Choose the Uncommon Word That Completes the Sentence

Emily Maggrett

Image: ozgurdonmaz/E+/GettyImages

About This Quiz

The English language offers scores of incredible adjectives, from "abstruse" to "uxorious". Yet we often confine our daily speech to descriptors like "good", "bad", "cool" and "OK". How dull, I mean vanilla.

If you're hungry to trot out your vocabulary's full arsenal, this is the quiz for you! We not "going into detail", we're getting ratiocinative. We're not testing you on your "book learnin'"; we want to know if you're erudite.

The adjectives in this quiz describe people who talk too much, people with beautiful eyes, dogs who go off-leash and benefactors who give, give, give. We've got words for describing gloominess, weird herbs, animals who only go out in the twilight and architecture that's overly fancy.

Even if you killed it on your SATs, we bet you'll pick up a new word or two from taking this quiz. If not, you'll be reminded of a few old favorites! Simply choose the right adjective to complete each sentence.

What are you waiting for? Are you boetian, bogglish, torpid or plebian? Don't be dilatory — cast aside your trepidation and quiz it up!


She feels _________ about her big test tomorrow.

Trepidatious is an adjective that's a synonym for "nervous or fearful". It's from the Latin word trepidare, which means to be agitated or tremble. When you're about to take a big test, ride a roller coaster or ask your boss for a raise, you probably feel just a little bit trepidatious.

Sometimes he gets bored by his _________ routine.

Quotidian is an adjective that's a synonym for "daily, routine or mundane". It's another English word with a Latin origin. Doing the dishes, making your bed and walking your Labrador are all quotidian activities.

Her uncle is _________ ; he never stops talking.

Sesquipedalian is an adjective that's a synonym for "long-winded", like a speech at a wedding that goes on forever. It's sometimes also used to describe long words. If you studied for the SATs, you probably memorized a lot of sesquipedalian words.

Luckily, her aunt is _________, so she doesn't mind how sesquipedalian her uncle is.

Loquacious is an adjective that's a synonym for "talkative". It's from the Latin word loqui, which means to talk. If you know someone who never stops talking, think of them as loquacious (but don't tell them that to their face).

His cat is _________; he's always scrapping with other kitties.

Pugnacious is an adjective that's a synonym for "ready to fight". It's from the Latin word pugnus, which means fist. That's why boxers are sometimes called pugilists.

Her pug Charles is _________; he's always jerking on his leash.

Contumacious is an adjective that's a synonym for "rebellious". It especially applies to people or animals who act disobedient to authority. Bart Simpson, Zach Morris and Lisbeth Salander are all contumacious (and so are some pugs).

The apartment building's gargoyles are awfully _________.

Rococo is an adjective that was first applied to a 18th century European art movement. Later, it came to refer to any art, architecture, food, etc. which has delicate and elaborate qualities.

If you're _________ of Instagram models, remember that they use special lighting to achieve those results!

It sounds like an adjective that describes people who look like emus, but emulous comes from the verb emulate, which means "to seek to imitate".

The chef at this restaurant loves using _________ herbs, like lovage.

Recherché means "rare, or hard to find". It's a borrowed word from the French, where it's the past participle of rechercher, which means "to search". This term is also closely related to the word "research".

She's thinking of dumping her boyfriend because his political opinions are so _________.

Jejune means "naive, simple or superficial". It's a negative adjective that you can use to describe any opinion or work which lacks depth. For instance, some people think the "High School Musical" movies are jejune.

The _________ professor, after finishing her Ted Talk, stayed in the audience to hear the next guest speaker.

Erudite means "learned or well-read". Anyone who has been well-educated, or who reads and researches widely, can be described as erudite, from the Professor on Gilligan's Island to Neil deGrasse Tyson.

He's a specialist in _________ music theory and owns a quadraphonic sound system.

Abstruse means "difficult to understand". Use this adjective when merely calling something "obscure" or "abstract" won't do. Abstruse carries both meanings!

Watch out for that _________ crow, he might peck you!

Bellicose means "aggressive". It comes from the Latin word "bellum", which means war. Crows can sometimes get bellicose with humans if they think you are attacking them. But they're intelligent creatures and will remember if you do them a kindness, such as feeding them.

The military academy relaxed some of its more _________ rules in the '70s.

Draconian is an adjective derived from the name of Draco, an ancient Greek law scribe who wrote some very severe laws. It means "unnecessarily harsh" and is usually used to describe unreasonable rules. Perhaps Draco Malfoy, from the Harry Potter series, is also named in reference to the original Draco.

Christopher Nolan's "Batman" is positively _________.

Saturnine means "dark, mysterious and gloomy". This adjective derives from Middle Ages-era French astrology, which described people born under Saturn as having these qualities. While Christopher Nolan's "Batman" films are very well-regarded, you have to admit they're rather Saturnine, especially compared to Tim Burton's Batman movies.

He wove the basket from _________ reeds.

Pliant mean "flexible". It is usually used to refer to materials that bend easily, such as reeds or young wood. Sometimes it is also used to describe people who are easy to manipulate. In that case, the meaning is not as positive or neutral as adjectives like "flexible" or "agreeable"; a pliant person is considered to be weak-willed.

In "American Hustle", Christian Bale plays an _________ con man.

Unctuous means "oily"; it can also mean "excessively flattering or ingratiating". It's a great word for describing any con artist, especially Christian Bale's character in "American Hustle", who gets entangled with the mob, the FBI AND local government.

You could call Jimmy Stewart's character in "It's a Wonderful Life" _________, but we think he's sweet.

Uxorious means "to love one's wife excessively". It's a mystery why anyone would think this was an important adjective to invent, but the answer to that is lost in the mists of history. Regardless, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed make a cute couple as George and Mary Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life".

