When you're on your way from one place to another, use this originally French phase en route to describe your location. It's useful in this grisly context of Flight 370 gone missing en route to its destination. En route also works when you to describe the conversation you had en route to a conference.
The investigation for the missing passenger jet with 239 people on board has been dogged by false leads and conflicting reports, ranging from sightings of suspected debris from the plane to confusion over where flight 370 was last located before vanishing en route
to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur over the South China Sea.
--Malaysia Says It Tracked Object Over Strait of Malacca Saturday Morning
, The Wall Street Journal, Mar. 12, 2014
This word meaning "long and drawn out" might make math folks think of a protractor, or a tool for measuring angles. What's the connection? Latin, where protractus means "drawn forth or prolonged." Which is what you do when you use a protractor and a ruler to draw an angle, or when you draw out the process of watching a movie by pressing pause every five minutes to answer the phone.
When you're talking about statistical studies and evidence supporting one trend or another, you're going to see corroborate. It means to verify, or add supporting evidence. If you say you were out of the classroom when spitballs were thrown and a friend confirms she saw you by the water fountain, her story corroborates yours.
Ascribe means "to assign credit for," as in quotes ascribed to Shakespeare. It can also mean "to blame." If you ascribe falling asleep at school to the fact that you stayed up past midnight playing Vocabulary.com, we're not that sorry though we urge you to start earlier in the evening.
If exacerbate means "to make worse," why not just say that? Because exacerbate comes from the Latin word for acrid and carries the connotation of being an irritant. Use it when putting salt on a wound or pouring gasoline on a fire. It's apt here, where medications meant to bring focus in fact directly interfere with your brain's focusing ability.
This is a classic example of a word whose metaphorical meaning may be more common than its original one. To tether means to tie up an animal with a rope. It also can refer to the rope in question--a tether. But now the word's mostly used as just a way of saying "linked or attached," but before you use it to tell your sweetheart that she's put "a tether on your heart" note that it still suggests a shade of discomfort or unwillingness on the part of the one tied.
If an alien is a creature from another planet, does alienate mean to become one? No. But it's not a bad way to think of it, as alienate means to stop feeling connected or attached to something you were once a part of. Your parents should be careful in case their constant criticism of your hair, rather than motivating you to cut it, ends up alienating you from your family.
Potent means "strong," but you wouldn't use it to describe someone who works out a lot at the gym. It has to do with effects. Think: a potent drug that reduces swelling dramatically. Or an anti-smoking ad so potent anyone watching it jumps off the couch and flushes all their cigarettes down the toilet immediately.
If you're making a study of politics in the U.S., where no regulations limit money given to organizations not officially connected with candidates (even if the organization calls itself "Supporters of X candidate for Congress"), affiliated is an important word to master. It means "attached" without getting too specific as to how.
Are you 18 and a U.S. citizen? That means you're part of the electorate, or the group qualified to vote, the apple of every politician's eye.
"Democrats will fight for FL-13 in the midterm, when the electorate
is far less heavily tilted toward Republicans," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.).
--Republican Jolly wins Florida special election
, The Washington Post, Mar. 11, 2014