SAT: Build Your Vocabulary with Chapter 2 of New Moon

Use this chapter from Defining New Moon — written by Brian Leaf for CliffsNotes — side-by-side with your own copy of Stephenie Meyer's New Moon to build your vocabulary and improve your score on the SAT, ACT, GED, or SSAT exams. The chapter gives you eight words taken from New Moon, with page references for you to read the words in the context of Stephenie Meyer's popular novel. Based on how the word is used in New Moon, guess at its definition; then check your answers, write the exact definitions, and reread the sentence in New Moon where each word appears. Then complete the rest of the test prep example questions.

Defining New Moon

Find each of the following words on the New Moon page number provided. Based on the way each word is used in the book, guess at its definition.

  1. Macabre (p. 42) might mean what?
  2. Impassive (p. 43) might mean what?
  3. Serpentine (p. 44) might mean what?
  4. Melodramatic (p. 45) might mean what?
  5. Wallow (p. 45) might mean what?
  6. Remorse (p. 45) might mean what?
  7. Piqued (p. 51) might mean what?
  8. Elusive (p. 51) might mean what?


Let's see how you did. Check your answers, write the exact definitions, and reread the sentence in New Moon where each word appears. Then complete the drills on the next page.

  1. Macabre (p. 42) means bloody, deathly, or gruesome. Synonyms: ghastly, gory, morbid.
  2. Impassive (p. 43) means not feeling or showing emotion. This is a cool word to break apart. Im- means not, as in impatient (not patient), and passive means allowing. So impassive means not allowing others to see one's feelings. Synonyms: inscrutable, stoic.
  3. Serpentine (p. 44) means winding, like the movements of a serpent (snake).
  4. Melodramatic (p. 45) means very dramatic. Synonyms: histrionic, operatic.
  5. Wallow (p. 45) means immerse oneself. This word actually comes from a pig wallowing in mud.
  6. Remorse (p. 45) means regret. Synonyms: compunction, contrition, penitence, repentance, ruefulness.
  7. Piqued (p. 51) in this case means irritated or hurt. That's easy to remember since piqued sounds so much like picked or even pricked, like pricking and hurting your finger on a thorn. Synonyms: affronted, slighted. Piqued can also mean stimulated, as in "The New Moon trailer piqued my desire to see the movie." This is a perfect example of a word with several meanings that the SAT, ACT, GED, or SSAT might use in a reading comprehension question.
  8. Elusive (p. 51) means hard to find or hold on to. To help you remember this word, let's turn to Will Farrell as Anchorman's Ron Burgundy, who said, "Mm! She's an elusive goddess, Mother Nature . . . for she turns away all suitors." (DreamWorks, Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie, 2004) She's elusive (hard to hold on to), because she "turns away all suitors (wooers, admirers)." Thanks, Ron! Synonyms: equivocal (unclear), evasive, indefinable.


Select the word whose meaning is closest to the word in capital letters.


  1. impassive
  2. inscrutable
  3. operatic
  4. elusive
  5. morbid


  1. winding
  2. evasive
  3. indefinable
  4. equivocal
  5. imperious


  1. absolute
  2. devoid
  3. histrionic
  4. thwarted
  5. masochistic


  1. wallowing
  2. irritated
  3. remote
  4. relenting
  5. mercurial


Select the answer choice that best completes the meaning of the sentence.

5. Piqued is to insult as

  1. irritated is to remorse
  2. chafed is to itchy clothing
  3. thwarted is to brevity
  4. aped is to impasse
  5. ostracized is to contingency

6. Remorse is to compunction as

  1. contriteness is to gory
  2. contrition is to impassive
  3. penitence is to regret
  4. repentance is to elusive
  5. ruefulness is to equivocal

Sentence Completions

Choose the word that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

7. Though Drew's face was impassive, his friends knew that he was ________ by Dustan's harsh comments.

  1. affronted
  2. operatic
  3. tempered
  4. obscured
  5. reciprocated

8. Rowan and Sandy loved to build their model train tracks in complex ________ figure eights.

  1. evasive
  2. histrionic
  3. melodramatic
  4. serpentine
  5. ghastly


1. E. Macabre and morbid mean gruesome, like the horror movies that Bella seeks out later in New Moon. Impassive means inexpressive, inscrutable means indecipherable, operatic means dramatic (like an opera), and elusive means hard to find.

2. A. Serpentine means winding, like the path of a snake. Evasive, indefinable, and equivocal mean elusive. Imperious means bossy.

3. C. Melodramatic and histrionic mean very dramatic. Absolute means complete, devoid means empty, thwarted means prevented, and masochistic means liking pain.

4. B. Piqued means irritated. Wallowing means immersing oneself, remote means far away, relenting means ending, and mercurial means unpredictable.

5. B. "A person might be piqued (irritated) by an insult."

  1. A person might be irritated by remorse (regret) . . . maybe.
  2. A person might be chafed (irritated) by itchy clothing . . . yes!
  3. A person might be thwarted (prevented) by brevity (briefness) . . . no.
  4. A person might be aped (imitated) by an impasse (dead end) . . . no.
  5. A person might be ostracized (excluded) by a contingency (possibility) . . . no.

Choice A seems possible, but then choice B is much clearer, with a more direct relationship. Remember, don't just choose the first answer choice that seems decent; try all the choices.

6. C. "Remorse (regret) is a synonym of compunction (regret)."

  1. Contriteness (regret) is a synonym of gory (bloody) . . . no.
  2. Contrition (regret) is a synonym of impassive (unexpressive) . . . no.
  3. Penitence (regret) is a synonym of regret . . . yes!
  4. Repentance (regret) is a synonym of elusive (hard to find) . . . no.
  5. Ruefulness (regret) is a synonym of equivocal (unclear) . . . no.

7. A. "Though Drew's face was impassive, his friends knew that he was harshed/hurt by Dustan's harsh comments." You know the word impassive (unemotional), but even if you didn't, you could still get this question correct. The SAT often throws in a tough word that you don't need. So if you see a word in the sentence that you don't know, try crossing it out and doing the question without it. You'll be surprised how well this works! Choice A, affronted, means offended and is the best answer.

8. D. "Rowan and Sandy loved to build their model train tracks in complex complex/figure eight figure eights." Use the process of elimination. The sentence does not indicate that the tracks are evasive (hard to find), histrionic (dramatic), melodramatic, or ghastly. They are serpentine (winding).