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Adapted from That's what that means?

by Jane Straus the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.

I know many avid (enthusiastic) readers, and I wish I read as _______________ (1) as they do. But _____________ (2) my surprise, very _____________ (3) of them read with a dictionary _____________ (4) hand. _____________ (5) I ask why, the ______________ (6) is some variation on It ruins ____________ (7) mood ___________ (8) I want to relax, _______________ (9) study or the most self-deluded (deceived/misled) one: I can figure ______________ (10) most words from the context. ____________ (11) for that last one, I can only say ____________ (12) I myself have guessed wrong on a words meaning too often to count, and many times if I had gone with what I guessed and not bothered to look it _____________ (13), Id have gravely __________________ (14) some of the authors fundamental premises yes, the stakes are that high. I can illustrate this with ___________ (15) simple example: Joe inferred that the judge was disinterested. ___________ (16) are many smart people ____________ (17) would take this sentence to mean, Joe insinuated that the judge didnt care. Boy, would that be wrong. The sentence actually means, Joe decided that the judge was unbiased. Huge difference there. Would you rather have a judge whos fair or one who wants to go home? Disinterested means impartial. _____________ (18) does not mean apathetic that would be an uninterested judge. And ____________ (19) so many people mistakenly think infer is a synonym _____________ (20) imply, a reader might see inferred and think Joe was hinting ____________ (21) something, when _____________ (22) fact he had ______________ (23) a conclusion. If just a simple seven-word sentence can ________________ (24) such a misunderstanding, imagine tackling difficult authors _____________ (25) Lawrence Durrell or William Faulkner. ______________ (26) a dictionary nearby, what you get out of these writers books might be a far cry ____________ (27) what they actually wrote. There are quite a few words that may not what you think they mean. Misinterpreting a key word can distort the meaning of a sentence and set _____________ (28) a chain reaction of misunderstanding that leaves the reader with a message the author never dreamed _____________ (29) sending.

Livid When someone is livid, do you think of red, white, or blue? The best answer is blue, not red. Livid does not mean red-faced with anger. The Latin lividus means of a bluish colour. Second-best answer is white: livid can be a synonym for pale. Benighted He was a benighted soul in an enlightened time. Many people associate it with knighted, and think benighted is a good thing to be. Far from it. Note the lack of a k - dont think knight, think night. A benighted soul is clueless, ignorant, in a state of moral or intellectual darkness. Scarify is a benighted synonym for terrify - scarify has more to do with scar than scare. It means to scratch or make superficial incisions. It also has agricultural applications having to do with seeds and soil. Meretricious When you hear it, the first two syllables echo merit, and the word resembles meritorious (praiseworthy). The similarity ends there. It means flashy, cheap, tawdry: The candidate made a meretricious display of piety.

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