Show Off Your Vocab Knowledge With This Quiz!



By: Brian Whitney

6 Min Quiz

Image: franckreporter/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Is there really anything more impressive than having a good vocabulary? There is nothing worse than searching for just the right word to use, or even more awful, having the word on the tip of your tongue, and not being able to think of what you're trying to say.  Whether you're in a meeting at work, out on a date, or giving a toast at a wedding, being good with words is a skill that makes you stand out from the crowd. Think about it, if you aren't a good wordsmith it could possibly cause you a bit of angst.

For example,  Imagine you're at a party trying to come off all avant-garde while telling a story, but you realize your parable seems to be causing a bit of acrimony. You continue to show some bravado, but the people around you are all of a sudden being quite brusque. They begin to make a cacophony of sounds, which you deem capricious. All of a sudden the whole thing seems like deja vu. I mean, wouldn't the story have been totally better if you had a good vocabulary?

Are you ready to show off your mad vocabulary skills? If so then don't dawdle. Proceed when ready.

If you "yearn" for ice cream, how much do you want it?

If you "yearn" for days gone by, you really miss something that was in your past. When you yearn, you really long for something, especially something you used to have but don't anymore.


You decide to "bypass" an assignment at work. What are you choosing to do?

When you "bypass" something, you're avoiding or going around it. This word is also used to define an alternate way to get to your destination on the road, and as a term for a certain type of surgical procedure.


You're a "fervent" fan of a particular band. How emotional do you feel about them?

If you're a "fervent" fan of something, you not only really like it, but you like it in a very passionate way. Someone who is a fervent fan of a sports team gets really upset when the team loses.


If someone is acting "benevolent" towards you, how are they acting?

If someone is "benevolent," they are acting in a kind, sympathetic or understanding manner. This term is often used in relation to someone in power. If a king is benevolent, that's a good thing.


Your new puppy is being "rambunctious." How is she acting?

If someone is rambunctious, it means they're being boisterous in an uncontrollable manner. In other words, it means they're acting wild and not calming down. If you've ever had a puppy, you know they act like this a lot.


How calm are you if you're "serene?"

If a person is feeling "serene" they're feeling calm and know that they're going to feel that way for a bit of time. While feeling happy is a good thing, it might be argued that feeling serene is even better.


If someone is "cynical" that their significant other will be faithful, what are they thinking?

Someone who is "cynical" doesn't believe that others have their best interest at heart. They think most people are inherently bad and that they would lie if they had the opportunity to do so.


During a basketball game, a team is playing "tenacious" defense. How well are they playing it?

If you're "tenacious" at anything that you do, it means that you're stubborn and you don't give up. A team that's playing tenacious defense would be tough to score upon and wouldn't give up easy baskets.


How much does a "zealot" believe in something?

Someone who is a zealot believes in something all the way and usually is willing to do pretty much do anything to make sure that what they believe in succeeds. Hitler is one of history's most famous zealots.


What is an army doing if it "quells" an uprising?

f you "quell" something, such as an uprising, it doesn't just mean that you were victorious. It means that you totally beat it into the ground. It also means to subdue or silence something.


You told a story about your vacation filled with "hyperbole." What were you doing?

If someone is using "hyperbole," it isn't quite like they're lying, but they sure are exaggerating just a little. If you fought a guy who was 6 feet tall and you said he was a giant, thats hyperbole.


If you're "optimistic" about life, what is your outlook?

If you're an "optimist," you're pretty certain that good things will happen throughout your life. This is the opposite of being a pessimist, which is the type of person that just thinks bad things will happen.


Where might you find a "bumpkin?"

A "bumpkin" is someone that doesn't have a whole lot of interest in culture. When you hear the phrase "country bumpkin," it means someone from the sticks who isn't up with what's going on.


It's time for work, but you're "dillydallying." What are you up to?

"Dillydallying" is kind of a nice and fun way to say that someone is taking their time and going really slow. If you dillydally for too long, you're always going to be later for things.


If you like to say things in "jest," what is your style of speech?

Anything that is said in "jest" is said in good humor. Quite often you hear this phrase when someone takes offense to something someone else has said, and it has to be explained it's just a joke.


