Can You Pass This SAT Vocabulary Drill Without Any Mistakes In 4 Minutes?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: FatCamera/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT,) that hurdle which  nearly every college-bound senior must face, is composed of two sections, math and language skills. While many students tend to prefer math, and perform better on that section, it's often vocabulary that will remain more essential in our day-to-day lives. It helps determine whether or not we ace our job interviews or just impress the people we meet. It's perfectly acceptable to say, "Sorry, I just can't do math." Most people will be sympathetic. But when you misuse words, people draw conclusions about your intelligence.

For this reason, if your vocabulary has never been your strong suit, it's in your best interest to brush-up on it. Maybe it's time to learn the difference between "extant" and "extent," or that "noisome" does not mean "loud" (it means "dirty" or "objectionable.") It's time to learn the true meaning of "liberal" and "conservative" which have meanings that precede  politics.

If you're ready to fill the lacunae (gaps) in your vocabulary, or show off your puissance (power) in this area, then we've got a quiz for you!

What is an "impasse?"

Well, "impossible" might be too strong a synonym. It's not uncommon for you to hear that "negotiations were at an impasse," only to find that at some later point, the issue was resolved and talks did continue.


To "bequeath" something is to do what?

"Bequest" is the noun form, meaning something left in a will. We say it's "usually" after death, because sometimes it's used metaphorically: "She bequeathed me her Rolodex when she quit her job."


Pick the best definition of "conservative:"

We add this one to make a point: While the words "liberal" and "conservative" are strongly associated with politics, they have literal meanings that go beyond that. To be "conservative" means you are careful, not putting all your eggs in one basket. You'll find "liberal" elsewhere in this quiz.


Someone "lucid" is:

It's not just a person that can be "lucid." Arguments are often called this as well, especially by college professors encouraging students to be careful and precise in their essays.


Which of these is the best definition of "incorrigible?"

The root is the Latin word "corrigere," for "to correct." Though it's extremely rare in conversation, there is also the word "corrigible," for someone who can be corrected or reformed.


What is the best definition of "bigamy?"

The suffix "gamy" refers to marriage. "Polygamy" is the term for plural marriage, whether it's two spouses, three or more, whereas "bigamy" refers to entering into marriage while already married.


How would you describe something "granular?"

At its simplest, "granular" means "composed of grains." It's often used descriptively: A countertop can be "granular" to the touch.


As an adjective, what does "diffuse" mean?

When used as an adjective, something "diffuse" is spread out, indirect or abstract. As a verb, it means to spread out and thus weaken something. For example, a scent diffuser in a room spreads out a pleasant scent by making a vapor of a concentrated substance.


What period of time does "gestational" refer to?

You might hear this as "gestational diabetes." That's a form of reversible diabetes which occurs during pregnancy, because of changes in hormones.


What does "verbose" mean?

A verbose person is someone who uses a lot of words in either speaking or writing. Perfect for this quiz, eh?


If something is "defunct," what is it?

You might have recognized this one from the first part of the word, "funct," related to "functioning." For example: The factory has been defunct since they moved to a new automation process.


Pick the best meaning of "genial."

"Genial" means friendly, kindly or open. However, it can sometimes have a slight undertone of insincerity, as talk-show hosts and people with public personas are commonly described as "genial." For example: The host seemed genial with everyone on-air, but was snarky and mean in private.


To be "inconceivable" is to be:

You might know this word from "The Princess Bride," in which Vizzini keeps proclaiming, "Inconceivable!" until another character tells him, "You keep using that word. I do not think you know what it means." Well, now you know! It's inconceivable that you have never seen (or heard of) "The Princess Bride."


A "heretic" is someone who:

Heresy used to be the worst of all sins in the Christian religion. Fortunately, we've reached the days when it is mostly used figuratively: "Suggesting that Tom Brady is overrated is heresy in Boston."


What is the best definition of "cataclysm?"

"Cataclysm" is related to "catastrophe." So what's the difference? Mostly, it's that "cataclysm" means something more intense, so you might want to save it for an event that's even worse than a catastrophe. When the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs hit the Gulf of Mexico, it was a cataclysmic event.


