GRE on your TV


Shows from our childhood can teach us a lot... even GRE vocab!

or your bookshelf, or radio, or whatever. When it comes to remembering GRE words, it really helps to link them to something you know.

Here are just ten examples of GRE words showing up in shows, movies, or books that you might know. If you’re a visual or auditory learner, try searching for GRE words that are bugging you on YouTube to see if any helpful references come up!

It might be clear after working your way through this post that these references come from the perspective of a 30-something American woman. The references that come to mind for you might be completely different, but the sentiment remains the same “ link the words to things you know, and they’re likely to stick with you.

  1. Leery: If you’re the right age to remember Dawson’s Creek, you know that Dawson Leery was always worried about someone breaking his heart. To be leery means to be guarded or wary and not trust others. We knew you never should have trusted Joey, Dawson. She broke your heart.
  1. Wily: Why was Wile E. Coyote so darn obsessed with that roadrunner anyway? He certainly did try some clever, crafty, tricky, sneaky stuff. Maybe that’s how he got his name, since that’s what wily means.
  1. Plucky: If you’re between the ages of 25 and 35, you probably remember Plucky Duck from Tiny Toon Adventures. The word plucky means courageous, brave, and game for adventure “ and Plucky was perfectly all those things, always coming up with egotistical schemes where he tried to undertake some mammoth feat.
  1. Craven: In The Secret Garden, Master Craven is so afraid to face life after his wife dies that he locks up her garden, retreats from the world, and even avoids their ailing son at any cost. Perhaps he got his name because craven means spineless, timid, or fainthearted. Don’t worry “ he gets it together by the end of the book.

  1. Lampoon: Have you seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? Or National Lampoon’s Animal House? National Lampoon calls itself a humor company, because lampoon means to tease, satire, mock, or make fun of something.
  1. Labyrinth: Does the word labyrinth bring to mind images of David Bowie with spiky, effeminate hair? If so, you’re in luck, because you’ll never forget that the word labyrinth means maze. You can take that and link it to labyrinthine, which means complicated or convoluted, like a maze.
  1. Hector: Yes, hector is a verb that you’ll probably never use in normal life. Did you have to read The Iliad in high school? If so, you know Hector is giant, intimidating, mean and angry. He’s hectoring them, because hector means to bully or intimidate someone.
  1. Ruth: You can probably figure out the definition of ruth by knowing the definition of the more commonly used ruthless, which means merciless or empty of compassion or pity. Ruth, therefore, means pity, mercy, or compassion. Remember Ruth from Fried Green Tomatoes? If so, the definition comes right to mind. If not, know that Ruth is a wonderful and caring friend who is beaten by her husband and eventually dies, so it’s hard to feel anything but Ruth for her.
  1. Flotsam: Flotsam is the stuff that washes up on the shore after a shipwreck. Its broader definition is any junk (including people) that are considered worthless, in the way, or disposable. Flotsam and Jetsam, for Disney fans, were the names of the eels in The Little Mermaid. They floated alongside the movie’s villain, being mistreated or discarded all the time, like the flotsam and jetsam they are.
  1. Sally: If you’ve ever read or watched a Charlie Brown cartoon, you know that Sally is after Linus with an almost belligerent vehemence, whether jumping after him with kisses, leaping at him with a hug, or chasing him down and yelling after him. The noun sally means a sudden movement or a sudden attack. Maybe that’s how she got her name?

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