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What Could GRE Vocabulary and the Animal Kingdom Have in Common?

Quite a few GRE words are derived from animals. Sometimes, the meanings are surprising. Other times, they may leaving you scratching your head, wondering just how a cow could be anything but placid.

Below is a list of the ones most likely to show up on the GRE.


Mules are known to be stubborn creatures. Unsurprisingly, mulish means stubborn.


Most dogs I’ve met have been eager, friendly, aggressive, hyperactive or a mixture of all these (sometimes all at once). I’m not sure, however, if dogs are usually stubborn. Regardless, to be dogged means to do something persistently without giving up.

The journalists doggedly asked the celebrity prying questions until he finally relented and gave them a few salacious morsels.


This dog is similar but a little bit different from the dog of dogged. To be dogmatic means to persistently hold on to a belief. A good synonym for dogmatic is opinionated.

Lionize (v.)

To lionize is to worship somebody like a celebrity.

Total unknowns can appear on Youtube and overnight become lionized, sometimes for nothing more than an asinine song about a day of the week.


You know the definition for this one can’t be positive. To be waspish is to be irascible, easily angered.


Vulpine comes from the Latin for fox. To be vulpine is to crafty, deceitful.

Cow (v.)

To cow is to intimidate. I can’t quite figure this one out, as just yesterday, I walked by a bevy of bovines (a group of cows), and did not feel the slightest bit intimidated.

Putting It Together


(A) waspish

(B) mulish

(C) dogmatic

(D) vulpine

(E) lionized

Ans: (D).

And don’t be cowed by the word ingenuous. It means to be naïve and innocent. Commit these words to memory; they’ll make useful additions to your vocabulary arsenal.

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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