Pop Quiz: Pair the Pair

Jen Dziura —  October 6, 2010 — 1 Comment

pop quizPop Quiz!

Which two words below are SYNONYMS?

(Note: there are NO synonyms questions on the GRE, only antonyms. These pop quizzes use a variety of formats to get your brain to think about words in new ways).

EQUABLE
EQUIVOCAL
FETID
FECUND
AMBIVALENT
ENIGMATIC

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Three-Letter Words: Vie

Jen Dziura —  October 5, 2010 — Leave a comment

definitionSome 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.


To vie is to strive for victory. It is typically followed by for, as in:

Its star quarterback having made a full recovery, the team was more than ready to vie for the title.

Try a sample Antonyms problem:

VIE :
A. lose
B. vanquish
C. capitulate
D. truncate
E. weaken

Choose your own answer, then click Read More for the solution.

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knell ≠ knoll

Knell is often heard in the expression “death knell.” What is a death knell, exactly? It sounds awful! A knell is the sound of a bell being rung slowly, such as for a funeral. You can also use knell as a verb. “The bell knelled!” she yelled: we were late to the funeral!

A knoll, however, is a small, rounded hill. As in, the “grassy knoll” that was instrumental in the assassination of JFK. A synonym is for knoll is hillock.

Here is the grassy knoll on Elm Street in Dallas, Texas, where a witness claimed to have seen a man holding a gun prior to the shooting of President Kennedy.

It doesn’t sound like as good of a conspiracy theory if you call it a “grassy hillock.”

Three-Letter Words: Ken

Jen Dziura —  October 1, 2010 — Leave a comment

definitionSome 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.

Ken isn’t just Barbie’s boyfriend. Ken means knowledge, understanding, or perception. It often occurs in the expression “beyond my ken.”

Don’t confuse ken with kin, meaning family or relatives.

Choose your own answer before clicking “more”:

As a scholar of Chinese dynasties and governments, three thousand years of history was well within his ken; even those who criticized his conclusions had to admit that his ___________ was _____________.

A. legerdemain … arcane
B. erudition … estimable
C. pedantry … prodigious
D. perspicacity … wan
E. sagacity … tantamount

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gradation ≠ graduation

Graduation, of course, is what happens at the end of a course of study. Gradation, however, is any change or process taking place in stages, or gradually.

Something with gradations is gradated.

The dress showed a gentle gradation of color, beginning at the top with a robin’s egg blue and ending at the hem with a sea-foam green.

Some spelling bee manuals divide words into easy, medium, and difficult, but relative difficulty among spelling words is really far more gradated than those three categories would suggest.

pop quizPop Quiz!

Today’s quiz: one of these words is not like the others. Which word is not a synonym with the other five?

Make your decision, then click “more.”

INCIPIENT
NASCENT
DIDACTIC
FLEDGLING
NEOPHYTE
TYRO

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Visual Dictionary: Truss

Jen Dziura —  September 28, 2010 — Leave a comment

Welcome to Visual Dictionary, a series of posts about words that are better expressed in pictures.

This is a truss. It supports a roof.

This is also a truss. It supports the wearer’s back.

You get the idea. Let’s try an Antonyms problem!

TRUSS:
A. IMPLODE
B. UNBURDEN
C. DETERIORATE
D. UNBIND
E. UNTWIST

Choose your own answer, then click “more.”

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Three-Letter Words: Vim

Jen Dziura —  September 27, 2010 — Leave a comment

definitionSome 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.

Vim means “lively or energetic spirit; enthusiasm; vitality.”

Vim almost always appears in the phrase “vim and vigor,” and thus is an especially difficult word when seen alone. Incidentally, vigor is a synonym for vim, so the expression is a bit redundant and should be taken as expressing emphasis.

Choose your own answer before clicking “more”:

The first half of the day, she had been full of vim, but after four hours of Coach Weebly’s castigation, she started to _________.

A. despoil
B. flag
C. wax
D. mar
E. excise

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indignant ≠ indigent ≠ indigenous

Indignant means offended; feeling or expressing displeasure at something unjust or insulting.

Indigent means poor.

Indigenous means native, inherent, originating in and characteristic of a particular place.

Fill in each blank with one indignant, indigent, or indigenous, then click “more”:

The Native American leader said, “We are ________ that, due to persistent treaty violations and other acts of governmental abuse and neglect, so many of this nation’s ___________ people are tragically _________.”

The apparently ___________ man on the subway was ___________ that we didn’t donate money after his off-key rendition of “My Girl.”

I am in Borneo to study the ___________ flora and fauna.

While the so-called “wolf girl” had been seriously neglected in her childhood, she apparently possessed an ___________ intelligence and was later able to learn to communicate and solve complex problems.

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Visual Dictionary: Hatch

Jen Dziura —  September 23, 2010 — Leave a comment

Welcome to Visual Dictionary, a series of posts about words that are better expressed in pictures.

If you saw an Analogies problem that read HATCH : SEWER, there would be many reasons to be confused.

If you were thinking of a chicken hatching from an egg and a sewer in the sense of a tailor or seamstress, you might just walk right out of the GRE and down to the local pub to tell a sympathetic bartender your tale of verbal woe.

But if you glanced down at the answer choices in such a problem, you’d see that the first word in each choice is a noun, and that HATCH here must also be a noun. SEWER here means “the place your toilet water goes,” and also where the Joker lived in the Batman saga.

This is a hatch. A hatch is an opening, such as in a ship, aircraft, roof, or floor.

A good relationship sentence for HATCH : SEWER would be, of course, “A HATCH is an entrance/opening to a SEWER” or “A 1 is an entrance/opening to a 2.”  (A “sewer hatch” is the thing most of us would call a “manhole cover”).

Let’s try the entire problem.

HATCH : SEWER ::
A. LOBBY : BUILDING
B. SASH : WINDOW
C. DOOR : ENTRANCE
D. MOUTH : CAVE
E. INCISION : SURGERY

Choose an answer on your own, then click “more.”

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