English Words in Action, Group A

(a variety of English words which have developed through history and are currently used in our modern age)

English vocabulary quizzes in random order from easy to more difficult for greater word skills.

Simply click on this banner (or the following link) and you will be on your way to stimulate your brain for greater word comprehension with quizzes based on some of the words in this unit.

abiding (uh BIGHD ing) (adjective), more abiding, most abiding
A reference to that which is enduring, unchanging, or lasting: Abraham Lincoln is said to have had an abiding faith in the Union of the States.
ability (uh BIL i tee) (s) (noun), abilities (pl)
A skill or a capacity to accomplish something: A really good salesman has the ability to sell just about anything.

Ability is a special skill, like speaking several languages, or keeping your mouth shut in one language.

—Evan Esar
able (AY buhl) (adjective), abler, ablest
1. A reference to someone who is skillful and competent: Rodger's legal case was handled by two able lawyers.

Laureen Logan is one of the ablest lawyers who is qualified to defend Harley in the misdemeanor trial.

2. Descriptive of a physical or mental condition: The starving man was barely able to walk.
3. Having the necessary means to do something: Because of the bankrupt situation in Reginald's country, he didn't know how he would be able to survive during his retirement.
abnormal (ab NOR muhl) (adjective), more abnormal, most abnormal
1. A reference to something that is exceptional, uncommon, or unexpected: Sam's cat has an abnormal fear of birds.

Einstein is said to have had an abnormal IQ.

2. Descriptive of something that is unusual: An abnormal amount of snow fell in October.

Abnormal can mean either below or above normal, either better or worse than normal; while, "subnormal" always means below or worse than normal.

3. Etymology: from anormal which came from the Greek anomalos, "irregular". Later the b was added by analogy with the Latin word for irregular, abnormis, based on Latin ab-, "from" + norma, "norm"; hence "away from the norm".
abnormality (ab" nor MAL it tee) (s) (noun), abnormalities (pl)
A flaw, malformation, or deformity of something: A clubfoot is an abnormality that can sometimes be corrected with surgery.
abode (uh BOHD) (s) (noun), abodes (pl)
1. A dwelling place, residence, or location where someone lives: The hermit's abode was a cave.
2. Living quarters or places where people reside or have their homes: Now, there are actually those even in these modern times who have their abodes in refurbished caves.

Cave Living? Cool! Welcome to the modernized cave abode.

In sun-baked Spain, locals and vacationers are discovering the allure of an abode in cave homes.

  • Are you a lover of "One Million Years B.C." and cheap, environmentally friendly homes? Then take heart: cave abiding is making a comeback.
  • Down in southern Spain, Spaniards and foreigners are buying and refurbishing century-old caves and turning them into modern homes.
  • These aren't your dank, caveman-movie grottoes.
  • They're dry and whitewashed clean, and they have windows and all the modern conveniences; including, electricity, running water, telephone, cable, and parking.
  • Most of them maintain an even temperature of 15.5 to 21 degrees Celsius (59.9 to 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit), winter and summer, without sending a single carbon molecule skyward.
  • People have lived in caves worldwide and throughout history and the Spanish caves are recent and not natural in origin because local people carved most of them out of soft gypsum and limestone hillsides over the past 200 years.
  • Earlier they were homes for poor agricultural workers and they reached their height of popularity in the late 19th century and then they started to be abandoned in the mid-20th century as the workers moved into the cities.
  • Typically the caves range from 45 to 185 square meters (500 to 2,000 square feet), with front rooms built out from a hillside and windowless interior rooms that are more cave like.
  • It used to be that the rich lived in the villages and the poor in the caves, but now it is reversed with the rich being the ones who have made the caves their new abodes.
—Compiled from "Cave Living? Cool!" by Edward Lewline;
as seen in Key, a supplement produced by
The New York Times, International Herald Tribune,
and Real Estate Magazine; Fall of 2008; page 38.
abort (uh BORT) (verb), aborts; aborted; aborting
1. An involuntary ending of a pregnancy through the discharge of a fetus or the unborn vertebrate from the womb at too early a stage in its development for it to survive: Cows with Bang's disease, an infectious disease of domestic animals, often abort their calves.
2. To cause the end or termination of something: The astronauts aborted the space flight when the engine of their space ship caught fire.
3. Etymology: from abortus, a form of the Latin verb abortare, "to disappear"; formed from ab, "away" + oriori, "to come into being, to appear".
abortion (uh BOR shun) (s) (noun), abortions (pl)
1. The premature ending or termination of a pregnancy either spontaneously or induced: Bernita's pregnancy ended in an abortion.

