With the Occupy Protest in full swing across the nation, and in many parts of the world, many are clearly upset with their respective governing bodies. Impassioned speeches are hardly unprecedented; indeed, the 20th Century is rife with citizen protests – from Vietnam to Civil Rights, to the fractious, and oftentimes violent, anti-abortion protests.
Indeed, throughout the ages, people have expressed their outrage against the government or some other form of political power. The word philippic harkens back to ancient Greece and the orator Demosthenes, who denounced the wanton power abuses of the Macedonian king Phillip II.
While the content has differed, the tone and tenor of angry speeches have remained the same. Below are GRE words that more or less mean to stand on a soapbox, and rail against some perceived injustice.
The verb form of invective, at least in a loose sense, is inveigh. This word popped up a lot on the old GRE, because it was easily confused with inveigle, which means to coax. Both words are still good to know for the New GRE. It’s used to describe harsh, critical language.
A diatribe is a strong verbal attack against someone or something. The victim of a diatribe is typically some organization, whether it be the FDA, the government, or, in this case, Wall Street. It is understood that the person unleashing the diatribe is angry.
Screed takes on a more negative connotation, and suggests an abusive rant that has since become tedious and hackneyed. Currently, the Occupy movements have hardly devolved into screeds, and may even intensify, if protestors feel their various demands have not been met. However, if the protest fizzles out months from now, except for the lone dude in the park, gesticulating at a passel of pigeons …well, he is very likely launching into a screed.
A tirade is an angry speech, one that suggests the person giving the tirade has become a little too angry, and should probably dismount the soapbox.
Harangue can be either a noun or a verb. It is a synonym of tirade and diatribe. Lest someone harangue you for botched phonetics, the pronunciation of this word can be a bit tricky. Harangue rhymes with twang, rang, and, for the dessert inclined, meringue.
This word is fun to say. Vituperating someone is neither fun for the ‘vituperater’ nor the ‘vituperatee.’ When you vituperate somebody, or something, you violently launch into an invective or tirade. Spit lassoes out of your mouth, froth forming at your lips. Understandably, vituperate is only used in extreme cases.