Mastering English Vocabulary 6: Martin Luther King Edition

by Jakub Marian
Did you know that “iron” is pronounced as “I earn”, not as “I Ron”? Learn more about the most common pronunci­ation mistakes in English (PDF version).

I use LingQ to expand my vocabulary in many languages, including English. Today, we shall concentrate on some peculiar vocabulary Martin Luther King used in his “I Have a Dream” speech (which is also available with a transcript in LingQ). You may also want to read the second part or the previous episode. Beware: Only one meaning of every word is included (the one intended in the speech), and the pronunciation is based mostly on American English.

momentous /moʊˈmɛntəs/ – of great importance or significance.
… this momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions …
decree /dɪˈkri/ – an official order or decision.
… this momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions …
to sear /sɪər/ – to dry up, burn or quickly brown meat.
… who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice …
withering /ˈwɪðərɪŋ/ – intended to make someone feel mortified or humiliated.
… who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice …
manacle /ˈmænəkəl/ – a metal band, chain, or shackle for fastening someone’s hands or ankles.
… the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation …
to languish /ˈlæŋgwɪʃ/ – fail to make progress or be successful, grow weak.
… the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society …
unalienable /ʌnˈeɪliənəbəl/ – not to be separated, given away, or taken away.
… would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of Life, Liberty …
to default /dɪˈfɔlt/ – to fail to do what is required.
… America has defaulted on this promissory note …
hallowed /ˈhæloʊd/ – sanctified, consecrated, ‘made holy’.
… we have also come to this hallowed spot …
fierce /fɪərs/ – extremely intense or ardent.
… of the fierce urgency of Now …
to tranquilize /ˈtræŋkwəˌlaɪz/ – to make calm, pacify.
… engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism …
sweltering /ˈswɛltərɪŋ/ – oppressively hot and humid.
… this sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until …

Definitions are usually taken from www.yourdictionary.com.

By the way, are you not a native English speaker? Then you should check out the list of over 500 commonly mispronounced words I have compiled in the form of a book. There's also a downloadable PDF version.

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