What is a "fracas?"

Put less colorfully, a "fracas" is a disagreement accompanied by loud argumentation or even thrown punches. We just enjoy all the creative ways English has to express this idea!


Something "opportune" is:

"Opportune" is often used to describe good timing. For example: The breakdown came at an opportune point, as just then, my crush drove by and stopped to give me a ride.


What does "apex" mean?

For example, if you get 35/35 on this quiz, it might be the apex of your intellectual career! (We hope not, though.)


Pick the best meaning of "thwart:"

Something "thwarted" has been blocked, often permanently. For example, you might refer to someone's "thwarted" plans to run for mayor or rob a bank.


Someone "portly" is _____.

"Portly" is a polite, old-fashioned way of saying "fat." It works especially well if your audience is too old to know the meaning of "thick." You can easily picture portly gentleman smoking cigars and playing cards.


"Explicable" means:

You might know this term better as its antonym, "inexplicable." But it's fair to use "explicable" for occasions when there's the proverbial "perfectly logical explanation."


What does "solicitous" mean?

A "solicitous" person is extremely helpful or concerned with your well-being. Watch out: He or she might have ulterior motives. The seemingly solicitous stranger actually stole my wallet while I was trying to help him pick up his dropped belongings.


Which of these is the best definition of "cathartic?"

The ancient Greeks are credited with the idea of "catharsis." They found that violent plays and tragedies helped people deal with pent-up emotions. That's why you always feel better after having a good cry during a tearjerker movie.


To be "chaste" is to be what?

The words "chaste" and "chastity" refer to sexual purity. Don't confuse them with "chastise," though, which means "to reprimand or scold." An example would be: Mary was chastised for her lack of chastity.


Which of these is the meaning of "epicurean?"

Fun fact: The modern meaning of "epicurean" is actually a misreading of the actual teaching of the Greek philosopher Epicurus. He believed that pleasure is humankind's highest goal, but that happiness came from self-control. To that end, he ate a very simple diet.


What is a "deficit?"

This word turns up in common phrases. For example, when a budget falls short, there's said to be a "budget deficit." Likewise, most people have heard of "attention deficit disorder." In both scenarios, it means there is less of something than there should be.


To feel "loathing" is to feel what?

Some wordsmiths like to play with the phonetic similarity between "love" and "loathe," the verb form of "loathing." For example, "Whether you love it or loathe it, ____ always inspires strong feelings."


Which of these is the closest synonym of "comportment?"

"Comportment" is how you act and carry yourself. You might find this on an old-fashioned school report card. For instance: Little Johnny's comportment left much to be desired.


Which of these is a synonym for "egregious?"

Both "egregious" and "flagrant" mean something obviously bad, that draws attention to itself. For example, "An egregious violation of good etiquette."


The term "rococo" would be applied to which of these?

"Rococo" is an 18th century European style marked by a lot of ornamentation or unnecessary flourishes. It can be applied to buildings or to works of music.


Which of these is the best meaning of "sagacity?"

"Sagacity" is a fancy way of saying "wisdom" or "canniness." It's related to the word "sage," meaning "wise man or woman."


Which of these is a synonym for "hirsute?"

We have Merriam-Webster's always-entertaining site to thank for this one. it noted that look-ups of "hirsute" spiked after actor Burt Reynolds died (he was known for his mustache and his chest hair.)


If something, especially a disease, is "endemic," what is it?

Here's the skinny on "endemic," "pandemic" and "epidemic." "Endemic" is a disease common to a region or people. "Pandemic" means it's widespread throughout the region, having saturated it. The best-known, "epidemic," means it's fast-moving and out of control.


"Chauvinism" is a belief in the superiority of _____.

Nowadays, we associate this word mostly with male chauvinism, or sexism. However, it originally meant blind, excessive patriotism: It came from a character in a French play, named Chauvin, who was devoted to Napoleon and French exceptionalism.


Pick the best meaning of "liberal:"

Like "conservative," "liberal" is an adjective that isn't just about politics. It means "generous with money or other things." For example: He gave the pie crust a liberal dusting of sugar.


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