WORD LISTS

Jim Burke's Academic Vocabulary List

February 14, 2014
A thorough survey of various textbooks, assignments, content area standards, and examinations yields the following list of words compiled by Jim Burke. You cannot expect to succeed on assignments if you do not understand the directions.
abbreviate
Our genetic information is encoded by the nucleotides thymine, cytosine, guanine, and adenosine, abbreviated as T, C, G, and A, respectively.
Slate (Oct 17, 2013)
abstract
The chosen definition for this word is an adjective meaning. As a noun, "abstract" means "a sketchy summary of the main points of an argument."
And rather than stating something as an abstract principle, he’d give it flesh and bones and heart by situating it in a story.
Washington Post (Feb 14, 2014)
according
Up to 35 percent of food products contain meat glue, including tofu, milk, yogurt and even cereal according to industry accounts.
Salon (Feb 14, 2014)
acronym
OMG The first recorded appearance of this breathless acronym for “Oh, my God!” comes, surprisingly, in a letter to Winston Churchill.
New York Times (Jan 21, 2014)
address
As a verb, "address" also means "deliver a formal spoken communication to an audience"--this could describe how Obama addresses the leaders as he addresses the issues.
Obama is due to meet with the leaders of all four nations, and plans to address diplomatic, economic and security issues, the White House said.
Reuters (Feb 12, 2014)
affect
Don't confuse "affect" with "effect"--in most cases, "affect" is used as verb while "effect" is used as a noun. As suggested by the example sentence, stormy weather affects a lot of people and services; it can have physical, emotional, and cognitive effects.
Thousands of properties are without power, schools are closed and trains have been cancelled--how is the stormy weather affecting you?
Children's BBC (Feb 13, 2014)
alter
In Rome, the Canadian postulants gave me a present--a book that altered my life utterly.
BBC (Feb 14, 2014)
always
“The world is full of giants,” she begins, “they have always been here. We had to learn how to overcome them.”
Time (Feb 14, 2014)
analogy
Actually, the word “recipe” points us toward a useful analogy: think of a quantum field theory as a culinary recipe.
Scientific American (Jan 13, 2014)
analysis
Literary analysis investigates the structure of a text and may also include exploring the underlying motives of characters. As a branch of mathematics, "analysis" involves calculus and limits.
Indeed, Pew’s own analysis of its data makes it clear that Facebook has a golden opportunity in those countries:
Time (Feb 13, 2014)
analyze
The babies in the study wore vests equipped with devices that record and analyze the conversations and background noises near the baby over 16 hours.
Reuters (Feb 12, 2014)
annotate
Genius, which allows users to annotate music lyrics, has thousands of songs whose explanations are continually updated and improved by its community of members.
Forbes (Aug 6, 2013)
anticipate
“Just as they anticipate fashion trends, they now have to anticipate changes in consumer behavior.”
New York Times (Feb 3, 2014)
application
The example sentence's use of "application" could also mean "a program that gives a computer instructions" but it would not connect to this definition: "a verbal or written request for assistance or admission."
Its application also allows users to search for points of interest such as restaurants and cinemas.
BBC (Feb 11, 2014)
apply
"Apply" also means 1) ask for something; 2) employ for a particular purpose; 3) ensure observance of laws and rules; and 4) commit oneself to--although the chosen definition is the best fit for the example sentence, these can also apply, since the contractors first had to apply (1) for the job, before they could apply (2) the skills of their workers, while applying (3) the stricter measures, and applying (4) themselves to creating safe work conditions.
On Tuesday, Qatari World Cup organizers produced a 50-page document outlining stricter measures that would apply to contractors involved in building work for the tournament.
Reuters (Feb 13, 2014)
approach
So we have two approaches to eating and sex in zoos--both created by people who care deeply about the animals in their care.
Time (Feb 13, 2014)
appropriate
“Also unsure of whether #Unapologetic is appropriate for a child’s toy.”
New York Times (Feb 11, 2014)
approximate
For years, psychologists have known that human infants are born with an "approximate number sense," called ANS, or the ability to estimate amounts without counting.
Reuters (Feb 5, 2014)
argue
I could argue that nerds, being more technical, also have more vision and relevance in a more technical world.
Forbes (Feb 10, 2014)
argument
"Argument" can also refer to what takes place before the assertion: "a methodical process of logical reasoning" or "a discussion for and against some proposition or proposal." In reference to a literary work, an argument is "a summary of the subject or plot" and in reference to a logical or mathematical expression, it is a variable.
An oft-quoted argument for investing in emerging markets is their superior economic growth.
Economist (Feb 12, 2014)
arrange
