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Noun: MacGuffin  (muh-GUFF-in) Definition: An object, event, or character in a film or story that serves to set and keep the plot in motion despite usually lacking intrinsic importance. Example sentence: The missing document is the MacGuffin that brings the two main characters together, but the real story centers on their tumultuous relationship.

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Noun: Tocsin  (TOCK-sin) Definition: 1: An alarm bell or the ringing of it. 2: A warning signal. Example sentence: A coalition of parents was sounding the tocsin for the school music program, stating that if voters didn’t approve the new millage, the program was sure to be axed.

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Noun: Passel  (PASS-ul) Definition: A large amount. Example sentence: When problems at the printing plant caused a delay in delivery of the newspaper, Rebecca was assigned the job of handling the passel of complaints from angry subscribers.  

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Verb: Ululate  (ULL-yuh-layt) Definition: Howl, wail. Example sentence: While visiting Graceland, millions of devotees still weep and ululate over the death of Elvis.

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Adjective: Semelparous  (seh-MEL-puh-rus) Definition: Reproducing or breeding only once in a lifetime. Example sentence: The article’s author is a scientist who spent years studying semelparous butterflies.

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Adjective: Heuristic  (hyoo-RIS-tik) Definition: Encouraging a person to learn, discover, understand, or solve problems on his or her own, as by experimenting, evaluating possible answers or solutions, or by trial and error. Example sentence: Mrs. Groondyke was my favorite teacher in elementary school with her heuristic style of educating her class.    

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Verb: Jubilate  (JOO-buh-layt) Definition: To rejoice. Example sentence: The birth of a baby boy, after three girls, was a good reason for Neil to jubilate.

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Noun: Ablution  (uh-BLOO-shun) Definition: 1: The washing of one’s body or part of it, as in a religious rite. 2: The act or action of bathing, used in plural form. Example sentence: Francis awakened at dawn every day to perform his ablutions.

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Verb: Welter  (WEL-ter) Definition: 1: To writhe, toss, wallow: also, to rise and fall or toss about in or with waves. 2: To become deeply sunk, soaked, or involved. 3: To be in turmoil. Example sentence: The high waves caused the debris from the shipwreck to welter about and eventually wash up on the shore.

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Adjective: Inchoate  (in-KOH-ut) Definition: Begin only partly in existence or operation: especially, imperfectly formed or formulated: formless, incoherent. Example sentence: Five years ago, the restaurant was merely an inchoate notion in Nathan’s head; today it is one of the most popular eateries in the city.  

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