Lucas Fink

TOEFL Tuesday: It’s Raining Vocabulary!

Note: TOEFL Tuesdays will now run every other week. In other words, the next TOEFL Tuesday post will be on June 14th, two weeks from today.

We’re going to continue our series on vocabulary from our TOEFL flashcard app this week with an interesting set: words about rain (or lack of rain).

That’s a pretty specific topic, right? How many words about rain are actually useful for the TOEFL? Several, actually. The TOEFL often includes reading or lectures about natural sciences, and climate or weather is frequently included somewhere on the test. Maybe you won’t see all of the words below on your TOEFL, but there is a high probability you will see at least one of them, even though they’re not common words. Take, for example…

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

(a) Drought

In a way, this word is the opposite of rain. A drought is a period of time when little or no rain falls. Usually, during a drought many plants die—sometimes animals, too. But this isn’t about a desert, because a desert is dry permanently. A drought is not permanent.

For example, in the last few years, California has experienced a bad drought. Usually, California gets a lot of rain in the winter. But recently, most winters have been dry. As a result, large lakes became much smaller, rivers dried up, and farmers can’t farm.

(to be) Arid

The adjective “arid” is very similar to “dry,” but it is specifically used about air. Deserts are arid places, as are areas in droughts. But keep in mind this is a very strong word used for weather. If you turn on a heater in your home and the air is dry, you wouldn’t call it “arid.” In that case, simply “dry” works well.

(a) Torrent

A torrent is a lot of water moving quickly. It can be used for both rain and for rivers. So you could say “The storm brought a torrent of rain” or “the storm grew the river into a violent torrent.” In both cases, there is a large, powerful force of water coming fast.

(to) Erode

This word is about rain in part, but also about wind. Both can erode mountains, rocks, hills, or other parts of land. It happens over a long time—as rain falls on the same mountain time and time again, slowly the mountain becomes flatter and smoother, because the water takes away small amounts of dirt and dust every time.

Not that the noun form is not is “erosion,” which looks a little different but has the same meaning (just a different part of speech).


  • 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.

More from Magoosh