1. machiavellian - adj.
being or acting in accordance with the principles of government analyzed in "The Prince"; having political expediency above morality; characterized as unscrupulous, cunning, deceptive or dishonest.
Most politicians today devise Machiavellian strategies to achieve power.
The ethics of Wall Street are Machiavellian.
2. mercenary - adj.
primarily influenced by greed or desire for gain; grasping; covetous; avaricious; acquisitive; working merely for money; acting only for reward.
The student's motives for becoming a physician were purely mercenary.
Teachers ought to rise above mercenary concerns to reach for the enlightenment of their students.
3. cite -v.
to quote or refer to a passage, book, or author in substantiation as an authority, proof, or example; to summon to appear in a court of law; to mention in support, proof, or confirmation as an authority; to commend for bravery or meritorious action.
King Duncan cited Macbeth for his bravery on the battlefield.
The student cited William Shakespeare as the authority on love.
4. ascertain - v.
to make certain; to discover; to learn unquestionable; to fine out definitely; to establish; to confirm.
The students at LaGuardia Arts found it difficult to ascertain who would be their principal after Kim Bruno resigned.
Experts have found it difficult to ascertain the future of technology.
5. pundit - n.
an expert; a person who knows a great deal about a particular subject; a learned person; a scholar; a person of great authority; a critic; a commentator.
Dr. Phil is the leading pundit on television on dysfunctional families.
Teenagers are the leading pundits on popular music.
6. contretemps - n.
an unlucky event; inopportune occurrence; an embarrassing mischance; a mishap; a blunder; a social embarrassment.
The contretemps between the security guard and the student resulted in a meeting with the dean in his office.
There was something of a contretemps between two students in the cafeteria who believed they had mistakenly picked up each others' cell phones.
7. anathema - n.
a person or thing detested or loathed; someone or something greatly disliked or disapproved of; a formal ecclesiastical sure of imprecation; someone or something accursed or consigned to damnation.
Math was anathema to the ballerina.
Meat is anathema to vegetarians.
8. scrutinize - v.
to examine minutely; to inspect critically; to look with close attention to detail.
The student scrutinized his term paper for errors in punctuation.
The lawyer scrutinized the contract searching for loopholes.
9. pernicious - adj.
very destructive or harmful usually in an inconspicuous and relentless way; tending to cause death; fatal; deadly.
The dictators in the Middle East use pernicious chemical weapons to gain control of the masses.
According to Machiavelli, the pernicious ruler is often most effective in retaining power.
10. ignominy - n.
great personal dishonor or humiliation; disgrace; shameful action, conduct or character.
President William Clinton suffered great ignominy over his alleged affair with Monica Lewinsky.
The ignominy of the student caught cheating was reflected in the lowering of his grade for poor conduct.
11. prevaricate -v.
to speak falsely; to lie; to deliberately misstate; to create an incorrect impression; to deceive.
Abraham Lincoln never prevaricated according to legend.
When the student's mother realized he had prevaricated about doing his homework, she punished him.
12. harbinger - n.
a messenger; a herald; a person sent in advance of troops to provide lodgings; a person who goes ahead to make known the approach of another; anything that foreshadows a future event; a future event; an omen.
Frost is a harbinger of winter.
The newscasters on television are sometimes harbingers of doom.
13. promulgate - v.
to proclaim; to publicly or formally declare something; to officially announce; to set forth.
The principal of LaGuardia Arts promulgated her resignation to take a position in Los Angeles.
The spokesman for Buckingham Palace promulgated the news of Prince George's birth.
14. heathen - n.
an unconverted individual who does not acknowledge God of the Bible; a person who is neither a Christian, Jew, or Muslim; a pagan.
During the Crusades, the Christians executed Muslims as heathens.
The minister refused to let the heathens pray in church.
15. exacerbate - v.
to aggravate; to increase the severity of; to make worse; to make harsher; to embitter the feelings of; to irritate.
Some seniors exacerbate the freshmen's insecurity in a new school by bullying them
The teacher was exacerbated by the student's excessive lateness.