Literally, something rarefied is very thin and not dense, like rarefied air up in the mountains that's hard to breathe.
Figuratively, something rarefied is "lifted" in a sophisticated, smart, noble way. In other words, rarefied things are exclusive, lofty, or very refined.
RARE uh fide
Part of speech:
(Adjectives are describing words, like “large” or “late.”
They can be used in two ways:
1. Right before a noun, as in “a rarefied style.”
2. After a linking verb, as in "The style was rarefied.”)
Other forms: Rarefaction is the quality of being refined, lofty, and noble.
You can rarefy something, meaning you make it pure or refine it.
How to use it:
Talk about rarefied conversation, rarefied company, rarefied events (like a rarefied fundraiser dinner or a rarefied meeting of scholars,) a rarefied world or sphere, a rarefied atmosphere or mood or tone, rarefied style, a rarefied education, rarefied ideas or arguments, etc.
One of my graduate classes was held in a medical school, so before the first class I'd wondered if the atmosphere would be all scholarly and rarefied. It wasn't! And the professor was chill.
Having a rarefied vocabulary is like knowing how to change a tire. Very handy, just not every single day.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "rarefied" means when you can explain it without saying "exalted" or "elevated."
Think of a place you've been to that's very sophisticated, and fill in the blanks: "In the rarefied atmosphere of _____, (people do something in particular.)"
Example: "In the rarefied atmosphere of one of the Smithsonian art museums, visitors were silently pondering the exhibits. My sister and I did that too for a little while so it wasn't obvious that we were only there to use the facilities."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're playing with song lyrics that include words featured in issues of Make Your Point. I’ll give you a few lines from the song, with a blank where our word appears, along with its definition. See if you can come up with it! You can follow the link to see the right answer right away, or just wait until the following day’s issue. Have fun!
Yesterday's lyrics: Artist: The Decembrists Title: The Legionnaire's Lament Lyrics: If only summer rain would fall
On the houses and the boulevard
And the side walk _______
It's like a dream Definition: little inexpensive objects
Try this one today:
Artist: The Rembrandts Title: Don't Hide Your Love Lyrics: Same old song in a brand new dress
I grow so bored, I _____
Tell me what can I do, to bring you back to me, back to me Definition: to give in and just along with what someone else wants you to do
Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher:
“What’s one man’s poison, signor,
Is another’s meat or drink.”
1. The opposite of RAREFIED is
2. If I can't _____ in this rarefied dish, then I probably won't order it.
A. figure out if there's any gluten
B. pronounce the fancy ingredients listed
C. tell if there are any little chopped-up onions
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
If you haven't seen the word "rarefied" before, you might guess that it means "made rare." That's totally reasonable but wrong. The problem is that the Latin rarus means both "rare" and "thin," and something rarefied is "thin" only in the way that the air is thin way up in high elevations--so what "rarefied" actually means is lofty, elevated, sophisticated, and refined.
Still, that suffix "-fied" or "-fy" is easily understood. We recognize that it means "made" or "to make," like in "simplify," "terrify," and "beautify." Could you recall these other words with that suffix?
- When people are c__ified, they are rigidly set in their ways and aren't flexible in response to changing situations.
- If you o____ify people, you treat them like they're just things instead of human beings.
- When something r__ifies, it becomes more complex, as if it's growing outward into branches or sub-parts.
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