500 Key Words for the SAT
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adj- harmful; menacing
Sounds like: bale fall
Picture:Gigantic, heavy bales of hay falling from the sky. One of the bales is about to fall onto someone.
Other form: Balefully (adv)
Sentence: A hungry wolf is a baleful sight to campers
- adj- boring; trite; insipid
- Looks like: ban Al
Picture: A club's members want to keep Al from joining. "I say we ban Al," says one. "He's boring."
Other form: Banality (n)
- Sentence: The script was filled with banal and predictable scenes.
verb- to cheat or decieve, usually through charm; to amuse
Sounds a little like: beg a while
Picture: Two children plotting to talk their parents into something. The older child says to the younger, "Lets try this. You go out there and beg a while. They love when you do that. They think it's cute. They'll laugh, they'll say, 'Come here and give us a hug, you cute thing,' and then they'll say yes."
Other forms: beguiling (adj); beguilingly (adv)
Connect with: Guile, which means deceitful shrewdness
- Sentence: At first, she was beguiled by his charm and affection.
verb- to give an impressionthat is the opposite of the way things really are; to misrepresent
Looks like: bee lie
Picture: A scientist is studying the daily routines of a bumble bee, keeping careful records of what the bee does and when. Like all bees, this one is energetic and hard-working, but also like other bees , this one enjoys a good practical joke. Every day at one o'clock in the afternoon, the bee lies down on a tiny toy couch in the scientist's office and pretends to watch "All My Children". The scientist, of course, is suprised by the bee's behavior and notes it each day in his journal: "Every day at one, the bee lies down on the couch and watches television. Where is the industrious busy bee we've all heard about?"
Sentence: Her calm manner belied a fierce ambition.
adj- having a strong tendency to argue and fight
Sounds like: bell ledger rent
Picture: The landlord is standing at your door, holding his rent ledger and ringing a large bell. By the time you open the door, he's rung the bell three more times. "Where's your rent?" he asks angrily, waving his ledger in the air. "It was due and hour ago. I'm going to stand here and ring this bell and wave this ledger until I have your rent. And if you don't like it, you can just step outside and I'll punch you so hard you won't remember to say ouch. Come on out here, you miserable lowlife deadbeat!"
Other forms: belligerence (n); belligerently (adv)
Note: the root "belli" has to do with fighting or war. Connect this word with "bellicose," which has almos the same meaning.
- Sentence: The angry customer's belligerence made it hard for the saleswoman to remain polite.
noun- good wishes; a blessing
Sounds like: Benedict shine
Picture: Benedict, who always says good and encouraging things to people, so that they come away from him shining with happiness. Note: Any word beginning with the prefix "bene-" has a positive meaning, and usually refers to a good result (or benefit).
Sentence: The minister delivered a benediction before the ceremony.
adj- kindhearted; good-natured; generous
Sounds like: Ben Elephant
Picture: A kindly old elephant named Ben who lives at the zoo. He saves the peanuts that visitors give him and takes them to the other animals late at night. "That Ben Elephant," says one bear to another, "what a nice guy!"
Other forms: Benevolence (n); benevolently (adv)
Sentence: Miserable and greedy for most of his life, the man became benevolent during his last years.
adj- gentle; kind-hearted; mild
Sounds like: be nine
Picture: A machine that measures a person's kindness level. Its meter ranges from 1 to 9, with 9 designated as "extremely kind and gentle." A girl places the electrode helmet on her head, pulls the lever, and prays, "Oh, I hope I'm a nine! Be nine! Please be nine!"
Other form: benignly (adv)
Sentence: Albert had a reputation for being a bully, but deep down he was a benign soul.
verb- to leave behind or hand down through a will; transmit
Picture: The reading of a will. "...And to my son, Robert, who always thought my possessions were beneath him, I bequeath something that is beneath him: the rug on the floor in this room."
Other forms: Bequeathal, bequest (nouns)
- Sentence:Many people bequeath large sums of money to their favorite charities.
- noun- decay; disease; widespread death
- Looks like: B Light
Picture: An entire orchard of fruit trees has died. A scientist hired to study the situation concludes: "The problem is too much B-light. B-light is that part of the light specrum emitted by car headlights. These trees were too close to the road, and the headlights wiped them out."
Sentence: When a main crop is hit with blight, widespread famine may result.
verb- to support; to reinforce
Sounds like: bowl stir
Picture: A mixing bowl, filled with cake batter, is talking to the wooden spoon: "Come on spoon, stir that batter. I know you can do it!" (The batter joins in: "Hey, you're really bolstering the spoon's confidence! This cake may just pan out after all!")
Sentence: Nancy's goal of a scholarship was bolstered by an unexpected A in biology.
noun- speech or writing intended to impress the audience; pompous
Sounds like: bomb blast
Picture: A convention of scientists who specialize in explosives. The speaker is talking about his latest discovery: "Ladies and gentlemen, without bragging I must tell you that this invention will change the world. My bomb fits in the palm of the hand, yet one such device produces a blast that can destroy all of North America and rattle teacups in London. It is, probably. the greatest single advance in the history of mankind, if I may say so..."
Other form: Bombastic (adj)
Sentence: The newcomer's bombast offended the town's more mild-mannered residents.
noun- briefness; conciseness
Sounds like: Bravo Tea
Picture: Tea that takes just a few seconds to make. Also, when people drink Bravo Tea, they say what they have to say in very few words. It gives them the gift of brevity.
