Working with words is fun for University of Richmond journalism professor Mike Spear, and he shares much of that fun with browsers on the Internet. You can see some of his musings by going to his home page and taking his "Journalists' Vocabulary Challenge," which he describes as "a random list of words that journalists might know or might want to know. They represent no standard," he says. Take a minute and see how well you do, whether you are a journalist or not.
Here are a few of his challenging words and their possible meanings:
1. prosaic: Does it mean poetic, literary, boring or none of these?
2. penultimate: very ultimate, fifth in line, next to last or none of these?
3. obstreperous: boisterous, fast, lethargic or none of these?
4. egregious: very bad, esoteric, difficult or none of these?
5. eleemosynary: slippery, charitable, hideous or none of these?
6. fulsome: voluptuous, insincere, happy or none of these?
7. amorphous: shapeless, amorous, cavernous or none of these?
8. arcane: bosky, banal, obscure or none of these?
9. oleaginous: greasy, colorful, lazy or none of these?
10. atavism: reappearing trait, panorama, isolationism or none of these?
The answers are at the bottom of this column. If you want to take the whole challenge of 100 questions, go to www.richmond.edu/~mspear/testq.htm. The quiz is self-scoring.
Department of Nonessential Information: According to author Bill Bryson, in "Shakespeare: The World as a Stage," there are 138,198 commas and 26,794 colons and 15,785 question marks in Shakespeare's plays.
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