KA WORDCAST Passages Lesson 6

KA WORDCAST Passages: Lesson 6

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Passages Lesson 6 Reading Passage 

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KA WORDCAST Passages: Lesson 6

Many lovers of literature consider Anton Chekhov to be the greatest short-story writer of all time.  Born in Taganrog, Russia, in 1860, Chekhov studied medicine in university and became a respected practicing physician.  He began writing fiction in his spare time and produced hundreds of stories before his untimely death from tuberculosis at age 44 in 1904.  His stories deal with people from all walks of life and focus in on small, but significant moments in their lives.  The reading passage for this lesson and the nine vocabulary words we will be looking at today come from a story called “An Upheaval,” which Chekhov wrote in 1886.  The main character is a young girl named Mashenka who has just graduated from boarding school and is working as a live-in governess for a wealthy public official named Nikolay Sergeitch.  Coming home from a walk one day, Mashenka finds the house “in terrible turmoil.”  She goes to her room and is shocked to see her “mistress”—the lady of the house—going through her things.  The mistress leaves, and Liza, a housemaid, comes in.  Mashenka wants to know what this upheaval is all about.


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



“She has been rummaging in everything with her own hands.  It’s a perfect DISGRACE.”

In the sentence above, DISGRACE (always used with an indefinite article) is a noun that means an action or state of affairs (though it can be a person, too) that is thought to be shameful or unacceptable.  Synonyms include outrage, scandal, and insult.

“Your bedroom is a DISGRACE!  Go upstairs and clean it right now!” my mom would often tell me when I was in my teens.

A recent Op-Ed article called the Education Secretary a DISGRACE for saying that many UK families rely on free food banks because they don’t know how to manage their finances.

The defendant’s attorney called the prosecutors in the case a DISGRACE to the legal profession for withholding vital evidence.

DISGRACE is also used to talk about the condition or state of affairs that results from bad behavior or a dishonorable action.  Synonyms include dishonor, shame, embarrassment, and humiliation.

From her aristocratic parents’ point of view, Julia brought DISGRACE to the family when she dropped out of school to join a punk-rock band.

Four women’s Olympics badminton doubles teams were disqualified and sent home in DISGRACE for deliberately losing matches to get easier matchups in later rounds.

DISGRACE can also be a verb that means to behave badly so as to make you or other people feel ashamed.  It is often, but not always, used with a reflexive pronoun.

I’m warning you.  Don’t send this racist letter-to-the-editor in to the paper.  You’ll just DISGRACE yourself.

Melissa DISGRACED herself by getting into violent arguments with and belittling her colleagues at the annual faculty Christmas party.

Former Major League Baseball superstar Pete Rose DISGRACED himself and was banned from the game when he bet money against his own team.

Following his arrest for drunk driving, Major Pinnick was DISGRACED and forced to resign.

DISGRACED is also used as an adjective that describes a person who has fallen from favor or honor and lost some position as a result.  Similar words include discredited and tarnished.

Last night’s program about Tiger Woods, Michael Vick, Lance Armstrong, and other DISGRACED athletes focused on their efforts to return to competition.

DISGRACED teacher Maxwell Jones has been fired for receiving bribes from parents who paid him to write letters of recommendation to prestigious universities for their children.

DISGRACEFUL is an adjective that means very bad or unacceptable.  Synonyms include shameful, despicable, outrageous, dreadful, and heinous.

A local care home for people with disabilities is being investigated after neighbors reported DISGRACEFUL living conditions for the home’s residents.

Hannah’s haughty, boastful attitude at last night’s PTA meeting was utterly DISGRACEFUL!  Who does she think she is?

DISGRACEFULLY is the adverb form of DISGRACEFUL.

For a Dean’s List student and academic scholarship recipient, Bryan’s grades were DISGRACEFULLY low last semester.

Janice is still angry with her older sister Brenda for DISGRACEFULLY flirting with her, Janice’s, boyfriend when he came over last week.



If they could SUSPECT her of theft, then they might arrest her, strip her naked, and search her, then lead her through the street with an escort of soldiers, cast her into a cold, dark cell with mice and wood-lice, exactly like the dungeon in which Princess Tarakanov was imprisoned.

In the sentence above, the verb SUSPECT means to believe without definite proof that someone is guilty of a dishonest, illegal, or unpleasant act.  Synonyms include doubt, mistrust, be skeptical about, and be wary of.

