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Ten Interesting SAT Vocabulary Words You’ll Probably Never Use

These SAT vocabulary words are likely to show up on the SAT verbal portion of your exam, but probably nowhere else in your life. Before we lament our lassitude, let’s review a few sundry terms.

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1. Abjure (verb)

To reject, renounce

Abjure is a word that might pop up in your copy of “The Scarlet Letter” or another classic text, but isn’t much used today. Words like reject, renounce and disavow have taken its place. However, you can decipher from its root words that it must roughly mean “negatively judge”—a helpful memory aid for test day.

2. Calumny (noun)

Attempt to spoil someone else’s reputation by spreading lies

In today’s legalistic world, the word calumny has little place. If calumny occurred in your class, you would just call it gossip. If, however, it happened between politicians or other officials, it would be deemed defamation, libel, or slander. While you might not see calumny on Twitter, it’s highly likely you’ll see it on the SAT.

3. Diaphanous (adjective)

Light, airy, transparent

While this word is still used to some degree in fashion and interior design to describe sheer fabric, it’s largely disappeared from mainstream English. Still, try using it in conversation if the chance ever arises—it’s just so fun to say.

4. Inchoate (adjective)

Unformed or formless, in a beginning stage

This word harkens back to religious texts about creation. It isn’t quite the same as the synonyms for it (beginning, unformed) because those lack the connotation of grandeur the word “inchoate” carries. The kind of word you use for forming galaxies, fledgling governments, and mythological stories, it still packs a punch with the right crowd.

5. Inimical (adjective)

Hostile, enemy-like

Easy to remember because it sounds so similar to “intimate,” this word means just the opposite– cold and defensive. It has a strong negative connotation and implies a certain passive aggressiveness. Inimical might describe your feelings toward the big kid who picked on you in middle school (or maybe toward the SAT itself).

6. Limpid (adjective)

Clear, transparent

Let me be limpid: now a jargon term used almost exclusively in art history and literary review, this word is nearly useless. It means simple, easy to understand, or obvious.

7. Pellucid (adjective)

Easily intelligible, clear

Lucid is another word you’ll want to know for the SAT verbal. It means awake and fully conscious. For example, lucid dreaming means you’re aware in your dreams. Pellucid means about the same thing (and it’s also pretty similar to “limpid”). Who knew you once needed so many words to say things were clear?

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8. Pulchritude (noun)

Physical beauty

This is a word, like abjure, that you probably won’t see outside of a classic text. In fact, unless the text is over a hundred years old, you may not see it at all. Shakespeare was fond of using this word to describe men. Because of this, it has a sarcastic tone to it most of the time.

9. Solipsistic (adjective)

Believing that oneself is all that exists

Instead of solipsistic, you can just say selfish. This is narcissism in the extreme. It has its uses in philosophy texts, where it describes certain ideas. For instance, it helps explain certain views that everything we think we experience is just made up in our own heads—an extreme form of solipsism.

10. Zephyr (noun)

A gentle breeze

Those familiar with classic rock will know that a zephyr is a mild wind. In Greek times, it was used to describe a wind that came from warmer climates in winter. It can be an omen of good luck or good times on the way.


As we wish you a warm zephyr to guide you towards a pulchritudinous score on your SAT verbal, remember that EasyBib.com is here for all your writing and citing needs in between tests. Get your citations done in MLA style, APA format, Chicago style format and many more, then get back to your flashcards!