Fun SAT Vocab Prep With the Dictionary of Difficult Words

The Dictionary of Difficult Words is useful for all ages, especially students studying for the SAT. Review vocab with this unconventional test prep book!

Dictionary of Difficult WordsStandardized tests have been known to cause students some serious stress. As you prepare to take the SAT for the first (or second or third) time, you need to find the right balance between studying for each section of the exam and taking necessary study breaks. At CollegeXpress, we’re all about time management and ways to make studying more fun…and with The Dictionary of Difficult Words, you can unwind and study your SAT vocab at the same time. 

This book isn’t a traditional test prep resource: The Dictionary of Difficult Words is technically a children’s book, written by Jane Solomon—a lexicographer who writes definitions for—with illustrations by Louise Lockhart. It’s full of fun fonts, whimsical artwork, and—most importantly—really hard, unfamiliar words with proper pronunciation and simplified definitions. It’s the perfect book to browse during a quick study break that will entertain you but keep your mind sharp. The Dictionary of Difficult Words features:

Common SAT vocabulary

Words like these you’re almost guaranteed to see pop up on your test! Pick up some words like:


[es-thet-ik] ~ noun

When someone uses the word aesthetic, they are talking about what makes something beautiful to them. People often use this word when they’re talking about art.

Page of Dictionary of Difficult Words on A section


[em-yuh-leyt] ~ verb

If you emulate someone, you try to be just like them because you think they’re great. 


[fahr-too-i-tuhs] ~ adjective

Something that is fortuitous is a good and lucky thing that happens unexpectedly.  

Related: Easy Ways to Make Studying for Standardized Tests Fun

Words that make you sound extra smart

Learning these words will help you impress people far past just taking the SAT. Commit words like these to memory:


[neb-yuh-luhs] ~ adjective

If an idea is nebulous, it’s hard to describe because it’s not completely clear what the idea is.


[on-uh-mah-tuh-pee-uh] ~ noun

An onomatopoeia is a word that sounds like a noise when you say it aloud.


[ret-uh-suhnt] ~ adjective

Someone who is reticent doesn't usually talk about what they're thinking or how they're feeling. 

Page of Dictionary of Difficult Words on R section


[uhm-brif-er-uhs] ~ adjective

If a tree is umbriferous, there is shade underneath it.

Related: What's the Hardest Part of the SAT? 

Words that sound totally fictional

Studying vocab doesn’t get much more fun than getting to learn some nonsense words, like: 


[spuh-get-uh-fi-key-shuhn] ~ noun

Spaghettification is the idea that objects get long and skinny like spaghetti when they’re sucked into black holes. 


[hur-dee-gur-dee] ~ noun

A hurdy-gurdy is a type of musical instrument with strings, a keyboard, and a crank. 


[frab-juhs] ~ adjective

Something that is frabjous is wonderful, joyous, and amazing. This word was actually made up by Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland.


[kvech] ~ verb

When you kvetch about something, you complain about it.

Page of the Dictionary of Difficult Words on K section

Related: Video: 4 Must-Do Study Hacks for Better SAT Scores

There are ways you can make studying for the SAT more enjoyable; you just have to be willing to give them a shot. Thank you to the The Quarto Group for allowing us to share excerpts from the book with our students. You can learn more about the The Dictionary of Difficult Words on their website. 

Want another fun way to study your vocabulary? Check out our SAT Word Game for some friendly competition with other members of the CX community! 

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