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Word Power Quiz: How Well Do You Know Your Shapes?

In this edition of Word Power, we test your geometry vocab. Think you can get them all?

What does “conical” mean?

A: like an igloo.
B: like a cone.
C: like a tunnel.

“Conical” means:

[B] like a cone. My favorite conical item? Why, the ice-cream cone, of course, topped preferably with three scoops of chocolate.

What does “gangling” mean?

A: loose and lanky.
B: bulging with muscles.
C: short in stature.

“Gangling” means:

[A] loose and lanky. The protagonist of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was the gangling pedagogue.

What does “helix” mean?

A: pointed tip.
B: warped outline.
C: spiral.

“Helix” means:

[C] spiral. Judy is a DNA researcher, so she’s getting a tattoo of a double helix.

What does “deltoid” mean?

A: triangular.
B: circular.
C: squared off.

“Deltoid” means:

[A] triangular. The pyramids’ architects obviously knew a thing or two about the stability of deltoid structures.

What does “trefoil” mean?

A: pliable.
B: having a three-leaf design.
C: tapering narrowly.

“Trefoil” means:

[B] having a three-leaf design. The gardening club uses a trefoil symbol—a gilded clover—as its logo.

What does “pentacle” mean?

A: star.
B: crescent moon.
C: square.

“Pentacle” means:

[A] star. Hey, this tarot deck is missing all the cards with pentacles!

What does “elliptical” mean?

A: slanted.
B: embossed.
C: oval.

“Elliptical” means:

[C] oval. Just two times around the elliptical running track, and Rebecca was wiped out.

What does “Sigmoid” mean?

A: crossed like an X.
B: curved like a C or an S.
C: bent like an L.

“Sigmoid” means:

[B] curved like a C or an S. On Superman’s chest sits a single scarlet sigmoid symbol.

What does “whorl” mean?

A: well-rounded muscle.
B: flat surface.
C: circular pattern.

“Whorl” means:

[C] circular pattern. To find the treasure, take 50 paces east from the tree with the whorl in its trunk.

What does “serrated” mean?

A: interconnected, as with circles or rings.
B: elongated.
C: having notched edges.

“Serrated” means:

[C] having notched edges. “I’m not sure that old serrated knife is best for carving the turkey,” Dad advised.

What does “cordate” mean?

A: stringlike.
B: heart shaped.
C: free-form.

“Cordate” means:

[B] heart shaped. Sarah is baking cordate cookies for her cardiologist boyfriend.

What does “svelte” mean?

A: undulating.
B: lean.
C: in a checked or repeating pattern.

“Svelte” means:

[B] lean. The holidays pose a serious challenge to my svelte frame!

What does “zaftig” mean?

A: pleasingly plump.
B: moldable, like putty.
C: seedlike, as in an avocado or a peach.

“Zaftig” means:

[A] pleasingly plump. Known for her zaftig figure, Caroline was a surprising choice for the fashion magazine’s debut cover.

What does “lozenge” mean?

A: 90-degree angle.
B: level used in architectural design.
C: diamond.

“Lozenge” means:

[C] diamond. The boys dug up the grass to create a makeshift lozenge so they could play ball.

What does “ramify” mean?

A: become solid, as cement.
B: jut out.
C: split into branches or parts.

“Ramify” means:

[C] split into branches or parts. “We need to ramify this department to keep productivity high!” Kerrie emphasized at yesterday’s staff meeting.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest