TOEFL IBT – History

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 a history course in school, for expanding your English vocabulary, 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 upper part of a town

The climb to the acropolis summit is literally and figuratively breathtaking.



a building material composed of sandy clay and straw which can be cast into bricks or shaped directly into walls using wooden frames

Later, the pit structures evolved into rooms with adobe walls.



the belief that the existence of God is unknowable

When I started out my career, I was an agnostic.



a central area in Greek cities used both as a marketplace and as a meeting place

The new excavation has uncovered the agora’s northern gate.



one who believes in the absence of government or law

I’m a conservative, not an anarchist.



one who does not believe in the existence of any god or divine being

There are no atheists on the program, only strict believers.



the Parisian political prison that was stormed on July 14, 1789, by city workers alarmed by the king’s concentration of troops at Versailles

During the 16th century the area around the Bastille developed further.

la Bastille


the book that contains the writings or scriptures that Christians recognize as the written word of God

Bibles are available in large print for those with impaired vision.

la bible


the middle class, including merchants, industrialists, and professional people

The bourgeoisie of Africa are the most corrupt in the world.

la bourgeoisie


the teaching of Buddha that life is permeated with suffering caused by desire and that suffering ceases when desire ceases

Buddhism is the majority religion, and they are very sensitive.

le bouddhisme

caste system

traditional division of Hindu society into various categories

Stories of the individual tragedies of India’s caste system are not rare.

le système des castes


a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament

Halloween has roots both in Northern European paganism and in Christianity.

le christianisme


a member of a state or nation who owes allegiance to it by birth or naturalization and is entitled to full civil rights

Non-citizens are not accorded equal economic and political rights.

le citoyen/la citoyenne

civil war

conflict between opposing groups of citizens of the same country

The last reference was to a civil war in West Africa.

la guerre civile

Cold War

a conflict that was between the US and the Soviet Union

India was close to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

la guerre froide


group of people who settle in a distant land but are still ruled by the government of their native land

There are 13 stripes on the American flag, one for each of the original colonies.

la colonie


a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state

And the collapse of communism has opened Russia and Eastern Europe.

le communisme

the Constitution

formal document written in 1787 that explained the structure of the government of the United States and how power would be distributed

Presidents have no direct role in changing the Constitution.

la Constitution

the Crusades

a series of military expeditions in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries held by Western European Christians to reclaim control of the Holy Lands from the Muslims

One Muslim leader called for the pope to apologize for the Crusades.

les croisades


a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them

An open democracy would be a rarity in the Arab world.

la démocratie


political leader who rules a country with absolute power, usually by force

We’re not interested in negotiating with dictators.

le dictateur/la dictatrice


a powerful family or group of rulers that maintains its position or power for some time

They date from the Timurid dynasty.

la dynastie


a political system in which nobles are granted the use of lands that legally belong to their king, in exchange for their loyalty, military service, and protection of the people who live on the land

Only by then it was too late; feudalism was over.

la féodalité

the Great Depression

the economic crisis and period of low business activity in the US and other countries, from 1929 through the 1930s

The Great Depression was underway and all the economic indicators pointed downward.

la Grande Dépression


the elimination of Jews, non-conformists, homosexuals, non-Aryans, and the mentally and physically disabled that took place in Germany from 1941 to 1945

I’m the son of a Holocaust survivor.



plantation owned by the Spanish settlers or the Catholic Church in Spanish America

Rustic haciendas and convents dot the outlying areas to the east.



a body of religious and philosophical beliefs and cultural practices native to India and characterized by a belief in reincarnation and a supreme being of many forms and natures

The Buddhist protesters say their religion has no links with Hinduism.



the discipline that records and interprets past events involving human beings

As much as anything, they are drawn to the history.


Ice Age

period of time when huge sheets of ice covered much of the earth’s land

During the Ice Age, it was wetter and full of deep lakes.

la période glaciaire


a policy in which a strong nation seeks to dominate other countries politically, socially, and economically

In the end, 19th-century imperialism was a diversion.



selling of forgiveness by the Catholic Church that led to the Reformation

The sale of indulgences motivated Martin Luther to begin the Reformation.

les indulgences

Industrial Revolution

the change from an agricultural to an industrial society and from home manufacturing to factory production, especially the one that took place in England from about 1750 to 1850

The Industrial Revolution created a demand for metal parts used in machinery.

la Révolution industrielle


the monotheistic religion of Muslims founded in Arabia in the 7th century and based on the teachings of Muhammad

Islam and the Revolution have envisioned far greater opportunities for women.



one of the oldest monotheistic faiths with the Torah as its biblical text

Fern has renounced Judaism and turned to new-age feminism.

le judaïsme


a monarchy with a king or queen as head of state

He did not preach a new kingdom or a coming judgment.

le royaume


the sacred writings of Islam revealed by God to the prophet Muhammad during his life at Mecca and Medina

The God of the Quran is merciful, peaceful, and good.

le Coran

Magna Carta

a document that was signed by King John of England in 1215 and is the cornerstone of English justice and law

Certainly the Magna Carta rights are a cornerstone of the American Constitution.

la Grande Charte


a term that historians of Europe use for the period roughly 500 to 1500

One resembled a medieval princess, another a cocky sailor girl.



move from one country or region to another and settle there

Within their habitat, turkeys migrate with the availability of food.

se déplacer


someone sent on a religious or charitable mission to a foreign country

As with any first missionary, more were bound to come.

le/la missionnaire


founder of Islam; regarded by Muslims as a prophet of God

The Prophet Mohammed supposedly never tidied his beard.



autocracy in which a king, queen, or emperor exercises supreme powers of government

The monarchy, therefore, has always seemed a bit inappropriate.

la monarchie


political ideology that stresses people’s membership in a nation

In some cases, religion has become an expression of nationalism.

le nationalisme

natural rights

the idea that all humans are born with rights, which include the right to life, liberty, and property

Only by claiming them as natural rights could they be secured.

les droits naturels


a member of a people who have no permanent home but move about according to the seasons

Oases and plants bloomed, and nomads moved in with cattle.

le/la nomade


father and ruler of a family or tribe; highly respected old man

Ancient omens cloud the lives of Old Testament patriarchs and matriarchs.

le patriarche


the love of one’s country; the passion that inspires a person to serve his or her country

Patriotism has been confused as obedience to a handful of officials.

le patriotisme


the bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church

For me, it is clear that the pope respects Buddhism.

le pape


Jewish religious teacher; leader of a Jewish congregation

If you need help, see a priest or a rabbi.

le rabbin

the Reformation

a movement to improve the Roman Catholic Church begun by Martin Luther

The Norwegian church became a branch of Lutheranism during the Reformation.

la Réforme

the Renaissance

the great period of rebirth in art, literature, and learning in the 14th-16th centuries, which marked the transition into the modern periods of European history

Lorenzo de Medici shows the influence of Florence on the Renaissance.

la Renaissance


a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them

Today, radicals again are threatening the stability of our republic.

la république


a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole

Some people were sure he would lead us peacefully to socialism.

le socialisme


nation with enough military, political, and economic strength to influence events in many areas around the globe

We are the superpower and people don’t like that.

la superpuissance


characterized by a government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control

To do that we would have to go back to totalitarian rule.



a perfect world, or paradise

For young Republicans, Washington will be viewed as a utopia.


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