Do You Have The Vocabulary Level of a Harvard Grad?

Allison Lips

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About This Quiz

English is a complex combination of influences. Practically every language on Earth has influenced English on some level. Before 1150, Greek, French, and Latin were dominant influences. While those languages never lost their stronghold on English vocabulary, English has evolved to include more words from Sanskrit, Russian, Arabic, Japanese, and Dutch.

Due to its diverse heritage, English also has a seemingly endless supply of synonyms. While you may feel like all these words solely exist so the College Board has material to use on the SATs, that obviously is not the reason. English's malleability and adaptability allow speakers to borrow words from any language during their quest for the perfect word for any given situation. 

English is constantly adding words as older ones fall out of favor. There are also words that only appear in legal documents or are used by people who want to feel smarter than everyone else. You might come across as insufferable if you stuffed every multisyllabic word you know into a sentence. However, it is still fun to learn more complex and unusual words. It adds color to our sentences. 

If you enjoy having fun with language, this quiz is for you! Find out whether you are a vocabulary expert or if you need to read a dictionary! 

What do you do if you condone something?

"Condone" first appeared in 1805 with the meaning to treat something as acceptable or harmless. It comes from the Latin word "condonare," which means to absolve.

If there's discord between two people, what is going on?

"Discord" can be used as a noun or a verb. It also means a harsh-sounding combination of musical sounds.

When something is abated, what happens to it?

The word "abate" dates back to the 14th century. It was adapted from the Anglo-French word "abatre," which means to "to reduce or put an end to."

If you're examining an item qualitatively, what are you looking for?

The first known use of "qualitative" is from 1607. Its origin is in the "qualitas" from Latin.

Something that is taut doesn't have any what?

"Taut" has multiple meanings. Aside from having no slack, it can also be used to describe someone high-strung or something extremely orderly.

What does the word viable mean?

"Viable" entered English from Latin via French. The work comes from the Latin word "vita," which influenced the Middle French word "vie," which means life.

If an ant spawns, what is it doing?

Spawn entered English in the 1400s. It comes from the Latin word "expandere," which means to expand.

Why would you trust someone who is scrupulous?

A scruple is also a unit of capacity equal to 1/14 an Apothecaries ounce. In Latin, a "scrupulus" was a unit of weight. The current word comes from the Middle English "scrupil."

What does it mean to repudiate something?

In the 1500s, English writers used the verb "repudiate" to mean "to divorce." This origin comes from the Latin noun "repudium," which specifically refers to the rejecting of a spouse.

What is the meaning of "acumen?"

In 1549, "acumen" entered English. It is borrowed from Latin, where it means "acuteness of mind."

If something eludes you, what does it do?

The earliest known usage of "elude" is form 1667. It was adapted from the Latin eludere.

Why might you not understand something that is esoteric?

Since its coinage, the meaning of "esoteric" has grown to include anything that is difficult to understand or is of unusual interest. The word comes from the Latin "esotericus."

Why might you not pay much attention to something that is prosaic?

"Prosaic" originally meant the ordinary form of language to separate it from poetry. It was first recorded in the 1690s with this definition.

If something is quixotic, it is what?

"Quixotic" comes from "Don Quijote," which was published in the 17th century. It was coined in the 18th to describe unrealistic idealists.

What does it mean to rescind an offer?

"Rescind" evolved from the Latin verb "scindere," which means "to cut." Related words are "exscind" and "prescind." The former means "to cut off," whereas the latter means "to withdraw attention from."

When someone goes on a tirade, what are they doing?

The word "tirade" entered English in 1802. It comes from the Italian word "tirata," which means to shoot.

A liquid that is "viscous," has what consistency?

"Viscous" was first used in the 1300s. It has origins in the Latin word "viscosus." "Viscosus" means full of birdlime, which is a sticky substance used to trap birds.

Why would an audience dislike a play that is trite?

In 1948, "trite" was first used. Synonyms for trite include hackneyed and threadbare.

Someone who is posh may look down at an uncouth person because?

The definition for "uncouth" has changed over the years. It original meant "familiar" or "known," but is rarely used that way anymore.

If you remain steadfast in your belief, you are what?

Before the 12th century, "steadfast" specifically referred to an object that could not be moved. The word originated as "stedefast" in Middle English.

Someone who is sage has a lot of what?

Both the herb and the synonym for wisdom entered English in the 14th century. While they both came from Anglo-French, the former comes from the Anglo-French word "sage." The latter originated in the Latin word "sapere," which means to be wise.

What is a prolific author known for?

Originally, "prolific" was used to describe a plant that produced an abundance of fruit. It was used in the same was as fruitful.

If you have a plethora of something, what do you have?

In 1541, the first use of "plethora" in English was documented. It comes from the Greek "plethora," which means fullness.

If something is motley, it's made up of what?

As an adjective, "motley" entered English in the 14th century. The word is also used to describe fabric with many colors.

Why would someone dislike a maudlin song?

"Maudlin" also means drunk enough to be silly. The first use of this definition was in 1509.

What does it mean when someone is lackadaisical?

Lackadaisical was created in 1768. Synonyms include languid, spiritless, and listless.

When something is done jocularly, what is it?

Jocular was first documented in 1626. It comes from the Latin word "jocularis."

What is a reporter who is described as intrepid?

In 1680, "intrepid" entered English. The word is a combination of the prefix "in-" and "trepidus." It is Latin for not alarmed.

If someone describes a gymnast as lithe, what is the gymnast?

"Lithe" also means easily bent. This meaning developed in the 14th century. Lithe evolved from the Old English word for gentle.

What does it mean to "incubate" a project?

In 1641, "incubate" entered the English language. The word's original meaning is to sit on an egg to provide worth until it hatches.

Why is an idyllic countryside notable?

It was first recorded in 1856. Synonyms include unspoiled and pastoral.

Why would you describe something as garish?

"Garish" was first recorded in 1545. Originally it simply meant dressed in vivid colors.

If something is expedient, what is it?

In 1630, expedient became a noun. Earlier, it was used as adjective that meant something was appropriate to end a particular circumstance.

When you divulge a piece of information, what do you do?

In the 1400s, "divulge" meant to declare publicly. This meaning was derived from the Latin "divulgare," which means to make known.

When you concur, what are you doing?

The current usage of "concur" can trace its origins to the Middle English "concurren." "Concurren" was derived from "concurrere," which is Latin. These words all mean to be in agreement.

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