100 Words Every High School Graduate Should Know

Words selected by the Editors of the American Heritage® Dictionaries. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
definitions & notes only words
  1. abjure
    formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief
  2. abrogate
    revoke formally
  3. abstemious
    marked by temperance in indulgence
  4. acumen
    shrewdness shown by keen insight
  5. antebellum
    belonging to a period before a war
  6. auspicious
    auguring favorable circumstances and good luck
  7. belie
    be in contradiction with
  8. bellicose
    having or showing a ready disposition to fight
  9. bowdlerize
    edit by omitting or modifying parts considered indelicate
  10. chicanery
    the use of tricks to deceive someone
  11. chromosome
    a threadlike strand of DNA that carries genes
  12. churlish
    having a bad disposition; surly
  13. circumlocution
    an indirect way of expressing something
  14. circumnavigate
    travel around, either by plane or ship
  15. deciduous
    shedding foliage at the end of the growing season
  16. deleterious
    harmful to living things
  17. diffident
    showing modest reserve
  18. enervate
    weaken mentally or morally
  19. enfranchise
    grant freedom to, as from slavery or servitude
  20. epiphany
    a divine manifestation
  21. equinox
    when the sun crosses the plane of the earth's equator
  22. euro
    the basic monetary unit of most members of the European Union (introduced in 1999); in 2002 twelve European nations (Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Austria, Finland) adopted the euro as their basic unit of money and abandoned their traditional currencies
  23. evanescent
    tending to vanish like vapor
  24. expurgate
    edit by omitting or modifying parts considered indelicate
  25. facetious
    cleverly amusing in tone
  26. fatuous
    devoid of intelligence
  27. feckless
    generally incompetent and ineffectual
  28. fiduciary
    relating to or of the nature of a legal trust
  29. filibuster
    a tactic for delaying legislation by making long speeches
  30. gamete
    a mature sexual reproductive cell
  31. gauche
    lacking social polish
  32. gerrymander
    divide voting districts unfairly and to one's advantage
  33. hegemony
    the dominance or leadership of one social group over others
  34. hemoglobin
    a hemoprotein that gives red blood cells their color
  35. homogeneous
    all of the same or similar kind or nature
  36. hubris
    overbearing pride or presumption
  37. hypotenuse
    the side of a right triangle opposite the right angle
  38. impeach
    bring an accusation against
  39. incognito
    without revealing one's identity
  40. incontrovertible
    impossible to deny or disprove
  41. inculcate
    teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions
  42. infrastructure
    the basic features of a system or organization
  43. interpolate
    insert words into texts, often falsifying it thereby
  44. irony
    incongruity between what might be expected and what occurs
  45. jejune
    lacking interest or significance or impact
  46. kinetic
    relating to the motion of material bodies and their forces
  47. kowtow
    bend the knees and bow in a servile manner
  48. laissez faire
    a doctrine that government should not interfere in commerce
  49. lexicon
    a reference book containing an alphabetical list of words
  50. loquacious
    full of trivial conversation
  51. lugubrious
    excessively mournful
  52. metamorphosis
    striking change in appearance or character or circumstances
  53. mitosis
    the process by which a cell divides into two smaller cells
  54. moiety
    one of two approximately equal parts
  55. nanotechnology
    engineering that involves manipulating atoms and molecules
  56. nihilism
    complete denial of established authority and institutions
  57. nomenclature
    a system of words used to name things in a discipline
  58. nonsectarian
    not restricted to one school or party
  59. notarize
    authenticate by someone empowered to witness signatures
  60. obsequious
    attempting to win favor from influential people by flattery
  61. oligarchy
    a political system governed by a few people
  62. omnipotent
    having unlimited power
  63. orthography
    representing the sounds of a language by written symbols
  64. oxidize
    enter into a combination with oxygen
  65. parabola
    a curve formed by an object thrown in the air and falling
  66. paradigm
    a standard or typical example
  67. parameter
    a constant in the equation of a curve that can be varied
  68. pecuniary
    relating to or involving money
  69. photosynthesis
    synthesis of compounds in plants aided by radiant energy
  70. plagiarize
    take without referencing from someone's writing or speech
  71. plasma
    the watery fluid in which blood cells are suspended
  72. polymer
    a naturally occurring or synthetic compound
  73. precipitous
    extremely steep
  74. quasar
    a starlike object that may send out radio waves
  75. quotidian
    found in the ordinary course of events
  76. recapitulate
    summarize briefly
  77. reciprocal
    concerning each of two or more persons or things
  78. reparation
    something done or paid in expiation of a wrong
  79. respiration
    a single complete act of breathing in and out
  80. sanguine
    confidently optimistic and cheerful
  81. soliloquy
    speech you make to yourself
  82. subjugate
    make subservient; force to submit or subdue
  83. suffragist
    an advocate of the extension of voting rights
  84. supercilious
    having or showing arrogant superiority to
  85. tautology
    useless repetition
  86. taxonomy
    a classification of organisms based on similarities
  87. tectonic
    pertaining to the structure or movement of the earth's crust
  88. tempestuous
    characterized by violent emotions or behavior
  89. thermodynamics
    the branch of physics concerned with the conversion of different forms of energy
  90. totalitarian
    of a government with an authority exerting absolute control
  91. unctuous
    unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating
  92. usurp
    seize and take control without authority
  93. vacuous
    devoid of matter
  94. vehement
    marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions
  95. vortex
    a powerful circular current of water
  96. winnow
    the act of separating grain from chaff
  97. wrought
    shaped to fit by altering the contours of a pliable mass
  98. xenophobia
    a fear of foreigners or strangers
  99. yeoman
    a free man who cultivates his own land
  100. ziggurat
    a rectangular tiered temple or terraced mound