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SAT vocabulary: voluble

Vocab word "voluble" - Male talking on cell phone (Cartoon)
I just love jabbering away on the phone.


What does “voluble” mean?

Part of Speech: adjective

Pronunciations: IPA: /ˈval.yə.bəl/ Glossary-style: [VA-yuh-buhl]

Definition: having the ability to speak or talk easily; talkative; glib (Ex: a voluble salesperson). easily turning or rotating.

Example: During my time living in Rio de Janeiro, I noticed that people at the local markets tended to be much more voluble than the people in American supermarkets; in American supermarkets, for example, it would be considered somewhat unusual to comment on the quality of the oranges to anyone who happened to be nearby, whereas in Brazil, no one would think twice about the uninvited remark.

Discussion: If someone is voluble, she essentially talks freely and easily. Voluble people tend to be well-liked, as they have “the gift of gab”.

On a personal note, while living in Brazil, I noticed a definite difference in the volubility of Brazilians and Americans. Brazilians tend to talk much more than the Americans that I grew up with, and further, many Brazilians have commented to me that they find Americans much more reserved than Brazilians. I don’t mean to stereotype, and there are certainly many, many exceptions to these broad generalizations, and of course, all such observations are subjective. For example, while living in Brazil, many of my students and friends told me that I was fairly reserved, while the Russians, French, Eastern European, and Asian students and friends I’ve had have told me that I’m very outgoing and talkative, a quality I’ve frequently heard attributed to Americans by some. So, to use some good challenge vocabulary, some people call us Americans (and me specifically) voluble while others label us (and me) taciturn.

And don’t forget your mnemonics! (A good “mnemonic device” can help you learn vocabulary quickly.) To help you remember this word, you might think of turning up the “volume” of your music, which would make it louder. While a voluble person isn’t necessarily loud, she certainly would attract more attention.

A related point—yes, “voluble” and “volume” are etymologically related, both deriving ultimately from the Latin “volvere”, which means to turn.

By Erin Billy

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

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