FBI agents have been investigating six white supremacists SUSPECTED of plotting to assassinate the president.

If you SUSPECT anyone of illegally dumping hazardous waste materials, please contact the Environmental Protection Agency on their toll-free hotline.

Outside the department store, the house detective patted down an elderly woman whom she SUSPECTED of shoplifting.

SUSPECT also means to believe without much proof that something is true or likely to happen, especially something bad.   Synonyms for this usage include be suspicious of, have a feeling, reckon, surmise, and suppose.

Immunologists had SUSPECTED that bird flu was spreading between people, and their doubts were confirmed when a Beijing woman died after contracting the disease from her fatally ill father.

When she broke out in a horrible rash after eating a prawn cocktail appetizer at dinner,

Marjorie SUSPECTED that she might be allergic to shellfish.

Although no one said anything specific, I began to SUSPECT that my colleagues were trying to discourage me from applying for the new management position.

When our neighbor Nigel offered to housesit for us while we were away, I couldn’t help SUSPECTING that he had ulterior motives.

As a noun, a SUSPECT is a person who is thought to be guilty of a crime or some other wrongdoing.

The Times reported today that the shooting SUSPECT had been in and out of psychiatric care for over a decade.

The Chief of Police announced that they had a SUSPECT in custody but that his name was being withheld pending further investigation.

As an adjective, SUSPECT means dubious, suspicious, or untrustworthy.

Police cleared the train platform after a SUSPECT package was found next to a trash can.

A customer has sued the fast-food chain for using SUSPECT meat in its hamburgers.

The verbal SUSPECTED is often used as a modifier, as in the following:

Kyla was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance with SUSPECTED appendicitis.

In its biggest raid yet, the CIA rounded up and took in over 50 SUSPECTED terrorists for questioning. 

SUSPICION is a noun related to SUSPECT that means a feeling or belief that something is true, even though there is a lack of solid proof.  Synonyms include inkling, hunch, intuition, and impression.  Some informal synonyms include gut feeling and sixth sense.

I had a terrible SUSPICION that we’d taken a wrong turn a few miles back and were heading in the opposite direction.

Jenna’s cupcakes were perfect, almost too perfect, and I have a sneaking SUSPICION that they weren’t homemade as she claimed they were.

SUSPICION also means 1) a feeling that someone has done something wrong, illegal, or dishonest and 2) the feeling that you cannot trust someone or something.

My SUSPICIONS were confirmed when an officer from the Drug Enforcement Agency came knocking at my door and questioned me about our neighbor’s comings and goings.

Gary was arrested on SUSPICION of being involved in the robbery of the armored car, but he was later released when his alibi checked out.

So-called antiques on display at flea markets or bazaar stalls should be regarded with SUSPICION, as there’s a good chance that they may not be genuine. 

It’s unfortunate that Obamacare is regarded with such SUSPICION by so many Americans, when a national healthcare system is just what the doctor ordered, so to speak.

SUSPICION is also used informally to mean a very small amount of something.  Synonyms include touch, hint, trace, and shade.

Carrie can go into anaphylactic shock if she eats anything with even a SUSPICION of egg in it.

We knew there wasn’t a SUSPICION of truth in our teenaged daughter Hillary’s explanation for coming home so late, but we listened anyway, giving her the benefit of the doubt.

Some common idiomatic phrases include ABOVE (or BEYOND) SUSPICION, which describes a person or entity that is too good or honest to have done something wrong or dishonest.

No one in the Finance Department was ABOVE SUSPICION in the internal embezzlement investigation the company was conducting.

UNDER SUSPICION describes a person who is SUSPECTED of doing something wrong or dishonest.

Several members of the Transport Ministry are UNDER SUSPICION for corruption and accepting gifts and bribes from building contractors.

The adjective SUSPICIOUS has several uses.  Depending on the circumstances and what it is describing, SUSPICIOUS can be similar in meaning to doubtful, disreputable, and questionable. Look at following examples.

Customs officers at JFK Airport became SUSPICIOUS of Anthony’s nervous behavior and detained him while they inspected his luggage.

Please contact security if you see any SUSPICIOUS or unattended baggage in the waiting area.

Following a thorough investigation, authorities have ruled the fire an accident and will not be treating it as SUSPICIOUS.

