KA WORDCAST Taskmaster Book 2: Lesson 12 Part ONE

KA WORDCAST Taskmaster Book 2: Lesson 12 Part ONE

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.

Taskmaster Lesson 12 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.

PDF DOWNLOAD Taskmaster Lesson 12 Part ONE





The KA WORDCAST Vocabulary Builder eBook (Lessons 1-10) is now available on the ESL Publishing website.  Click on the image.  

Please visit ESL Publishing for more Well Read titles.





Today’s 9 words come from the Practice Test Passage taken from Scat, a thriller detective novel by Carl Hiaasen. To listen to a recording of this passage, tune into the KA Voicecast website.




Their expressions reflected the usual mix of DREAD and melancholy, for Mrs. Starch was the most feared teacher at Truman School.

DREAD, as used in the sentence above, is a noun that means a feeling of great fear about something that might or will happen. Synonyms include apprehension, fear, worry, and concern.

For the first few weeks after the 3-11 earthquake, even the slightest tremor caused us to stop what we were doing and look around in DREAD.

David has an irrational DREAD of hospitals and refuses to see a doctor even when he is feeling desperately ill.

The idea of growing old and losing her movie-star looks filled Cindy with DREAD.

The verb DREAD means to be very afraid of something or to fear that something bad is going to happen. Similar words or expressions include fear, be afraid of, worry about, and be anxious about. It is also often used more casually to mean the opposite of “look forward to”; in other words, to anticipate with alarm or reluctance.

I DREAD to think what would happen to my family in Japan if Mount Fuji erupted, since they live right beneath it.

I absolutely DREAD going to the dentist and have to work up all my courage just to make an appointment.

Having been selected as Salesman of the Year was an achievement that Jason was very proud of, but he DREADED having to give a speech in front of all his peers.

Susan was DREADING having to tell her boss that she had accepted another job and would be quitting at the end of the month.

There are two adjective forms of DREAD. First, let’s look at DREADED. This means that something is looked upon or regarded with great fear or apprehension. Synonyms include awful, feared, horrible, and frightful.

The DREADED news that their only son Billy had been killed in a motorcycle accident devastated his aging parents.

Newly discovered water-purification technologies hold great promise for stopping the spread of DREADED diseases such as cholera.

Every year about this time, students are doing their last-minute cramming for the DREADED university entrance exams.

DREADED can also be used humorously or even sarcastically to add emphasis to something that is disliked or disagreeable, as in:

The DREADED copy machine is out of order again. What a nuisance!

I suppose I should stop ignoring that pile of DREADED bills to be paid and start writing checks.

DREADFUL, the other adjective form, has several uses. First of all, it is used as a modifier to describe something very bad or terrible, or that inspires DREAD, as in:

Conditions in North Korea are DREADFUL, with millions on the brink of starvation.

There’s been a DREADFUL accident on the A41 involving four cars, a bus, and a lorry carrying petrol.

I apologize for the inconvenience, but I’m afraid there’s been a DREADFUL mix-up with your blood-test samples and we’ll need you to come back to the clinic as soon as possible.

Stalin was a paranoid and DREADFUL leader, whose purges and show trials had the country living in absolute fear for decades.

DREADFUL is also used more informally to describe something that is unpleasant or distasteful.

What a DREADFUL thing for you to say to her! Now call her up right now and apologize!

Can you believe how DREADFUL this weather is? It’s done nothing but rain for weeks on end!

Miranda is a DREADFUL liar, so take everything she says with a grain of salt.

DREADFULLY is the adverb form of DREADFUL. It means very badly or poorly as in:

The company performed DREADFULLY in the first quarter and had to lay off more than half of its full-time staff.

Sure, he had too much to drink, but still, there’s no excuse for how DREADFULLY Frank behaved towards his ex-girlfriend’s fiance.

DREADFULLY is also often used as a sub-modifier to mean extremely or very much.

Have you noticed how DREADFULLY thin Marcia has become? Do you think she’s anorexic?

Little Kaitlyn missed her parents very much and was DREADFULLY lonely for the first week of summer camp, secretly crying into her pillow every night.



