Quiz: Can You Get More Than 11 Right on This Intense SAT Vocab Test?: HowStuffWorks
Can You Get More Than 11 Right on This Intense SAT Vocab Test?
6 Min Quiz
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About This Quiz
Having a rich, well-developed vocabulary is not just the act of memorization. The knowledge and understanding of language is a crucial part of this ability. So much so, that vocabulary in and of itself can be a measure of intellect and is tested on the SATs. Although this quiz is for entertainment purposes only, you may learn some interesting language tips along the way. It can help keep your vocabulary in tip-top shape.
Do you know your Greek or Latin roots? How about prefixes and suffixes? Are you someone who likes knowing where a word comes from? Vocabulary is built on all of these things. In fact, learning a new language is easier if you understand the basic breakdown of a word. And with a strong vocabulary, most people find it easier to think more precisely and have the ability to grasp ideas more quickly. Whether it's defining a word, a synonym or describing a situation, you're sure to excel (a word that comes from the Latin word "excellere," "ex" meaning out, beyond and "celsus" meaning lofty) at this quiz. Start it now and see if you can claim the vocabulary crown!
What body part does the word "epidermal" refer to?
"Dermis" is the Greek word for skin. Your "epidermis" is the upper layer of skin. This term debuted in the English language in the early 19th century. Now you'll never fall victim to the "you're epidermis is showing" prank ever again!
What does a "heretic" do?
Heresy used to be a serious sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church. A heretic was someone who rejected church doctrine. These days, you'll hear it used in metaphoric ways; a heretic might reject popular political opinions, for example. Her thoughts about immigration made her a heretic in her community.
"Fidelity" generally means ______.
So why are good sound systems referred to as "high fidelity?" Because recordings played on them have a great deal of "faithfulness" to the original sound.
Which of these is the best synonym for "corroborate?"
Stories or witness accounts often get "corroborated." This is the addition of another story or evidence that supports the original. The movie theater usher had corroborating evidence that the two kids skipped school to watch the newest superhero movie.
Which of these is the best definition of "obliterate?"
If you chose "read carefully," you were probably confused by the wholesale inclusion of "literate." It's true; the original meaning had to do with blotting out written letters. Although the dinosaurs would argue that they were obliterated long before writing existed.
Which of these is the definition of "praline?"
Welcome to the posh part of the quiz! All four options above are tres elegant, but only one is the meaning of "praline:" the candy made with brown sugar and almonds or pecans. Why yes, I'll have an order of praline pecan ice cream!
Which of these is closest to the meaning of "penance?"
"Penance" is, not surprisingly, closely related to "penitence." It's an action or actions one performs to make up for past misdeeds. The judge ordered the criminal to pay penance for his crime by doing 300 hours of community service.
Someone "pensive" is:
A pensive person might be in love or in mourning, but the one thing we know for sure is that he or she is thinking hard. Before the big cross-country move, you're bound to be somewhat pensive.
Which of these is closest in meaning to the word "recess?"
You might remember this from school days, when play breaks were called "recess." However, recesses can be physical as well as temporal. Recessed lighting is set back in an alcove.
Something "consecrated" is:
You might have noticed the (roundabout) resemblance to the word "sacred." Church buildings, altars and baptism fonts are all "consecrated:" dedicated to a religious purpose (although it can be dedicated to a non-religious purpose as well.) The battlefield was consecrated with the blood of brave soldiers.
A cretin is a:
Needless to say, this isn't a polite thing to call someone. Like many of our insults for less-than-bright people, it was originally a medical term: "cretinism" was an IQ low enough to make independent living difficult, like what we'd today call a "developmental delay."
What is a "foible?"
"Foibles" are minor character flaws. Don't try to pass off not having done your taxes for five years as a "foible!"
What is the best definition of "scintillating?"
This comes from "scintilla," meaning "spark" (in Latin, what else?) You'll often hear it used as "scintillating conversation."
"Lactose" is what kind of sugar?
In nutrition science, there are all kinds of sugars. Blood sugar is "glucose," and sugar from milk is "lactose," a term related to "lactation" (and, yes, "latte.") That's why when someone is lactose intolerant, they can't consume dairy products.
Which of these is a synonym for "lacerate?"
You'll hear this word in accident reports, which might refer to someone suffering "lacerations," which are cuts. Don't confuse it with "macerate," which is done to fruits in a kitchen.
