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.

Sabbath (SAB uth) (s) (noun), Sabbaths (pl)
1. A specific day in a week that is designated by some religions as being the day during which they worship God: Karin and her family observe the Sabbath on Saturday in accordance with the teachings of her religion.

"The seventh day is the sabbath or the day of rest and worship of the Lord thy God."

Except when directly quoting the Bible, in which Sabbath is spelled with a lower-case "s" (sabbath), it should be spelled with an upper-case "S" (Sabbath) in accordance with universal custom.

The Sabbath falls on Sunday among all christian sects, except the Seventh-Day Adventists when it falls on Saturday as also with Jews, and on Friday among Muslims.

2. Etymology: from Hebrew shabbath, "rest", the seventh day of the week, appointed in the Ten Commandments as a day of rest and worship to be observed by the Jews ("Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy"), which is now Saturday; therefore, in subsequent Christian usage, the "Lord's Day", as observed by Christians is on Sunday."

"The same Hebrew word has provided us with sabbatical, referring to the seventh year during which ancient Jews were required to refrain from tilling the soil (working on their farms) in order to "rest"; from which we get our modern term sabbatical, a year's vacation awarded to teachers in some educational institutions every seventh year."

sabbatical (adjective) (not comparable)
A reference to a period during which someone does not work at his or her regular occupation: Marissa decided to take a sabbatical leave to do research in her teaching specialty.
sabbatical (s) (noun), sabbaticals (pl)
A special time during which a person does not work at his or her regular vocation and is able to travel, rest, do research, etc.: There are a few of the university professors who are currently taking a sabbatical and they will return to their normal teaching assignments next year.

Marla recently returned to work after a one-year sabbatical from her singing career.

sabotage (SAB uh tahzh") (s) (noun), sabotages (pl)
1. Malicious destruction, ruin, and disruptions that are deliberately caused, typically involving groups in conflict with each other: The enemy agent was arrested on charges of sabotage.
2. The act or process of deliberately destroying or damaging something so it doesn't work any more: Investigating officials have not ruled out sabotage as the cause of the crash of the passenger plane.
sabotage (verb), sabotages; sabotaged; sabotaging
To incapacitate, to undermine, to destroy, or to subvert: The bad weather sabotaged Larry's vacation plans for the summer.

Frank is determined to sabotage a business deal because it would have resulted in the loss of too many jobs at his company.

To wreck or to damage some activity.
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saboteur (sahb" uh TUHR) (s) (noun), saboteurs (pl)
A person or people who deliberately destroy or damage something: Saboteurs were going around breaking shop windows.

A saboteur was hacking into the bank's computers and making it impossible for people to conduct business with the bank.

The tires on the car were slashed by a saboteur or saboteurs.

sack (SAK) (s) (noun), sacks (pl)
1. A bag made of any of a variety of materials, used for containing or carrying items: Rena asked the farmer if she could buy a sack of apples.
2. A specifically designed bag typically with shoulder straps used for carrying heavy items; such as, camping or hiking gear: Each scout had a hiker's sack to carry while they were going for a walk.

Sacks were originally made of coarse cloth similar to those that were used in making "gunnysacks". The word sack came from Hebrew sag, "sack", "sackcloth".

In the Bible, "sackcloth and ashes" refers to the wearing of rough sackcloth garments and sprinkling ashes on the heads by those who are showing that they are sorry for sins or wrong doing that they have done.

3. Etymology: from sachet which is French for "little bag"; specifically, "a small ornamented bag" for carrying perfumed powder or something of a similar nature."

sack (verb), sacks; sacked; sacking
1. To pack or to place something in a bag: Marven was hired one summer to sack grain at a farm.
2. To rob, to loot, or to pillage: The invaders sacked the village of anything of value.

The expression to sack, meaning "to loot", comes from the use of sacks by looters as a convenient means of carrying away their stolen goods.

saga (s) (noun), sagas (pl)
1. A tale, a legend, or a story that includes a long, often historical, narrative: The story tellers of many cultures tell sagas of heroic deeds by ancient warriors.
2. A written or verbal report that is long and contains detailed narratives: Bob detailed the saga of his family problems.

A saga is a prose narrative that was written in Iceland between 1120 and 1400, dealing with the families that first settled in Iceland and their descendants, with the histories of the kings of Norway, and with the myths and legends of early Germanic gods and heroes.

3. A detailed narrative of events or personal experiences that have existed over a long time: Mike's sister is such a good storyteller that she can turn a simple walk to the grocery story into a saga.
4. Etymology: from Old Norse saga, "a story" cognate with Old English sagu, "a saying".
sardonic (sar DAHN ik) (adjective), more sardonic, most sardonic
1. Scornful or cynically mocking: Shirley had a sardonic smile when she was told what a wonderful dress she was wearing.
2. Etymology: from Greek: sardonios, "of bitter" or "scornful laughter".

Conveying scorn or sneers about someone.
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Relating to a scornful accusation.
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Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
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scam (s) (noun), scams (pl)
1. An unscrupulous business scheme for making money by dishonest means: The police were able to arrest the gang which was running a scam out of a basement.
2. A situation in which a person has been deprived of something by means of deceit; such as, a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme; especially, for making a quick profit; a swindle: Every day people read in the papers about those who have fallen prey to criminal scams because someone was trying to deceive them in order to get their money.
3. Etymology: from 1963, used as a noun or a verb; U.S. slang; said to be a carnival term, of unknown origin; however, it is obviously related to "fraud" in meaning.
scammer (s) (noun), scammers (pl)
A person or those who swindle others by means of deception or fraud; sometimes as a result of "spamming" on the internet: Lenora made the mistake of responding to a message on the web and the scammer got a significant amount of money from her bank account.
scampaign (s) (noun), scampaigns (pl)
1. A concerted effort to achieve a goal which relies on deceit to be successful: It appears that some candidates are running scampaigns to get nominated for or to win political offices.
2. Etymology: a neologism that blends scam + campaign and apparently came from advertising businesses in order to fake advertising campaigns for nonexistent products that were submitted to "ad-of-the-year awards" and which can now be applied to political campaigns and other activities.

scampaign (verb), scampaigns; scampaigned; scampaigning
1. To be involved in an effort to achieve some objective by using deceitful procedures: There have been some people who were scampaigning to win political elections.
2. Etymology: a term that blends scam + campaign which has been coined to form a new word.
scamper (verb), scampers; scampered; scampering
To quickly move, often in a playful way: Patricia and her children were scampering around at the neighborhood playground.

Mark was shocked to see a mouse scamper across his living room while he was watching TV.

To go somewhere quickly.
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Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
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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.