Archives For GRE Strategies

Three-Letter Words: Pan

Jen Dziura —  August 16, 2010 — Leave a comment

Text book word close-upSome of the most perplexing words on the GRE are diminutive. Who doesn’t see PAN : REVIEW and metaphorically scratch his or her head, or wonder what, exactly, a nib or a gin is on its own? Welcome to Three-Letter Words. A few of them might make you want to deploy some four-letter words.

Pan? Today’s word is pan? Yep. Dictionary.com gives no fewer than eighteen definitions of the word pan, many of them describing different types of containers. However, if you saw an Antonyms or Analogies problem and scanned the answers to discover that pan were being used as a verb, you’d want to know that the word can mean “criticize severely.”

Pan is often used, in both noun and verb form, in reference to reviews of artistic performances:

The movie was so bad, even “Stoners Monthly” panned it as a waste of time.

Her debut film, “Sisterhood of the Contagious Acne,” received far more pans than plaudits, but of course the distributors picked out the few good quotes for the DVD box.

Try a sample Antonyms problem:

PAN :
A. laud
B. deplore
C. implore
D. console
E. rue

Choose your own answer, then click “more for the solution.

Continue Reading…

Indemnity is “protection or security against damage or loss.” According to the Wikipedia entry for the 1944 film Double Indemnity:

double indemnityThe story was based on a 1927 crime perpetrated by a married Queens woman and her lover. Ruth Snyder persuaded her boyfriend, Judd Gray, to kill her husband Albert after having her spouse take out a big insurance policy”with a double-indemnity clause. The murderers were quickly identified and arrested.

The term double indemnity refers to a clause in certain life insurance policies where the insuring company agrees to pay twice the standard amount in cases of accidental death.

Some other GRE words related to money include:

Let’s try some example sentences:

Benicio’s recent securities acquisition more than doubled his portfolio; his boss liked to say that, while his portfolio accrued value, Benicio himself was also accruing acclaim.

According to the IRS, “a taxpayer may elect to amortize start-up expenditures (as defined in section 195(c)(1)). A taxpayer who elects to amortize start-up expenditures must, at the time of the election, select an amortization period of not less than 60 months.”

If the bank has a lien against your house, your mortgage agreement may require you to indemnify the property against damage.

While virtually all accounting is now done on computers, accountants can still go to jail for falsifying ledgers, especially to cover up their own or executives’ sybaritic lifestyles, as funded by stockholders: no one adds your company’s stock to his portfolio in order to pay for your massage-and-bourbon habit.

ingenuous ≠ ingenious

The GRE loves to use words that people tend to mistake for other words. Ingenuous means candid, open, unrestrained, naive. A good synonym is artless (another confusing word — artless means lacking artifice, not lacking works of art).

Ingenious, of course, means characterized by cleverness or ingenuity. A person is a genius; his or her work is ingenious.

The quack made a career out of bilking vulnerable seniors by setting up tables at the mall and performing fake medical tests, thus convincing people to pay for his “cures.” You could say he was ingeniously disingenuous.

Arrid is a deodorant. Nexxus is a line of hair-care products. What they have in common is that each of them has added an extra letter to a GRE vocabulary word, probably to make the name easier to legally protect.

Arid means dry, barren, sterile. Arrid will make your armpits arid.

A nexus is a core, center, or means of connection.
Nexxus will make your hair pretty.

Next time I start a product line, I’m going to call it Granddddiloquent.

Spells in Harry Potter

Jen Dziura —  August 10, 2010 — 6 Comments

The Harry Potter series mentions sundry magic spells to perform such multifarious tasks as disarming one’s opponent, enlarging teeth, splitting seams, and turning small objects into birds. These spells also contain Latin roots that are reminiscent of myriad GRE vocabulary words!

Duro makes an object hard. You probably already know durable, but how about obdurate and duress?

Evanesco is a vanishing spell. Something that is evanescent doesn’t last long.

Expecto patronum creates a “patronus,” or protector. This comes from the Latin word for father, which gives us patriotic, as well as patronize, patronage, and patrician.

Fidelius is a secret-keeping spell, related to fidelity and infidel.

Wingardium leviosa is related to levitate and leaven, but also levity, a more metaphorical sense of lightness.

Incendio produces fire. Incendiary can be a noun (something that causes fire, such as a stick of dynamite or the person using it) or an adjective, and as an adjective it can mean either literally causing fire or metaphorically heating things up, as in, “Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense was viewed as incendiary by British Loyalists.”