400 Must Have Words for the TOEFL » LESSON 29 - Government Corruption

Word List
  • bribery [ˈbraɪbərɪ] n.
    Giving money or other gifts to a government official or other person in authority in order to get special privileges
    Bribery of police officers is common in countries where police salaries are very low.
    Parts of speech     bribe v., bribe n.
  • cynically [ˈsɪnɪklɪ] adv.
    Disrespectfully; emphasizing the weaknesses of otherwise respected things
    Employees of the Roadways Department cynically referred to their boss as “the banker” because he took so many bribes.
    Parts of speech     cynic n., cynicism n., cynical adj.
  • erode [ɪˈrəʊd] v.
    To wear away and become smaller
    People’s respect for the government eroded as more officials were arrested for corruption.
    Usage tips     Erode can be intransitive (the beach eroded) or transitive (the waves eroded the beach).
    Parts of speech     erosion n., erosive adj.
  • evade [ɪˈveɪd] v.
    To get away from something that tries to catch you
    The robbery suspects tried to evade the police by fleeing to Canada.
    Parts of speech     evasion n., evasive adj.
  • grotesque [grəʊˈtesk] adj.
    Extremely unattractive, in a way that catches a lot of attention.
    Spending $3.5 million to redecorate the governor’s house is a grotesque misuse of public money.
  • integrity [ɪnˈtegrɪtɪ] n.
    Personal honesty and good character
    We don’t have a problem with our employees stealing from the store because we hire only people with a lot of integrity.
  • prevalent [ˈprevələnt] adj.
    Common; easy to find because it exists in great amounts
    Distrust of elected officials was prevalent in our county because many of them were friends with certain candidates.
    Parts of speech     prevail v., prevalence n.
  • reform [rɪˈfɔːm] v.
    To make big improvements
    The new law was an attempt to reform the system of giving money to political candidates.
    Parts of speech     reform n., reformer n.
  • scandal [ˈskændl] n.
    A case of wrongdoing that hurts someone’s reputation
    In the Watergate scandal, some of the president’s top advisors were revealed to be criminals.
    Parts of speech     scandalize v., scandalous adj.
  • unmask [ˈʌnˈmɑːsk] v.
    Reveal; expose something that is hidden
    The Forge Trucking Company was eventually unmasked as a front for organized crime.

TOEFL Prep I Find the word or phrase that is closest in meaning to each word in the left-hand column. Write the letter in the blank.

______ 1. cynically(a) respectfully
______ 2. evade(b) corruption
______ 3. integrity(c) cover up
______ 4. prevalent(d) uncommon
______ 5. unmask(e) get caught

TOEFL Prep II Circle the word that best completes each sentence.

  1. The president resigned because a (scandal / bribery) made it impossible for him to lead.
  2. Laws that let the police monitor criminals can (erode / evade) the privacy of innocent citizens too.
  3. After Downforth Castle was bought by apartment developers, it became a (prevalent / grotesque) jumble of poorly built additions.
  4. In some places, people who are pulled over for traffic offenses use (scandal / bribery) to avoid getting a ticket.
  5. President Carazza came to office promising (reform / integrity) of the prison system.
Answer Key
TOEFL Prep I
  1. a
  2. e
  3. b
  4. d
  5. c
TOEFL Prep II
  1. scandal
  2. erode
  3. grotesque
  4. bribery
  5. reform
Answer Key

TOEFL Success Read the passage to review the vocabulary you have learned. Answer the questions that follow.

In many countries, few politicians have enough integrity to resist corruption and bribery. Because such practices are so prevalent, officials often evade any personal sense of guilt by pretending that everyone is just as corrupt as they are. Even in cases of really grotesque corruption, the kind that might cause a scandal in a less-corrupt government, the general population may not be shocked. Instead, they may cynically conclude that government corruption is natural and unavoidable. In this environment, the efforts of an honest politician to unmask corruption may be eroded by the public’s lack of interest, causing any efforts at reform to fail.

Bonus StructureIn this environment means “under these conditions.”

  1. Why do people in some countries not react negatively to corruption?
    • a. because they feel it cannot be avoided
    • b. because they want reform
    • c. because almost everyone in the government is corrupt
    • d. because they have paid money to gain influence
  2. What effect might a small scandal have in a country where government corruption is not typical?
    • a. It could make someone very popular.
    • b. It could cause a politician to become cynical.
    • c. It could cost a lot of money.
    • d. It could cause a government official to lose his or her position.
Answer Key
Answer Key
  1. c
  2. d
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