Academic Vocabulary 9-12 High School

List of critical words that all students should be know and understand so that they have the necessary level of academic literacy to function and learn within the context of the classroom and during standardized tests.
Read more...

Start learning with an activity...

  • Practice

    Answer a few questions on each word. Get one wrong? We'll ask some follow-up questions. Use it to prep for your next quiz!
  • Spelling Bee

    Test your spelling acumen. See the definition, listen to the word, then try to spell it correctly. Beat your last streak, or best your overall time. Spellers of the world, untie!
  • Vocabulary Jam

    Compete head-to-head in real-time to see which team can answer the most questions correctly. Start a Jam and invite your friends and classmates to join!

Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. abbreviate
    shorten
  2. abstract
    existing only in the mind
  3. according
    in agreement with
  4. acronym
    a word formed from the initial letters of several words
  5. address
    the place where a person or organization can be found
  6. affect
    have an influence upon
  7. alter
    cause to change; make different
  8. always
    at all times; all the time and on every occasion
  9. analogy
    drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity
  10. analysis
    abstract separation of a whole into its constituent parts
  11. analyze
    break down into components or essential features
  12. annotate
    add explanatory notes to or supply with critical comments
  13. anticipate
    regard something as probable or likely
  14. application
    the action of putting something into operation
  15. apply
    employ for a particular purpose
  16. approach
    move towards
  17. appropriate
    suitable for a particular person, place, or situation
  18. approximate
    not quite exact or correct
  19. argue
    have a disagreement about something
  20. argument
    a dispute where there is strong disagreement
  21. arrange
    put into a proper or systematic order
  22. articulate
    express or state clearly
  23. aspect
    a distinct feature or element in a problem
  24. assemble
    create by putting components or members together
  25. assert
    declare or affirm solemnly and formally as true
  26. assess
    estimate the nature, quality, ability or significance of
  27. associate
    bring or come into action
  28. assume
    take to be the case or to be true
  29. assumption
    the act of taking something for granted
  30. audience
    a gathering of spectators or listeners at a performance
  31. authentic
    not counterfeit or copied
  32. background
    the part of a scene behind objects in the front
  33. body
    an individual 3-dimensional object that has mass
  34. brainstorm
    try to solve a problem by thinking intensely about it
  35. brief
    of short duration or distance
  36. calculate
    make a mathematical computation
  37. caption
    brief description accompanying an illustration
  38. category
    a general concept that marks divisions or coordinations
  39. cause
    events that provide the generative force of something
  40. character
    a property that defines the individual nature of something
  41. characteristic
    typical or distinctive
  42. characterize
    be typical of
  43. chart
    a visual display of information
  44. chronology
    an arrangement of events in time
  45. citation
    an official award usually given as formal public statement
  46. cite
    make reference to
  47. claim
    assert or affirm strongly
  48. clarify
    make clear by removing impurities or solids, as by heating
  49. class
    a collection of things sharing a common attribute
  50. clue
    evidence that helps to solve a problem
  51. code
    a set of rules or principles or laws
  52. coherent
    marked by an orderly and consistent relation of parts
  53. common
    having no special distinction or quality
  54. compare
    examine and note the similarities or differences of
  55. compile
    get or gather together
  56. complement
    something added to embellish or make perfect
  57. complete
    having all necessary qualities
  58. compose
    form the substance of
  59. composition
    the way in which someone or something is put together
  60. conceive
    have the idea for
  61. concise
    expressing much in few words
  62. conclude
    bring to a close
  63. conclusion
    a position or opinion reached after consideration
  64. concrete
    capable of being perceived by the senses
  65. conditions
    the context that influences the performance of a process
  66. conduct
    the way a person behaves toward other people
  67. confirm
    strengthen
  68. consequence
    a phenomenon that is caused by some previous phenomenon
  69. consider
    think about carefully; weigh
  70. consist
    have its essential character
  71. consistent
    the same throughout in structure or composition
  72. consistently
    in a systematic or steady manner
  73. constant
    uninterrupted in time and indefinitely long continuing
  74. constitute
    form or compose
  75. consult
    seek information from
  76. contend
    compete for something
  77. context
    the set of facts or circumstances that surround a situation
  78. continuum
    an extent in which no part is distinct from adjacent parts
  79. contradict
    prove negative; show to be false
  80. control
    power to direct or determine
  81. convert
    change the nature, purpose, or function of something
