262 SAT Vocab Words You’re Bound to See on Test Day

In this guide, we give you a comprehensive list of 262 of the most common SAT vocabulary words. We also explain how vocab is tested on the SAT, what types of questions you’ll see, and how to get the most out of your vocab prep.

Abate
v. to become less active, less intense, or less in amount

Abstract
adj. existing purely in the mind; not representing actual reality

Abysmal
adj. extremely bad

Accordingly
adv. in accordance with

Acquisition
n. the act of gaining a skill or possession of something

Adapt
v. to make suit a new purpose

v. to accommodate oneself to a new condition, setting, or situation

Adept
adj. having knowledge or skill (usu. in a particular area)

Adequate
adj. having sufficient qualifications to meet a specific task or purpose

Advent
n. the arrival or creation of something (usu. historic)

Adversarial
adj. relating to hostile opposition

Advocate
n. someone who promotes or defends something

v. to defend or promote something (usu. a belief, theory, opinion, etc.)

Aesthetic
adj. relating to beauty or refined taste

Afford
v. to be able to buy

v. to be able to spare

Agitate
v. to promote something (usu. a cause)

Allow
v. to permit or consent to

Allude
v. to make a secretive mention of something

Altercation
n. a noisy argument or confrontation

Ambiguous
adj. unclear or vague in meaning

Ambitious
adj. having a powerful desire for success or achievement

Ambivalence
n. the state of being uncertain or stuck between two or more options

Analogous
adj. similar but not identical

Annihilate
v. to destroy or cause devastating destruction

Anomaly
n. something different from the norm

Anticipate
v. assume to be likely to happen

Antipathy
n. a strong feeling of dislike

Apex
n. the highest point of something

Apprehension
n. fearful expectation of something

Articulate
v. to clearly express in words

Artificial
adj. something made; not occurring naturally

Assertion
n. a strong declaration

Austere
adj. extremely plain

adj. stern and forbidding

adj. relating to self-denial

Authenticity
n. the quality of being real and true instead of fake and contrived

Avenue
n. an intangible path or approach to something

Avid
adj. actively interested in or enthusiastic about something

Basic
adj. relating to the foundation or basis of something

Bear
v. to have as a characteristic

v. to have (a child)

v. to bring forth

v. to put up with

Benevolent
adj. kind, generous

Bias
n. a preconception that prevents objectivity

Bittersweet
adj. tinged with a feeling of sadness

Bolster
v. to support, strengthen, or fortify

Boost
n. an increase or growth

v. to increase or make grow

Brawl
n. an intense, loud fight

v. to fight loudly and disruptively

Brevity
n. the quality of being brief or terse

Candid
adj. direct, blunt

Candor
n. the trait of being honest and frank

Capitalize
v. to use to your advantage

Capture
v. to trap or take possession of

v. to successfully represent or imitate

v. to captivate, mesmerize

v. to catch or seize

Civic
adj. relating to the city or citizens

Clinical
adj. emotionally unattached (usu. used in medical or scientific setting)

Clout
n. special advantage or power

Coarse
adj. indicating a rough texture

adj. lacking refinement or sophistication

Coincide
v. to happen at the same time

Commission
n. the use of payment to request something (e.g., a service or product)

Comparable
adj. able to be compared

Competent
adj. sufficiently qualified

Complacent
adj. satisfied, with no desire to change or improve

Complement
v. to make perfect or complete

Concede
v. to be forced to agree or surrender

v. to admit to a transgression

Conceive
v. to imagine or come up with

Condone
v. to overlook, approve, or allow

Conducive
adj. able to bring about or be suitable for

Conduct
v. to control or manage

v. to behave a certain way

Confide
v. to share something secretive with someone

Confine
v. to put limits on; to restrict

Consensus
n. overall agreement

Constitute
v. to form or compose (part of) something

Contemplate
v. to think deeply about

Contend
v. to maintain or assert (an opinion)

Contradict
v. to be in contrast with

Controversial
adj. highly debatable and causing contention

Conventional
adj. abiding by accepted standards

Convey
v. to pass on or transfer (information)

Conviction
n. a firm belief in something

Corroborate
v. to provide evidence for; to back up (a claim)

Counteract
v. to work in opposition to

Counterargument
n. an argument used to criticize or dismantle another argument

Counterproductive
adj. hindering the achievement of a goal

Culmination
n. the final act or climax

Cultivate
v. to foster the growth of

Decree
v. to declare formally and with authority

Deference
n. respect; regard

Deficient
adj. not enough in degree or amount

Demonstrate
v. to do as an example

v. gives evidence for

Demur
v. to object to

Deplete
v. to (over)use over time (usu. resources)

