(I’m sure my former students are groaning at that headline. As a teacher, I was BIG on vocabulary lessons.) 🙂

A couple of weeks ago Jack Rosenthal had a column in the New York Times Sunday magazine. He offered words that are often used incorrectly–and he called them phantonyms.
His list reminded me of my own mental list of words I often see misused. So I’ve combined his list and my list and come up with a little quiz for you to test your knowledge.
Ready to play? For each word, choose the best definition.
1. Fulsome: a) brimming full, overflowing.
b) disgusting, excessive, insincere
c) smelly
2. noisome: a) aggravating
b) noisy
c) smelly, unhealthful
3. Enormity: a) great wickedness, a monstrous act
b) enormous, gigantic
c) not normal
4. disinterested: a) removed from a grave, exhumed
b) uninterested
c) unbiased or impartial
5. enervated: a) exhausted
b) energized
c) lifted above the ordinary
6. fortuitous: a) lucky
b) unfortunate
c) happening by chance
7. penultimate: a) next to last
b) the ultra-ultimate, the top or best
c) literally, the level top of a mountain peak
8. presently: a) now, in this moment
b) in a little while
c) bestowing a gift
9. restive: a) restless
b) restful
c) stubborn, balky
10. notorious: a) famous
b) well-known for doing wrong
c) the actions of a notary public
11. inflammable: a) able to catch fire
b) unable to catch fire
c) flammable
Ready to score your answers? Correct answers are: 1-B, 2-C, 3-a, 4-c, 5-a, 6-c, 7-a, 8-b, 9-c, 10-b, 11: A and C. Flammable and inflammable mean the same thing. 🙂
How’d you do?


  1. John

    Hmmm. Not as well as I expected. I thought I was smarter than that…

  2. Kathy

    Yay! I got 2 right! 😉

  3. Mocha with Linda

    I got about half. The one that I shouldn’t have missed but did was presently.

    I love words!

  4. Joyce H

    I GOT 4 WRONG!

  5. Anonymous

    Whew! Missed more than I thought I would! But, now that I know what Fulsome and Noisome mean, I can hardly wait to use them!!! Clyde

  6. Anonymous

    Missed two — but I took #2 “noisome” a. “aggravating” as a malapropism for “annoying,” which everyone knows it means — and more applicably broader than “smelly, unhealthful,” so I’m counting that one right. (Missed “restive” as well; learn something every day — good days, at least.)
    ~~ Paul H.

  7. Anonymous

    Oh, come now!!! Anonymous


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