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Lucas Fink

Megalomnemonical SAT Vocab: Words from Movies

Hollywood isn’t famous for its academic vocabulary, but SAT words kinda sneak into places you wouldn’t expect.  So you could be vegging, watching whatever comes on TV or browsing around Hulu, and you might stumble on some common SAT vocabulary. You’ve got to find out what it actually means, of course….



The movie: This one’s my favorite on this list because I’m convinced there’s never been a better comedy. The Big Lebowski isn’t a cult classic, exactly… unless you mean cult as in religious cult.  And what’s that “religion” all about? Abiding.

The meaning: The word “abide” means something like “follow the rules,” but it’s more than that. It has a clear sense of passivity. Abiding by a law means you’re not going to break it, whether you agree with it or not. When the dude says he abides, he means that he’s not going to make problems. He takes it easy, goes the path of least resistance.

The mnemonic: The dude abides.



The movie: If you’re reading this part, you were clearly feral until just recently. The Dark Knight Rises grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. That’s more than the gross national income of some countries. So you know who Bane is, I imagine.

The meaning: Bane has his name for a reason. If you’ve heard the word before, it was probably in the phrase “the bane of my existence,” meaning something like “arch-enemy.” It’s not always quite as intense as that, but it is something that you loathe. It’s a source of constant problems, and it feels somehow personal.

The mnemonic: Bane was Batman’s bane.



The movie: The first Terminator is old as sin, now, but they seem intent on keeping this franchise alive. Man, I wish they’d stop.

The meaning: You can see the latin root of “interminable”—terminus—pretty clearly inside the word, and making links to other English words isn’t too hard. “To terminate” means to end, so “interminable” is unending. It just goes on and on…

Mnemonic: The Terminator series is interminable; it just won’t die.


Got any more? Leave them in the comments. Wondering how to remember SAT vocabulary? Ask away.


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About Lucas Fink

Lucas is the teacher behind Magoosh TOEFL. He’s been teaching TOEFL preparation and more general English since 2009, and the SAT since 2008. Between his time at Bard College and teaching abroad, he has studied Japanese, Czech, and Korean. None of them come in handy, nowadays.

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