Desolate
adj. bare, barren, empty

Devise
v. to come up with (a plan)

Dilemma
n. a problem, usually requiring a choice between two options

Diligence
n. conscientiousness; the quality of being committed to a task

Diminish
v. to become smaller in scope or degree

Dire
adj. hopeless and dangerous or fearful

Discord
n. disagreement

Disdain
n. a lack of respect and strong dislike (toward something or someone)

Dismay
n. hopelessness, stress, or consternation

v. to fill with woe or apprehension

Disparage
v. to belittle or speak down to

Dispatch
v. to send off a message or messenger

Diversification
n. the act of becoming diverse

Doctrine
n. a principle, theory, or position, usu. advocated by a religion or gov’t

Dominion
n. power and authority (usu. over a territory)

n. a legal territory

Dreary
adj. sad, gloomy, dull

Dubious
adj. doubtful, questionable

Eccentric
adj. peculiar or odd; deviating from the norm

Egregious
adj. extremely bad

Eloquent
adj. having refined or expressive communication skills (in speaking or writing)

Eminent
adj. superior or distinguished; high in position or status

Emit
v. to discharge, give forth, or release

Emphatic
adj. very expressive; using emphasis

Empirical
adj. derived from experience, observation, or an experiment

Endow
v. to equip or bestow (usu. a quality or ability)

Endure
v. to withstand, sustain, or hold out against

Entail
v. to involve or include

Entrenched
adj. firmly established

Enumerate
v. to specify or count

Envy
n. excessive jealousy

v. to admire and be jealous of

Erratic
adj. having no fixed course; deviating from the norm

Establish
v. to enact

v. to found (a business, group, school, etc.)

Evoke
v. to draw forth or call up

Exacerbate
v. to make worse or increase the severity of

Excel
v. to do something extremely well or to be superior in

Exert
v. to put into use (usu. as effort)

Exhilarating
adj. invigorating, stimulating, or exciting

Expend
v. to use up (as in energy or money)

Exploit
v. to use selfishly or for profit

Facilitate
v. to aid the progress of

Feasibility
n. the practicality or possibility of something

Ferocity
n. viciousness, violence

Fiscal
adj. related to (government) money

Flourish
v. to prosper, grow, or make fast progress

Fluctuate
v. to be unstable; to rise and fall

Foment
v. to stir up

Foreseeable
adj. capable of being predicted or anticipated

Frankly
adv. directly, clearly

Freewheeling
adj. carefree

Fundamental
adj. the most essential or most basic part

Galvanizing
adj. thrilling, exciting, stimulating

Geriatric
adj. relating to old age

Hostile
adj. harmful, dangerous

Hypothetical
adj. supposed; related to a hypothesis

Ignominious
adj. publicly shameful or humiliating

Impart
v. to transmit, bestow, or disclose

Impartiality
n. the equal and objective treatment of opposing views

Imposing
adj. impressive (esp. in size or appearance)

Imposition
n. an unnecessary burden

Imprudent
adj. not cautious or prudent; rash

Incite
v. to encourage or stir up

Indifference
n. apathy, emotional detachment

Indiscriminately
adv. randomly; with little or no distinction

Indulge
v. to give into; to satisfy or gratify

Infer
v. to guess, conclude, or derive by reasoning

Innovative
adj. novel or new (esp. as an idea or invention)

Insatiable
adj. can’t be satisfied

Inversion
n. a reversal

Invoke
v. to call on; to appeal to (e.g., a higher power)

Irreconcilable
adj. incapable of being in harmony or agreed upon

Lament
v. to feel sorrow for; to mourn

Locomotion
n. movement

Lucrative
adj. capable of making a lot of money; profitable

Malicious
adj. harmful, spiteful

Malleable
adj. capable of being molded or changed

Materialistic
adj. superficial; focus on material possessions

Melodramatic
adj. extravagant or exaggerated (as of a melodrama)

Modest
adj. simple and humble

adj. small in size or amount

Modify
v. to change, alter, or tweak

Momentous
adj. historically significant

Novel
adj. new, innovative

Nuance
n. a subtle difference in meaning

Null
adj. legally void and ineffective

Objectivity
n. judgment based on observations instead of emotions or opinions

Obsolete
adj. no longer used; rare or uncommon

Omnipotent
adj. almighty and all powerful

Onset
n. the beginning or early stages

Opine
v. to openly express an opinion

Ornate
adj. highly detailed and decorated

Oust
v. to remove or force out of (usu. a position or office)