Their expressions reflected the usual mix of dread and MELANCHOLY, for Mrs. Starch was the most feared teacher at Truman School.

The word MELANCHOLY sounds beautiful, but it means something quite dark. Used as a noun, as in the sentence above, MELANCHOLY is a feeling of deep sadness that lasts a long time and often cannot be explained. Synonyms include depression, misery, and despondency.

“One day I have these persistent feelings of MELANCHOLY, and the next I’m filled with panic and anxiety,” Tony told his new psychotherapist.

A mood of MELANCHOLY and pessimism descended upon the audience as the speaker described the horrific potential consequences of global warming.

MELANCHOLIA is another noun form of MELANCHOLY. It describes a mental condition marked by severe depression and phobias, though it is no longer in clinical use. This word dates back to the old belief that diseases were caused by having too much or too little of one or more of the four basic body fluids, known as “the humors” (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood). The ancient Greeks thought MELANCHOLIA was caused by an excess of black bile. It gets its name from the Greek words melas, meaning dark or black, and khole, meaning bile.

MELANCHOLY is also used as an adjective to modify something that is very sad itself or that makes people feel very sad.

Angelina’s well-shaped, voluptuous lips form a striking contrast to the MELANCHOLY darkness of her coal-black eyes.

Why the MELANCHOLY look on your face, Rose? It’s your wedding day. You should be happy.

The MELANCHOLY song Kevin’s brother sang at the memorial service had all of us in tears.

MELANCHOLIC is another adjective form. This is a somewhat outdated word, though it can still be seen in some formal or technical writing.

In his brilliant book about the country’s tragic heroes, The Nobility of Failure, Ivan Morris illuminates Japan’s fascinating but somewhat MELANCHOLIC history.

Subject to frequent MELANCHOLIC episodes, Ms. Peters has been in and out of in-patient care over the last few years and would, I believe, benefit from a new anti-depressant called Sadex.



The mark was the shape of an anvil and the subject of wild SPECULATION, but nobody had gotten up the nerve to ask Mrs. Starch about it.

SPECULATION is a noun that means the act of forming beliefs or opinions, without knowing all the facts, about something that has happened or might happen.

The Boston Marathon bombings gave rise to much SPECULATION about who had perpetrated them and why, though the President urged people not to jump to conclusions.

There is widespread SPECULATION that Leonardo DiCaprio is going to take a break from acting to pursue a career as director.

The private lives of the world’s wealthiest businessmen are the subject of much SPECULATION, especially in the tabloids.

The vice-president’s recent absence from public ceremonies has led to much SPECULATION about the state of his health.

SPECULATION also refers to investment in stocks, real estate, or other financial ventures in the hope of making a profit, though always with the risk of loss.

I’m not the type for SPECULATION in the stock market. I prefer to keep my money in a nice, safe, interest-bearing savings account.

SPECULATE is the verb form. It means to form an opinion about something despite not knowing all the facts. Synonyms include guess, surmise, theorize, and hypothesize.

The entire office SPECULATED about the reasons for Hank’s sudden unexpected resignation.

It is pointless to SPECULATE how different England would have been had Margaret Thatcher not served as Prime Minister.

Some historians SPECULATE that the monolithic stones in Stonehenge were used in some kind of pagan ritual or ceremony.

SPECULATE also means to risk money, especially in a business or in the stock market.

My broker advised me to SPECULATE in a company that has come up with a process for turning domestic waste water into drinking water.

SPECULATIVE is the adjective form and means based on SPECULATION. Similar words include hypothetical, theoretical, unproven, and unfounded.

Although Charles Hapgood’s “Earth Crustal Displacement” hypothesis is highly SPECULATIVE, Graham Hancock, in his book Fingerprints of the Gods, cites evidence to support the idea.

A spokesman from the White House said in a press conference that the President would not comment on the “wildly SPECULATIVE rumors” circulating around Washington, D.C.

Georgia cast a SPECULATIVE glance at Kate, suspecting that she wasn’t telling her the whole truth about her meeting with the supervisor.

