SAT 2016




Images   ambiguous (adj)   ambi- both + agere to do

having more than one meaning or interpretation : In her poem, the meaning of the cloak is intentionally ambiguous.

Form: ambiguity = quality of having more than one interpretation

Synonym: equivocal

Root family: [ambi-, amphi-] ambidextrous (able to use both hands skillfully), ambivalent (having mixed feelings), amphibian (an animal that lives partially in water and partially on land), amphitheater (an outdoor theater with seats surrounding (on both sides of) the stage)

Don’t confuse with: ambivalent (having mixed feelings)

Images   anomaly (n)

something that deviates from the norm or expectation : Astronomers scan the night sky looking for anomalies such as radiation bursts or unusual planetary motions.

Form: anomalous = out of the norm

Synonyms: incongruityaberration

Don’t confuse with: animosity (strong hostility)

Don’t confuse anomalous with anonymous (unnamed).

Images   diversion (n)   di- away + vertere to turn

[1] an entertaining activity to distract one from everyday concerns : In the mountains, our diversions include hiking, fishing, and reading.

Form: diverting = entertaining

[2] an action intended to distract someone : I will create a diversion while you sneak into the house.

Form: divert = to cause something, such as traffic or a river, to change course; to distract someone’s attention from something

Root family: [di-, dis-] discredit (harm the reputation of something or someone), dispassionate (not influenced by strong emotions), disparate (very different; variegated), discrepancy (a lack of compatibility between facts or claims), disseminate (to cast widely), disperse (to spread or scatter), disputatious (argumentative), diffident (lacking in self-confidence), diffuse (spread over a wide area)

Root family: [vers, vert] adversary (enemy), diverse (various), adverse (harmful), subvert (undermine), averse (opposed), versatile (adaptable to different functions)

Don’t confuse with: diverse (various)

Images   divulge (v)   di- widely + vulgare to make public

to make widely known, particularly information that was previously kept private : I cannot divulge the information that was discussed in our private meeting.

Form: divulgence = the act of making something widely known

Root family: [dis-, di-] disparate (very different; variegated), discrepancy (a lack of compatibility between facts or claims), disperse (to spread or scatter), diffuse (spread over a wide area)

Root family: [vulg] vulgar (crude and unrefined)

Don’t confuse divulgence with indulgence (an act of being excessively generous or lenient)

Images   elusive (adj)   e- out + ludere to play

difficult to catch, find, understand, or achieve : The snow leopard is one of nature’s most beautiful yet elusive creatures, rarely seen by human eyes.

Form: elude = to evade capture or understanding

Synonyms: evasiveimpalpableintangible

Root family: [e-, ex-] extol (to praise highly), extemporaneous (without planning), exuberant (filled with liveliness and energy)

Root family: [lud, lus] collusion (a secret understanding that has a harmful purpose), delude (to make someone believe something that is not true), illusion (something that gives a false impression of reality), ludicrous (foolish and ridiculous), allusion (to hint at indirectly)

Don’t confuse with: illusory (giving a false impression), allusive (providing or pertaining to an indirect hint)

Images   empirical (adj)

pertaining to or based on observation or experience : Although string theory provides elegant mathematical solutions to many vexing problems in physics, it lacks any empirical evidence.

Form: empiricism = the belief that all knowledge is derived from sensory experience

Mnemonic: Imagine an empire in which everyone, especially the emperor, is a scientist, with telescopes on every rooftop and chemistry labs in every basement, where they constantly gather empirical data.

Images   enigma (n)

someone or something that is difficult to understand : King Lear’s motivation remains an enigma.

Form: enigmatic = difficult to understand

Synonyms: conundrumquandaryriddle

Images   idiosyncrasy (n)   idios unique + syn with + krasis mixture

a mannerism or quirk peculiar to an individual : One of the stranger idiosyncrasies of professional athletes is their tendency to refer to themselves in the second or third person during interviews.

Form: idiosyncratic = quirky

Synonyms: quirkpeculiarityeccentricitymannerismfoible

Root family: [idio] idiom (a common phrase that has a nonliteral meaning, such as “at the end of your rope”), idiot (stupid person)

Don’t confuse with: ideology (a system of ideals central to the political power of a group), iconoclast (one who attacks cherished beliefs), idiotic (stupid)

Images   inscrutable (adj)   in- not + scrutari to search

beyond understanding : I find quantum physics to be almost as inscrutable as the motivations of my girlfriend.

Synonyms: enigmaticabstruse

Root family: [in-, im-] insipid (flavorless), insuperable (impossible to overcome), inert (lacking vigor), interminable (unending), innocuous (harmless), indefatigable (untiring), ineffable (inexpressible in words), impassive (unemotional), incongruous (not consistent with expectations)

Root family: [scrut] scrutinize (to examine closely)

Don’t confuse with: unscrupulous (showing no moral principles)

Mnemonic: Something that is inscrutable is un-scrutinize-able, that is, it’s impossible to examine closely because it is beyond our understanding.

Images   intrepid (adj)   in- not + trepidus alarmed

fearless and adventurous : The intrepid explorers set out for the summit.

Root family: [in-, im-] insipid (flavorless), insuperable (impossible to overcome), inert (lacking vigor), interminable (unending), innocuous (harmless), indefatigable (untiring), ineffable (inexpressible in words), inscrutable (beyond understanding), impassive (unemotional),incongruous (not consistent with expectations)

Root family: [trepid] trepidation (fear)

Synonyms: undauntedstouthearted

Don’t confuse with: insipid (flavorless; uninteresting)

Mnemonic: The aircraft carrier Intrepid, now a museum moored off of Manhattan, is an impressive ship that represents the fearlessness of the U.S. Navy.

Images   nebulous (adj)   nebula mist

vague; hazy; having the form of a cloud : The ghost appeared first as a nebulous near-human form.

Synonyms: amorphousobscure

Images   paradox (n)   para- distinct from, beside + doxa teaching

a logically self-contradictory statement or state of affairs : It seemed to be a paradox that light could behave both as a wave and as a particle.

Root family: [para-] paralegal (a lawyer’s assistant), parallel (next to and aligned with), paramedic (a first aid professional)

Root family: [doc, dox] doctrinaire (seeking to impose rigid doctrine), orthodox (conforming strictly to traditional teachings), docile (compliant and easy to instruct)

Don’t confuse with: paradigm (a worldview; a typical model or example)