  82. convey
    transmit or serve as the medium for transmission
  83. copy
    a thing made to be similar or identical to another thing
  84. correlate
    bear a reciprocal or mutual relation
  85. correspond
    take the place of or be parallel or equivalent to
  86. credible
    capable of being believed
  87. credit
    an estimate of ability to fulfill financial commitments
  88. criterion
    the ideal in terms of which something can be judged
  89. critique
    appraise or judge in an analytical way
  90. crucial
    of extreme importance; vital to the resolution of a crisis
  91. cumulative
    increasing by successive addition
  92. debate
    a discussion with reasons for and against some proposal
  93. deduce
    reason from the general to the particular
  94. defend
    protect against a challenge or attack
  95. define
    show the form or outline of
  96. demand
    request urgently and forcefully
  97. demonstrate
    give an exhibition of to an interested audience
  98. depict
    give a description of
  99. derive
    come from
  100. describe
    give a statement representing something
  101. detail
    a small part considered separately from the whole
  102. detect
    discover or determine the existence, presence, or fact of
  103. determine
    find out or learn with certainty, as by making an inquiry
  104. develop
    progress or evolve through a process of natural growth
  105. devise
    arrange by systematic planning and united effort
  106. diction
    the manner in which something is expressed in words
  107. differentiate
    acquire a distinct character
  108. dimension
    a construct distinguishing objects or individuals
  109. diminish
    decrease in size, extent, or range
  110. direct
    proceeding without deviation; straight and short
  111. discipline
    a system of rules of conduct or method of practice
  112. discover
    determine the existence, presence, or fact of
  113. discriminate
    marked by the ability to see or make fine distinctions
  114. discuss
    to consider or examine in speech or writing
  115. distinguish
    mark as different
  116. domain
    a particular environment or walk of life
  117. draft
    a current of air
  118. draw
    cause to move by pulling
  119. edit
    prepare for publication or presentation by revising
  120. effect
    a phenomenon that is caused by some previous phenomenon
  121. elements
    violent or severe weather
  122. emphasize
    stress or single out as important
  123. employ
    put into service
  124. equal
    having the same quantity, value, or measure as another
  125. equivalent
    being essentially equal to something
  126. essay
    an analytic or interpretive literary composition
  127. essential
    basic and fundamental
  128. establish
    set up or found
  129. estimate
    judge tentatively
  130. evaluate
    estimate the nature, quality, ability or significance of
  131. event
    something that happens at a given place and time
  132. evidence
    knowledge on which to base belief
  133. exaggerate
    enlarge beyond bounds or the truth
  134. examine
    observe, check out, and look over carefully or inspect
  135. example
    an item of information that is typical of a class or group
  136. excerpt
    a passage selected from a larger work
  137. exclude
    prevent from entering; shut out
  138. exercise
    the activity of exerting muscles to keep fit
  139. exhibit
    show; make visible or apparent
  140. explain
    make plain and comprehensible
  141. explore
    travel to or penetrate into
  142. expository
    serving to expound or set forth
  143. extract
    remove, usually with some force or effort
  144. fact
    a piece of information about events that have occurred
  145. factor
    anything that contributes causally to a result
  146. feature
    a prominent attribute or aspect of something
  147. figurative
    not literal
  148. figure
    the form or shape of a person's body
  149. focus
    the concentration of attention or energy on something
  150. footer
    the extent of something in lengths of 12 inches
  151. foreshadow
    indicate by signs
  152. form
    a perceptual structure
  153. format
    the general appearance of a publication
  154. former
    the first of two or the first mentioned of two
  155. formulate
    prepare according to instructions
  156. fragment
    a piece broken off or cut off of something else
  157. frame
    the internal structure that gives an artifact its shape
  158. frequently
    many times at short intervals
  159. general
    applying to all or most members of a category or group
  160. genre
    a kind of literary or artistic work
  161. graph
    a visual representation of the relations between quantities
  162. graphic
    written or drawn or engraved
  163. header
    a machine that cuts the tops off grain
  164. heading
    a line of text indicating what the passage below it is about
  165. highlight
    an area of lightness in a picture
  166. hypothesize
    believe especially on uncertain or tentative grounds
  167. identify
    recognize as being
  168. illustrate
    depict with a visual representation
  169. imitate
    reproduce someone's behavior or looks
  170. imply
    express or state indirectly
  171. inclined
    at an angle to the horizontal or vertical position
  172. include
    have as a part; be made up out of
  173. incorporate
    make into a whole or make part of a whole
  174. indicate
    designate a place, direction, person, or thing
