Vocabulary Review for Police Officer Exam Study Guide

Updated on Mar 16, 2011

Having a good vocabulary is important when reading, writing, or speaking. While all police officers and police officer applicants are encouraged to use a dictionary to look up the meaning of words they are unfamiliar with, it is not good use of their time to have to run to a dictionary to check every third word they see. Police officers must understand complex laws, regulations, and procedures. While you cannot be expected to be familiar with many of these terms as well as the specialized words you will be introduced to, you will need to be able to use the English language efficiently.

If your written exam has a section that tests vocabulary, which is very likely, the questions are most likely to cover synonyms, antonyms, context, and/or homophones.

Synonyms and Antonyms

Synonyms are words that share the same or nearly the same meaning as other words.
Antonyms are words that are opposite or nearly opposite the meaning of other words.

The most common question type that tests for your understanding of words that are similar to or different from one another will give you a short sentence or phrase with a word underlined and provide four choices from which you are to select either the synonym or the antonym. Root words can sometimes help you answer these questions, but you must be careful to avoid so-called "false friends," or words that look or sound alike and seem to have similar meanings but may not.

Make sure to read the brief instructions prior to the series of questions carefully so that you know which choice you are looking for; a tricky question may provide both a synonym and an antonym as one of the choices to catch whether you read the question closely.

Synonym and Antonym Sample Questions

Choose the synonym of the underlined word in questions 1-3

  1. The defendant's attorney was eager to expedite the trial process.
    1. reverse
    2. appeal
    3. accelerate
    4. explain
  2. The new lieutenant had trouble learning how to delegate authority.
    1. understand
    2. accept
    3. assign
    4. feign
  3. The Oak Hill Police Department is housed in an obsolete building.
    1. spacious
    2. out-of-date
    3. modern
    4. costly
  4. Choose the antonym of the underlined word in questions 4-6.

  5. The citizens of Rock Hill were unanimous in the view that the police department should hire at least five new police officers.
    1. unsure
    2. divided
    3. uniform
    4. out-spoken
  6. Which word means the opposite of refute?
    1. verify
    2. inform
    3. unite
    4. argue
  7. Officer Tomas went about his duties very purposefully.
    1. casually
    2. carefully
    3. seriously
    4. earnestly


  1. c.
  2. c.
  3. b.
  4. b. Unanimous means uniform or in agreement; the opposite is divided.
  5. a. Refute means to disprove or show to be false; the opposite is to verify, or to show to be accurate or true. Note that this question is arranged somewhat differently than the previous ones, but is still testing your vocabulary skills. This question style may be more difficult than the sentence format because you have no context to help you determine the meaning.
  6. a. Purposefully means with purpose, or seriously; the opposite is casually. Note that in this question, the root word purpose would have helped you in figuring out the answer.
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