Only 1 in 50 People Know the Meaning of These Words. Do You?

EDUCATION

Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

There is a long-standing myth, originally popularized by the book "The Female Brain," that women speak 20,000 words a day while men speak only 7,000. The truth, as proven by multiple studies debunking the myth, is that everyone speaks around 16,000 words a day, irrespective of gender. That means every day, whoever you are, there are 16,000 opportunities for you to use the words in this quiz - the only catch being that you have to know them and be able to use them correctly.

Language changes all the time, and words come and go, rising to peak popularity and then fading out of use. A few endure for centuries or even millennia. Some words will be uttered almost every day by the average person, who generally employs them correctly. Others, however, are commonly misused. Still more are simply obscure, perhaps because they are names for specialist objects or they have simply fallen out of fashion. This quiz contains a variety of words that may hail from any or all of these groups. That means only a true wordsmith and lover of the English tongue will be able to correctly identify or use all of them. Let's see if you are such a genius!

What does rhomboid mean?

A diamond is a rhombus, but a kite shape (two pairs of congruent sides instead of four congruent ones) is also a rhombus. Either is thus a rhomboid.

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What does cachinnate mean?

A cachinnation is a big, rather sinister laugh. Just don't cachinnate in public!

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What does panacea mean?

A panacea is like a silver bullet - it's the thing that solves everything. Generally speaking it's only a hypothetical thing, since they rarely exist.

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What does peripatetic mean?

If you're peripatetic, you are always moving around and never stop for a moment.

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What does gregarious mean?

Being gregarious means you're the sort of person who recharges in company, rather than being the solo kind.

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What does rambunctious mean?

Rambunctious is the sort of word you would use to describe a puppy that is simply full of beans and won't stop running round and round, jumping on everything.

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What does arduous mean?

If a task is arduous, it means it's a slog - it's not just difficult work, it's kinda dull too, or at least it sucks the life out of you. It doesn't mean it's purposeless, just that it was a real drag to do.

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What does homonym mean?

Homonyms can include all of these. So we get quail (the bird) and quail (to shrink away), which are spelled and pronounced the same. Then we have bow (the ribbon knot) and bow (a masculine curtsy) which are spelled the same and pronounced differently. Then we get two (the number) and too (the adverb), which are spelled differently but pronounced the same.

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What does apoptosis mean?

Cells divide (meiosis or mitosis) but eventually they do also die naturally. This is apoptosis.

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What does autotomy mean?

Autotomy is a quality of a creature that can get rid of a limb. It doesn't mean chopping it off, it is instead like a newt or lizard that can simply shed the limb and grow a new one.

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What does cantillate mean?

Cantillation is most commonly heard in a church, for example when a canticle is sung.

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What does uniped mean?

A uniped has one leg, the same way a biped has two legs. There aren't many unipeds in nature, but of course sometimes creatures lose a leg, and there are robots with just one leg.

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What does penumbra mean?

The penumbra is the slightly shadowy area at the end of a shadow. For example when there is an eclipse, the path of totality is where the umbra or shadow falls. Those who get to see a partial eclipse are in the penumbra.

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What does gibbous mean?

This word is mainly used to describe a moon that is between half and full, but it technically just means convex or protuberant. Eg bulging eyes are gibbous.

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What does arcane mean?

A subject or fact that is arcane is only known to a small minority of people, usually experts.

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What does subfusc mean?

This comes from "sub fuscus" as in "darker than brown" and describes appropriate clothing for exams at universities that require such garments to be worn.

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What does shofar mean?

A shofar is a Jewish instrument that is used to summon people to prayer and also in various ceremonies. It is a ram's horn (rams shed their horns annually so there is no cruelty involved in getting a shofar made).

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What does bombilate mean?

Bombilating in public is a little rude, but perfectly normal to do in the bath or any time you are alone!

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What does causeuse mean?

A causeuse is basically like a love seat for people who aren't quite sure about each other yet, as they can sit separately.

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What does jentacular mean?

Croissants, bacon and eggs and orange juice might all be deemed to be jentacular!

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What does liripipe mean?

A liripipe used to be very fashionable in medieval times.

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What does maledicent mean?

If you are a bully who just can't seem to restrain your mean impulses, you're maledicent.

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What does nelipot mean?

A nelipot is a person who goes around barefoot. The etymology is unclear on this one.

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What does sabrage mean?

Sabrage is when you chop the cork and neck off a bottle instead of uncorking it. It's a tricky thing to learn but very fun to do!

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What does sphallolalia mean?

Sphallolalia is the word for harmless or at least fruitless flirting. It comes from the Greek words for stumbling and talking.

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What does runcation mean?

Runcation is the process of removing weeds by hand. It's an obsolete word that no one uses any more.

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What does yclept mean?

This is another obsolete word that was very fashionable in Middle English. For example, "The knight was yclept Sir Tarquin."

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What does peregrinate mean?

Peregrination is moving around from place to place. Peregrine falcons are so named because of the great distances they can go.

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What does nemophilist mean?

A nemophile just loves a forest - which makes sense, as forests are proven to be good for humans' mental health. Five to 10 minutes a day in a wooded area can help mitigate some kinds of mental illness.

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What does twee mean?

If something is twee, then it's so darn cute that it has gone off the ledge and into simply irritating.

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What does salubrious mean?

A salubrious person or area is one that is wholesome and pleasant. The corollary is insalubrious, which means the exact opposite.

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What does risible mean?

If a thing is risible, it's simply too stupid and badly thought out to give it any serious consideration. For example, "The idea that anyone would want to buy a car with no wheels is risible."

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What does nostalgia mean?

Nostalgia is when you miss something about the past, even if it is an imagined past. For example, "Whenever I smell baking dough then it makes me nostalgic for these cookies my dad used to make."

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What does fractious mean?

Fractious is something or someone that is unruly and hard to control. A fractious horse would be one that refuses to go into its stable or allow someone to put a halter on it.

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What does eudaimonia mean?

Eudaimonia is the sense of satisfaction, curiosity and awe that you can get from traveling.

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