When speaking about a business activity, SPECULATIVE means done in the hope of making a profit but involving the risk of losing money.

If you are looking to invest your inheritance money, you may want to consider making a few SPECULATIVE investments in renewable energy sources or electronic vehicles.



Nick could see tears forming at the corners of Marta’s eyes, and he DETESTED himself for hesitating.

DETEST is a verb that means to dislike someone or something very much. Just so you know, DETEST is one of several verbs that is never used in the progressive tenses. Synonyms include hate, abhor, loathe, despise, disdain, and unable to bear.

If there’s one thing I DETEST, it’s the way the super-rich get away with paying such a low tax rate.

Officer Briggs DETESTED having to get involved in domestic disputes, but duty obligated him to handle every 911 call conscientiously.

Most British people DETEST Brussels sprouts, but for some reason, the little cabbages are still included in the traditional Christmas meal.

I don’t know if it was his mustache, his tacky suit, or just the way he carried himself, but I DETESTED our new boss from the moment I set eyes on him.

Vivian DETESTED cold weather and made sure to take an extended holiday to a sunny beach resort every winter.

DETESTABLE is an adjective that means deserving to be hated. Synonyms for DETESTABLE include abhorrent, despicable, horrid, awful, and offensive.

I found the violence in Natural Born Killers DETESTABLE and gratuitous. Why so many people love the film so much is a mystery to me.

Barbara threw a glass of wine in Vince’s face, shouted “You’re DETESTABLE!” and stormed out of the restaurant.

Of all the DETESTABLE acts that man commits against man, I think ethnic cleansing is the most abhorrent.

DETESTATION is the noun form and means intense dislike and loathing.

Jonathan’s DETESTATION of corporate greed and capitalistic mindsets was made very clear in his latest blog post.



Their expressions REFLECTED the usual mix of dread and melancholy, for Mrs. Starch was the most feared teacher at Truman School.

REFLECT is a verb with many uses. First, let’s see how it is used in the sentence above. Here, it is similar in meaning to indicate, represent, display, or demonstrate.

Our school newspaper aims to REFLECT the views and opinions of our teachers, students, and staff.

Johnny Clegg’s music REFLECTS his love for the people and culture of South Africa.

The dosimeter readings taken outside the Fukushima power plant did not accurately REFLECT the amount of radiation that the people working inside were exposed to.

REFLECT can also mean to show the image of something on the surface of something shiny such as a mirror, water, or glass.

The tall trees surrounding the lake were REFLECTED on its smooth, mirror-like surface.

The funhouse mirrors are shaped so as to REFLECT humorously distorted images of those who stand in front of them.

REFLECT may also mean to throw back light, heat, or sound from a surface.

The windows of Sunset Towers REFLECTED the bright afternoon sunlight.

Because of the greenhouse effect, much of the heat that should be REFLECTED back into space when the sun’s rays hit the earth is trapped in the atmosphere.

The egg-carton-like material in a recording studio absorbs sounds but does not REFLECT it.

REFLECT may also mean to think deeply about something. It is often, but not always used with ON or UPON. Synonyms include consider, ponder, contemplate, muse on, and mull over.

The philosophy class was asked to REFLECT and write a paper on the question of free will versus determinism and predestination.

Donald REFLECTED with sadness about the unhappiness of his marriage.

Before I make my decision about which job offer to accept, I need some time to REFLECT.

Phoebe often REFLECTED on how different life would have been had she not been an “army brat,” uprooted every two or three years and living in so many different countries.

These days, in lieu of spanking or other harsh forms of punishment, children who have “been bad” are often given “time-outs” to REFLECT ON what they have done.

The phrases TO REFLECT WELL ON or TO REFLECT BADLY ON are used to talk about something that a person does that makes him or her appear good or bad.

The athlete’s community and charity work REFLECT WELL ON his character and have made him a fan and media darling.

Receiving an “Outstanding” report from the Ministry of Education REFLECTED WELL ON the small, village school’s educational standards.

The recall of thousands of vehicles with defective brakes REFLECTED BADLY ON the auto manufacturer and caused a plummet in sales.

