1)duplicitous (adjective): deceitful; treacherous
The Godfather features Sal Tessio, a duplicitous subordinate who tries to survive by hiding his disloyalty to the Corleone family.
2)serendipity (noun): the condition of making joyful discoveries by accident
Some discoveries result from unremitting* hard work; others, such as Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin after he had inadvertently left mold on a dish before leaving on a two-week vacation, owe more to serendipity.
3)misanthrope (noun): a person who hates or mistrusts mankind
Some scholars believe that the French playwright Moliere's comedy, The Misanthrope, was largely autobiographical; others, however, assert that anyone who could write as compassionately as Moliere was unlikely to be misanthropic toward his fellow men.
4)unflappable (adjective): having or showing calm in a crisis
My grade-school teacher during the early 1960s told us that in the event of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union we should not panic but rather be unflappable , because to survive such an attack we merely needed to "duck and cover" under our desks.
5)timorous (adjective): suffering from nervousness, fear, or a lack of confidence
In the Eighteenth Century, Robert Burns, the great Scottish poet, wrote a poem called, "To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough," which began, "Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,/O, what a panic's in thy breastie!"*
6)holistic (adjective): related to the treatment of entire systems rather than components of those systems
Holistic medical treatments such as Reiki* and acupuncture have been practiced in the Far East for many years; recently, some Westerners have turned to such "wellness" regimens in place of care that often seems to treat patients as an amalgamation of body parts.
7)exude (verb): discharge (moisture or a smell) slowly and steadily
Several days after Kara left on vacation, the salmon and cottage cheese sandwich that she had forgotten in her desk drawer began to exude a peculiar odor.
8)mercurial (adjective): changeable; volatile; fickle; erratic
Only a most gifted actor such as Samuel L. Jackson can be entrusted with a mercurial character like the Bible-quoting hit man Jules in Pulp Fiction.
9)synergy (noun): a cooperation of two or more factors to create a condition that each cannot create individually
In its advertising, energy drink maker Red Bull relies on a synergy of billboards, the Internet, television, and print to spread its message that more caffeine will improve your life.
10)rancorous (adjective): expressing a deep resentment or feeling of ill-will
The two adjacent summer camps that had coexisted for over 20 years erupted into rancorous name-calling when one decided to dye the lake they shared yellow.
11)pernicious (adjective): having a harmful effect, especially in a subtle way
The city manager explained to those at the council meeting that neglecting to maintain highways and bridges would have a pernicious effect on tourism, although that effect would not be fully felt for several years.
12)disingenuous (adjective): not genuine or sincere, usually by pretending to know less about something than one actually does
When asked why his test answers were the same as those produced by Josie, the top student in his class, Robert disingenuously suggested that Josie might have copied from his paper.
13)maverick (noun): an unorthodox or independent-minded person
Every mainstream scientist, such as Newton and Einstein, who we remember and honor was initially a maverick, someone who stood outside the scientific thinking of the day, looked at it from a different angle, and thought, "This can be improved.
14)perspicacious (adjective): having insight into and understanding of things
Although her mother claimed to be driving her to swing and slide in the park, Alison, who was quite a perspicacious six-year-old, quickly recognized her parent's preferred route to the pediatric dentist.
15)catharsis (noun): the purging of emotions or the releasing of emotional tensions, often through certain kinds of music or drama
Greek drama, such as the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles that were filled with raw emotion and off-stage violence, provided a spiritual catharsis to many in its sophisticated Athenian audience.
16)potentate (noun): a ruler or, more broadly, one who holds great power or influence
The financial conference featured such potentates as the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Germany, the former Presidents of Brazil and the United States, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates.