ISEE Upper Level Verbal : Identifying Synonyms When Words Have Multiple Meanings

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ISEE Upper Level Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Synonyms

Select the answer choice that is closest in meaning to the word in capital letters.

FAINT

Possible Answers:

Sickly

Angered

Underweight

Vague

Unhealthy

Correct answer:

Vague

Explanation:

The word "faint" can be used to indicate the physical act of passing out (as well as the feeling that often precedes this). The word also can indicate something that is almost too weak to be sensed at all. Thus, a "faint sound" is one that is very soft, and a "faint pencil mark" is one that is very lightly written on a piece of paper. This last example indicates that the writing is very light and likely vague—meaning that it is indefinite in shape. Likewise, "faint memories" are ones that are very vague and indistinct. Thus, do not be tricked by options like "sickly" and "unhealthy" (or even "underweight"). These options are trying to lure you into thinking that "faint" must deal with passing out, but this is not always the case. Even if this were the meaning for this question, being sickly only leads to fainting. It is not the same as the act of fainting itself. Thus, the best option is "vague."

Example Question #12 : Synonyms

Select the answer choice that is closest in meaning to the word in capital letters.

PELLUCID

Possible Answers:

Solar

Understandable

Bright

Lunar

Amazing

Correct answer:

Understandable

Explanation:

The word "pellucid" comes from Latin roots that mean light. This is the "-luc-" root that comes from "lux, lucis." To be "pellucid" means, literally, to let light shine through. Thus, the word can be a synonym for "translucent," which also contains the lux root. Often, the word is used to describe someone's ability to communicate ideas clearly and understandably. Such a person lets the ideas "shine through." Thus, the best option among those offered is "understandable." Something that is "pellucid" in this latter sense is something understandable—like a "clear idea", as many say.

Example Question #13 : Synonyms

Select the answer choice that is closest in meaning to the word in capital letters.

FABRICATE

Possible Answers:

Feast

Marvel

Dedicate

Counterfeit

Inquire

Correct answer:

Counterfeit

Explanation:

The word "fabricate" comes from Latin roots roughly meaning "to make or create." A related word is "fabric", which is a carefully crafted type of cloth. The word "fabricate" can have a negative connotation too, and this is the case for this question. A "fabrication" can be a lie—something that is "made up", as we often say in day-to-day speech. To "fabricate a tale" means to craft and tell a lie or false story. When we "counterfeit", we make something that is false—such as false money, which we most often describe by the adjective "counterfeit" (though "counterfeit" can also be used as a verb).

Example Question #14 : Synonyms

Select the answer choice that is closest in meaning to the word in capital letters.

MODEST

Possible Answers:

Gregarious

Regal

Depressed

Conceited

Proper

Correct answer:

Proper

Explanation:

The word "modest" has several meanings, though all of them have to do (in general) with being in the "middle" or "moderate." Modesty is the character trait of not bragging but, instead, having an accurate idea about one's abilities. A "modest income" is an acceptable income—not too much, not too little. The word does, however, emphasize the fact that it is not too much. Thus, it has a shading of meaning that indicates that it is a smaller amount. Still, the general idea is to express that it is not a large amount. For this question, "modest" is used in yet another sense. When a young lady has on a "modest dress", she is wearing something that is not overly revealing of her physique. Thus "modest" can mean proper,  as in suitable.

Example Question #15 : Synonyms

Select the answer choice that is closest in meaning to the word in capital letters.

DEVOLVE

Possible Answers:

Rotate

Transfer

Destroy

Oscillate

Legislate

Correct answer:

Transfer

Explanation:

The word "devolve" comes from two well-known Latin roots. The "de-" prefix means down from or downward, as in words like "descend" and "delegate." The "-volve" portion of this word is the same as the root found in "revolve", meaning in general to roll. Thus, when something "devolves" it goes downward. Sometimes, this indicates that a situation becomes worse, as when we say, "The meeting devolved into a lot bickering, hateful remarks."  It can also mean to delegate or to transfer authority from a higher level of command to a lower one. Thus, a commander might devolve his authority to smaller groups of troops and their commanders. (Thus, the power "rolls downward", you see?) Therefore, the best option is "transfer", as none of the other options match the other meanings of "devolve." 

