TOEIC : Vocabulary

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for TOEIC

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Vocabulary

I was born in the working-class. Early I discovered enthusiasm, ambition, and ideals; and to satisfy these became the problem of my child-life. My environment was crude and rough and raw. I had no outlook, but an uplook rather. My place in society was at the bottom. Here life offered nothing but sordidness and wretchedness, both of the flesh and the spirit; for here flesh and spirit were alike starved and tormented.

Above me towered the colossal edifice of society, and to my mind the only way out was up. Into this edifice I early resolved to climb. … In short, as I accepted the rising of the sun, I accepted that up above me was all that was fine and noble and gracious, all that gave decency and dignity to life, all that made life worth living and that remunerated one for his travail and misery.  

Adapted from "What Life Means to Me" by Jack London (1909)

The word "resolved," as it is used in this passage, most nearly means ______________.

Possible Answers:

thought

decided 

dreamed

worked

Correct answer:

decided 

Explanation:

The correct answer is "decided." The word resolved means to decide something, and it has a connotation of making a strong decision. The choices thought, dreamed and worked, do not make sense in this context. The passage is about starting from a low class and wanting to get into a higher class, and how the author made the firm choice to obtain higher status in part because of how miserable he was being at the bottom of society. 

Example Question #2 : Vocabulary

At the little town of Vevey, in Switzerland, there is a particularly comfortable hotel. There are, indeed, many hotels, for the entertainment of tourists is the business of the place, which, as many travelers will remember, is seated upon the edge of a remarkably blue lake—a lake that it behooves every tourist to visit. The shore of the lake presents an unbroken array of establishments of this order, of every category, from the "grand hotel" of the newest fashion, with a chalk-white front, a hundred balconies, and a dozen flags flying from its roof, to the little Swiss pension of an elder day, with its name inscribed in German-looking lettering upon a pink or yellow wall and an awkward summerhouse in the angle of the garden. One of the hotels at Vevey, however, is famous, even classical, being distinguished from many of its upstart neighbors by an air both of luxury and of maturity. In this region, in the month of June, American travelers are extremely numerous; it may be said, indeed, that Vevey assumes at this period some of the characteristics of an American watering place. There are sights and sounds which evoke a vision, an echo, of Newport and Saratoga. There is a flitting hither and thither of "stylish" young girls, a rustling of muslin flounces, a rattle of dance music in the morning hours, a sound of high-pitched voices at all times. You receive an impression of these things at the excellent inn of the "Trois Couronnes" and are transported in fancy to the Ocean House or to Congress Hall. But at the "Trois Couronnes," it must be added, there are other features that are much at variance with these suggestions: neat German waiters, who look like secretaries of legation; Russian princesses sitting in the garden; little Polish boys walking about held by the hand, with their governors; a view of the sunny crest of the Dent du Midi and the picturesque towers of the Castle of Chillon.

Adapted from "Daisy Miller: A Study" by Henry James, 1879. 

In this passage, the word "picturesque" most nearly means ____________.

Possible Answers:

dreary

attractive

American 

plain

Correct answer:

attractive

Explanation:

The correct answer is "attractive." We can determine this meaning from context because the descriptions throughout the paragraph have a generally positive tone--they describe people and places that are "comfortable", "luxurious", and "stylish". The sentence describes the "sunny" crest of a mountain in the same sentence, and even if you don't know the meaning of picturesque, you can infer that it has a positive connotation. The other choices, dreary and plain, have a more negative or neutral connotation which does not fit. Also, the last sentence in the paragraph is highlighting the things that are at contrast with the American tourist spots, so American would not be the correct choice. 

Example Question #3 : Vocabulary

I was a wild little girl of seven. Loosely clad in a slip of brown buckskin, and light-footed with a pair of soft moccasins on my feet, I was as free as the wind that blew my hair, and no less spirited than a bounding deer. These were my mother's pride,--my wild freedom and overflowing spirits. She taught me no fear save that of intruding myself upon others. 

Having gone many paces ahead I stopped, panting for breath, and laughing with glee as my mother watched my every movement. I was not wholly conscious of myself, but was more keenly alive to the fire within. It was as if I were the activity, and my hands and feet were only experiments for my spirit to work upon. 

Returning from the river, I tugged beside my mother, with my hand upon the bucket I believed I was carrying. One time, on such a return, I remember a bit of conversation we had. My grown-up cousin, Warca-Ziwin (Sunflower) always went to the river alone for water for her mother. Their wigwam was not far from ours; and I saw her daily going to and from the river. I admired my cousin greatly. So I said: "Mother, when I am tall as my cousin Warca-Ziwin, you shall not have to come for water. I will do it for you."

Adapted from Zitkala Sa's "Impressions of an Indian Childhood" (1900)

The word "clad," in sentence 2, is closest in meaning to _______________.

