The vocabulary below is meant to help you with the more difficult words. If the word isn’t on the list then you are either supposed to know it or it is too specific to be worth learning and you don’t have to know it to answer the question. Symbols in brackets mean part of speech (see bottom of the list). Sentences in italics give examples of usage for some more complex words and phrases.
And remember — you are not given a vocabulary list (or a dictionary) at your real exam.
Beholder (n) — the one who looks. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder means that everyone has their own idea of beauty and good-looking things.
Define (v) — describe, precisely state the meaning of something.
Perceive (v) — to become aware, to understand, grasp. She couldn’t perceive the change that transformed her family — they all suddenly became alienated, aloof of her.
Underlying (adj) — basic, fundamental; concealed, hardly visible. The underlying idea of any business venture is to use your assets frugally.
Contradiction (n) — conflict or inconsistency between two things, facts or statements. There is a contradiction between what the government promises and what it delivers.
Straightforward (adj) — not complicated, easy to do or understand. Learning a language is pretty much straightforward as long as you have a more experienced person to guide you.
Enviable (adj) — something that others would like to have; arousing envy. Your position in the company is most enviable — you made it to vice president in under a year.
Distraction (n) — something that stops you from having attention, a nuisance. You should avoid having any distractions when you drive.
Unaware (adj) — not knowing or conscious of something. I was unaware that you have invited your parents to dinner.
Knack of (n) — special skill or ability; talent. A kid form my school has a knack of getting in trouble.
Warmth (n) — heat, something that makes you feel warm. The warmth of their hospitality made the nervousness go away.
Villain (n) — an evil person; in a story of fiction — the main evil character.
Portrayal (n) — the way something is shown or described. The portrayal of historical figures isn’t always accurate.
Whereabouts (n) — place or location. What are your current whereabouts?
Speculate (v) — to talk of something you have no factual knowledge; to assume without knowing the fact. People love to speculate about celebrities.
Exhibit (v) — to show, display (especially in public). The works of famous artists are going to be exhibited in the National Gallery next Tuesday.
Injury (n) — wound, damage or trauma. Steven’s got a leg injury so he won’t make it to tomorrow’s game.
Carbon dating — scientific analysis of how old an object is. It is performed by analysing the amount of carbon in it.
DNA (n) — deoxyribonucleic acid, the data in every living thing’s cells that contains genetic information. The murderer was found using a DNA sample from the drop of blood found at the crime scene.
Descendant (n) — someone related to a person who lived before, possibly long time ago.
Blindfolded (adj) — with eyes tied shut with a piece of cloth. People that are sentenced to execution are normally blindfolded when the verdict is carried out.
Unwittingly (adv) — done without intent, not deliberately. Unwittingly I managed to tell everyone her most intimate secret.
Stray (v) — lose path, get lost. Before I knew it I strayed into deep woods and got completely lost.
Harness (n) — leather straps buckled to a horse’s mouth that help to steer (control) it.
Cling to (v) — to hold something tight, not willing to let go. People often cling to mementos — various items that remind them of their past.
Steer (v) — to control a vehicle, horse cart and so on. Steering a car with one hand is bad habit and young drivers should avoid it before it develops and settles in.
Obstacle (n) — something that is in one’s way, preventing progress.
Impaired (adj) — not as strong (as before). People with impaired vision can’t enjoy life as much as their 20/20 vision friends.
Charity (n) — an organisation that helps poor people with money, clothes, food. Our local charities plan to raise money for the orphanage.
Wrist (n) — part of one’s hand where you usually wear watch. Teenagers often slit their wrists trying to attract the much craved attention.
Betray (v) — help the enemy, become a traitor. Betraying your friend’s faith is inexcusable.
Paw (n) — the soft part at the end of dog’s or cat’s leg.
Canine (n) — Latin word for dog.
Attuned (adj) — used to, conditioned to.
Pat (v) — touch with the flat hand several times. She patted me on the back thinking that would console me.
Inkling (n) — a slight suggestion or suspicion.
Contribute (v) — to do your part in a collective thing. I contributed 10 dollars to the local charity.
Convinced (adj) — persuaded, having the opinion. My father is convinced that every boy of my age should be into sports.
Strive to (v) — to do your best to do, to achieve something. Our community strives to perfection when it comes to clean, tidy streets.
Sophistication (n) — having a lot of experience, good manners — usually referred to a person. That chap is all sophistication — he comes from a well-off family.
Reliable (adj) — not breaking down, predictable and dependable. A reliable car is something I could use for the long trips I have to take every now and then.
Outcome (n) — result; something that follows an action. The outcome was hard to predict but we didn’t expect it to be that dramatic.
Effort (n) — attempt, try; physical or mental exertion. If you put some effort into your homework I’m sure you will do much better.
Incorporate (v) — introduce, include.
Susceptible to (adj) — easily affected by something. Teenagers are susceptible to the dangers of alcohol abuse.
Temper (n) — general character; anger. Youngsters tend to show their temper if they think they are being mistreated.
Anxiety (n) — feeling of nervousness that has no obvious reason. Pre-exam anxiety is common among freshman and sophomore students.
