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Don’t Get Caught! Know Your Secondary Definitions

Take a crack at the following antonym:


(A) inconspicuous

(B) stubborn

(C) consistent

(D) unheralded

(E) illegal

Hey, What’s the Deal?!?

The GRE has long been fond of testing words that have secondary meanings. Oftentimes, we encounter an antonym such as the one above, and we are stymied. None of the answer choices work, we may think. Perhaps we also wonder why the answers are all in a different part of speech.

Well, the good news is that the answer choices will always have the same part of speech. For instance, the answers above are all adjectives. And whatever part of speech the answer choices are, so too is the answer. Therefore, there will always be a consistency in parts of speech.

They Wouldn’t Do That!

A great way to determine if the material you are prepping with is second rate is to see if this consistency is lacking. Believe it or not, some test prep books (I won’t name any names) flub this fundamental rule of antonyms and analogies. Their error is patent, to say the least.

Speaking of patent—it does not relate to inventions. In the question above, patent is an adjective meaning glaringly obvious.

Mike’s patent abuse of other’s kindness left him bereft of any companionship.

Therefore, the answer to the antonym above is (A) inconspicuous. Inconspicuous means not obvious.

Remember Analogies

As alluded to a moment ago, consistent parts of speech also applies to analogies. Say you have the following:


In this case both words are adjectives. Therefore, every answer choice will also have two adjectives. By the way, the connection between these two word is PATENT is a greater degree of NOTICEABLE.

The bad news is the GRE vocabulary loves to use words with second, even third definitions. The good news is I will be posting more of these definitions soon. And if I forget, doing so will be a patent omission on my part (don’t worry–I’ll do my best to remember).

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

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