Can You Identify the Word If We Give You Three of Its Synonyms?

EDUCATION

Brittany Rowland

6 Min Quiz

Image: Stígur Már Karlsson /Heimsmyndir / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Think back long ago to when you were in elementary school and your teacher first introduced you to the thesaurus. Now, once you got over your initial disappointment that the thesaurus isn't a cool new dinosaur, you thought it was pretty nifty, dandy and super to have all the synonyms (and antonyms) you could ever need collected in one book! And today, because the Internet is so awesome, you can even pull up an online thesaurus with a few keystrokes, making it even easier to find the perfect word for every occasion.

Your teacher probably drilled it into your head that not all synonyms mean exactly the same thing. They're not interchangeable, in other words. You might describe a ballerina as delicate and graceful ⁠— perfectly acceptable descriptions. But if you used the synonyms frail, fragile or flimsy, you could wind up the unlucky recipient of a swift kick from a pointe shoe!

So if you have a surfeit, a glut, a deluge or a plethora of synonyms in your arsenal of words, you will no doubt ace this quiz and be able to brag to all your chums, buddies, cronies and comrades! 

Here are three synonyms: unobtrusive, discreet, unnoticeable. Can you identify the word?

"Inconspicuous" means not noticeable. Have you ever left an inconspicuous ding in your parents' car after borrowing it, and somehow they spotted it right away? How do they always do that?

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If we give you the synonyms scandalous, atrocious and heinous, can you identify the word?

"Egregious" means extraordinarily bad or flagrant. If you're going to make a mistake at work, it's best not to make an egregious one. A shocking or grievous one, maybe, but not egregious!

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Here are three synonyms: allay, lessen, mollify. What's the word?

To "mitigate" means to lessen or to make something less intense. While some people like to mitigate risks by taking proper precautions, others dive into situations without much forethought.

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Which word is a synonym with vague, equivocal and inconclusive?

The word "ambiguous" means open to multiple interpretations. People generally like movies to have clear-cut endings, but sometimes filmmakers challenge audiences with ambiguous conclusions.

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This word is synonymous with animosity, aversion and hostility. What is it?

"Antipathy" is an instinctive dislike of something. Perhaps a friend of yours has an antipathy for earthworms and runs away shrieking if you dangle one in her face. It's only a harmless worm!

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Three synonyms are philanthropic, compassionate and generous. What's the word?

A "benevolent" person shows goodwill toward others. Many people consider parenthood a benevolent dictatorship because while Mom and Dad make the rules, they have the kids' best interest at heart.

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Can you choose the right word if we give you the synonyms power, influence and sway?

"Clout" is strong influence, particularly in the realm of politics. Someone who has clout with the city council might be successful at having all the potholes in the neighborhood filled promptly.

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Three synonyms for this word are apogee, pinnacle and acme. What's the word?

An "apex" is the highest point or a climax. Ambitious people strive to reach — and remain at — the apex of their career. Lots of people are climbing to Mt. Everest's apex these days.

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Which word has the synonyms rash, foolhardy and thoughtless?

"Imprudent" means the opposite of wise. In "The Sandlot," the boys imprudently chew tobacco before riding the carnival ride. Still, they learn a lesson that will stick with them for-ev-er!

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If we give you the synonyms profitable, worthwhile and fruitful, can you identify the word?

Something that's "lucrative" is profitable and brings in money. For instance, if you're going to develop a website, you hopefully want to make it lucrative so you can start raking in the moolah.

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Which word has the synonyms pliable, supple and flexible?

"Malleable" means adaptable or moldable. When you're baking cookies, the dough should be malleable so you can roll it out with a rolling pin. Otherwise, you might've done something wrong!

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Resolute, unyielding and persistent are synonyms of which word?

"Tenacious" is a strong word meaning persistent or holding fast. So the next time someone complains that you're as stubborn as an ox, you can take comfort in the idea that they meant to say "tenacious."

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Which word has the synonyms buttress, fortify and bolster?

"Reinforce" means to strengthen. Nothing reinforces a new skill like hours of practice, whether it's perfecting a free throw shot or mastering a tricky classical piece on the piano.

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This word is synonymous with vulnerable, prone and liable. What is it?

"Susceptible" means likely to be affected by something. For instance, during flu season doctors recommend that children, seniors and people susceptible to illness get their flu shot.

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Disintegrate, wither and succumb are all synonyms for which word?

To "perish" means to die or be destroyed. Over 1,500 passengers perished when the "Titanic" sank in icy Atlantic waters in 1912, but Jack and Rose's love will never perish, not even in death!

