SAT Vocab Monday: Really Hard SAT Words

Even if you are, say, 50-years old, you probably remember that there were these terribly difficult words on SAT that you’d never seen before. That kind of dread doesn’t dissipate with the decades.

So, yes, the SAT has long been making life difficult with these tough words.


“Et tu Brute” can be loosely translated as either “watch out for that knife” or “you are the worst friend ever—back stabber”. To commit such an act of betrayal is to involve perfidy, or deceitful, underhanded disloyalty.

In less Shakespearean terms, your friend is being perfidious if they smile in front of your face but are talking you down in front of others.


2:36 p.m. I am so happy! School is out.
2:45: I can’t get out of this terrible parking lot. The world sucks.
3:08: Why didn’t I just go home? It’s completely boring here.
3:10: I can’t believe that jerk just texted me that. I’m going to defriend them.

This might sound like a typical day in the life of a high schooler, but the focus here is on the roller coaster, unpredictable emotions. In other words, this person is being totally mercurial.


If somebody asked you what you’d do with billions of dollars, you’d probably think of owning a jet plane and buying a Tahitian island. Bill Gates, however, is munificent. That is, he is completely generous and gives millions upon millions to causes that help humanity.


Combine harmful and destructive with subtle and you get the wonderful word pernicious (doesn’t it just sound destructive?). Usually, we use this word in terms of the negative influence that ideas or people have on society. For instance, a pernicious way of thinking common to 17th New England is that some people (especially those you don’t like) are witches.



  • Chris Lele

    Chris Lele is the Principal Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh. Chris graduated from UCLA with a BA in Psychology and has 20 years of experience in the test prep industry. He's been quoted as a subject expert in many publications, including US News, GMAC, and Business Because. In his time at Magoosh, Chris has taught countless students how to tackle the GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, MCAT (CARS), and LSAT exams with confidence. Some of his students have even gone on to get near-perfect scores. You can find Chris on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook!

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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