Words a 6th Grader Should Know

By: Keith


It’s hard to have a conversation with an adult who has a limited vocabulary.  You scratch your head wondering what planet they grew up on.  You don’t even expect them to use the words, but it would be nice if they at least understood the words that most of us consider basic knowledge.  However, it’s much nicer to talk to ignorant kids than it is to talk to ignorant adults.  With kids you can be a teacher and, being the sponges they are, they’ll eagerly soak up what you say.  I found a book yesterday called 100 words a middle schooler should know (or something like that). Out of curiosity, and because my kids were handy, I asked them some of the words.  They didn’t do so well.  In fact, they got exactly one word correct out of the ones I selected, Dispel.  That doesn’t worry me too much because my boys are young and still absorbing.  But, upon further consideration, I wondered how actual middle schoolers would do if given the following word list.  They are words that, according to the author, every middle schooler should know.  Do you think middle schoolers know, or should know, these words?      


For our Spanish readers, I’m afraid I cannot translate these words.  Many of them don’t have one word translations, and even the ones that do translate are at a different academic level (either higher or lower) and may or may not be necessary words that kids should learn in a Spanish speaking country.  These are words that English speaking kids should know.  I’m sorry I failed you this time; my super loyal and much appreciate Spanish speakers!      


50 of The Words:

eavesdrop pristine quell repugnant emerge
stamina subside swagger swarm terse
translucent waft waver zeal ember
restitution engross exasperation exhilarate pertinent
disdain dismal dispel furtive egregious
malleable materialize meander misgivings aplomb
apprehensive aptitude momentum banish bluff
brackish fragrance potential grueling gusto
habitation hasten havoc headway ignite


Now, wouldn’t you like to know which words you, who hopefully graduated past middle school, should know?  You’re in luck because I own a box of flashcards of the 2000 most common words given on the GRE and GMAT.  Here are 101 of them that I picked at random:       

enjoin, coffer, pristine, surly, ethereal, ingratiate, eulogy, droll, confluence, stasis, slake, torpor, proliferate, paragon, reconnoiter, inure, sardonic, lucid, abnegate, panegyric, pragmatic, implicate, chasm, lavish, connoisseur, fatuous, solecism, idiosyncrasy, metaphor, mortify, calumny, boor, cadge, emulate, sinuous, acidulous, malleable, incarnadine, numismatics, imperturbable, orotund, potentate, intrepid, sedentary, xenophobia, lissome, blithe, crescendo, recondite, levity, bolster, discern, hegemony, parley, jettison, vicarious, seraphic, itinerant, abdicate, pervade, iconoclast, blight, raconteur, dictum, meretricious, husband, talon, gesticulate, capitulate, nadir, quiescent, traipse, coalesce, intractable, bilk, catalyst, assail, cacophony, catharsis, apathy, frenetic, panache, stentorian, vituperate, efficacy, elegy, deride, ensconce, declivity, spurious, penury, lassitude, grievous, volatile, corporeal, canard, invidious, dogma, puerile, fanatical, disparate.      


So?  How’d it go?


12 Responses to “Words a 6th Grader Should Know”
  1. Que July 27, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    I’m sure I would have failed this if I had this now. I did very well in school as long as I didn’t have to deal with words. Which is completely ironic that I write a blog now. I would never have guess it in school.
    .-= Que´s last blog ..Old Dog- New Trick =-.

  2. Jack July 29, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    I know a bunch of six graders who have very colorful vocabularies. Some of them should take the time to review your list- it would help them.

  3. Ron T July 30, 2010 at 7:17 am #

    Very interesting article Keith,

    I am not a fan of the word “ignorant”, particularly as it pertains to kids.

    Although technically correct, today the word much more often connotes a willful lack of knowledge, rather than just a lack of knowledge due to inexperience, or lack of opportunity to learn.

    Then again, maybe it’s just my own sensitivity to that particular word.

    I have enjoyed your parenting insights.

  4. PJ Mullen August 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    I counted about a dozen that I didn’t immediately recognize, not too bad. Some of those words for sixth graders though surprised me. Then again, some of the language I hear from kids these days truly is repugnant, maybe they need to learn the meaning.
    .-= PJ Mullen´s last blog ..Best jammies ever =-.

  5. Mitzi August 4, 2010 at 11:33 pm #

    Wow, I was in AP English all through high school and didn’t know a few there…I’m glad you posted this, I feel the urge to print this out and work on these words with my kids. My kids will thank you- ha ha!

  6. taylor June 1, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    wow i barely know any of the words and im in 7th grade

  7. taylor June 1, 2011 at 7:10 am #

    wow i am great in english and i reconize some of these words but i need to practice on!!!

  8. aqua October 11, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    I am in middle school, I knew most of those words but didn’t know a few. These list of words helped me with stuff at shcool. Thank you

  9. Tom January 7, 2013 at 7:07 am #

    I hate to say it, but in your list of 50 words there are only 45 listed.

    • Keith January 12, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

      HA, so it’s true, Tom. Can’t believe it’s been this long and I never noticed.

  10. Quantina November 6, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    While looking for spelling words for middle-schoolers I came upon your blog. I am loving it btw. I love words and my love of words pretty much means my kids hate seeing a dictionary or thesaurus. Your lists give me lots of material that I can pull out for a mouthy kid to meditate on with the help of Mr. Webster or New Heritage.


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