Use context to find the meaning of the boldfaced words’ probable meaning. A. I have always considered Tony Gwynn to be the epitome of a great baseball hitter and a true gentleman. B. Sebastian is always jovial; in fact, he is the most cheerful person I know. C. Richard’s dog had grown portly because of lack of exercise and a diet of table scraps.

To find the meaning of these words, consider the meaning of some of the surrounding ones. For instance, in the second sentence, “jovial" must have a similar meaning to the word cheerful, and in the third sentence “portly” must have something to do with getting larger.

Expert Answers

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Using context clues is a great tool to understand unknown words in a text. It also helps build your vocabulary! In the first sentence, we see that the writer is calling Tony Gwynn the “epitome of a great baseball hitter.” Consider what you know about Tony Gwynn. He is a professional baseball player who is known for being great at hitting. This means that the opinion in this sentence is based in part based on Tony Gwynn’s skills. The word “epitome” seems to emphasize how great of a player he is and how good his character is. This suggests that the word has something to do with setting an example.

In the second sentence, the speaker describes Sebastian as “jovial” and “the most cheerful person.” Although we might not know what the word “jovial” means, consider the meaning of the word “cheerful.” When we call people cheerful, we usually mean that they are happy and have a positive outlook. Since the speaker is calling Sebastian the most cheerful person he knows, we can assume jovial is a synonym for cheerful.

Finally, in the third sentence, the speaker describes the dog as “portly” and explains his reasons for this description. He says that the dog grew portly “because of lack of exercise and a diet of table scraps.” Consider the consequences of a decrease in exercise and an increase in food intake. These behaviors typically cause animals to gain weight. This tells us that word “portly” describes a body that is somewhat large or stout.

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