In 1929, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then governor of New York, was chief marshal at Commencement and delivered an address that in some ways presaged his presidency. Back in Cambridge for his 25th reunion, Roosevelt told the graduates:
"May I add a personal plea to the Class of 1929. We have long suffered throughout the nation from the disinclination of educated men to take part in public affairs. This has resulted in part from a tendency to sneer at a certain type of so-called politician, and in part from a lack of definitive human interest in questions of government. Too often the tendency is to let government, both local and state and national, take its own course just so long as it does not interfere with the business, convenience, or pleasure of the individual. I do not mean for a moment that taking an interest in public service is a life task or a profession. It is rather an avocation which should be entered into by every man as a part, great or small, of his daily life.
certain (NAMED) Show phonetics
adjective [before noun] FORMAL
named but neither famous nor known well:
I had lunch today with a certain George Michael - not the George Michael, I should explain.
sneer Show phonetics
verb [I or T]
to talk about or look at someone or something in an unkind way that shows you do not respect or approve of them:
You may sneer, but a lot of people like this kind of music.
She'll probably sneer at my new shoes because they're not expensive.
[+ speech] "Is that the best you can do?" he sneered.
noun [C] DISAPPROVING
an unkind facial expression which shows your lack of respect or approval of someone or something:
"How much did you say you earned last year - was it fifteen thousand?" she said with a sneer.
rude and not showing respect:
I don't like that superior, sneering tone of his.
(from Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)
The noun has one meaning:Meaning #1: an auxiliary activity
Synonyms: by-line, hobby, sideline, spare-time activity
IN BRIEF: n. - An auxiliary activity.
Tutor's tip: Having an "avocation" (activity in addition to regular work) for stamp collecting sometimes creates an "evocation" (state of calling to mind) of past eras.