English Words in Action, Group S

(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.

snooze button, snooze alarm (s) (noun), snooze buttons, snooze alarms (pl)
A button on an alarm clock which stops the alarm from making noise for a short time so the sleeper can rest for a few more minutes: Each morning when the alarm is heard, Eric reaches over and presses on the snooze button so he can sleep for another eight minutes.
snoozer (s) (noun), snoozers (pl) (informal, primarily a U.S. term)
1. Something that is not interesting or which is very dull: Joshua thought the book was a real snoozer.

Frank and Cleo thought that the film that they saw last night was about the biggest snoozer they had ever seen.

2. A person who dozes off in places other than in his or her bed: While the lecture was going on, there were obviously a few snoozers in the audience.
snug (adjective), snugger, snuggest
1. A reference to being cozy, comfortable, and secure: The bear was sleeping in the snug cave.

The hunters were able to find a snug cabin in the woods where they could feel safe and at ease.

2. Tight fitting or skin-tight: Athena told the salesperson that the shoes that were brought to her to try on were too snug and to please bring her a larger size.
3. Etymology: from Low German snugger, "compact, trim", as in the phrase a trim ship; that is, a watertight, seaworthy, well-run ship.
sobriety (s) (noun), sobrieties (pl)
1. A state of soberness or dryness; the absence of being intoxicated: "Clean and sober" is a commonly used phrase, which refers to sobriety when someone has an extended period without drugs or alcohol in his or her body.

The opposite of sobriety is the situation of being drunk or "insobriety".

Sobriety is the condition of not having any measurable levels or effects from alcohol.

Sobriety is particularly being clear of any immediate or residual effects of any mind-altering substances; so, it may refer to a specific substance that is the concern of a particular recovery support program including alcohol, marijuana, opiates, or tobacco.

2. The quality of being grave in treatment, manner, or demeanor: The sobriety, solemnity, and calmness at the funeral of Jane's grandmother was felt by everyone attending.
3. A situation that has serious consequences: There was a sobriety of Presley's auto accident that had to be worked out by the police.
4. Etymology: from Latin sobrietatem, from sobrius, "not drunk, temperate, moderate, sensible" also "moderate in desires or actions, restrained"; especially, "abstaining from strong drink," and being "calm, quiet, and not being overcome by emotions."
A seriousness about being sober.
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sobriquet (s) (noun), sobriquets (pl)
1. A familiar or a shortened version of a person's name: Joe's mother would not use his nickname and always called him Joseph; however, his sobriquet was "Slim".
2. Distinct from a pseudonym, it usually is a familiar name used in place of a real one, often becoming more familiar than the original title: "Bill" is a sobriquet which is often used in place of "William".

The influence on human society by dogs has given each one the sobriquet, "man's best friend".

Bollywood is the sobriquet for the film industry based in Mumbai, India.

3. Etymology: from French sobriquet, "nickname"; from Middle French soubriquet, which also meant "a jest, a quip" and is said to have meant literally "a chuck under the chin".
An assumed name.
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A nickname.
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Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
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soldier (s) (noun), soldiers (pl)
1. A person or those who have enlisted to serve in the armed forces of a country: The soldiers stood at attention as their commanding officer entered the room.

When soldiers go into battle for their countries, they are usually in danger of being seriously wounded or being killed.

2. An active, loyal, or militant follower of an organization: The underlings of a crime syndicate are often referred to as soldiers.
3. Etymology: from Old French soudier, "someone who serves in the military for pay", from Medieval Latin (as written and spoken c.700-c.1500) soldarius, "a soldier", literally "someone receiving pay"; from Late Latin soldum, from Latin solidus, "a Roman gold coin" or the name of the gold coin used to pay soldiers who fought in the Roman army; literally, "solid coin".
solecism (s) (noun), solecisms (pl)
1. A mistake when speaking or writing: Paul made verbal solecisms when he spoke to an agent for a job which apparently disqualified him for a position with the newspaper.
2. An impolite or improper way of behaving: During dinner, George burped loudly and so his mother reminded him that he was committing an unacceptable solecism.
Etymology: from Greek soloikismos, "a speaking incorrectly", and from Latin soloecismus, "a mistake in speaking or writing."
An unacceptable behavior.
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A blunder in speech or language.
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Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
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soothsayer (s) (noun), soothsayers (pl)
1. Someone who claims to predict the future, using magic, intuition or intelligence; a diviner: Adam told Eve that a soothsayer said he would inherit a fortune from an inheritance.

