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vocabulary
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The Second Hundred Study Words for

Standardized Tests like the SAT® & ACT®

Ordered by Importance of Study
Based on the SAT® as redesigned for tests taken after January of 2016*
Return to the Top 100 Words
precise
2 meanings
as in:
about noon; 12:03 to be precise
Is it precise enough if I measure to the closest inch?
precise = exact
DefinitionGenerally this sense of precise means:
exact (accurate)
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Library20 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
a precise personality
She has the kind of precise personality that never has a cluttered desk or an out-of-fashion item in her closet.
precise = meticulous (careful about details)
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Library20 uses in 10 avg bks
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function
6 meanings
as in:
Its main function is to...
The function of the lens of the eye is to focus light on the retina.
function = job
DefinitionGenerally this sense of function means:
purpose, job, or natural activity
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
can't function well without sleep
I don't function well on less than six hours of sleep a night; and I do best on nine.
function = work or operate
DefinitionGenerally this sense of function means:
work or operate — sometimes to work or operate normally or in a particular way
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as in:
I'm attending a function tonight
I promised to attend their function tonight. I think it's important that we show our support.
function = social event or ceremony
DefinitionGenerally this sense of function means:
a social event or ceremony — especially one attended for work or out of a sense of duty
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as in:
oxygen is a function of altitude
Their success is a function of their teamwork and practice.
function = result
DefinitionGenerally this sense of function means:
saying one results from another; or saying that the amount of one thing is dependent upon the value of another.
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as in:
Amazon's new search function
I like Amazon's new search function.
function = computer code that performs a specific task
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as in:
a mathematical function
What is the function to calculate how much carpet is required to cover a rectangular room of a given length and width?
function = formula (a mathematical expression that describe a relationship between variables)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of function means:
a formula or mathematical expression that describes a relationship between variables
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compensate
2 meanings
as in:
she compensates with extra effort
She uses several techniques to help compensate for her dyslexia.
compensate = make up
DefinitionGenerally this sense of compensate means:
make up for; or adjust for
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as in:
she is generously compensated
The company has offered to compensate everyone impacted by the defective cars.
compensate = make payment to
DefinitionGenerally this sense of compensate means:
to make payment to someone (often in amends for a loss or inconvenience they suffered)
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abstract
3 meanings
as in:
abstract thought
We all agree that we want what's "best for the country", but that is an abstract concept and we cannot agree on which specific laws should be passed.
abstract = of a concept or idea not associated with any specific instance
DefinitionGenerally this sense of abstract means:
of a concept or idea not associated with any specific instance

or more rarely:

describing someone as distracted — thinking about something outside of the immediate conversation or circumstances
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as in:
read the abstract
The abstract is free, but there is a fee to see the entire article.
abstract = summary
DefinitionGenerally this sense of abstract means:
a summary; or to summarize — especially academic writing
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as in:
abstract art
She is an abstract painter.
abstract = not representing or imitating external reality or the objects of nature
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entity
The law applies to any legal entity that can enter into a contract.
entity = person or organization
DefinitionGenerally entity means:
a person, organization, lifeform, or anything with a separate existence
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empirical
Is her theory supported by empirical data?
empirical = based on experience or observation rather than theory
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apparent
The effects of the drought are apparent to anyone who sees the dry fields.
apparent = clear or obvious
DefinitionGenerally apparent means:
clear or obvious; or appearing as such but not necessarily so
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appropriate
as in:
appropriated the
The money has been appropriated, but it hasn't been spent yet.
appropriated = given or assigned for a particular use
DefinitionGenerally this sense of appropriate means:
give, assign, or seize a resource — usually for a particular use
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inevitable
It is as inevitable as death and taxes.
inevitable = certain to happen
DefinitionGenerally inevitable means:
certain to happen (even if one tried to prevent it)
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Library21 uses in 10 avg bks
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inclined
2 meanings
as in:
I'm inclined to
I'm inclined to believe him.
inclined = have a tendency; or an attitude or mood that favors something
DefinitionGenerally this sense of inclined means:
a tendency; in the mood; or an attitude that favors something
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as in:
on an incline or incline his head
I climbed down the incline.
incline = something that is at an angle (in this case, probably sloping land)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of incline means:
to be at an angle or to bend
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acquire
Children acquire language at an amazing rate.
acquire = obtain (come into the possession of something)
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precede
Stone tools preceded bronze tools.
preceded = were before in time
DefinitionGenerally precede means:
to go or do before
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enable
The test enables earlier identification of autism.
enables = makes possible
DefinitionGenerally enable means:
to make possible (in various senses such as:)
  • to give someone the ability, knowledge, or authority to do something
  • to activate a computer system for use
  • to permit someone to repeat bad behavior, so they reinforce the bad pattern
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domestic
2 meanings
as in:
the domestic market
The deparment is responsible for studying all the domestic species of animals and plants.
domestic = relating to a home country

