100 SAT words Beginning with “P” – 100 Words

pacifist

someone opposed to violence as a means of settling disputes

War to the pacifists is wrong, unholy, morally sinful, biologically and economically and in every other way evil.Partridge, G.E.
palliative

moderating pain or sorrow by making it easier to bear

In advanced cases, it is only possible to relieve the patient’s suffering by palliative measures.Miles, Alexander
palpable

able to be felt by tactile examination

It’s almost palpable music: blocks of sound with shape and density.New York Times (Jan 10, 2011)
panacea

hypothetical remedy for all ills or diseases

The city fathers speak of binglang as if it were a panacea for all of Xiangtan’s ills, from curing tapeworm to solving unemployment.New York Times (Aug 20, 2010)
pandemic

an outbreak of disease that is geographically widespread

The World Health Organization in 2009 declared swine flu the first global flu pandemic in 40 years.Seattle Times (Feb 1, 2012)
pandemonium

a state of extreme confusion and disorder

Chief Godbee described the scene as one of “utter chaos and pandemonium.”New York Times (Jan 24, 2011)
paradigm

a standard or typical example

Since, our method has become a paradigm for guiding scientists to the genetic basis of other human diseases.New York Times (Jun 21, 2010)
paradox

a statement that contradicts itself

It seems like a paradox or contradiction to say that self-denial can harmonize with enjoyment; and yet it is true.Howard, Thomas Henry
paragon

model of excellence or perfection of a kind

She would tread her enemies under foot and emerge from the conflict victorious, untrammelled, a paragon of virtues.Horrell, Charles
parody

a composition that imitates or misrepresents a style

Granted, all are outrageously exaggerated, but a discerning eye can detect the truth that lurks behind any satire, parody, or lampoon.Anonymous
parsimonious

excessively unwilling to spend

In allusion to greedy, parsimonious people, who would rather be put to a great deal of trouble than incur a trifling expense.Hislop, Alexander
partisan

devoted to a cause or party

Exxon has been extremely partisan, its political action committee essentially acting as a finance arm of the Republican Party.
pastoral

idyllically rustic

He made a considerable reputation as an accomplished painter of quiet pastoral subjects and carefully elaborated landscapes with cattle.Various
patriarchal

of a social organization with the male as the head

The old patriarchal system is gone; the father is no longer an autocratic ruler in his small world.Bray, Reginald Arthur
patrician

befitting a person of noble origin

Caesar was, by birth, patrician, having descended from a long line of noble ancestors.Abbott, Jacob
patriotism

love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it

In short, he felt the inspiration of patriotism, that noble sentiment which nerves men to do, and dare, unto the death, for their native soil.Semmes, Raphael
patronizing

characteristic of those who treat others with arrogance

Others, proud of their husbands’ standing and of their wealth, could not invent enough unspoken affronts and patronizing phrases to humiliate the little parvenue.Daudet, Alphonse
paucity

an insufficient quantity or number

The paucity of reptiles in Ireland is remarkable, but they are not altogether absent.Various
pecuniary

relating to or involving money

In this pecuniary distress, two men offered to loan the necessary funds, and two hundred and fifty dollars were gratefully accepted from each.Bolton, Sarah Knowles
pedagogy

the principles and methods of instruction

What type of pedagogy, or teaching method, makes me thrive?New York Times (Jan 13, 2011)
pedantic

marked by a narrow focus on or display of learning

To make a classical quotation in a mixed company is considered pedantic and out of place, as is also an ostentatious display of your learning.Young, John H.
penitent

feeling or expressing remorse for misdeeds

He was penitent at once, and full of promises never to ask her again to do anything that might cause an instant’s remorse.MacKenzie, Compton
penurious

excessively unwilling to spend

He lived a penurious life, eating little, avoiding luxury and dressing in threadbare clothing that he often bought at the Salvation Army and Goodwill.New York Times (Jun 3, 2011)
perfidious

tending to betray

Any one who studied her treacherous and perfidious countenance would detect therein craft and cruelty.Sue, Eugène
perilous

