Quiz: Test Your Vocabulary Expertise With This Quiz!: HowStuffWorks
Test Your Vocabulary Expertise With This Quiz!
By: Isadora Teich
6 Min Quiz
About This Quiz
Do you think you have a gargantuan vocabulary? The English language has one of the largest vocabularies of any language due to its diverse roots. English is made up of a hodgepodge of languages: Germanic languages, Latin and Greek all influence it. When you combine them, you end up with a monstrous number of words.
English has over a million words, and many experts think it has the largest vocabulary on Earth, even though this is hard to prove. This is because in spoken languages, some words become obsolete over the centuries and are forgotten (or change,) while new ones are invented all the time. Many words have stayed the same, but their meanings have changed over the centuries. English is unusually suited to this. In fact, over 1,700 of our common daily words were invented by William Shakespeare. These include words like "assassination" and "eyeball."
If you are an English language expert with an impressively Brobdingnagian vocabulary, put your language savvy to the ultimate test with this arduous quiz!
Someone who is "negligent" is what?
Negligent is an adjective. It describes someone careless and neglectful. Example: Bobbie's negligence in failing to clean the spilled cooking oil from the hardwood floor led to Katrina slipping and breaking her leg.
What does "nomadic" mean?
Nomadic is an adjective. Nomads wander from place to place. Example: The nomadic herder took his flock from place to place depending on the season and amount of rainfall.
"Emote" means what?
Emote is a verb. It means to express emotion. Example: If an actor can't emote on stage, then they definitely need to find a new line of work.
Something that is "incessant" is:
Incessant is an adjective. It means unending. Example: The cicadas' incessant buzzing sounds like the world's largest electric generator.
Something that is "wily" is:
Wily is an adjective. It describes people who are crafty or sly. Example: Wile E. Coyote tries to be wily, but the Road Runner always outsmarts him.
What is a "calamity?"
Calamity is a noun. It is an event with catastrophic consequences. Example: When an enormous meteor struck Earth in what is now the Gulf of Mexico, it was a calamity for the last of the dinosaurs.
"Genial" means what?
Genial is an adjective. It means friendly or affable. Example: The TV host was always genial with her guests.
"Balk" means what?
Balk is a verb. It means to hesitate or resist something. Example: Jules balked at the idea of having to eat a snail at the fancy French restaurant.
The definition of "debase" is:
Debase is a verb. It means to lower the quality or esteem of something. Example: Extreme stress and poverty can debase one's self-esteem.
What does "abate" mean?
Abate is a verb. It means to reduce or lessen. Example: The city participates in mosquito abatement programs to keep people from getting West Nile virus.
To be "stingy" is to be:
Stingy is an adjective. It means not generous, and not likely to spend money or give to people. Example: The sushi chef was stingy with the size of the sashimi pieces.
If it's "palatable," it's:
Palatable is an adjective. It describes something which either tastes good or is agreeable to other sensibilities. Example: The decor of the new, super-modern hotel was as palatable as their 'welcome' caviar.
What does "camaraderie" describe?
Camaraderie is a noun. It describes fellowship and mutual trust among those who spend a lot of time together. Example: There's a sense of camaraderie in most workplaces where people have known each other for awhile.
An "edict" is:
Edict is a noun. An edict is an order or decree. Example: By royal edict, the King requires each citizen to show up for the ball next Saturday dressed in their finest clothing.
What is a "utopia?"
Utopia is a noun. A utopia is an imaginary and remote place of perfection. Example: People who are fed-up with society often dream about building a utopia where everything works and everyone is always happy.
"Grievous" means what?
Grievous is an adjective. It describes something hurtful, serious or grave in nature. Example: The doctor's grievous error ended up permanently paralyzing the patient.
Someone who is "quixotic" is what?
Quixotic is an adjective. It describes someone who is fancifully idealistic and impractical. It actually comes from the character, Don Quixote, who was the satirically romantic and unrealistic hero of Cervante's novel, "Don Quixote de la Mancha." Example: His plans to travel the world by boat while saving puppies on every continent was rather quixotic, but endearing nonetheless.
What's the definition of "haughty?"
Haughty is an adjective. It describes a person who is arrogantly proud. Example: My rich mother-in-law is so haughty that it makes everyone uncomfortable.
What does "behemoth" mean?
Behemoth is a noun. A behemoth is something of great size or power. Example: The engine on the sports car was a behemoth, especially given the relatively small size of the rest of the vehicle.
If something is described as "fetid," it's what?
Fetid is an adjective. It describes something that has a very unpleasant smell. Example: The full dumpster in the mall parking lot was particularly fetid on hot summer days.
To be "elated" is to be:
Elated is an adjective. It means thrilled and overjoyed. Example: Sarah was elated that she got into the Ph.D. program she had dreamed about since she was a kid.
What does "disclose" mean?
Disclose is a verb. It means to reveal or make public. Example: The only person that the magician ever disclosed his secrets to was his protege.
When you reach the "nadir," you reach what?
Nadir is a noun. It is the lowest point of anything, but often referring to a person or company's existence. Example: Between the divorce, getting fired and having her house burn down, Shirley was pretty sure she'd reached the nadir of her life.
What does "torrid" mean?
Torrid is an adjective. It describes something which gives off intense heat. Example: The torrid summer in Pheonix is enough to drive even the birds to find air conditioning.
If someone is "cerebral," what are they?
Cerebral is an adjective. In this context, it is related to the intellect (rather than describing a region of the brain.) Example: Joanie was much more cerebral than emotional when making difficult decisions about her future.
If something is "notorious," it's:
Notorious is an adjective. It describes someone or something who is widely and unfavorably known. Example: Be careful on that notorious stretch of highway with the blind curves.
What is the definition of "bilk?"
Bilk is a verb. It means to cheat or defraud. Example: The telemarketing scam aimed to bilk senior citizens out of their life savings.
Something "vapid" is what?
Vapid is an adjective. It describes something that isn't stimulating or challenging (mentally.) Example: The wrestler's vapid hour-long discussion of his favorite Gatorade flavor was snooze-inducing.
A "demagogue" is what?
Demagogue is a noun. Demagogues are leaders who gain power by appealing to people's prejudices and fears. Example: A leader who uses racist allegations to gain votes in a presidential election is a demagogue.
Something that's "ethereal" is what?
Ethereal is an adjective. It means so delicate and light that it's almost too perfect to exist. Example: The fabric of her gown appeared to be the most ethereal silk I'd ever seen.
"Abet" means what?
Abet is a verb. It means to aid, help or encourage someone to do something bad, like commit a crime. Example: Butch Cassidy abetted the Sundance Kid in their infamous robberies.
What does "arcane" mean?
Arcane is an adjective. It describes things that are obscure, mysterious, secret or only known by very few. Example: Only the scholar understood the arcane references in the 13th-century book she was reading.
Something "latent" is:
Latent is an adjective. It describes things which are currently hidden but could be exposed. Example: It wasn't until she was in college that she discovered her latent talent for astrophysics.
"Verdant" means what?
Verdant is an adjective. It means green like lush grass (or covered with such vegetation.) Example: The hills were particularly verdant after a spring filled with regular rainstorms.
What does "bard" mean?
Bard is a noun. A bard is a poet who is often also a singer. Shakespeare is often referred to as The Bard. Example: Tommy hired the bard to help him propose to Johnny.
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