Sentence: Employers are busy people, so brevity is important in a resume.
adj-push; obnoxiously self-assertive
Sounds like: bump chess
Picture: A man and woman are playing chess. The man is annoying, pushy, and rude. Whenever he captures one of his opponent's pieces, he bumps it off the board and yells out, "Bump chess! I love this game and I really love winning!"
Sentence: The bumptious car salesman scared customers away.
noun- harshness of sound; opposite of harmony
Looks like a combination of "cocoon" and "symphony"
Picture: A cocoon hanging from the branch of a tree. Inside, a caterpillar on his way to becoming a butterfly has decided to make good use of the time by learning to play the violin. On this particular day, the caterpillar is playing an entire symphony, although not very well. Outside, birds and squirrels are covering their ears, trying to escape the cacophony coming from the cocoon.
Other form: Cacophonous (adj) Note: the root "phone" has to do with sound, as in "telephone."
- Sentence: New visitors to the rainforest are struck by the cacophony.
verb- to fool with flattery or false promises; coax; deceive
Sounds like: cage hole
Picture: A large cat sits outside a parakeet's cage. The cage has a small hole at the top. Inside, a parakeet is perched on a swing. "You have the most beautiful feathers," says the cat. "The colors are magnificent. Why don't you squeeze out through that hole so I can get a better look at you?"
Other forms: cajolery, cajolement (nouns)
- Sentence: The con-artist cajoled them out of their money.
noun- honesty; frankness
Looks like: can door
Picture: A door on stage. The door is trying out for a dance job. The producer, a tin can, is delivering the bad news with as much honesty as possible.
Other forms: candid (adj); cadidly (adv)
Sentence: Political candor is refreshing.
adj- large; roomy; spacious
Sounds like: car patients
Picture: A doctor who uses a car as her office. She explains: "This car has an incredible amount of space inside. The front seat is a waiting area and the back seat has three separate examining rooms."
Other forms: Capaciousness (noun)
Sentence: He needed a capacious apartment for his stuffed moose collection.
verb- surrender; yield
Looks like: capital late
Picture: The government of a small natio has just been overthrown by a neighboring country. In the capital city of the overthrown nation, the president is speaking with his military commander, who has just arrived with troops. "I'm sorry," he says, "but you got here too late. I was forced to surrender."
Other form: Capitulation (noun)
Sentence: The police refused to capitulate to the demands of the kidnapper.
Looks like: cap riches
Picture: A man standing in front of a slot machine in a casino. He puts a quarter into the slot, pulls the handle and holds his cap under the chute, waiting hopefully for his riches. He doesn't know if or when it will happen, but he's sure it could happen.
Other forms: capriciously (adv); caprice (noun)
- Sentence: It's hard to plan a vacation when the weather can be so capricious.
verb- scold; punish
Sounds like: curse the gate
Picture: Someone scolding a gate.
Synonyms: Admonish, berate, censure, chasten, chastise, denounce, disparage, objurgate, rebuke, reprimand, reprove, upbraid
Sentence: The angry judge castigated the lawyer.
adj- burning, either with chemicals or sarcasm
Sounds like: caw stick
Picture: A crow crying ("caw, caw") becuase it has been burned by a stick coated with acid.
Sentence: The teacher's caustic criticism embarrassed his student.
Looks like: celery
Picture: A stalk of celery moving at high speed. The celery might be in the form of a race car zooming aroung the track.
Connect with: Accelerate
- Sentence: Driver's stuck in traffic may dream of celerity.
verb- to criticize
Sounds like: send ashore
Picture: A man wading to shore from a large sailing ship. He is the navigator of the ship, and has been sent ashore by the captain and the rest of the crew because they blame him for getting them lost at sea. They have sent him to ask directions. As he walks, they shout at him from the ship: "You couldn't find your way across a bathtub!" "Try not to miss the beach!"
Note: Do not confuse with "censor," which means "to delete objectional material."
- Sentence: The newspaper editorial censured the governor for her budget proposals.
verb- to delete objectional material
verb- punish; discipline; castigate
Sounds like: chase sin
Picture: An old-fashioned, religious mother who is trying to discipline her mischievous son: "I'll keep scolding and punishing until I've chased the sin right out of you!"
Connect with: Chastise. Don't confuse with "chaste," which means "pure."
Sentence: Harshly chastened by his owner, the dog hid under the porch for three days.
verb- scold; punish; castigate
Sounds like: chase ties
Picture:The same man who cursed the gate is now chasing ties around the yard, scolding them.
- Sentence: Robera chastised her son for his low grades.
Picture: A dog who's angry about the ridiculous collar he has to wear.
Other form: choleric (adj)
Sentence: Frustration and choler swept through the prison population.
verb- draw a line around; define limis; confine; restrict
Looks like: circus crib
Picture: The baby elephant is headed for a career in the circus, but she has a lot to learn. Her trainer puts the elephant in a baby crib and places the crib inside one of the circus rings. The elephant may climb out of the crib, but may not go outside of the circle. Her movements have been circumscribed.
Other forms: circumscribable (adj); circumscription (noun)
Note: The prefix "circum" means "around."
Sentence:The movements of a fish in an aquarium are circumscribed by the size of the tank.
Sounds like: search inspect
Picture: The chipmunk peeks out from her home -- a hole in the trunk of a hollow tree. She must go out for food, but before leaving the safety of her tree, she carefully and methodically looks around (searches and inspects) to see if a predator is waiting to snatch her.
Other form: Circumspection (noun)
Sentence: In some situations, it's wiser to be circumspect rather than bold.
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