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SAT vocabulary: uncanny

What does uncanny mean? Well, it’s something spooky for sure!

Quick Vocab Quiz for the word uncanny

First, before you read the explanation, definition, and discussion of the word uncanny, try this quick vocab quiz:

uncanny most nearly means

(A) stout (B) stable (C) strange (D) stuck (E) staged

(Answer is below.)

Part of Speech: ADJECTIVE

Pronunciations: IPA: /ən.ˈkæ.ni/ Glossary-style: [uhn-KAH-nee]

Definition: supernatural or inexplicable (Ex: tales of the uncanny); mysterious, eerie. greater than what is ordinary or natural; extraordinary (Ex: an uncanny ability to choose good stocks to buy).

Example: Victor was fascinated by all things uncanny—he watched television programs about UFOs, aliens, monsters, and ghosts and read voraciously on these subjects as well.

Discussion: uncanny is a great word. Yes, I say that about all words, and in a sense, all words are great. We can use uncanny to refer to unusual, mysterious, or inexplicable phenomena, events, entities, beings, and the like, even if they do not truly exist or occur. When we think of uncanny things, we often think of ghosts, haunted houses, poltergeists, stigmata, and all manner of supernatural beings such as vampires and werewolves.

We can also use the word uncanny to refer to an ability, talent, or occurence that is so unusual or unexpected as to appear to be supernatural. For example, if you know someone who tends to make accurate predictions, you could say that she has an uncanny ability. Or if someone looks very much like someone else, we could say something like, “Wow, you bear an uncanny resemblance to my brother.”

By the way, the word canny, another great word (that means shrewd or clever) is not related to the word uncanny, even though it would seem that they are.

Answer to the quick quiz above:

Answer Click Here to Show the Answer!

By Erin Billy

Founder of TestMagic, Inc. in San Francisco, USA.

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