The sophistication comes with choosing the right texts and arranging them in an effective sequence that motivates and encourages the patient without alienating him.
Forbes (Feb 10, 2014)
articulate
He was deeply committed to the principle of free markets, and articulated four “Internet freedoms” reminiscent of Richard M. Stallman’s four software freedoms.
Forbes (Jan 19, 2014)
aspect
In referring to people, "aspect" is "a characteristic to be considered" or "the feelings expressed on a face." In grammar, the aspect of a verb is the duration or completion of the action (which should not be confused with the tenses, which also connect to the time of an action, but does not include how the time of the action is viewed).
Another aspect to consider is that people who file claims have an incentive to exaggerate their symptoms to receive more compensation for longer.
Reuters (Feb 12, 2014)
assemble
Sweating in green army fatigues, he praised the plan, noting its imported, prefabricated design that allowed walls to be assembled quickly, like puzzle pieces.
New York Times (Feb 11, 2014)
assert
Mr. Chermayeff gives dogs their due, depicting one holding a city flag and asserting: “I have thousands of friends and all their owners vote.”
New York Times (Feb 6, 2014)
assess
Other cars are covered with rubble, making it tough to assess the damage or estimate the cost of repairs, Doran said.
Reuters (Feb 13, 2014)
associate
"As a visual icon the ukulele is instantly associated with Hawaii, which is why it's used so frequently in advertising."
Seattle Times (Feb 12, 2014)
assume
“I didn’t want to assume she was into me and then for it to go wrong. That would have been very, very embarrassing,” he says.
Scientific American (Feb 14, 2014)
assumption
As most people know, even the most objective of these ranking lists are loaded with all kinds of hidden biases, assumptions and subjective decisions.
Forbes (Feb 7, 2014)
audience
They’ll continue to try to find new features that appeal to their audiences, which means more instances of tech deja vu in the future.
Time (Feb 13, 2014)
authentic
“We wanted to make it look authentic, like your Lego play set was truly coming to life.”
New York Times (Feb 9, 2014)
background
Information that is essential to understanding a situation could include "the state of the environment in which a situation exists." Information that is essential to understanding people could include their "social heritage or previous experience and training." Information that is essential to understanding a play could include "scenery hung at the back of a stage."
The background: She and her husband purchased her stepson’s home at foreclosure so that he and his family wouldn’t become homeless.
Washington Post (Feb 4, 2014)
body
The system could be a) an individual 3-dimensional object that has mass and that is distinguishable from other objects; b) a group of persons associated by some common tie or occupation and regarded as an entity; c) a group of things regarded as a whole. In the example sentence, "body" is used to mean (c) but is also punning on (a). In reference to a literary work, the body is the main part (minus the introduction, conclusion, and additional materials).
Although these behavioural changes make the drugs useful, a growing body of evidence suggests that the benefits mainly stop there.
Nature (Feb 12, 2014)
brainstorm
The Vatican announced Tuesday it would host a workshop early in the new year to brainstorm peaceful solutions to the ongoing civil war in Syria.
Time (Dec 31, 2013)
brief
The given definition is for the word as an adjective (which the title of Hawking's book puns on since "brief" also means "of short duration or distance"). As a noun, "brief" means "a condensed written summary or abstract" or "a document stating the points of law of a client's case." As a verb, "brief" means "give essential information to someone."
Hawking’s popular reputation was created through his best-selling book, A Brief History of Time, and the accompanying video program.
Slate (Feb 13, 2014)
calculate
"Calculate" also means "judge to be probable" or "predict in advance"--all three definitions fit the example sentence, since it is an argument for why IQ tests are used: because humans by themselves cannot correctly compute, judge, and predict a person's capabilities, standardized tests have been created as a tool to support decisions that need to be made about class placements, learning services, etc.
Unaided human reason is typically very bad at calculating relevant probabilities.
Scientific American (Feb 3, 2014)
caption
"Caption" can also be used as a verb; any type of image, including photographs, can be captioned. Usually, the descriptions are brief explanations or humorous observations. But if seen at the bottom of a screen for a show, the captions are either a translation of the dialogue for foreign viewers or a transcription of the dialogue for hearing-impaired viewers.
The photo generated captions such as: "I had fun once...it was awful."
BBC (May 31, 2013)
category
The example sentence describes recognition given by the British Academy Games Awards--this connects "category" to the given definition. But "action and adventure" can also be a category ("a collection of things sharing a common attribute") in a section of a game store.
