LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

abolition n.
The act of doing away with something; ending of slavery.
accelerator mass spectrometer n.
An electronic instrument that measures small, electrically charged particles by causing them to move at high speeds before analyzing them.
adornment n.
Ornaments and jewelry, or the practice of decorating with them.
adroit adj.
Clever and skillful.
aerial adj.
Conducted by aircraft.
affirm v.
To confirm or support the validity of.
afflicting v.
Overthrowing; striking down.
agrarian adj.
Concerned with the land and its cultivation.
alfresco adv.
In the open air.
alpaca n.
A hoofed, domesticated South American mammal, with long woolly fur, related to the llama.
annul v.
To cancel or declare invalid.
anthropologist n.
A scholar who practices anthropology—the comparative study of human culture, behavior, and biology, and of how these change through time.
apex n.
Highest point.
armada n.
Fleet of warships.
arquebus n.
A primitive firearm, a forerunner of the musket, used from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century.
ascertain v.
To determine with certainty.
assimilate v.
To absorb and integrate into a culture or group of people.
asunder adv.
auspicious adj.
Marked by favorable circumstances.
authoritarianism n.
A form of government in which strict obedience to authority is enforced and the ruler is not constitutionally accountable to those who are governed.
autocratic adj.
Ruled by a person with unlimited power.
autonomous adj.
Independent; self-governing.
awl n.
A sharp pointed tool used to punch holes in skins and other materials.
ballast n.
Heavy material placed in the hold of a ship to provide stability.
bedlamites n.
Madmen or lunatics.
benevolent adj.
Marked by goodwill and kindness.
Berber n.
A name given by the Arabs to the North African people living in settled or nomadic tribes from Morocco to Egypt.
beta particle n.
A high-speed elementary particle emitted in the decay of a radioactive isotope.
blight n.
A plant disease that causes the sudden death of plant tissues.
boreal forest n.
Forest native to the northern temperate zone, dominated by spruce, fir, pine, and other coniferous trees.
botanist n.
A biologist who specializes in the study of plants.
bottomland n.
Low-lying land near a river.
breach n.
A break in a coast, a bay or harbor. Also a break in the bank where a river has flooded.
cadging v.
Begging, or borrowing without intent to repay.
capers n.
Playful leaps.
capstan n.
On a ship, the drum-like part of the windlass, which is a machine used for winding in rope, cables, or chain connected to an anchor.
Cartesian coordinate system n.
Two- or three-dimensional grid based on intersecting, perpendicular incremented lines or planes.
cassava n.
A woody shrub grown in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root.
castigated v.
Severely criticized.
cathartic adj.
Cleansing, purifying, purging.
celestial adj.
Of or relating to the stars or outer space.
chain mail n.
Flexible armor made of connected metal links.
charter n.
A written grant issued by a head of state granting privileges or rights, or establishing a corporation or other body.
choristers n.
Members of a choir or chorus of singers.
chunkey n.
A game widely played by American Indians. One player rolled the chunkey stone. Just as it was about to stop rolling, the players threw spears or notched poles at it. The player whose spear landed nearest to the stone without hitting it scored points.
circumnavigation n.
The act of sailing completely around.
coercion n.
The use of force or power to exert control.
coexist v.
To exist together or nearby without conflict.
coffers n.
A treasury.
colic n.
Severe abdominal pain caused by gas or obstruction in the intestines.
compliance n.
Cooperation with legal or official authority.
conciliatory adj.
Showing a desire to overcome distrust or make peace.
confluence n.
The place where two rivers flow together.
conjurer n.
Among American Indians, a healer or root doctor -- a person who identifies symptoms and reveals problems in the health and balance of the body, mind, and soul and who suggests possible solutions and actions.
consensus n.
General agreement.
conserve v.
To take or use only a small portion of a resource so that the future supply of the resource is not threatened.
contiguous adj.
Sharing a common border or edge; touching.
contingent n.
A military unit.
convert v.
To persuade people that your ideas and beliefs are better than theirs and to convince them to change their ideas and beliefs to yours.
corroborate v.
To support with other evidence.
courtly adj.
Elegant, refined, or polished; suitable for a royal court.
cultivate v.
To prepare (land) for the raising of crops.
cultivation n.
The process of agriculture; preparing the land to grow crops.
cultivation n.
The process of agriculture; preparing the land to grow crops.
cynical adj.
Acting with a disregard for honesty or morals, especially by using the morals of others against them.
dainty n.
A choice item of food; a delicacy.
deed v.
To transfer ownership by a legal document.
deity n.
