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SAT Words

TermDefinitionExample
conventional customary; conforming to established practices The conventional wisdom is that the sun is the center of our galaxy.
mitigate to make less severe or harsh; to moderate; to lessen; to relieve The ER doctor came in to mitigate the injuries before sending the patient for emergency surgery.
pragmatic practical; realistic; down to earth It's good to think pragmatically instead of with your emotions.
altruistic characterized by unselfish concern for the welfare of others; not egotistical A young boy brought his birthday money to school to donate it to FCA. This was a very altruistic act.
diffident timid; lacking self-confidence; shy and reserved, especially in social gatherings; self-effacing Sometimes people appear arrogant or self-absorbed when they are really just diffident.
frank open and honest; candid The girls told her friend, frankly, that the dress was not flattering on her.
revere to show great respect for a person, idea, or symbol; to venerate Pope Francis is revered throughout the world for his good will.
subtle gradual and therefore not obvious The Grand Canyon was formed by the subtle passage of the Colorado River through the rock.
reticent reluctant to publicly discuss one’s thoughts, feelings, and personal affairs; restrained and reserved in style; not outspoken Even though Madonna is very outspoken, she is reticent to talk about her family in public.
antithetical characterized by an extreme contrast or polar opposites "She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts; she's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers" uses the antithetical relationship between the two girls to show the better choice for a girlfriend.
prescient perceiving the significance of events before they occur; showing foresight Coach Hodges presciently moved all students into the building during the bad weather, which saved hundreds of lives when the tornado hit.
nostalgia a bittersweet longing for something in the past Bubble lights on a Christmas tree make me nostalgic for my grandmother's house on Christmas Eve.
beguile to trick or captivate someone, either with deception or irresistible charm The boy used his charm to beguile the young lady; it wasn't long, however, before his true colors began to show.
ominous menacing and threatening; foreshadowing ill-fortune The image of a hurricane in the gulf is very ominous this time of year.
succinct brief and to the point; concise Sometimes people mistake succinct response for rudeness.
discerning demonstrating keen insight and good judgement; able to distinguish good from bad To be an accomplished art critic, you need a discerning eye.
belie to give a false impression; to misrepresent Peter Parker belies Spider-man's real identity.
anomaly a deviation from a common pattern; a departure from the norm; something that is atypical and thus aberrant In the numerical set 2, 4, 6, 8, 9 - the number 9 is the anomaly.
peremptory an order or command that does not allow discussion or refusal; an arbitrary order The peremptory instructed us to "throw our hands in the air and wave them like we just don't care."
understatement a figure of speech in which a writer or speaker deliberately makes a situation seem less important than it is "It's no big deal; I just killed him" is an understatement.
hyperbole the use of exaggerated language for the purpose of emphasis or heightened effect "I called you a million times last night" is a hyperbole.
allusion a reference to a person, place, or thing, historical or literary, that adds to the reader’s understanding of the subject Stories with lots of allusion can be difficult for some readers to understand.
parenthetical expression an expression inserted into the flow of thought and set off by parentheses Sometimes more clarification (or a parenthetical expression) is needed to help the reader understand the sentence.
satire the use of wit, irony, and sarcasm to make fun of human follies Saturday Night Live is all about using satire.
analogy a comparison of an unfamiliar idea or object to a familiar one An easy analogy is pencil is to write as crayon is to color.
analogous characterized by parallel similarity that permits the drawing of an analogy
lampoon to ridicule with satire The National Lampoon movies ridicule the "typical American family/traditions" using satire.
eulogize to praise with elegant words Sometimes I eulogize Coach Hodges, but never loud enough where he can hear me. ;)
euphemism a more agreeable or less offensive substitute for a generally unpleasant word or concept "I need to visit the ladies' room" is a euphemism for "I need to go pee."
qualify to limit, modify, or restrict In his discovery of the law of the pendulum, Galileo used – if legend can be believed – his own pulse beat as a test. "If legend can be believed" is a qualifier
concede to acknowledge or admit; to make concessions We were a tight defense and didn't concede many goals.
