Amazing Kids! Magazine

Word Booster – September 2014

By Ryan Traynor, Assistant Editor


When reviewing history, it is important to understand the meaning of words regularly used for things that happened in the past. It can be different than the meaning typically used in regular language (see aggression or delegate below as examples.) Let’s increase your knowledge of the use of these words so that you can more fully grasp the meaning behind history’s mysteries.

Aggression (noun) – a forceful action or procedure, usually intended to dominate or master; the practice of making attacks or encroachments, usually by one country of the territory of another; hostile or destructive behavior, especially when caused by frustration.

Ex. The government says that any attempt to fly over its territory will be viewed as an act of aggression.

Alliance (noun) – a union for joint action of various powers or states in international politics; a union between people, groups, or countries; a relationship in which people agree to work together.

Ex. During World War I, the European powers and the U.S. created an alliance against Germany and its allies.

Bureaucracy (noun) – a body of non-elected government officials; an administrative policy-making group; government or business characterized by specialization of functions, sticking to a set of fixed rules, and various levels of authority.

Ex. As Europe slipped deeper into war, the bureaucracy kept the committees from approving necessary funds for important research.

Consensus (noun) – a general agreement; the opinion arrived at by most of those involved; group unity in a belief.

Ex. Everyone in the Senate committee seemed to understand the need for consensus before submitting the revision.

Constitution ( noun) – the basic principles and laws of a nation, state, or group that determine the powers and duties of the government and guarantee certain rights to the people in it; a written instrument embodying the rules of a political or social organization; the structure, composition, physical makeup, or nature of something.

Ex. The state’s constitution has strict rules about what political contributions can be used for.

Crusade (noun) – any one of the wars that European Christian countries fought against Muslims in Palestine in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries; a major effort to change something.

Ex. The Albigensian Crusade ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1229, which took away the independence of the southern princes and destroyed the culture of Provence.

Delegate (noun) – a person acting for another, such as a representative to a convention or conference, a representative of a United States territory in the House of Representatives, and a member of the lower house of the legislature of Maryland, Virginia, or West Virginia.

Ex. The delegates acted according to the will of their populations.

Democracy (noun) – a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting; a country ruled by democracy; an organization or situation in which everyone is treated equally and has equal rights

Ex. In a democracy, every citizen should have the right to vote.

Embassy (noun) – a body of diplomatic representatives headed by an ambassador; the job of an ambassador; an official mission abroad by an ambassador; the official residence of the ambassador.

Ex. The representative headed to the embassy to talk with the ambassador.

Empire (noun) – a group of countries or regions that are controlled by one ruler (usually an emperor or empress) or one government; a very large business or group of businesses under the control of one person or company.

Ex. The Roman Empire contributed greatly to the development of law, war, art, literature, architecture, technology, religion and language in the Western world.

Envoy (noun) – a person delegated to represent one government in its dealings with another; messenger or representative.

Ex. The president sent the vice president as his personal envoy to gain the support of the country’s leadership.

Fief (noun) – a large area of land that was ruled over by a lord in medieval times; something one has rights or exercises control over.

Ex. In European feudalism, the fief supported the knight as he fought for his lord and usually consisted of land and the labor of peasants who were bound to cultivate it.

Treason (noun) – the crime of trying to overthrow your country’s government or of helping your country’s enemies during war; the betrayal of a trust.

Ex. In 1781 Benedict Arnold committed an act of treason as he attempted to pass war secrets on to the British to injure the American cause and enhance the value of his services. 

Impeach (verb) – to charge a public official with a crime done while in office; to cause doubts about the truthfulness of testimony.

Ex. Congress will vote on whether or not to impeach the President.

Martial Law (noun) – control of an area by military forces rather than by the police usually to maintain order and public safety.

Ex. The government has imposed martial law throughout the city to stop the looting.

Squire (noun) – a young man in the Middle Ages who helped a knight in order to get training to become a knight himself; a man in history in England who owned most of the land in a village or district.

Ex. The squire carried the sword for his knight even though it was almost his size.

Suffrage (noun) – the right of voting; a vote to decide a question or to elect a person to an office or trust; a short intercessory prayer usually in a series.

Ex. The fight for woman’s suffrage in the United States ended on August 26, 1920 when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, giving all American women the right to vote.

Tariff (noun) – a tax on goods coming into or leaving a country; a list of prices charged by usually a hotel or restaurant for meals, rooms, etc.

Ex. The 1828 tariff created higher prices and by reducing business with England, the English weren’t able to afford American cotton. 

Temperance (noun) – the practice of drinking little or no alcohol or controlling your actions, thoughts, or feelings.

Ex. The temperance of alcohol was attempted by Carrie Nation in the early 20th century by her smashing saloons.

Veto (noun) – a decision by a person in authority to not allow or approve something (such as a new law); the power of someone in authority to not approve something; the exercise of such authority.

Ex. The president decided to veto the bill because he felt it unfairly affected certain parts of the country.