Can You Guess the Meaning of These Words That Begin and End With the Same Letter?

EDUCATION

By: Elizabeth Lavis

6 Min Quiz

It's a term that sounds straight out of outer space. What does "cryogenic" mean?

"Cryogenic" relates to an extremely low temperature: the temperature at which molecular motion stops. Cryogenics is the study of molecules at this level. Cryotherapy is therapy that involves cold.

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"Equine" is a lovely old-fashioned term. What is its definition?

"Equine" is an adjective that refers to horses or members of the horse family. As a noun, "equine" can refer to the horse itself, but this particular word is most often used as an adjective.

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Long before it was a site for searching travel deals, "kayak" was something else. What's the original meaning?

If you love the great outdoors, you'll want to get your kayak out of storage and paddle down the river. This thin, self-propelled watercraft is a great way to get your exercise in.

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The word "armada" rolls off the tongue and indicates something quite powerful. What does it refer to?

An armada is a fleet of battle-ready ships. The most famous armada in the world was the Spanish Armada, which lost to the British in 1588, changing the power dynamics of the world.

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This cute term has a very clear-cut, almost buoyant definition. What does "elate" mean?

If you make someone extremely happy, you elate them. "Elate" is the present-tense verb to signify extreme happiness. It is most commonly used in its adjective form, "elated."

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"Dilated" is a common technical term, used in fields from medicine to photography. What is it defined as?

"Dilated" refers to a state in which something has been made more open or widened. It's often used in its present tense, "dilate," and can refer to body parts, such as eyes or nostrils.

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If you travel in certain spiritual circles, you've heard the word "aura." What does it mean?

An aura refers to the energy field that is supposed by some to drift around people and manifest in a burst of color. It is often referenced in New Age practices. Places and things may have auras, as well.

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It's a word that is just oozing with importance and weight. What does "elephantine" mean?

"Elephantine" is not a positive term. It is an adjective that refers to having elephant-like qualities, such as being large, awkward or clumsy. Elephantine is also an island in the Nile River.

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Anyone who has traded barbs has instigated or experienced a "taunt." What's the proper definition of this sassy word?

When you taunt someone, you deliberately provoke them through insults or challenges. Used as a noun, a taunt is an insulting remark designed to hurt or inspire anger in someone else.

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The word "calisthenic" might sound delicate, but it is not. What's the meaning of this rough and tumble word?

Calisthenic is the singular form of calisthenics, a type of extremely intense exercise that involves working large muscle groups in deliberate movements. It is tough and effective.

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Anyone who has ever been near or with the upper crust is familiar with the "elite." What does this exclusive word mean?

If you are an elite, you are part of a select group of people who are admired because they have special skills, an advantage or another desirable quality. "Elite" can have a negative connotation, however, if the word is used to make others feel inferior.

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If you've ever been tasked with caring for a child, you know what "lull" means. Which definition is correct?

You will often hear the word "lull" used with "to sleep." It can also mean to calm someone down completely and quickly. As a noun, "lull" refers to a calm or uneventful period of time.

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Stroll through the aisles in the grocery store, and you'll come across "ginseng." What does this superfood term refer to?

Ginseng is a root vegetable that is wildly popular all over the world. It's quite healthy for you. It can be pickled and served alongside sushi, or ground up and added to foods or tea.

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Steeped in mysticism and spirituality, "tarot" refers to a specific item or practice. Do you know what it is?

"Tarot" refers to a deck of cards that is used to tell the future. Each card comes in one of the four suits — pentacles, cups, swords or wands. Tarot is popular all over the world.

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It's a term that sounds a little goofy, but it actually refers to something quite serious. What does "gulag" mean?

Gulag refers to the old Soviet Union system of labor camps. They were notoriously known for being difficult places to live, and many people died there. Today, it's slang for any labor camp.

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Feeling a general sense of malaise? You could just be lackadaisical. What's the definition of this silly-sounding word?

If you lack enthusiasm, motivation or determination, you are lackadaisical. "Lackadaisical" is sometimes used to mean "lazy." This fun word is also a stand-in for laid-back and chill.

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You'll get this right if you remember your high school science class. What is a "neutron"?

Neutrons are subatomic particles that cannot be seen by the naked human eye. They have no electronic charge, unlike protons or electrons, and they exist in just about every atomic nuclei.

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"Polyp" might sound like a secondary Disney sidekick, but it actually refers to something potentially severe. What is the definition?

Polyps are abnormal growths often found in the colon, and they are generally not dangerous. Still, any polyps should be checked out by a doctor to make sure that they are completely benign.

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When we mention a "reservoir," what are we actually talking about?

A reservoir is a natural or artificial lake that is used as a water supply for a municipality. However, a reservoir can also be a supply or source of something other than water — even a reservoir of knowledge.