rebut to attempt to prove that an accusation or theory is false
refute to disprove an accusation or theory Scientists were able to refute the theory that vaccinations cause Autism.
undermine to weaken; subvert; hinder People make decisions that undermine their own goals every day.
underscore to emphasize; to draw special attention to a fact, idea, or situation The energy crisis underscored the need to increase fuel efficiency.
coherent marked by an orderly, logical, and clear relationship If you can’t explain this concept in a more coherent way, I will never be able to understand it.
bias a mental tendency or inclination; especially an unfair preference for a person or group; not objective and therefore partisan News networks sometimes lean toward one particular candidate, showing bias.
criterion the standard of judging something The criterion for riding this roller coaster is height.
conjecture a hypothesis formed from incomplete evidence; a deduction If you don't have evidence to prove your theory, then it's just conjecture.
sanguine confidently optimistic and cheerful People with sanguine personalities are always cheerful and positive.
exuberant really happy and enthusiastic; joyfully unrestrained My kids are always exuberant on Christmas morning when they see that Santa has visited during the night.
didactic designed or intended to teach or instruct; serving to enlighten or inform Your textbooks are didactic; they are designed to teach you the material.
emphatic marked by great conviction; forceful and clear; unambiguous "Are you a Tigers fan?" one student asked. "Absolutely!!!" Mrs. Hull answered emphatically.
earnest marked by deep sincerity and serious intent I earnestly pray for our leaders that they might make the best decisions for our country.
parallel structure the repetition of words, phrases, or sentences that are similar in meaning and structure ...I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day down in Alabama..
situational irony an inconsistency between what is expected or intended and what actually occurs Posting on Facebook complaining how useless Facebook is
verbal irony saying one thing and implying something else, usually the opposite of the expressed meaning "Man, this is a beautiful day, " said the man standing in the rain.
assonance the repetition of vowel sounds within non-rhyming words I never heard before of a ship so well furbished with battle tackle… …no wise man in hall or weathered veteran… …asleep from their feasting… …they wept to heaven… (battle/tackle); (weathered/veteran); asleep/feasting); (wept/heaven) - from "Beowulf"
paradox a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true "This statement is a lie," said a man who can only speak lies.
personification a figure of speech in which inanimate objects are endowed with human characteristics The wind whispered his name.
metaphor a figure of speech in which two unrelated objects are compared Love is a battlefield.
simile a figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared, often in a phrase introduced by “like” or “as” “Her romantic mind was like the tiny boxes, one within the other, that come from the puzzling East . . .” — Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie.
vignette a brief literary sketch "Boys welcomed me at baseball, too, for I had, through enthusiastic practice, what was weirdly known as a boy’s arm. In winter, in the snow, there was neither baseball nor football, so the boys and I threw snowballs at passing cars. I got in trouble throwing snowballs, and have seldom been happier since." (Annie Dillard, An American Childhood. Harper & Row, 1987)
anecdote a short story told to illustrate a point The preacher began his sermon with an anecdote to illustrate the day's message.
nonchalant marked by an air of casual concern Adrienne shucked her coat and tried to act nonchalant in spite of the warmth in her cheeks.
skeptical/skepticism characterized by an attitude of doubt and distrust When my government proposes to wage war, it's less important that I trust them than that I ask hard, skeptical questions.
flippant characterized by a casual disrespectful attitude; especially in situations that call for a serious response She embarrassed her mother at the charity dinner by making flippant conversation about the underprivileged.
sardonic very sarcastic; mocking In the cartoon, the villain gave a sardonic sneer before kicking the hero off the top of the building.
indignant characterized by outrage caused by something perceived as unjust or wrong I was getting indignant at being asked what I thought were stupid questions by him.
exhilarated filled with excitement and enthusiasm; thrilled As the roller coaster crested the highest hill, I became completely exhilarated and forgot my fear of heights.