or (much more rarely,): relating to a geographic area that is smaller than a country
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as in:
domestic happiness
We share the domestic chores.
domestic = household (relating to home or family)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of domestic means:
relating to a home or family
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resolution
4 meanings
as in:
a New Year's resolution
Her New Year's resolution is to read deeply at least one hour a day.
resolution = a firm decision to do something
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as in:
a United Nations resolution
The United Nations passed a resolution condemning the country's use of chemical weapons.
resolution = a formal statement of opinion
DefinitionGenerally this sense of resolution means:
a formal statement of decision or opinion voted on by a group
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as in:
Her resolution weakened.
She ran each mile of the marathon with increasing resolution.
resolution = determination
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as in:
a dispute resolution fund
We anticipate a peaceful resolution to the dispute.
resolution = a solution or outcome
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objective
By any objective analysis, you would have to agree that...
objective = fact-based (not influenced by personal feelings or preferences)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of objective means:
fact-based without the influence of personal feelings or preferences
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disdain
She tries to be polite, but cannot hide her disdain for authority.
disdain = lack of respect
DefinitionGenerally disdain means:
a lack of respect — often suggesting distaste and an undeserved sense of superiority

or:

to reject as not good enough
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attain
She was the first woman to attain the rank of general.
attain = gain or reach something with effort
DefinitionGenerally attain means:
to gain or reach something with effort
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inherent
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the inherent dignity of each person.
inherent = existing as an inseparable part or characteristic
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controversy
The film benefited from the controversy.
controversy = strong public disagreement it aroused
DefinitionGenerally controversy means:
disagreement — especially regarding a public issue that arouses strong feelings
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invoke
She invoked the Fifth Amendment as reason not to answer.
invoked = cited or called upon for validation
DefinitionGenerally invoke means:
to call upon

(see word notes for more detailed definitions based upon context)
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supplementary
Contributions at a public school provide funds for supplementary items beyond the those deemed vital and funded by taxes.
supplementary = additional
DefinitionGenerally supplementary means:
additional — possibly improving, completing, or make up for a deficiency of something
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indignant
She was indignant, but agreed to be searched when they accused her of shoplifting.
indignant = angered or annoyed at something unjust or wrong
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scorn
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
scorned = treated with disrespect or disdain
DefinitionGenerally scorn means:
treat with a strong disrespect or disdain — sometimes accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
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optimistic
I'm optimistic that I'll get into a good college.
optimistic = expecting the best
DefinitionGenerally optimistic means:
expecting the best; or focusing on the good part of things
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implication
as in:
Her implication in the crime
She is suspected of implication in three burglaries.
implication = involvement
DefinitionGenerally this sense of implication means:
involvement in or the suggestion that someone was involved in something — especially a crime
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simulate
A computer model is used to simulate the effects of wind.
simulate = imitate or represent
DefinitionGenerally simulate means:
make an imitation or representation of
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contemporary
2 meanings
as in:
contemporary design
It's easier to find outstanding books when selecting from those that have been in print for a long time, but were it not for that I would prefer modern literature with its contemporary language, issues, and ideas.
contemporary = characteristic of or belonging to the present time
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as in:
they are contemporaries
Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were contemporary artists who competed for some projects.
contemporary = lived at the same time
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contemporary means:
living at the same time

