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 #21 : Synonyms

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

BRISK

Possible Answers:

Freezing

Constant

Tepid

Swift

Warm

Correct answer:

Swift

Explanation:

The word "brisk" has two main meanings. On the one hand, it can describe something that is cold, but it is not used to describe something that is so cold that it is freezing. Instead, something that is brisk is refreshingly cool. For this reason, eliminate "freezing" as an option. Now, "tepid" and "warm" are trying to tempt you into choosing some temperature-related meaning. Ignore these as well. The other main meaning for brisk is quick or energetic. The option "swift" well matches this meaning and is thus the best choice for this question.

Example Question #22 : Synonyms

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

STIFLE

Possible Answers:

Impair

Pester

Murder

Dilapidate

Suppress

Correct answer:

Suppress

Explanation:

The verb "stifle" has two meanings that are loosely related. On the one hand, it describes the action of making it impossible for someone to breathe. Thus, to "stifle" someone is to suffocate that person. The second meaning for the word is to stop oneself from expressing oneself in a given way or acting in a certain way. Thus, you could stifle laughter in order to prevent yourself from being rude to someone else. The word "suppress" can mean to prevent from happening or merely to restrain. This is an excellent synonym for the second meaning of "stifle" mentioned above.

Example Question #21 : Identifying Synonyms When Words Have Multiple Meanings

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

FRANTIC

Possible Answers:

Shocked

Hurried

Excited

Quixotic

Distasteful

Correct answer:

Hurried

Explanation:

Likely, you know the definition of "frantic" that means extremely anxious or worried, as when we say, "He was frantic after his son did not show up by ten at night." The word "frantic," however, can also be used to describe the kind of hurried activity that accompanies such a state. Thus, someone can work "frantically," meaning that he or she is working at a fast pace. Thus, the only applicable option is "hurried," which is synonymous to this second meaning. 

Example Question #1 : Synonyms: Determining Part Of Speech

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

MERIT

Possible Answers:

badge

deserve

emblem

patch

symbol

Correct answer:

deserve

Explanation:

The word “merit” is often used as a verb, and it is in this sense that it is implied here. All of the wrong options are tempting because one might think of receiving a “merit badge” or at least a “merit symbol.” These are all unacceptable, because even if the word can be thus applied as an adjective to the given noun, it does not mean the same thing as the noun does. The word “merit,” when used as a verb, means to deserve praise. For instance, it can be used in a sentence like, “After John saved the girl from the freezing water, nobody doubted that he merited the praise of the whole community for his act of bravery.” Given this usage of “merit,” the best option is “deserve.”

Example Question #1 : Synonyms: Determining Part Of Speech

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

STEM

Possible Answers:

flower

glare

arboreal

halt

floral

Correct answer:

halt

Explanation:

Do not be fooled by the plant-related words offered as options. The word “stem” comes from Germanic bases meaning to stop. One could say, “After three months of fighting, the army finally stemmed the advancing foes and began to push them back to their own land.” Among the options provided, “halt” most closely matches this sense.

Example Question #1 : Synonyms: Determining Part Of Speech

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

MODERATE

Possible Answers:

Enable

Amass

Allay

Squander

Levitate

Correct answer:

Allay

Explanation:

"Moderate" is a word that as an adjective means "average in amount, intensity, quality, or degree," and as a verb means "make or become less extreme, intense, rigorous, or violent," and as a noun means "one who is moderate." Since all of our answer choices are verbs, we need to pick out one that means something like "make or become less intense." While "enable" may look like a good answer choice, it actually means "give someone the means or authority to do something," so it is not the word we're looking for. "Allay," on the other hand, means "diminish or put at rest fear or suspicion; relieve or alleviate pain or hunger," and since it is the answer choice closest in meaning to "moderate," it is the correct answer.

Example Question #2 : Synonyms: Determining Part Of Speech

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

GALL

Possible Answers:

Conoisseur

Benevolence

Timidity

Egress

Brashness

Correct answer:

Brashness

Explanation:

"Gall" and "brashness" both mean nerve or brazeness. "Benevolence" means charity or compassion. "Timidity" means shyness or reserve. "Connoisseur" means aficionado or expert. "Egress" means exit or departure

Example Question #3 : Synonyms: Determining Part Of Speech

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

FASHION

Possible Answers:

Culture

Sanctify

Forge

Refine

Eulogize

Correct answer:

Forge

Explanation:

Be very careful not to be carried away into false synonyms with simple words! “Fashion” can be used in ways other than fashionable clothing and such things. The word can also mean to make, as in, “He fashioned a sword out of molten steel.” Thus, the word “forge,” which deals with just such smith work, is the best option. Do not think that “fashion” is synonymous with “culture” or “refine," though “fashionable things” might be called either cultured or refined.

Example Question #6 : Synonyms: Determining Part Of Speech

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

SEDATE

Possible Answers:

Lazy

Ambulate

Tranquilize

Furnish

Forget

Correct answer:

Tranquilize

Explanation:

The word “sedate” comes from Latin roots that give us many, many English words dealing with sitting. For instance, think of “sedentary,” “sediment,” and even “residence.” The word “sedative” could be said to mean literally “something that puts someone in the condition of sitting still.” (This is, of course, not the exact English.) When we "tranquilize" someone, we likewise make him or her to be sedative. The word “sedate” can be used either as an adjective or a verb. As the latter, it finds a good synonym in “tranquilize.”

Example Question #7 : Synonyms: Determining Part Of Speech

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

SIGIL

Possible Answers:

Alarm

Oracle

Prophet

Symbol

Gesture

Correct answer:

Symbol

Explanation:

This question is really meant to trick you if you do not know the word “sigil,” so just eliminate answers that must be wrong. The words “alarm” and “gesture” are attempting to make you confuse “sigil” with “signal.” The words “oracle” and “prophet” are trying to make you read “sigil” as “sibyl." A "sigil" is a type of painted symbol, sometimes used for magical purposes and sometimes just used as a symbol for someone’s authority (as in a sigil of a kingdom).

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