English Words in Action, Group C

(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.

calculate (KAL kyuh late") (verb), calculates; calculated; calculating
1. To determine information based on mathematical figures and formulas: Income tax is calculated on a percentage of net income minus exemptions and deductions.
2. To estimate the value of something or the timing of an event: Jamal calculates that he will be in Frankfurt in six more hours of flight time.
3. To intend or to encourage something to happen: The President's speech was calculated to ease national tensions.
4. Etymology: traced back to Latin calculus, "pebble", referring to the early use of pebbles in counting.
A patient can't remember having amnesia.

The Romans had no adding machines. Even the art of writing was known to comparatively few people. So they did their adding and subtracting with the aid of little stones used as counters.

The Latin word for the little rock used in this way was calculus, a diminutive of calx, meaning "limestone".

From calculus, the verb calculare, "to calculate", was formed, and its past participle, calculatus, is the immediate origin of English "calculate".

Picturesque Word Origins; G. & C. Merriam Company;
Springfield, Massachusetts; 1933; page 38.
calculating (adjective), more calculating, most calculating
Characteristic of someone who carefully thinks about and plans actions for selfish or improper reasons: Mark is a calculating businessman who will do anything to get to the top of his profession.
Relating to shrewd and crafty schemes to achieve one's objective.
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calumniate (kuh LUM nee ayt") (verb), calumniates; calumniated; calumniating
1. To make harmful and untrue comments about someone: Susan’s brother, Doug, calumniated her by saying that she stole his cell phone, but she really didn’t!
2. To accuse falsely or to misrepresent in order to defame or to slander another person with the intent of damaging his or her reputation: The reporter wrote an article in the local newspaper which tried to calumniate, or vilify, the owner of a popular restaurant for personal reasons.
To accuse falsely and maliciously of an offense.
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To accuse falsely and maliciously of an offense.
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calumny (s) (noun), calumnies (pl)
1. A falsification or misrepresentation intended to be a disparagement or a discredit of another person or organization: Accusations of abuse were pure extortive calumny about the higher prices being charged by the store being a malicious effort to make more money.
2. An untrue statement that is made to damage someone's reputation or standing: The President of the U.S. is accused of uttering calumnies against the TV media for reporting what they believe to be misbehavior on his part.
A malicious report or slander that damages a person's character.
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camaraderie (s) (noun), camaraderies (pl)
Trust and companionship among people who are together for long periods of time: Being in a sports team can bring about a lot of camaraderie or a feeling of good-fellowship and loyalty.
A good fellowship or friendship.
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camarilla (s) (noun), camarillas (pl)
1. The private room of a king used for interviews: The monarch’s small chamber, or camarilla, was used for secret meetings and dealings which helped him to maintain the authority of his realm.
2. An exclusive and unofficial group of individuals; usually, secret advisors who interact with one another and share similar interests: In the story Fred was reading, the camarilla, or inner circle of selected people, met once a month and planned their next scheme to overthrow the presiding king.
A group of confidential advisers or counselors.
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canaille (kuh NIGHL) (s) (noun), canailles (pl)
Common folk; the masses; the working class: Jane grew up in a rich family and didn’t want to shop at the stores where the canaille might be crowding in order to get cheaper prices for products that have special discounts.
The rabble, the lower class, or the rifraff.
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canny (adjective), cannier, canniest
Descriptive of someone who is very clever and able to make intelligent decisions: Mark was a canny lawyer who was known for his skill in defending his clients in legal situations.

Margaret's canny financial investments produced significant profits for her venture capitalists.