lighthearted describes an attitude or mood that is carefree and cheerful Sometimes teasing begins in a lighthearted manner, but quickly turns ugly.
scholarly describes a tone that is academic, learned, and studious I wrote a paper for the scholarly journal.
jovial describes people who display high-spirited merriment; full of joy Santa Claus is very jovial, especially at Christmastime.
fervent very enthusiastic; having or showing great intensity of spirit "Lord, please help the families who've lost loved ones in the war;" this is my fervent prayer.
disdain a feeling of intense dislike and great scorn; contempt The cat looked at the dog in disdain as he shook his owner's hand in the hopes of getting a treat.
vehement characterized by strong emotions or convictions; very emphatic I am vehemently opposed to my sons having cell phones before they are 13.
caustic characterized by a critical tone and biting words that cause hurt feelings Oscar the Grouch has a caustic personality.
wary marked by caution; a watchful concern that is alert to danger or deception Be wary of people who promise something for free.
pompous characterized by an excessive and elevated sense of self-importance; arrogant Kanye West is the most pompous person ever!!
ambivalent characterized by mixed feelings about a person, object, or course of action I am ambivalent about which movie we see; I just want to get out of the house!
indifferent characterized by a lack of interest or concern; apathetic Some people are totally indifferent about the way they look.
wistful sadly thoughtful; pensively reflective When I think of my childhood best friend, I get wistful.
whimsical spontaneously fanciful or playful; given to chance or whims Little girls whimsically pretend to be princesses.
evenhanded marked by impartiality; fair to all sides The best umpires are evenhanded and call the game fairly.
prudent characterized by a watchful and careful consideration of all potential consequences; cautious and sensible It is prudent to save your money because you never know when you may need it.
reflective taking time to think carefully about things; thoughtful When completing journal entries, I expect you to be reflective.
conversational an informal exchange or presentation of thoughts and feelings "What time are you leaving?" she asked in a conversational tone.
objective looking at issues in a detached and impartial manner It's important to be objective when grading PCR.
measured the quality of being calm and restrained; unhurried and deliberate I took measured steps back to the tent once I spotted the bear.
hedonist a person who is devoted to seeking sensual pleasure Bacchus was a hedonist.He loves everything in excess.
reprobate a person who is depraved, unprincipled, and wicked The reprobate who killed the little girl is serving a life sentence.
interloper a person who intrudes where he or she is not wanted; an uninvited guest Raccoons often get into our garbage at the camp; they are annoying interlopers.
acolyte a person who is a devoted fan or follower of someone famous Many acolytes came to hear Pope Francis speak.
iconoclast a person who attacks cherished ideas, traditions, and institutions The iconoclast defaced the eagle statue at the LOM field.
mentor a person who acts as a wise and trusted adviser When I began my first year of teaching, I was assigned a veteran teacher as my mentor.
benefactor a person who helps people or institutions The benefactor donated a large sum to the university; that's probably why the library is named after her.
innovator a person who creates new inventions, ideas, or ways of doing things Steve Jobs was the most famous innovator of our time.
proponent a person who fights for a cause, idea, or movement; a champion Michelle Obama is a proponent of healthy school lunch.
sage a person who is renowned for his or her wisdom and sagacity Mahatma Gandhi was a sage Hindu who promoted the nonviolent movement for the independence of India.
philanthropist a person who gives money or gifts to charities; a wealthy person with a generous nature and concern for human welfare The philanthropist donated to many worth causes.
misanthrope a person who distrusts and is contemptuous of other people; misanthropy is a general hatred of humankind He wasn't always a misanthrope, but now he avoids people and hates society.
connoisseur a person who, through study and interest, has a fine appreciation for something The man at the cheese counter at Whole Foods is an unparalleled connoisseur of different cheeses.
neophyte a person who is new at an occupation or task; a beginner; a novice He was a neophyte on the track team and therefore had the worst times.
dilettante an amateur who “dilly-dallies” or engages in activity without serious intentions; a dabbler When it comes to learning how to play the guitar, my son is a dilettante who will practice one day but not the next.
