Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

How Good is Your Vocabulary?

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I did well on this quiz — how about you? How did you score?

Your Vocabulary Score: A

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.


  1. #1 Jonathan Vause
    June 29, 2007

    Hey, I got an A+!
    PS is quixotic really a synonym of idealistic? bit dodgy imo

  2. #2 Drugmonkey
    June 29, 2007


    “atheist”?, “lithe”? …”talisman”?!!?? sheesh.

    Where’s the quiz for smart people?

  3. #3 Luna_the_cat
    June 29, 2007


    Jonathan — yes, in the sense that “quixotic” comes from Don Quixote; while more than a little deluded, he *was* certainly an idealist.

  4. #4 Dave S.
    June 29, 2007


    Really dragging down the curve.

  5. #5 Drat
    June 29, 2007

    Where are the useful words like homoscedasticity, anisotropy, or poikilothermy?

    By the way, thanks to long-dead but not forgotten Isaac Asimov, below are the answers to a quiz. What is the subject?

    1. unionized
    2. periodic
    3. WC

    Spoiler follows!

    Read them as ‘un-ionized’, ‘per-iodic’, and ‘tungsten carbide’. The subject is chemistry.

  6. #6 Bob O'H
    June 29, 2007

    I got an A as well. And I even know what homoscedasticity is: it’s actually part of my active vocabulary.

    Hmm, perhaps this is something not to boast about.


  7. #7 Agnostic
    June 29, 2007


    I’ll bet most who didn’t get A+ were tripped up by “peruse” — the usage meaning “to skim over” is so common that this is a almost a trick question. Anyone who uses it to mean “read carefully” has already lost that battle.

    Here’s one neat collection of “GRE words”:

    You can alter the 3-digit number in the URL to navigate, or use the buttons at the bottom. A lot more of a fix than “word of the day.”

  8. #8 G. Shelley
    June 29, 2007

    According to Chambers online:
    peruse verb (perused, perusing) 1 to read through (a book, magazine, etc) carefully. 2 to browse through something casually. 3 to examine or study (eg someone’s face) attentively.

    So, it either means read carefully, or read casually.
    I got A, not sure which one I got wrong

  9. #9 Oran_Taran
    June 29, 2007

    I got an A-
    I try to increase my vocabulary, but I have a bad memory for words (and names. and places. and dates). That GRE thing looks interesting…

  10. #10 Chris' Wills
    June 29, 2007

    Well I got peruse wrong. I always use it to mean skim, though I normally say that I give something a quick peruse.

    I do like words that are their own antonyms.

  11. #11 cfrost
    June 29, 2007

    Here’s a nice site full of short essays on words by a guy who does words for a living. – Like, for instance, the OED.

  12. #12 Library Diva
    July 1, 2007

    I got an A+! And they say English is a useless major…

  13. #13 sailor
    July 1, 2007

    A easily – but if you look I think it is fo KIDS!

  14. #14 Chris' Wills
    July 2, 2007

    A easily – but if you look I think it is fo KIDS!
    Posted by: sailor

    Bah humbug to you as well.

    I may have the body of an aged decrepit old man, but I try to retain the mind of a child :o)

  15. #15 idlemind
    July 2, 2007

    Well, I hesitated over “omniscient” (is that “all knowing” or “all understanding”?) but in the end I got it right: A+.

    Agnostic: you’re right; in casual discourse “peruse” is quickly going the way of “virtually” by rapidly transforming into its antonym.

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