or:

something occurring in the same period of time as something else
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gender
Gender roles were more defined when my grandmother was growing up.
gender = male/female/trans
DefinitionGenerally this sense of gender means:
male or female

or (especially with regard to self-identification): the state of being male, female, or in any of many trans categories
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provocative
Her provocative article is sure to create debate.
provocative = tending to provoke, excite, or stimulate — especially controversy, sexual desire, or anger
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notwithstanding
Notwithstanding my fear, I want to try parachuting from an airplane.
notwithstanding = in spite of (In this case, my fear does not withstand my desire to try parachuting. My desire is stronger than my fear.) (used to connect contrasting ideas)
DefinitionGenerally notwithstanding means:
in spite of; or in spite of the thing mentioned
(Used to connect contrasting ideas. Other synonyms could include words and phrases such as nevertheless, nonetheless, all the same, still,  and however.)
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acquisition
From the fifth grade onward, most vocabulary acquisition occurs incidentally while reading.
acquisition = to get possession of
DefinitionGenerally acquisition means:
obtaining possession of something; or the thing possessed
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inhibit
2 meanings
as in:
inhibited the growth of...
The drug inhibits the spread of cancer.
inhibits = to limit the activity of someone or something
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as in:
she is shy and inhibited
She's personable and funny with her friends, but tends to be inhibited with strangers.
inhibited = restrained behavior — especially due to a lack of confidence
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contemporaneous
The recession in Asia was contemporaneous with that in the United States.
contemporaneous = occurring in the same period of time; or of the same period
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agitate
Our goal is to agitate public unrest, so there will be a cry for change.
agitate = stir up (create or increase emotional unrest)
DefinitionGenerally agitate means:
to stir up — emotionally (such as anxiety) or physically (such as shaking)
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grave
Her smile disappeared as she suddenly realized the gravity of her situation.
gravity = seriousness or importance (weightiness)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of grave means:
serious and/or solemn

The exact meaning of this sense of grave is often subject to its context. For example:
  • "This is a grave problem," or "a situation of the utmost gravity." — important, dangerous, or causing worry
  • "She was in a grave mood upon returning from the funeral." — sad (with a heavy heart)
  • "She looked me in the eye and gravely promised." — sincere and dignified without humor
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tone
Which of the following words best maintains the tone established in this passage.
tone = general feeling
DefinitionGenerally this sense of tone means:
the general feeling, mood, or attitude of something — especially of something said or written
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subtle
3 meanings
as in:
a subtle poison
She is working subtly against us.
subtly = working in an indirect or hidden way
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as in:
a subtle shade of blue
a subtle, but unmistakable warning
subtle = understated so as not to draw attention to itself
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as in:
a subtle difference or thinker
She used subtle reasoning to expose the absurdity of his argument.
subtle = making use of slight distinctions
DefinitionGenerally this sense of subtle means:
not obvious, but understandable by someone with adequate sensitivity and relevant knowledge (perhaps depending upon fine distinctions)

or:

