Can You Correctly Define These 35 Words?


Monica Lee

6 Min Quiz

What does extemporaneous mean?

Some people are such good speakers, they can talk extemporaneously, without any notes or slides.


What does juxtaposition mean?

Any time dissimilar things are positioned next to each other, you can describe it as a juxtaposition. Like placing a "before" and "after" image next to each other in an ad to show how effective the product is.


Can you define quixotic?

Use quixotic for someone or something that is romantic and unrealistic, or possessed by almost impossible hopes. A dreamer.


Hope you weren't starting to relax. Here's a hard one. What is xanthophyll?

Xanthophyllany is of a class of highly unsaturated yellow to red pigments occurring in plants and animals as well as egg yolks.


If you know your anthropology, it may help you define this one. What does eidos mean?

Eidos is the distinctive expression of the cognitive or intellectual character of a culture or a social group.


If you're familiar with Rubenesque paintings, you may know this word. What does zaftig mean?

The zaftig comes from the Yiddish zaftik, which literally means "juicy." It's a complimentary way to describe a woman with a curvy, full figure.


Do you know your Latin roots? How do you define vicissitude?

When you talk of the vicissitudes of life, you're referring to the difficult times that we all go through: sickness, job loss, and other unwelcome events.


Do you have any great grandparents around? Then you'll know this word. What does wizened mean?

WIzened is used as an adjective meaning wrinkled and shrunken with age or disease. The person looks like a shell of their former, healthier self.


Just break this word down and you'll get it. What's the definition of autochthonous?

Originating where it is found or something that is native to an area, are phrases used to define autochthonous.


If you've heard of diarrhea, then you can probably guess what logorrhea is. What is it?

A person who has logorrhea pathologically talks excessively and often incoherently. One could always use loudmouth as a description, but logorrhea has more of a psychological/medical meaning.


Do you know what insouciance means? Which definition do you choose?

Insouciance is a feeling of careless indifference. There's a certain amount of lightheartedness in insouciance.


Although similar to insouciance, it's not exactly the same. What does eudaemonia mean?

Eudaemonia is a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous. It's more upbeat than insouciance.


You don't need a PhD to know what baccalaureate means. What is it?

A baccalaureate is defined as an academic degree received once a student has completed undergraduate studies at a college or university.


This has entered our everyday language so it should be easy. What is cardiopulmonary resuscitation?

With all the medical shows on TV as well as CPR required courses for teachers, lifeguards, and first responders, cardiopulmonary resuscitation is well known. The technique provides emergency assistance to someone who has stopped breathing or has had a heart attack.


Do you know what a glockenspiel refers to?

A glockenspiel is a percussion instrument with metal bars that are struck with a hammer. The glockenspiel is common in German music.


If your vacation was idyllic, what was it?

A week at the beach that goes perfectly is an idyllic vacation. Idyllic means so wonderful it seems almost magical.


How would you define a larynx?

The larynx is the structure containing the vocal cords, you can't sing or speak without them. If you know your Greek roots, laryngos means "the upper windpipe."


What does paraphernalia mean?

It's a collection of things, or equipment needed to perform an activity. For instance, a hockey player’s paraphernalia would include various pieces of protective padding.


Schizophrenia is another word that is constantly used today. But what is its correct definition?

Schizophrenia means "splitting of the mind;" in other words, it describes a psychotic disorder characterized by a break from reality or distortion of the reality.


What is a tableau?

Tableau comes from the old French for "picture, or painted target." We usually use tableau to describe a vivid living scene, that can be painted in our minds.


It's understandable that with so many traffic jams as there are, you might get trichotillomania. What is it?

Trichotillomania goes way beyond "I was pulling out my hair in frustration!" This is a real mental-health problem that can cause serious behavior and appearance problems for the sufferers.


If you're older than 40, you should know what a vaudevillian is. What is it?

Vaudeville is a theatrical genre of variety entertainment that originated in France at the end of the 1700's. It was based on comedy and enjoyment, not morals or political dramas.


What is another way to say auspicate?

You may not use auspicate in your everyday language, but you probably use auspicious. Both are derived from the "auspices," or outlook on nature which seers foretold or predicted.


How would you define this word, backsheesh?

A relatively small amount of money given for services rendered (as by a waiter). It could also be a fringe benefit, perk, or perquisite.


You may need to noodle on this one for a while. What does banausic mean?

Banausic means that something is very ordinary and not exceptional in any way especially in quality, ability, size or degree.


Can you define batrachomyomachiathis? We also want to know if you can pronounce it!

Who should get control of the remote is an example of an altercation over a silly or unimportant matter in the scheme of things. An affray, quarrel or fracas.


What's the correct definition of a bezel?

A bezel is that slanted edge on the tip of a chisel. Angled edges on cut gems like diamonds are also called bezels.


Billingsgate is an interesting word. What does it mean?

Billingsgate was a fish market in London known for the foul-mouthed and abusive language used when buyers and sellers were haggling for fish. It is commonly understood that today, billingsgate means crude, offensive language.


How would you define brachiation?

Movement in which the suspended body swings by the arms from one hold to another. This is something you would see in a forest as gibbons and other arboreal primates travel from tree branch to tree branch.


If you hear the word profligacy, what's the first thing you think of?

Being recklessly wasteful or wildly extravagant is profligate behavior. "Anderson’s profligacy cost him his job."


Another hard one. What does obduracy mean?

Similar words like obstacle or obstinate might come to mind when you see this word. It means the person will never change his or her mind.


Is your brain hurting yet? This one won't help. What is solipsistic?

"His solipsistic view about life ensured that he lived in social isolation."


What is another way to say nascent?

Here is nascent used in a sentence. "In its initial stage, the nascent film industry faced harsh opposition from moral groups."


Almost done. Here's an easy one. What does austerity mean?

A strict moral code and strong work ethics are qualities of austerity. Other characteristics include having no pleasures or comforts in everyday life.


We hope you have hubris when completing this last question. What does hubris mean?

Although hubris usually has a negative connotation, we hope you are proud of yourself after finishing this quiz.


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Image: Getty Images via Alicia Llop

About This Quiz

It's not nerdy. Breaking down words into Greek and Latin roots and identifying prefixes and suffixes is fun and enjoyable! It's like solving a puzzle or unraveling a mystery. It's a satisfying challenge. Take "centipede" for example. The Latin root "centi" means one hundred and the Latin root "ped" means foot. So if you guess the meaning of centipede is a 100-footed insect, you would be right! (Actually, depending on the number of segments in a centipede, it walks on between 17 and 177 pairs of legs.)

Although this is an easy way to figure out the crude definition of a word, many times one needs to hear the word in a sentence to get a feel for how and when to use it properly. Hearing it spoken, conveys a more precise meaning. What's more, if your command of the language comes from the written word alone, you may find complex words, sophisticated phrases, or scientific terminology more challenging to define, especially since many have not entered the common vernacular.

Whether you're a bookworm, language enthusiast or simply smart enough to have a huge vocabulary, find out whether or not you can define these words. No one can call you jejune if you can complete this quiz correctly!

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