I’ve never endorsed studying words alphabetically. Not only is this method boring and predictable, but many words tend to blend into together. By the time you get to augment, many of the other ‘A’-words become a blur of syllables.
That said, the alphabetical approach in small doses should by no means be deleterious. And, for me, organizing words in this fashion, I can include words that have thus far not fallen snugly into any of the vocab theme posts.
For this post, I focused on the letter ‘C’ – but made sure that the list itself (the one below) was not in alphabetical order.
While these aren’t really the top ten ‘C’ words you have to know (meaning you won’t automatically score in the 0 – 10% range if you forget the meaning of corroborate), I have picked words that, based on ETS material to this date, have a very high likelihood of showing up on the test. Finally, these words are used often in a formal context, and should, therefore, be part of any grad school bound student’s vocabulary.
Conciliate (v.) – to make peace with
His opponents believed his gesture to be conciliatory, yet as soon as they put down their weapons, he unsheathed a hidden sword.
Corroborate (v.) – to confirm or lend support to (usually an idea or claim)
Her claim that frog populations were falling precipitously in Central America was corroborated by locals, who reported that many species of frogs had seemingly vanished overnight.
Calumny (v.) – a false statement meant to injure a person’s reputation
With the presidential primaries well under way, the air is thick with calumny, and the mud is already waist-high.
Commensurate (adj.) – in proportion or corresponding in degree or amount
The definition of this word tends to be a little unwieldy, regardless of the source. Therefore, it is a word that screams to be understood in context (for this very reason, GRE loves commensurate, because they know that those who just devour flashcards will not understand how the word works in a sentences). Speaking of a sentence…
The convicted felon’s life sentence was commensurate to the heinousness of his crime.
An increase in crop yield will not lead to a commensurate increase in profit, as the market is already glutted with too many crops.
Churlish (adj.) – lacking manners or refinement; rude and unpleasant
The manager was unnecessarily churlish to his subordinates, rarely deigning to say hello, but always quick with a sartorial jab if someone happened to be wearing anything even slightly unbecoming.
Castigate (v.) – to reprimand harshly
This word is very similar to chastise. They even have the same etymology (word history).
Drill sergeants are known to castigate new recruits so mercilessly that the latter often break down during their first week in training.
Chastise (v.) – to reprimand harshly
See sentence for castigate.
Cogent (adj.) – clear and persuasive
His essay writing, while full of clever turns of phrases, lacks cogency.
Contentious (adj.) – controversial (in terms of an issue); inclined to arguing (in terms of a person)
This word does not mean content. It comes from contend, which means to argue. Be chary (see below) of this word.
As soon as the discussion turns to politics, Uncle Hank becomes highly contentious, vehemently disagreeing with those who endorse the same positions.
Chary (adj.) – cautious
Chary rhymes with wary. They are also synonyms.
Jack was wary of GRE words that looked similar, because they usually had different definitions; not so with chary, a word that he began to use interchangeably with wary.