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As part of our fun series on extreme words, this post will give you 12 difficult, obscure words to be matched to 12 sentences. At the end of the post, you will see the answers together with the definitions of the words.

Have fun!

Extreme words

Homiletic     Demiurge      Officinal Wend     Gravamen      Fructify      Hortative     Apodictic     Stridulate     Esemplastic     Mucilaginous     Prehension


  1. The therapeutic properties of this _______________ herb has been recorded in medical books since Hippocrates.
  2. The conference ended up being largely futile—big on ________________ statements and little on actual, practical action.
  3. Michelangelo was known to his contemporaries as “il Divino,” which is telling of their extreme regard for him as a _________________ of sorts during the Renaissance period.
  4. Forecasters predict that strategic reforms made over the past years will finally ______________ this quarter and bring forth log-awaited economic growth.
  5. The __________________ nature of psyllium is actually a contributing factor to its well-known detoxification properties.
  6. It is, above all, the complete negligence of the accused that constitutes the _____________________ of the charge. 
  7. That writer’s works are known to be diffuse and sometimes frivolous, in contrast to those of his contender’s which are pedantic and __________________.
  8. The conductor and writer Leonard Bernstein has frequently been described as having an _________________ ability to synthesize disparate strands from different types of music into a cogent work of art.
  9. Entomologists study the distinctive high-pitched sounds produced by male insects when they _____________ to survey the different species that inhabit a specific area.
  10. The tourist had to ______________ his way through the deserted countryside on foot after his car broke down.
  11. The new publication by Harvard Press, which focuses on the history, design and applications of robot grippers, is the first to deal with robotic _______________in such a thorough way.
  12. The majority of the economist’s predictions have been unerringly accurate, but his last pronouncement in the New York Times was not as ________________.

Answers and definitions:

  1. Officinal [from Medieval Latin officinalis, literally “of or belonging in an officina,” a storeroom (of a monastery) for medicines and necessaries]: medicinal, tending or used to cure disease or relieve pain
  2. Hortative [from Latin hortativus “that serves for encouragement”]: serving to advise, warn or strongly urge
  3. Demiurge [from Latinized form of Greek demiourgos]: an autonomous creative force or decisive power
  4. Fructify [from Late Latin fructificare “bear fruit”]: to make productive
  5. Mucilaginous [from Late Latin mucilaginosus, from mucillago, mucilage]: sticky, viscid
  6. Gravamen [from Late Latin gravamen “trouble, physical inconvenience” (in Medieval Latin, “a grievance”), literally “a burden”]: the  
      or significant part of a grievance
  7. Homiletic [from homilia “conversation, discourse,” in New Testament, “sermon”, “homily”]: preachy, or morally instructive
  8. Esemplastic [coined by Coleridge, probably after German  
      ‘forming into one’]: shaping or having the power to shape disparate things into a unified whole
  9. Stridulate [from Latin stridulus “giving a shrill sound, creaking”]: to make a shrill creaking noise by rubbing together bodily structures — used especially of male insects (such as crickets or grasshoppers)
  10. Wend [from Old English wendan “to turn, direct, go; convert, translate”]: to direct one’s course, to proceed
  11. Prehension [from Latin prehensionem (nominative prehensio), noun of action from past participle stem of prehendere, “to grasp, seize, get hold of”]: the act of taking hold, seizing, or grasping
  12. Apodictic [from Greek apodeiktikos, from apodeiktos, verbal adjective of apodeiknynai “to show off, demonstrate, show by argument, point out, prove,” literally “to point away from”]: expressing or of the nature of necessary truth or absolute certainty

If you enjoyed this post, how about checking out the second part of this series on extreme words?

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