Synonyms of soothsayer include: a prophet, a diviner, an oracle, a fortune-teller.

2. Etymology: from Middle English sothseiere, "one who makes prophecies or predictions" or who speaks sooth, "truth".
A prophet or one who claims to foretell future events.
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Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
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"To pass it" in the cartoon could mean "not to reveal it to authorities; such as, in his income tax report."

spam (s) (noun), spams (pl)
1. Unsolicited e-mail, often of a commercial nature, that is sent out to a wide range of groups, individuals, etc., typically unsolicited and which may be for fraudulent purposes: Janine was getting fed up with the spam in her e-mails so she arranged to get a special program to control it.

In the early 1990s, a new definition of spam come into existence which refers to unwanted internet advertising in e-mails sent to a large number of people which are primarily produced for commercial advertising or marketing reasons.

Unfortunately, the lack of unenforceable rules on the internet also makes it a perfect place for spam or fraud to cause anger for many users.

2. Etymology: since 1937, spam has been used to mean "canned meat" which was named because it included a combination of the words spiced and ham.
spam (verb), spams; spammed; spamming
1. To send unwanted and unsolicited junk e-mail; often as an advertisement, to many people: Anyone who spams people on the internet, usually tries to trick the recipients into providing private and personal information in order to steal money from them.
2. To post a message many times to a newsgroup, or an inappropriate message that is sent to multiple newsgroups and individuals on websites: Zelda didn't realize that an offer of sharing money from an unknown person, who was spamming her, was a trick to get her money.

Everyday there is someone who spams with e-mails over and over again and all of us should avoid opening such messages.

spammer (s) (noun), spammers (pl)
Individuals or organizations that send unsolicited e-mail to anyone and everyone, over and over again: Several spammers are indiscriminately sending daily junk e-mail messages, usually of a commercial nature, to multitudes of mailing lists, individuals, newsgroups, etc.
sparing (adjective), more sparing, most sparing
1. A reference to the avoidance of waste and to economical management and frugality: Joe's mother prepared a sparing meal for the family.

Sam and his wife saved money by being sparing shoppers.

2. Etymology: from Latin spargere, "to sprinkle" and the adjective form describes being "moderate, economical".
Relating to being scanty or meager spending money or when eating.
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spate (SPAYT) (s) (noun), spates (pl)
1. An unexpected rush or an overwhelming outpouring of something: The spate of world explorations, that started in the 1400s and the wealth of knowledge which was amassed, changed geography as a science.
2. Situations in which people encounter an unexpected and excessive supply of something: When there are too many books, robberies, celebrity break-ups, or corporate mergers; obviously all kinds of spates are going on.
3.Etymology: although it is now used to describe a large number or an unusually large amount of something, it originally described a sudden flood of water; such as, a river overflowing after a strong downpour of rain.
speed limit (s) (noun), speed limits (pl)
The fastest movement allowed for vehicles in a specified area or on certain streets or roads: Germans are all revved up over speed limits on German autobahns.

Half of the 12,000 kilometers of autobahns already have speed limits as do smaller roads; however, the "anything-goes" stretches of the autobahn are the fastest public roads in the world.

Germany has a significant economic incentive to resist a speed limit because it builds some of the world's fastest cars, and the autobahn is a valuable showcase and marketing tool for the industry.

—Compiled from excerpts in the
International Herald Tribune by Mark Landler, March 16, 2007; pages 1 & 8.
spell (verb), spells; spelled, spelt (British); spelling
1. To speak or to write the identification of the letters used correctly to create words: Clayton spelled his name for the teacher when he first went to her English class so she could add him to her attendance sheet.
2. To constitute the letters of a word: These letters spell "zebra".

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.