Prominent (adj) — standing out or otherwise noticeable. A prominent scientist in his field, he had over 50 patents to his name.
Stem from (v) — originate from. Most common misconceptions stem from people who are ignorant and gullible.
Assumption (n) — an unconfirmed idea. He made an assumption that Jane is cheating on him right now because it was about time she came home and she didn’t even phone him she’s running late!
Consciously (adv) — realising what is happening, in good mind. I would never do such a thing consciously.
Detrimental (adj) — harmful, causing injury. Most illegal drugs have detrimental effect on both your body and your mind.
Consistent (adj) — steady or even. Consistent players like Messi that manage to score almost in every match are the real game makers in today’s football.
Stark (adj) — very strong, noticeable. The stark contrast between the rich and the poor in developing countries makes you think if there is such thing as justice.
Rigorous (adj) — stern, strict. Rigorous training is what makes the professional athletes the high-achievers they are.
Asset (n) — something valuable or useful. My professional assets include my knowledge of languages, degree in engineering and I’m also pretty good with computers.
Hindrance (n) — something that slows down, a nuisance.
Flick through (v) — to go through something (like a book) quickly without paying much attention to details. As I was waiting for her to come out of the dressing room I took a men’s magazine to flick through.
Stigma (n) — a distinguishing mark of disgrace.
Connotation (n) — hidden meaning of something. Her speech is always full of connotations only few can read.
Fritter away (v) — to spend something unwisely. Try not to fritter away the money you inherited form your parents.
Insight (n) — sudden realisation; ability to see hidden meanings and ideas. The company is looking to hire young people who have insight on how the industry should look in five years from now on.
Nugget (n) — a small lump (piece) of something such as gold or other precious material.
Prolific (adj) — (of a writer) able to produce lots of writing. Stephen King is a very prolific writer of horror fiction.
Prodigy (n) — an extremely gifted child; a wonder.
Hail (v) — to call, to dub. They ironically hailed him “the great thinker of our time”.
Acclaimed (adj) — widely recognised, praised. The acclaimed artists are invited to attend the annual “Silver Easel” award.
Manic (adj) — characterised by mania.
Prompt (v) — suggest, tip. The idea of this book was prompted to me by my recent trip to a ski resort.
Baffling (adj) — difficult to understand, complex. The baffling task that stood before us had to be dealt with before the boss was back from lunch.
Foible (n) — a minor weakness. The old motorcycle has a foible — the fuel gauge doesn’t work.
One-off (adj) — one of a kind. The one-off car was auctioned last Wednesday with the winning bid exceeding two million dollars.
Nurture (v) — promoting or supporting the development. This school specialises on nurturing the artistic talents of their students.
Engross (v) — to occupy or absorb one’s attention. In my younger years I would spend days on end engrossed by modern science fiction books.
Trigger (v) — to set something into motion, to activate. The murder of Franz Ferdinand triggered the events that eventually become the First World War.
Prattle (v) — to talk in a foolish, non-serious way. We would prattle about silly things during our lunch break.
Recall (v) — to remember, to invoke from memory.
Lair (n) — place where a wild animal lives. The locals believe that this path leads to cheetah’s lair.
Squidgy (adj) — soft and moist to the touch. I reached for the ground, it was squidgy and generally unpleasant.
Foreshadow (v) — to give a glimpse to the things to come. The book foreshadowed the plot of the story in the first chapter.
Breakthrough (n) — important new discovery. The recent breakthrough in technology made the portable electronic devices much more affordable.
Luminary (n) — a remarkable person in a particular field. The luminary of fashion industry Calvin Klein was rumoured to have attended the party.
Venue (n) — a place organised for a particular show or event. We had trouble finding the appropriate venue for “The Pride of Nation” premiere.
Imply (v) — suggest, hint at. She implied that she doesn’t mind going to my place after the official part of the evening is over.
Gritty (adj) — hardy and courageous; tough. The gritty adventures of famous detective.
Superb (adj) — excellent, of top quality. The superb writing of Leo Tolstoy is hailed as the greatest example of Russian fiction.
Convoluted (adj) — difficult to understand, complex. The convoluted narration is what makes the book so hard to get into.
Subsequent (adv) — something that follows after the initial. The first and the subsequent visitors were told to come tomorrow.
Indie (adj) — short for ‘independent’. Indie developers are not limited by orders of their publishers.
Inspire (v) — to stimulate somebody spiritually to produce something (e.g. a work of art). My wife inspired me during the long months of writing the book.
Gripping (adj) — exciting, extremely interesting. The gripping plot is what made the book win the Pulitzer’s Prize this year.
Muted (adj) — toned down, bleak, not vivid.
Deliberate (adj) — made intentionally, on purpose. Nobody thought I would scratch my own car deliberately to get the insurance company pay me some extra money.
Instalment (n) — a part of a multi-part movie or book. The next instalment of Harry Potter adventures.
Seedy (adj) — shabby, not pretty.
Underbelly (n) — (here) the unpleasant part of society that is usually hidden. I remember growing up in the underbelly part of town.
Self-serious (adj) — taking itself too seriously, used negatively.