KA WORDCAST Passages: Lesson 17, Part TWO

KA WORDCAST Passages: Lesson 17, Part TWO

Listen to KA Wordcast HERE!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Passages Lesson 17 READING PASSAGE

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.



LIKE us on FACEBOOK for an even easier way to communicate with us directly.



Today, we will be looking at six words from KA’s reader, Passages, Lesson 17.  As with last week’s Wordcast, today’s reading comes from Treasure Island, a classic young-people’s novel by the beloved Scottish author, Robert Louis StevensonSet in the mid-1700s, the story is narrated by Jim Hawkins, the young son of the owners of the Admiral Benbow, an inn in a small English coastal village.  One day, a strange man named Captain Billy Bones appears at the inn, dragging an old sea chest behind him.  As he checks in, Billy takes Jim aside and asks the boy to warn him if he ever sees a “sea–faring man with one leg.”  But then Billy Bones dies—without paying his bill—and Jim and his mother have no choice but to go through Billy’s sea chest searching for money.  Inside the chest, they find a map of an island where a pirate has buried a great treasure.  Jim shows the map to two of the town’s leading citizens.  They hire a ship, the Hispaniola, and set sail to the island to find the treasure.  From then on, Treasure Island is filled with shipboard mutinies, cold-blooded murders, battles with swords and muskets—old-fashioned adventures of all kinds.  In today’s passage, Jim describes how he feels when he first hears Billy Bones tell him about the one-legged man.  And gives us his impressions of Billy Bones himself.

In Lesson 17, Part 1, we looked at some quite colorful adjectives and some very important nouns from the reading passage.  Today, we will examine some useful verbs from the same reading. You’ll probably recognize a couple of the verbs, since we looked at them in our Taskmaster Wordcasts.  But when learning new words, it’s always good to refresh and review.


To listen to a recording of the passage, please tune in to the KA Voicecast website.




To see him leap and run and PURSUE me over hedge and ditch was the worst of nightmares.

The verb PURSUE means to follow people or things in order to overtake or capture them.  Synonyms include go or run after, chase or give chase, stalk, track, and tail.

Harriet secretly PURSUED her best friend Janet out of the school gates and along the road, determined to find out once and for all where Janet was disappearing to every Thursday after school.

My mother, a terrible driver herself, always takes exception to others’ driving and will relentlessly PURSUE any driver she thinks should be reprimanded.

PURSUE can also mean to proceed along or follow the course of some route or direction.

To proceed through the narrow channel, the ferry PURSUED along behind the guide boat that had been sent out to lead it safely through the shallow waters.

PURSUE can also mean more figuratively to strive to gain or accomplish some goal or ambition.  Synonyms include work hard towards, try for, seek, aspire to, and dream of.

Students intending to PURSUE a doctorate must present the biology department with a detailed description of their planned research.

Charlotte worked all summer vacation in an animal rescue center as a step towards PURSUING her dream of becoming a veterinarian.

PURSUE can also mean to carry further or advance.  Synonyms include inquire, look into, examine, study, review, and delve into.

“I am afraid I cannot let this incident go,” the patient’s father said to the young nurse, “and will have to PURSUE the matter with your superiors.”

The preliminary results are very promising, and now that we have the required funding, we are looking forward to PURSUING our research and finding a cure for this horrible disease.

PURSUE can also mean to engage in a vocation or hobby.  Synonyms include be occupied in, participate in, take part in, and practise.

Newly retired, Charlie avidly PURSUED his hobby of stamp collecting and was particularly keen to obtain any new commemorative stamps issued by governments.

PURSUE can also mean to court or woo someone.  Synonyms include pay suit to and go or run after.

Laura remained unmarried all her life, but that didn’t mean that as a young woman she hadn’t been PURSUED by many men.  She had been, but turned them all down.

Finally, PURSUE can mean to continue to torment or afflict or haunt.

Soldiers who have seen active combat duty are commonly PURSUED by nightmares about their battlefield experiences and may benefit from counselling.

