Manhattan Prep GRE Blog

Visual Dictionary: Hatch

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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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Vocab at the Movies: Sleeping Beauty

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maleficentIn Disney’s 1959 film Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora’s main nemesis is the evil Maleficent, whose imprecation is the impetus for the film’s plot.

Maleficent, of course, is an adjective meaning evil, malicious, and a near-synonym of malevolent. Angry at having not been invited to baby Aurora’s christening, Maleficent curses Aurora — that is, places a malediction on her — to “prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die” on her sixteenth birthday.

Of course, it all works out fine when Aurora’s inamorato defeats Maleficent, with the help of some beneficent fairies.

Maleficent’s pet raven is named Diablo. Diablo is the Spanish word for devil, and is of course related to the word diabolical.

Pop Quiz: Six Words, Two Groups

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pop quizPop Quiz!

The following six words can be grouped by meaning into two categories.

Mentally place them into two synonym groups, then click “more.”

CASTIGATE
TRUNCATE
CHIDE
UPBRAID
ABRIDGE
DIGEST

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Visual Dictionary: Conflagration

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

Conflagration

A conflagration is a fire, especially an extensive one, such as a forest fire.

Conflagration comes from the same root as flagrant, which means obvious in a bad way, glaring, scandalous. As in, “burningly” terrible.

Conflagration also shares a root with the Latin expression “in flagrante delicto,” meaning “red-handed,” or “in the middle of committing a crime.”

Choose your own answer before clicking “more.”

CAMPFIRE : CONFLAGRATION ::
A. drip : reservoir
B. pamphlet : tome
C. mansion : shack
D. hydrant : truck
E. cup : pitcher

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Pop Quiz: The Life of the Party

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pop quizPop Quiz!

If I told you that my friend Javier is “the life of the party,” which words would be appropriate to apply to him based only on the information I told you?

Make your choices, then click “more.”

CONVIVIAL
POMPOUS
TACITURN
VACILLATING
GENIAL
HETEROGENEOUS

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Brand Name Vocab: Hale and Hearty

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Hale means healthy, vigorous, robust. As in, You’re looking hale today.

Hearty has nine different definitions, according to Random House Dictionary:

    1. warm-hearted; affectionate; cordial; jovial: a hearty welcome.
    2. genuine; sincere; heartfelt: hearty approval; hearty dislike.
    3. completely devoted; wholehearted: hearty support.
    4. exuberant; unrestrained: hearty laughter.
    5. violent; forceful: a hearty push; a hearty kick.
    6. physically vigorous; strong and well: hale and hearty.
    7. substantial; abundant; nourishing: a hearty meal.
    8. enjoying or requiring abundant food: a hearty appetite.
    9. (of soil) fertile.

It seems #7 is the definition most suitable to the New York City soup chain whose logo appears above.

Of course, hearty is easily confused with hardy, which means sturdy, strong, courageous, vigorous, or capable of enduring hardship, and which appears — quite deliberately, I’m sure — in the name of The Hardy Boys, stars of a series of adventure novels that first appeared in 1927, and in that of The Hardy Boyz, a WWE pro wrestling tag team.

Vocab at the Movies: Pulp Fiction

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Admittedly, Pulp Fiction is not the best of movies to mine for GRE vocabulary. The preponderance of the dialogue goes like this:

pulp fiction[Vincent and Jules are cleaning the inside of a car that is covered in blood]

Jules: Oh, man, I will never forgive your *** for this ***. This is some *** repugnant ***.

Vincent: Jules, did you ever hear the philosophy that once a man admits that he’s wrong that he is immediately forgiven for all wrongdoings? Have you ever heard that?

Jules: Get the *** out my face with that ***! The *** that said that *** never had to pick up itty-bitty pieces of skull on account of your dumb ***.

Repugnant means distasteful or offensive. Having to pick up “itty-bitty pieces of skull” from the back of a car could also be described as revulsive, loathsome, odious, or noisome (noisome, interestingly, isn’t really about “noise”).

Also in Pulp Fiction, Samuel L. Jackson’s character Jules says:

There’s a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.”

This is whence I originally learned the word iniquity (in 1994!)

Iniquity is wickedness; don’t confuse it with inequity, which is inequality or unfairness.

Visual Dictionary: Lugubrious

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

Hey, little Timmy! Don’t be so lugubrious.

Yep, lugubrious means sad, dismal, or mournful. Some near-synonyms are doleful, morose, and saturnine.

If Timmy were mostly thoughtful, but in a somewhat sad way, he’d be pensive.

If he were pitiable, or expressing pity for someone else, he’d be rueful.

Let’s try a sample problem.

SAD : LUGUBRIOUS ::
A. APATHETIC : DISINTERESTED
B. PLEASED : EBULLIENT
C. DISTRESSED : SARDONIC
D. JOCULAR : CRUEL
E. INTREPID : CRAVEN

Choose your own answer, then click “more.”

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Pop Quiz: Find the Antonyms

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pop quizPop Quiz!

Which two words below are antonyms?

COMPLAISANT
CONSANGUINEOUS
PLACID
INTRACTABLE
INTREPID
COMPLACENT

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Three-Letter Words: Lax

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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.


Lax is an easy one. If you’ve got relax, you can guess what lax means (loose, slack, careless, negligent, vague).

Her morals may have been lax, but no one was prepared for the overlaxness of her parenting skills: not only did she keep quiet as her children picked their noses, she didn’t even intervene when they picked each other’s noses.

Try a sample Sentence Completion problem:

Accustomed to a manager so lax that he allowed everyone to come to work in cutoffs and leave whenever the weather was nice, the employees were __________ at the _________ of their authoritarian new boss’s regime.

A. ebullient … uptight
B. shocked … pedagogy
C. aghast … asperity
D. intrepid … harshness
E. enervated … strictness

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

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