The Hunger Games: An Appetite For The SAT, Part I

SAT Prep


One of the best ways to remember vocabulary words is to apply them to situations that are meaningful to you.

Given the near-hysteria surrounding The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, it’s certain that you could benefit from putting popular SAT vocabulary words into the context of Katniss, Gale, and Peeta, three teens on a quest for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Be forewarned, however: the following sentences contain storyline spoilers.

In an analysis of over 60 past SAT and PSAT tests, the following 20 words appeared more frequently than any others. You are certain to run into most—if not all—of them again throughout your studies and on the actual SAT. 

aesthetic 
adj., relating to beauty
Sentence: Because sponsors place value on the aesthetic qualities of a tribute, Cinna drapes Katniss in a dress of fire for her interview with Caeser Flickerman.
Word Forms: aesthetically, aesthetics (n.), aestheticize, aesthete, aesthetician
Antonym Form: unaesthetic

undermine
vb., to weaken
Sentence: Katniss and Rue plan to undermine the Career tributes by destroying their food supply.
Word Forms: underminingly, underminer

profound
adj., deep; intense
Sentence: Peeta harbors a profound respect and love for Katniss.
Word Forms: profoundly, profoundness, profundity

refute
vb., to prove to be false; to deny as true
Sentence: As much as Katniss wanted to refute the idea that she and Peeta were a couple, she had to play along with the lie to win gifts from sponsors.
Word Forms: refutable, refutably, refutability, refutation, refuter
Antonym Forms: irrefutable, irrefutably, irrefutability

ambivalent
adj., having mixed feelings
Sentence: Haymitch seemed ambivalent to the plight of Katniss and Peeta; at times he sincerely coached them, and at others he left them to fend for themselves.
Word Forms: ambivalently, ambivalence, ambivalency

hostile
adj., openly opposed; showing ill-will
Sentence: Katniss expected Thresh to be hostile, but he let her go because of her friendship with Rue.
Word Forms: hostilely, hostility

condemn
vb., to express strong disapproval of
Sentence: The Capitol condemned the actions of the citizens during the rebellion, instituting the Hunger Games as punishment.
Word Forms: condemningly, condemnable, condemnably, condemnatory, condemnation, condemnee, condemner

nostalgia
n., a desire to return to the past
Sentence: While Katniss’s thoughts frequently turned to Gale, there wasn’t much time for nostalgia during the Games: dwelling on the past could get her killed in the present.
Word Forms: nostalgic, nostalgically, nostalgist

pretense
n., a false act intending to deceive
Sentence: Katniss played the Games under the pretense that she was in love with Peeta in order to gain the favor of spectators and sponsors. Peeta, however, was truly in love with Katniss, and had no idea that she did not feel the same way.
Word Forms: pretenseful, pretension, pretentious, pretentiously
Antonym Forms: pretenseless, unpretentious
Related Word: pretend

cynical
adj., distrusting and pessimistic
Sentence: Although Katniss wanted to trust Peeta during their training, she thought it was best to remaincynical if she wanted to survive. It was quite possible that all of his kindness was a pretense to catch her off guard once the Games started.
Word Forms: cynically, cynicism, cynic

obscure
adj., not clearly understood or expressed
Sentence: Katniss is puzzled by Cinna’s obscure wardrobe choice for her victory appearance until she realizes that she needs to look innocent and harmless in order to avoid punishment by the Capitol for outsmarting the Games.
Word Forms: obscure (vb.), obscurely, obscureness, obscuredly, obscurity

contempt
n., scorn or open disrespect
Sentence: During training, the Careers look upon Katniss with contempt; they are jealous of her stylist and eager to defeat her in the arena.
Word Forms: contemptible, contemptibility, contemptibleness, contemptibility, contemptuous, contemptuously, contemptuousness
Related Word: contemn

foster
vb., to encourage or care for
Sentence: Many parents in District 1 foster the idea that volunteering for the Hunger Games is honorable.
Word Forms: fostered (adj.), fosteringly, fosterer

pragmatic
adj., practical; guided by practice rather than theory
Sentence: Rather than use the foods of the Cornucopia, Katniss relies on pragmatic ways to feed herself: hunting and gathering.
Word Forms: pragmatical, pragmatically, pragmaticalness, pragmatism, pragmatistic, pragmatist

revere
vb., to regard with respect and awe
Sentence: Citizens are expected to revere the Capitol, but Gale openly criticizes the government while hunting with Katniss.
Word Forms: reverable, reverent, reverently, reverence, reverential, reverer
Antonym Forms: irreverent, irreverently, irreverence
Related Word: reverend

anecdote
n., a short account of an amusing incident
Sentence: During his interview, Peeta entertains the audience with a funny anecdote about the difficulty he had operating the showers in the Capitol.
Word Forms: anecdotal, anecdotally, anecdotical, anecdotically, anecdotist
Related Word: anecdotage

disparage
vb., to belittle or criticize
Sentence: Effie Trinket disparages Haymitch for his atrocious behavior when he shows up drunk on Reaping Day.
Word Forms: disparagement, disparaging (adj.), disparagingly, disparager

exemplary
adj., serving as a worthy example
Sentence: Cato is an exemplary tribute: skilled, muscular, athletic, and ready to fight to the death.
Word Forms: exemplarily, exemplariness, exemplarity, exemplar
Related Words: example, exemplify

substantiate
vb., to establish or strengthen
Sentence: The kisses that Katniss bestows on a sickly Peeta are given to substantiate the pretense that they are in love.
Word Forms: substantiatable, substantiation, substantiative, substantiator
Antonym Form: unsubstantiated
Related Word: substantial

trivial
adj., small and of little importance
Sentence: The worries that Katniss had in the Seam seem trivial once she enters the arena and begins fighting for her life.
Word Forms: trivially, trivialness, trivialize
Related Word: trivia

You can find these words, and the remaining Top 200 Repeat Offenders with their definitions, in our SAT Free Help Area. How many can you use in the context of The Hunger Games? Share your best sentences below!