The schoolyard bullies PURSUED Harriet mercilessly until the day she finally had had enough and stood her ground.

PURSUIT is the noun form for all of the above meanings of PURSUE.

A device that is thrown across the road to puncture the tires of getaway vehicles is a tried-and- tested method that the police use in the PURSUIT of suspects.

Life, liberty, and the PURSUIT of happiness are the basic human rights set forth in the United States Constitution.

We here at Holiday World offer a whole range of leisure PURSUITS, from a relaxing swim in the outdoor heated pool to a more daring adventure on the man-made climbing wall.

Though it is indeed true that our organization is devoted to the PURSUIT of profits, you may be surprised and pleased to learn that most of those profits are reinvested in the community.

Instead of moping over your ex-boyfriend, buck up and redirect your energies to a worthwhile PURSUIT.

The noun PURSUER means a person who is trying to overtake or capture someone or something.

Until now, 007 had been able to outwit his PURSUERS, but turning into a dead-end alley, it appeared that his luck had run out.




How that “sea-faring man with one leg” HAUNTED my dreams, I need scarcely tell you.

Here, the verb HAUNT is used metaphorically to mean to keep coming into a person’s mind in a disturbing or frightening way.  Synonyms include trouble, obsess, torment, possess, recur, plague, and prey on.

The repercussions of my unwise decision to leave school before completing my education have been HAUNTING me for years, but now I’m determined to make up for it.

In the novel, the main character falls desperately in love with a young artist and abandons her husband and two small children, a decision that HAUNTS her all her life.

Marco’s father, a revered brain surgeon, had high expectations of Marco from the moment the boy was born.  Not surprisingly, the fear of failure HAUNTED Marco throughout his childhood.

This morning, I heard my son singing the crazy fox song, and the tune has HAUNTED me all day long.

A bit more literally, HAUNT can also mean to appear in or inhabit a place in the form of a ghost or other supernatural being.

I don’t mean to alarm you, but legend has it that a ghost HAUNTS this room, and many people who have stayed here claim to have heard some very eerie noises.

The gloomy ghost of the previous warden is said to HAUNT the wildlife reserve at night.

As an offshoot of this usage, HAUNT can also mean to visit a place or call on a person frequently, often in an unwelcome or even spooky way, as in the second sentence below.

As a diehard movie fan, Keith HAUNTED all of the local movie theatres, rarely missing the opening night for any film that was playing.

Even after I divorced my husband, he continued to HAUNT me, turning up at every social function I went to.

HAUNT can also mean to be continually present in or pervade, and is often used to describe music, literature, or other works of art.

The melancholy mood that HAUNTS the music of Dido appeals to a lot of people, but I like to listen to something a bit more upbeat and cheerful.

And we often use HAUNT to mean that something we have done or said comes back later to bother us or cause us trouble.

Be careful what opinions you post on social media.  Remember: you never know who could be reading them, and your words may come back to HAUNT you.

HAUNT can also be a noun. It means a place that we visit or hang out at very often.

We had our twentieth high-school reunion last weekend.  I had a great time revisiting all the old hometown HAUNTS with my former classmates.

A favorite summer HAUNT for British yachtsmen is Lymington in Dorset, which is perfectly positioned for the challenges of sailing in the Solent.

After the first full rehearsal of the play, the cast adjourned to their regular HAUNT, the Dog and Duck pub, to talk about the changes that needed to be made.

HAUNTING is the adjective form and is used to describe something that makes us feel thoughtful or sad or nostalgic.  Synonyms include affecting, memorable, poignant, and evocative.

Humpback whales, known for their HAUNTING songs and arduous migrations, are the oceans’ great wanderers.

The most HAUNTING scene in the movie comes when the old woman sits quietly and pensively listening to a scratchy recording of a popular sentimental tune from her youth.

HAUNTINGLY is the adverb form.

