The ABCs of SAT Vocabulary

25 Vocabulary Words in Pictures and Sample Sentences

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Here are 25 vocabulary words taken from Barron’s SAT vocabulary flashcards. I have added my own example sentences and found photos to illustrate the sentence concepts. Hopefully, this visualization will help you to understand and recall the definitions. Even if you are not preparing for the SAT, this list might help keep your vocabulary sharp.

There are only 25 words in this list, and not 26, because there are no words beginning with X in this flashcard set.


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[ˌaprəˈhenSHən] 1) fear of future evil; 2) understanding; 3) arrest (of a criminal)

Jake was filled with apprehension when he thought about tomorrow’s exam.


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[bəˈnevələnt] disposed to do good

He truly was a benevolent man and often found ways to help the homeless in his city.


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[kənˈsensəs] agreement arrived at by a group as a whole

Chris talked to his coworkers, mentioning three local restaurants where they could get take-out, but the group couldn’t come up with a consensus.


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[detrəˈmen(t)l] causing injury or damage

Everyone knows that smoking is detrimental to your health.


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[ˈer(y)əˌdīt] possessing great knowledge

She had a reputation for being erudite and had an impressive two-story home library.


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[ˈfləkCHəˌwāt] waver

All day, the weather fluctuated between snow, sleet and rain.


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[ˈZHänrə] particular variety of art or literature

Mystery is my favorite genre in both books and TV shows.


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[hīˈpərbəlē] extravagant statement (usually not meant to be taken literally)

Ann was prone to hyperbole. She said she was “hungry enough to eat a cow” but felt full after eating three White Castle burgers.


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[ˌidēəˈsiNGkrəsē] individual trait, usually odd in nature

The fictional detective, Hercule Poirot, is known for his idiosyncrasies like straightening objects and laying down a napkin on a public bench before sitting on it.


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[ˌjəkstəpəˈziSH(ə)n] state of being placed side by side or close together

The green building looked even brighter when viewed in juxtaposition to an adjoining one, nearly identical but in a dull beige.


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[ˈkindl] 1) set on fire 2) inspire (an emotion)

Listening to music kindled her creativity while painting.


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[ˈlab(ə)ˌrinTH] 1) something very intricate or bewildering in structure; 2) place made up of twisting passages and blind alleys

She soon felt lost in the labyrinth of narrow streets in this foreign city.


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[məˈtikyələs] excessively careful

Hannah was a meticulous housekeeper and would notice if an item on her kitchen shelves was an inch out of place.


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[nəˈferēəs] very wicked

The cat looked to me like it was scheming a nefarious little plan, probably involving a mouse.


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[əbˈskyo͝or 1) make unclear 2) conceal

Fog obscured his view of the road.


Photo by Peter Ivey-Hansen

[praɡˈmadik] concerned with the practical worth or impact of something; dealing with facts

Erin browsed the shop with her friend but was too pragmatic to buy anything she didn’t need.


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[ˈkwänd(ə)rē] state of perplexity

Faced with so many vending machines and beverage options, Jose was in a quandary over which to choose.


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[rəˈtrakt] 1) take back 2) draw back

The woman accused her neighbor, at first, thinking she recognized his shadowy figure by the fallen body, but she later retracted her accusation.


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[ˈsämbər] 1) dark in color 2) depressing in nature

The fog over the castle ruins created a somber atmosphere.


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[trīt] not fresh or original

After everything she had been through, she felt her friend’s advice to “keep her chin up” sounded trite.



[yo͞oˈsərp] seize another’s power, rank, or authority

In the Old Testament, King David’s son Absalom plotted to usurp the throne from his father.


[ˈvasəˌlāt] hesitate in making a choice

The politician seemed to vacillate on the issues, changing his position to please different factions of voters.


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[ˈwôrənt] 1) give adequate grounds for 2) give a warranty for a product

He was angry about being the brunt of a prank, but that didn’t warrant giving the prankster a sound beating.


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[ˈzelət] person who shows excessive religious or political fervor

(Note — The word is sometimes used in other contexts where someone can be fanatical.)

Sarah’s roommate did most of the cooking but was a zealot of healthy eating, sometimes going as far as tossing Sarah’s junk food snacks in the trash.

10 SAT Vocabulary Words in Pictures

And Sample Sentences

I hope this list will be beneficial to you if you are already thinking about and preparing for the verbal section of the SAT. It may perhaps be helpful to intermediate and advanced students studying English as a second or foreign language or those wanting to improve their vocabulary for other reasons. We all learn in different ways, and it might help you remember definitions to have a visual association with the word.

It’s hard to illustrate some more abstract words with a picture alone, but the picture and sample sentence together tell a story.

All vocabulary words and their definitions came from the Barron’s SAT Vocabulary Word flashcards. The sample sentences are my own.

1. Rancor

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Rancor — lasting resentment

Mei-li was filled with rancor as she pondered all of the events that had gone wrong in her life lately.

2. Confound

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Confound — throw into confusion or bewilder

Toby was confounded when he discovered his bicycle was not where he had left it.

3. Embellish

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Embellish — (1) make more beautiful (2) make a story more interesting by adding (generally fictitious) details.

The chessmen were embellished with intricate carvings.

4. Peripheral

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Peripheral — (1) related to the surface or outer part (2) of minor importance

Using his peripheral vision, Jean-Pierre, the French bulldog, watched as the neighbor’s ginger cat, Lola, approached.

5. Inadvertently

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Inadvertently — In a manner exhibiting a lack of attention, unintentionally

While reaching to put the star on the top of the tree, Candace inadvertently knocked her elbow into a ball ornament, causing it to crash to the floor and break.

6. Frugality

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Frugality — carefulness in spending money or using resources

Emily was known for her frugality. While friends went out for pizza, she often had a cheap meal of packaged ramen noodles.

7. Obdurate

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Obdurate — (1) stubbornly persistent in resisting persuasion (2) unsympathetic

No matter how his young mistress tugged at his leash, the pug remained obdurate, standing and staring at the hot dog stand across the street.

8. Antagonism

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Antagonism — active resistance, hostility

After the incident, Amber felt such antagonism towards everyone, she unfriended her entire friend list.

9. Emulate

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Emulate — attempt to equal or outdo, imitate

She tried to emulate the style of her favorite painters.

10. Lavish

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Lavish — occurring or produced in abundance, opulent, luxurious

The host lavished lavish desserts on his guests.