Example Question #11 : Identifying Synonyms When Words Have Multiple Meanings

Select the answer choice that is closest in meaning to the word in capital letters.

RUSTIC

Possible Answers:

Impoverished

Unsophisticated

Wooden

Distinct

Definitive

Correct answer:

Unsophisticated

Explanation:

The word "rustic" is used to describe something that is in the country. It could indicate that the thing in question is merely in a rural location. It also can be used in a positive manner to describe a kind of simple beauty that is involved in the thing. The word does have a negative connotation, for it can be used to imply that someone is uncivilized or uncultured because he or she does not live in the city. Thus, the option "unsophisticated" matches this last meaning. (The word "impoverished" does not, as "rustic" does not primarily have to do with being financially disadvantaged.)

Example Question #17 : Synonyms

Select the answer choice that is closest in meaning to the word in capital letters.

SOPHISTICATED

Possible Answers:

Reflective

Fastidious

Haughty

Scholarly

Intricate

Correct answer:

Intricate

Explanation:

The word "sophisticated" can be used to describe a number of things that are related. The general meaning that applies to the various uses is highly developed, intricate, or refined. A sophisticated machine is a complex one that takes much skill to create. A sophisticated person is someone who is very knowledgeable about the complex matters of the world. Now, this does not mean that the person is "scholarly," "reflective," or "haughty." These are perhaps things that we associated with some sophisticated people, but the best meaning provided here is the most direct one, namely "intricate," which means complex.

Example Question #18 : Synonyms

Select the answer choice that is closest in meaning to the word in capital letters.

IRRELEVANT

Possible Answers:

Insipid

Derogatory

Immaterial

Tedious

Boring

Correct answer:

Immaterial

Explanation:

The word "irrelevant" means no longer applicable. Now, it is possible that you have heard the term be used to describe something that is boring or even tedious; however, these are reactions that people have to irrelevant matters. For example, if someone does not care about learning logic, he or she will find a philosopher to be pretty boring—precisely because the philosopher is irrelevant to the given person. The irrelevance causes the boredom. It is not the same as it, however!

Thus, the best option is "immaterial," which is a direct synonym for irrelevant. (The word also can mean non-material or spiritual, but this is not of direct interest to this question.)

Example Question #11 : Identifying Synonyms When Words Have Multiple Meanings

Select the answer choice that is closest in meaning to the word in capital letters.

PASTORAL

Possible Answers:

Inefficient

Kind

Rural

Sanctified

Holy

Correct answer:

Rural

Explanation:

The word "pastoral" may remind you of the title "pastor", which is used for various Christian religious leaders. The words are related, both coming from the Latin for "shepherd." Indeed, "pastoral" can even be used as an adjective to describe the particular sorts of duties undertaken by such a minister; however, none of the religion-related options here are appropriate. A better synonym for this religious meaning would be "ministerial." "Pastoral" can also be used to describe land in the country—where a shepherd would be.  Thus, the option "rural" is the correct answer for this question.

Example Question #12 : Identifying Synonyms When Words Have Multiple Meanings

Select the answer choice that is closest in meaning to the word in capital letters.

FURIOUS

Possible Answers:

Flawed

Intense

Active

Annoyed

Amazed

Correct answer:

Intense

Explanation:

The word furious can mean very angry, as when we say, "He was furious that his little sister hit him in the head five times." It can also indicate that someone is acting in a very intense manner. Thus, a person who is working quickly at a task can be said to work at a "furious pace." Do not be tempted by the option "annoyed" because it is related to being angry. The "anger-related" meaning of furious indicates great anger. Thus, you must choose the other meaning, namely, "intense."

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