Do You Know the Definition of These 5-Letter Words?


By: Teresa McGlothlin

6 Min Quiz

Image: xyz114/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Put on your thinking cap, and head back to vocabulary class for this quiz. Five-letter words might not be that hard to spell, but they are as hard as any other word to define. Throughout this quiz, we want to see where you stand in the short word department. Are you as good with them as you are with their longer counterparts? 

During our research, we were surprised to learn how many five-letter words there are in the dictionary. With over 6,800 to choose from, we've done our best to mix it up and to keep it interesting. We were also surprised how many five-letter words have meanings that we've been using all wrong! We're not trying to be tricky, but we are challenging you to do better than we did with the 35 words we have chosen for you to define.

You won't need a degree in literature or an English teacher on speed dial, but you will need to give each word a little thought. When you read our question, make sure to take all the time you need and to hit the hint button when you get stuck. We want to see you succeed, and we know you're adept enough to do it! Or are you? 

Kelly is adept with numbers. What does adept mean?

If someone is adept at any given subject, they are skilled and proficient in that area. The opposite of adept is inept. Those who are inept are lacking skill. Kelly is the opposite of inept when it comes to numbers.


Which five-letter word would you use to describe something that is boring?

If something is flat, dull or boring, you would use the word vapid to describe it. Introduced to the English language in the 17th century, vapid comes from the Latin word "vapidus," which means flat-tasting.


If you are having a lucid moment, what sort of moment are you having?

Although you might find something confusing, thinking about it long enough will provide you with a lucid moment. The word lucid is another way of saying clear and understood. You may have heard the phrase "lucid dream."


Can you choose the correct synonym of shard?

Shard is often used when referring to a small piece of glass. Instead of being a whole piece, a shard of glass is a very tiny fragment. One piece of glass can shatter into hundreds of shards.


Which of the following words means a small, open space where goods or services are provided?

If you've ever been to the mall, you've seen a kiosk. Kiosks are open-sided structures where information can be given, goods can be sold, or services can be provided. They are popular additions to museums as well as malls.


Janie was livid about the score of the game. What does livid mean?

Once Janie saw the score and knew that her team was losing, she was angry and livid. In fact, she was so upset that she was infuriated beyond words. She could have only been described as fuming.


How would you define the word smite?

Smite is never the answer. According to Merriam-Webster, to smite something means to strike it with a heavy, forceful blow. When used as an archaic noun, a smite is the heavy blow itself.


Some audience members seemed to swoon when Beyonce took the stage. Can you define swoon?

When someone swoons, they faint from excitement. In this instance, Beyonce's fans were so happy to see her take the stage that they were enraptured in their emotions driving several to faint.


What word might a pirate use to tell someone to stop where they are?

If a pirate wanted you to stop where you are, they might exclaim, "Avast ye, matey!" Whether you are told to stop moving or to stop talking, when pirate uses the word avast, you stop.


Bat caves are filled with guano -- what does this word mean?

While there's no polite way to put this, we'll just let you know that guano is a term used in place of feces when talking about bats or seabirds. Large portions of Peru were once fertilized with guano harvested by the Incas.


Around mid-semester, a wave of ennui hit the class. Which word is the correct synonym for ennui?

Often considered the same as boredom, ennui is a feeling of listlessness or dissatisfaction. Students might be enthusiastic at first, but midterms usually bring on a bout of ennui.


A horde waited for the new iPhone release -- what is a horde?

Anytime there's a large, unorganized group of people, it can be considered a horde. In more modern times, we have come to think of hordes involving zombies, though those waiting in any informal line can also be called a horde.


Seagulls like to hang out at the wharf - what sort of place is a wharf?

Seagulls can be found most anywhere near water, but they love to hang out near a wharf. With so many fishing boats docking there, a wharf is a perfect place for a hungry bird to catch an easy meal.


Maria was filled with angst about the test. How was Maria feeling?

If someone is filled with angst, they are experiencing a sense of nervousness or dread. Angst-ridden thoughts can consist of smaller, nagging woes or focus on broader, unfathomable worries.


The park had a beautiful sward. What is a sward?

In farming terminology, a sward is the topmost layer of soil. For the rest of us, a sward is a small parcel of grass. It is derived from the Middle English phrase "sward of the earth," and it dates back even further to Old English times.


Can you choose the word that means the same thing as droll?

