Synonyms and Antonyms Practice Exercises

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Updated on Sep 28, 2011

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Synonyms and Antonyms Practice Exercises

Practice 1: Pebble Pottage

Based on a European Folktale

Read the selection, and then answer the questions that follow.

(1) One day, a vagrant knocked on a farmhouse door. The farmer's wife peered out at the weary drifter. "I can't let you in," she said, "for my husband is not at home. And besides, I have no sustenance to offer because my husband is bringing groceries back from town."

(2) "Then, Madam, you can share some of my pebble potage!" the man replied, and he pulled from his pocket what looked like an ordinary stone.

(3) "Pebble pottage?" asked the woman, suddenly interested in the ragged man.

(4) "Oh, yes, it is delicious," he said with a smile. "If I had a pot of water and a fire, I could demonstrate how this stone can magically make the best soup you've ever tasted!"

(5) The woman was curious, so she opened the door and the wayfarer came inside. Soon a pot of water was boiling away. He dropped in the stone, then tasted the watery broth. "It needs a pinch of salt, and a dash of pepper," he said. "You wouldn't have any, would you? And perhaps a tiny bit of butter?"

(6) "No problem," said the woman, and she ran to get the requested components.

(7) When she returned, he added the salt, pepper, and butter to the broth and tasted it again. "Yum. Much better!" he said. "But vegetables would add even more flavor! Are there none in your cellar or garden?"

(8) "Oh, there must be a few," she said, eager to taste the magic soup. So she ran to the garden and returned with some potatoes, carrots, and beans.

(9) These were added and the vagabond tasted the mixture again. "The magic stone has not failed me!" he whispered surreptitiously. "It is almost ready. All it needs is a bit of meat."

(10) The woman found some leftover chicken in the refrigerator and added it to the pot, saying, "Magic stone, do your thing!"

(11) Before long, a wonderful aroma filled the kitchen, portending that the soup was done. The woman filled a bowl for the man and one for herself. And there was enough left for her husband to have a bowlful when he returned.

(12) "Thank you so much for letting me use your pot and fire," the stranger said as he prepared to leave. He extracted his stone from the bottom of the pot, washed it off, and put it back into his pocket.

(13) "Oh, you are welcome. Do come again," said the woman.

(14) "Indeed I will," replied the hobo. "Now, because of your kindness, I want to leave you a gift." He fished into his other pocket and brought out a tiny pebble. "Here," he said with a smile, "is your very own magic pebble. It is not yet fully matured so it can only make enough soup for one. Use it well."

(15) Then he left and disappeared into the woods. The farmer's wife never saw him again, but she did enjoy a small cup of magic pebble pottage from time to time!

1. Which synonym was NOT used to describe the stranger?

a. hobo

b. vagrant

c. wayfarer

d. bum

2. An antonym for the word extricated is

a. rescued.

b. inserted.

c. took out.

d. removed.  

3. Which is a synonym for portending?

a. suggesting

b. signifying

c. indicating

d. all of the above

4. Which is NOT an antonym for surreptitiously?

a. sneakily

b. furtively

c. openly

d. secretly

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