contest v. To challenge
Dave Roper, who narrowly lost the mayor’s race, contested the results, demanding a recount of the votes.
Usage tips The noun contest can mean a game, especially one played for a prize.
Parts of speech contest n
inaugurate v. To bring into public office; to start formally
The U.S. president is elected in November but is not inaugurated until the following January.
An effort to bring electric service to farms and small towns was inaugurated with the Rural Electrification Act of 1936.
Usage tips When it means “bring into public office,” inaugurate is usually in the passive voice.
Parts of speech inauguration n, inaugural adj
poll v. To find out a small group’s opinion so that you can guess what a much larger group thinks
The newspaper polled 500 registered voters and found that only 27 percent were in favor of expanding the city zoo.
Parts of speech poll n, pollster n
accuse v. To say that someone did something wrong (e.g., committed a crime)
Jordan was accused of using a stolen credit card to buy about $300 worth of electronic equipment.
Usage tips Accuse is often used in the passive voice.
Parts of speech accusation n, accuser n
allegedly adv. According to what people say
The chief financial officer of the company allegedly took company money for his personal use.
Parts of speech allege v, allegation n
civil adj. Involving a dispute between two citizens, not a criminal charge
In a civil suit against his neighbor, Barney claimed that the neighbor’s dog had bitten him.
Usage tips In a court context, civil almost always appears in one of the following phrases: civil suit, civil action, civil court, civil proceedings, and civil penalties.
convict v. To decide that someone is guilty of a crime
Dean was convicted of assault after the jury saw a video of him striking another man.
Usage tips Convict is often used in the passive voice.
Parts of speech convict n, conviction n
offense n. A specific act that breaks the law
Convicted twice of reckless driving, Victor will lose his license if he commits another serious traffic offense.
Parts of speech offender n, offensive adj
peer n. A person who is one’s social equal
In requiring judgment by “a jury of one’s peers,” U.S. law meant to protect lower-class defendants from the possibly biased judgment of upper-class juries.
suspect n. Someone who, in the opinion of the police, might have committed a certain crime
The police were investigating the activities of five suspects in the liquor-store robbery.
Parts of speech suspect v, suspicion n, suspicious adj,
verdict n. A judgment in a court case
It took the jury only 30 minutes to reach a verdict of “guilty.”
Usage tips Verdict is often the object of the verbs reach or arrive at.
apprehend v. To capture
The police apprehended the robbery suspect as he tried to get on a bus to Chicago.
Parts of speech apprehension n
ascertain v. To make sure of
The police failed to ascertain that the man they arrested was the Gregory Brown they were really looking for.
Usage tips Ascertain is often followed by a that clause. Notice that the root of the word is the adjective certain, meaning “sure.”
bureaucratic adj. Related to a large organization with a lot of complicated procedures
Before I could speak with the chief, I had to go through a bureaucratic runaround of identity checks and written requests.
Usage tips Bureaucratic implies that something is inefficient and unnecessarily complicated.
Parts of speech bureaucracy n
condemn v. To speak out against something in very strong terms
Religious radicals condemned the government for allowing alcohol to be sold in restaurants.
Parts of speech condemnation n
implicate v. To suggest that someone was involved in a crime or other wrong behavior
No group claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the type of explosive used implicates the Heartland Freedom Militia.
Usage tips Implicate is often followed by in.
Parts of speech implication n
inquiry n. An investigation
The FBI launched an inquiry into the relationship between organized crime and the trucking company.
Parts of speech inquire v
intrusively adv. In a way that brings an unwanted person or thing into someone else’s affairs
The new consultant from company headquarters appeared intrusively at meetings, staff parties, and other functions where he was not wanted.
Parts of speech intrude v, intrusion n, intruder n, intrusive adj
seize v. To take something against its owner’s will
Federal agents can seize private homes and other property possibly used in the production or sale of illegal drugs.
Parts of speech seizure n
surveillance n. A process of watching something or someone for a long time, usually because the person is suspected of something
Police surveillance of one suspected car thief resulted in the arrest of a whole gang of carjackers.
Usage tips Surveillance is often followed by an of phrase.
assail v. To attack or criticize forcefully
With DNA evidence from the crime scene, the defense lawyer assailed the police for falsely arresting his client.
Parts of speech assault n, assailant n
impair v. To make something less effective than usual
The snow impaired John’s ability to hear anyone’s footsteps.
Usage tips The object of impair is often [someone’s] ability to.
Parts of speech impairment n
objectively adv. Based on unbiased standards, not on personal opinion
I don’t like Mr. Rowan, but looking objectively at his sales numbers,
I saw that he was a very valuable employee.
Parts of speech objective adj
versus prep. Against
In the debate, it was pro-war senators versus antiwar senators.
Usage tips Versus is often abbreviated as vs. in sports contexts, or simply v. in legal contexts.
bribery n. Giving money or other gifts to a government official or other person in authority in order to get special privileges
Bribery of police officers is common in countries where police salaries are very low.
Parts of speech bribe v, bribe n
cynically adv. Disrespectfully; emphasizing the weaknesses of otherwise respected things
Employees of the Roadways Department cynically referred to their boss as “the banker” because he took so many bribes.
Parts of speech cynic n, cynicism n, cynical adj
erode v. To wear away and become smaller
People’s respect for the government eroded as more officials were arrested for corruption.
Usage tips Erode can be intransitive (the beach eroded) or transitive (the waves eroded the beach).
Parts of speech erosion n, erosive adj
evade v. To get away from something that tries to catch you
The robbery suspects tried to evade the police by fleeing to Canada.
Parts of speech evasion n, evasive adj
grotesque adj. Extremely unattractive, in a way that catches a lot of attention.
Spending $3.5 million to redecorate the governor’s house is a grotesque misuse of public money.
integrity n. Personal honesty and good character
We don’t have a problem with our employees stealing from the store because we hire only people with a lot of integrity.