The demonstrators are opposed to abortions.

2. The inability to achieve that which was planned or started; a failure: The attempt to reorganize the objectives of the project resulted in an abortion of the next scheduled meeting.
abound (uh BOUND) (verb), abounds; abounded; abounding
1. To do well, to flourish, to be overflowing: Everyone can see that Tim's garden is abounding with roses.
2. To exist in great quantities or numbers; to be prevalent: The English language abounds with exact, vigorous, and colorful words to express all kinds of meanings.
3. Etymology: from Latin abundare, "to overflow" from ab-, "from" + undare, "to flow"; from unda, "a wave".
abound in/with (verb phrase), abounds in/with; abounded in/with; abounding in/with
To be filled with something or to contain a very large amount of something: Ethan lives in an area that abounds with oil.

Yesterday, Grover was fishing in a stream that abounded in fish.

abreast (uh BREST) (adjective), more abreast, most abreast
A description of two or more people or things that are next to each other in a line or side by side: The participants marched in the parade four abreast.
academic (s) (noun), academics (pl)
1. Someone who is teaching or conducting research at an institution of higher learning: Trent is a well-known academic in the field of electronics.
2. A person with a scholarly background or attitudes: The teacher's academics inspired her students to strive for a greater knowledge and experiences in the field of linguistics.
academic (ak" uh DEM ik) (adjective), more academic, most academic
1. Characteristic of institutions of education typically beyond high school; such as, colleges, universities, or other institutions of advanced learning: Academic circles have been debating the value of Latin as a source for a better understanding of English words for years.
2. Theoretical rather than practical: It is amazing how much heat the intercollegiate debate aroused; after all, the importance of the French Revolution is now only an academic question.

The source of the terms academy, academic and related words

On the outskirts of ancient Athens there was a grove sacred to the hero Akademus. In this park the philosopher Plato established his school or college in about 385 B.C. Both the garden and the school were called Akademia after the name of the hero.

The English words academy, academic, academician, academical and others from that family of words are derived from the name of Plato's school.

The term academy is now applied to institutions of higher learning, secondary schools, or any place where special subjects, arts, and skills are taught, so we have military academies, riding academies, fencing academies, dancing academies, and even billiard academies.

The meaning of the word has also been extended to include societies of learned people who have united to advance learning, literature, the arts, and the sciences; such as, the French Academy, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

—Compiled from information presented in
Enriching Your Vocabulary by Joseph R. Orgel;
Oxford Book Company; New York; 1963; page 4.
acolyte (s) (noun), acolytes (pl)
1. An assistant or a follower who admires or helps someone to accomplish an objective: The philosophy professor was having dinner with two of her acolytes who assist her at the university.
2. Someone who helps the person who leads a church service or assists the celebrant in a religious service or procession: The acolytes of the priest were helping him prepare the various aspects needed for the church service.
3. Etymology: directly or via Old French, from ecclesiastical Latin acolytus; from Greek akolouthos, "follower, attendant", from a-, "together" + keleuthos, "path".
An assistant or follower.
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adamant (adjective), more adamant, most adamant
1. Not willing to change an opinion or decision; very determined: Tamika's aunt is an adamant defender of women's rights.
2. Refusing to be persuaded or to change one's mind: The Chief Executive Officer of the company made an adamant refusal to resign his position.
Determined in purpose or objective.
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Stubborn and uncooperative.
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Unshakable in an opinion even when it is wrong.
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Immovable in opposition.
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Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
so you can see more of Mickey Bach's cartoons.

Links to all of the groups of English words in action, Groups A to Z.

You may see the bibliographic list of sources of information for these words in action.