Possible Answers:

stuck

surrounded

bound

dressed

Correct answer:

dressed

Explanation:

The best answer is "dressed." Since the sentence describes the clothing followed by the shoes, we know the sentence is related to something being worn. For that reason, the word "surrounded" does not make sense. We also know she is wearing it "loosely," which would rule out the choices, "bound" and "stuck" since these both imply being tightly enclosed.

Example Question #4 : Vocabulary

The name of James's Scotch terrier is Dodger. He is called Dodger because he jumps about so friskily. He is up on a chair, under the table, behind the door, down cellar, and out in the yard,—all in a minute.

Dodger has very bright eyes, and he does many funny things. He likes to put his paws up on the crib and watch the baby.

The other day he took baby's red stocking, and had great fun with it; but he spoiled it in his play, and James had to scold him.

Everyone likes to see James White with his two dogs. They always seem very happy together.

Adapted from McGuffey's Second Eclectic Reader William Holmes McGuffey (1879)

What is the meaning of the word "scold"?

Possible Answers:

To complain

To reward

To reprimand 

To abuse

Correct answer:

To reprimand 

Explanation:

The correct answer is "to reprimand." The word scold means to give an angry verbal reprimand, or correction. The choice "to reward" is the opposite of the correct meaning. "To abuse" is too harsh, and not appropriate for this sentence, and the choice "to complain" does not fit, because it is not an action you can do to a dog. 

Example Question #5 : Vocabulary

Science tells us that all objects are made visible to us by means of light; and that white light, by which we see things in what may be called their normal aspect, is composed of all the colors of the solar spectrum, as may be seen in a rainbow; a phenomenon caused, as everybody knows, by the sun's rays being split up into their component parts.

This light travels in straight lines and, striking objects before us, is reflected in all directions. Some of these rays passing through a point situated behind the lenses of the eye, strike the retina. The multiplication of these rays on the retina produces a picture of whatever is before the eye, such as can be seen on the ground glass at the back of a photographer's camera, or on the table of a camera obscura, both of which instruments are constructed roughly on the same principle as the human eye.

These rays of light when reflected from an object, and again when passing through the atmosphere, undergo certain modifications. Should the object be a red one, the yellow, green, and blue rays, all, in fact, except the red rays, are absorbed by the object, while the red is allowed to escape. These red rays striking the retina produce certain effects which convey to our consciousness the sensation of red, and we say "That is a red object." 

-From The Practice & Science of Drawing by Harold Speed (1913). 

"The multiplication of these rays on the retina produces a picture of whatever is before the eye, such as can be seen on the ground glass at the back of a photographer's camera, or on the table of a camera obscura, both of which instruments are constructed roughly on the same principle as the human eye."

The meaning of the word roughly, as it is used in this sentence, is most nearly _____________.

Possible Answers:

approximately 

in the vicinity of 

violently 

wildly

Correct answer:

approximately 

Explanation:

The best answer is "approximately." This sentence shows a comparison between two things that are nearly the same--the human eye and the camera. There is no violence or wildness involved in this definition, so the choices "violently" and "wildly" do not make sense. Also, the relationship between the eye and the camera have nothing to do with physical distance, so the best choice is not "in the vicinity of," so we are left with "approximately."

Example Question #6 : Vocabulary

      The history of Greece goes back to the time when people did not know how to write, and kept no record of what was happening around them. For a long while the stories told by parents to their children were the only information which could be had about the country and its former inhabitants; and these stories, slightly changed by every new teller, grew more and more extraordinary as time passed. At last they were so changed that no one could tell where the truth ended and fancy began.

      The beginning of Greek history is therefore like a fairy tale; and while much of it cannot, of course, be true, it is the only information we have about the early Greeks. 

-Adapted from The Story of the Greeks by H.A. Guerber (1896)

What is the meaning of the word "fancy," as it is used in this passage?

Possible Answers:

luxury

fiction

facts

reality

Correct answer:

fiction

Explanation:

The correct answer is "fiction." The passage states that the stories were passed down through generations, and with each telling, the information in the stories was slightly changed. This led to exaggerations of the truth--the author states that much of the history cannot be true, which is why the answer choices "facts" and "reality" are incorrect. In this sentence, "fancy" is used to mean fantasy, which is more related "fiction" than to "luxury." Thus, the best choice is "fiction."

Example Question #7 : Vocabulary

      About forty years ago, M. Henry Dimont, a native of Switzerland, having witnessed the unnecessary suffering of the wounded, from lack of care, at the battle of Solferino, was so much impressed that he published a book, pointing out the necessity of forming a corporation of nurses to work in the cause of humanity in time of war, regardless of nationality of the injured, and who should be permitted to aid the wounded on the battle-field, under the protection of a flag which should be recognized as neutral.

      So much interest was taken in the idea that the outcome was a convention held at Geneva in 1864, which was attended by representatives from sixteen of the great nations of the world, who signed an agreement that they would protect members of the association when caring for the wounded on the field of battle. The society adopted for its colors the Swiss cross, as a compliment to its birthplace; they, however, reversed the colors, and the flag is therefore a red cross on a white field, and is the only military hospital flag of civilized warfare; it protects persons from molestation who work under the emblem performing services in aid of the wounded.

