Do You Know All of These Words a Genius Might Use?

By: Annette
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Are you a word genius? Prove it!

Words. Words are defined as the smallest unit of speech that can be uttered that impart meaning. Although its impossible to be sure, there may be a minimum of a quarter of a million words in the English language. More than 125,000 of these words are nouns (we apparently feel a distinct need to categorize the world around us), more than 30,000 of these words are verbs (well, these nouns have to do something!), and the remaining 95,000 or so are exclamations, conjunctions, prepositions, suffixes, and others. Although we probably don't need each and every one of these words to communicate effectively, we'd all probably be surprised at how many words even the most limited English language user spews without even realizing they know so many words.

Some say that the average woman speaks roughly 20,000 words a day, and the average man speaks about one-third of that, but we're going to assume that some of the words we use each day are repeats. For this quiz, you need to know only 35 words, but we're not going to make it easy for you.

So, put on your thinking cap, and let's get started!

Callous

When someone is callous, they're emotionally hardened. "The events of his life had left him callous and unkind."

Debunk

To debunk something is to expose it, often while ridiculing it. "His theory on the evolution of plants through magic was debunked by scientists."

Empirical

Empirical evidence is derived from science and experimentation. "Rather than relying on theory, Jenny gathered empirical evidence that supported her ideas."

Bane

A bane is something that causes misery or even death. "This messy divorce is the bane of my existence right now."

Defunct

Something that is defunct is inactive and no longer functioning. "The now-defunct cupcake shop stood vacant and dark on the busy street."

Rife

When something is widespread, especially something negative, it's rife. "The local government was rife with hypocrisy."

Vitriolic

To be vitriolic is to be harsh, bitter and malicious. "His vitriolic tirade about office politics was not tolerated by management."

Dirge

A dirge is a song or hymn of mourning used at a memorial. "The funeral procession was accompanied by a sad dirge, sung by the church choir."

Bereft

To be bereft is to be sorrowful from the loss of something. "After the death of her husband, Susan was utterly bereft."

Requisition

A requisition is an authoritative demand or request for property or materials. "The requisition came from upper management for five dozen cardboard boxes."

Panacea

A panacea is a perceived remedy for all ills. "Hank felt better after eating the M&M's, and that's why he assumed that chocolate was a panacea for everything that ailed him."

Aberration

An aberration is something that is different from the norm. Someone with a genetic aberration may have a rare disability or talent.

Blandishment

Blandishment is flattery that is intended to persuade someone. "His startling blandishment of the governor was a strategy to win funding for his organization."

Calumny

Calumny is a false accusation or slander. "The poor girl did not commit the crime, but rather, she was a victim of vicious calumny."

Candor

Candor is the quality of being straightforward and honest. "The jury was impressed by the witness' candor."

Iconoclast

An iconoclast is someone who challenges, or attacks, cherished ideas and institutions. "Harriet challenged the rules of art to such a degree that she became an iconoclast in many peoples' eyes."

Impinge

To impinge is to infringe upon something. "I don't mean to impinge upon your plans for marriage, but I must say that I do not care for the groom."

Abnegation

Abnegation is to deny or reject a doctrine or belief. "Her lack of belief in her native Islam was pure abnegation."

Maverick

A maverick is someone who is independent in thought and action. "The maverick of the group looked outside the box and never took things for granted."

Pithy

Something that is pithy is not only concise, but it's also full of meaning. "Her pithy haiku expressed so much in so few words."

Sanctimonious

To be sanctimonious is to be hypocritically pious. "The corrupt priest was horribly sanctimonious, while on the side he was gambling with the church's money."

Stolid

To be stolid is to show little emotion. "The judge was stolid and unforgiving, even while the witness wept and pleaded with him."

Travesty

A travesty is something that misrepresents or imitates a style. "The artist said that he was an impressionist, but his painting of roses was an utter travesty in the eyes of those in the know."

Veracity

Veracity refers to the unwillingness to tell lies. "The town council couldn't deny the young girl's veracity, as she described the true dangers of the local park."

Vituperate

To vituperate is to spread negative information about something, or verbally attack someone. "Whenever her husband got drunk, he would vituperate her all night long." This word is rarely used.

Abrogate

To abrogate is to formally revoke something. "The president knew the law was wrong, and therefore he chose to abrogate it with his own pen."

Abstruse

When something is abstruse, it's difficult to penetrate. "Because her comment was so abstruse, Mike had to pick it apart for about twenty minutes, searching for the meaning."

Accretion

Accretion is the natural growth or addition of something. "The love they had for one another led to the accretion of their little family, fortune and wellbeing."

Aggrandize

When you aggrandize something, you expand it. "In light of new information, Sally was able to aggrandize the scope of her business."

Capitulate

To capitulate is to surrender under agreed circumstances. "The warring tribe's capitulation led to an eventual peace treaty."

Cleave

To cleave is to separate or cut with a sharp instrument. "The mountain man was able to cleave the wood with one swipe of his ax."

Compunction

Compunction is the feeling of deep regret, often for a misdeed. "Although she was responsible for killing the butterfly, the little girl showed no compunction."

Consign

When you consign something, you give it over to another for safekeeping and care. "Although she loved her stuffed monkey, she consigned it to her friend when she went on vacation."

Didactic

When something is didactic, it is instructive - perhaps overly so. "That noisy mother was didactic, always telling the other mothers what they ought to do."

Dour

When someone is dour, they have a brooding ill humor. "The dour receptionist treated me like I didn't exist."

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!

Explore More Quizzes