What Did You Just Call Me? Vocabulary Quiz
- Question: Before we went to her house, Hannah told us her aunt was a flibbertigibbet.
- Answer: A flibbertigibbet is “a silly flighty person.” It is a word of onomatopoeic origins, created from sounds meant to resemble idle chatter.
- Question: People who worked with him generally considered Deshaun a computer maven.
- Answer: Originating from Yiddish and Late Hebrew, maven means “one who is experienced or knowledgeable.”
- Question: During the war, Tony’s grandpa earned a reputation as a quisling.
- Answer: Synonymous with traitor and collaborator, quisling comes from Vidkun Quisling, a Norwegian army officer who encouraged Adolf Hitler to occupy Norway.
- Question: The billionaire’s magnanimity was a frequent topic on social media.
- Answer: Magnanimity is “loftiness of spirit enabling one to bear trouble calmly, to disdain meanness and pettiness, and to display a noble generosity.”
- Question: Darla thought her daughter’s new boyfriend was certainly urbane.
- Answer: Urbane means “notably polite or polished in manner” and comes from the same root word as urban (“of, relating to, characteristic of, or constituting a city”).
- Question: Kelly reconnected with her old friend and was surprised she’d become a reprobate.
- Answer: Reprobate was originally used in religious contexts, but now it can be used to describe anyone who is “an unprincipled or depraved person.”
- Question: Yasmin was ornery when it came to schoolwork.
- Answer: Ornery means “having an irritable disposition” or “difficult to deal with or control.” The word comes from ordinary and was used to describe things that were common or of inferior quality. Later it came to mean “lazy” and became associated with being easily agitated.
- Question: The marble statue had a callipygian quality.
- Answer: Callipygian means “having shapely buttocks.”
- Question: Oscar could hear his wife’s dulcet tones emanating from the shower.
- Answer: Dulcet means “pleasing to the ear,” as well as “sweet to the taste,” and can be applied to most things generally pleasing, such as a smile.
- Question: The old man was congenial with just about everyone on the bus.
- Answer: Congenial is synonymous with pleasant and sociable. According to ancient mythology, each person was thought to be assigned at birth a spiritual guardian, called a genius in Latin. People who got along well were said to have similar spirits, or to be congenial.
- Question: The sanctimonious leader began issuing new proclamations.
- Answer: Originally, sanctimonious was used to describe people and things that were holy. That definition is now obsolete, and today the word means “hypocritically pious or devout.”
- Question: Sam was next at the podium and delivered a pippin of a speech.
- Answer: As well as being a type of crisp tart apple, pippin means “a highly admired or very admirable person or thing.”
- Question: Amy was prodigal when it came to clothing.
- Answer: Prodigal means “characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure” and is perhaps best known for its use in the Bible story about the Prodigal Son, which describes a wayward son’s lavish lifestyle.
- Question: Carlos was perspicacious when it came to puzzles.
- Answer: Synonymous with keen, perspicacious is derived from the Latin perspicax, meaning “clear-sighted.”
- Question: Everyone in town knew Sue and Andy had pulchritudinous children.
- Answer: Pulchritude is defined as “physical comeliness,” and pulchritudinous can be a colorful (if slightly obscure) way of describing someone or something as beautiful.
- Question: Many of the wedding guests called Max a popinjay after seeing his outfit.
- Answer: Popinjay comes from the same word as parrot. Before the 1500s, the bird was rare and exotic, so being compared to one was a compliment. As they became more commonplace, their gaudy plumage and vulgar mimicry gave popinjay the negative connotation it has today.
- Question: The teacher found out her whole class was nescient on the subject of American history.
- Answer: Nescience means “lack of knowledge or awareness.” The word comes from the Latin prefix ne- for “not” and scire for “to know” (scire is also the root for the word science).
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© zGel—iStock/Getty Images
© zGel—iStock/Getty Images