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Take the World’s Hardest Vocabulary Test

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Over the last few years, Words for Nerds has been a regular feature in my blogs. To qualify as a Word for Nerds, it must meet three criteria –

1. The word must be in current usage, not an archaic term.
2. The word must be usable in general conversation, not a narrow, technical term.
3. The word must be very uncommon, but not totally obscure. (This is the tricky one. The perfect Word for Nerds is one which you kind of recognize, but don’t quite exactly know the meaning of.)

Many of the words on the Words for Nerds list are ones I had to look up when reading.
They’re tough; over my head, anyway, for the most part. So here’s the complete list to-date. How many of these 57 head-scratchers do you know? Give it a try, and at the end, check out the Word Sell Challenge.

The World’s Hardest Vocabulary Test

  1. Schadenfreude
  2. Defenestration
  3. Adumbrate
  4. Encomium
  5. Blandish
  6. Turpitude
  7. Fribble
  8. Solipsism
  9. Captious
  10. Protean
  1. Tenebrous
  2. Otiose
  3. Puissant
  4. Hegemony
  5. Tertiary
  6. Bathos
  7. Antediluvian
  8. Fugacious
  9. Sinecure
  10. Defalcate
  1. Heuristic
  2. Quotidian
  3. Avuncular
  4. Somnolent
  5. Juggernaut
  6. Recondite
  7. Peripatetic
  8. Parsimonious
  9. Bricolage
  10. Punctilio
  1. Numinous
  2. Grampus
  3. Transmogrify
  4. Pismire
  5. Nictitate
  6. Crenel
  7. Gravamen
  8. Insuperable
  9. Fungible
  10. Putative
  1. Palaver
  2. Panoply
  3. Aplomb
  4. Haruspice
  5. Moribund
  6. Foozle
  7. Nostrum
  8. Moil
  9. Flagitious
  10. Draconian
  1. Soporific
  2. Aril
  3. Flivver
  4. Jejune
  5. Frowzy
  6. Canard
  7. Qua

WHEW! That had to be tough. My hat’s off to anybody who knew more than ten. If you knew 20 or more, well, you have one of the best vocabularies IN THE WORLD!

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68 Responses to Take the World’s Hardest Vocabulary Test

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  1. Julian M.

    Age:20
    14th Grade College Student
    (mostly self-taught)

    My Results on the World’s ‘Hardest’ Vocabulary Test
    (definitions culled from memory alone, no external references of any kind were employed during the test-taking process)
    *Correct Answers in my case, must meet the primary definition of the word in question (usu. verbatim) as well as any subsidiary connotations integral to the word itself*…
    very strictly graded…

    Here are my results

    ——- Schadenfreude (incorrect)———
    1. Defenestration- correct
    2 Adumbrate-correct
    3. Encomium-correct
    4. Blandish-correct
    5. Turpitude-correct
    6. Fribble-correct
    7. Solipsism-correct
    8. Captious-correct
    9. Protean-correct
    10. Tenebrous-correct
    11. Otiose-correct
    12. Puissant-correct
    13. Hegemony-correct
    14. Tertiary-correct
    ———-Bathos—————- (incorrect)
    15. Antediluvian-correct
    16. Fugacious-correct
    17. Sinecure-correct
    18. Defalcate-correct
    19. Heuristic-correct
    20. Quotidian-correct
    21. Avuncular-correct
    22. Somnolent-correct
    23. Juggernaut-correct
    24. Recondite-correct
    25. Peripatetic-correct
    26. Parsimonious-correct
    ———–Bricolage————- (Incorrect)
    27. Punctilio-correct
    28. Numinous-correct
    ———–Grampus—— (incorrect)
    29. Transmogrify-correct
    ———Pismire—— (incorrect)
    ———Nictitate—– (incorrect)
    ——— Crenel———-(incorrect)
    ———- Gravamen——–(incorrect)
    30. Insuperable-correct
    31. Fungible-correct
    32. Putative-correct
    33. Palaver-correct
    34. Panoply-correct
    35. Aplomb-correct
    ——- Haruspice——– (incorrect)
    36. Moribund-correct
    ——- Foozle———- (incorrect)
    37. Nostrum-correct
    38. Moil-correct
    39. Flagitious-correct
    40. Draconian-correct
    41. Soporific-correct
    —– Aril——– (incorrect)
    42. Flivver-correct
    43. Jejune-correct
    44. Frowzy-correct
    45. Canard-correct
    46. Qua-correct

    46/57~80.7% correct

  2. Julian, Wow – very impressive! Are you thinking about a career in writing or teaching English?

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..You Are Now Entering the Customer Service Twilight Zone

  3. Iris, That’s a fantastic score, especially since English is not your native language. Thanks for taking the test and providing us a little cultural trivia and feedback!

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..How a Non-Profit Organization (NPO) Can Raise More Money

  4. Knew 22…but I’m Romanian…and our language comes from Latin and Greek and Fr. and etc.
    For ex. we use “Somnolent” on a daily basis , also “Adumbrate” and so on.
    Great test! – amazed by some words like “Schadenfreude” or amused by “Jejune”.

  5. pranay srivastava

    hi this is pranay from india
    My score is 25 ,I am preparing for GRE

  6. Hi Pranay, Nice score, and good luck with your GRE!

    • i knew 26 of the words and could have guessed on at least 10 more.

  7. Many of those are in the high school vocabulary test books.

  8. I missed six of the words:fribble, Bathos, Bricolage,Grampus, Aril, and Frowzy.I too study words as a hobbie. I started about 6 years ago. I too have taken the
    Schmies test several times over the last 3 years; moving up from 165 to 182 earlier this year.

    A few of my favorite , most recently learned words: Propinquity, and delitescent.
    thanks for the test !

  9. David, Good going! Thanks for taking the test and congratulations on the steady improvement. I’ve got to look up delitescent right now.

  10. It’s kind of sad but I know more words than most of you and I never look up any word unless I absolutely have

  11. I’m thirteen and got them all. EASY.

  12. Are you joking!
    THESE words aren’t true. THIS is really weird!
    Dad is a huge vocabulary fan but he says he never saw these words!

  13. glenn pond

    im therdy-ate and miss tham aull :( pleze hilp how toe spille

  14. Andres Ferraro

    It helps a lot if you know a Latin-rooted language. Knowing Spanish very well, about half these words are very-very close in spelling (and identical in meaning) to their Spanish counterparts. I’m assuming someone who knows French or Italian well might find the same is true for them.

  15. The words might be true or fake but their so great words to learn not to be rude but anyone in college yet

  16. this test was a peice of cake. the easiest test i ever saw! i swear.

  17. I know 22 Of these and they are HARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

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