Allay. Invective. Timorous.
Most people would probably have to wrack their brains to spout a definition for the above words. We typically don't use them in ordinary speech.
However, by placing them in the sentences below, it's easy to understand the meanings of the words.
- The preschool teacher hugged the children to try to allay their fears about the first day of school.
- My dad's crazy invective against the way I look only made me decide to dye my hair magenta the next time around.
- When Liz walked on stage, she was as white as a ghost, trembling and looked like she was about to be sick. We could only guess that her timorous nature had finally gotten the best of her.
In these sentences, we understand that allay must mean something like "calm" and invective must mean something like "lecture" and timorous must mean something like "shy".
How do we know? Context clues.
Context clues are our friends. They're like our little buddies who have taken the exam before us and want to pass us the answers.
Or just impressing your friends with your expansive vocabulary.
Whatever floats your boat.