people
The national theatre will be the main beneficiary of the millionaire's largesse.

leisure noun [U ]
the time when you are not working or doing other duties
leisure activities
Most people only have a limited amount of leisure time.
The town lacks leisure facilities such as a swimming pool or squash courts.

oblivion noun [U ] NO MEMORY

1. the state of being completely forgotten
He was another minor poet, perhaps unfairly consigned to oblivion.
These toys will be around for a year or two, then fade/slide/sink into oblivion.
2. the state of being completely destroyed
The planes bombed the city into oblivion.

oblivion noun [U ] UNCONSCIOUS

3. the state of being unconscious
He sought oblivion in a bottle of whisky.

oblivious adjective
not conscious of something, especially what is happening around you
Absorbed in her work, she was totally oblivious of her surroundings.
The government seems oblivious to the likely effects of the new legislation.

obliviously adverb

ombudsman noun [C ]
someone who works for a government or large organization and deals with the complaints made
against it
Complaints to the Banking Ombudsman grew by 50 per cent last year.


a discussion between two groups of people, especially one that is intended to end an argument

pious adjective RELIGIOUS

1. strongly believing in religion, and living in a way which shows this belief
She is a pious follower of the faith, never missing her prayers.

pious adjective PRETENDING

2. DISAPPROVING pretending to have sincere feelings

Cambridge University Press 2008

Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 3rd Edition

Quit the pious apologies - I know you don't really care.

3. pious hope
UK something which is unlikely to happen

piquant adjective INTERESTING

1. interesting and exciting, especially because mysterious
More piquant details of their private life were revealed.

rake sth up phrasal verb [M ]

to talk again about a past event or experience which should be forgotten, because it upsets or
annoys someone else
She's always raking up the past/that old quarrel.

rake sth/sb up phrasal verb [M ]

to get the things or people you need, with difficulty or by looking in various places
I'm trying to rake up some people to play football on Saturday - do you want to come along?

rapport noun [S or U ]
a good understanding of someone and an ability to communicate well with them
We'd worked together for years and developed a close/good rapport.
She has an excellent rapport with her staff.

rebuff verb [T ] FORMAL

to refuse to accept a helpful suggestion or offer from someone, often by answering in an unfriendly
She rebuffed all suggestions that she should resign.

rebuff noun [C]

Her desperate request for help was met with a rebuff.

renaissance noun [S ]
a new growth of activity or interest in something, especially art, literature or music
Opera in Britain is enjoying a long-awaited renaissance.

Renaissance adjective [before noun]

Renaissance art/painting/architecture

restrain verb [T ]
to control the actions or behaviour of someone by force, especially in order to stop them from doing
something, or to limit the growth or force of something
When he started fighting, it took four police officers to restrain him.
[R] She was so angry that she could hardly restrain herself.
You should try to restrain your ambitions and be more realistic.
Growth in car ownership could be restrained by increasing taxes.

restrained adjective
1. acting in a calm and controlled way
I was expecting him to be furious but he was very restrained.
2. controlled

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Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 3rd Edition

a more restrained policy on mortgage lending

The tone of his poetry is restrained and unemotional.

revel verb [I ] (-ll- or US USUALLY -l-) LITERARY

to dance, drink, sing, etc. at a party or in public, especially in a noisy way

reveller UK , US reveler noun [C]

On New Year's Eve, thousands of revellers fill Trafalgar Square.

rottweiler noun [C ]
a large, frightening and sometimes dangerous type of dog
FIGURATIVE Jenkins is one of the new breed of political rottweilers in his party.

sarcastic adjective (UK INFORMAL sarky)

using sarcasm
a sarcastic comment/remark
Are you being sarcastic?

savour UK , US savor verb [T ]

to enjoy food or an experience slowly, in order to enjoy it as much as possible
It was the first chocolate he'd tasted for over a year, so he savoured every mouthful.

scuttle verb RUN

1. [I usually + adverb or preposition] to move quickly, with small short steps, especially in order to
A crab scuttled away under a rock as we passed.
The children scuttled off as soon as the headmaster appeared.

scuttle verb SINK

2. [T] to intentionally sink a ship, especially your own, in order to prevent it from being taken by an
3. [T] to stop something happening, or to cause a plan to fail

shoo verb [T usually + adv/prep ] (shooing, shooed, shooed) INFORMAL

to make sounds and movements in order to send animals or children away
Go and shoo that cat away before it catches a bird.

shrug verb [I or T ] (-gg-)

to raise your shoulders and then lower them in order to say you do not know or are not interested
"Where's Dad?" "How should I know?" replied my brother, shrugging.
He shrugged his shoulders as if to say that there was nothing he could do about it.
FIGURATIVE Thousands of people are starving to death while the world shrugs its shoulders (=
shows no interest or care).

shrug sth off phrasal verb [M ] NOT WORRY

1. to treat something as if it is not important or not a problem
The stock market shrugged off the economic gloom and rose by 1.5%.
You're a father and you can't simply shrug off your responsibility for your children.

