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Cultural Literacy


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a cappella
choral singing performed without instruments; means “in chapel style” in Italian
Aaron, Henry (Hank Aaron)
a baseball player in the 20th century, hit a record 755 home runs in his major league career from 1954-1976
Abandon hope...
an inscription at the entrance to hell, from Dante’s Divine Comedy
a shortened form of an expression, followed by a period of the last letter of the abbreviation is not the same as the last letter of the unabbreviated expression
the part of the body between the chest and pelvis, encloses the abdominal cavity, aka belly
abdominal cavity
the cavity in the abdomen; contains the stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, spleen, kidneys, and the lower esophagus
city in northeastern Scotland on the North Sea; Oil Capital of Europe; third Scottish city in population, industry, and wealth
ABM Treaty
the popular name for part of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talk of 1972 between the US and the Soviet Union; restricts the number and locations of antiballistic missiles (ABMs) that each nation can deploy
the belief that slavery should be abolished; usually refers to the belief of early 19th century northern Americans that the nation’s slaves should be freed immediately, without compensation to the slave owners; famous abolitionists: John Brown, Frederick Douglas, William Lloyd Garrison, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman; an important factor leading to the Civil War
the earliest known inhabitants of a region; usually refers to the native hunters and gatherers of Australia
the deliberate termination of a pregnancy, also called an induced abortion
Abraham and Isaac
the first two patriarchs of the Old Testament; in the Book of Genesis, God made covenant with Abraham, telling him to leave his own country and promising to give his family, the Hebrews, the land of Canaan, the Promised Land; God tested Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his son Isaac, which Abraham obediently did, but an angel of God appeared and told Abraham to spare his son, because it was a test of faith that Abraham had passed; both Jews and Arabs claim descent from Abraham: Jews through Isaac, and Arabs through Abraham’s other son, Ishmael
an inflamed area in the body tissues that is filled with pus
Bosom of Abraham
a term used in the Gospel of Luke, refers to the peace of heaven
habitual absence from work, thought to reflect employee demoralization or dissatisfaction
absolute monarchy
rule by one person, a monarch, whose actions are unrestricted by law or custom, distinguished from a constitutional monarchy
absolute zero
the lowest temperature that can be attained by matter, the point at which most mostion in atoms stops; -273 degrees Celsius, -460 degrees Fahrenheit, and 0 degrees Kelvin
abstract art
an art style of the 20th century, seeking to break away from traditional representation of physical objects; explores the relationships of forms and colors, as opposed to representing the world in recognizable images
abstract expressionism
an art style of the 1940s-60s; large-scale non-representational works; Willem de Koonig, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko
academic freedom
the right of teachers and students to express their ideas in the classroom or in writing, free from political, religious, or institutional restrictions
French Academy
a group of leaders in French thought and literature; sets the standards for French language usage; supported by the French government
Plato's Academy
a school of philosophy established by Plato in ancient Athens, named after Hecademus, a legendary Greek hero
Academy Awards
an annual awards ceremony of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood, where prizes are given for excellence in film performance and production; symbolized by the Oscar; top awards are for best picture, best director, best actor and actress, and best supporting actor and actress
a fashionable resort on Mexico’s Pacific coast, known for its beaches, water sports, and cliff diving
accelerating universe
the discovery that the Hubble expansion is speeding up as time goes by, as opposed to slowing down
a change in the velocity of an object; usually refers to change in speed, but can also refer to change in direction

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