A reference to a person who is shrewd, wary, and wise.
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cantankerous (adjective), more cantankerous, most cantankerous
1. Relating to a difficulty of getting along with others because of a personality that is ready to make trouble or to oppose anything suggested by anyone else: Sometimes Nancy's cantankerous boss is easily annoyed and becomes angry when the members of his staff don't do their assignments as quickly as he wants them to.
2. Etymology: the origin is not unanimously agreed to by all sources; possibly it is from Middle English contekour, "brawler" from contek, "strife" or perhaps from Irish cannran, "strife, grumbling".
Conveying an ill-natured or perverse mood.
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Ill-tempered or unreasonable.
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CAPTCHA (adjective) (not comparable)
A reference to a program that protects websites against bots by generating and grading tests that humans can pass but current computer programs cannot: There are many CAPTCHA implementations, some of which are better than others.
CAPTCHA, captcha (s) (noun); CAPTCHAs, captchas (pl)
1. A computer-generated test that humans can pass but spamming computer programs supposedly cannot get around: CAPTCHA is the acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.

2. A string of letters used to make sure that humans are trying to enter a site as opposed to some kind of spamming program. These wavy, ghostly, distorted letters, the CAPTCHA, must be typed into a box in order to gain access to a page or site.

Websites often ask people to decipher a few wiggly letters because they are trying to find out if a user is a human or spamware.

The electronic hoop people are required to jump through was invented in 2000 by a team of programmers at Carnegie Mellon University because someone at Yahoo! went to them hoping that they could come up with a program to stop criminals from using software to automatically create thousands of e-mail accounts and then using those accounts to send out spam.

The Carnegie Mellon team developed CAPTCHA which stands for "completely automated public turing test to tell computers and humans apart". The purpose of the CAPTCHA is that reading those swirly letters is something that computers aren't very good at doing.

By the way, the term "turing" refers to a hypothetical computer with an infinitely long memory tape which can modify its original instructions by reading, erasing, or writing a new symbol on a moving tape of fixed length that acts as its program.

The CAPTCHA has become widespread all over the web. According to Luis von Ahn, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon, who was part of the original CAPTCHA team, estimates that people fill out close to 200 million CAPTCHAs every day.

Von Ahn is confident that the good guys are still ahead for now, but the point at which cyber-criminal software can reliably read CAPTCHAs is probably as few as three to five years away.

The real innovation among cyber-criminals will come through social networking and Web-based services. During the year 2008, spammers increased with the targeting of web-based e-mail from large, free, reputable providers, using new techniques to break CAPTCHAs and to generate massive numbers of personal accounts. Mail from these domains was the least likely to be blocked by IT departments.

The real innovation among cybercriminals will come through social networking and Web-based services. This past year spammers expanded to targeting web-based email from large, free, reputable providers, using new techniques to break CAPTCHAs and generate massive numbers of personal accounts. Mail from these domains was the least likely to be blocked by IT departments.

—Most of the excerpts were compiled from the article,
"Computer Literacy Tests" by Lev Grossman; in TIME, October 27, 2008; page 46.
carousal (s) (noun), carousals
A noisy feast or social gathering, which often involves much alcohol consumption: Mike and his friends spent the evening attending a carousal that was full of revelry and merrymaking.
A cheerful and a wild party.
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carp (verb), carps; carped; carping
To complain about a minor fault or to make an issue of something insignificant: The author is tired of critics who are always carping about his recent book.
To find fault without a logical reason.
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To find fault about an insignificant reason.
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cascade (kah SKAYD) (s) (noun), cascades (pl)
1. A waterfall or a series of small waterfalls over steep rocks; a falling of water: The rain formed a cascade against the windshield of our car.
2. Etymology: from French which came from Italian cascata, from cascare, "to fall", from Vulgar Latin casicare based on Latin cadere, "to fall".

cashier (ka SHIR) (verb), cashiers; cashiered; cashiering
1. To dismiss or to remove someone from a position of responsibility; usually, for doing something wrong: Bert's neighbor was cashiered from the army for disobeying orders.

When a person is cashiered, he or she is laid off, fired, or discharged from a job or profession in disgrace or for doing something unacceptable at his place of employment.

The verb cashier has nothing to do with the noun "cashier"; however, it doesn't mean that a "cashier" can't be cashiered.

2. Etymology: from Latin cassare, "to annul"; from cassus, "void, empty".
To fire or to discard someone with disgrace.
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To dismiss or to discharge a person with dishonor.
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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.