With her high cheekbones, deep-set brown eyes, pale skin, and full lips, the country-western singer has often been described as HAUNTINGLY beautiful.

The movie “Alive” is a HAUNTINGLY realistic portrayal of the horrors faced by a Uruguayan rugby team who survived a plane crash high in the snow-capped Andes Mountains.




But sometimes he would call for glasses round, and COMPEL all the trembling company to listen to his stories or bear a chorus to his singing.

COMPEL is a verb that means to force or make someone do something.  Synonyms include obligate, oblige, urge, enforce, and necessitate.

The prosecution or defense may COMPEL a witness’s attendance at court by issuing him or her a summons.

“I can’t COMPEL you to take the transfer to our Texas branch, but if you don’t, the promotion you want may not be forthcoming,” my boss slyly said.

Coco the Clown is an extremely successful children’s entertainer.  His unusual appearance COMPELS attention, and his slapstick routine has kids and parents rolling in the aisles. 

A sense of loyalty COMPELLED Harry to stick up for Grace in the argument, even though he wasn’t entirely sure she was in the right.

COMPELLING is an adjective meaning evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way. Synonyms include enthralling, captivating, gripping, engrossing, riveting, spellbinding, entrancing, transfixing, mesmerising, and absorbing.

The Kite Runner is a COMPELLING film based on the best-selling novel by Khalid Hosseini, which charts the friendship of two boys in Afghanistan and the events that change things irrevocably for both of them.

COMPELLING can also mean not able to be refuted or argued against.  Synonyms include plausible, credible, valid, well reasoned, rational, well founded, weighty, and irrefutable.

There are COMPELLING arguments from both those for and against the proposed construction of a prison on the outskirts of the village.

“You may wish to accept a plea bargain,” the public defender told the young suspect.  “There is COMPELLING evidence against you, and a reduced sentence may be the best you can hope for.”

COMPELLING can also mean not able to be resisted, as a temptation.  Synonyms include irresistible, forceful, powerful, and potent.

After the 17th mile, the temptation to give up was COMPELLING, but Hannah was determined to complete the marathon and raise money for the local children’s hospital.

COMPELLINGLY is an adverb meaning in a persuasive manner.

Having recently become a mother herself, the Work and Families minister spoke COMPELLINGLY about the need for affordable childcare options to enable mothers to return to the workplace.

The novel White Teeth by Zadie Smith is a COMPELLINGLY readable story about the lives of two wartime friends, one a Bangladeshi and the other an Englishman, and their families in London.

The formal legal phrase COMPELLENT UPON means required as a result of duty or obligation.

It is COMPELLENT UPON me to make sure you accompany us to the police station.  If you refuse to cooperate, you will be arrested.




My father was always saying the inn would be ruined, for people would soon cease coming there to be TYRANNIZED over and put down, and sent shivering to their beds.

TYRANNIZE is a verb that means to treat others in a cruel and overly demanding way.

Fathers who TYRANNIZE their families will usually find themselves estranged from their adult children.

Fed up with being TYRANNIZED by a cruel and ruthlessly racist system, the people staged a nationwide work walkout that brought the economy and the government to its knees.

One related noun form is TYRANT.  A TYRANT is a cruel, oppressive government ruler who abuses his or her power.  A TYRANT can also be more figuratively a person (boss, parent, teacher, classmate, etc.) who treats others in an unjust, scornful, or unreasonable way.  Similar words for the former include dictator, despot, and autocrat.  Synonyms for the latter include slave driver, bully, martinet, and stern taskmaster.

Colonel Gaddafi was an egotistical TYRANT who exercised power over the people of Libya for more than 40 years.  

In her autobiographical novel Mommie Dearest, Christina Crawford described her mother Joan Crawford as a cruel and abusive TYRANT.

A mild, meek husband and father at home, at the office Mr. Paulsen is a TYRANT who will tolerate no disagreement or dissension.

The other noun form is TYRANNY.  It means the cruel or excessive use of power or control, or such a system.

