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Fun & Free SAT Words Starting with “H”

Updated on March 12, 2019
The professor never underestimates the power of SAT words.
The professor never underestimates the power of SAT words.

Study SAT Vocabulary on Gilligan's Island

It's a little known and unproven fact that the professor on Gilligan's Island gave weekly SAT vocab lessons. An informant claims that the professor, Gilligan, Mary Ann and other castaways met regularly to review "the vocabulary of scholars" in a one-room schoolhut. Here I share an unauthorized version of leaked SAT lesson plans.

This SAT vocabulary lesson is supposedly based upon the professor's private notes about potential SAT words that start with H. These include hapless, harangue, harbinger and hedonist. You'll see SAT word definitions, sentence examples and sample SAT questions* along with pictures and video clips from Gilligan's Island.

*Actual SAT questions do not typically mention Gilligan's Island. Also, my free A-Z SAT vocabulary lesson series is not endorsed by the College Board or the Educational Testing Service.

Let's begin! The first word is hapless.

HAPLESS Tourists Stranded in Pacific Ocean

The hapless travelers lacked an effective communication system.
The hapless travelers lacked an effective communication system. | Source

HAPLESS - adj. - unlucky

Sample Sentences Using Hapless

  • The hapless travelers were stranded from 1964 until 1967.
  • Although the hapless movie star was shipwrecked, she had fortunately packed enough clothing for several years.

Sample SAT Question Using Hapless

The stranded Howells were clearly _______ travelers, but they had good luck with the stock market.

(A) gregarious

(B) enigmatic

(C) brusque

(D) hapless

The best answer is D, hapless. The sentence includes clues that you're looking for something that's opposed to "good luck." Here's a quick look at the other options. (Click on the words for sentence examples and sample SAT questions.)

On to the next SAT word: harangue.

Ginger & Mary Ann HARANGUE Each Other Telepathically

HARANGUE - n. - a ranting or intense speech or lecture, a diatribe

Harangue is also a verb meaning "to give a long, passionate and vehement speech."

Sample Sentences Using Harangue

  • The castaways are generally forgiving and do not harangue one another over misunderstandings.
  • However, several episodes show the skipper haranguing Gilligan over foiled plans to escape the island.

Sample SAT Question Using Harangue

Fill in the blanks.

No one should _______ the skipper over the shipwreck; he behaved ________ during the storm.

(A) burnish, valiantly

(B) obfuscate, nefariously

(C) harangue, valiantly

(D) harangue, perniciously

The best choice is C. Nobody should harangue (lecture) the skipper; he behaved valiantly (bravely). As for the other choices:

  • Burnish means "to polish or shine." Mr. and Mrs. Howell burnished their silverware often; it tarnished quickly in the salty air. (According to the script for Gilligan's Island episode #84, the Howells had packed silverware for their three hour tour.)
  • Obfuscate means "to make incomprehensible." In Gilligan's opinion, the professor's use of SAT vocabulary words obfuscated the meaning.
  • Something that's nefarious is horribly villainous. In the episode "Not Guilty" there's suspicion that one of the castaways is a nefarious murderer.
  • Something that's pernicious is insidiously harmful or destructive. The pernicious effects of sun exposure are not evident in the castaways' autographed photos.

Ready to move on? The next SAT word is harbinger.

Quick Study Break: Where Did the Professor Earn His Degrees?

Native Man Regards Castaways as HARBINGERS of Doom

This man is performing voodoo on a Gilligan doll.
This man is performing voodoo on a Gilligan doll. | Source

HARBINGER - n. - someone or something that foreshadows

Sample Sentence Using Harbinger

Island natives regarded the castaways as harbingers of disaster.

Sample SAT Question Using Harbinger

Fill in the blanks.

Mr. Howell ________ that the economic trend was a __________ of robust profits.

(A) undulated, harbinger

(B) opined, harbinger

(C) rebuked, conundrum

(D) intimated, morass

The best choice is B. Mr. Howell opined (or expressed his opinion) that the economic trend was a harbinger of (foreshadowed) robust profits. As for the other choices:

  • Undulated means "moved in waves." Gilligan's hammock undulated with every snore.
  • Rebuked means "scolded." Hollywood might draw rebuke for its depictions of island natives.
  • A conundrum is a problem or puzzle. The professor studies SAT vocabulary as well as mathematical conundrums.
  • Intimated means "implied" or "made known indirectly." Mrs. Howell intimated that she'd had an impressive formal education.
  • A morass is a swampy bog or a situation that traps, confuses or impedes. Ginger admitted that she didn't miss the morass of Los Angeles traffic.

To finish, the fourth H word explored here is hedonist.


Thurston Howell, always ready to invest in luxury goods, packed tens of thousands of dollars for a three hour tour.
Thurston Howell, always ready to invest in luxury goods, packed tens of thousands of dollars for a three hour tour. | Source
Ginger Grant longs for manicures, massages and other spa treatments.
Ginger Grant longs for manicures, massages and other spa treatments.

HEDONIST - n. - a person devoted to personal pleasure and luxury

The adjective form is hedonistic. A hedonistic person indulges in sensual pleasures and believes that the pursuit of pleasure is the greatest good.

How to Use Hedonistic In a Sentence

  • Mrs. Howell appears more hedonistic than charitable; she has several mansions, dozens of servants and countless jewels.
  • Despite the scarcity of supplies on the island, Ginger hasn't abandoned the hedonistic tendencies she adopted in Hollywood.

Sample SAT Question Using Hedonist

Fill in the blank.

One element of _________ makes sense when you're stranded for life: whenever possible, find pleasure in the moment.

(A) hedonism

(B) calumny

(C) largess

(D) rancor

The best answer is A, hedonism. The reference to pleasure is a clue. Here are definitions for the other SAT words:

  • Calumny is an attempt to ruin a reputation by spreading untruths. Misunderstandings on Gilligan's Island were innocent, not the result of vicious calumny.
  • Largess is the generous bestowing of lavish gifts. As a wealthy Daughter of the American Revolution, Eunice Wentworth* expected largess from her suitors.
  • Rancor is deep and bitter resentment. You'll find plenty of rancor on today's reality shows but little or none on the upbeat Gilligan's Island.

*Eunice Wentworth is the maiden name of Mrs. Eunice "Lovey" Howell.

Good work with the H words! See the links for additional SAT practice or more Gilligan's Island... And if you like this lesson, please share it. :-)


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