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Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 3rd Edition

shrug sth off phrasal verb [M ] NOT KEEP

2. to get rid of something unpleasant that you do not want
I hope I can shrug off this cold before I go on holiday.
The city is trying to shrug off its industrial image and promote itself as a tourist centre.


1. [I] (of prices, values or sales) to fall suddenly
The value of property has slumped.
Car sales have slumped dramatically over the past year.

squawk verb [I ]
1. to make an unpleasantly loud sharp cry
As the fox came into the yard, the chickens began squawking in alarm.
2. INFORMAL DISAPPROVING to complain about something noisily
Environmental groups have been squawking about the decision to build the motorway through a


2. [T] to prevent something from happening, being expressed or continuing
She stifled a cough/yawn/scream/sneeze.
I don't know how I managed to stifle my anger.
We should be encouraging new ideas, not stifling them.

stifling adjective PREVENT HAPPENING

2. preventing something from happening
stifling bureaucracy

stutter verb [I ] SPEAK

1. to speak or say something, especially the first part of a word, with difficulty, for example pausing
before it or repeating it several times
She stutters a bit, so let her finish what she's saying.
[+ speech] "C-c-can we g-go now?" stuttered Jenkins.

stutter verb [I ] NOT SMOOTH

2. to work or happen in a way that is not smooth or regular
Suddenly the engine stuttered and then it stopped completely.

tailored adjective FOR PURPOSE

3. made or adapted especially for a particular situation or purpose
The project clearly requires a tailored computer system.

temptation noun
1. [C or U] the wish to do or have something which you know you should not do or have
[+ to infinitive] As a young actress, she managed to resist the temptation to move to
2. [C] something that makes you want to do or have something that you know you should not
He knew it was wrong to steal, but the money just lying there was too great a temptation.

Cambridge University Press 2008

Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 3rd Edition

tempting adjective
If something is tempting, you want to do or have it
a tempting offer
That pie looks very tempting.
[+ to infinitive] It's tempting to blame television for the increase in crime.

tinker verb [I usually + adv/prep ]

to make small changes to something, especially in an attempt to repair or improve it
He spends every weekend tinkering (about) with his car.
I wish the government would stop tinkering with the health service.

travesty noun [C ] SLIGHTLY FORMAL

something which fails to represent the values and qualities that it is intended to represent, in a way
that is shocking or offensive
Their production of 'Macbeth' was quite the worst I've ever seen - it was a travesty.
Langdale described the court ruling as a travesty of justice.

undue adjective [before noun ] FORMAL

to a level which is more than is necessary, acceptable or reasonable
Such a high increase will impose an undue burden on the local tax payer.

unduly adverb
There's no need to be unduly pessimistic about the situation.

variegated adjective
having a pattern of different colours or marks
variegated leaves
a variegated plant

variegation noun [U]

vein noun TUBE

1. [C] a tube that carries blood to the heart from the other parts of the body
2. [C] the frame of a leaf or an insect's wing

vein noun MOOD

5. [S or U] a style or a temporary mood
The opening scene is very violent, and the rest of the film continues in (a) similar vein.
After laughing over the photo, they began to talk in (a) more serious vein about the damaging
effect it could have on his career.

verbose adjective FORMAL DISAPPROVING

using or containing more words than are necessary
a verbose explanation/report/speech/style
He was a notoriously verbose after-dinner speaker.

yawning adjective [before noun ]

1. describes a difference or amount that is extremely large and difficult to reduce

Cambridge University Press 2008

Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 3rd Edition

There exists nowadays a yawning gap between fashion and style.

2. describes a space or hole that is very wide
a yawning crevasse

yearning noun [C or U ]
a strong feeling of wishing for something, especially something that you cannot have or get easily
I suppose it's because I live in a city that I have this yearning for open spaces.

Cambridge University Press 2008