A god or goddess.
delegate v.
To appoint or send a person to act as a representative.
demographic adj.
Having to do with human populations, especially relating to population expansion or decline.
demoralized adj.
Having weakened courage or spirit.
denomination n.
A religious group or community called by the same name and sharing a common leadership and set of beliefs.
destitute adj.
Suffering from a complete lack of resources.
diplomacy n.
The process of conducting negotiations between nations.
disenchantment n.
Loss of faith in previously held hopes, beliefs, or illusions.
dismembering v.
Cutting or tearing off the arms and legs.
disproportionate adj.
Unbalanced; out of proportion.
divers adj.
Archaic form of diverse meaning several or of different types.
domestic adj.
Related to the home or family; also refers to the internal affairs of a nation.
durst v.
An archaic form of dare.
ecosystem n.
A community of organisms, interacting with each other, plus the environment in which they live and react. [more]
egalitarian adj.
Characterized by social equality.
encroach v.
To gradually and stealthily take another's possessions or rights.
endemic adj.
Native to or confined to a certain region.
enmity n.
Deep-seated hostility; hatred.
entourage n.
Group of persons attending a person of superior rank.
entrails n.
The internal parts of a body; the guts.
epidemic n.
An outbreak of a disease that spreads rapidly and extensively.
erosion n.
Natural processes, including weathering, dissolution, abrasion, corrosion, and transportation, by which material is worn away from the earth's surface.
escarpment n.
A steep slope or long cliff that results from erosion or faulting and separates two relatively level areas of differing elevations.
espied v.
An archaic spelling of "spied."
estuary n.
The mouth of a river where it meets the sea, and where freshwater from the river mixes with the salty water of the sea. [more]
ethnographer n.
An anthropologist who engages in the scientific description of specific human cultures.
ethnology n.
A branch of anthropology that compares and analyses the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.
excrement n.
Waste matter discharged from the body, especially feces.
execrable n.
Detestable; awful.
exemplar n.
A model or ideal to be imitated.
exploitation n.
The practice of exploiting (making unfair use of) people or resources.
exploitative adj.
Characterized by exploiting (making unfair use of) people or resources.
extirpate v.
To remove or destroy completely.
facade n.
A deceptive outward appearance; an illusion.
facilitate v.
To make easier.
felicitous adj.
Marked by good fortune.
feral n.
Having gone from domestication to a wild or untamed state.
fertility n.
The ability to produce offspring.
feudal system adj.
The social and political system which prevailed in medieval Europe, in which the king owned the land and gave it to noblemen in return for military service. The noblemen in turn allowed peasants to farm the land in return for their free labor and a share of their produce. Under this system, it was impossible to change the social position into which one was born.
flout v.
To disregard or treat with scorn.
flux n.
Frequent change.
foment v.
To promote the growth of.
font n.
Basin or vessel holding the water used in baptism.
foray n.
A quick, sudden attack; a raid.
formidable adj.
Causing fear or alarm.
fortified adj.
Strengthened for protection against attack.
fowler n.
A type of gun, so called because it was used to hunt fowl (birds).
gar n.
A long, thin fish with needle-like teeth that lives in shallow and weedy areas of rivers, lakes, and bayous in eastern North America.
gorget n.
An ornament for the neck; a collar of beads, shells, etc.; a necklace.
gourd n.
A hard-rinded, inedible, vine-growing fruit used for vessels and utensils.
granaries n.
Storehouses for grain.
guava n.
A sweet, pink or red fruit of the Psidium tree, which grows in the American tropics.
habiliments n.
Clothing or equipment.
halberd n.
A weapon from the 15th and 16th centuries consisting of a long handle with an ax-like blade and a steel spike.
hamlet n.
A small village.
hearth n.
A fireplace.
heathen n.
Derogatory term used to describe a member of a people that does not acknowledge the God of a particular religion (usually Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.)
heretic n.
A person who dissents from established church beliefs.
hierarchy n.
A system of authority in which officials are organized by rank.
hierarchy n.
System of ranking people according to status.
homogenization n.
The process of becoming the same or similar.
horticulture n.
The cultivation of gardens whose foods supplement those obtained from some other primary source, such as hunting, gathering, fishing, or shell fishing.
hymn n.
A song of praise to God or a deity.
idealistic adj.
Characterized by a pursuit of high or noble principles, purposes, or goals.
ideology n.
A system of political beliefs or theories held by an individual or a group.
immunity n.
Resistance; lack of susceptibility to infection.
imperial adj.
