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TOEFL Preparation: Lesson 2 - Disaster

Updated: Mar 16, 2022

Target Words

  1. anticipate

  2. catastrophic

  3. collide

  4. eruption

  5. famine

  6. flood

  7. impact

  8. persevere

  9. plunge

  10. unleash

Definitions and Samples

1. anticipate v. To expect; to sense something before it happens

By placing sensors in earthquake-prone areas, scientists can anticipate some tremors in time to warn the public.

Parts of speech: anticipation n, anticipatory adj

2. catastrophic adj. Extremely harmful; causing financial or physical ruin

The architect died in a catastrophic elevator accident.

Parts of speech: catastrophe n, catastrophically adv

3. collide v. To come together with great or violent force

As usual, their holiday was ruined when their in-laws’ views on politics collided with their own.

Parts of speech: collision n

4. eruption n. A sudden, often violent, outburst

The eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 caused 57 deaths and immeasurable change to the face of the mountain.

Usage tips Eruption is often followed by an of phrase.

Parts of speech: erupt v

5. famine n. Severe hunger; a drastic food shortage

The potato famine in Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century caused large numbers of Irish people to emigrate to America.

6. flood n. An overflowing of water; an excessive amount

The constant rain and poor drainage system caused a flood in town.

The political party sent out a flood of letters criticizing their opponents.

Parts of speech: flood v

7. impact n. A strong influence

The speech about the importance of education made an impact on me.

Usage tips: Impact is usually followed by on or of.

Parts of speech: impact v

8. persevere v. To keep going, despite obstacles or discouragement; to maintain a purpose

The hikers persevered despite the bad weather and the icy trail.

Parts of speech: persist v, persistent adj

9. plunge v. To go down suddenly; to decrease by a great amount in a short time

He jumped off the diving board and plunged into the pool.

The value of the company’s stock plunged after its chief executive was arrested.

Usage tips: Plunge is often followed by an into phrase.

Parts of speech: plunge n

10. unleash v. To release a thing or an emotion

When they saw the strange man on their property, they unleashed their dogs.

He is from such an unemotional family, he will never learn to unleash his feelings.


Find the word or phrase that is closest in meaning to the opposite of each word in the left-hand column. Write the letter in the blank.

  1. persevere (a) to pass by without hitting

  2. anticipate (b) to give up

  3. famine (c) to not see something coming

  4. collide (d) harmless

  5. catastrophic (e) excess of food


Circle the word that best completes each sentence.

1. Residents of Hawaii must accept the possibility of a volcanic (eruption / perseverance).

2. Years after the accident, she was finally able to (anticipate / unleash) her feelings of anger.

3. Houses along the river often face (famine / flooding) during the rainy season.

4. Many people think it is cruel to (collide / plunge) live lobsters into boiling water.

5. A well-written essay should make some kind of (catastrophe / impact) on its readers.

TOEFL Success

Read the passage to review the vocabulary you have learned.

Answer the questions that follow.

Nature challenges humans in many ways, through disease, weather, and famine. For those living along the coast, one unusual phenomenon capable of catastrophic destruction is the tsunami (pronounced “tsoo-NAH-mee”).

A tsunami is a series of waves generated in a body of water by an impulsive disturbance. Earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, explosions, and even the impact of meteorites can generate tsunamis.

Starting at sea, a tsunami slowly approaches land, growing in height and losing energy through bottom friction and turbulence. Still, just like any other water waves, tsunamis unleash tremendous energy as they plunge onto the shore. They have great erosion potential, stripping beaches of sand, undermining trees, and flooding hundreds of meters inland. They can easily crush cars, homes, vegetation, and anything they collide with.

To minimize the devastation of a tsunami, scientists are constantly trying to anticipate them more accurately and more quickly. Because many factors come together to produce a life-threatening tsunami, foreseeing them is not easy. Despite this, researchers in meteorology persevere in studying and predicting tsunami behavior.

1. Which sentence best expresses the essential information of this passage?

a. Tsunamis could become a new source of usable energy in the next hundred years.

b. Tsunamis do more damage to the land than flooding.

c. Tsunamis can have an especially catastrophic impact on coastal communities.

d. Scientists can predict and track tsunamis with a fair degree of accuracy, reducing their potential impact.

2. In the first sentence, why does the author mention weather?

a. because tsunamis are caused by bad weather

b. because tsunamis are more destructive than weather phenomena

c. as an example of a destructive natural force

d. as an introduction to the topic of coastal storms

Bonus Structure

'Despite this' means “even so; regardless.”

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