Vaughan’s Vocabulary

Don Vaughan provides infrequently used words to strengthen your vocabulary.

Sometimes I’m asked, “How long have you been doing Vaughan’s Vocabulary?” Actually, it’s been about 20 years. I originally did Vaughan’s Vocabulary when I was a radio personality. I gave the listeners an infrequently used word, followed by four choices, one being the right definition. Later, it evolved from a radio show to a column in The Reflector newspaper at Mississippi State University, where I taught communication courses. It wasn’t long before the fun and educational column grew to other newspapers.

Increasing my vocabulary became important to me when I was an undergraduate trying to wend my way through reading assignments. When I came upon a word I did not know, I looked up its meaning and wrote it and the definition in a notebook.

Having a good vocabulary will improve oral communication, interpersonal communication, writing skills, reading comprehension, and the comprehension of movies, television programs, and theatrical plays. It can heighten your esteem, credibility, and confidence, and yes, it might even help your love life.

See how you do with this week’s word quiz. Let me hear from you.

1. redoubtable (ree-DOW-tuh-bul)

A. becoming doubly suspicious

B. causing fear or alarm

C. creating confidence

D. second guessing

2. candor (CAN-dur)

A. sophistication

B. illumination

C. freedom from bias, prejudice or malice

D. partiality

Let’s see how you are doing so far. Aside from B, redoubtable means commanding or evoking respect, reverence, and the like. No. 2 is C. Candor is the state or quality of being frank, open and sincere.

3. disingenuous (dis-in-JEN-u-us)

A. lacking in candor

B. sincere

C. displaying quality work

D. hardworking

4. attenuate (uh-TEN-you-ate)

A. to weaken or reduce in force, intensity, effect, quantity, or value

B. to worsen

C. to elaborate

D. None of the above

5. idoneous (i-DOH-nee-us)

A. troublesome

B. appropriate, fit, suitable

C. nightmarish

D. not likeable

No. 3, disingenuous, is A. Attenuate can also be pronounced “uh-TEN-you-it). In my public speaking classes, I help my students to attenuate their public speaking anxiety by first speaking in pairs, small groups, and in icebreaker speeches. A is the answer.

Lastly, if something is idoneous it is apt, appropriate and suitable (B).

Last week’s mystery word is jejune.

This week’s mystery word to solve is sometimes mispronounced with the first syllable having the sound of “cop” and if you say it that way your pronunciation won’t be what it means, very satisfactory.

Don R. Vaughan, Ph.D., of Eupora is a speech and theater professor at East Mississippi Community College, Golden Triangle. Contact him at