  175. indirect
    not leading by a straight line or course to a destination
  176. infer
    conclude by reasoning
  177. influence
    a power to affect persons or events
  178. inform
    impart knowledge of some fact, state or affairs, or event to
  179. inquire
    conduct an investigation of
  180. instructions
    a manual explaining how to install or operate a device
  181. integrate
    make into a whole or make part of a whole
  182. intent
    an anticipated outcome that guides your planned actions
  183. intention
    an anticipated outcome that guides your planned actions
  184. interact
    do something together or with others
  185. intermittent
    stopping and starting at irregular intervals
  186. interpret
    make sense of; assign a meaning to
  187. introduce
    bring something new to an environment
  188. introduction
    the act of beginning something new
  189. invariably
    without change, in every case
  190. investigate
    conduct an inquiry of
  191. involve
    contain as a part
  192. irony
    incongruity between what might be expected and what occurs
  193. irrelevant
    having no bearing on or connection with the subject at issue
  194. isolate
    place or set apart
  195. italic
    a style of handwriting with letters slanting to the right
  196. judge
    an official authorized to decide questions before a court
  197. key
    metal device that allows a lock's mechanism to be rotated
  198. label
    a brief description given for purposes of identification
  199. likely
    having a good chance of being the case or of coming about
  200. list
    a database containing an ordered array of items
  201. literal
    limited to the explicit meaning of a word or text
  202. locate
    determine the place of by searching or examining
  203. logical
    based on known statements or events or conditions
  204. main
    most important element
  205. margin
    the boundary line or area immediately inside the boundary
  206. mean
    denote or connote
  207. measure
    determine the dimensions of something or somebody
  208. metaphor
    a figure of speech that suggests a non-literal similarity
  209. method
    a way of doing something, especially a systematic way
  210. model
    a representation of something, often on a smaller scale
  211. modify
    cause to change; make different
  212. monitor
    someone who observes to ensure fairness or prevent mistakes
  213. motivation
    psychological feature arousing action toward a desired goal
  214. narrative
    an account that tells the particulars of an act or event
  215. narrator
    someone who tells a story
  216. never
    not ever; at no time in the past or future
  217. notation
    a comment or instruction (usually added)
  218. note
    a brief written record
  219. notice
    the act of paying attention
  220. objective
    the goal intended to be attained
  221. observe
    watch attentively
  222. occur
    come to pass
  223. opinion
    a personal belief or judgment
  224. oppose
    be against
  225. optional
    possible but not necessary; left to personal choice
  226. order
    logical or comprehensible arrangement of separate elements
  227. organize
    arrange by systematic planning and united effort
  228. origin
    the place where something begins
  229. outline
    the line that appears to bound an object
  230. pace
    the relative speed of progress or change
  231. paraphrase
    express the same message in different words
  232. participation
    the act of sharing in the activities of a group
  233. passage
    the act of moving from one state or place to the next
  234. pattern
    a perceptual structure
  235. perform
    get done
  236. perspective
    a way of regarding situations or topics
  237. persuade
    cause somebody to adopt a certain position or belief
  238. place
    a point located with respect to surface features of a region
  239. plagiarism
    taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own
  240. plan
    a series of steps to be carried out or goals to be achieved
  241. plausible
    apparently reasonable, valid, or truthful
  242. plot
    a small area of ground covered by specific vegetation
  243. point
    a distinguishing or individuating characteristic
  244. point of view
    a mental position from which things are perceived
  245. portray
    represent abstractly, for example in a painting
  246. possible
    capable of happening or existing
  247. preclude
    make impossible, especially beforehand
  248. predict
    tell in advance
  249. prefix
    an affix that is added in front of the word
  250. prepare
    make ready or suitable or equip in advance
  251. presume
    take to be the case or to be true
  252. preview
    an advertisement with short scenes from a motion picture
  253. previous
    just preceding something else in time or order
  254. primary
    of first rank or importance or value
  255. prior
    earlier in time
  256. probably
    with considerable certainty; without much doubt
  257. procedure
    a particular course of action intended to achieve a result
  258. process
    a particular course of action intended to achieve a result
  259. produce
    bring forth or yield
  260. profile
    an outline of something, especially a face from the side
  261. project
    a planned undertaking
  262. prompt
    according to schedule or without delay
  263. proofread
    read for errors
  264. property
    something owned
  265. propose
    present for consideration, examination, or criticism
