Archives For GRE Strategies

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.”

Torrid means burningly, scorchingly hot, like the Sahara, or like a summer trip to Israel that your parents send you on as a teenager. The word also means ardent or passionate.

Torrid is a line of young, hip clothing for plus-size women.

The company’s name means “really hot.” Makes sense!

The word “torrid” is often used in expressions such as “a torrid romance” or “a torrid affair.”

A quick Google search brought up several companies that also use the word “torrid” in their names: Torrid Marine (“the most trusted name in marine water heaters”),
Torrid Oven (yep, they sell ovens, all right), and Torrid Romance, where, by sending in “nearly thirty personalized details,” you can obtain a personalized romance novel “that features you and your lover as the hero and heroine.”

Torrid indeed!

Welcome to Vocab in the Classics. Here we look at selections from Washington Irving’s short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Today we learn more about Ichabod Crane, protagonist of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

His appearance, therefore, is apt to occasion some little stir at the tea-table of a farmhouse, and the addition of a supernumerary dish of cakes or sweetmeats, or, peradventure, the parade of a silver teapot…. From his half-itinerant life, also, he was a kind of travelling gazette, carrying the whole budget of local gossip from house to house, so that his appearance was always greeted with satisfaction. He was, moreover, esteemed by the women as a man of great erudition, for he had read several books quite through, and was a perfect master of Cotton Mather’s “History of New England Witchcraft,” in which, by the way, he most firmly and potently believed.

Manhattan GRE’s blog is written by one of our real-live GRE instructors. She teaches in New York. To learn about Manhattan GRE’s classes, go here. To suggest a word or topic for the blog, email Thanks to adult spelling bee champ David Riddle for suggesting and providing content for this post.