If you need to remember the meaning of the word droll, think back to your class clown. Someone who is droll is humorous and entertaining without being afraid to be the butt of the joke.


The marching band performed with a lot of verve. Which word also means verve?

When we think of marching bands, we think of joyful groups that perform with enthusiasm and with verve. Verve made its way into the English language in the 17th century after it was adapted from the French word "vigor."


What sort of animal is a macaw?

Macaws are large, vibrant birds with a long, black beak that come from Central and South America. With a lifespan of up to 50 years, macaws are some of the longest living birds in the world.


James was aloof when meeting new people. What was James like?

Originally a nautical term meaning distant, aloof entered the English language in the 16th century. These days, the word means that someone is being distant and standoffish. Though the meaning is vaguely the same, the use of it has changed over time.


Which word is a type of fungus typically found on cereal grains?

Grain farmers live in fear of their crops coming into contact with the ergot fungus. Ergot attacks the husks of a stalk and slowly spreads into the grain-bearing part of the plant rendering the entire crop useless.


If something is unclear, what is it?

Yes, we do realize that our question was a bit vague. From the Latin word "vagus," vague means that something is not quite clear. Anything from instructions to answers can be quite vague.


Leonard's boss knows that he is savvy with technology. How would you define savvy?

Leonard's boss often relied upon his savvy computer skills. Being savvy means that you are adept or experienced with something. Unlike Leonard's boss, Leonard was not a novice or inept with technology.


Michael enjoyed the vista from his Italian hotel. What did Michael enjoy?

Italy is well-known for its vistas. Here, Michael is enjoying the view by looking down one of Italy's many small avenues and streets. A vista is described as a view from a narrow, long place like an alley.


The alley was full of feral cats - what does feral mean?

Without the help of spaying and neutering, animals run the risk of becoming feral. Whether once domesticated and gone wild, or never domesticated at all, feral is another way of saying wild.


The barber used a strop before getting started. What is a strop?

Before a barber begins any cut or shave, it's necessary to sharpen his razors. Although there are many modern devices out there used for sharpening, many barbers prefer to use an old-fashioned leather strop.


Which five-letter word is the name for a brass instrument that lacks valves?

Traditionally, the military funeral song "Taps" is played on a bugle. Bugles are different from their other brass cousins except for the trombone. Bugles and trombones are the only two instruments which lack valves.


After losing at scrabble, Belle left in a moment of pique. How did Barb leave?

If someone storms off in a pique, there's a good chance that they have had their pride injured. Pique can also be used to express a garnered interest, but here it's proving that Belle is a sore loser.


Can you correctly choose the five-letter word that describes a boat only big enough for one?

Although all of our options are different kinds of boats, the kayak is the only type of boat designed for one person. A kayak is shaped a little like a canoe, but it has a tight fitting opening big enough for only one passenger.


Linda wanted no part of their shady lucre. What was Linda refusing?

Of all the types of money to be had, Linda is very smart to avoid taking part in anything involving lucre. Lucre is a term used to describe money that has not come from reputable sources. In fact, lucre is usually obtained through less than respectable means.


Angelo could hear a thrum from the basement. What was Angelo hearing?

Hearing a continuous hum from your basement could come from any number of sources. If you are hearing the hum and you cannot identify the source, it's acceptable to label it as a thrum.


The jeweler had to smelt before beginning to set gemstones. What does smelt mean?

Although many jewelers these days do not smelt their own metals, it was once a common practice. The act of smelting means to extract the desired metals from the ore through melting.


Which five-letter word is defined as being a short, riding crop?

From harnesses to horseshoes, the list of things needed to ride a horse properly is endless. When you are putting together your gear, don't forget to add a quirk to your list. You will need a small riding crop to get your horse to go.


If someone were behaving in a disreputable manner, how would you classify them?

You might be more familiar with the adjective scuzzy, but it has its foundation in the word that means disreputable. The next time your dog is misbehaving, call him a scuzz and see how it reacts.


Can you choose the correct word that is sometimes used to describe orange and yellow hues?

When the sap of pine trees fossilize, they create the gemstone known as amber. The golden orange hue of the fossilized reason has given way to another way to describe the words yellow or orange.


The feeling of seasickness began to abate after a while. Can you define abate?

After a few hours at sea, you will get your sea legs, and your feeling of seasickness will begin to abate. When something begins to abate, it is subsiding or lessening in intensity. Hopefully, that's quick for you!


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