THE LANGUAGE OF IDEAS: VOCABULARY FOR SAT EVIDENCE-BASED READING
12 THE LANGUAGE OF TRUTH, TRUTHFULNESS, AND BEAUTY
aesthetic (adj) aistheta perceptible things
concerned with the appreciation of beauty or art : The painting gave aesthetic pleasure.
Forms: aesthete = one who has or pretends to have special aesthetic sense, aesthetics = the principles or study of beauty and art
Root family: [esthe] anesthetic (a substance that reduces sensitivity to pain), synesthesia (stimulation of one sense modality by another, such as seeing colors while hearing music)
Don”t confuse with: ascetic (a person who practices strict religious self-discipline), prosthetic (pertaining to an artificial limb or other body part)
candid (adj) candidus white
honest and straightforward : The president gave a very candid interview just one month after leaving office.
Form: candor = honesty and forthrightness
Synonyms: frank, ingenuous
Mnemonic: Candid derives from the Latin candidus, which means “white,” because white has long been associated with purity and honesty. The related word, candidate, derives from the fact that, in ancient Rome, candidates for office wore white togas. In naming his title characterCandide, Voltaire was emphasizing his pure, ingenuous nature.
fallible (adj) fallere to deceive
capable of making mistakes or errors : I was crestfallen to discover that my father was fallible.
Forms: infallible = incapable of making errors
Root family: [fall, fals] fallacy (a mistaken belief), fault (an unsatisfactory feature), fail (to be unsuccessful)
incontrovertible (adj) in- not + contra- against + vertere to turn
unable to be disputed; beyond controversy : The proof of the theorem was incontrovertible.
Forms: controvertible = able to be disputed, controversy = dispute
Synonyms: irrefutable, indubitable, unassailable, airtight
Root family: [in-, im-] insipid (flavorless), insuperable (impossible to overcome), inert (lacking vigor), interminable (unending), innocuous (harmless), incongruous (not consistent with expectations)
Don”t confuse controvertible with convertible (able to be changed in form or function)
introspective (adj) intro- into + specere to look at
inclined to look inward; meditative : Unlike most artists, Warhol eschewed the introspective lifestyle and in fact reveled in his life of celebrity.
Form: introspection = the act of self-examination
Synonyms: reflective, meditative, pensive
Root family: [spec] speculation (guess based on insufficient evidence), circumspect (cautious), inspect (to examine closely)
Don”t confuse with: retrospective (looking back in time)
rectify (v) rectus right
to make correct; to put right : The journalist rectified her error by publishing a retraction.
Synonyms: amend, emend, redress, remedy
Root family: [rect] correct (right), rectangle (quadrilateral with four right angles), direct (by the shortest path)
sublime (adj) sub- just beneath + limen threshold
supremely excellent or beautiful : The pâté was a sublime complement to the homemade bread.
Root family: [sub-] submissive (meekly obedient), subvert (to undermine the authority of another), surreptitious (secret), subjugate (to dominate)
Root family: [lim] limit (the point beyond which something may not pass), eliminate (completely remove), subliminal (below the threshold of perception), sublimate (to alter a crude impulse so as to make it more culturally or socially acceptable)
Don”t confuse with subliminal. Although both words derive from the Latin roots meaning “below the threshold,” subliminal means “below the threshold of perception,” while sublime means “near the threshold of heaven.”
Don”t confuse with sublimate. To sublimate a lowly impulse, such as hatred or sexual desire, means to literally “raise it up” (since the limen, or threshold, of a doorway includes the top part, then bringing something sub limen, just below the threshold, involves raising it up), that is, to channel the energy that would otherwise be dedicated to that impulse into a more culturally and socially acceptable behavior. In chemistry, a substance sublimates when it transforms from a solid directly to a gas, without passing through the liquid phase.