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Enrich your vocab for Bank exam: ‘World-famous diamond Kohinoor inspires new and bloody history’

Dec 29, 2016 12:18 IST

    In order to prepare better for competitive exams, it is highly required to develop a basic understanding and knowledge of English language. Strengthening your vocabulary comes handy while constructing the meaning of a word. To enhance your vocabulary, we are bringing to you a passage from ‘The Times of India’ (dated December 24th, 2016) and the difficult words from it. These words have been explained at the end of the passage with synonyms and antonyms and its usage as well. Hope this helps in your preparation.

    Article: World-famous diamond Kohinoor inspires new and bloody history’

    Many precious stones have a blood-soaked history, but a new book reveals the world's most famous diamond the Kohinoor surpasses them all, with a litany of horrors that rivals "Game of Thrones".

    The Kohinoor ("Mountain of Light"), now part of the British Crown Jewels, has witnessed the birth and the fall of empires across the Indian subcontinent, and remains the subject of a bitter ownership battle between Britain and India.

    "It is an unbelievably violent story... Almost everyone who owns the diamond or touches it comes to a horribly sticky end," says British historian William Dalrymple, who co-authored "Kohinoor: The Story of the World's Most Infamous Diamond" with journalist Anita Anand.

    "We get poisonings, bludgeonings, someone gets their head beaten with bricks, lots of torture, one person blinded by a hot needle. There is a rich variety of horrors in this book," Dalrymple tells AFP in an interview.

    In one particularly gruesome incident the book relates, molten lead is poured into the crown of a Persian prince to make him reveal the location of the diamond.

    Today the diamond, which historians say was probably first discovered in India during the reign of the Mughal dynasty, is on public display in the Tower of London, part of the crown of the late Queen Mother.

    The first record of the Kohinoor dates back to around 1750, following Persian ruler Nader Shah's invasion of the Mughal capital Delhi.

    Shah plundered the city, taking treasures such as the mythical Peacock Throne, embellished with precious stones including the Kohinoor.

    "The Peacock Throne was the most lavish piece of furniture ever made. It cost four times the cost of the Taj Mahal and had all the better gems gathered by the Mughals from across India over generations," Dalrymple says.

    The diamond itself was not particularly renowned at the time — the Mughals preferred coloured stones such as rubies to clear gems.

    Ironically given the diplomatic headaches it has since caused, it only won fame after it was acquired by the British.

    "People only know about the Kohinoor because the British made so much fuss of it," says Dalrymple.

    India has tried in vain to get the stone back since winning independence in 1947, and the subject is frequently brought up when officials from the two countries meet.

    Iran, Pakistan and even the Afghan Taliban have also claimed the Kohinoor in the past, making it a political hot potato for the British government.

    Over the course of the century that followed the Mughals' downfall, the Kohinoor was used variously as a paperweight by a Muslim religious scholar and affixed to a glittering armband worn by a Sikh king.

    It only passed into British hands in the middle of the nineteenth century, when Britain gained control of the Sikh empire of Punjab, now split between Pakistan and India.

    Sikh king Ranjit Singh had taken it from an Afghan ruler who had sought sanctuary in India and after he died in 1839 war broke out between the Sikhs and the British.

    Singh's 10-year-old heir handed over the diamond to the British as part of the peace treaty that ended the war and the gem was subsequently displayed at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London — acquiring immediate celebrity status.

    "It became, for the Victorians, a symbol of the conquest of India, just as today, for post-colonial Indians, it is a symbol of the colonial looting of India," Dalrymple says.

    The Kohinoor, which is said to be cursed, has not been worn by a British monarch since the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.

    It last emerged from its glass case in the Tower of London for the funeral of the Queen Mother, when it was placed on her coffin.

    So might it be worn again — perhaps by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, when Prince Charles ascends to the throne?

    "If that doesn't finish the monarchy, nothing else would" laughs Dalrymple.

    1. Surpasses (verb): to do better than ever before.
    Synonym: Excel, transcend, exceed, outweigh
    Antonym: Fail, surrender, lose, fall behind
    Sentence: Superficialness cannot surpass the hard work and determination.

