English Words in Action, Group B

(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.

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belief (s) (noun), beliefs (pl)
1. The mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in another person: Monroe's belief in Zola's honesty is as strong as ever.
2. Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something: It is Harvey's belief that it will rain in the evening because he could see dark clouds overhead.
3. Something that is accepted as true; especially, a particular tenet or a body of tenets or teachings that are accepted by a group of people: The beliefs of the union members are stated in the contract and bylaws.
4. A statement, principle, or doctrine that a person or group accepts as true; such as, religious principles: Nena's strong religious beliefs have been challenged by something that she read about some religious leaders in the newspaper.
5. Etymology: before 1400 belyefe, before 1225, it was bileve and probably before 1200, it is assumed to have been bileave.

The Old English geleafa is descended from the same language or form of Old Saxon gilobo, "belief", Old High German giloubo (modern German Glaube), and Gothic galaubeins, "belief" and galaubjan, "to believe".

—Based on information from
The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology by Robert K. Barnhart, Editor;
The H.W. Wilson Company; Bronxville, New York; 1988; page 87.
believe (verb), believes; believed; believing
1. To have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that a person is right in doing so: Tomeka believes that the party on Saturday night will be lots of fun.
2. To have confidence or faith in the truth of something; to give credence to: Chuck believed that the story in the newspaper was true and honest.
3. To have confidence in the assertions or statements of a person: Ashton believes that her friend will still trust her when she tells him what really caused the accident when she borrowed his car.
4. To have a conviction that a person or thing is, has been, or will be engaged in a given action or involved in a given situation: Thomas believes that his horse will be the winner in the upcoming steeplechase race.
5. To be persuaded of the truth or existence of something: There is much to be said for the old adage, "seeing is believing".
6. To have faith in the reliability, honesty, benevolence, etc., of someone or something: Joleen's friend truly believes that he was right in deciding to go on holidays in December. 
believer (s) (noun), believers (pl)
1. Anyone who is persuaded of the truth or reality of some doctrine, person, or thing: Shirley is a strong believer that it is wise to continue one's education even into later years.
2. People who accept the truth of the scriptures of their religious faith: During the interfaith service in the park, many believers gathered to celebrate their friendships.
3. A person who accepts something as true or real: Bill, are you actually a believer of the story that was written in the news today?
4. Someone who accepts the veracity or truth of a situation: Mildred was doubtful that she could run her own company, but she has made a believer out of her husband.
5. A person who thinks or expects something to happen: Elaina is a believer that her sister will really arrive the day she promised.
bellwether (s) (noun), bellwethers (pl)
1. Something that is considered to be a sign of what is likely to happen: The very big dark clouds and wind seem to be the bellwether of a storm coming up soon.
2. A male sheep that leads the flock: The bellwether, or head ram, has a bell around its neck to be heard by the sheepherder in the field.  
3. A person who assumes leadership of a movement or an activity: Mrs. High is now the bellwether of fashion for women this year.
A leader of a foolish or sheeplike crowd.
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belly flop (s) (noun), belly flops (pl)
1. A dive in which the front of the body hits flat against a surface, especially of water: Celia did a belly flop into the swimming pool.
2. A shallow dive in which the front of the diver's body hits the water first: The children, supervised by the adults, were playing at the pool and did belly flops into the water, laughing hysterically all the time.
belly-flop (verb), belly-flops; belly-flopped; belly-flopping
To execute a poorly done dive in which the front of the body lands flat on the surface of the water: Orville belly-flopped into the swimming pool right after his sister.
benighted (adjective), more benighted, most benighted
1. Pertaining to a lack of knowledge or advantages that other people or places have: If a young student does not learn how to read well, he will certainly be benighted when it comes to finding a job with a good salary later on.
2. Related to being overtaken by night or darkness: It was pitch black outside and the benighted travelers were hurrying home as quickly as possible.
3. A reference to an absence or deficiency of enlightenment or knowledge of culture: The students in the history class read about the benighted times of barbarism and superstitions.
Characteristic of being in moral or intellectual darkness.
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A reference to being in social or mental darkness.
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bent (s) (noun), bents (pl)
1. An attraction to or an interest in a particular thing or activity: James had a bent for going to the fitness studio almost everyday.

Harry was told that since his son has a bent for music, make sure he learns to play a musical instrument.

2. A relatively permanent inclination to react in a particular way: The politician had a bent for ignoring people who asked him negative questions about his time as a senator.
A fixed tendency, inclination, or disposition.
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berate (verb), berates; berated; berating
To criticize someone; usually, in a loud and angry way: Mrs. Jones berated her son for coming home so late and not telling her ahead of time that he wouldn't be home as expected.

The supervisor lost control when he was berating his construction crew for the collapse of the building they were working on.

Disapproval, criticism, chiding, and scolding are involved when berating anyone because it is considered to be extremely strong and involves vilification and harsh abuse.

To strongly scold and to criticize.
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To rebuke or to vehemently chide someone.
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To rebuke or to scold someone.
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beset (verb), besets; beset; besetting
1. To attack from all sides: The complaint department of the company was beset by angry customers who were unhappy with the poor quality of some of the shoes.

The campers near the swamp were beset by hundreds of mosquitoes.

2. To trouble persistently; to harass: The congressman was beset by questions from reporters who wanted to know why he didn't vote for the new health bill.
3. To hem in; to surround: The mountains beset the village where Jim and his family were living.

The actor was beset by a crowd of admirers.

4. To assemble, to decorate, or to cover lavishly with jewels: The queen's crown was beset with rubies, emeralds and pearls.
Harassed or besieged.
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Attacked from all sides with questions.
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bewilder (verb), bewilders; bewildered; bewildering
1. To cause someone to be confused, flustered, or perplexed: While Shirley was driving to another city, she was bewildered by the road signs and had to stop and check her map.
2. Etymology: from the late 17th century, be-, "thoroughly" + archaic or obsolete wilder, "to lead astray, to lure into the wilds" of unknown origin.
bewilderment (s) (noun), bewilderments (pl)
1. A condition of being confused, frustrated, and puzzled: The airline passengers felt great bewilderment when the pilot landed in the wrong city; however, the flight attendant explained that it had to be done in order to avoid the tornado at the scheduled airport.
2. Etymology: first recorded in the 1680's, bewilderment is a combination of be, "thoroughly" + wilder, "to lead astray" or "to lure into the wilderness" + ment, "state, condition", or "quality".
bicker (verb), bickers; bickered; bickering
To argue about petty or unimportant things in a way that is annoying: Every once in a while, Jim and his wife bicker about what they will have for dinner.

George's children are constantly bickering over their toys.

To engage in a squabble or a peevish quarrel .
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binge (s) (noun), binges (pl)
A short time in which a person does too much of something: There are all kinds of binges that some people indulge in; such as, binge drinking of alcohol, eating binges, shopping binges, etc.
binge (verb), binges; binged; binging, bingeing
To drink (alcohol) too much, to eat a lot as fast as possible, etc. in a short time: Every once in a while, Janine's cousin goes crazy and binges on three beers and four hamburgers in 30 minutes.

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.