The ——- retort was always the last refuge of the jester. And this time, the king’s gadfly went so far as to verge on ——-.
A. humorous . . deceit
B. ebullient . . disloyalty
C. scabrous . . treason
D. crude . . sycophancy
E. inappropriate . . hilarity
The answer is C. scabrous . . treason.
The structure and content of the sentence suggest that the terms in the blanks describe something that the jester has said that is normally negative and on this occasion is worse.
Scabrous means caustic, indelicate, or risky, making this a strong choice.
If you choose scabrous for the first blank, treason is a strong enough term for the second.
(A) is incorrect. Although jesters may well be funny, merely humorous retorts aren’t likely to reflect the desperate, dangerous weight of something that is a last refuge. Deceit doesn’t carry the same serious tone as the rest of the sentence.
(B) is incorrect. Ebullient means bubbly, so it’s not right for the context. Disloyalty is not strong enough a word to fit the context.
(D) is incorrect. Crude (unrefined) is off point. A raw or coarse retort might lead to problems but doesn’t match with the potential sanctions suggested in the sentence. Sycophancy refers to the behavior of a person overly solicitous of people in power. The court jester was most commonly the only person at court willing to poke fun at the king. This is not the
response you want.
(E) is incorrect. Inappropriate (ill-adapted) doesn’t fit the serious tone of the sentence. Hilarity is by far too positive a term for this sentence. And it doesn’t quite make sense to verge on hilarity.
Often the difference between a strong and a poor choice is a matter of degree. The difference in intensity between words like humorous and scabrous, which are both degrees of “funniness,” will determine your choice.
Here you are guided by context as the passage suggests that jesters resort to extreme comments at extreme times. And since this jester went so far as . . .” you know you are looking for the most intense of terms.
Be aware of difference in intensity on future questions and choose terms that reflect the level suggested by the text.
Hopefully this helped you practice with some new vocabulary words! See you next Tuesday for Practice Question of the Week #4. Let us know t if you have any suggestions for what type of question you’d like to see (reading comprehension, quantitative comparison, etc.)!