In the bestselling novel, a woman named Amy disappears under SUSPICIOUS circumstances, and her husband Nick is the prime SUSPECT for her possible murder.

SUSPICIOUSLY is the adverb form of SUSPICIOUS for all of the uses above.

Garner looked at me SUSPICIOUSLY, as if he didn’t believe a word I was saying.

My little girl Alana was SUSPICIOUSLY quiet, and, just as I’d SUSPECTED, she was up to mischief, squirting bottles of shampoo and conditioner into the toilet.

A man was SUSPICIOUSLY loitering in front of the elementary school gates, so I called 911.

Some people are saying that Katy Perry’s new single “Roar” sounds SUSPICIOUSLY like Sara Bareilles’s “Brave,” but I don’t hear the resemblance. 



She had been searched like a street-walker!  She could not imagine a greater INSULT.

An INSULT is a disrespectful or abusive remark or action that aims to offend someone.   Synonyms include jibe, slur, offensive remark, and defamation.   Informal synonyms include dig, crack, put down, and low blow.

As she stepped onto the podium, the crowd shouted INSULTS at the congresswoman accused of spending thousands of tax dollars to remodel her house.

In India, eating with the left hand is considered an INSULT.

A “left-handed compliment” is not a compliment at all, but an INSULT.

INSULT also refers to something that is considered so worthless as to be offensive.

For what it cost, our hotel room was an INSULT—tiny, dirty, smelly, and there was never any hot water to take a proper shower.

I was thrilled at the prospect of starting a new job, but the salary they offered me was an INSULT, so I turned the position down.

A commonly heard phrase is ADD INSULT TO INJURY, which means to make a bad situation worse or to say something that hurts someone’s feelings even more badly than he or she has already been hurt.  Look at the following examples.

Frank was nearly an hour late for the party, and to ADD INSULT TO INJURY, he’d forgotten to pick up the birthday cake!

My creative writing instructor said my story was “abominable,” and, to ADD INSULT TO INJURY, she told me that I would never be a writer.

Another commonly used expression is AN INSULT TO ONE’S INTELLIGENCE, which means something that is stupid or foolish or offensive to the intellect, as in:

As far as I’m concerned, Jersey Shore and other similar reality TV programs are AN INSULT TO THE VIEWER’S INTELLIGENCE.

It can also mean something that is so easy as to be offensive, as in:

All the questions at last night’s pub quiz were so easy as to be AN INSULT TO OUR INTELLIGENCE. 

As a verb, INSULT means to say or do something that offends someone.  Synonyms include abuse, be rude to, slander, and put down.  Some informal synonyms include badmouth and dis.

I was just trying to help out, but I’m afraid I may have INSULTED our neighbor Tom when I offered to give him our gardener’s phone number.

If you are invited for a meal at a Japanese home, never INSULT your hosts by leaving food on your plate, and never refuse a second helping when it is offered.

How dare you say that!  I’ve never been so INSULTED in my life!

INSULTING is an adjective that means disrespectful or scornfully abusive.

I don’t care much for rap music because I find many of the lyrics INSULTING to women.

Jerry’s comments about the new teacher’s educational background and teaching methods were completely unfounded and downright INSULTING.



And to this feeling of RESENTMENT was added an oppressive dread of what could come next.

In the example above, RESENTMENT is a noun that means a feeling of anger or unhappiness about something that you think is unfair.  Synonyms include bitterness, dissatisfaction, disgruntlement, and bad feelings.

I could feel the RESENTMENT among my classmates, but it didn’t bother me, because I knew they were just jealous.

Max could not conceal the deep RESENTMENT he felt toward his father, who, when Max was growing up, had been so busy at work that he was never there for his son.

Harboring RESENTMENTS and holding grudges for long periods of time will only keep you from achieving true happiness.

RESENTMENT comes from the verb to RESENT, which means to feel angry or bitter about something, especially something that you feel is unfair or unjust.   Synonyms for RESENT include begrudge, feel bitter about, be annoyed, and take offense.

On weekends, when Jake stayed with his father and his second wife and their son, Jake couldn’t help RESENTING his half-brother for getting so much of their father’s attention.

It was a decision they had made together, but after a few months of living in backwoods Kentucky, Junko RESENTED Carl for bringing her to America.

Parents of children with learning difficulties sometimes RESENT schools and teachers for pointing out their child’s disability.

