While the author’s first book was substantial and well-documented, he seems to have run out of material; the followup is mere __________.
You need two words that contrast with substantial and match the idea of running out of material. Claptrap is “pretentious but insincere language,” and dross is “refuse, garbage.” Pith and possibly marrow are a strange pair — pith is “the essence,” and marrow (the substance inside of bones) can sometimes be used metaphorically in a similar way (to “suck the marrow out of life”), but it wouldn’t make sense to say that a book lacks substance if it does, in fact, contain the most important parts.
Lady Astor once commented to Winston Churchill, “If I were married to you, I’d put poison in your coffee.” Churchill’s famous __________: “Nancy, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.”
You need two words describing a witty comeback. Retort and rejoinder are perfect. Recrimination is too strong. A witty reply is not an anecdote, nor is it an aphorism or maxim (which, like proverbs, contain some general truth or wisdom and do not have to be funny).
While the professor first achieved renown for the theory he devised single-handedly during the early days of his career, his later contributions were achieved in a more ________ manner.
The pivot word while tells you that the later contributions were achieved in a manner opposite to “single-handedly.” You need two words that mean “cooperative.” Note that trap answers solitary and unilateral are the opposite of what you need, and collusive has the wrong spin — to collude is to “cooperate for illegal or fraudulent purposes.”
The new particles produced by CERN’s Large Hadron Collider are __________, lasting a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second before disintegrating into photons, quarks, or other particles.
Something lasting a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second is “very shortlived.” Ephemeral and fleeting have just this meaning. In real life, the particles may be small (infinitesimal), there may be a lot of them (myriad, countless), and they may bring a tear to the eye of a few scientists (poignant), but none of these are indicated by clues in the sentence.
Theology was once regarded as the “Queen of the Sciences,” because every subject eventually had to meet its demands, but two hundred years ago that honor and title fell to mathematics, which enjoys __________ over not only physical science but social science as well.
Just as once every subject eventually had to meet (theology’s) demands, now not only physical science but social science must meet mathematics’ demands. This suggests that mathematics enjoys something like “rule” over these fields; the phrase Queen of the Sciences suggests the same, and perhaps a sort of “autocratic rule.” Hegemony usually describes the “dominance of one state over others,” but can also mean “the dominance of one social group, political party, etc.” Dominance will also work. If you anticipated precisely the word autocratic, autonomy might be attractive, but it doesn’t actually work: autocratic describes government by a single person with unlimited powers, while autonomy means “self-governance.”
Jefferson regarded sumptuous living as among the most __________ evils to threaten the young republic, more pernicious even than loyalty to the deposed empire.
The “evils” described by this word are “more pernicious” than … well, it doesn’t even really matter — you want a word like pernicious. Perhaps “very bad.” Grievous, which means “causing grief,” or “very harmful,” will work. Baneful is an even closer synonym to pernicious. Note the trap word epicurean, which relates to fine food and wine (and thus to this sentence), but which is positive and does not fit the blank.
The cult members treated their leader with _________ loyalty that verged on the obsessive and made them willing, should the need ever arise, to do so much as lay down their lives for him.
A fanatical, a zealous.
The loyalty of the cult members verged on the obsessive and thus was extremely intense. You’re looking for words similar in meaning to “extreme,” or “diehard.” Fanatical and zealous are best here.
The amount of self-abasement with which the inmate __________ the probation panel to be set free verged on the humiliating; nevertheless, the judges remained unmoved and he was ultimately sent back to his cell to serve another three years.
The inmate is “begging, pleading, imploring” the probation panel to be set free. Beseeched and supplicated are closest to this meaning.