TOEFL IBT – Anthropology

Vocabulary is promordial in order to improve your TOEFL score. Remember, Preparation is the key to succeed !

This vocabulary will be useful if you ever take an anthropology course in school, for having an educated discussion with a friend, or especially for any number of English language exams you may take. Here we will look at the most commonly used words in the field, along with their French translations.


the study of humankind in all times and places

It is a natural-history, anthropology-based exhibition.



the study of human cultures through the recovery and analysis of remains and environmental data

Archaeology will tell us how the Ancient Greeks would bury their dead.


cultural relativism

the idea that one must suspend judgment of other people’s practices in order to understand them

Cultural relativism was not invented by an Asian country.

le relativisme culturel


a society’s shared and socially transmitted ideas, values, and perceptions, which are used to make sense of experience and generate behavior

In Mexico, polling isn’t part of the culture.

la culture


an assertion of opinion or belief formally handed down by an authority as true and indisputable

Christian doctrine teaches the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one god.

la doctrine


based on observations of the world rather than on intuition or faith

There is little empirical evidence of that.



the process by which a society’s culture is passed on from one generation to the next and individuals become members of their society

Enculturation can result in the acquisition of the language, values, and rituals of a certain culture.


ethnic group

people who collectively and publicly identify themselves as a distinct group based on cultural features such as common origin, language, customs, and traditional beliefs

Only certain ethnic groups live in this area of Chicago.

le groupe ethnique


the expression of the set of cultural ideas held by an ethnic group

Employers are not allowed to hire based on ethnicity.



the belief that the ways of one’s own culture are the only proper ones

She wrote her thesis on ethnocentrism.



a detailed description of a particular culture primarily based on fieldwork

One of the courses I need to take next semester will be about ethnography.



the term anthropologists use for on-location research

I was asked to compete some fieldwork with my anthropology professor.

la recherche sur le terrain


the cultural elaborations and meanings assigned to the biological differentiation between the sexes

The word “gender” is often confused with “sex.”

le sexe


worldwide interconnectedness, evidenced in global movements of natural resources, trade goods, human labor, finance capital, information, and infectious diseases

Globalization continues to grow around the world.

la globalisation


a tentative explanation of the relationships between certain phenomena

I have a hypothesis as to why that happens.



the economic foundation of a society, including its subsistence practices and the tools and other material equipment used to make a living

They need a new plan to cover the cost of their infrastructure.



a system of communication using sounds or gestures that are put together in meaningful ways according to a set of rules

One by one, they requested interviews in every language imaginable.

la langue

participant observation

in ethnography, the technique of learning a people’s culture through social participation and personal observation within the community being studied, as well as interviews and discussion with individual members of the group over an extended period of time

One of the techniques I used to gather this information was participant observation.

l’observation participante

pluralistic society

a society in which two or more ethnic groups or nationalities are politically organized into one territorial state but maintain their cultural differences

America has been a pluralistic society for as long as I can remember.

la société pluraliste

qualitative data

non-statistical information such as personal life stories and customary beliefs and practices

This qualitative data will provide us with more information for the experiment.

les données qualitatives

quantitative data

statistical or measurable information, such as demographic composition, the types and quantities of crops grown, or the ratio of spouses born and raised within or outside the community

A thorough experiment will include both qualitative and quantitative data.

les données quantitatives


an organized group or groups of interdependent people who generally share a common territory, language, and culture and who act together for collective survival and well-being

It seems that one day we will be a cashless society.

la société


a mark, sound, gesture, motion, or other sign that is arbitrarily linked to something else and represents it in a meaningful way

The president is the symbol of the national government.



in science, an explanation of natural phenomena, supported by a reliable body of data

The theory of the Big Bang is widely believed amongst scientists today.

la théorie

writing system

a set of visible or tactile signs used to represent units of language in a systematic way

The Korean writing system is more phonetic than the Chinese one.

le système d’écriture

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