This is a confusing word since it can mean one of two things, and these two things tend to be contradictory. Appropriation can be the taking of something from another person or entity without permission. If the government appropriates your land so that it can conduct top secret studies, you are likely to lose your land. On the other hand, if the government forms an appropriation committee, it plans to pool together resources that it will allocate to certain parties, even those outside of the government (you might even get your land back).
It is difficult to talk about semantic without talking about the related semantics. Semantic has to do with meaning and is usually reserved for linguists describing the specific meaning of a word. For instance, the semantic content of GRE words is rich with words expressing disapproval (censure, rebuke, reprimand, etc.).
Semantics, a similar word, deals with the subtleties of meaning contained in a single word. For instance, the word discriminating can mean something bad (to discriminate unfairly against others), something neutral (to discriminate between two shades of color in the kitchen wallpaper), or something positive (he had discriminating taste and always picked out the most apt outfit). Hopefully, I’ve helped you discriminate between the semantics of semantic and semantics.
To improve something (poverty, crumbling infrastructure, living conditions) is to ameliorate it. Amelioration is simply the noun form of to ameliorate.
Reading the classics brings with it an amelioration of the mind—all the senses are enlarged, and we emerge a better person.
Many people have heard of Goliath, he who was struck done by the stone cast from David’s sling. Goliath was a member of the Philistine tribe, a tribe noted for its backwardness and general lack of civility. Were Goliath alive today, I couldn’t imagine him at the Met gawking at the latest Picasso exhibit or at the Lincoln Center soaking up the sonorous strains of a Brahms symphony. In other words, I’d imagine that Goliath the Philistine would hold the arts, and high-minded stuff in general, in contempt.
The meaning of philistine—though it doesn’t actually come from Goliath himself—is anybody who strongly dislikes the arts or is simply indifferent to them. So if you don’t know Monet from Manet, Bach from Boccherini you might just be a philistine.
Yet another word in the ever pliable English language that takes on both a literal and figurative meaning, pliable can mean easily bent or flexible (my limbs were pliable after an hour-long session of yoga), or pliable can describe anyone who is easily influenced.
Teenagers are highly pliable, easily smitten with the latest pop tune as long as it comes packaged with a pretty face.
Let’s say you wake up and look at your clock and it is 8:21 am. Later, you are number 821 at the deli and you end up paying $8.21 for your sandwich. Then, your best friends calls you and tells you that she is engaged to be married on 8/21. Whoa, something mysterious is going on with this number 821. It’s kind of creepy and vaguely unsettling (is there a hidden order to the universe that you’re not aware of?) This is the essence of uncanny, a word that describes these strange occurrences.
Sarah’s grandpa grew his hair out, only to realize he had an uncanny resemblance to Einstein; tired of young whippersnappers yelling out “E=mc squared” at him in public, he shaved his head.