Defining Vocabulary in Context Help (page 3)

Updated on Sep 21, 2011

Defining Vocabulary in Context Practice and Answers


Read the following passages and determine the meaning of the words from their context.

    Although social work is not a particularly lucrative career, I wouldn't do anything else. Knowing I'm helping others is far more important to me than money.
  1. Lucrative means.
    1. highly profitable.
    2. highly rewarding.
    3. highly exciting.
  2. When you are in an interview, try not to show any overt signs that you are nervous. Don't shift in your chair, shake, or stutter.

  3. Overt means.
    1. embarrassing, awkward.
    2. subtle, suggestive.
    3. obvious, not hidden.
  4. By the time our staff meeting ended at 8:00, I was ravenous. I had skipped lunch and hadn't eaten since breakfast.

  5. Ravenous means
    1. like a raven, birdlike.
    2. extremely hungry, greedy for food.
    3. exhausted, ready for bed.


  1. a. The writer says money is not important to him. If money is not an issue, it is okay that social work is not highly profitable, that it doesn't earn a lot of money.
  2. c. Shifting, shaking, and stuttering are all obvious, not hidden signs of nervousness. They are not subtle or suggestive (choice b); and though they may make the interviewee feel embarrassed or awkward (choice a), the signs themselves are not embarrassing or awkward.
  3. b. Because the writer hadn't eaten since breakfast, she is extremely hungry, greedy for food. She may also be exhausted (choice c), but the context tells us that this word has something to do with eating.


The ability to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words from their context is an essential skill for reading comprehension. Sometimes, there will be unfamiliar words whose meaning you can't determine without a dictionary. But more often than not, a careful look at the context will give you enough clues to meaning.

TIP: The general tone or theme of the text can help you figure out the meaning of an unfamiliar word. Titles can also provide clues about the tone of a story and the type of vocabulary words that are likely to be found in the text. What overall tone does each of the following titles convey?

  • "Babylon Revisited" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

More Practice exercises for this concept can be found at Reading Comprehension Strategies Practice Test.

Test your knowledge at Reading Comprehension Final Practice Test.

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