Words Words Words – Word Challenge Pt III: altercation!

Today’s word is brought to you by pop princess Rihanna and President John Adams. Once again we are juxtaposing these two uses of the word to show the benefit of a well-developed vocabulary and how parents and students can learn new words actively, dynamically, and over the course of their lives rather than waiting for the weekly vocabulary test in school. Whether pontificating on the path that lead to the highest office in the nation or reminiscing on fictitiously (we hope) “catching a case,” a strong vocabulary is a life long friend and helps you express your thoughts succinctly and effectively. 

Let’s check out how RiRi and John each used the word: 

John Adams’ Inaugural Address;

Employed in the service of my country abroad during the whole course of these transactions, I first saw the Constitution of the United States in a foreign country. Irritated by no literary altercation, animated by no public debate, heated by no party animosity, I read it with great satisfaction, as the result of good heads prompted by good hearts, as an experiment better adapted to the genius, character, situation, and relations of this nation and country than any which had ever been proposed or suggested.

Adams was commenting on his experience with that most hallowed of documents, the U.S. Constitution, and how when he saw it as a finished work, free of any debates or arguments over semantics, he was pleased with the result.  Adams, our second president, had been abroad soliciting foreign aid for America’s war against tyranny when the document had been finalized by its other authors.


Rihanna, Man Down


What started out as a simple altercation
Turned into a real sticky situation
Me just thinking on the time that I’m facing
Makes me wanna cry

RiRi can attest that experiences that start out simple can often escalate and become something harder to manage.  Perhaps if Adams were president today, Rihanna would sing at his inauguration and they can bond over their experiences with altercations.

We shouldn’t forget that words like this will be tested constantly on our way from elementary school to grad school. Let’s check out a couple ways we might see this word on our “favorite” standardized tests.

The SAT (find the word that most best fits in the blank): 

Having been a witness to the heated verbal sparring between the boys that morning, Rihanna was not surprised to learn that the ——- had become a physical  ——- .


(A) affection… barrier

(B) affinity…manifestation

(C) mediocrity… entity

(D) enmity … altercation

(E) fellowship…limitation


The ISEE analogy (find the pair of words that match the relationship of the stem pair): 

Disagreement is to altercation as


(A) speech : diatribe

(B) dollar: wallet

(C) snout: pig

(D) cap: bottle

(E) head : bonnet


A SSAT synonym (find the word that is most nearly the same in meaning) question:  

Altercation ::


(A) concord

(B) meeting

(C) conversation

(D) squabble

(E) assignation


Remember: if you come across a word you don’t know – in a book, on TV, in a movie, at school, when talking to someone else – look it up! Whether the words is the name of the seagull in the Little Mermaid (Scuttle) or a word dropped in a rap by the Fugees (puerile), the more words you know the better you’ll do in school, on tests, and in life. 

To help you get started check our blog (www.bellcurves.com/blog) where we talk about all things test related and also check out this new cool vocab measurement site aptly named http://testyourvocab.com/ 

Good luck and good prepping!

 Answers: D, A, D

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