400 Must Have Words for the TOEFL » LESSON 21 - Wealth and Social Class

Word List
  • accumulate [əˈkjuːmjəleɪt] v.
    To build up a large amount of something
    Over several generations, the Hardington family accumulated vast wealth by buying and selling land.
    Parts of speech     accumulation n.
  • affluence [ˈæfluəns] n.
    Wealth and the style of life that goes with it
    Mohadzir grew up amid affluence, which poorly prepared him for his grad student days in crowded apartments with no servants.
    Parts of speech     affluent adj.
  • elite [eiˈliːt] adj.
    Belonging to a special, honored group
    Messner is an elite climber who recently ascended an 8,000-meter mountain without extra oxygen.
    Parts of speech     elite n., elitist adj.
  • impoverish [ɪmˈpɒvərɪʃ] v.
    To make a person or group poor
    The collapse of the steel industry impoverished several counties in eastern Ohio.
    Parts of speech     impoverishment n.
  • luxury [ˈlʌkʃərɪ] n.
    Extreme comfort, beyond what anyone needs
    Automakers try to give their cars an image of luxury by including extras like heated seats and satellite tracking systems.
    Parts of speech     luxuriate v., luxurious adj.
  • nobility [nouˈbɪlɪtɪ] n.
    A group of socially prominent people with special titles given by a king or queen, such as “duke”or “countess”
    In the Middle Ages, the nobility supposedly followed a code that required them to take care of poorer people who lived near their estates.
    Usage tips     Nobility is used as a name for a group of distinguished people; it can also mean “a highly dignified form of behavior.”
    Parts of speech     noble n., noble adj.
  • prestige [presˈtiːʒ] n.
    Honor and respect for being better than the average
    The Grassleys enjoyed the prestige of living in the historic town, but they did not feel at home there.
    Parts of speech     prestigious adj.
  • privileged [ˈprɪvɪlɪdʒd] adj.
    Able to enjoy special advantages because of one’s position (usually because of being born into a wealthy or powerful family)
    Despite his privileged position in one of America’s most powerful families, the politician tried to portray himself as an ordinary person.
    Parts of speech     privilege n.
  • prosper [ˈprɒspər] v.
    To do very well in one’s business or personal life
    Vargas prospered after finally patenting his new inventions.
    Usage tips     A person can prosper; so can a group, a company, or an area.
    Parts of speech     prosperity n., prosperous adj.
  • working class [ˈwərkɪŋ ˈˌklæs] n.
    People with low-paying (often unskilled) jobs who are not poor but who are not securely in the middle class
    The Farrelly family, like other members of the working class, were proud of their jobs and did not want any handouts from charity or the government.

TOEFL Prep I Find the word or phrase that is closest in meaning to each word in the left-hand column. Write the letter in the blank. Note: Many words in this chapter are similar in meaning. Pay careful attention to small differences in meaning.

______ 1. impoverish(a) enjoying special advantages
______ 2. elite(b) to succeed
______ 3. prosper(c) to make extremely poor
______ 4. accumulate(d) belonging to a small group with excellent achievements
______ 5. privileged(e) build up wealth

TOEFL Prep II Complete each sentence by filling in the blank with the best word or phrase from the list. Change the form of the word if necessary. Use each word only once.

  • affluence
  • luxury
  • nobility
  • prestige
  • working class
  1. The __________ in the hotel was obvious from such features as solid gold faucets and stairs made of Italian marble.
  2. In a show of his extreme __________, Jim Lavich flew 1,500 people to the Bahamas for his wife’s birthday party and ordered 300 casks of wine for them to drink.
  3. The oldest and most respected furniture maker in western Michigan, VanEden Inc., earned its __________ by using good materials and listening to its customers.
  4. France’s __________ was dismantled after the royal family was killed and lesser aristocrats were jailed during the revolution.
  5. In the United States, many __________ families do not have health insurance because their employers don’t offer it.
Answer Key
TOEFL Prep I
  1. c
  2. d
  3. b
  4. e
  5. a
TOEFL Prep II
  1. luxury
  2. affluence
  3. prestige
  4. nobility
  5. working class
Answer Key

TOEFL Success Read the passage to review the vocabulary you have learned. Answer the questions that follow.

The United States is not the land of equal opportunity. There are no titles of nobility as in Europe, but astounding affluence is passed on in privileged families, and this makes all the difference. Studies in the 1970s found that a child of the elite and a child of the working class may start out with similar intelligence and drive, but the rich child is about 30 times more likely to prosper.The rich child goes to high-prestige schools, where his or her education may be only slightly above average, but where the child accumulates friendships with future leaders. The privileged child becomes comfortable with luxury and is at ease in situations where powerful people meet.The working-class child from a less-prestigious college is not likely to wind up impoverished, but neither is he or she likely to attend many parties of Yale orVassar alumni.

Bonus StructureThe reference to studies in the 1970s indicates some objective evidence for the author’s point.

  1. Which sentence best expresses the essential information of this passage?
    • a. The American economy is unfair and must be changed.
    • b. Rich people have natural advantages in education and social contacts that help them succeed.
    • c. Children accept one another as friends; only later in life do differences of wealth drive them apart.
    • d. The only way to make money in America is to work and accumulate it yourself.
  2. Why does the author of this reading mention Yale and Vassar?
    • a. They are elite schools attended by many future leaders.
    • b. They are where government officials have secret meetings.
    • c. They try to give working-class children a chance they can’t get at other schools.
    • d. Their high fees impoverish working-class children.
Answer Key
Answer Key
  1. b
  2. a
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