An English Language Expert Should Be Able to Get 29/35 on This Quiz. Can You?


By: Monica Lee

6 Min Quiz

Image: skynesher / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

If you are well-versed in Latin or have a good grasp on European languages, then this quiz is for you. You may also do well if you have a comprehensive and sophisticated vocabulary, as this test is peppered with words of medium to advanced difficulty. Unfortunately, for those without these achievements and capabilities, it can be an arduous and Herculean task to command a high score. 

Be prepared to disassemble words into their roots, prefixes and suffixes. Then, you'll scrutinize the options and make the best possible decision. A score of 29 or above will corroborate your mastery of vocabulary. And we will be pleased to call you an expert. 

Some questions will be helpful in that clues will be provided within the query itself, while others may require a hint to help you verify the correct answer. From abstruse (difficult to understand) to enervate (wear down mentally) it will take indefatigable effort (unflagging vitality) to be on the winning side of this quiz. If we haven't frightened you yet, and you can see through our scare tactics, then you're ready to take the quiz. Do it now and let us bequeath the honor of Language Expert when you procure your high score.  

His adroit replies to hecklers won him many followers. What is another way to say "adroit"?

If you've ever studied French, you know that droit means "right," both as in "right of free speech" and "left and right." Adroit means both.


Siblings, spouses, or friends who are not speaking to each other may use "inexorable" to describe the person. What does it mean?

From Latin, inexorable means not pliant. When your spouse or sibling is impervious to pleas, persuasion, requests, or reason, you may say that person is resolutely inexorable.


When you hear "husbandry," what do you think of?

If you cultivate the land or breed animals, you are practicing husbandry. If you're versed in Old English, this word started In the 1300s with another word, “husbandman,” and came to mean a farmer.


To "enfranchise" is to do what?

This word can be traced back to Old French when the combination of "en," meaning "make, put in," and enfranchir, meaning "to set or make free," came together to mean a group of people given the right to vote, or "to admit to membership in a state."


The latest machinations are not sly or shrewd or clever. What phrase can be used to describe "machinations"?

Machination derives from the Medieval French, machina, meaning "machine." However, the word describes a crafty and involved plot to achieve usually sinister ends. It's a bit like intrigue.


If you have "panache," you have ...

Panache is a word of French origin that carries the connotation of flamboyant manner and reckless courage. Specifically, from Middle French, it meant "a tuft or plume of feathers." Today, it means distinctive and stylish elegance.


She was unabashed about her relationship with a convicted felon. What other word could you use for "unabashed"?

In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, abash meant "perplex, embarrass, lose one's composure". Thus the opposite of that means not embarrassed.


"Indefatigable" is another way of saying ...

In Latin, it was possible to defatigare or "to tire out," but only the negative version (prefixed with in- ) entered the English language through French.


Here's a hint: "Impugn" has a Latin root. What is another way to say this word?

The root of impugn is the Latin, "pugnare," which means "to fight." So when you impugn, you are fighting or attacking the idea or statement by saying that it's false or wrong.


What's uncanny, is how you have breezed through these questions. What does "uncanny" mean?

The word canny means "cunning" or "sly." However "uncanny" means mischievous, strange or mysterious in a strange way.


The definition of "malinger" is easy when identifying the root word. What does it mean?

Malinger comes from the French, "malingre," which can mean "ailing or sickly," One theory says that mal, or "wrongly," suggests the sick person is just faking it.


When "mileu" is discussed, what exactly is being described?

From French, "milieu" means middle place. A milieu is both the surroundings and everything that makes up the surroundings. Sometimes a milieu shapes a person, as when a "milieu of abuse and poverty" inspires someone to improve things for others.


At comedy clubs, you might hear "invective" language. What is a synonym for this word?

Invective comes from the Latin for "abusive." If a comedian is on a rant about how stupid people are, he or she might spew invective language before getting to the punch line.


When would you use "ineffable"?

The Latin root of "ineffable" comes from "ineffabilis," which joins the prefix "in," meaning "not," with the adjective "effabilis," meaning "capable of being expressed." Together it means incapable of description.


It doesn't necessarily mean that it's not as it appears to be, only that there's a possibility of another reason. Which word describes this definition?

From French, "ostensible" means something is capable of being shown, or presentable. Here's an example in a sentence: “His ostensible purpose was charity; his real goal was popularity."


It could be your little brother or it could be a conflict, but you might use intractable to describe it. What's another word for "intractable"?