fraught with danger

They were ever in the most perilous situations, did the most dangerous service, and acknowledged no leader other than their own free will.Ellis, Edward Sylvester
perish

pass from physical life

Walter Bell’s own brother died in a mining accident — in the same spot where an elder relative perished years earlier.Seattle Times (Apr 19, 2012)
pernicious

exceedingly harmful

All these experiments, however, are in general not only useless but pernicious, and frequently prove fatal.Millingen, J. G. (John Gideon)
perpetuate

cause to continue or prevail

The so-called Confederate States, the new power, organized for the avowed purpose of extending and perpetuating African slavery, was now in full blast.Aughey, John H.
personification

someone who represents an abstract quality

“He was the personification of determination and never giving up – he inspired so many people,” Kidd said in release from the U.S.Washington Post (Feb 9, 2010)
pertinent

having precise or logical relevance to the matter at hand

You can see how much everyone makes, their performance reports … everything that is pertinent to their employment.Inc (May 3, 2010)
peruse

examine or consider with attention and in detail

The first he opened, and drawing near the light, perused its contents attentively.James, G. P. R. (George Payne Rainsford)
pervasive

spreading or spread throughout

Visual Culture Out of Africa Africa is everywhere, so pervasive in our lives that we barely see it.New York Times (Dec 3, 2010)
philanthropist

someone who makes charitable donations

He was perhaps best known as a philanthropist: just this month he donated more than $15 million to the Leeds Community Foundation.
pillage

steal goods; take as spoils

United Nations officials said that several waves of looters had pillaged Abyei and that there was even a market in town now for looted goods.New York Times (Jun 2, 2011)
pinnacle

the highest level or degree attainable

One man had lifted them from the lowest ebb almost to the pinnacle of success.Morris, Charles
pithy

concise and full of meaning

As we are hastily reading books and papers we continually come across maxims, epigrams, and short, pithy sayings that attract us.McCarty, Louis Philippe
placate

cause to be more favorably inclined

My clients were soon grumbling, but Woodruff handled them well, placating them with excuses that soothed their annoyance to discontented silence.Ashe, E. M.
placid

calm and free from disturbance

The old father, calm and placid looking, is sitting on his heels near the tiller smoking a long bamboo pipe.Macgowan, J. (John)
plausible

apparently reasonable and valid, and truthful

Your manner was earnest, your argument plausible and at first blush, convincing; but you are wrong.Holt, Mathew Joseph
plebeian

one of the common people

“All of them quite common men!” said the provost carelessly—”country rustics— plebeians!”Barr, Amelia Edith Huddleston
plethora

extreme excess

I’ve spent a plethora of times going through my essays, over and over and over again.New York Times (Dec 20, 2010)
pliable

capable of being bent or flexed or twisted without breaking

Worse, the tissues are less pliable, less flexible.Seattle Times (Dec 19, 2011)
plight

a situation from which extrication is difficult

Although one oncologist waived her fees after hearing about the family’s plight, other creditors have demanded payment, and bankruptcy remains a possibility.New York Times (Mar 29, 2010)
plummet

drop sharply

For one thing, even while video games have skyrocketed, youth violence plummeted to its lowest levels in 40 years according to government statistics.
plunder

destroy and strip of its possession

So bold had these robbers become that they did not hesitate to raid the coasts of Italy and to plunder Ostia.Boak, Arthur Edward Romilly
plutocracy

a political system governed by the wealthy people

” Plutocracy” means control by those who own wealth.Nearing, Scott
poignant

keenly distressing to the mind or feelings

Thus, for example, could I ever have imagined the poignant and terrible suffering of never being alone even for one minute during ten years?Dostoyevsky, Fyodor
polarize

become divided in a conflict or contrasting situation

Looking at America Mr. Murray sees a country increasingly polarized into two culturally and geographically isolated demographics.New York Times (Feb 5, 2012)
pompous

puffed up with vanity

A pompous, boasting sort of man, I did not like him at all.Wood, Mrs. Henry
portentous

