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abatis an obstacle constructed by bending and sharpening the branches of trees or implanting sharpened limbs in a soil barricade, sometimes interlaced with barbed wire.
abstract expressionism (sometimes cap.) a school of painting that arose after World War II and that was marked by expressive but nonrepresentational images formed by an apparently random and often unconventional application of paint.
act behavior that is a pretense, sometimes insincere or meant to deceive. [2/14 definitions]
advance (sometimes pl.) an approach or proposition, often sexual. [1/13 definitions]
aeroembolism nitrogen or air bubbles in the bloodstream, caused by severe decompression, surgery, or injury, and resulting in severe pain and sometimes convulsions; bends; decompression sickness; caisson disease.
aftertaste a lingering sensation, usu. of taste, sometimes continuing after its cause is gone. [1/2 definitions]
afterthought a thought that occurs after the conclusion of something, sometimes too late to be of use. [1/2 definitions]
alabaster a hard, translucent, and sometimes striped variety of calcite. [1/5 definitions]
alexandrine (sometimes cap.) in poetry, a twelve-syllable line with alternating unstressed and stressed syllables, usu. with a clear pause after six syllables. [2 definitions]
alloy a combined form of two or more metals, or of a metal with a nonmetal, sometimes using an inferior ingredient with a more costly one. [1/5 definitions]
Alpine (sometimes l.c.) designating or pertaining to downhill skiing. (Cf. Nordic.) [1/4 definitions]
amazonite a moderately hard, green form of microcline, sometimes used as a gemstone.
anabolic steroid a synthetic hormone sometimes used by athletes to increase muscle size or strength, but widely prohibited by athletic leagues, associations, and the like.
ancon a bracket, sometimes ornamental, used to support a molding, shelf, or the like.
anopheles a type of mosquito that sometimes transmits malaria.
ape to imitate or copy (someone's speech or behavior), sometimes clumsily or mockingly. [1/5 definitions]
aphorism a terse, sometimes witty statement of a general truth or observation; adage.
apodosis in a conditional sentence, the clause that expresses the result or conclusion, sometimes beginning with "then". (Cf. protasis.)
apostle (sometimes cap.) one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ who were sent forth to spread his teachings. [1/3 definitions]
appellation contrôlée (sometimes caps.) a designation on the labels of certain French wines or liquors, certifying that the contents meet prescribed standards. [1/2 definitions]
apple pie a pastry dish made with sliced apples and flavored with sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes other spices, often considered typically American or even symbolic of American culture and values.