The Latin root word, "tract," means “drag” or “pull,” so something that is intractable is difficult to manage.


Though "officious" sounds like official, what does it really mean?

When the suffix, -osus ("full of"), is added to "officium," the Latin word officiosus came into being. It means"eager to serve, help, or perform a duty," but in an annoyingly eager way that is more than what is required.


We hope you don't think this quiz will be abstruse. What does "abstruse" mean?

Abstruse things are difficult to understand because they are so deep and intellectually challenging. But that's for ordinary people, not those who know languages. The root word, abstusu,s is taken from Latin, meaning "hidden, concealed, or secret."


We may resort to dilatory tactics so you don't go through this quiz so quickly. What does "dilatory" mean?

This word comes from the Latin root word, "dilator," which means someone who puts things off, or a procrastinator. So dilatory tactics would be tactics used to delay. Or in this case, we might use harder words, so you have to consider the options for a longer time.


She was an independent and often irascible author. What is "irascible"?

Irascible comes from the Latin root "ira," which means "anger" or "rage," the same root that gives us the word ire, "anger." However, the "sc" in the middle of irascible, means "becoming." So the anger hasn't exploded yet.


The chief librarian could be considered a "martinet." How would you define that word?

Martinet was coined after General Jean Martinet (died in 1672) who invented the military drills. He was a stickler for rules and regulations. Martinet is also used to describe someone who stubbornly adheres to methods or rules.


Are you willing to abrogate your responsibilities? How would you define "abrogate"?

"Abrogate" comes from the Latin root rogare, which means to propose a law. When combined with "ab," which means "from" or "away," it means to abolish by authoritative action.


"Hoi polloi" doesn't even look like a word, but it is. What does it mean?

This may be Greek to you, but hoi polloi was originally written in Greek letters. It means the people, the general public, the common man, the masses, or simply, hoi polloi.


I will express my obdurate singularity at any cost. What is a synonym for "obdurate"?

Obdurate is stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing. In Latin, obdurare means "to harden." A near synonym is adamant, from the Latin adamas, meaning "hard metal, diamond."


Statistics that come from "empirical" data is what type of data?

Empirical looks like empire but comes from a completely different origin. It is from the Greek empeirikos, meaning experienced. It's now used for any kind of knowledge that comes from experiment and observation.


"Cachet" has a very specific meaning. What is it?

Cachet is the French word for a small seal or impression left by a seal. The meaning has evolved from "(letter under) personal stamp (of the king)" to "prestige."


When do you feel "compunction"?

When you feel compunction you feel very, very sorry, usually for something you did to hurt someone or mess something up. The origin of this word is from Latin, "compungere," which is to prick hard or sting,


"Nonplussed" can be confused with a negative meaning word. How do you define this word?

It's confusing because in Latin, "non plus" means no more, no further or a state in which nothing more can be done. Another way to say this is perplexed or completely puzzled.


If you say a partnership is "incipient," what do you mean?

Incipient comes from the Latin incipere, "to begin." The more commonly used word, "inception," means the beginning. However, incipient includes the idea that it may never be fully formed.


When you think of "lugubrious," what's the first thought that comes to mind?

Anything that makes you feel gloomy is lugubrious. This word is derived from the Latin verb, lūgēre, which means "to mourn."


"Mendicant" can have more than one meaning. Which of the following answers is correct?

Mendicant can refer to a beggar as well as a man belonging to a religious order, such as the Franciscan Friars who denounce all worldly goods.


"Ignominy" looks similar to various words. How would you define it?

Breaking this word down, either from the French, ignominie, or from Latin, ignominia, this word is created from the prefix "in," meaning "no or not," plus nomen, meaning "a name." Therefore, it means ruining your name or reputation.


If you "contravene" something in practice, what are you doing?

This word comes from late Latin where "contravenire," or contra- + venire, means "against to come." Today, this word is synonymous with violation. For instance, "She might contravene her parents' ban on sweets if her friend offers her some licorice."


Most people tend to stay away from mendacious co-workers. How would you define "mendacious"?

A mendacious person is one who tells lies habitually and intentionally. The root word is from the Middle French, "mendacieux," and from the Latin, "mendacium," which means a lie, untruth, falsehood, or fiction.


What comes to mind when you hear the word "enervate"?

In Latin, "enervare" means “to cut the sinew” or “to cause to be cut from the muscle.” This action would weaken anyone. The word has evolved to mean to unnerve or weaken.


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