300 Most Difficult "SAT" Words

Looking to build your vocabulary? Then practice this list of 300 "hard words" — the kind that used to be tested on the SAT before 2016. If you're a high school student prepping for the SAT, check out Vocabulary.com's Roadmap to the SAT, which focuses on the vocabulary you'll need to ace today's SAT test.
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. abject
    of the most contemptible kind
  2. aberration
    a state or condition markedly different from the norm
  3. abjure
    formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief
  4. abnegation
    the denial and rejection of a doctrine or belief
  5. abrogate
    revoke formally
  6. abscond
    run away, often taking something or somebody along
  7. abstruse
    difficult to understand
  8. accede
    yield to another's wish or opinion
  9. accost
    approach and speak to someone aggressively or insistently
  10. accretion
    an increase by natural growth or addition
  11. acumen
    shrewdness shown by keen insight
  12. adamant
    impervious to pleas, persuasion, requests, or reason
  13. admonish
    scold or reprimand; take to task
  14. adumbrate
    describe roughly or give the main points or summary of
  15. adverse
    in an opposing direction
  16. advocate
    a person who pleads for a person, cause, or idea
  17. affluent
    having an abundant supply of money or possessions of value
  18. aggrandize
    embellish; increase the scope, power, or importance of
  19. alacrity
    liveliness and eagerness
  20. alias
    a name that has been assumed temporarily
  21. ambivalent
    uncertain or unable to decide about what course to follow
  22. amenable
    disposed or willing to comply
  23. amorphous
    having no definite form or distinct shape
  24. anachronistic
    chronologically misplaced
  25. anathema
    a formal ecclesiastical curse accompanied by excommunication
  26. annex
    attach to
  27. antediluvian
    of or relating to the period before the biblical flood
  28. antiseptic
    thoroughly clean and free of disease-causing organisms
  29. apathetic
    showing little or no emotion or animation
  30. antithesis
    exact opposite
  31. apocryphal
    being of questionable authenticity
  32. approbation
    official acceptance or agreement
  33. arbitrary
    based on or subject to individual discretion or preference
  34. arboreal
    of or relating to or formed by trees
  35. arcane
    requiring secret or mysterious knowledge
  36. archetypal
    of an original pattern on which other things are modeled
  37. arrogate
    seize and take control without authority
  38. ascetic
    someone who practices self denial as a spiritual discipline
  39. aspersion
    a disparaging remark
  40. assiduous
    marked by care and persistent effort
  41. atrophy
    a decrease in size of an organ caused by disease or disuse
  42. bane
    something causing misery or death
  43. bashful
    self-consciously timid
  44. beguile
    influence by slyness
  45. bereft
    lacking or deprived of something
  46. blandishment
    flattery intended to persuade
  47. bilk
    cheat somebody out of what is due, especially money
  48. bombastic
    ostentatiously lofty in style
  49. cajole
    influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering
  50. callous
    emotionally hardened
  51. calumny
    a false accusation of an offense
  52. camaraderie
    the quality of affording easy familiarity and sociability
  53. candor
    the quality of being honest and straightforward
  54. capitulate
    surrender under agreed conditions
  55. carouse
    engage in boisterous, drunken merrymaking
  56. carp
    any of various freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae
  57. caucus
    meet to select a candidate or promote a policy
  58. cavort
    play boisterously
  59. circumlocution
    an indirect way of expressing something
  60. circumscribe
    draw a geometric figure around another figure
  61. circumvent
    surround so as to force to give up
  62. clamor
    utter or proclaim insistently and noisily
  63. cleave
    separate or cut with a tool, such as a sharp instrument
  64. cobbler
    a person who makes or repairs shoes
  65. cogent
    powerfully persuasive
  66. cognizant
    having or showing knowledge or understanding or realization
  67. commensurate
    corresponding in size or degree or extent
  68. complement
    something added to embellish or make perfect
  69. compunction
    a feeling of deep regret, usually for some misdeed
  70. concomitant
    following or accompanying as a consequence
  71. conduit
    a passage through which water or electric wires can pass
  72. conflagration
    a very intense and uncontrolled fire
  73. congruity
    the quality of agreeing; being suitable and appropriate
  74. connive
    form intrigues (for) in an underhand manner
  75. consign
    give over to another for care or safekeeping
  76. constituent
    one of the individual parts making up a composite entity
  77. construe
    make sense of; assign a meaning to
  78. contusion
    an injury in which the skin is not broken
  79. contrite
    feeling or expressing pain or sorrow
  80. contentious
    showing an inclination to disagree
  81. contravene
    go against, as of rules and laws
  82. convivial
    occupied with or fond of the pleasures of good company
  83. corpulence
    the property of excessive fatness
  84. covet
    wish, long, or crave for
  85. cupidity
    extreme greed for material wealth
  86. dearth
    an insufficient quantity or number
  87. debacle
    a sudden and complete disaster
  88. debauch
    a wild gathering
  89. debunk
    expose while ridiculing
  90. defunct
    no longer in force or use; inactive
  91. demagogue
    a leader who seeks support by appealing to popular passions
  92. denigrate
    attack the good name and reputation of someone
  93. derivative
    a compound obtained from another compound
  94. despot
    a cruel and oppressive dictator
  95. diaphanous
    so thin as to transmit light
  96. didactic
    instructive, especially excessively
  97. dirge
    a song or hymn of mourning as a memorial to a dead person
  98. disaffected
    discontented as toward authority
  99. discomfit
    cause to lose one's composure
  100. disparate
    fundamentally different or distinct in quality or kind
  101. dispel
    cause to separate and go in different directions
  102. disrepute
    the state of being held in low esteem
  103. divisive
    causing or characterized by disagreement or disunity
  104. dogmatic
    pertaining to a code of beliefs accepted as authoritative
  105. dour
    showing a brooding ill humor
  106. duplicity
    the act of deceiving or acting in bad faith
  107. duress
    compulsory force or threat
  108. eclectic
    selecting what seems best of various styles or ideas
  109. edict
    a formal or authoritative proclamation
  110. ebullient
    joyously unrestrained
  111. egregious
    conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible
  112. elegy
    a mournful poem; a lament for the dead
  113. elicit
    call forth, as an emotion, feeling, or response
  114. embezzlement
    the fraudulent appropriation of funds or property
  115. emend
    make corrections to
  116. emollient
    a substance with a soothing effect when applied to the skin
  117. empirical
    derived from experiment and observation rather than theory
  118. emulate
    strive to equal or match, especially by imitating
  119. enervate
    weaken physically, mentally, or morally
  120. enfranchise
    grant freedom to, as from slavery or servitude
  121. engender
    call forth
  122. ephemeral
    anything short-lived, as an insect that lives only for a day
  123. epistolary
    written in the form of letters or correspondence
  124. equanimity
    steadiness of mind under stress
  125. equivocal
    open to two or more interpretations
  126. espouse
    choose and follow a theory, idea, policy, etc.
  127. evanescent
    short-lived; tending to vanish or disappear
  128. evince
    give expression to
  129. exacerbate
    make worse
  130. exhort
    spur on or encourage especially by cheers and shouts
  131. execrable
    unequivocally detestable
  132. exigent
    demanding immediate attention
  133. expedient
    appropriate to a purpose
  134. expiate
    make amends for
  135. expunge
    remove by erasing or crossing out or as if by drawing a line
  136. extraneous
    not belonging to that in which it is contained
  137. extol
    praise, glorify, or honor
  138. extant
    still in existence; not extinct or destroyed or lost
  139. expurgate
    edit by omitting or modifying parts considered indelicate
  140. fallacious
    containing or based on incorrect reasoning
  141. fatuous
    devoid of intelligence
  142. fetter
    a shackle for the ankles or feet
  143. flagrant
    conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible
  144. foil
    hinder or prevent, as an effort, plan, or desire
  145. forbearance
    good-natured tolerance of delay or incompetence
  146. fortuitous
    lucky; occurring by happy chance
  147. fractious
    easily irritated or annoyed
  148. garrulous
    full of trivial conversation
  149. gourmand
    a person who is devoted to eating and drinking to excess
  150. grandiloquent
    lofty in style
  151. gratuitous
    unnecessary and unwarranted
  152. hapless
    unfortunate and deserving pity
  153. hegemony
    the dominance or leadership of one social group over others
  154. heterogenous
    consisting of elements that are not of the same kind
  155. iconoclast
    someone who attacks cherished ideas or institutions
  156. idiosyncratic
    peculiar to the individual
  157. impecunious
    not having enough money to pay for necessities
  158. impetuous
    characterized by undue haste and lack of thought
  159. impinge
    infringe upon
  160. impute
    attribute or credit to
  161. inane
    devoid of intelligence
  162. inchoate
    only partly in existence; imperfectly formed
  163. incontrovertible
    impossible to deny or disprove
  164. incumbent
    necessary as a duty or responsibility; morally binding
  165. inexorable
    impossible to prevent, resist, or stop
  166. inimical
    tending to obstruct or cause harm
  167. injunction
    a judicial remedy to prohibit a party from doing something
  168. inoculate
    inject or treat with the germ of a disease to render immune
  169. insidious
    working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way
  170. instigate
    provoke or stir up
  171. insurgent
    in opposition to a civil authority or government
  172. interlocutor
    a person who takes part in a conversation
  173. intimation
    a slight suggestion or vague understanding
  174. inure
    cause to accept or become hardened to
  175. invective
    abusive language used to express blame or censure
  176. intransigent
    impervious to pleas, persuasion, requests, or reason
  177. inveterate
  178. irreverence
    a mental attitude showing lack of due respect
  179. knell
    the sound of a bell rung slowly to announce a death
  180. laconic
    brief and to the point
  181. largesse
    liberality in bestowing gifts
  182. legerdemain
    an illusory feat
  183. libertarian
    an advocate of freedom of thought and speech
  184. licentious
    lacking moral discipline
  185. linchpin
    a central cohesive source of support and stability
  186. litigant
    a party to a lawsuit
  187. maelstrom
    a powerful circular current of water
  188. maudlin
    very sentimental or emotional
  189. maverick
    someone who exhibits independence in thought and action
  190. mawkish
    very sentimental or emotional
  191. maxim
    a saying that is widely accepted on its own merits
  192. mendacious
    given to lying
  193. modicum
    a small or moderate or token amount
  194. morass
    a soft wet area of low-lying land that sinks underfoot
  195. mores
    the conventions embodying the fundamental values of a group
  196. munificent
    very generous
  197. multifarious
    having many aspects
  198. nadir
    the lowest point of anything
  199. negligent
    characterized by undue lack of attention or concern
  200. neophyte
    any new participant in some activity
  201. noisome
    offensively malodorous
  202. noxious
    injurious to physical or mental health
  203. obdurate
    stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing
  204. obfuscate
    make obscure or unclear
  205. obstreperous
    noisily and stubbornly defiant
  206. officious
    intrusive in a meddling or offensive manner
  207. onerous
    burdensome or difficult to endure
  208. ostensible
    appearing as such but not necessarily so
  209. ostracism
    the act of excluding someone from society by general consent
  210. palliate
    lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
  211. panacea
    hypothetical remedy for all ills or diseases
  212. paradigm
    a standard or typical example
  213. pariah
    a person who is rejected from society or home
  214. partisan
    a fervent and even militant proponent of something
  215. paucity
    an insufficient quantity or number
  216. pejorative
    expressing disapproval
  217. pellucid
    transparently clear; easily understandable
  218. penchant
    a strong liking or preference
  219. penurious
    excessively unwilling to spend
  220. pert
    characterized by a lightly saucy or impudent quality
  221. pernicious
    exceedingly harmful
  222. pertinacious
    stubbornly unyielding
  223. phlegmatic
    showing little emotion
  224. philanthropic
    of or relating to charitable giving
  225. pithy
    concise and full of meaning
  226. platitude
    a trite or obvious remark
  227. plaudit
    enthusiastic approval
  228. plenitude
    a full supply
  229. plethora
    extreme excess
  230. portent
    a sign of something about to happen
  231. potentate
    a powerful ruler, especially one who is unconstrained by law
  232. preclude
    make impossible, especially beforehand
  233. predilection
    a predisposition in favor of something
  234. preponderance
    exceeding in heaviness; having greater weight
  235. presage
    a foreboding about what is about to happen
  236. probity
    complete and confirmed integrity
  237. proclivity
    a natural inclination
  238. profligate
    unrestrained by convention or morality
  239. promulgate
    state or announce
  240. proscribe
    command against
  241. protean
    taking on different forms
  242. prurient
    characterized by lust
  243. puerile
    displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity
  244. pugnacious
    ready and able to resort to force or violence
  245. pulchritude
    physical beauty, especially of a woman
  246. punctilious
    marked by precise accordance with details
  247. quaint
    attractively old-fashioned
  248. quixotic
    not sensible about practical matters
  249. quandary
    state of uncertainty in a choice between unfavorable options
  250. recalcitrant
    stubbornly resistant to authority or control
  251. redoubtable
    inspiring fear
  252. relegate
    assign to a lower position
  253. remiss
    failing in what duty requires
  254. reprieve
    postpone the punishment of a convicted criminal
  255. reprobate
    a person without moral scruples
  256. rescind
    cancel officially
  257. requisition
    an authoritative demand
  258. rife
    excessively abundant
  259. sanctimonious
    excessively or hypocritically pious
  260. sanguine
    confidently optimistic and cheerful
  261. scurrilous
    expressing offensive, insulting, or scandalous criticism
  262. semaphore
    an apparatus for visual signaling
  263. serendipity
    good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries
  264. sobriety
    the state of being unaffected or not intoxicated by alcohol
  265. solicitous
    full of anxiety and concern
  266. solipsism
    the philosophical theory that the self is all that exists
  267. spurious
    plausible but false
  268. staid
    characterized by dignity and propriety
  269. stolid
    having or revealing little emotion or sensibility
  270. subjugate
    make subservient; force to submit or subdue
  271. surfeit
    indulge (one's appetite) to satiety
  272. surreptitious
    marked by quiet and caution and secrecy
  273. swarthy
    naturally having skin of a dark color
  274. tangential
    of superficial relevance if any
  275. tome
    a large and scholarly book
  276. toady
    a person who tries to please someone to gain an advantage
  277. torpid
    in a condition of biological rest or suspended animation
  278. travesty
    a composition that imitates or misrepresents a style
  279. trenchant
    having keenness and forcefulness and penetration in thought
  280. trite
    repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse
  281. truculent
    defiantly aggressive
  282. turpitude
    a corrupt or depraved or degenerate act or practice
  283. ubiquitous
    being present everywhere at once
  284. umbrage
    a feeling of anger caused by being offended
  285. upbraid
    express criticism towards
  286. utilitarian
    having a useful function
  287. veracity
    unwillingness to tell lies
  288. vestige
    an indication that something has been present
  289. vicissitude
    a variation in circumstances or fortune
  290. vilify
    spread negative information about
  291. virtuoso
    someone who is dazzlingly skilled in any field
  292. vitriolic
    harsh, bitter, or malicious in tone
  293. vituperate
    spread negative information about
  294. vociferous
    conspicuously and offensively loud
  295. wanton
    a lewd or immoral person
  296. winsome
    charming in a childlike or naive way
  297. yoke
    join with stable gear, as two draft animals
  298. zephyr
    a slight wind
  299. wily
    marked by skill in deception
  300. tirade
    a speech of violent denunciation
Created on September 30, 2012 (updated August 18, 2021)

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