of momentous or ominous significance

It grew awfully dark— portentous omen!—and some enormous drops of rain, as big as bullets, came smacking down upon the window-stone.Le Fanu, Joseph Sheridan
posterity

all future generations

Our posterity will be the living public of a future generation.Rhys, Ernest
potent

having a strong physiological or chemical effect

Yet potent as the medicine might be, it was not powerful enough to keep Edward Armstrong asleep all night.Paull, H. B.
potentate

a ruler who is unconstrained by law

The land is ablaze with kings and potentates on golden thrones under canopies of angels.Synge, M. B. (Margaret Bertha)
pragmatic

concerning a theory of observable practical consequences

The pragmatic method in such cases is to try to interpret each notion by tracing its respective practical consequences.James, William
preamble

a preliminary introduction to a statute or constitution

It has no preamble, but is simply introduced by the enacting clause.Shambaugh, Benjamin F.
precarious

fraught with danger

It pines for that precarious life; its very dangers and privations fill its breast with desire.Lane, Mary E. Bradley
precedent

an example that is used to justify similar occurrences

Canada and Newfoundland, following the precedent of the United States, require copyright notice in statutory form.Bowker, Richard Rogers
precocious

characterized by exceptionally early development

He had been a precocious child, advanced beyond his years in all the studies of the schools.Burns, Elmer Ellsworth
precursor

something indicating the approach of something or someone

In theory, learning to detect the precursors of environmental distress could help raise the alarm before any damage is irreversible.
predator

any animal that lives by preying on other animals

“Polar bears are very much of a predator bear, having evolved rapidly to become a specialist in hunting seals.New York Times (May 11, 2011)
predecessor

one who precedes you in time

His works in the tinted manner are full of poetic beauty, and exhibit a marked improvement on those of his predecessors.Koehler, S. R.
predominance

the state of having superior power and influence over others

Below the line, among backboneless animals, there is much greater constancy of superiority among the females, and this predominance persists in many higher types.Hartley, C. Gasquoine (Catherine Gasquoine)
premonition

a feeling of evil to come

No foreboding of evil haunted him; no slightest premonition of danger clouded his sky.Harvey, James Clarence
preponderance

exceeding in heaviness; having greater weight

Until representatives from all sections are heard from, however, it will be impossible to say what the preponderance of opinion really is.Various
preposterous

inviting ridicule

It is ridiculous, preposterous even, certainly wrong, a sugary pudding of groans and cliches.
prerequisite

something that is needed or obligatory in advance

For anyone wanting a job in politics, unpaid work experience has become an essential – but often very hard to come by – prerequisite.
prerogative

a right reserved exclusively by a person or group

This was the right of search claimed by Great Britain as one of her prerogatives.Comfield, Amelia Stratton
prescience

the power to foresee the future

We have never been good at foretelling the future, but when the news is favorable, others forgive our lack of prescience.New York Times (Mar 27, 2010)
prevalent

most frequent or common

The practice is most prevalent in Pakistani communities, but it’s also common among some Middle Eastern and east African groups.
prevaricate

be deliberately ambiguous or unclear

Tell your story straight, and don’t conceal aught, or prevaricate.Reid, Mayne
primitive

belonging to an early stage of technical development

Starting millions of years ago, the evolutionary ancestors of humans figured out how to use primitive stone tools in a systematic way.
pristine

completely free from dirt or contamination

Luckily though, the number of overall visitors will remain restricted, guaranteeing, it is hoped, at least another 100 years of relative isolation and pristine wilderness.New York Times (Jan 6, 2012)
privation

the act of stripping someone of food, money, or rights

This was rolling in riches of luxury, after nearly starving of privation, and dying from thirst.Drayson, A. W. (Alfred Wilks)
prodigal

recklessly wasteful

In times of plenty his diet is not improved, because he wastes his surplus in prodigal feasting.Thomson, Basil
prodigious

