English Words in Action, Group U

(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.

udder (s) (noun), udders (pl)
The mammary gland of female cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and related ungulates; mammals all of which have hooves: The farmhand wiped the udders of the cows prior to attaching the automatic milking machines.
uddered (adjective), more uddered, most uddered
A reference to the mammary glands of female animals that produce milk for their offspring: The uddered swine were separated from the male swine and placed in a protected shelter.
unalloyed (adjective), more unalloyed, most unalloyed
Pertaining to something that is not mixed with anything else: Mary had unalloyed pleasure when her daughter gave birth to her first baby.

There are some unalloyed metals that are not blended nor mingled with others; for example, copper.

Complete and pure joy or happiness.
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uncanny (adjective), more uncanny, most uncanny
A reference to that which is strange and difficult to explain: Cleo had an uncanny or a mysterious feeling that she was seeing into the future.

Uncanny powers of observation and solutions were attributed to Sherlock Holmes.

There was an uncanny silence that pervaded the old mansion when James and Isabel went to visit the place.

Weird, mysterious, or ghostly.
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uncouth (adjective), more uncouth, most uncouth
1. Descriptive of impolite or very rude behavior: When Clement started to yell at his host at the party, everyone thought he was certainly a very uncouth and uncivilized person.
2. Etymology: from Old English uncup, "unknown"; from cunnan, "to know"; an earlier form of "can".
Pertaining to being uncultured, crude, and unmannerly.
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Conveying unrefined, crude and rude behavior.
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underling (s) (noun), underlings (pl)
Usually someone who is of low rank, or position, who works for a more powerful person: As a new computer technician, Earl is an underling who is supervised by a professional programmer who has had much more experience.
A subordinate who takes orders from a higher ranking individual.
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undermine (verb), undermines; undermined; undermining
Usually to make something or someone less effective or weaker: Many of the government's policies have undermined the confidence of the citizens of the country, causing some groups to express strong opposition!
To destroy gradually in a gradual or secret way.
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undue (adjective), more undue, most undue
Characteristic of something that is more than is necessary or reasonable: Sometimes there is more undue work that needs to be done on the project than is possible in the time that is allowed.

The news on TV has been showing some undue force being used by police to disperse demonstrators in some cities; however, it is more often a result of more undue violence and destruction of businesses, etc. or of some rebellious members who are out of control.

Exceeding what is normal or appropriate.
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unfettered (adjective), more unfettered, most unfettered
1. Uncontrolled or unrestricted: The lawyer requested unfettered access to the accountant’s records.
2. Spontaneous and natural: As a comedian, Madeline had an unfettered laugh which delighted her audiences whenever she was performing.
unneighborly (adjective), more unneighborly, most unneighborly
Being unfriendly or not showing the attitudes that are expected of those who live close to each other: Estella thought it was very unneighborly of the man who lived next door to drive his truck over her new lawn and flower bed.
untangle (verb), untangles; untangled; untangling
To separate things that are twisted or knotted together: Jean's father carefully tried to untangle her hair after she went swimming and he dried her hair with a towel.

Government officials are still trying to untangle the financial mess the country is in.

untoward (adjective), more untoward, most untoward
1. Relating to the cause of misfortunes or disadvantages: Several untoward earthquakes have caused severe disasters for the country of Nepal.
2. Conveying inappropriate or bad behavior: Jake's untoward rudeness with the clerk at the store resulted in his being escorted out.
3. A reference to that which is beyond the expected or what is considered to be out of the ordinary: Jeremy had an untoward piece of luck when he was able to buy gas for his car at a low price just before it was increased to a higher rate.
Unfavorable or unlucky results.
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Improper or inappropriate behavior.
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unwitting (adjective), more unwitting, most unwitting
1. Conveying a lack of knowledge or unawareness of what is happening in a particular situation: Ken was an unwitting person who unintentionally took the reserved parking space of a fellow employee of his company.
2. Etymology: from Old English unwitende, "to become aware of, to learn".
Relating to not being aware of or inadvertently making a mistake.
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unwonted (adjective), more unwonted, most unwonted
Used to indicate that something or someone is not normally expected to do something: No one ever thought Norton would be such an unwonted contributor of so much money for the homeless people in his community.
Descriptive of a rare and unusual happening.
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A reference to something that is rare and uncommon.
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Relating to that which is not ordinary.
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Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
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up
A two-letter word that apparently has more meanings than any other two-letter word in English: This two-letter word of up is listed in many dictionaries as an (adverb), an (adjective), a (verb), or a (preposition).

It's easy to understand up, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake up?

At a meeting, why does a topic come up?

Why do we speak up and why are the politicianss up for election and why is it up to the secretary to write up a report?

We call up our friends.

We use it to brighten up a room, polish up the silver; we warm up the leftovers and clean up the kitchen.

We lock up the house and some guys fix up the old car.

At other times the little word has other special meanings.

People stir up trouble, line up for tickets, work up an appetite, and think up excuses.

To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed up is special.

A drain must be opened up because it is stopped up.

We open up a store in the morning but we close it up at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed up about up!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of up, look the word up in a dictionary.

In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes up almost 1/4th of the page and can add up to about thirty definitions.

If you are up to it, you might try building up a list of the many ways up is used.

It will take up a lot of your time, but if you don't give up, you may wind up with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding up.

When the sun comes out we say it is clearing up.

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things up.

When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry up.

One could go on and on, but this will wrap it up; for now, the time is up . . . so, it is time to shut up!

—Contributed by a friend on June 26, 2013.
The original author is unknown.

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.