“I RESENT that question.  My private affairs are not in any way connected to the issue at hand,”  the candidate said to the eager young journalist during a press conference.

The adjective RESENTFUL describes a person who feels anger at having been treated unfairly.  Similar words include aggrieved, offended, and bitter.  Some informal synonyms include miffed and peeved.

Nicola was RESENTFUL at not being invited to Olivia’s 15th birthday party, especially after she learned that nearly everyone else in the class was going.

Telling someone who is depressed or upset to “just get over it and move on” will only make him or her feel RESENTFUL towards you.

Performers can understandably become RESENTFUL when faced with an unenthusiastic, unappreciative audience.

The aging superstar was RESENTFUL for being kept out of the starting lineup, but he wasn’t performing, and the coach had no choice.

RESENTFULLY is the adverb form of RESENTFUL.

Jeffery often spoke RESENTFULLY of the time he spent fighting the war in Afghanistan, which he had come to regard as corrupt and pointless.

Kevin glared RESENTFULLY at the letter, cursing his younger brother for investing their inheritance money on dubious foreign speculations.

Another noun form, RESENTFULNESS, means the quality or state of feeling resentment or bitterness.

You could see the RESENTFULNESS in the student’s eyes as the principal accused her of plagiarizing her essay.



And to this feeling of resentment was added an OPPRESSIVE dread of what could come next.

In the sample above, OPPRESSIVE is an adjective that means overwhelming or unbearable.  But before we look at the adjective, let’s first examine its root verb, OPPRESS.  OPPRESS most commonly means to treat people in a cruel and unjust way, especially by taking away their rights or freedoms. Synonyms include maltreat, tyrannize, suppress, and rule with an iron fist or hand.

History has taught us that it is only a matter of time before people being OPPRESSED by tyrannical leaders rise up and fight for their freedom.

Women in many parts of the world are still considered second-class citizens and continue to have their basic human rights OPPRESSED.

OPPRESS also means to cause someone to feel anxious, distressed, or uncomfortable.  Synonyms for this usage include depress, dishearten, weigh down, and make despondent.

The announcement that the company was filing for bankruptcy OPPRESSED all the staff members and made for a despondent office atmosphere.

Now let’s go back to the adjective OPPRESSIVE.  In the sample sentence from the passage, OPPRESSIVE means pressing down heavily on the mind or spirit, thereby causing depression or discomfort.  It is usually used to describe mood or atmosphere, but can also be used to talk about hot and muggy weather.  Synonyms include uncomfortable, overwhelming, and unbearable.

When my husband’s parents come to visit, the house suddenly takes on an OPPRESSIVE atmosphere.

The OPPRESSIVE heat in New York City in 1977 was one of the underlying themes in Spike Lee’s film Summer of Sam.

OPPRESSIVE also describes leaders who treat people in a cruel or unfair way.  Synonyms include harsh, tyrannical, repressive, merciless, and undemocratic.

Half the world’s population still lives under OPPRESSIVE regimes, despite international efforts to bring down iron-fisted dictators.

Some gun-rights activists argue that Americans have the constitutional right to own guns to protect themselves against an OPPRESSIVE government.

OPPRESSIVELY is the adverb form of OPPRESSIVE.

In some developing countries, many people still live under OPPRESSIVELY abject conditions and lack the basic essentials of food, water, and shelter.

Devin couldn’t sleep last night because the air was OPPRESSIVELY humid, and the noises coming from the street below seemed to resonate louder than usual.

There are two noun forms related to OPPRESS—OPPRESSION and OPPRESSIVENESS.  OPPRESSION means cruel or unjust treatment, or control that continues for a long time.  It can also mean the state of being subjected to such treatment or control.  OPPRESSIVENESS refers to the feeling of being OPPRESSED.

The news program invites people who have lived under OPPRESSION and survived the ordeal to come on and share their stories with listeners.

The stuffy convention hall was filled to the rafters with sweaty delegates, and I just had to go outside to escape the OPPRESSIVENESS and get some fresh air.

An OPPRESSOR is a person or authority that OPPRESSES others.

OPPRESSORS will always find a way to justify their cruel actions and ill treatment of the OPPRESSED.

People often confuse the verbs OPPRESS, REPRESS, and SUPPRESS, all of which can mean putting someone or something down by force or holding something back, and all of which come from the same Latin root for “to press.”  If you come across any of these words in something you are reading, just remember that they all mean to keep or put down by some sort of power or force, and are often used interchangeably. In your own writing, keep it simple, and use them like this:  OPPRESS=PEOPLE; REPRESS=PERSONAL FEELINGS; SUPPRESS=INFORMATION AND MEDIA.  Use the following examples as models.

By the 1970s and 1980s, people in Eastern Europe had become fed up with being OPPRESSED by and living under Soviet tyranny.

Over the course of her psychiatric treatment, it was revealed that the patient had been REPRESSING painful memories and feelings of resentment towards her abusive father.

The Chinese government has taken steps to SUPPRESS various social media like Facebook, which it views as a threat to its power and authority.

DEPRESS is another related word, which in its most common usage means to make a person sad or to make a person’s spirits low.

Reading all the comments left by visitors at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum can be both DEPRESSING and inspiring.

DEPRESS can also mean to physically press down, as in:

DEPRESS the accelerator to make the car go faster.

Doctors use a flat stick of wood to DEPRESS the tongue and look at a patient’s throat.



Never in her life had she been subjected to such an outrage, never had she been so PROFOUNDLY insulted…

In the sentence above, PROFOUNDLY is the adverb form of the adjective PROFOUND, so let’s first look at PROFOUND, which has several uses.  When talking about an emotion, quality, or state of affairs, PROFOUND means felt or experienced very strongly.  Synonyms include heartfelt, intense, and sincere.

Yet another tragic shooting incident at the hands of a crazed gunman has left the nation in PROFOUND shock.

You could see the PROFOUND joy on the faces of the students who saw their names on the “Successful Candidates” board posted outside the university’s Registrar’s Office.

PROFOUND can also mean 1) showing great knowledge or understanding and 2) needing a lot of study or thought, as in the following examples:

Whether you are religious or not, the Bible and other books of faith can offer PROFOUND insights into life and human nature.

If you are looking for some PROFOUND quotations to use in your own writing, you need look no further than the Harry Potter books, which are filled with wise and witty remarks.

Though yet only thirty-six, Australian philosopher and writer Damon Young probes some very PROFOUND questions in his latest book, Philosophy in the Garden.

When speaking of a disease or disability, PROFOUND means very severe or deep-seated.

Each self-contained unit in the living complex houses three or four residents, most of whom have quite PROFOUND physical disabilities and/or learning difficulties.

Now let’s return to the adverb PROFOUNDLY, which means in a way that deeply affects someone or something.

Last night, I watched a PROFOUNDLY disturbing documentary about the final phone calls made from the burning World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2001. 

Congratulations on your appointment as Professor of History at Harvard, Letia, but let me take this opportunity to say that you will be PROFOUNDLY missed by all of us here in the Yale History Department.

In medicine, PROFOUNDLY means very seriously or completely.

The disease left Helen PROFOUNDLY deaf and blind, yet she managed to learn to speak and to read by Braille, and eventually wrote one of the great autobiographies of all time.

PROFUNDITY, as well as its lesser used synonym, PROFOUNDNESS, is a noun that means the quality of understanding or dealing with something on a deep level, or the quality of being great or serious.

I’ve never been a fan, but Stephen King’s new book quite surprised me with its charm, attention to detail, and PROFUNDITY of insight.

Dr. Stephenson’s PROFUNDITIES are sometimes wasted on students who only take his Introduction to Sociology class to satisfy a social science requirement. 

One of my favorite quotes comes from the Chinese philosopher, Laozi:  “Kindness in words creates confidence.  Kindness in thinking creates PROFOUNDNESS.  Kindness in giving creates love.”



All sorts of ABSURD ideas came into her mind.

ABSURD is an adjective that means ridiculous or nonsensical.   Synonyms include preposterous, idiotic, silly, ludicrous, and illogical.  Some informal synonyms include crazy and daft.

Get this.  Nancy’s entering a beauty contest.  I’ve never heard anything so ABSURD in all my life! 

Those uniforms that the Swiss Guards at the Vatican wear are not only ABSURD looking, but look very uncomfortable to wear as well.

As if the original Dumb and Dumber movie wasn’t ABSURD enough, a sequel is now in the works that promises to be even more ridiculous.

“Only those that attempt the ABSURD can achieve the impossible,” said the great physicist Albert Einstein, and I finally think I know what he meant.