REFLECTION is the noun form of REFLECT and, like the verb, has various meanings and uses. First, REFLECTION is an indication of the state or nature of something. Synonyms include indication, demonstration, display, and evidence.

Healthy skin and hair are often a REFLECTION of good health overall.

Your appearance is a REFLECTION of your character, so when you dress for a job interview, make sure you choose clothes that are smart and appropriate, but flattering, too.

The slump in property prices in Seattle’s suburban areas is a REFLECTION of the general economic downturn in Washington State.

Your decision to stay behind and help others at great risk to your own life is a REFLECTION of your compassion and courage.

A REFLECTION is also an image in a mirror, on a shiny surface, or on water. It is also something that is REFLECTED like light or sound.

All morning on the day of his wedding, Todd faced his REFLECTION in the mirror and nervously practiced his groom’s speech.

The REFLECTION of the late afternoon sunlight on the windows of the building across from us turns them to pure gold.

The REFLECTIONS from the streetlights gave us just enough light to allow us to make our way down the darkened alleyway.

REFLECTION may also refer to careful thought about something, sometimes over a long period of time. Similar words include consideration, pondering, contemplation, deliberation, and musing.

A moment’s REFLECTION should have told you that you were about to do something very foolish. What were you thinking?

Although it meant having to leave her London home, on REFLECTION, Cathy decided to accept the editor-in-chief position at a leading woman’s magazine in New York City.

A week in the Highlands, taking long walks and breathing in the fresh mountain air, gave Chief Inspector Dalgliesh time for REFLECTION after an especially difficult investigation.

And finally, REFLECTION can also mean your written or spoken thoughts about a particular event or an account or description of something.

Her publisher asked Adelmira to write a book of REFLECTIONS on her childhood, much of which was spent in a Palestinian refugee camp.

I don’t think the feature article that appeared in this morning’s New York Times is an accurate REFLECTION of what happened. I should know. I was there.

REFLECTIVE is the adjective form of REFLECT. One definition of REFLECTIVE is relating to or characterized by deep thought.

What’s with the REFLECTIVE look this morning? I’ve never seen you look so serious.

Roald Dahl was a quiet, REFLECTIVE man who spent many hours each day writing his beloved children’s stories in his garden shed in rural Buckinghamshire.

REFLECTIVE also refers to a material or surface that is capable of REFLECTING light or other radiation.

Children should wear REFLECTIVE clothing or carry glow sticks when they go trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Homes built with energy efficiency in mind should include roofing material that is durable, low maintenance, and REFLECTIVE of heat in summer and heat-absorbent in winter.

REFLECTIVE also describes the condition or nature of a person’s actions.

Matt’s poor work ethic is not REFLECTIVE of the team as a whole. The others are extremely hard working and committed to the project.

REFLECTIVELY is the adverb form of REFLECT. It means thoughtfully.

Jo sipped her wine REFLECTIVELY as she gazed out the bay window at the peaceful sea.



She painted heavy violet makeup on her eyelids, yet she made no effort to CONCEAL an odd crimson mark on her chin.

CONCEAL is a verb that means to hide something. Synonyms include cover, block, obscure, block out, and mask.

The secret passageway leading from the Queen’s bedchamber to the private library was CONCEALED beneath a thick tapestry of a hunting scene.

During the summer months, tall, thick hedges and big, leafy birch trees CONCEAL the stately buildings of Pendley Manor.

Celebrity make-up artists know how to effectively blend cosmetics to CONCEAL their clients’ most obvious imperfections and blemishes.

CONCEAL can also mean to keep something secret, or to prevent something from being known or noticed. Synonyms include disguise, cover up, repress, and bottle up.

Unable to CONCEAL her disappointment in not being elected Class President, Kay went home from school early and spent the day lying in bed.

Although Ivan loved Natasha and knew in his heart that he would make a better husband than his younger, irresponsible brother Dimitri, he kept his true feelings for her CONCEALED.

CONCEALED is an adjective form of CONCEAL and describes something that is kept hidden or secret. Synonyms include not visible, covered, obscured, and out of the way.