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Here are three synonyms: consternation, disillusionment, chagrin. What's the word?

"Dismay" means to perturb or dishearten. Much to our dismay, it is not socially acceptable for adults to don Halloween costumes and go trick-or-treating, no matter our intense love of chocolate.

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Which word is synonymous with avid, fervent and passionate?

"Ardent" means passionate or zealous. When you spend hours creating a costume based on your favorite superhero character to wear to Comic-Con, it's fair to call you an ardent fan.

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This word has the synonyms rapacious, insatiable and ravenous. Which word is it?

"Voracious" is a cool word because it can describe a hearty appetite or zealous love of something. For instance, you can be a voracious reader and a voracious eater of bonbons at the same time!

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This word is synonymous with aggravate, provoke and intensify. What is it?

To "exacerbate" is to aggravate. For example, if you already have a piercing headache, listening to kids squabbling over a toy will only exacerbate your pain and raise it to migraine-level.

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Here are three synonyms: ruin, harm, impair. What's the word?

"Mar" means to damage or impair. Nothing mars your dream vacation more than foul weather, poor hotel service, cancelled flights, lost luggage and any other inconvenience you can think of.

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Which word means the same as discharge, flow and seepage?

"Secretion" is the process by which a cell or gland releases a substance. Our salivary secretions spike dramatically when we come home from an intense workout and smell burgers cooking on the grill.

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This word has the synonyms deft, capable and proficient. What's the word?

An "adept" person is an expert at something. When we go out to eat, we always hope the servers are adept at balancing multiple plates on their arms ⁠— particularly when they pass by us.

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Which word means nearly the same as languid, listless and lackadaisical?

"Lethargic" means drowsy or sluggish. It never fails that we feel lethargic after eating a large meal at Thanksgiving. But it's a sacrifice we're willing to make to show our gratitude!

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Which word has the synonyms surrender, acknowledge and accept?

To "concede" means to admit something, such as a defeat. After an election, the losing party is expected to concede the winner's victory. We concede that pajamas are not approved daytime attire.

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Three synonyms are enrich, nurture and promote. What's the word?

"Cultivate" means to foster or to help to grow. You can cultivate a richer vocabulary by reading constantly, whether it's books, magazines, newspapers or the backs of cereal boxes!

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Which word has the synonyms alluring, enticing and mouthwatering?

Something "tantalizing" arouses your desires, like a luscious chocolate cake. As punishment, poor Tantalus couldn't reach the fruit above him or the water below him in Greek mythology.

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Which word has the synonyms frugal, miserly and selfish?

Someone who's "stingy" is not generous. In Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," Ebenezer Scrooge is the classic stingy miser who learns the error of his ways from three ghosts. Bah, humbug!

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This word has the similar words reversal, opposite and contradiction. What is it?

An "inversion" is a reversal of position or order. Yoda from Star Wars is the master of speech inversion, which adds to his mystique as a wise Jedi Master. Mixing up syntax he does!

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Here are three synonyms: rowdy, unruly, boisterous. What's the word?

"Rambunctious" means wild, noisy or hard to control. Puppies, kittens and young children hopped up on sugar are known for being rambunctious, as are sports fanatics at critical games.

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If you have the synonyms austere, bleak and desolate, can you come up with the word?

No, we're not talking about "Game of Thrones." "Stark" means harsh or extremely simple. Many people who visit old log cabins are surprised by the stark accommodations. Really, no Wi-Fi in here?

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Which word has the synonyms resent, covet and begrudge?

To "envy" is to covet something belonging to another. In "Toy Story," Woody envies Buzz Lightyear when he replaces Woody as Andy's favorite toy. Still, pushing someone out the window is not the answer!

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Which word has the synonyms squander, bankrupt and drain?

To "deplete" means to use something up. After depleting your resources in the zombie apocalypse, you will be forced to make a run to the store, where the undead love to congregate.

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This word means nearly the same as plethora, fruitfulness and overabundance. What is it?

A "cornucopia" is an overflowing abundance, named after the horn of Amalthea that never ran out of food or drink. We'd love a cornucopia of snacks and beverages at our Super Bowl parties.

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Here are three words that mean nearly the same thing: capricious, flighty and unpredictable. What's the word?

"Fickle" means easily changeable. Teachers often call Romeo of "Romeo and Juliet" fickle, because he's mooning over Rosalind one day and obsessed with Juliet the next. We all know how that ends!

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This word has the synonyms articulate, expressive and stirring. What's the word?

Someone who's "eloquent" uses forceful or expressive speech. Not everyone's eager to give public speeches ⁠— okay, some actually dread it! But put in that position, we all hope to be eloquent.

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