reciprocate to return in kind or degree; to give or take mutually Thanks for dinner! Can we reciprocate by having you over next week?
resilient able to bounce back from adversity A diamond is the hardest, most resilient, most beautiful gem of all.
resurgence surging back to prominence; rising again The resurgence of neon colors and side pony tails makes children of the 1980s smile in nostalgia.
malaise a feeling of mental, moral, or spiritual unease When our boss announced upcoming salary cuts, many people in our office complained of malaise and job dissatisfaction.
malicious having or showing a desire to cause harm Her chief function, however, was to see that the beasts of burden were duly fed, and to protect them against accidents and malicious influence.
uncouth displaying deplorable manners that are crude and boorish It is uncouth to belch at the table.
unfettered free from restraint or restriction; free and open During the storm, the boat came unfettered from the dock.
uncorroborated unsupported by other evidence; unsubstantiated She is believed to have left Iraq after the war and some uncorroborated reports said she is in Syria.
unnerved filled with apprehension; deprived of courage and strength "How could you let him in here?" she demanded of Kris, unnerved by his sudden appearance in a place where she was allegedly safe.
undaunted not discouraged or disheartened; resolutely courageous Even though the odds were stacked against him, he continued on undaunted.
unsavory distasteful or disagreeable; morally offensive Her ex-husband was an unsavory character; he's in jail for embezzlement.
unfailing the quality of being sure and certain; constant Ainsley's devotion to 1D is unfailing.
unaffected the quality of being emotionally unmoved by outside events Since there is so much bad news in the media these days, sometimes I am unaffected by things that might otherwise make me sad.
unscrupulous the quality of being unprincipled; lacking standards of what is right or honorable The unscrupulous man committed insurance fraud; he said a tree fell on his house even though there was no damage.
unpretentious characterized by a modest and natural manner; not stilted or unnatural The little lady was completely unpretentious; you would never know she was the heiress to the Campbell Soup fortune.
narcissistic characterized by excessive self-absorption, especially about one’s personal appearance Coach Hodges is narcissistic and often checks his reflection in the mirror.
moribund approaching death; on the verge of becoming obsolete VHS tapes are moribund because newer and better movie formats are available.
voluptuous full of delight or pleasure; having a shapely and pleasing appearance Every once in a while I like to treat myself to the voluptuous indulgence of a spa weekend.
protean capable of assuming many different shapes and forms; extremely variable A true shape-shifter is protean.
demagogue a political leader who inflames popular emotions and passions Donald Trump is a demagogue.
pundit a knowledgeable commentator who offers informed opinions on a topic Bill O'Reilly is a political pundit who has his own talk show.
heretic a person who opposes accepted and established beliefs Galileo was excommunicated by the Catholic Church for being a heretic.
progenitor a person who was an originator or major contributor to an artistic style or trend Andy Warhol was a progenitor of the pop art movement.
zealot a person who is full of enthusiasm and zeal for a cause The security camera caught the health zealot vandalizing the soft drink manufacturer’s office.
deleterious harmful; destructive; dangerous Contrary to what many individuals believe, taking too many vitamins can be quite deleterious.
demise the end of existence or activity; death Since Jim was so young, everyone was stunned by his heart attack and sudden demise.
despondent feeling downcast and disheartened Whenever I feel despondent, I call my friends to make me smile.
exonerate to free from accusation or blame As your lawyer, I will do everything I can to exonerate your restaurant of the food poisoning accusations.
exorbitant unreasonably expensive; inordinately priced; literally out of orbit The exorbitant amount the actress paid for that dress could feed at least ten families for a whole month!
myriad many; a large number You have a myriad of options to choose from when selecting a college or university.
sophistry the deliberate use of subtly deceptive and misleading arguments Although the cult leader knew he was being dishonest with his group members, he hoped they would believe his sophistry.