In his essays, Christopher Hitchens courageously exposed and condemned injustice and TYRANNY in all its guises.

Susan had endured her husband’s violent rages and TYRANNY for years, but she finally worked up the courage to leave him and seek help from a woman’s shelter.

TYRANNY may also be used somewhat metaphorically to mean a situation or condition that restricts a person’s freedom or happiness.

Although working as a freelance consultant would mean an unstable income, John decided he would rather be poor than carry on suffering the TYRANNIES of his nine-to-five office job.

Poverty may be the cruelest TYRANNY of all.

TYRANNICAL is an adjective that describes a person or system that uses power in a cruel way, or that makes unfair or excessive demands on others.

What can you do about a TYRANNICAL boss?  Well, my advice is to quit and find another job, because he or she will never change and will always make your life miserable.

After the TYRANNICAL father was found out and imprisoned for domestic abuse, his family at long last found some peace and happiness.

Judge Ambers was criticized by his colleagues for being too harsh and TYRANNICAL in his sentencing of certain ethnic minorities, and was subsequently forced to resign.

More literally, TYRANNICAL describes a government, organization, or ruler that acts without considering people’s rights and freedoms and treats them cruelly or unjustly.

According to the Robin Hood legend, King John and the Sheriff of Nottingham were TYRANNICAL rulers who exploited the poor by forcing them to pay exorbitant taxes.

Various acts of non-violent civil disobedience have finally forced the TYRANNICAL government to relinquish its illegal hold on the country.

The adverb form is TYRANNICALLY.

The famous judo coach was exposed and then fired for ruling TYRANNICALLY over the young female Olympians in his charge.

TYRANNOUS is another adjective form of TYRANNY.

In his eponymous play, Shakespeare portrayed King Richard III as a TYRANNOUS despot, but many scholars have argued for a reassessment of the York king, who they believe the Bard represented unfairly.

And just for the record, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, or T-Rex, gets its name from the root word TYRANT.  Paleontologists describe the T-Rex as a gargantuan, ferocious, carnivorous dinosaur that lived during the Jurassic period.  If you’ve seen the film Jurassic Park, you know how T-Rex earned his name.




And there was even a party of the younger men who pretended to ADMIRE him, calling him a “true sea-dog,” and a “real old salt,” and such-like names, and saying that he was the sort of man that made England terrible at sea.

The verb ADMIRE means to regard or treat an object, quality, or person with respect or warm approval.  Synonyms include applaud, praise, comment, approve of, favor, think highly of, appreciate, extol, revere, and esteem.

It was a terrible loss to the school when Barbara, the front desk secretary, retired after 40 years on the job.   She was much ADMIRED for her cheerful efficiency and unfailing courtesy.

My wife ADMIRES the author’s commitment to the cause of animal rights, so we have to attend all of his lectures, but I’m afraid I find them mind numbingly boring.

ADMIRE can also mean to look at something (a scene, a painting, a person, etc.) with pleasure.  Synonyms include worship, adore, appreciate, idolize, and be infatuated with.

Simon had long ADMIRED the Olympic champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis from afar and was thrilled to finally be introduced to her when she spoke at his son’s school.

We were just ADMIRING your beautiful garden.  How do you get your roses to bloom so prolifically?

Driving along the great Ocean Road in Australia, we often had to stop and ADMIRE the view.  Every time you round a bend, it seems another amazing vista is presented to you.

ADMIRING can be used as an adjective, as in:

All the men in the subway car gave the young woman, dressed in her Coming-of-Age Day kimono, ADMIRING glances.

I overheard the ADMIRING comments whispered by the visitors to the gallery and knew that my exhibition was a success.

ADMIRINGLY is an adverb that means adoringly, or in a respectful manner.

Andre finished decorating his daughter’s birthday cake and surveyed his efforts ADMIRINGLY. “Not bad for a beginner,” he thought.

I will never forget the day I caught my first marlin.  My dad and I looked at it ADMIRINGLY, took a few photos as a memento, and then released it back into the sea.

