Things Fall Apart Vocabulary

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WILY - (of a person) clever, having a very good understanding of situations, possibilities and people, and often willing to use tricks to achieve an aim a wily politician

POUNCE - to jump or move quickly in order to catch or take hold of something The cat sat in the tree ready to pounce on the ducks below. The police were waiting to pounce when he arrived at the airport.

STAMMER - to speak or say something with unusual pauses or repeated sounds, either because of speech problems or because of fear and anxiety [ + speech ] "Wh-when can we g-go?" she stammered.
He dialled 999 and stammered (out) his name and address.

IMPROVIDENT - spending money in a way that is not sensible, and/or not planning carefully for the future

COWRY - a small sea animal with a soft body and a brightly coloured shell, or the shell itself used in the past as money in parts of Africa and southern Asia a cowrie shell

HAGGARD - looking ill or tired, often with dark skin under the eyes He'd been drinking the night before and was looking a bit haggard.

LOAFER - 1. MAINLY US TRADEMARK a type of leather shoe with a wide strip across the top, which a person's foot slides into, without any way of fastening it to the foot 2. someone who avoids doing any work

an idle loafer

IMPENDING - describes an event, usually something unpleasant or unwanted, that is going to happen soon impending disaster/doom
Lineker announced his impending retirement from international football before the 1992 European Championships.

PLAINTIVE - describes something which sounds slightly sad
the plaintive sound of the bagpipes
"What about me?" came a plaintive voice.

PROWESS - great ability or skill
athletic/sporting prowess
He's always boasting about his sexual prowess.

REVERE - to very much respect and admire someone or something Nelson Mandela is revered for his brave fight against apartheid.


AMISS - 1. wrong; not suitable or not as expected
I could see by the look on their faces that something was amiss.

HOVER - 1. [ I usually + adverb or preposition ] to stay in one place in the air, usually by moving the wings quickly A hawk hovered in the sky, waiting to swoop down on its prey. I heard the noise of a helicopter hovering overhead.

SINISTER - making you feel that something bad or evil might happen The ruined house had a sinister appearance.
A sinister-looking man sat in the corner of the room.

IMPERIOUS - unpleasantly proud and expecting obedience
an imperious manner/voice
She sent them away with an imperious wave of the hand.

EMISSARY - a person sent by one government or political leader to another to take messages or to take part in discussions The Foreign Secretary has flown to China as the personal emissary of the Prime Minister.

CAPRICIOUS - changing mood or behaviour suddenly and unexpectedly a capricious child
He was a cruel and capricious tyrant.

IDLE - 1. not working or being used
Half these factories now stand idle.
It's crazy to have £7000 sitting idle in the ban

INCIPIENT - just beginning
signs of incipient public frustration


BRUSQUENESS – rudeness in manner or speech
His secretary was rather brusque with me.

REPENTANT - feeling sorry for something that you have done

DEFTLY - He deftly (= skilfully) caught the ball.

TENDRIL - a thin, stem-like part of a climbing plant which holds on to walls or other plants for support

SOW - 1. to put seeds in or on the ground so that plants will grow Sow the seeds in pots.
We'll sow this field with barley.
2. to cause a bad emotion or condition to begin somewhere, which will grow or continue Now that you've sown doubts in my mind, I'll never be sure I can trust him.

RUMBLE - make a continuous low sound
Please excuse my stomach rumbling - I haven't eaten all day. The tanks rumbled (= moved slowly, making a continuous...
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