English Words in Action, Group A

(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.

attache, attaché (s) (noun); attaches, attachés (pl)
Someone who is officially assigned to the staff of a diplomatic mission to serve in a particular capacity, usually in an embassy: Two examples of attachés include cultural attachés and military attachés.
Noise is a real problem.
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Augean (aw JEE uhn) (adjective), more Augean, most Augean
1. A reference to being exceedingly dirty and filthy from long negligence: The attic in the house hadn’t been cleaned for many years and was completely Augean with spiderwebs, grime and soot when Susan went up there to find her old diaries!
2. Pertaining to the heroic efforts of cleaning or correcting something: It has been an Augean task to reform the bad behavior of some people.
Relating to being very filthy or corrupt.
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avatar (AV uh tar") (s) (noun), avatars (pl)
1. A tangible or material reincarnation of the Hindu god, Vishnu, typically in human or an animal form: While in India, Leonardo claims that he saw an avatar of Vishnu.
2. A representation or manifestation of an ideal, typically a person or a concept: Edie is regarded as an avatar of charity and concern for the poor.
3. An icon or a symbolic representation for someone using a computer program; for example, chat room, etc.: In her computer, Roxane chose a penguin as her personal avatar in the chat room.
4. Etymology: from Sanskrit avatra, "descent (of a deity from heaven)", from ava, "down" + tarati, "he crosses".

Krishna is the eighth avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu the Preserver, whom many Hindus worship as God.

In computer activities, it is a virtual representation of a person or a person's interactions with others in a virtual environment, conveying a sense of someone's presence (known as telepresence) by providing the location (position and orientation) and identity.

Examples include the graphical human figure model, the talking head, and the real-time reproduction of a three-dimensional human image.

awe (AW) (s) (noun), awes (pl)
1. A feeling of wonder, amazement, or of being overwhelmed: The sight of the ancient cathedral filled the visitors with awe.
2. A feeling of dread, panic, or terror which may be accompanied by a sense of wonder: Seeing the tornado coming in Tiffany's direction struck her and Erwine with awe.
awe (verb), awes; awed; awing
To inspire a person with feelings of wonder, admiration, and reverence; often mixed with fear: Abbey and Jamal were awed by the many interesting tours they took during their trip to Europe during the summer.
awesome (AW suhm) (adjective), more awesome, most awesome
1. Descriptive of something or someone or an action as amazing, beyond the realm of the ordinary, astonishing: The snowstorm was an awesome sight in the afternoon.

Awesome refers to something which is so impressive or overwhelming that it inspires a strong feeling of admiration or fear.

Hans had an awesome task to complete on his job.

That erupting volcano was an awesome sight during Daniella's trip.

2. Many young people use awesome in an informal way to refer to something which is "extremely good", "excellent", "super", "great", or "outstanding": Vance and Alanna thought the movie was totally awesome.

Ernie was told that he did an awesome job with the story that he wrote.

awful (AW fuhl) (adjective), more awful, most awful
1. Used to describe something or someone as being dreadful, terrible, horrible, or ugly: What awful weather!

Jarrod was guilty of the awful crime of murder.

2. Used to describe something that is inspiring, awe-inspiring, wondrous; terrifying, dreadful, majestic, disquieting: The astronauts know the awful expanse of the solar system.
3. Etymology: some grammarians think awful still only means "awesome, inspiring awe, wondrous", etc. In current English, awful usually means "bad" or "unpleasant"; for example, such usage as: "This cold makes me feel awful," "That was an awful movie," are correct.

Good speakers and writers don't use the adjective awful when they mean the adverb "awfully". In expressions as "He's awful brave", or "We had an awful good time" are not considered acceptable usages in English.

They should be presented as, "He's awfully (very, exceptionally, extremely) brave", "We had an awfully (very, exceptionally, extremely) good time". Neither awful nor "awfully" should be used too often because there are many other synonyms which can be more precise, fresher, and that can add variety to a person's writing or speaking style.

—Compiled from and based on information located in
Family Word Finder, A New Thesaurus of Synonyms and Antonyms in Dictionary Form;
The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.; Pleasantville, New York; 1975; page 73.
awfully (AW fuhl ee) (adverb), more awfully, most awfully
Used to emphasize the severe, extreme, or unpleasant nature of something or someone: One day during the winter, Abbey told Pete that it is awfully cold outside today; so, he had better wear his heavy coat, scarf, and gloves when he goes shopping.
awkward (adjective), more awkward, most askward
1. Referring to being clumsy, uncoordinated, inept, bungling, or not graceful: Richard had been an awkward skier until he had more training and practice.
2. Descriptive of being cumbersome, unmanageable, inconvenient, unwieldy, or cumbersome: Jim had an awkward time using the very heavy ax when he was chopping the wood that he would use for his fireplace.
3. Relating to a predicament which is embarrassing, unpleasant, difficult, or uncomfortable: The scandal of the neighbor's son, when he was arrested for driving while being drunk, was an awkward situation for the entire family.

Although the following cartoon is centering on inept, it is also demonstrating what the word awkward means.

A foolish, awkward, clumsy, and incompetent situation.
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Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
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awkwardly (adverb), more awkwardly, most awkwardly
Conveying a lack of skill in movement: The seal is an animal that awkwardly moves around when it is on land; however, it is very graceful in the water.

The older most people become, the more awkwardly they move around.

awkwardness (s) (noun), awkwardnesses (pl)
A lack of dexterity and grace; especially in physical movements: After his operation, Jim had to overcome an awkwardness before he could walk in a normal way again.
awry (adverb), more awry, most awry
Describing how something which is turned or twisted to one side which is not going in a proper direction: Things often go awry when people are in a hurry.

Jim's plans for a vacation with his family suddenly went awry because the airplane that would have transported them was cancelled due to the bad weather.

The following askew image provides an example for this awry entry.

To one side or crooked.
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Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
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awry (adjective), more awry, most awry
1. Relating to something that is not in the correct position; especially, not straight: The awry wig that Mary was wearing looked funny with the back part in the front!
2. A reference to that which is wrong or out of order: The wind caused Harry’s hat to be completely awry with his hands holding it down out of shape and much lower than normal.
Not straight or turned to one side.
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Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
so you can see more of Mickey Bach's cartoons.

The following askew illustrates what this awry means.

Turned to one side or crooked.
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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.