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The Hindu Editorial Vocabulary

The Hindu Vocabulary 21st Jan 2018

Dear Aspirants,

Since The Hindu Editorial doesn’t publish on Sundays, so here we are one of The Hindu Article which could help you in improving your vocabulary. Hope this article help you in improving your English.


Do literary allusions hurt?

In headline writing, there is a fine line to be kept in mind

The last missive (राजनीतिक संदेश) of 2017 raised a politically sensitive question. A reader, who wants to remain anonymous, was distraught (परेशान) over the Weekend Sport’s page lead headline: “Into the Heart of Darkness” (December 30, 2017). He felt that the headline carried the baton (डंडा) of colonialism and looked at Africa as a “dark continent”. Was the headline pejorative (अपमानजनक) in its content, context and implication? Did it smack (अल्प परिमाण) of the arrogance of the “civilising mission” of the European colonialists and imperialists (साम्राज्यवादी)?

Literary treatment

I would endorsed the reader’s view had the sports desk used “dark continent’. However, my dilemma arose from the fact that the headline was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s classic, Heart of Darkness. The desk took care to capitalise ‘H’ and ‘D’ in the headline, moving away from the general rule of avoiding capital letters in running text. I am acutely aware of the stringent (सख़्त) criticism of Chinua Achebe against the novel and the novelist.

In his essay, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness”, Achebe wrote: “Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing (कट्टर) racist. That this simple truth is glossed (झूठा दिखावा) over in criticisms of his work is due to the fact that white racism against Africa is such a normal way of thinking that its manifestations go completely unremarked. Students of Heart of Darkness will often tell you that Conrad is concerned not so much with Africa as with the deterioration of one European mind caused by solitude (अकेलापन) and sickness. They will point out to you that Conrad is, if anything, less charitable to the Europeans in the story than he is to the natives, that the point of the story is to ridicule Europe’s civilizing mission in Africa.”

However, many including The Guardian, rate Heart of Darkness as one among the 100 best novels written in English. Robert McCrum, who introduced the list of 100 greatest novels written in English, wrote: “The English and American writers who fell under its [Heart of Darkness] spell include T.S. Eliot (The Waste Land), Graham Greene (A Burnt-out Case), George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four) and William Golding (The Inheritors). It also inspired the Francis Ford Coppola 1979 film, Apocalypse Now, a work of homage that continues to renew the contemporary fascination (आकर्षण) with the text.” My personal affinity (संबंध) to Salman Rushdie’s autobiography, Joseph Anton, also raises a flag of caution. Joseph Anton was a departure from regular autobiographies in many ways. It is not in first person singular, but in third person. It tells the story of a man who had to assume a name coined from the first names of two of the greatest writers — Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekov — during his incognito (गुप्त) days following the fatwa. He could see them as his godfathers and his motto during those difficult years was given to him by Conrad: “I must live until I die, mustn’t I?”

Ever since the publication of Edward Said’s influential work, Orientalism in 1978, scholars identifying dominant prejudices in major Western literary works have been growing. However, it was Said himself who provided a certain amount of elasticity to criticism in his later work, Culture and Imperialism, when he wrote: “No one today is purely one thing. Labels like Indian, or woman, or Muslim, or American are not more than starting-points, which if followed into actual experience for only a moment are quickly left behind… No one can deny the persisting continuities of long traditions, sustained habitations, national languages, and cultural geographies, but there seems no reason except fear and prejudice (अविचार मति) to keep insisting on their separation and distinctiveness, as if that was all human life was about.” The search for identities in literature without harming its creative wellsprings is a difficult task.

This raises a very pertinent (उचित) journalistic question: in headlines, where do the literary allusions end and where does the humiliating reference to identity begin? There are no easy answers. Any cut-and-dry prescription may end up like a memo from a cultural commissar. But, a laissez-faire attitude to a headline may damage reputation, credibility and trust. It is for the desk to realise the fine line that separates sensitive words from hurting words, and literary allusions from a literal undermining of individual or collective identity. The problem with a novel such as Heart of Darkness is that it lies at the cusp of both, where polemical (विवादात्मक) debates refuse to die down.


