I have always told students that one sure way to induce dementia is to methodically study words in alphabetical order. The brain simply will fall asleep somewhere around the ar-, words blending into an amorphous mush, your soul yearning for any letter, as long as it is not ‘A’.
While this is still sage advice, I realized it doesn’t hurt to test words you’ve probably already come across or heard somewhere. So, below are the Top 10 GRE words beginning with the letter ‘A.’ And I promise, memorizing them won’t induce any aberrant psychological states.
Amiable (adj.) – friendly
Amiable is also very similar to amicable, another common GRE word. Amicable, however, does not refer to a person the way that amiable does, but rather refers to relationships between people. You’ll notice that amicable is, therefore, the opposite of acrimonious (see below).
Affable (adj.) – likeable, easy to talk to
Affable is similar to amiable. The differences are subtle, and as far as the GRE is concerned, you can treat them as the same word. Like amiable, this word is great to use to describe people we know. After all, everyone knows an affable person.
Amenable (adj.) – easily persuaded
If someone is cooperative and goes along with the program, so to speak, that person is amenable. Amenable can also be used in the medical sense—if a disease is amenable to treatment, that disease can be treated.
Attenuate (v) – to weaken (in terms of intensity), to taper off/become thinner
Attenuate can refer to both abstract and tangible things (e.g. her animosity towards Bob attenuated over the years, the stick is attenuated at one end).
Animosity (n.) – intense hostility
Animosity should be reserved for extreme cases. That is, if you really loathe someone, and that person feels the same way, then you can say animosity exists between the two of you.
A related word, and a synonym, is animus (though animus can also mean motivation, as in impetus).
Anomalous (adj.) – not normal, out of the ordinary
This is simply the adjective, and scarier looking, form of anomaly, which is a noun. Anomalous can be used in cases to describe something that is not typical, like this cold California spring we’ve been having over here.
Acrimony (n.) – bitterness and ill-will
Acrimony—don’t forget the adjective form, acrimonious—describes relationships filled with bitterness and ill will. Disputes and arguments can also be modified with acrimonious, depending on the case.
Aberration (n.) – a deviation from what is normal or expected
This word is tinged with a negative connotation. For instance, in psychology there is a subset of behavior known as aberrant behavior. So, basically, if you’re narcissistic, psychotic, or just plain old cuckoo, you are demonstrating aberrant behavior.
Ambiguous (adj.) – open to more than one interpretation
Let’s say I have two friends, Bob and Paul. If I tell you that he is coming to my house today, then that is ambiguous. Who do I mean? Paul or Bob?
Amorphous (adj. – shapeless
Morph- comes from the Latin for shape. The root a-, as in atypical, means not or without. Therefore, if something is amorphous, it lacks shape.
See, I promised—that wouldn’t make you go nutty. Just make sure your memory of these vocabulary words doesn’t attenuate.