The adjective ADMIRABLE means causing or deserving respect or approval.  Synonyms include commendable, worthy of admiration, praiseworthy, laudable, estimable, and exemplary.

The perseverance and resilience that Nelson Mandela displayed through all the trials of his life are truly ADMIRABLE.

Everyone has a role in this world, and who is to say which role is more worthy or more ADMIRABLE than any other.

Professor Thompson may be ADMIRABLE in a lot of ways, but his supercilious attitude towards some of his colleagues is not one of them.

ADMIRABLY is the adverb form.

The children were ADMIRABLY well behaved during the awards presentation, which was longwinded and tedious even for the adults in the audience.

The witness performed ADMIRABLY, answering questions with poise and composure despite the fierce cross-examination from the prosecution.

The noun ADMIRATION means respect and warm approval.  Synonyms include commendation, acclaim, applause, reverence, and esteem.

I have the greatest ADMIRATION for all of the volunteer leaders who run the scout pack my son attends and who give up so much of their free time to benefit these young people.

Dr. Semler’s outdoor Christmas lights and decorations earned him the ADMIRATION and, in some cases, the envy of his neighbors.

ADMIRER is a noun that means someone who has a particular regard for someone or something.  Synonyms include fan, enthusiast, devotee, addict, buff, suitor, wooer, worshipper, and beau.

John Loughrey, an ardent ADMIRER of Margaret Thatcher, camped out on the steps of the central London cathedral the night before her funeral so as to catch a glimpse of the coffin.

One Direction fans include many ADMIRERS who devote all their free time to keeping up with what the members are up to by following them on social media sites.




Nor would he allow anyone to leave the inn till he had drunk himself sleepy and REELED off to bed.

In the passage, REEL is a verb that means to walk off balance or to stagger or lurch violently.  Synonyms include sway, rock, stumble, totter, wobble, falter, waver, and swerve.

Mason REELED as the boat rolled over the wave, and he struggled to regain his balance by holding fast to the railings.

The boxer REELED from the sharp blow given him by his opponent, but managed to stay on his feet long enough to hear the bell signaling the end of the round.

The captain of the fishing vessel watched the gulls REELING and diving towards the choppy waters, a sure sign a school of fish was just below the surface, and ordered his crew to lower the nets.

REEL can also mean to feel giddy, bewildered, or shocked, typically as a result of an unexpected event.

Charlotte was left REELING after her roommate Jen launched an unexpected and vicious verbal attack on her for her “slovenly living habits.”

When I was called into the supervisor’s office and told I was being made redundant, my head REELED with thoughts about how I was going to pay the rent and take care of my aging, ailing grandmother.

REEL can also mean to wind cloth or thread or yarn onto a REEL, or to wind or draw using a REEL.

Before I could start to make the costume, I had to REEL the various different colored cottons onto the bobbins.

All I managed to REEL in after a day’s fishing was a milk carton and an old rubber boot.

REEL is also a noun that means a cylinder or other device that turns on an axis and is used to wind up or let out wire, rope, film, fishing line, etc.

The REEL at the end of the fishing rod spun furiously as the fish struggled to get away.

A REEL is also a roll of photographic film to be projected by a movie projector.

Before the digital age, movies were shown at the cinema using a projector on which a REEL of film was attached and spun.

A REEL is also the name given to a lively traditional Scottish dance, or it can mean the music played when dancing a REEL.

Scottish country dances are categorized as REELS, jigs, or Strathspeys according to the type of music to which they are danced.

In music, all REELS have the same structure, consisting largely of a quaver movement with an accent on the first and third beats of the bar.

The phrasal verb REEL OFF means to recite something fluently and usually at length.

If you want to hold the interest of your audience when giving a talk, don’t just REEL OFF a long list of facts and figures.  Always provide clear examples and illustrations.


Tune in next week for more fantastic words from Passages, Lesson 18, Part ONE!