Vaughan’s Vocabulary

Don Vaughan provides infrequently used words to strengthen your vocabulary.

Johnson O’Conner (1891-1973), an educator who taught the importance of building a vocabulary, is quoted on the O’Conner Research Foundation website. “Why do large vocabularies characterize executives and possibly outstanding men and women in other fields? The final answer seems to be that words are the instruments by means of which men and women grasp the thoughts of others and with which they do much of their own thinking. They are the tools of thought.”

Emphasizing that building a vocabulary is a powerful way to enhance one’s life and career, the website gave four steps: be aware of words, read, use a dictionary, and study and review regularly.

As the website did with its readers, I encourage you to set goals for the number of advanced words that you would like to learn and by what date, and arrange your schedule accordingly. Making a list of advanced words that you want and need in your vocabulary not only allows you to learn them, it reminds you to use them. Please e-mail your list to me.

1. obstreperous (uhb-STREP-uh-rus)

A. quiet, reserved

B. refractory

C. wide, spacious

D. delicious, tantalizing

F. fiery

2. untoward (uhn-TORD)

A. improper

B. unfavorable or unfortunate

C. unexpected

D. inconvenient

E. All of the above

Let’s see how you’ve done with the first two. Aside from B, obstreperous means noisy and difficult to control. Fans became obstreperous at the referee’s call. E is the answer for untoward.

3. impeccable (im-PECK-cuh-bul)

A. discerning

B. flawless

C. censurable

D. (of behavior, performance, or appearance) in accordance with the highest standards of propriety

What I put for D came from the Oxford Dictionaries website. Both D and B are correct for impeccable.

4. implacable (im-PLAK-uh-bul)

A. not capable of being mollified, changed, or mitigated

B. immovable

C. flexible

D. unpredictable

5. querulous (KWEAR-uh-lus)

A. aquatic

B. dubious

C. complaining

D. complementary

No. 4, implacable, is A. In querulous, let the first syllable rhyme with swear. Next semester I’m teaching ways to eliminate a querulous tone in interpersonal communication. C is the answer.

Last week’s mystery word is flaxen.

This week’s mystery word to solve was used by Detective Sgt. Trotter in “The Mousetrap” after he starts to question Maj. Metcalf. Its third syllable and the first syllable in querulous have the same sound.

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