Part of speech:
(Adjectives are describing words, like “large” or “late.”
They can be used in two ways:
1. Right before a noun, as in “a varnished image.”
2. After a linking verb, as in "The image was varnished.”)
Varnish is a coating that you put on something to protect it and make it glossy. To varnish something is to do that: to put on that glossy, protective covering.
Abstractly, when you varnish something, or when something is varnished or has a varnish, that means it's been covered up to just seem nice on the outside.
Let's also consider "unvarnished." Something unvarnished has NOT been disguised with a glossy outer coating: the flaws are easy to see, and that's refreshingly honest.
Other forms (besides those mentioned above):
How to use it:
Talk about varnishing something, varnishing over something, or putting a varnish on something. "Stop varnishing over the problems your idea has." Something can seem varnished, or something can have a varnish (or have a varnish of something.) "I have a feeling I'm only being told the varnished truth here." "It's a bad album, but it has a varnish of catchy sound effects."
You might emphasize that the disguise is unconvincing by saying "a thin varnish" or that the disguise is sloppy or heavy-handed by saying "a thick varnish."
For the opposite, "unvarnished," talk about unvarnished opinions, unvarnished feedback, or the unvarnished truth; an unvarnished explanation, an unvarnished report, or an unvarnished treatment of a subject, etc. You might also do something "without varnish:" "Long ago, LiveJournal was the place to read your friends' musings, presented without varnish."
Her paper has a scholastic varnish--a standard font, regulation margin widths, impeccably punctuated citations in APA format--but the ideas it presents would never be taken seriously by a respected journal.
At my grandmother's funeral out in east Tennessee, my family and I were deeply moved by the beautiful, unvarnished performance of a live bluegrass band.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "varnished” means when you can explain it without saying “having a pretty disguise" or “nice only on the surface."
Think of something you dislike because it seems showy, and fill in the blanks: "I wonder what would happen if we took _(the thing that you dislike)_ and stripped off the varnish--_(the showy outer parts)_."
Example: "I wonder what would happen if we took a typical web page these days and stripped off the varnish--all those huge banners, trendy fonts, and sleek buttons demanding our compliance. Would it still be a page worth visiting?"
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month's game content is protected by a copyright, so I can't reprint the trivia questions here--but check out the thoughtful and thorough reference book that I got them from: Last Words of Notable People!
A Point Well Made:
Yutang Lin: "The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach."
1. One opposite of VARNISHED could be
2. _____ can leave you craving unvarnished conversation with your closest friends.
A. A week of job interviews and corporate dinners with people you must impress
B. An afternoon of laughing and reminiscing with your cousins
C. An hour on the phone with utility companies
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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