February 23, 2012
frivolous (adjective)
\FRIV-uh-lus\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : of little importance : trivial2 : lacking in seriousness
How do you use it?
"He dropped gradually back into his old frivolous and easygoing ways and conditions of feeling and manner of speech, . . ." (Mark Twain, The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson)
Are you a word wiz?

Oops! We forgot to finish the quotation above from Mark Twain. Using what you've learned about the word "frivolous," tell us which of these answers you think is the actual ending of Twain's sentence.

Seriously, B is the correct answer. In the first half of the quotation, we learn that the subject of the sentence is a person whose once carefree attitude has reasserted itself. Someone returning to "frivolous and easygoing ways" is not likely to lecture others on the importance of hard work, as proposed by answer A. Nor does it follow that such a person would exhibit the intense devotion to a worthy cause described in C, or spend his years engaged in serious pursuits, as suggested by D. Only answer B provides a reasonable ending: that Tom's friends would recognize in him the same carefree person they had long known.
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