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.

skittish (adjective), more skittish, most skittish
1. Being unpredictable and easily excited: Skittish horses are often seen in parades because of the loud noises and crowds of people that make many of the horses very nervous and jumpy.
2. Nervous or worried: Some skittish children are afraid to meet strangers.
3. Easily startled or timid and afraid: The cat is calm and friendly with people it knows, but it becomes a skittish cat when strangers come to visit.
skulk (verb), skulks; skulked; skulking
1. To hide or to move secretly or without being noticed; especially, when someone is planning to do something bad: Jane saw a man skulking around outside her house in the dark; so, she called the police.
2. To hide because of cowardice or a bad conscience: Isaac said that he would skulk in a corner and feel very sorry for himself if he were to encounter any kind of disaster.
3. Etymology: from Middle English of Scandinavian origin. In Norwegian skulka, "lurk" ("to sneak" "to exist unobserved") and Danish skulke, Swedish skoika, "to shirk" ("to avoid").
skulker (s) (noun), skulkers (pl)
A person who stays out of sight; usually, for an ulterior reason or because of fear: When Joe was going home late in his neighborhood, he was a skulker for survival because he was trying to avoid being robbed or harmed by the hoodlums who were constantly robbing people in that section of the city.
skulking (adjective), more skulking, most skulking
Pertaining to movements that are done in a quiet or secret way: The skulking cat was about to pounce on the mouse that had found its way into Kay's apartment.
skulkingly (adverb), more skulkingly, most skulkingly
Descriptive of moving in a sneaking manner: Tim's little boy was skulkingly approaching his mother, who was unaware of his presence, so he could surprise her by saying: "Boo, mommy!"
skull (s) (noun), skulls (pl)
1. The bony or cartilaginous framework of the head, or the cranium, of vertebrates which consists of the bones of the brain case and face: The primary bones of the skull are the maxilla (upper jaw), the mandible (lower jaw), the zygomatics (cheek bones), and the two nasal (nose) bones.
2. The head which is regarded as the seat of thought or intelligence: Oliver told his brother to use his head, or skull, and to stop smoking.
The bony structure of the head.

Skulls have several functions or uses

  • The skull encases and protects the brain, houses organs of special senses, provides points of attachment for muscles of the head and neck, and it helps to form the first parts of the breathing, or respiratory, and digestive tracts.
  • Many of the bones are hollow, thus reducing the weight of the skull and adding to the sound of the voice.
  • All of the bones of the skull, except the mandible, are fixed to each other by immovable joints known as sutures.

There are several cavities in the skull:

  • The cranial cavity, where the brain is located.
  • The nasal cavity, which is involved with smelling and breathing.
  • The orbits, where the eyeballs and their associated muscles exist.
  • Part of the mouth is also formed by the skull.
—Compiled from information located in
The American Medical Association Home Medical Encyclopedia;
Medical Editor, Charles B. Clayman, MD; Random House;
New York; 1989, pages 913-914.
skull and crossbones (s) (noun), skulls and crossbones (pl)
A picture of a human skull situated above two crossed bones: This image of a skull and crossbones was used on pirates' flags as a symbol of death; however, it is sometimes currently used as a "warning label" on poisons; so, avoid, or stay away, from anything that uses such pictures!

This information about skulls and crossbones, which is utilizing the pictures, will NOT cause you any harm!

An image once used by pirates on their flags.
These images are used as warnings for poisons or other deadly things.
slave (s) (noun), slaves (pl)
1. A person who is forced to work for another person for no payment and who is regarded as the property of the person he or she works for: At one time, there were more slaves than free citizens in ancient Athens.
2. Someone who is completely dominated by another person or something: Brian admits that he is a slave to alcohol, but he can't stop it.
3. A person who meekly accepts being ruled by someone else: The husband, the poor slave, was continually taking orders from his wife to do all the work around the house and to spend his money to take her on trips, even when he didn't want to do any of those things.
4. Someone who works or has to work very hard, often in bad conditions and for low pay: Trudy has been a slave in her job and so she should have left the company a long time ago.
5. Etymology: originally a reference to Slavs. This sense of development resulted because of the wars waged by Otto the Great and his successors against the Slavs, a great number of whom were taken captive and sold into servitude.

The name Slav has the literal meaning of "speaker" and they are members of any of the people of Eastern Europe and North Western Asia that speak one of the Slavonic languages; such as, those who speak Bulgarian, Russian, and Polish.

The term apparently appeared in the 14th century via medieval Latin Sclavus from medieval Greek Sklabos, an alteration of Old Slavic Sloveninu.

—Primarily compiled from information located in the following sources:
The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, Robert K. Barnhart, Editor;
The H.W. Wilson Company; New York; 1988; page 1016.
Thereby Hangs a Tale by Charles E. Funk; Harper Colophon Books;
New York; 1950; page 262.
slaver (s) (noun), slavers (pl)
Someone who owns or buys and sells slaves: Modern-day slavers are tricking a lot of women, who are without jobs in their countries, with promises of good jobs in other places and then when they get to the destinations, they are forced into working as sex slaves.
slavery (s) (noun), slaveries (pl)
Work that is often done under harsh conditions for little or no pay: Slavery is a system based on using the enforced labor of other people. For more information, click on this slavery link.

Slavery is known as an institution or social practice of owning human beings as property; especially, when they are used as forced laborers.

slavish (adjective), more slavish, most slavish
1. Of or characteristic of being servile, subservient, or submissive: Slavish devotion to another person can be self-destructive.
2. Showing no originality; blindly imitative: The painting is a slavish imitation of Van Gogh's style.
slavishly (adverb), more slavishly, most slavishly
Descriptive of anyone who copies or follows another person, or something, completely without any attempt to be original or independent: The high school boy slavishly copies everything his older brother does.
slavishness (s) (noun) (no plural)
Behavior that reflects a servility, intense adherence, or submissiveness to something: William was spending a great deal of money to satisfy the slavishness of his only daughter who was always trying to wear the latest fashionable clothing and going to parties so often.
sleazily (adverb), more sleazily, most sleazily
Descriptive of behavior that is immoral or dishonest: Mary felt that her lawyer was sleazily doing more harm than properly defending her in court.

Are the politicians sleazily saying one thing during one speech and then the complete opposite later in a different flip-flop presentation?

sleaziness (s) (noun) (no plural)
Someone or something that is lacking in morality and is dishonorable: The editorial in the paper represented the height of sleaziness and Steven hopes there will be a public outcry and an apology from the publication.

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.