If you look at something in a "quizzical" fashion, how are you feeling?

If you're trying to answer some questions, you might be taking a quiz, just like this one right now. If you're feeling "quizzical" about something, it's the same vibe of trying to figure out something.


How fascinating is someone who is a "dullard?"

This is a word that dates back to the year 1400 or so in England, which just goes to show you there have always been dull people in the world. A "dullard" is an unintelligent or unimaginative person.


If your friend is "xenophobic," what is he afraid of?

If someone is "xenophobic," it means that they dislike people from other countries and are even prejudiced against them. Usually, when this term is used about someone, it isn't meant to be a compliment.


How well are you describing something if you're being "vague?"

When someone is being "vague," they aren't being very distinct in words or action. Sometimes being vague is unintentional, but usually the person acting in that manner knows what they're doing.


If you have a lot of "fortitude," around a task, how likely are you to quit?

Someone who has a lot of "fortitude" is up to any task and won't give up unless under extreme circumstances. The winner of any sort of endurance competition always has a lot of fortitude.


If your significant other uses a "pejorative" to describe your new shirt, what are they doing?

A "pejorative" is something that is said in an insulting or disparaging manner. If you use a word to describe why you don't like something in your life, then it's a pejorative word.


If your feelings are "tangible," what are they defined by?

Something that is tangible is something that is very real, and is usually identified by the sense of touch. If your feeling about something it tangible, then you pretty much know it to be true (even though an emotional feeling can't literally be touched).


What part of a sculpture is a"bust?"

A "bust" is a very popular kind of sculpture that includes the head and shoulders of a person. You'll quite often see these sculptures in museums or galleries that focus on the fine arts.


Some words are funnier than others. What is "flotsam?"

This word comes from the 17th century and is of French origin. "Flotsam" means "to float." It was originally used to refer to the wreckage of a ship. The term "flotsam and jetsam" is a related phrase that means useless and discarded objects.


Which color is most similar to "vermillion?"

"Vermillion" is the name of a color, although it's one you aren't likely to see in most crayon boxes -- well, unless you have a big box of them. The color is best described as a vivid red, with a hint of orange.


How big is something that is "paltry?"

If something is "paltry," it is not only small but it also usually isn't enough. If you were very hungry after a day or hard work and were served a very small dinner, you might call it a "paltry" meal.


How is someone acting if they're being "cloying?"

When someone is being so sweet to you that it is either obvious that they want something or that they're just flattering you, then they're being cloying. Avoid acting this way if you can.


You feel "empathy" for a colleague who was just laid off. How do you feel?

"Empathy' is different than sympathy. While sympathy can mean that you feel bad for the situation that someone else is in, empathy means you actually understand what it's like to be them..


What is a "blunderbuss?"

A "blunderbuss" is a type of weapon that you don't see used anymore, as its popularity was mostly from days gone by. It's a short musket with a flared muzzle that was often used at close quarters.


If you see someone "gallivanting" around a park, how are they walking?

If someone is "gallivanting" around, they're wandering around with no specific goal in mind. People who gallivant, though, tend to have one thing in common; they're usually looking for pleasure.


What kind of comedy is "slapstick?"

"Slapstick" comedy isn't around as much as it used to be in the old days. It was often used in silent movies. Since there was no way to actually tell a joke in spoken words, physical humor was often used instead.


You saw a car that is "unique." How many of them are there in existence?

When something is "unique," there is only one thing that is like it anywhere in the world. This word is often used differently than its real definition; for example, someone could say you had a unique hair style.


What kind of an example is a "paradigm?"

A "paradigm" is a typical example of something, kind of like a model. A good example of a paradigm is that the Earth is round. Just don't tell that to any of the Flat Earthers out there.


Your friend just told you a story that seems "dubious." Do you believe him?

If something seems to be "dubious," it doesn't mean that it is definitely not true or real, but it still shouldn't be trusted. More information is always needed if something is dubious.


If a question is "ambiguous," does it have more than one meaning?

If something is "ambiguous," it is open to more than one interpretation or even has a double meaning. If a statement someone makes to you is ambiguous, you don't know what to think of it.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!