capable of understanding things that require sensitivity and relevant knowledge (perhaps understanding fine distinctions)
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tentative
2 meanings
as in:
said it tentatively
The puppy approached us tentatively until it knew we wouldn't harm it.
tentatively = done in a careful way indicating a lack of confidence
DefinitionGenerally this sense of tentative means:
done in a careful or unsure way (indicating a lack of confidence in exactly what will happen)
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as in:
a tentative plan
My plans are still tentative.
tentative = with an expectation that there may be changes
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devise
She plans to devise something to launch water balloons.
devise = come up with (invent or create)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of devise means:
to come up with a way of doing something — typically a creative idea or plan
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contend
3 meanings
as in:
She contended that...
Her lawyer contends that the contract isn't valid.
contends = claims or says
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contend means:
to claim that something is true
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as in:
She contended with it
She contends with headaches.
contends = struggles
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contend means:
to struggle
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as in:
She contended for the gold medal
Militant groups are contending for control of the country
contending = competing
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contend means:
to compete
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candid
Don't worry about my feelings. I'd like your candid opinion.
candid = honest and direct
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evoke
Her story evoked sympathy.
evoked = aroused
DefinitionGenerally evoke means:
to call forth or cause — typically to arouse an emotion or bring a memory to mind
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defer
2 meanings
as in:
deferred the decision
The weather forced us to defer our departure another day.
defer = postpone or delay
DefinitionGenerally this sense of defer means:
postpone (hold off until a later time)
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as in:
deferred to her wishes
I defer to her expertise.
defer = submit or yield
DefinitionGenerally this sense of defer means:
submit or yield (typically to another person's opinion because of respect for that person or their knowledge)
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superficial
She has only superficial knowledge on the subject.
superficial = relating to a surface rather than to anything deep or penetrating (often of injuries or thinking)
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refute
The speaker refuted his opponent's arguments.
refuted = proved or argued that something is false
DefinitionGenerally refute means:
to prove or argue that something is false
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obsolete
That old phone is obsolete.
obsolete = outdated (no longer in general use because it was replaced by something better)
DefinitionGenerally obsolete means:
no longer in general use because it was replaced by something better
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trace
4 meanings
as in:
found a trace of
There was not a trace of the defendant's DNA at the crime scene.
trace = a tiny quantity or indication
DefinitionGenerally this sense of trace means:
a small quantity or indication

The exact meaning of this sense of trace is often subject to its context. For example:
  • "The plane disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean without leaving a trace." — any small indication that something was present
  • "She speaks English with just a trace of a southern accent." — a very small amount (especially an amount too small to be accurately measured)
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as in:
trace the origin or development
Early cat domestication is traced back to China over 5,000 years ago.
traced = found through investigation
DefinitionGenerally this sense of trace means:
to find, search, research, or keep track of

This sense of trace usually has to do with information. It's specific meaning depends on its context. Here are some representative samples by category:

  • to find or search for something through investigation — often the origin of something

    • "The police traced the call." — found out where it originated
    • "We are tracing the lost luggage" — searching for
    • "Can you trace the problem to its source?" — find through investigation
    • "She traced her family history to discover that her great-grandmother came to the United States from Lithuania when the Nazis occupied it." — discovered something through investigation

  • to research or report on the development of something

    • "She traced the history of the automobile in her paper." — researched the development of something
    • "Her presentation traced recent progress in alternative energy solutions." — reported on

  • to monitor or keep track of the progress or development of something

    • She traces the progress of at-risk students — monitors information
    • "I used binoculars to trace her progress up the mountain." — monitor, follow, or track

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as in:
trace a picture or outline
She used her finger to trace a route on the map.
trace = draw
DefinitionGenerally this sense of trace means:
copy the lines of an image; or draw an outline; or carefully draw a specific pattern

This sense of trace has to do with drawing, but it's specific meaning depends on its context. Here are some representative samples by category:

  • copying the outline of an image

    • "She used tracing paper to make a copy." — paper you can see through, so that when it is placed on a picture, you can use a pencil to follow the lines of the image being copied
    • She projected the image onto the wall, then hung a sheet of paper there, and traced the projected image onto the paper." — followed the lines with her pencil

  • draw an outline or a specific pattern

    • "She used her toe to trace half the fish symbol in the sand." — draw a simple outline
    • "The child used a stick to trace circles and swirls in the mud." — draw