  266. prose
    ordinary writing as distinguished from verse
  267. prove
    establish the validity of something
  268. purpose
    what something is used for
  269. quotation
    a passage or expression that is cited
  270. quote
    repeat a passage from
  271. rank
    relative status
  272. rare
    especially good, remarkable, or superlative
  273. rarely
    not often
  274. reaction
    an idea evoked by some experience
  275. recall
    bring to mind
  276. reduce
    make smaller
  277. refer
    make a remark that calls attention to
  278. reflect
    throw or bend back from a surface
  279. regular
    conforming to a standard or pattern
  280. relate
    give an account of
  281. relationship
    a mutual connection between people
  282. relevant
    having a bearing on or connection with the subject at issue
  283. rephrase
    express the same message in different words
  284. report
    to give an account or representation of in words
  285. represent
    be a delegate or spokesperson for
  286. representative
    serving to typify
  287. request
    express the need or desire for; ask for
  288. require
    have need of
  289. requisite
    necessary for relief or supply
  290. respond
    show a reaction to something
  291. responsible
    worthy of or requiring trust; held accountable
  292. restate
    to say or perform again
  293. result
    a phenomenon that is caused by some previous phenomenon
  294. reveal
    make visible
  295. review
    look at again; examine again
  296. revise
    make changes to
  297. root
    underground plant organ that lacks buds or leaves or nodes
  298. rule
    prescribed guide for conduct or action
  299. scan
    examine minutely or intensely
  300. score
    a number that expresses accomplishment in a game or contest
  301. sequence
    a following of one thing after another in time
  302. series
    similar things placed in order or one after another
  303. set
    put into a certain place or abstract location
  304. setting
    the physical position of something
  305. show
    make visible or noticeable
  306. signal
    any action or gesture that encodes a message
  307. significance
    the quality of being important
  308. simile
    a figure of speech expressing a resemblance between things
  309. skim
    remove from the surface
  310. solve
    find the answer to or understand the meaning of
  311. source
    the place where something begins
  312. spatial
    pertaining to the expanse in which things are located
  313. specific
    stated explicitly or in detail
  314. speculate
    reflect deeply on a subject
  315. stance
    a rationalized mental attitude
  316. standard
    a basis for comparison
  317. state
    the way something is with respect to its main attributes
  318. statement
    the act of affirming or asserting something
  319. strategy
    an elaborate and systematic plan of action
  320. structure
    a complex entity made of many parts
  321. study
    applying the mind to learning and understanding a subject
  322. style
    how something is done or how it happens
  323. subject
    some situation or event that is thought about
  324. subjective
    taking place within the mind and modified by individual bias
  325. subsequent
    following in time or order
  326. substitute
    a person or thing that can take the place of another
  327. succinct
    briefly giving the gist of something
  328. suggest
    make a proposal; declare a plan for something
  329. sum
    a quantity obtained by the addition of a group of numbers
  330. summarize
    present the main points in a concise form
  331. summary
    a brief statement that presents the main points
  332. support
    the act of bearing the weight of or strengthening
  333. survey
    consider in a comprehensive way
  334. symbolize
    express indirectly by an image, form, or model
  335. synonym
    a word that expresses the same or similar meaning
  336. synthesize
    combine and form a complex whole
  337. table
    furniture having a smooth flat top supported by legs
  338. technique
    a practical method or art applied to some particular task
  339. term
    a limited period of time during which something lasts
  340. test
    standardized procedure for measuring sensitivity or aptitude
  341. theme
    the subject matter of a conversation or discussion
  342. thesis
    an unproved statement advanced as a premise in an argument
  343. timeline
    a sequence of related events arranged in chronological order
  344. tone
    the distinctive property of a complex sound
  345. topic
    the subject matter of a conversation or discussion
  346. trace
    an indication that something has been present
  347. trait
    a distinguishing feature of your personal nature
  348. transition
    the act of passing from one state or place to the next
  349. translate
    restate from one language into another language
  350. typically
    in a manner conforming to a type
  351. unique
    the single one of its kind
  352. utilize
    put into service
  353. valid
    well grounded in logic or truth or having legal force
  354. variation
    the process of being or becoming different
  355. vary
    become different in some particular way
  356. verify
    confirm the truth of
  357. viewpoint
    a mental position from which things are considered
  358. voice
    the sound made by the vibration of vocal folds
Created on June 26, 2012 (updated June 26, 2012)

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.