laconic marked by few words; very brief and to the point The valedictorian delivered a laconic speech, contrast to the salutatorian's lengthy speech.
trivial of little worth or importance; trifling; insignificant While some trivial details still need to be addressed, we should still be finished with the project by quitting time.
quixotic characterized by an idealistic but impractical quest Nobody believed the tiny boy would achieve his quixotic goal of making the football team.
hubris overbearing pride and arrogance Filled with hubris, the rabbit lost the race to the turtle.
cavalier characterized by a haughty disregard for others; arrogant and overbearing What qualifies him to dismiss my article in such a cavalier fashion?
antediluvian ridiculously old and out-of-date If Gina looked in a few fashion magazines, she would realize her hairstyle is an antediluvian one that went out of style in the 1970s.
indomitable cannot be tamed or subdued After the terrorist attack, the country stood with an indomitable sense of unity to let the world know it would not be frozen by fear.
catharsis an experience that cleanses the spirit and leaves a person feeling emotionally refreshed I find journal writing to be a most effective catharsis because putting my thoughts down on paper allows me to visualize my feelings.
draconian describes laws, rules, and punishment that are very harsh and severe My husband says having to eat my cooking is a type of draconian punishment.
nefarious describes people or actions that are extremely wicked or evil; vile The wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz could be described as evil and nefarious.
prolific very productive; fruitful The prolific apple tree provided a family with a healthy snack.
mercurial unpredictable and given to constantly shifting moods Many teens are known to be mercurial, because they are constantly shifting moods.
maudlin excessively sentimental; emotional and tearful Sarah is very maudlin because she cries almost all of the time at small incidents.
erudite learned and scholarly The student was extremely erudite, and graduated college with a degree.
capricious and fickle very changeable and impulsive The mother could not decide which dress to get, and her daughter thought that she was being very fickle.
enmity and animus a feeling of intense dislike and animosity; antipathy When the brothers fell for the same girl, they then had an intense feeling of enmity towards one another.
adamant and intransigent describes behavior that is unyielding and inflexible
loquacious and garrulous very talkative The loquacious student always got in trouble in class.
tendentious and partisan describes strong and biased views on controversial issues
castigate and excoriate to express very strong and harsh disapproval
dexterous and adroit skillful The dexterous girl was very good in gymnastics.
histrionic and overwrought describes an exaggerated and theatrical display of emotion
esoteric and recondite describes knowledge that is obscure and hard for non-specialists to understand
brusque and curt behavior that is rude, blunt, and peremptory in manner He was very brusque when he answered the question; he must be having a bad day.
unorthodox and unconventional ways of doing something that breaks from established practices or customary procedures A bride wearing a red wedding dress is completely unorthodox or unconventional in our culture.
inept and maladroit describes behavior that lacks grace and is thus clumsy and ineffective
platitudinous and hackneyed describes trite, often repeated statements presented as if they were significant and original
flamboyant and theatrical fashions that exaggerates, showy, and intended to attract attention
spate a large number or amount of something coming in quick succession There was a spate of action movies released in the summer of 2012.
rectitude the quality of great moral integrity and honesty
licentious characterized by the lack of moral discipline, especially in sexual conduct Charlie Sheen and Bill Cosby both had consequences for their licentious behavior.
ubiquitous characterized by being everywhere at the same time The Kardashians are ubquitous; images of them are literally every where I look.
watershed a historic turning point that marks a momentous change of course The release of the first iPhone was a watershed moment for technology.
copious large in quantity; plentiful; abundant Severus Snape wrote copious amounts of notes in the textbook about potions.
obstreperous characterized by loud, unruly behavior and noisy, stubborn defiance The toddlers on the plane were obstreperous and kicked my seat for the entire flight.
idiosyncrasy a behavior that is distinctive and peculiar to an individual One of my many idiosyncrasies is that I eat my cereal without milk.
anachronism an error in chronology that occurs when a person, event, or object is chronologically out of place Anachronisms often happen in movies when something is mentioned that was not yet invented or created during the time the movie was set.