ABSURDLY is the adverb form of ABSURD.  Similar words include ridiculously and foolishly.

Who would pay such ABSURDLY high prices for a painting that, if you ask me, any five-year-old could have painted—and done a better job?

On the talk show, the actor revealed that he had ABSURDLY turned down a chance to play James Bond in the 007 series.

Those platform shoes with the ABSURDLY high heels that supermodel Naomi Campbell used to wear are now on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

ABSURDITY is the quality or state of being ABSURD, ridiculous, or very unreasonable.  Synonyms include preposterousness, ludicrousness, folly, and pointlessness.

Years later, Madeline was finally able to see the ABSURDITY in the situation and even laugh about it, though at the time, she had suffered greatly.

A federal minister has charged that Quebec’s plans to ban all overtly religious symbols in government workplaces borders on ABSURDITY.

The latest spoof to come out of Hollywood pokes fun at teen dance-off movies, and is brimming with good-natured ABSURDITY.

For your information, ABSURDISM refers to the belief or philosophical position that human beings exist in a chaotic and pointless universe.  And ABSURD DRAMA is a dramatic genre whose main theme is that life has no meaning and that real communication is impossible.



She, well-educated, REFINED, the daughter of a school teacher, was suspected of theft; she had been searched like a street-walker!

In the sentence above, REFINED is an adjective that describes someone who is polite and has the manners typically thought to be those of a higher, more educated social class.  Synonyms for REFINED include cultured, sophisticated, well mannered, and genteel.

When our daughter, who is certainly no scholar, said she was bringing her new boyfriend Trevor home for Thanksgiving, we hadn’t expected him to be so well spoken and REFINED.

Even at the worst of times, when she was faced with the harshest hardships, my mother always maintained her elegant and REFINED nature.

Both a film and fashion icon, Audrey Hepburn was esteemed for her remarkable screen presence and REFINED sense of style, not to mention her humanitarian work.

REFINED can also mean developed or improved.

Thanks to increasingly sophisticated equipment, astronomers are rapidly REFINING and deepening our understanding of our solar system and beyond.

As your vocabulary increases and your understanding of grammar and syntax improves, your writing will become more REFINED and powerful.

As a modifier, REFINED describes a substance such as sugar or crude oil that is made pure by removing other substances from it.  Synonyms include purified and processed.

My daughter’s pediatrician has assured us that her concentration will improve over time if we cut REFINED sugar products and foods with red food coloring in them out of her diet.

The opposite of REFINED is UNREFINED.  When describing a person, UNREFINED means uncultured or unsophisticated.  When describing a substance, UNREFINED means unprocessed, raw, or crude.

In the play Pygmalion, Henry Higgins makes a bet that by teaching an UNREFINED East End flower girl to speak impeccable English, he can pass her off as a duchess.

Cooking reduces their nutritional value, so UNREFINED oils such as coconut, olive, and avocado oil should be used mainly in salads and cold dishes.

As a verb, REFINE means to make a substance pure by taking other substances out of it.  Synonyms include purify, process, and treat.

Kerosene was the first major product to be REFINED from crude oil.

Before it reaches the consumer, sugar is REFINED through an elaborate process involving several steps.

REFINE can also mean to improve something by making small changes to it.  Synonyms for this usage include perfect, polish, and fine-tune.

“What you’ve got here is a good first draft of a potentially great story,” my editor told me, “but you need to develop the characters more fully and REFINE the writing.”

Angela has always been a skilled piano player, but it was obvious from her last performance that she has been REFINING her timing and expressive technique.

Surgeons have continued to REFINE the transplant technique so that now it is almost routine.

The noun REFINEMENT has several uses.  When referring to a person, REFINEMENT is the quality of being polite, well educated, or sophisticated.  Synonyms include style, elegance, sophistication, and good manners.

Hillary Clinton, one of the most iconic female role models of our time, always speaks with REFINEMENT and erudition.

The menu at La’Sapporo pays homage to the traditional seafood dishes of Northern Japan, while introducing a Parisian sense of REFINEMENT.

REFINEMENT also refers to the process of making something pure.

In the steel REFINEMENT process, impurities are removed from the iron ore, and alloys are then added to produce the exact type of steel required.

Finally, REFINEMENT means the act or result of making small changes to something to improve it.