Paramount
adj. predominant, superior, most important

Peculiar
adj. strange, bizarre

Perish
v. to die; to pass away

Persecute
v. to cause suffering to

Petulant
adj. cranky, pouty, irritable

Pinnacle
n. highest level or degree

Pitiable
adj. deserving pity

Plausible
adj. reasonable and possibly true

Postulate
v. to assert

Potent
adj. having great influence

adj. having a strong, chemical effect

Pragmatic
adj. practical, useful

Precedent
n. an example or subject from earlier in time

Predecessor
n.  someone who comes before you (usu. in position or office)

Prescribe
v. to command orders

v. to issue authorization for medications

Principle
n. basic truth, assumption, or rule

Prohibit
v. to command against, to outlaw

Prompt
adj. punctual, on time

n. a cue to begin something; instructions

v. to incite, propel, or cause to act

Promulgate
v. to put into law or formally declare

Prosecute
v. to bring criminal action against someone (in a trial)

Provocative
adj. intending to provoke, inspire, or arouse

Qualitative
adj. involving qualities of something (features and content)

Quantitative
adj. involving quantities (numbers and amounts)

Quirk
n. a strange habit

Ramify
v. to split into two or more branches

Rash
adj. without attention to danger or risk

Raw
adj. unrefined

adj. not processed; uncooked (as in food)

Readily
adv. right away and without difficulty

Reconsideration
n. thinking again about a previously made choice

Reform
n. a change for the better; improvement

v. to improve via change

Refute
v. to prove to be untrue, unfounded, or incorrect

Reinforce
v. to strengthen or add support to

Reluctantly
adv. somewhat unwillingly

Renounce
v. to give up (usu. power or a position)

v. to cast off

Reproach
v. to criticize

Repudiate
v. to refuse to recognize as true

v. to cast off

Retention
n. the act of keeping something

Satiated
adj. satisfied (usu. in hunger)

Savvy
adj. having practical intelligence or knowledge

Scandalous
adj. morally offensive, often causing damage to one’s reputation

Scorn
v. to look down on with disdain

Scrupulous
adj. paying great attention to detail

Scrutinize
v. to examine carefully and critically

Secrete
v. to produce or release (a substance)

Sentiment
n. opinion

n. a tender or moving gesture

Sheer
adj. so thin that light can shine through

Simple
adj. easy; not complex

adj. undecorated

Sinister
adj. ominous, evil

Solidarity
n. the joining of commonalities or common purposes among a group

Sparingly
adv. insufficiently, meagerly, or in a restricted manner

Spawn
v. to release eggs

v. to call forth or generate

Spur
v. to stimulate or incite

Squalid
adj. run-down, sordid, or sleazy

Stark
adj. very plain; devoid of any details or features

Static
adj. motionless

adj. changeless

Subordinate
adj. lower in rank

n. someone lower in rank

v. to make dependent on or put at a lower rank

Subsequently
adv. happening later or after something

Substantial
adj. very large in amount or degree

Substantiate
v. to strengthen with new evidence or facts

Subtle
adj. hard to detect or analyze

Sufficient
adj. enough; just meeting a requirement

Surly
adj. unfriendly; inclined to anger

Surmount
v. to get on top of or overcome

Susceptible
adj. to be vulnerable (to something)

Tactful
adj. skilled at dealing with people

Taut
adj. pulled tight

Teeming
adj. abundantly filled (usu. with living organisms)

Temperament
n. usual mood or feelings

Tentative
adj. not yet finalized

Transparent
adj. see-through; so thin that light can shine through

adj. truthful or easy to perceive

Treacherous
adj. dangerous and unstable

Tremendous
adj. very large, good, or bad in degree or size

Ubiquitous
adj. being everywhere at once

Unadorned
adj. undecorated, plain

Undermine
v. to weaken or subvert (usu. gradually or secretly)

Underscore
v. to emphasize or give additional weight to

Undulate
v. to move as ripples or in a wavy pattern

Unilateral
adj. one-sided

Unjust
adj. unfair; not justified

Unmitigated
adj. downright, utter, total

Unprecedented
adj. completely new and never having happened before; historic

Unveil
v. to make visible; to reveal

Urge
n. desire or impulse

v. to encourage or persuade

Validate
v. to prove or declare valid

Viability
n. ability to be done in a practical or useful way

Vital
adj. urgently necessary

Vow
v. to promise

Warrant
v. to prove to be reasonable

Yield
n. production of an amount

v. to give way to or surrender to

v. to produce or supply

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