If You Pass This Vocabulary Quiz With All Words That Start With 'S', You May Be a Genius


By: Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: skynesher/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

A good vocabulary isn't just about coming off as very clever or showing off to people that you know more than they do. The purpose of a vast and nuanced lexicon in a language is to be able to convey shades of meaning and precision that enable the best possible communication. Different words have have infinitesimally small differences that many people might not be able to elucidate if you asked them, but even if they don't know the words very well themselve,s they appreciate mastery when they see it deployed in the form of the perfect linguistic construction.

Good writing and great speech thus require a good vocabulary, not to intimidate or to dominate, but to include and to communicate. The goal is to be able to pitch one's speech at the level that is absolutely right for that audience, and to be able to make use of all the linguistic and rhetorical tools such as analogy, simile, metaphor, emphasis, that a language can possibly offer. The long and short of it? If you want to be a great speaker or writer, you don't just need to be good at using the tools. You need a lot of tools to start with - and words are the building blocks of that.

Are you ready to test your vocabulary with the 19th letter of the alphabet? Let's find out!

Which of these means going in order without gaps?

Just as a sequence is an order of things, the word sequential is an adjective referring to things being in a specific order. "The participants were organized sequentially according to the spelling of their last names, in alphabetical order."


Which one means run-down, messy, or dirty?

Like many English words, this one comes from a Latin word that basically just means dirty. "The refugees arrived in the camp, excited to get the clean food and medical attention they needed, having lived in squalid conditions across the border."


Which of these means keeping things apart, commonly referring to race?

Segregation doesn't necessarily have to do with race, but the word was loaded with meaning when it was used to describe the policy of racial separation in the United States. "The country club was segregated, with separate swimming pools, locker rooms and drinking fountains for black and white members."


Which of these means comfort, something soothing to one's misery or sadness?

Solace is the state of being consoled, as in, "In these times of turmoil and trepidation, we can all find solace in The Good Book."


Which of these means very wise?

When someone is sagacious, they aren't just wise, they are in the know. "My tailor is sagacious in in choice of fabric for my new suit."


Which of these means irreverence toward something holy?

While what is sacrilegious is up for debate, the meaning of the word is pretty straightforward. "When I arrived at my friend's wedding dressed like the Devil, many felt it was sacrilegious."


Which of these means a peaceful scene, or a tranquil state without anxiety?

Serenity is the state of being serene; totally and completely at peace. "After my weekend at the Yoga retreat, and a thorough full body massage at the day spa, I achieved a state of total serenity."


Which of these means serious, or not intoxicated?

Sober means literally the opposite of drunkenness, but it's worth considering its uses to refer to the cold application of reason. "After a sober assessment of the situation, we've come up with a course of action we think will be most effective."


Which one means delightfully luxurious?

Sumptuous comes to English from the Latin for "expense," thus sumptuous means expensively luxurious. "The box of chocolates was as huge and fattening as it was sumptuous and delicious."


Which one means a petty argument or disagreement?

This word, which is of Scandinavian origin, according to Merriam-Webster, sounds more less like what it describes. Squabble! Squabble! "As every Thanksgiving, my relatives and I spent much of the meal squabbling about politics."


Which of these means disdainful and ironic?

Sardonic is an adjective that refers to mocking something disdainfully. "I enjoyed Sean's jokes, but I never felt like any of them were made with a sense of genuine joy, since his wit is so sardonic."


Which of these means to leave, as in an organization or polity?

Secede, which means to separate from a social construct, has its roots in Latin. "The United States Civil War began when the southern states seceded from the union, forming the CSA."


Which one means to stun into silence, or knock out with a dazzling blow?

Stupefy doesn't necessarily mean to be made stupid, as the name suggests, but can. More often, it refers to the state of being astonished. "I was so shocked by my father's revelation that I was stupefied."


Which one means not growing, staying in place perhaps past the point that one should?

Stagnant can be used to describe the water in which mosquitoes like to spawn, or the point at which one's academic studies hit a roadblock. "Initially my studies progressed at a good clip, but once I had to delve into trigonometry, I found they became stagnant."


Which one means stripes of contrasting colors?

Striations aren't what you'd usually call the stripes on clothing, but the term is used very often in geology and art. "The rock formation contained many striations, dating it back to the time of the dinosaurs."


Which of these means sitting a lot, or not active?

Sedentary, according to Merriam-Webster, comes from the Anglo-French word for "one who sits". "I like to go out most Saturday nights, but tonight I plan on a sedentary evening of ordering in, watching TV and napping."


Which word means a dearth, rare, not enough of something?

According to Merriam-Webster, scarce's meaning comes from the Latin for "to pluck out," but these days people use it to describe a state of a thing being very hard to obtain. "Juggling jobs are scarce, when there is zero gravity."


Which word means to fill to satisfaction?

Satiate can be an adjective that describes the state of satisfaction, or it can be used as a verb, to refer to the act of becoming satisfied. "After a long bike ride, nothing will satiate me better than a tall, cold drink."