The Playstation 3 title is recognised in categories including action & adventure, artistic achievement, best game and game design.
BBC (Feb 12, 2014)
cause
"Cause" can also mean "a justification for something existing or happening"--the example sentence does not argue for the cause of bullying; rather, it points out that, in the case of the football player Jonathan Martin, his depression might have caused ("make act in a specific manner") his teammates to bully him, which then caused ("give rise to") more mental health struggles.
They see the two-way street, the way in which mental-health struggles can be a partial cause as well as an effect of bullying.
Slate (Feb 14, 2014)
character
The example sentence uses "character" to connect only to the given definition, but it implies that even imaginary people in a fictional work should show the additional meanings of "character": "a property that defines the individual nature of something" and "attributes that determine one's moral and ethical actions."
And House of Cards would be a greater show if it had characters who were people more than game pieces.
Time (Feb 12, 2014)
characteristic
"Characteristic" can be either a noun or adjective ("typical or distinctive"). Although the example sentence focuses on the unique characteristics of geometric objects, the article in which it appears compares the process of proving a geometric theorem to the development of characters and their story lines. This parallel is characteristic of The Simpsons, whose creative team over the years has included members with degrees in math and computer science.
All geometric objects must remain true to their unique characteristics, and each step in the proof must follow the strict rules of logical deduction.
New York Times (Jan 27, 2014)
characterize
Rosacea is a skin condition characterized by red cheeks, chin, nose or forehead, often with small bumps that resemble pimples.
Seattle Times (Jan 29, 2014)
chart
The example sentence uses "chart" as a noun, but it could also be a verb: as a meteorologist, Mr. Bateman was asked to chart ("represent by means of a graph") every possible weather pattern at specific times in New York and New Jersey, so that the National Football League could chart ("plan in detail") the first Superbowl held outdoors in a cold winter environment.
Mr. Bateman said he was told to prepare “whiz bang” charts that detail everything from wind speeds to temperature trends.
New York Times (Jan 26, 2014)
chronology
He uses a timeline stretching all the way round the classroom, running from 1066 to the present day, to reinforce the notion of chronology.
BBC (Jul 8, 2013)
citation
And what’s more important: tweet-ability or the traditional citation from the scientific community?
Scientific American (Dec 23, 2013)
cite
But in fairness to Aesop, no one has ever cited his works as justification for irrational hatred and violence.
Salon (Feb 11, 2014)
claim
Although "claim" comes from the Latin verb "clamare" which means "to call" it can also be used as a noun in English to mean an assertion that something is true or that something rightfully belongs to you.
Mr. Ban added, “We cannot claim to care about mass atrocity crimes and then shrink from what it means to actually prevent them.”
New York Times (Feb 14, 2014)
clarify
Moreover, because these supernovae are used as cosmic measuring sticks, understanding them better may help clarify the shape of the Universe.
Scientific American (Jan 23, 2014)
class
In biology, "class" is a category ranking below a phylum and above an order. This idea of ranking can also be seen when people are classed into groups. The example sentence suggests that, despite being created in an attempt to save the Postal Service, the new class of "City Carrier Assistants" would rank lower than the regular postal carriers, and with their lower ranking comes lower pay and less desirable working hours.
Metro Post employees, and those who deliver packages on Sunday for Amazon, are part of a new class of postal workers called City Carrier Assistants.
BusinessWeek (Feb 13, 2014)
clue
It may also give us clues to a second antimatter mystery: Why is there more matter than antimatter in the universe?
Slate (Feb 11, 2014)

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Comments from our users:

Friday March 28th, 9:13 PM
Comment by: troy A.
It is great ,smart ,and very useful .
Sunday March 30th, 6:29 AM
Comment by: Meeran L. (Iraq)
thanks for helping me to improve my VOCAB.
MEERAN
Thursday April 3rd, 4:07 PM
Comment by: Mrs. Will (FL)
kudos to you. good job! I'm using for a Jeopardy game I have planned.
Friday April 4th, 12:28 PM
Comment by: Chase Steele (MI)
This help me grammar.
Tuesday April 8th, 2:49 PM
Comment by: sefik T.
very useful
Sunday April 13th, 3:41 AM
Comment by: Peyman J. (Iran, Islamic Republic of)
tnx. it was truly useful.
Sunday April 13th, 9:52 PM
Comment by: Mikayla B. (MI)
When it does the spelling for pace, it sounds like the person is saying pache or patched instead of pace. Besides that, it's good.
Tuesday April 15th, 8:06 PM
Comment by: Chad C. (MI)
next time please make it shorter.

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