    2. Litany (noun): refers to a type of prayer in which a series of lines are spoken alternately by a leader and a congregation.
    Synonym: Prayer, petition, recitation, recital
    Antonym: None
    Sentence: He has a litany of excuses to hide his laziness.

    3. Bludgeoning (verb): It means to strike or knock down.
    Synonym: Badger, coerce, oppress, tyrannize
    Antonym: Aid, coax, leave alone, boost
    Sentence: She stood at her altar looking at her estranged boyfriend as if stunned by bludgeoning of the disaster.

    4. Gruesome (verb): Something which is extremely unpleasant or horror.
    Synonym: Ghastly, hideous, macabre, dire
    Antonym: attractive, comforting, delightful, pleasant
    Sentence: Nirbhaya’s rape was one of the gruesome crime which shook the roots of humanity.

    5. Plundered (verb): To steal goods using force
    Synonym: Devastate, despoil, ransack, fleece
    Antonym: Aid, guard, receive, protect
    Sentence: Britishers plundered our country and take away our most useful possessions.

    6. Embellished (verb): To make something more attractive by adding extra detail.
    Synonym: Decorate, adorn, glid, enhance
    Antonym: Disfigure, deface, uglify, spoil
    Sentence: Her dress was embellished with diamonds and beautiful motifs.

    7. Ironically (adverb): Contrary to what was expected or intended
    Synonym: paradoxically, ludicrously, mockingly, oddly
    Antonym: Expected, surprisingly, boringly, appropriately
    Sentence: Ironically, individuals are usually attracted to narcotics and alcohol to obtain relief from anxiety.

    8. Heir (noun): A person who inherits the property or rank of another on that person’s death.
    Synonym: Successor, beneficiary, descendant, scion
    Antonym: Giver, ancestor, donor, antecedent
    Sentence: Prince Charles is the heir next in line to the British throne. 

    9. Ascends (verb): To go up or to move through air
    Synonym: Escalate, soar, sprout, climb
    Antonym: Decline, descend, fall, slump
    Sentence: He heard the noise of someone ascending the stairs and slipping into his bed.

    10. Monarchy (noun): It is a form of government with a monarch at the head.
    Synonym: Throne, sovereignty, despotism, autocracy
    Antonym: Democracy, republic, equalitarianism, egalitarianism
    Sentence: The British monarchy has reigned over the United Kingdom for many centuries.

    Question (1-5): Answer the following as directed.

    1. Find out the words which mean the same as ‘gory’
    1. Blood-soaked
    2. Closed
    3. Hemic
    4. Crimson
    5. Other than those given in options

    Solution: Option (1)

    Explanation: The given word means something which is horrendous of bloody in nature. Among the given options, option (1) is the right choice as the synonym of the word given in the options.

    2. Find out the words which mean the same as ‘sour’
    1. Bland
    2. Mild
    3. Acrid
    4. Genial
    5. Other than those given in options

    Solution: Option (3)

    Explanation: The given word depicts the harsh nature of the taste of food/dish. Among the given options, option (3) is the right choice as the synonym of the word given in the options.

    3. Find out the words which mean the same as ‘illustrious’
    1. Inferior
    2. Insignificant
    3. Distinguished
    4. Hailed
    5. Other than those given in options

    Solution: Option (3)

    Explanation: The given word means someone who is famous or renowned. Among the given options, option (3) is the right choice as the synonym of the word given in the options.

    4. Find out the words which mean the same as ‘consequently’
    1. Prior
    2. Frequently
    3. Appropriately
    4. Subsequently
    5. Other than those given in options

    Solution: Option (4)

    Explanation: The given word implies the nature of something which is happening in order or succession. Among the given options, option (4) is the right choice as the synonym of the word given in the options.

    5. Find out the words which mean the same as ‘funerary box’
    1. Monument
    2. Coffin
    3. Wardrobe
    4. Chest
    5. Other than those given in options

    Solution: Option (2)

    Explanation: The given word means a box in which a dead body is buried or cremated. Among the given options, option (2) is the right choice as the synonym of the word given in the options.

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