It should be illegal to carry a CONCEALED weapon onto any university campus, but some schools in Texas still allow it.

Today, the prosecution disclosed a piece of previously CONCEALED evidence that proved beyond a shadow of doubt the defendant’s whereabouts on the night of the murder.

CONCEALMENT is one noun form and means the act of hiding something or the state of being hidden. Some similar terms include suppression, cover-up, and hushing up.

Many animals in the wild rely on camouflage and CONCEALMENT for protection against predators.

In the Diary of Anne Frank, Anne describes what it was like living in CONCEALMENT with her family in a cramped attic during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.

And just so you know, a CONCEALER is a skin-colored cosmetic cream or powder used to cover marks or blemishes on the skin.

No amount of CONCEALER will cover up that black eye. You’d better wear sunglasses.

I use an all-natural, water-based CONCEALER with sun protection whenever I go to the beach.



If he worked up the courage to raise his hand, Mrs. Starch would POUNCE swiftly.

POUNCE is a verb that means to move forward suddenly to attack or catch something. Synonyms for POUNCE include jump on, spring on, and lunge at.

The lioness crouched behind the tall grass, ready to POUNCE on the next stray eland that passed by.

A gang of muggers POUNCED on Julia last night as she was getting out of her car. Luckily, she wasn’t hurt, but they got away with her purse, watch, laptop, and cell phone.

Riley POUNCED on the unguarded ball, raced downfield, and shot the winning goal past the keeper with only seconds left on the clock

“If an opportunity to make more money for fewer hours fell in my lap,” said Janet to her friend Emma, “I would POUNCE on it. And so should you!”

POUNCE ON or POUNCE UPON also means to notice and take swift and eager advantage of another person’s mistake, unsound remark, or sign of weakness, especially in order to criticize it.

The press POUNCED on Johnson’s negative comments about the late Prime Minister, calling him insensitive and disrespectful of the dead.

I’m really sick and tired of your POUNCING on everything I say or do. Why do you always have to be so critical?



“The chart on page 169,” Mrs. Starch went on, “makes it all plain as day. It’s an excellent illustration, and one that you are likely to ENCOUNTER on a test.”

ENCOUNTER is a verb that means to meet or discover or experience something, especially something new, unusual, or unexpected. Synonyms for ENCOUNTER include meet by chance, run into, come across, happen on/upon, chance on, and face.

The novel tells of the adventures the backpackers ENCOUNTERED on their round-the-world travels.

Grace was the most remarkable woman Andrew had ever ENCOUNTERED, and he spent most of the dinner party trying to get to know her better.

You will be amazed at the diversity of life you’ll ENCOUNTER when you go scuba diving along the Great Barrier Reef.

ENCOUNTER also means to experience something, often something that is unpleasant or difficult, when you are trying to do something else.

When an elephant ENCOUNTERS a swarm of bees, which elephants are deathly afraid of, it will sound a low-frequency alarm call to alert the rest of the herd.

“We may ENCOUNTER some mild turbulence about an hour out of Narita, but otherwise we expect a smooth flight,” the pilot informed us.

We ENCOUNTERED some difficulties in the first week or so, but the website is now up and running smoothly without any glitches.

ENCOUNTER is also a noun with several uses. For one, it is a meeting, especially one that is unexpected. An ENCOUNTER can be pleasant or unpleasant, positive or negative.

Her brief ENCOUNTER with the famous investigative journalist at a book signing inspired Teresa to become a reporter herself.

Many animals come away from a porcupine ENCOUNTER with painful quills protruding from their snouts or bodies.

An ENCOUNTER with a vicious pit bull along her mail delivery route put Lisa in the hospital, and put its owners behind bars.

An ENCOUNTER can also be a run-in with the law, as in:

After several ENCOUNTERS with and warnings from the local police, our neighbor’s son Alex was finally taken into custody and sent to a boot camp for troubled teens.

A CLOSE ENCOUNTER is a chance happening that was almost disastrous. Two synonyms are near miss and close call.

After a number of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS while driving on icy roads, I decided to take the bus to work this winter and not take any more chances.

