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Are you smarter than a high school student?

May 29, 2007

I still remember my first year of law school where we were beaten over the head with the question, “Is this what a reasonable person would do?” I wondered who this reasonable person was, and whether he should be making all those decisions.  The editors of the American Heritage Dictionary have proposed a similar hypothetical high school student. 

According to a press release, the editors of the dictionary propose that every high school student should know the meaning of at least the 100 words they have listed on their website. If the bar was set low enough for a high school student to overcome, I figured that I would know the meanings of the words too. Then, I looked at the words.

While it may be fair to expect the high school students to know the meaning of mitosis, or acumen, I really doubt its fair to expect “every high school student” to know the meaning of lugubrious. It really does not come up in conversation very often. In case you are wondering, Websters online dictionary defines it as “exaggeratedly or affectedly mournful.” Personally, I counted 10 words I didnt know the meaning of. The words I didnt know include bowdlerize and abstemious.

How many of those words did you know?

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