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"Salacious" is a musical-sounding term. What's the correct definition?

"Salacious" is one of those words that you've probably heard over and over again, but you're not quite sure what it means. It means arousing inappropriate interest in risque or bawdy things.

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A "trinket" may be cherished forever, despite its price tag. Which definition is most accurate?

A trinket is a small item or piece of jewelry that might be sentimental but has little monetary value. A trinket is generally given as a token of affection between friends or romantic partners.

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This old-school sounding term has a unique meaning. What's the definition of "wallow"?

We all like to wallow sometimes. Anyone who has ever settled into a long Netflix binge has wallowed in a pleasurable activity. Of course, we can also wallow in unhealthy things, such as self-pity.

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Most people define "catastrophic" on a sliding scale, but at its core what's the actual definition?

If something is catastrophic, it is highly unfortunate or disastrous. The noun form of the word is "catastrophe," which refers to a massive natural event that causes widespread loss of life or property.

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"Libel" is a legal term that protects day-to-day folks and is connected to the First Amendment. What does it mean?

Libel refers to the defamation of someone in print. It is the written version of slander, which refers to defaming someone in speech. Both libel and slander are covered under the First Amendment.

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Anyone who has ever used their wits to circumvent something is familiar with the term "evade." What's the correct definition?

If you successfully evade someone or something, you have successfully avoided or escaped from them. You can evade not only specific things, like enemies, but also abstract things, like detection.

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The fun word "kiosk" means this oddly specific thing. Which option best defines it?

Visit any mall in the United States, and you will probably come across a kiosk. A kiosk is a small, standalone booth that exists to sell specific goods or services within a larger public structure.

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You've surely heard the term "larval" tossed around, but what does it actually mean?

Most insects go through a larval stage, which occurs before they make the metamorphosis into adulthood. Larvae are generally worm-like and not fully formed — maggots are one example.

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"Pulp" is a cute little word with this weird definition. What's the correct meaning?

Pulp is a wet, soft and shapeless mass of material. Fruits and vegetables may be reduced to pulp by cooking or pureeing. You can buy orange juice with no pulp, some pulp or a lot of pulp included.

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If someone is "demoted," what has happened to them?

Nobody wants to be demoted, because the term means that you are kicked down a rank or two. Demotion, the opposite of promotion, generally happens after a poor performance review or as a disciplinary action.

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What does it mean if something is "conic"?

If something is conic, it is shaped like a cone. In geometry, a conic section is any piece sliced out of a cone. Of course, ice cream is tasty when it's served in a sugary conic waffle.

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"Tourniquet" is a awfully fancy term for this simple thing. What's the right meaning?

If you find yourself in a situation where you're losing a ton of blood, you will have to fashion a tourniquet. Use anything you have on hand to stop the flow of blood and save your life.

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If someone is "superstitious," they avoid black cats, and they don't walk under ladders. What does this word mean?

People who are superstitious believe in elements of the supernatural, as well as omens and signs. They may use special strategies and rituals to protect themselves and those they love.

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Anyone who appreciates the finer things in life will know the value of a good "aria." What is it?

An aria is an important part of an opera because it allows the diva to shine. An aria is a solo song, generally accompanied by music but featuring only one voice. It often conveys a vital plot point.

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Like pirate movies? If so, there's a good chance you've seen a "rapier." What's the best definition?

A thin, light sword that's perfect for stabbing is called a rapier. A rapier is deadly because it is easy to wield in experienced hands, and the blade can be moved quickly because it's so light.

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This homey word is used in conjunction with care and comfort. What does "hearth" mean?

The cozy spot right in front of your fireplace is known as the hearth. Cute sayings about the comforts of home often contain the term "hearth," as it has warm and safe connotations.

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About This Quiz

Calling anyone and everyone who considers themselves more than a bit of a wordsmith. For this tricky quiz, we've compiled some of the toughest words in the English language that begin and end with the same letter. Don't be fooled; we stayed away from the easy words like dad, mom and pup and really delved deep into some of the most obscure and compelling turns of phrase in the entire language. 

Only those who got a near-perfect SAT score will even have a remote chance of beating this quiz, but everyone is welcome to go ahead and try! If you think that you have a comprehensive grasp of the English language and can tell us the meaning of every word, from calisthenic to rapier and everything in between, this quiz was made for you. 

If you are able to get the majority of these questions right,  you'll earn the right to bask in the warm glow of all of the bragging rights that you'll get. Most people don't have a shot at acing this tough vocabulary quiz, and those that do are real bonafide wordsmiths. 

No peeking in the dictionary! If you think you have a million-dollar vocabulary, we want to see what you've got! 

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