Aviation officials are investigating the CLOSE ENCOUNTER that took place over Kyushu last week between an American military Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and a JAL domestic jetliner.

By the way, Close ENCOUNTERS of the Third Kind is not just the title of a terrific sci-fi film starring Richard Dreyfus and Teri Garr; it is also a term in “ufology” that describes people’s meetings and/or dealings with the occupants of a “flying saucer” or other alien spacecraft.



Marta lowered her head, a TACTICAL mistake. The movement, slight as it was, caught Mrs. Starch’s attention.

TACTICAL is an adjective that describes something that is carefully planned in order to achieve a particular aim. Synonyms for TACTICAL include strategic, calculated, and planned.

The high-school basketball coach called for a time out so that the team could quickly discuss their next TACTICAL move.

With her savings almost used up and all her bills past due, Clara made a TACTICAL decision to move back in with her parents while she looked for a new job and got back on her feet.

The ruling party came up with a TACTICAL plan to oust the current leader and replace him with a younger, more progressive candidate.

TACTICAL is often used to describe military or naval operations, as in the following:

Major Hanson was given TACTICAL command of the secret mission to capture the terrorist leader.

Hitler’s decision not to mount an invasion of the British Isles was a TACTICAL blunder that eventually cost Germany the war.

When used before a noun, especially when talking about weapons, TACTICAL means used or having an effect over short distances or for a short time.

FBI agents used the latest high-tech TACTICAL weapons to search out and destroy the right- wing militia group’s hideout.

Have you ever heard the phrase TACTICAL VOTING, by the way? This is the act of voting for a particular person or political party, not because you actually support that person or party, but because you want to prevent some other (detested) person or party from being elected. Let’s say you support the Green Party, which doesn’t really have a chance of winning. Thus, if you voted for the Green Party candidate, your vote would be wasted, so to speak. So you decide to cast your vote for the Democratic Party candidate, even though his or her politics and ideas are not exactly what you would like. But they’re far better and closer to your ideas than those of the (detested) Republican Party candidate, whom you would do anything to keep from office.

TACTICALLY is the adverb form of TACTICAL. Synonyms include strategically, cunningly, and prudently.

The visiting football team was TACTICALLY and physically superior to ours and kept the ball in their half of the field for most of the game.

At the time, dropping out of university to get a job and support my family was TACTICALLY the right thing to do, and I have no regrets.

TACTIC is a noun that means the particular method used to achieve something. Synonyms for TACTIC include strategy, scheme, plan, method, and ploy.

The supermarket manager discussed the latest customer-service TACTICS with his team prior to the Christmas shopping season.

The TACTIC adopted by the Allied Forces in the Pacific during World War II was to “island hop” back to the Japanese mainland.

One gas-saving (and irritating) TACTIC my penny-pinching husband swears by is coasting downhill in neutral whenever possible.

Our children tried all sorts of “devious” TACTICS to get us to take them to Legoland, including cleaning up their rooms without even being asked!

A TACTICIAN, by the way, is a person who uses clever TACTICS, often in a military setting or situation, but not necessarily.

General Hooper is known as a skilled TACTICIAN who can see the big picture and anticipate the enemy’s moves.

Our victory in today’s election is due largely to the work of my ever-faithful campaign manager and brilliant political TACTICIAN, Maria Mendoza.



The readings for this lesson all come from Scat, a thriller/detective novel with a serious environmental theme written for young people by Carl Hiaasen. Carl Hiaasen is also the author of many bestselling mysteries for adult readers, as well as an award-winning columnist for the Miami Herald. All of his work, both fiction and non-fiction, is set in his native Florida and reflects his love for the state’s amazingly diverse, if threatened, flora and fauna—and his detestation of the greedy capitalists and land developers who are destroying the land. Scat, which has won a host of literary awards and honors, boasts a colorful cast of characters (young people and adults alike) and a keep- the-pages-turning plot. The book came out in 2009 and was preceded by two other bestselling and acclaimed books for young people, Hoot and Flush. If you would like to read Scat (and you’ll be glad you did!), feel free to borrow it from the KA library.


Got Something to Say?