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as in:
traced a path
The followed a path that traces along the edges of a dark forest.
traces = follows or runs
DefinitionGenerally this sense of trace means:
to follow

The exact meaning of this sense of trace is often subject to its context. For example:
  • "The hunters traced the deer into the woods." — followed or tracked
  • "With soft kisses, she gently traced the scar running down his cheek." — followed
  • "The path traces along the edge of the forest." — follows
  • "A single tear traced its way down her cheek." — followed a specific path
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reflect
5 meanings
as in:
reflect in the mirror
She saw her face reflected in his sunglasses.
reflected = shown back
DefinitionGenerally this sense of reflect means:
show an image back (on a mirror or other shiny surface)
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as in:
reflect American Values
Which choice best reflects the overall sequence of events in the passage?
reflects = expresses
DefinitionGenerally this sense of reflect means:
represent, demonstrate, or express
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as in:
I want to reflect on it.
At the beginning of this passage, the author reflects on her life as a waitress.
reflects = thinks carefully
DefinitionGenerally this sense of reflect means:
think carefully — possibly aloud or in writing
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as in:
reflect poorly on the school
The failing test scores would reflect poorly on the school.
reflect = influence opinion
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as in:
reflect the light/heat/sound
We're replacing all the warning signs with signs that reflect headlights in the dark.
reflect = bounce back light from
DefinitionGenerally this sense of reflect means:
bounce back (rather than absorbing)
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despair
Don't despair—help is on the way!
despair = give up hope
DefinitionGenerally despair means:
hopelessness
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resolve
4 meanings
as in:
I resolved to stop drinking.
This year I resolved to lose a pound a week for 5 weeks.
resolved = decided
DefinitionGenerally this sense of resolve means:
to decide — typically a firm or formal decision
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as in:
This committee hereby resolves...
The Security Council resolved that all parties should work together for the successful implementation of the National Peace Accords.
resolved = voiced an opinion by formal group vote
DefinitionGenerally this sense of resolve means:
make a decision or voice an opinion by formal group vote
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as in:
Her resolve weakened.
She never waivered in her resolve to attend a good college.
resolve = determination (firmness of purpose)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of resolve means:
firmness of purpose (strong determination to do something)
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as in:
How did you resolve the problem?
Three of the five issues have already been resolved.
resolved = solved or settled
DefinitionGenerally this sense of resolve means:
to solve a problem or settle a disagreement
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anxiety
She suffers from more than the usual pre-test anxiety.
anxiety = nervousness or worry
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capital
She worked hard to raise capital to start their new company.
capital = cash (or more generally, material wealth — especially assets available for use in the production of further assets)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of capital means:
material wealth — especially assets available for use in the production of further assets
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essential
The essential feature of the pen is that it writes so consistently.
essential = absolutely necessary; or of greatest importance
DefinitionGenerally essential means:
absolutely necessary; or of the greatest importance

or:

the defining or most important aspect of something
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earnest
Both sides were deeply in earnest, even passionate.
earnest = sincere or serious
DefinitionGenerally earnest means:
characterized by sincere belief

or:

intensely or excessively serious
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dwell
2 meanings
as in:
Don't dwell on it.
Don't dwell on the past.
dwell = think or talk about something longer than seems appropriate
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dwell means:
to think, communicate, or let attention stay on (or return to) something for a prolonged period
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as in:
It dwells in the forest.
The creature dwells in the forest.
dwells = lives in
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dwell means:
make one's home in; or to live in; or to stay (in a place)
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recollect
I think I recollect that she was away at college that year.
recollect = remember
DefinitionGenerally recollect means:
to remember — especially experiences from long ago
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devour
as in:
devoured three sandwiches
The lions devoured the antelope.
devoured = ate rapidly and completely
DefinitionGenerally this sense of devour means:
eat rapidly and completely — usually due to being very hungry
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Still More SAT® & ACT® Words
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