If you don't know how to end conversations with your _________ coworker, try pretending you're late for a meeting.

Garrulous is yet another old-fashioned adjective that means "overly chatty". We can only guess that talking too much was a real faux pas in ancient times. Garrulous is an especially mean thing to call someone, since it specifically means "overly chatty about topics that don't matter".

Spooky animals like owls are often _________.

Crepuscular animals are animals that are most active at twilight, such as owls, cats, bats, wombats, skunks and foxes. Some of these animals are crepuscular because it helps them avoid predators, others don't like the heat and still others prefer twilight because its their favored hunting time. Either way, it gives us the shivers!

Your college years are _________; might as well enjoy them!

Fugacious means "short, fleeting". It comes from the Latin word fugit, which means "to flee". Hence the phrase "Tempus fugit," or "time flies". The term "fugitive" also comes from fugit.

Some people think oysters can make you feel _________.

"Amat" means love in Latin, and amatory is an adjective used to refer to desire, especially sexual desire. Oysters are said to make people feel amatory, as well as chocolate, figs, wine and honey. Luckily, regardless of whether these romantic foods work, they're delicious.

To impress your manager, try not to be _________!

Dilatory means "tardy or late". It's actually related to the same Latin word that "delay" comes from. Either way, while it's fine to be dilatory when it comes to social events, being dilatory at work can get you in trouble!

The tomatoes swelled in the rain, becoming _________.

Turgid means "swollen", but it can also mean "pompous". Think of an extremely long and dramatic movie with endless shots of troops fighting, people crying, snow falling on mountains, etc. That's a movie you can describe as "turgid".

Her arteries, unfortunately, are _________.

Sclerotic means "hardened". It can refer to people who have sclerosis, but also to anyone or anything that has hardened over time in an unhealthy way. For instance, certain institutions may be sclerotic in their requirements. A person who refuses to adapt to society may also be called sclerotic.

Eating leafy greens daily is considered _________.

Salubrious means "healthy". It comes from the Latin word salus, which means "health". In some European languages, such as Spanish and Italian, people say "salute" or "salud" when drinking together. This is because they're toasting each other's health.

The _________ foundation gave a large grant to Doctors Without Borders.

Munificent means "generous," and it's one of the more pleasant adjectives on this quiz! Use this adjective to describe any person or institution that gives generously to those in need.

In today's society, the importance of civil rights is finally starting to become seen as _________.

Axiomatic means "self-evident or unquestionable". It's an English word with a Greek root, as it is a concept related to philosophy. This adjective is used to describe axioms, or widely accepted truths, such as, "The earth is round," or, "Gravity exists".

His Ted Talk was dull; totally _________.

A platitude is a banal statement. If you call someone "platitudinous", you mean that they say a lot of banal things, such as "the children are our future" or "let's think outside the box".

The lawyer cleverly presented his evidence, letting the jury work out its _________ implications.

Tacit means "implied, rather than directly stated". People often have tacit understandings or unspoken agreements. Tacit comes from the Latin word tacere, which means "be silent".

The CEO doesn't care to discuss _________ daily processes with her staff; she's more concerned with long-term strategic planning.

Picayune means "unimportant or petty". This word has an odd origin. It derives from the French name for an early 19th century Piedmontese copper coin, which had little value. People in Provençal called this coin a "picaioun", and somehow this word became the adjective we use today.

For a happy marriage, both partners must give up on being _________, at least when it comes to trivial matters.

Intransigent means "uncompromising". While we don't recommend that anyone compromise on their safety or principles, it's easier to get along with others when they're not intransigent about unimportant matters, such as choosing which restaurant to dine at.

The movie star's eyes were like _________ pools.

Limpid means "clear and serene". Victorian men often compared their love interests' eyes to "limpid pools", but anyone's eyes can be described as "limpid pools" if they have a calm, placid look.

At first, Darth Vader found the rebels' attempts to destroy Emperor Palpatine's empire to be _________.

Risible means "laughable". It's an adjective that carries a lot of contempt. Use risible when you want an adjective that's even meaner and fancier than "ludicrous".

Many people think that $40,000 handbags are more _________ than chic.

Meretricious means "flashy or tacky". People in the 18th and 19th centuries used to use this adjective as a sick burn. You could try using it as a sick burn today, but the person you were insulting would have to also know the meaning of meretricious.

The _________ parrot wouldn't stop shrieking.

Rebarbative means "irritating or unattractive". A parrot that won't shut up is rebarbative, but so is a garish building or unkind person. This is an equal opportunity adjective; you can use it to describe almost anything you don't like.

The Caribbean water looked clear, blue and _________.

Effulgent means "shining and/or full of light". Use effulgent when you want to describe a beautifully lit room, a magnificent piece of golden jewelry or a sunny day. Sometimes, people also use effulgent to describe others who are morally good.

Never use _________ language in a work email; instead, negotiate politely for what you want.

Minatory means "threatening". No one likes threatening language or behavior, especially not in email form! The best emails are short, polite and to the point. However, despite the unpleasant circumstances it describes, minatory is still a fun adjective to use.

The houseplant's leaves looked _________ — had she forgotten to water it?

Friable sounds like an adjective for chicken, but it means "brittle". It comes from a Latin verb that means "to crumble". This adjective is most often used to describe soil or rock.

The YouTube how-to video had too much _________ information; she would have preferred a shorter tutorial that got to the point faster.

Recondite means "little known or obscure". This adjective can be used to describe important secret information, but it can also be used to describe unimportant information that few people are interested in. Some YouTube software tutorials make you listen to a lot of recondite about the program you're interested in before telling you what you need to know.

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