Test Your Vocabulary With This Quiz!



By: Becky

5 Min Quiz

Image: PCH

About This Quiz

Let's test your smarts and see if you have what it takes to earn a Ph.D. We've put together a quiz to test your brain and see if you're capable of recognizing and defining 35 words that all Ph.D. students should know. Let's get started to see if you have what it takes.

Do you easily recognize words and their definitions? Do you remember the long days of studying your vocabulary words for the dreaded, yet inevitable, tests that lie ahead? Some students choose to take education a step further and pursue a graduate degree such as a Ph.D. These students are faced with words that are more difficult than some of us can imagine. 

For example, most of us have heard someone say they have a conundrum, but do you actually understand the meaning of the word? A conundrum is defined as a confusing and difficult dilemma to which there is no simple answer. Ph.D. students are expected to know the definition of this word and a myriad of others. Do you know the definition of myriad? Myriad means countless or extremely large in number. These definitions and many others lie ahead for those who feel confident enough to answer them.

So hold tight and let's see if you deserve a Ph.D.

So intense as to seem almost tangible; able to be touched and felt

To be palpable means to be readily or plainly seen, heard or perceived. In medical speak, palpable means that something is detectable simply by touch.


To examine in detail with careful or critical attention

To scrutinize is to examine carefully for accuracy. This is often done with great attention to detail.


To relinquish the right or claim to a throne

When one abdicates, they formally and voluntarily give up their rights to a throne. King Edward VIII infamously abdicated the crown of England in 1936.


Action that is performed by or affects only one side

When a decision is made unilaterally, this means it only affects or benefits one side, person, or group. Generally, this decision is made without the agreement of others.


A small, rounded hill

A knoll is a heightened bank or ridge in the earth. A knoll is a natural occurrence and is not created by humans.


To stimulate or shock with an electric current

To galvanize is to stimulate and startle into an abrupt and sudden activity. In some cases, medical doctors use galvanization to stimulate muscles to react.


Dried out with heat, extremely thirsty

When someone says they're parched, this means they're very thirsty and sometimes dehydrated. Foods can also be parched in order to remove hydration prior to serving.


A confusing and difficult problem or question

A conundrum is a situation or problem that is extremely puzzling. It may be difficult or impossible to solve.


Hard and black volcanic glass

Obsidian is the dark, hard rock that is formed by lava. This occurs when lava is cooled very quickly with little crystal growth.


Being on guard, watchful

When someone is wary, they're nervous or cautious that dangers or problems are around. These individuals are generally on the lookout and alert.


To behave uncontrollably and disruptively

When someone runs amok, they're typically out of control and behaving uncontrollably. At times, these occurrences can become violent.


Living in solitary; avoiding others

To be reclusive is to avoid interactions with others, and preferring to live alone. Some people actually enjoy living a life of seclusion.


A countless or extremely large number

Myriad means countless or extremely large in number. When someone says "a myriad of options" they generally mean the options are innumerable and are unable to be counted.


A person who is usually disliked or avoided

A pariah is a person who is excluded because they are disliked and avoided. Pariahs are typically outcasts and black sheep.


Being sensitive when dealing with others or difficult issues

To be tactful is to be diplomatic and sensitive when faced with difficulties. A tactful person has a good sense of what is appropriate and avoids discrimination.


To stray from the topic at hand

When someone says "I digress," they mean they've strayed from the main topic of conversation. This may occur when someone has gone off on a tangent and changed the subject.


A confused hand-to-hand fight between multiple people

A melee is a confused fight, skirmish, or scuffle. It occurs among several people.


Of little or no importance; insignificant

Inconsequential means something is illogical or not important. To discuss inconsequential matters means to talk about things of no importance.


Dealing with things in a practical way

Being pragmatic means you deal with things sensibly. A pragmatic person is capable of being no-nonsense and very practical.


Expression of extreme joy and happiness

When one expresses jubilation, they are showing how happy and ecstatic they are. A jubilation is often a joyful showing of celebration.


Creating fear through great size and strength

A formidable enemy is one that is horrendous, frightening, and concerning. This generally occurs because of the size and strength of the person.


Noisy, energetic, and cheerful; rowdy

A boisterous crowd is one that is rough and noisy. This occurs because of rambunctious excitement.


Able to withstand attacks; not capable of being taken by force

Something that is impregnable cannot be broken into. It is strong and secure and able to withstand attacks.


When those with power or influence favor relatives or friends

Someone is accused of nepotism when they give preferential treatment to someone just because they are a friend or family member. Nepotism is not typically viewed as a good thing.


Claiming to have the power of perceiving events beyond the range of natural vision

When someone says they are clairvoyant, they mean that they are capable of seeing things that have happened in the past or things taht will happen in the future. Other words for this are psychic and telepathic.


Commendable or desirable

When something is exemplary, it's the best of its kind. It is considered the ideal model.


To clear someone from blame or suspicion

To vindicate means to exonerate or clear someone from blame. In court, this typically happens when someone is acquitted or found innocent of a crime.


Getting ideas, style, or taste from a wide and diverse range of sources

Eclectic means getting ideas or taste from an extensive and wide range of sources. When someone says they have an eclectic taste in music, this means they enjoy music from many different genres.


An individual who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their ideals

A zealot is viewed as a fanatic who is often extreme in pursuing his or her ideals. This can be religious, political, or militant in nature.


Light, airy, or tenuous

Something that is viewed as ethereal is seen as light and perfect. Graceful, dainty and exquisite are also words used to describe something that is ethereal.


To back out on a promise, undertaking or contract

When one reneges, they go back on something they've agreed to do. This is sometimes seen as breaking a promise.


Careful and unwasteful with regard to money or food

Someone who is frugal is cautious when it comes to spending money or wasting food. These individuals like to be thrifty and economical.


A person who is new to an experience

A novice is someone who is new to a field or type of work. These people are beginners.


To develop gradually into a more complex form

To evolve means to advance or develop. When something evolves, it goes from a simpler form to a form that is more complex.


Authorization, sanction or justification

Warrant means to authorize and sanction. When something is warranted, this means it is justified.


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