1. Missive: a message on paper from one person or group to another
Synonyms: dispatch, epistle, memo, memorandum, letter, note
Words Related: airmail, card, electronic mail, e-mail, junk mail, mail, postal card, postcard, communication, report
2. Distraught: feeling overwhelming fear or worry
Synonyms: agitated, delirious, distracted, distrait, frantic, frenzied, hysterical (also hysteric)
Antonyms: collected, composed, recollected, self-collected, self-composed, self-possessed, unhysterical
3. Baton: a heavy rigid stick used as a weapon or for punishment
Synonyms: bastinado (or bastinade), bat, club, billy, billy club, bludgeon, cane, cudgel, nightstick, rod, rung [Scottish], sap, shillelagh (also shillalah), staff, truncheon, waddy [Australian] Words Related: birch, crabstick, hickory, rattan, stave, switch, beetle, gavel, hammer, mallet, maul, sledgehammer
4. Pejorative: intended to make a person or thing seem of little importance or value
Synonyms: belittling, contemptuous, decrying, degrading, demeaning, denigrative, denigratory, deprecatory, depreciative, depreciatory, derisory, derogative, detractive, disdainful, disparaging, derogatory, scornful, slighting, uncomplimentary
Antonyms: admiring, adulatory, applauding, approving, friendly, positive, commendatory, complimentary, laudative, laudatory, kind, kindhearted, kindly, sympathetic, unmalicious, warm, warmhearted
5. Smack: a very small amount
Synonyms: ace, bit, crumb, dab, dram, driblet, glimmer, hint, lick, little, mite, nip, ounce, peanuts, ray, scintilla, scruple, shade, shadow, shred, skosh, smack, smell, smidgen (also smidgeon or smidgin or smidge), snap, soupçon, spark, spatter, speck, splash, spot, sprinkling, strain, streak, suspicion, tad, touch, trace
Antonyms: abundance, barrel, boatload, bucket, bundle, bushel, deal, fistful, gobs, heaps, lashings (also lashins) [chiefly British], loads, lot, mass, mess, mountain, much, oodles, passel, peck, pile, plenty, potful, profusion, quantity, raft, reams, scads, stack, wad, wealth
6. Imperialists: A policy of extending a country’s power and influence through colonization, use of military force, or other means.
7. Stringent: not allowing for any exceptions or loosening of standards
Synonyms: brassbound, cast-iron, exacting, hard-line, inflexible, rigorous, strict, rigid, uncompromising
Antonyms: flexible, lax, loose, relaxed, slack, easy, easygoing, gentle, indulgent, kindly, lenient, merciful, mild, pampering, soft, spoiling, tolerant
8. Thoroughgoing: having no exceptions or restrictions
Synonyms: categorical (also categoric), clean, complete, consummate, cotton-picking, crashing, damn, damned, dead, deadly, definite, downright, dreadful, fair, flat, flat-out, out-and-out, outright, perfect, plumb, profound, pure, rank, regular, sheer, simple, stark, stone, straight-out, thorough, absolute, total, unadulterated, unalloyed, unconditional, unmitigated, unqualified, utter, very
Antonyms: doubtful, dubious, equivocal, qualified, questionable, restricted, uncertain, aimless, desultory, haphazard, hit-or-miss, random
9. Glossed: a deceptively attractive external appearance
Synonyms: facade (also façade), veneer, window dressing
Antonyms: dimness, dinginess, dirtiness, drabness, dullness (also dulness), flatness, cloudiness, gloom, murkiness, obscureness, obscurity, somberness
10. Solitude: the state of being alone or kept apart from others
Synonyms: aloneness, insulation, privacy, secludedness, seclusion, segregation, separateness, sequestration, solitariness, isolation
Antonyms: camaraderie, companionship, company, comradeship, fellowship, society
11. Fascination: the power of irresistible attraction
Synonyms: allure, animal magnetism, appeal, attractiveness, captivation, charisma, duende, enchantment, charm, force field, glamour (also glamor), magic, magnetism, oomph, pizzazz (or pizazz), seductiveness, witchery
Antonyms: disagreeableness, distastefulness, obnoxiousness, offensiveness, unpleasantness, repulsion, repulsiveness
12. Affinity: a habitual attraction to some activity or thing
Synonyms: affection, inclination, aptitude, bent, bias, bone, devices, disposition, genius, habitude, impulse, leaning, partiality, penchant, predilection, predisposition, proclivity, propensity, tendency, turn
Antonyms: allergy, averseness, aversion, disfavor, disinclination, dislike, disliking, disrelish, distaste, detachment, impartiality, neutrality, objectivity, apathy, disinterestedness, indifference, insouciance, nonchalance, unconcern
13. Incognito: not named or identified by a name
Synonyms: anonymous, faceless, nameless, innominate, unbaptized, unchristened, unidentified, unnamed, untitled
Antonyms: baptized, christened, dubbed, named, termed
14. Prejudice: an attitude that always favors one way of feeling or acting especially without considering any other possibilities
Synonyms: favor, nonobjectivity, one-sidedness, partiality, parti pris, partisanship, ply, bias, tendentiousness
Antonyms: impartiality, neutrality, objectivity, open-mindedness, unbiasedness
15. Pertinent: having to do with the matter at hand
Synonyms: applicable, apposite, apropos, germane, material, pointed, relative, relevant
Antonyms: extraneous, immaterial, impertinent, inapplicable, inapposite, irrelative, irrelevant, pointless
16. laissez-faire: A policy or attitude of letting things take their own course, without interfering.
17. Polemical: relating to or causing the expression of opposing opinions
Synonyms: argumentative, contentious, disputatious, hot-button, controversial (also polemic)
Antonyms: noncontroversial, safe, uncontroversial

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