great in size, force, extent, or degree

Absorbing in scope and expressive in detail, the piece offered compelling evidence of Mr. Lewis’s prodigious imagination and persuasive skill.New York Times (Nov 14, 2011)
prodigy

an unusually gifted or intelligent person

The former child prodigy entered Bard College at age 11, and was accepted by Yale Law at 16.
prognosticate

make a prediction about; tell in advance

How strange it is that our dreams often prognosticate coming events!Huth, Alexander
prolific

intellectually productive

He was prolific, directing more than 40 movies, and was versatile, dabbling in many different film genres.
prolix

tediously prolonged or tending to speak or write at length

What we now regard as tedious and prolix was looked upon as so much linked sweetness long drawn out.Rudd, John
prominent

having a quality that thrusts itself into attention

Its rounded facade of colored glass juts out over the sidewalk, making the building on Orleans Street a prominent new landmark in East Baltimore.Washington Post (May 7, 2012)
propel

cause to move forward with force

Propelled by winds and high temperatures, it burned for 10 days, charring more than 250 acres of land.Scientific American (Apr 9, 2012)
propensity

a natural inclination

But really, cousin, don’t you think that this way of contradicting our natures and propensities is very wrong?Bloomfield, Robert
prophecy

knowledge of the future, as from a divine source

His highest office was prophecy, and in all his temples the priestesses gave mystic revelations of the future.Hurll, Estelle M. (Estelle May)
propitious

presenting favorable circumstances

It was by favor of these propitious conditions that many of the great fortunes, based upon land, were founded.Gustavus, Myers
proportional

properly related in size or degree

Relative to the size of its economy, the total Greek spending cuts now being contemplated are proportional to the United States government cutting $1.75 trillion.New York Times (Jul 9, 2011)
proprietor

someone who owns a business

He was a thriving business man, the proprietor of two plantations and a mill, and kept a large number of hands engaged at work.Anonymous
propriety

correct behavior

She still hoped, that when removed from the bad influence of the Captain, she would behave herself with more propriety.Moodie, Susanna
prosaic

not challenging; dull and lacking excitement

Cats is an exceedingly dull and prosaic writer, whose alexandrines roll smoothly on without any power of riveting the attention or delighting the fancy.Various
prosperity

the condition of having good fortune

In Asian lore, the crane represents endurance as well as good fortune and prosperity.Seattle Times (Mar 7, 2012)
prostrate

lying face downward

There, she saw, lying on his face, the prostrate form of a man.Fleming, May Agnes
protege

a person who receives support from an influential patron

The “mentor/ protege” program was intended to enable small businesses to learn from large, established ones.Washington Post (Oct 1, 2010)
prototype

a standard or typical example

Babbage never completed his prototype, but several different working models have been constructed since.
proverbial

relating to or resembling a condensed but memorable saying

Footnote 1: “Even bird’s milk is not lacking,” a Polish proverbial expression signifying “abundance,” “living in clover.”Sienkiewicz, Henryk
provocative

serving or tending to excite or stimulate

Festival play is all that can be expected outside of Europe, but “Berlin ’36′” does make a provocative selection certain to stir debate.
prowess

a superior skill learned by study and practice

Sometimes more than two bulls are used, thus making the sport more exciting and the measure of the warrior’s prowess greater—if he wins.O’Neil, Owen Rowe
puerile

displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity

You must take part in the pleasures of children, but never accommodate them with a childish language or with foolish or puerile ways.Hugo Paul Thieme
pugilist

someone who fights with his fists for sport

She said Mandela remains an avid boxing fan and will be watching Filipino pugilist Manny Pacquiao’s next world title defence on 7 May.
pugnacious

ready and able to resort to force or violence

On this final of three debates all three men seemed pugnacious, combative — fighting for very high stakes with the gloves off.New York Times (Apr 29, 2010)
puissant

powerful

The land was some deal emptied of the most puissant and the strongest, for they were dead along with their lord.Evans, Sebastian
pusillanimous

lacking in courage, strength, and resolution

The public is pusillanimous and cowardly, because it is weak.Rhys, Ernest

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