In a recent post, I mentioned the importance of identifying part of speech on a verbal question. Doing so will help you determine whether the question is testing the secondary meaning of any of the words.
Now it’s time to talk about some of the most common secondary meanings in GRE vocabulary.
Tender is a verb, and it does not mean to behave tenderly. When you tender, something you offer it up. For instance, when you tender your resignation, you hand in a piece of paper saying that you are resigning.
Just as tender doesn’t relate to two people in love, neither does intimate, at least on the GRE. The secondary meaning for intimate is to suggest something subtly.
Wanting means lacking. So, if your knowledge of secondary meanings is wanting, this post is a perfect place to start learning.
Another secondary meaning that changes parts of speech, becoming an adjective. If something is becoming, it matches nicely.
Her dress was becoming and made her look even more beautiful.
The secondary meaning for start is somewhat similar to the common meaning. To start is to suddenly move or dart in a particular direction.
If you are thinking Mary Had a Little Lamb (…fleece as white as snow), you have been fleeced by a secondary meaning. To fleece is to deceive.
If something is telling, it is significant and stands out.
Her unbecoming dress was very telling when it came to her sense of fashion.
Melting wax will only lead you astray. The secondary meaning for wax is to increase. The opposite of wax is to wane.
To check is to limit, and is usually used to modify the growth of something.
When government abuses are not kept in check, a ruling body is likely to become autocratic.
This is perhaps the most commonly confused secondary meaning and the one that is most important to learn for the GRE. To qualify is to limit, and is usually used in the context of a statement or an opinion.
I love San Francisco.
I love San Francisco, but it is always windy.
The first statement shows my unqualified love for San Francisco. In the second statement I qualify, or limit, my love for San Francisco.
In the context of the GRE, the concept of qualification is usually found in the reading comprehension passage. For example, an author usually expresses qualified approval or some qualified opinion in the passage. As you may have noticed, the authors of reading comprehension passages never feel 100% about something. They always think in a nuanced fashion. Therefore, they are unlikely to be gung-ho or downright contemptuous. That is, they qualify, or limit, their praise/approval/disapproval.