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Multiple Vocabulary Meanings on the MAT

Multiple vocabulary meanings MAT

Even with a broad subject knowledge, we can all be tripped up when it comes to alternate definitions of terms, especially for questions as sparse as the MAT.  Analogies are as pared down as it is possible to be in a language problem (as opposed to the unambiguous nature of math equations).  When preparing, it is a good idea to be familiar with as many variant definitions as possible so you can be prepared to find multiple meanings on the MAT exam.

Taking just a few examples from previous vocabulary posts, we can examine the possibilities just in a few terms.


Harrow (v): pillage or plunder; also to distress (Hearkening back to his Viking ancestors, the large man decided to harrow the neighbors when he was upset.)

The first meaning given here is actually an archaic meaning; it’s not often used this way anymore. A more common meaning is the second listed, “to distress,” and even the part of speech is changed by adding “-ing” the end. You will frequently read something like a ‘harrowing journey’ to indicate that it was stressful.


Knell (v): to ring for death; to make an ominous sound (The bellringer was charged to knell every evening for a week after the minister’s death.)

A variant meaning is to use this as a noun and describe the “death knell” as forbidding or ominous. Remember, many alternate meanings use the word as a different part of speech even if the tone of the expression is the same.


Goad (v): to urge or force someone to do something; a pointed object to make an animal move (The dare was the final goad for the young man to jump into action.)

Here is another example of using a verb as a noun. Instead of “goading into action,” a rancher can use a “goad to get the animals in the pen.” A verbal goad can also start an argument in which case the opponent can claim to be ‘goaded.’


Bombast (n): speech or writing that sounds important but is not sincere or meaningful (The bombast of the politician’s speech was criticized by listeners.)

While this term is often used in conjunction with politics, it can easily apply to a ‘bombastic minister’ who is more concerned with numbers than souls.

These are just a few examples of the multiple meanings on the MAT that you may encounter.  I encourage you to read, read, read all types of literature (here is a great guide) and a wide range of subjects to ensure you have the best grasp on all the variant definitions of the terms you will encounter during the exam.

About Lisa

I am a professional Book Geek, a.k.a. librarian, and love to both learn and educate. Serving students of all ages and all stages--I live for the “Ah Ha!” moment. I am a reference librarian at the Alamogordo Public Library and am ready to answer questions at a moment’s notice; never be afraid to ask! Remember: when all else fails, go to the library!

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