Which one means lots of enduring energy or strength?

Stamina is more than just fortitude, it's the ability to continue to act when your body tells you to quit. "To win a triathlon, you need to have great strength of body, mental discipline, and physical stamina."


Which one means the state of being below or putting someone or something below, or a person who is in a lesser position?

Subordinate is a much more polite way of saying "lackey." "After the meeting, I took my subordinates aside so they could tell me their thoughts without undermining me in front of the staff."


Which of these means loose, as of a rope, or not tight or taut?

Slack refers to the part of a flexible object that holds tension. If someone loosened their grip on something, you could say their grip went slack, for example. "As I ascended the peak, I signaled my partner, on the ground holding my safety line, to allow me some slack as I climbed ever higher."


Which of these means of or relating to apes and monkeys?

Simian means "monkey-like" in the way that bovine means "cow-like". "Without the use of ropes, John climbed the tree in a simian manner."


Which of these means on the spur of the moment, not planned in advance?

To be spontaneous, one needs to be more than leaving decisions for the last moment, one must be inspired. "I don't plan my vacations, because planning means I can't be spontaneous."


Which one means to reject harshly or with contempt?

Spurn may have its origins in many languages, as almost every European language has some version of it, that sounds a bit like "spurn." All of these words literally mean "to trample" but can mean "to reject" in most modern contexts. "When larger companies came to me to try to buy out my startup, I spurned their advances."


Which one means impassive, quietly accepting pleasure or pain?

Stoicism was a school of philosophy popular with the ancient Roman set. In it, you do not betray your emotions to others, be those emotions good or bad. These days, it's usually used with regard to withstanding adversity. "Whether I'm getting bad personal news, or there's a downturn at work, I endeavor to remain stoic in the face of adversity."


Which one means flexible, both literally and in the sense of being adaptable to circumstance?

Supple can be used to describe the softness of a surface, the dexterity of hands, and the moral flexibility of the less upright. "My new wallet is made from gorgeous, supple, Italian leather."


Which one means not quite perceptible, on the edges of awareness?

Subliminal literally means "below the sensory threshold," according to Merriam-Webster. It is usually used to describe something that tries to influence one's subconscious."The TV ad had a powerful subliminal affect on me, causing me to have an instant thirst!"


Which of these means being very diligent and even-handed?

According to Merriam-Webster, the noun scruple, from which scrupulousness draws its meaning, in turn comes from a Latin word describing both a unit of measurement as well as a sharp stone or sense of unease. The word scruple has come to mean the morals that make us uneasy about certain behaviors, like a sharp stone jabbing us. "Scrupulousness is essential for any accountant, and especially important for one I would hire for my company."


Which one means brief, concise?

Succinct comes from the Latin meaning "to wrap in a tight band," and that evolved from "things bound tightly together" to "words bound tightly together." "As we have a lot of questions to get through, we'd appreciate it if you kept your answers succinct and direct."


Which one means covertly going against the rules or established way of doing things?

Subversive refers to the state of being aligned with the overturning of the status quo, be it government, culture or business norms. "Due to my subversive, contrarian way of doing things, I was taken out of the pool of engineers and put on the skunk-works project."


Which of these means of the body, as opposed to of the mind?

Like many medical terms, this one has its roots in Ancient Greek. "My somatic symptoms were bad, but the psychological toll of being unable to play sports was awful."


Which one means haughty or arrogantly disdainful?

Supercilious refers to the kind of arrogance that can't be ignored, and is often derided for being over the top. "My friend Dan may be an investment banker, but he isn't supercilious, despite being surrounded by colleagues who all consider themselves kings of their domain."


Which of these means a group splitting into factions?

Schism and all its parent words mean some variation of "to split," according to Merriam-Webster. "The schism in the church meant the creation of several new sects."


Which of these means plausible-looking but actually false?

According to Merriam-Webster, specious's Latin ancestor means both "beautiful" and "plausible," which says a lot about the word's meaning, as well as what Romans thought about beauty and lies. "I had to put an end to that rant on Facebook because Sal kept making specious arguments."


Which of these means the descendant or heir?

According to Merriam-Webster, scion comes from German, where its parent word refers to the sprout or shoot coming from a plant. These days, it's used as a term of art for the children of the very wealthy. "As the scion of a massive fortune, I worry that no one will ever respect me, because no matter how much success I achieve, my wealth will always overshadow it and make me look like everything was handed to me."


Explore More Quizzes

About Zoo

Our goal at Zoo.com is to keep you entertained in this crazy life we all live.

We want you to look inward and explore new and interesting things about yourself. We want you to look outward and marvel at the world around you. We want you to laugh at past memories that helped shape the person you’ve become. We want to dream with you about all your future holds. Our hope is our quizzes and articles inspire you to do just that.

Life is a zoo! Embrace it on Zoo.com.