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Fun & Free SAT Words Starting with “C”

Updated on March 12, 2019

CANDID: informal, unposed

President Obama wields a light sabre in this candid photo.
President Obama wields a light sabre in this candid photo. | Source

Learn SAT Words with Obama, Madonna & George Costanza

How can you remember SAT word meanings? Associating a word with a memorable funny idea can be very helpful. Here are sentences, pictures and videos to help you learn SAT vocabulary words that start with "C."

You'll also see some standard practice questions. These sample SAT questions were written by a professional test writer (me) and can help you become familiar with SAT vocabulary in context.

SAT "C" Words

The SAT words explored here include: candid, capricious, convoluted and charlatan.

Madonna loses her "Material Girl" image in this candid photo.
Madonna loses her "Material Girl" image in this candid photo. | Source

CANDID -- adj. -- frank, straightforward, unposed

  • Paparazzi can earn a small fortune selling candid photos of celebrities.
  • Before launching the Candid Camera TV show in 1948, Allen Funt caught people off-guard with the Candid Microphone radio program.
  • Under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, the soldier couldn't be candid about her family situation.

Sample SAT Question

Fill in the blank.

Instead of repeating his alibi about hiking the Appalachian Trail, Governor Sanford was finally ______ about his whereabouts.

(A) candid

(B) elusive

(C) precocious

(D) mendacious

The best answer is A, candid. If the Governor had been elusive, he'd still be avoiding the truth. If he'd been mendacious, he'd still be telling lies. (Do you speak Spanish? Think of the related word mentira.) Precocious means "advanced" or "developing ahead of time" and often refers to children.

More Unposed or CANDID Celebrity Photos

I've selected three candid "picks" of celebrities tending to their noses.
I've selected three candid "picks" of celebrities tending to their noses. | Source

CAPRICIOUS -- adj. -- variable, erratic

  • Joey Tribbiani's work schedule, like that of most struggling actors, is capricious.
  • On NBC's The Office, the capricious Robert California closes a business on a whim.
  • Robert California, unlike the predictable Michael Scott, has a capricious nature.

Sample SAT Vocab Question

Fill in the blank.

Because New York's weather is _________, directors prefer to film in predictable Los Angeles.

(A) urbane

(B) capricious

(C) indelible

(D) diffident

The sentence structure hints that we need the opposite of "predictable." The best answer is B, capricious. Urbane means "sophisticated" or "suave." Indelible means "permanent" like Sharpie ink. Diffident means "lacking confidence."

CONVOLUTED: A Confusing English Translation

Although the language is convoluted, the general meanings are clear.
Although the language is convoluted, the general meanings are clear. | Source

CONVOLUTED -- adj. -- twisted, complex, complicated

  • A convoluted phrase on the Chinese packaging was created with an automatic translator.
  • Governor Voinovich used convoluted reasoning to justify his crime.
  • Voinovich's convoluted explanation has been called "narrative acrobatics."
  • On Seinfeld the Puerto Rican Day parade forces Elaine to travel a convoluted path home.

Sample SAT Question

To sneakily return a marble rye bread, George Costanza devises a _________ plan that involves a horse and a fishing pole.

(A) gregarious

(B) brusque

(C) fallacious

(D) convoluted

The best answer is D, convoluted, because any plan involving the secret return of a marble rye, a horse and a fishing pole is probably complicated. The next-best choice for describing George's plan is fallacious, but that means "incorrect" or "misleading." Gregarious means "sociable" and brusque means "abrupt."

CHARLATAN: George Costanza's Holistic Healer

George visits a charlatan who prescribes a dangerous tea.
George visits a charlatan who prescribes a dangerous tea. | Source

CHARLATAN -- noun -- a quack, a person who only pretends to be an expert

  • Instead of having expensive surgery with a legitimate doctor, George Costanza visited a $38 charlatan.
  • A network of charlatans worked as phony psychics.

Sample SAT Question

Fill in the blank.

Is Vince of ShamWow! fame an honest salesman or a(n) __________?

(A) anathema

(B) charlatan

(C) iconoclast

(D) pariah

The best answer is B, charlatan. The word anathema, which means "a detested person," is too strong. Also, Vince isn't exactly a pariah or outcast. He also isn't an iconoclast, which is a person who attacks mainstream ideas and institutions.

CHARLATAN: A Phony Psychic Is Exposed

"C" Words Conclusion

Hopefully the candid photo of Madonna and other items on this page will help you remember the meanings of common SAT vocabulary words.

Another strategy is to write new sentences that make SAT words especially relevant to your own life. For example, "Because of the flood, we had to take a convoluted path from school to the debate tournament." If you come up with some great sentences, please share them in the comments section below.

Did you know? Your brain can handle about ten new words per day. Click for SAT words starting with D.


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