Having to do with an empire. [more]
imperialism n.
Policy of extending a nation's rule over other countries.
implement n.
A tool.
impound v.
To seize and hold in custody of the law.
inadvertently adv.
indigenous adj.
Native, or belonging naturally to a particular region.
indispensable adj.
Absolutely necessary.
infernal adj.
Devilish, fiendish, awful.
infidel n.
A person who doesn't accept a particular religion, usually Christianity.
inoculation n.
The process of introducing a virus or germ into the body to produce immunity to a disease; vaccination.
insatiable adj.
Incapable of being satisfied.
insurrection n.
An uprising against authority.
Jesuit n.
Member of a Roman Catholic religious society founded by St. Ignatius Loyola in 1534.
kiln n.
Any of various ovens for hardening, burning, or drying substances such as grain, meal, or clay, especially a brick-lined oven used to bake or fire ceramics.
leach v.
To remove nutrients or other constituents from soil by the process of water passing through it.
leeward adj.
Downwind; toward the side sheltered from the wind or toward which the wind is blowing.
legitimacy n.
Acceptability according to established principles or ideas.
lingua n.
loam n.
A rich soil containing a relatively equal mixture of sand and silt, and a smaller proportion of clay.
logistical adj.
Related to the organization of an operation and its details.
logistical adj.
Related to the organization of an operation and its details.
lusty adj.
Heatlhy and strong; vigorous.
magnitude n.
Greatness in size or scope.
mainstay n.
A chief support.
malaise n.
A feeling of bodily weakness or discomfort, usually associated with the onset of disease.
malaria n.
A contagious disease transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito and characterized by chills and fever.
Maltese cross n.
A cross with four arms of equal length that expand outward and end in a V-shape.
marsh elder n.
A shrub with greenish flower heads, often growing in marshy areas in eastern and central North America.
matrilineal adj.
Based on determining descent through the maternal line.
meager adj.
Slight, deficient.
megafauna n.
Large or relatively large animals.
menace v.
To threaten or present a danger to.
mercenary adj.
Acting in pursuit of payment or other personal gain.
merits n.
Admirable qualities, virtues.
microbes n.
Very minute organisms, usually used to describe disease-causing bacteria.
midden n.
An area used for trash disposal; a deposit of refuse.
militaristic adj.
Primarily concerned with a commitment to military strength.
millenium n.
Period of one thousand years. (Plural: millenia.)
milling stone n.
Stone used to grind corn or other grains.
mischance n.
An unlucky event.
misinterpretation n.
An incorrect explanation or interpretation.
mission n.
The physical base of operations from which religious missionaries carry out their work of attempting to convert others.
missionary n.
Person who attempts to convert others to a particular religion or set of ideas. Missionaries are often sent to foreign countries to perform this work.
monopoly n.
Exclusive control or ownership.
monsoon n.
A seasonal wind system that brings heavy rains to southern Asia during the summer.
mortality n.
Death rate.
mortuary n.
A place in which the dead are prepared for burial, such as a funeral home or morgue.
municipal filtration plant n.
The site where a city or town's wastewater is treated before being discharged back into the environment.
negligible adj.
So small as not to be worth mentioning.
New Testament n.
The second part of the Christian Bible; a collection of books believed by Christians to form the record of a new set of promises and rules received from God.
nomadic adj.
A way of life in which a group of people have no permanent residence, but move from place to place.
notary n.
A clerk or secretary.
odoriferous adj.
Having an odor.
opaque adj.
Not allowing light to pass through.
overshoot v.
To go beyond, without meaning to.
pacify v.
To end fighting or violence; to cause a person or people to become peaceful.
palatine adj.
Having a ruler with power and privileges normally belonging only to the king. May also refer to the ruler himself.
palisade n.
A walled enclosure built around a village or town; a stockade.
paramount adj.
Having the highest rank or importance.
parley n.
A conference or discussion between enemies to negotiate the terms of a truce.
patriarchal adj.
Characterized by having males in positions of power.
petition v.
To make a formal request.
phonetic adj.
Using spellings that correspond to pronunciation.
pike n.
A long spear formerly used by foot soldiers.
pinnace n.
A small boat, often used for rowing ashore from a larger ship.
preclude v.
To make impossible or prevent.
preliterate adj.
Lacking a written language.
privateer n.
As a noun, a privately owned and manned warship authorized by a government to attack the commercial ships of an enemy nation; or a member of the crew of such a ship. As a verb, to sail as a privateer.
prodigious adj.
Of great size, extent, or amount.
projectile n.
An object propelled through the air, such as an arrow or bullet.
proliferate v.
To increase rapidly.
propensity n.
A natural inclination or tendency.
proponents n.
Those who argue in favor of something; supporters.
pulmonary adj.
Affecting the lungs.
punch n.
Tool used for punching holes in skin, fabric, or other material.
quarantine n.
A period of enforced isolation imposed to prevent the spread of a contagious disease.
quince n.
A hard, acidic pear-shaped fruit.
quincentenary n.
500th anniversary.
ravening adj.
Greedily consuming; devouring.
recast v.
To form or arrange again.
reiterated v.
reminiscent adj.
Suggesting memories of something similar.
replication n.
The act or process of reproducing artifacts, structures, or use patterns.
requite v.
Returned or responded, as love or a favor.
reservoir n.
A natural or artificial pond or lake where water is stored.
respiration n.
The process by which living things exchange gases with their environment. Humans and other organisms with lungs do this by breathing.
retaliate v.
To repay in kind.
revile v.
To criticize harshly.
rind n.
A tough outer covering.
rituals n.
Established ways of conducting religious ceremonies.
ruminate v.
To reflect deeply about something.
runlet n.
A cask or drinking vessel.
sacred adj.
salvage v.
To save from loss or destruction.
savvy adj.
Well-informed and quick-witted.
scriptures n.
The sacred writings of the Christian Bible.
scruple v.
To be reluctant to do something out of concern for what is proper.
scrutinized v.
Examined closely and in great detail.
self-perpetuating adj.
Capable of renewal or continuation without external assistance.
shoal-water n.
The water in a shallow place.
smallpox n.
A severe contagious disease spread by a virus, characterized by fever and skin eruptions usually leaving permanent scars.
spur n.
Incentive; motivating factor.
stockade n.
A defensive enclosure made of strong posts or timbers standing upright, side by side.
stratigraphy n.
The order and relative position of the layers of the earth's crust.
strenuous adj.
Requiring great exertion.
stylized adj.
Conforming to a particular style or convention.
subservient adj.
Subordinate; belonging to a lower rank.
subsistence n.
The means of supporting life, usually referring to food and other basic commodities.
sundry adj.
Various; miscellaneous.
syllabary n.
The set of characters belonging to a language, in which each character represents a syllable.
taffeta n.
In early times, a fabric consisting of a plain-woven glossy silk.
tallow n.
Substance made from animal fat, used in making candles and soap, and for dressing leather.
temper v.
To bring to a desired consistency or strength by mixing.
tentative adj.
Done as an experiment, trial, or attempt.
thatch n.
Straw, reeds, or other plant material used for roofing.
thatched adj.
Made from straw, reeds, or other plant material.
thrice n.
Three times.
tobacco tongs n.
A light pair of tongs formerly used by smokers to pick up tobacco or a live coal for igniting it.
tonsure n.
Style of haircut.
traditions n.
The values and ideas that are common to and accepted by the people of a certain community over a long period of time.
transit n.
A surveying instrument that measures horizontal and vertical angles.
tributary n.
A stream that flows into a larger stream or other body of water.
tuberculosis n.
A contagious disease that affects the lungs.
tumult n.
Disturbance or agitation.
typhus n.
A contagious disease transmitted by body lice and characterized by skin rash and high fever.
undefaced adj.
Not defaced, that is, not ruined or spoiled.
unprecedented adj.
Never before known or experienced.
unscrupulous adj.
Lacking moral standards or principles.
values n.
Established ideas about the way life should be lived; that is, the objects, customs, and ways of acting that members of a given society regard as desirable.
vassal n.
A servant or slave; a person in a subordinate position.
venison n.
A wild animal killed by hunting, especially deer. More specifically, the meat of such an animal.
vermilion n.
A brilliant red pigment made from mercury sulphide (cinnabar).
vestibule n.
A small entrance hall connecting the outer door and the interior of a house or building.
viable adj.
Capable of succeeding or developing.
victuals n.
Articles of food.
wattle and daub n.
A method of constructing buildings in which vertical wooden stakes or branches are woven with horizontal branches and sticks, and then plastered together with clay or mud. The interwoven branches are known as "wattle," and the clay or mud is known as "daub."
weigh anchor v.
To haul up the anchor so that the ship can set sail.
wielded v.
Exercised (as in influence or authority).
yellow fever n.
A tropical disease caused by a mosquito-borne virus, causing fever and usually death.
zealotry adj.
Excessive religious fanaticism usually characterized by intolerance of opposing views.