The ability to express ourselves in words is one of the most important things that separates human from beast. As Henry Higgins, professor of phonetics in George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" (and its musical adaptation, "My Fair Lady") puts it, "The majesty and grandeur of the English language; it's the greatest possession we have." He goes on to urge his protege, Eliza Doolittle, to conquer it, not just so that she can get a better job and more respect, but so that she can maximize her potential. That is the magic of a vocabulary - it permits a person to truly convey nuance, to speak the precise truth and not an approximation, to tell it like it is instead of telling it somewhat like it might be (and then being misunderstood).
The ability to deploy the right word at the right time can move armies, inspire the downtrodden, and change hearts and minds. In a world where the pen is mightier than the sword, facility with your own language is basically a superpower.
If you have sesquipedalian tendencies, or you're a lexicographer or a wordsmith, you already know this, of course. Words are like weapons and friends for you. They help you to be simple without being simplistic, elegant without being pretentious, and sophisticated without being opaque. That's why you devour dictionaries, you eat encyclopedias and you lunch on lexicons. Take this quiz and let's prove that you are the human thesaurus you claim to be!
Awful means the same thing as terrible. When something makes you feel disgust, it’s awful.
When something commences, it begins. Funny enough, when you graduate from high school it’s called commencement.
When something is beneficial, it’s favorable. When something benefits you, it gives back to you in some way.
When something is calm, it’s tranquil. Being near the beach can be described as calm or tranquil.
A contemporary thing is modern. Contemporary art and modern art are popular forms of expression that have a certain style.
When something is perilous, it’s dangerous. Climbing a steep mountain can be perilous.
A scrumptious meal can also be described as delicious. For instance, homemade chicken pot pie is scrumptious.
A deceptive comment is misleading. Deception will try to get you to believe something that isn’t true.
A risky situation is also dicey. When you’re betting at the casino, the results can be risky or dicey.
Something that is dubious is also doubtful. If someone says something that creates red flags in your mind, then their statement was dubious.
Love everlasting is also love eternal. Something that is everlasting is going to go on forever without stopping.
When you’re fortunate, you’re also lucky. If you win the lottery, you can definitely say that you’re fortunate.
When you get something, you also acquire it. When you acquire an inheritance, then you also get money.
Something that is just hearsay must also be rumor. If someone acquires an ill reputation through hearsay, then they’ve been brought down by lies.
Hypothesis is just speculation, or a guess. In science, a hypothesis is made before the truth is tested.
When you have an idea, you also have a notion. An idea is not fact, but rather just a thought.
An impassive person is also emotionless. Someone who is cold and grave can be called impassive.
Something that is vital is also important. It’s vital, as a human, that you eat food and drink water.
An envious person is also jealous. You can be envious of many things and many people. It’s not worth it.
Something that is done knowingly is also done deliberately. That means that there is thought and intention behind it.
A lazy person is also a sluggish person. If you can’t get off the couch, you’re a lazy couch potato.
A lethal weapon is also deadly. Anything lethal or deadly should be left to US soldiers. Just opinion.
When you’re lucid, you’re also clear. Someone who is on drugs can never be truly lucid.
Madness is the same as insanity. When you’ve gone mad, then you’re no longer a sane person.
Mendacity is the same as lying. To lie in front of a court of law is an act of terrible mendacity.
Someone who is mischievous is also a prankster. On April Fool’s Day, everyone becomes a little mischievous.
When you notify someone of something, you also inform them. To receive notification is also to receive information.
Did you know that something that is worthless is also nugatory? An old piece of technology becomes nugatory.
Someone who is obdurate is also stubborn. When you’re dragging your heels on something, then you’re being obdurate.
An obsolete thing is also out of date. Your old car with the poor transmission is rendered obsolete.
Something that is passable is satisfactory. An average meal is considered merely passable, but nothing more.
The preceding thing is the previous thing. An event that preceded another event is the event that came before it.
When you find yourself in a predicament, you find yourself in a dilemma. Some might also say that you find yourself in a pickle.
When something takes priority, it also takes precedence. That means that it’s the most important thing in a string of other things.
When something is quiet, it’s lacking in sound, or soundless. When you’re out on a tranquil lake, you could say that it is soundless.