Years of research and REFINEMENT went into the development of the “Bouncing Bomb,” a weapon that actually bounces across water to reach a target.

A REFINERY is a factory where crude oil (and sometimes other substances) is made into various products.

Chevron’s Pascagoula REFINERY, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, processes 330,000 barrels of crude oil every day.



Her parents lived far away in the Provinces; they had not the money to come to her.  In the capital she was as SOLITARY as in the desert, without friends or kindred.

SOLITARY is an adjective with many uses.  When speaking of a person or animal, SOLITARY means enjoying being alone or spending a lot of time alone.  Synonyms include lonely, friendless, antisocial, reclusive, and hermitic.

Unlike elephants and wolves that live in herds or packs, leopards and other wild felines are often SOLITARY animals.

Mick was a SOLITARY child who spent much of his time alone, dreaming up imaginary friends and talking to his toys.

Bryn leads a rather SOLITARY life and is happy spending his time reading rather than going out to parties or other social events.

SOLITARY can also refer to a person, place, or thing that is alone or done alone with no other people or things around.  Similar words include isolated and lonely.

The Morgans’ homestead looks over a quiet, green pasture intersected by a SOLITARY railway line.

After a week working in the city, Tiffany looks forward to going to her small cabin on the weekends, where she can take long SOLITARY walks in the forest.

Sometimes, SOLITARY means only one or single.

The prisoners were forced into a small cell with white-washed walls and a SOLITARY light bulb that hung from the ceiling.

The tribal chieftan warned the movie crew not to leave a SOLITARY trace of their having been on the pristine island when filming ended and they packed up and went home.

As a noun, a SOLITARY is a person who chooses to live alone, though the synonym “RECLUSE” is much more commonly used and would be a better choice for your writing.

Throughout his school years, Jeremiah remained a SOLITARY, unable to work up the courage to make friends or speak to his classmates.

Having been raised as an only child on a farm by distracted, aloof parents, Derik grew up to be a RECLUSE who found all human relationships difficult.

The phrase SOLITARY CONFINEMENT refers to a kind of punishment in which a prisoner is kept alone in a cell, isolated from other inmates.

After receiving complaints from Amnesty International, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency has said they will limit the use of SOLITARY CONFINEMENT for immigrants in custody.

SOLITUDE is another noun form that means the state of being alone, usually by choice or because the person enjoys or prefers it.  Synonyms include privacy and peace.

The long summer vacation dragged on, and like most mothers with school-aged children, Susan longed for school to start again so she could have a bit of peace and SOLITUDE.

Unable to keep up appearances and put on a brave smile, Christine excused herself from the dining table and shut herself up in her room, where she could cry in SOLITUDE.

SOLO is an adjective related to SOLITARY.  It means done by one person without anyone helping them.

Daredevil Jonathan Trappe is attempting a SOLO flight across the Atlantic Ocean, dangling from 370 colorful helium balloons. 

Polar explorer Borge Ousland was the first and only person to complete a SOLO expedition to the North Pole.

In music, SOLO is used as a modifier to mean alone or unaccompanied.

George Michael has seen more success as a SOLO artist than as a member of the duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley.

Beyonce’s first SOLO album “Dangerously in Love” included her hit single “Crazy in Love.”

SOLO can also be used as an adverb, as in the following example:

Amelia Earhart was the first female pilot to fly SOLO across the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s a shame that so many talented artists disappear after they break away from the band that made them and go SOLO.

As a noun, SOLO is a musical piece, dance number, or other performance done by one person.

A number of music critics have called the guitar SOLO in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” one of the most emotional pieces of music ever recorded.

Who was that girl who sang the SOLO in tonight’s school choir performance?  She’s destined to be a star, don’t you think?

A SOLOIST is a singer, musician, or other performer who performs alone.

Tina Guo is currently touring as a SOLOIST and featured cellist with Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour.

SOLITAIRE, called “Patience” in the UK, is a card game for only one player.

What’s the point of cheating while playing SOLITAIRE?  You’re only cheating yourself, you know.

Finally, a SOLILOQUY, sometimes called a monologue, is a speech in a play where a character addresses the audience while standing alone on the stage.  One example of a SOLILOQUY is Shakespeare’s “To be or not to be” speech from his most famous play, Hamlet.

Tune in next week for new words from Passages, Lesson 7!