English Words in Action, Group P

(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.

pilferage (s) (noun), pilferages (pl)
The act of stealing, normally in small quantities: When Simon travels, his pilferages from hotels adds up to a lot of things of insignificant value.
pilferer (s) (noun), pilferers (pl)
Someone who steals or takes off with the belongings of other people: Martin's grandfather was known by his relatives as a pilferer of rolls of toilet paper from public toilets.

Pilferers are known to take things of insignificant value.

pilfering (adjective), more pilfering, most pilfering
Typically related to stealing or filching things of relatively little value: There have been pilfering students in Glen's dormitory; so, he constantly reminds himself to lock his door when he goes to classes, shopping, etc.
pine (PIGHN) (noun), pines (pl)
1. Any of a genus (Pinus) of cone-bearing trees having needle-shaped evergreen leaves growing in clusters, and includes many important timber trees: The stand of pine near the lake appeared tranquil and shady.
2. A tree of the botanical family (pinaceae), including the cedar, fir, etc.: Just before the Christmas holidays, Marina and Jacob took their children into the woods to find a pine to cut and to take back into their house so the can decorate it with candles, red balls, etc.
pine (verb), pines; pined; pining
1. To yearn or have a strong wish for something or someone often with a nostalgic feeling: Even though Jerome had lived for many years in the new country, he still pined for his native land.
2. To ache, to long for, or to desire strongly for someone or something: After suffering so much heartbreak, Marina continued to pine for her lost child.
3. Etymology: from Latin poena (Greek poine), "punishment, penalty", which also is the basis for the English word pain.
pitfall (s) (noun), pitfalls
1. A danger or difficulty that is not easily avoided or anticipated: Chris was experiencing pitfalls with his investments in the stock market.
2. A trap that is made by digging a hole in the ground and concealing its opening: Richard was making a pitfall in his backyard in order to catch the animal that was stealing vegetables from his garden.
3. A problem which is hidden or not obvious at first: Mona's father warned her about the pitfalls of online dating.

Sam found out that there are pitfalls when working in foreign countries.

4. Etymology: from Old English pytt, "pit" + fealle, "trap" and Middle English pit falle, "a concealed hole in which one may fall and be trapped."
Any difficulty which is not easily avoided.
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pittance (s) (noun), pittances (pl) (usually singular)
1. A very small amount of money: Despite all her her efforts to fulfill and to exceed her assignments at work, Sharon only receives a pittance for her salary.
2. A meager monetary allowance: Greg's parents give him a pittance for his weekly expenses while he is going to elementary school.
3. Etymology: from Latin pietas, "a charitable donation."

Originally, a pittance was a gift or bequest to a religious community, or a small charitable gift.

A very small expense.
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A small allowance.
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pizzazz, pizazz (pi ZAHZ) (s) (noun), (no plural)
1. A flair; flamboyance; style; dash; an attractive and exciting vitality; especially, when combined with style and glamor: The crowd enjoyed the pizzazz of the actress when she appeared in person.
2. Etymology: Pizzazz in an informal word, of unknown origin.
ploy (s) (noun), ploys (pl)
1. A special plan or clever trick designed to change a situation to one's own advantage: Sometimes a ploy is used by companies to entice or to get people to buy the products that are on sale.
2. Etymology: from Middle English, borrowed from Middle French ployer.
A method that is intended to trick someone.
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An that is intended to outwit another person.
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plump (adjective), plumper, plumpest
1. Having a full, rounded shape: Monroe was eating a plump, juicy peach.
2. Slightly overweight or fat: Jake was a plump, or chubby, little boy.
plump (verb), plumps; plumped; plumping
1. To sit, fall, or to lie down in a sudden, awkward, or relaxed way: "When mother came home, Lenora was so tired that she took her shoes off and plumped down on the couch."
2. To shake or to hit something; such as, a pillow to make it fuller, softer, or rounder: "Shirley plumped her pillows and got into bed."
plumpness (s) (noun), (no plural form)
Being overweight or slightly heavier than normal: The fitness trainer was explaining to the young man which exercises would help reduce his plumpness.

Obesity or plumpness is becoming a problem for many young people in several countries.

plunder (verb), plunders; plundered; plundering
1. To gain, or to acquire, something by superior strength or skill: The football team plundered four goals and so easily won the game.
2. To take illegally with reference to intellectual property: The writer was accused of plundering from several famous authors.
3. To rob a place, or the people living there, or to steal goods using violence and often causing damage; especially, in wartime or during civil unrest: The village was plundered by the invading army.
4. To rob a place, or to steal goods or money, by fraudulent means: The scam artist plundered the savings accounts of several elderly people by convincing them to trust her with their credit card numbers.
5. Etymology: from Middle High German; originally, "to take away household furniture", from plunder, "household goods, and clothes".

Plunder now normally means property stolen by soldiers during a war.

pneumoconiosis, pneumonoconiosis (s) (noun); pneumoconioses, pneumonoconioses (pl)
Any of various lung disorders resulting from the breathing in of minute particles of mineral or metallic dust: Several of the miners were diagnosed with pneumoconiosis brought on by their years of working in the poorly ventilated mines.
pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (s) (noun); pneumonoultramicroscopicsilikovolcanoconioses (pl)
A lung disease caused by breathing in particles of siliceous volcanic dust: During the recovery efforts after the eruption of the volcano, the rescue worker was hospitalized with a diagnosis of pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis and the doctors were uncertain as to how to treat it.

This is considered to be the longest word in any English dictionary; however, it was coined by Everett Smith, the President of The National Puzzlers' League, in 1935 purely for the purpose of inventing a new "longest word".

The Oxford English Dictionary described the word as factitious; however, it also appears in the Webster's, Random House, and Chambers dictionaries.

Much shorter words already existed to describe such conditions; for example, "pneumoconiosis" (noo" moh koh" nee OH sis), or "Miner's Lung", which is the term for a lung condition in which inhalation of dust leads to the formation of lumps of fibrous tissue in the lungs, and "silicosis", or "Grinder's Disease", that is the term for such a condition when caused by crystalline silica dust.

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.