Which of these is the closest synonym of "reprehensible?"
If a person has done something "reprehensible," they've done something really bad and worthy of punishment. For shame!
"Paramour" is a synonym for:
The lover in question is usually illicit. You really wouldn't call someone's college sweetheart a "paramour." Bob's paramour is also his barista.
What is a Francophile in love with?
As the name implies, "Francophiles" love all things French. Do Francophiles always pronounce "croissant" correctly? We sure hope so!
If someone is "prevaricating," what are they doing?
"Prevaricating" is one of those words we'd file under "not exactly lying," like a certain Olympic swimmer's admission that "I may have over-exaggerated" events in Rio. Someone who is "prevaricating" is "fudging" or playing fast and loose with the facts.
Which of these is the best definition of "quagmire?"
If you're familiar with "mire" as a synonym for "swamp," then this one should have made immediate sense. A "quagmire" is a metaphoric, not a literal, mess. It comes up a lot in news op-eds about lengthy wars.
What kind of a measurement is a "furlong?"
A furlong is one-eighth of a mile. It's a term often used in horse racing. Happy-Sunshine III beat Mary-Go-Round Rainbow by two furlongs!
What is the best definition of "optics?"
We bring this one up because "optics" has been hijacked in the past few years by media pundits; it's used to refer to the effect of a politician's public actions on his or her reputation. For a while, you couldn't turn on cable news without someone talking about the "optics" of a particular situation. However, it literally means having to do with vision, lenses and visual science.
Which of these is the best definition of "cohere?"
You'll hear this one more in its adjective form, "coherent." Or its opposite, "incoherent." The separate ingredients cohere when they bake to form a lovely loaf of bread.
What does "ossify" mean?
"Os" is the simple Latin word for "bone." "Ossify" can be literal, a medical process within the body, or figurative. For example: His grandfather's political opinions had ossified to the point where no one could alter them.
How is something "nebulous" best described?
Astronomy lovers will know this one from its root, "nebula," meaning the giant gas clouds in space. Something "nebulous" is therefore indefinite and hard to navigate. The plans for the vacation were still nebulous, as it was over a year away.
Is something is "arable," what is it capable of?
You'll hear this one most often as "arable land." For example, mountainous Japan is pointed to as being an extraordinary economic success for a country with so little arable land.
What is a "toxin?"
While "toxin" has become the darling of health gurus, it doesn't just mean "any unhealthy substance," much less "a substance that'll make you fat when eaten in excess" or "any polysyllabic ingredient." (Seriously, it's come to that.) If you really want to know if something is toxic, ask a chemist, not a blogger! The lead in the paint in your century-old home is toxic.
Something "noctilucent" does what at night?
The suffix "lucent" is synonymous with "luminous." Both have to do with shining. "Noct" has to do with "night." Sometimes you end up with a word that is simply a Latin prefix and suffix smashed together.
Which of these is the best synonym for "seminal?"
"Seminal" comes from the Latin word for "seed" (and yes, it's related to "semen.") However, it's almost always used metaphorically; a book that influenced an entire genre would be called "seminal."
Which of these is the best definition of "pidgin?"
A "pidgin" often arises when two people speak very little of each other's language. "Pidgin English" was often spoken by natives in countries colonized by the British.
An "abstemious" person has what characteristic?
"Abstemious" comes from the word "abstain," meaning to refrain from something pleasant. Wine, sex and rich food would all qualify. It is often the pillar of certain religious practices.
Which of these is the closest synonym to "viscid?"
You probably won't be surprised to learn this word is related to "vicosity." Both have to do with a thick, sticky or gluey consistency in a fluid. For instance, you could say that the slime was viscid and neon pink with green sparkles.
Which of these is the best definition of "quotidian?"
If you guessed this was related to the word "quota," props to you! A "quota" used to refer to a daily requirement or demand. Quotidian can mean something that happens every day, or it can simply mean something common.
Which of these is a synonym of "pulchritude?"
"Pulchra" is the Latin word for "beautiful." Is it just us, or is that kind of an unattractive word for a lovely concept?
What does "dipsomania" refer to?
This old-fashioned term for alcohol addiction has fallen out of favor, and that's probably a good thing. It makes it sound unintentionally funny, like the antics of a town drunk on a sitcom, instead of a life-threatening affliction.
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