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Confusing GRE Vocabulary Words—Hey, where’s the apostrophe?!?


Typically we would use this word with an apostrophe between the n and the t, as in—I can’t believe GRE vocabulary wouldn’t use the most familiar form of a word (tongue-in-cheek)?

Complicating things further, cant has several definitions. Let’s start with the most familiar.

1. (n) Hypocritical or insincere speech that is usually filled with platitudes.

Hardly the religious type from Monday to Saturday, Michael would return from church Sundays full of cant on how he would turn from his immoral ways.

2. (n) Talk of the underworld. Any speech particular to a group; jargon, argot.

3. (n) An angle or tilt. (v) to tilt or move suddenly.

4. (adj.) hearty and merry

This last definition is rare and comes to use by way of the Scottish highlands. It probably wouldn’t be tested on the GRE…but you never know.

Now try the practice problems below.

Devoid of any — and cant, Martin spoke sincerely and believed that those who spewed pious —- were usually trying to hide their own moral shortcomings.

(A) circumspection…invective

(B) affectation…platitudes

(C) motivation…convictions

(D) culpability…clichés

(E) charm…slogans


(A) remain upright

(B) to be oblivious to

(C) talk nonsensically

(D) behave morally

(E) evade successfully

Answers: (B, A)

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