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gadfly • \GAD-flye\

1 : any of various flies (as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly) that bite or annoy livestock
*2 : a person who stimulates or annoys especially by persistent criticism

Example Sentence:
Robert, the self-appointed gadfly of the local paper, would write a scathing letter to the editor whenever he felt the news coverage had been inadequate or inaccurate.

Did you know?
The history of "gadfly" starts with "gad," which now means "chisel" but which formerly could designate a spike, spear, or rod for goading cattle. Late in the 16th century, "gad" was joined with "fly" to designate any of several insects that aggravate livestock. Before too long, we began applying "gadfly" to people who annoy or provoke others. One of history's most famous gadflies was the philosopher Socrates, who was known for his constant questioning of his fellow Athenians' ethics, misconceptions, and assumptions. In his Apology, Plato describes Socrates' characterization of Athens as a large and sluggish horse and of Socrates himself as the fly that bites and rouses it. Many translations use "gadfly" in this portion of the Apology, and Socrates is sometimes referred to as the "gadfly of Athens."
by scummy | 2008-02-29 21:50 | MW

sitzmark • \SITS-mark\

: a depression left in the snow by a skier falling backward

Example Sentence:
Proper skiing etiquette dictates that a skier who falls in the middle of a trail should smooth over his or her sitzmark so it won't pose a hazard to other skiers.

Did you know?
On the slopes, do you zip down the mountain leaving other skiers in your wake? Or are you more likely to leave a trail of sitzmarks behind you? If the latter is true, you may want to give your backside a break and plop down into a comfy chair in the ski lodge instead of plunking back onto the snow. Either way, you'll find yourself sitting on your derriere, a fact you can use to remember "sitzmark." It is most likely a creation made in English from the German verb "sitzen," meaning "to sit," plus the English noun "mark," as in "impression."
by scummy | 2008-02-29 21:49 | MW

nebula • \NEB-yuh-luh\

*1 : any of numerous clouds of gas or dust in interstellar space

2 : galaxy; especially : a galaxy other than the Milky Way

Example Sentence:
The brilliant colors of the nebula were visible through the telescope.

Did you know?
The history of today's word is not lost in the mists of time, although its history does get misty at points. "Nebula" comes to us from Latin, where it meant "mist" or "cloud." In its earliest English uses in the 1600s, "nebula" referred to a cloudy speck or film on the eye that caused vision problems. It was first applied to great interstellar clouds of gas and dust in the early 1700s. The adjective "nebulous" comes from the same Latin root as "nebula," but the first uses of "nebulous" don't appear in English until the late 1700s, well after the discovery of interstellar nebulae.
by scummy | 2008-02-29 21:48 | MW

word bank #56

He was suspended from work following allegations that he was siphoning off money from the company accounts.
siphon off: "to remove money from a source"

1. The company was criticised for being over-reliant on orders from a limited number of customers.

2. I don't use the buses normally as they are so unreliable.

3. One of the main considerations when buying a car is reliability.

1. We have brought our children up to have respect for the environment.

2. I am writing with respect to your letter sent on the 20th August.

3. I have always had the greatest respect for people who do voluntary work.


with respect to sth (formal or business) concerning: The two groups were similar with respect to income and status.
by scummy | 2008-02-29 21:37 | CPE

word bank #03

I was watching the TV last night when I started to drift off. I just couldn't keep my eyes open.
drift off: "to start to fall asleep"

1. Those chairs are really collectable nowadays. They are regaerded as being at the height of fashion.

2. There will be several collections this week as some members of staff are leaving work.

3. Those present at the meeting agreed collectively to raise the matter with the director.

I'm seeing the boss this afternoon. I'll put in a good word about you. It might help you with your request for promotion.
"to put in a good word"
by scummy | 2008-02-29 21:24 | CAE

word bank #03

He was angry with his girlfriend for showing him up in front of his friends.
show up: "to embarrass someone"

1. He's getting married to a property developer from New York.

2. There has been a very interesting development in the missing person case.

3. The land around the house we're thinking of buying is completely undeveloped; no houses, no roads, nothing.

Listen, do as you're told and turn the TV off. It's time for dinner.
"to do as you are told"
by scummy | 2008-02-29 21:16 | FCE


rind = peel
mum = silent
thriftless = wasteful
hypertension = high blood pressure
append = attach
breach = violation
sonnet = poem
relinquish = give up
egotistical = vain
parch = dry
bale = bundle
edgy = tense
advisable = prudent
imprecise = vague
silhouette = outline
spellbound = fascinated
ingest = consume
teeter = wobble
banish = exile
loot = plunder
fragmentary = disconnected
perch = roost
befitting = suitable
by scummy | 2008-02-29 18:39 | FreeRice

crossword - the sea & ships

1. The team of people who work together on a ship. crew

2. A kind of fishing using a large net pulled along the bottom of the sea. trawling

3. The bottom of the sea. sea bed

4. A vessel that can travel below the level of the sea. submarine

5. Something which is used to make ships heavier and so more stable. ballast

6. The main part of the body of a boat or ship. hull

7. "There are plenty more fish in the sea" is an idiom which means there are other people available.

8. An enclosed area of water which can be emptied and used for repairing ships. dry dock

9. The long piece of wood or steel along the bottom of a boat that forms part of its structure and helps to keep the boat balanced in the water. keel

10. A nautical mile is a unit of distance of 1,852 meters. It is longer than a land mile (1,609 meters)
by scummy | 2008-02-28 18:21 | BBC


1. My wallet must be somewhere. It can't have just vanished into thin air.

2. Many young people go missing each year, but the majority return home safely within 24 hours.

3. That morning the fog was thick, but by the afternoon it had cleared up and we were able to set off up the mountain.

4. After the operation, the effects of the anaesthetic will take some time to wear off.

5. It's important that you stay out of sight so as not to scare the animals away.

6. Certain animals, such as panda and tigers, are thought to be in danger of dying out.
by scummy | 2008-02-28 18:01 | BBC

word bank #55

He was extremely generous and always lavished money on his friends.
lavish on: "to spread a lot of money on someone"

1. Your behaviour was absolutely shameful and you should apologise.

2. He walked into the room looking very shamefaced and guilty.

3. You have nothing to feel ashamed about as you did nothing wrong.

1. I was a beginner surrounded by experts and felt totally out of my depth.

2. In the news conference the police will explain the case in greater depth.

3. What's the depth of the swimming pool at the far end?


be out of your 'depth
2 to be unable to understand sth because it is too difficult; to be a situation that you cannot control: He felt totally out of his depth in his new job.

4 [U] (approving) the quality of knowing or understanding a lot of details about sth; the ability to provide and explain these details: a writer of great wisdom and depth * a job that doesn’t require any great depth of knowledge * His ideas lack depth.
by scummy | 2008-02-28 17:40 | CPE


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