chicanery deception by artful trickery The Trojan Horse was a nice example of chicanery
aplomb poise under pressure; coolness under strain When she fell in front of her peers, she handled it with aplomb.
eclectic composed of elements drawn from various sources and styles; diverse I listen to many different kinds of music; my tastes are eclectic
bombastic marked by pretentious writing or speech that is stilted or unnatural Because he is a bit too bombastic for me, I will not be voting for that politician again!
credulous disposed to believe reports and stories based on little evidence; gullible My uncle is a credulous man who once paid a fortune for an imaginary gold mine.
nuance a very small difference in color, meaning, or feeling; a delicate shade of difference To perfect his game, the rookie golfer watched every nuance of his mentor’s swing.
dichotomy characterized by a division into two parts His dichotomy of heaven and hell became an excellent essay on the contrast between paradise and eternal suffering.
vituperative marked by harshly abusive criticism; scathing
innuendo an indirect and usually negative reference; an insinuation After I heard my neighbor make an innuendo about me, I banned her from my home.
effusive gushing with unrestrained enthusiasm Although the home team easily won the baseball game, they showed good sportsmanship and gave effusive cheers for their opponents.
venal marked by corrupt dealings; open to bribery The venal police officer accepted the money the drug dealers gave him to look away from their illegal deals.
ignominious a condition of great public shame, dishonor, and humiliation Since Ryan struck out at bat three times, he is credited as the reason our baseball team suffered such an ignominious loss in the state playoffs.
disingenuous characterized by a false appearance of honesty; deceptive and therefore not candid or frank Most politicians are disingenuous - they say one thing but do another.
indelible impossible to remove, erase, or wash away; memorable The memory of my grandmother's death is indelible.
equanimity emotional calmness and composure in times of stress President George W. Bush showed equanimity on the morning of September 11, 2001.
mellifluous a sound that is sweet and full and thus pleasing to hear At night the stream outside our cabin makes a mellifluous sound that is very peaceful to our ears.
ethereal very delicate; airy and light; exquisitely refined This artist has a supremely delicate brush-stroke that gives his work a feeling of ethereal lightness.
bastion a stronghold or fortification; a group or place that defends a way of life Women of the Junior League are bastions for graciousness and Southern hospitality.
amalgam a blend of different elements; a mixture A sphinx is an amalgam - it is the combination of man and lion.
entrenched solidly established, dug in; strongly ingrained The soldiers became entrenched as the hunkered down to wait for the enemy.
cupidity extreme greed for material wealth New mega lottery winners often show cupidity.
ineffable something that is hard to express and difficult to put into words When Carson saw his fiancée walking down the church aisle, he experienced an ineffable feeling.
charismatic full of personal charm and magnetism The woman was so affected by the celebrity’s charisma that she fainted when she met him.
lugubrious expressing the grief and sorrow associated with an irreparable loss Sadly, when the world realized Marilyn Monroe’s beautiful smile hid her lugubrious thoughts, it was too late.
elucidate to make clear by explanation; clarify To make life easy for her Algebra I students, she goes out of her way to elucidate the complex problems before each test.
conundrum a puzzling question or problem that is difficult to resolve "What came first, the chicken or the egg?" is an age-old conundrum.
pernicious causing harm in a hidden and injurious way Although Meredith does not believe her consumption of alcohol has reached a pernicious level, I believe she has a drinking problem.
incredulous not willing to believe; unbelieving The bank teller gave Kurt an incredulous look when he deposited a real check for twenty million dollars.
pantheon a select group of illustrious people who have done the same thing Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were all pantheons for racial equality.
chagrin strong feelings of embarrassment and mortification caused by failure or keen disappointment Much to my chagrin, I failed my math test.
inimical injurious or harmful in effect Although I attempt to avoid the school bully, he always goes out of his way to be inimical to me.
aesthetic characterized by a sensitivity to beauty in art and taste I designed my classroom to have an Ivy League aesthetic.
Created by: AHull