      It was decided that the work of the Red Cross Society should not be confined to times of war, but that in case of disasters and calamities, which were always to be apprehended, the organization was to provide aid. During the past seventeen years the American Red Cross Society has served in fifteen disasters and famines, and Russians, Armenians, and Cubans have received aid from this society.

Adapted from The Great Wide World, Vol. II No. 24, by C. F. Kroeh (1898)

What is the meaning of the word "wounded" as it is used in this passage?

Possible Answers:

Injured

Winning

Soldiers

Missing

Correct answer:

Injured

Explanation:

The correct answer is "injured." We know that wounded means injured based on the context clues "suffering," "battlefield," and even the word "injured" being mentioned in the first paragraph as a synonym. "Winning," or "missing" soldiers do not require medical care, and "soldiers" is not specific enough. For those reasons, "injured" is the best choice.

Example Question #8 : Vocabulary

      Pauline looked through the picket fence and scowled.

      "Oh, those poor little rabbits!" she whispered to herself. "I don't believe that boy has fed them this morning. And now he's gone off to play ball. It is a shame!" She glanced under the grape arbor, where some chickweed was growing luxuriantly, and for a minute she hesitated. The next, she was down among the chickweed, pulling it up by the handful.

      She approached the fence again, looked cautiously around, to make sure nobody was in sight, and then thrust the green stuff between the pickets.

      That first time of Pauline's feeding the rabbits was followed by a second and a third, and finally it came to be a common thing for her to peer through the fence to see if they were supplied with food, and if not to carry them a good meal.

Adapted from Dew Drops by Emma C. Dowd (1914)

What is the meaning of the word "scowled," as it is used in this passage?

Possible Answers:

Jumped 

Frowned

Smiled

Screamed

Correct answer:

Frowned

Explanation:

The correct answer is "frowned." We can tell that Pauline is upset when she says,  "Oh, those poor little rabbits!", "I don't believe that boy has fed them this morning. And now he's gone off to play ball," and "It is a shame!" Frowning is the most logical response to this feeling. Smiling, screaming, and jumping would not be an appropriate reaction to this situation. That is why the best answer is "frowned."

Example Question #9 : Vocabulary

The ships of the Greeks were very different from modern vessels. Of course they were not driven by steam, nor did they rely as much on sails as modern sailing ships do. They had sails, but were driven forward mostly by their oars. The trireme, or ordinary war-ship, had its oars arranged in three banks, fifty men rowing at once. After these had rowed several hours, or a "watch," another fifty took their places, and finally a third fifty, so that the ships could be rowed at high speed all the time. With the aid of its two sails a trireme is said to have gone one hundred and fifty miles in a day and a night. These boats were about one hundred and twenty feet long and fifteen feet wide. They could be rowed in shallow water, but were not high enough to ride heavy seas safely. They had a sharp beak, which, driven against an enemy's ship, would break in its sides. 

Adapted from Introductory American History, by Henry Eldridge Bourne and Elbert Jay Benton (1912)

What is the name given to the Greek war-ships in this passage?

Possible Answers:

Watch

Enemy

Trireme

Boat

Correct answer:

Trireme

Explanation:

The correct answer is trireme. This answer can be found in this line: "The trireme, or ordinary war-ship, had its oars arranged in three banks..." This sentence renames the trireme as the ordinary war-ship, presenting them as synonyms. Boat, watch, and enemy are all words used in the passage, but they do not name the war-ship. That is how we know that trireme is the name used for ordinary war-ships.

Example Question #10 : Vocabulary

Six years before Vasco da Gama made his famous voyage to India around Africa and opened a new trade route for the Portuguese merchants, another seaman had formed and carried out a much bolder plan. This was Christopher Columbus, and his plan was to sail directly west from Europe into the unknown ocean in search of new islands and the coast of Asia. Columbus, who was a native of Genoa in Italy, had followed his younger brother to Portugal. Both were probably led there by the fame of Prince Henry's explorations.

The brothers became very skillful in making maps and charts for the Portuguese. They also frequently sailed with them on their expeditions along the coast of Africa. All the early associations of Columbus were with men interested in voyages of discovery, and particularly with those engaged in the daring search for a sea route to India.

Adapted from Introductory American History, by Henry Eldridge Bourne and Elbert Jay Benton (1912)

What is the meaning of the word "expeditions" as it is used in this passage?

Possible Answers:

Journeys

Places

Experiments

Warfare

Correct answer:

Journeys

Explanation:

The correct answer is "journeys." This passage is all about men traveling and exploring new lands, and the best synonym for this action is "journey." The word warfare implies that there were fights, but this passage does not mention any fighting. The word "places" does not convey motion. The word "experiments" does not fit into the meaning of the passage because experimenting suggests scientific trials. That is why "journeys" is the best choice.

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