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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Some Weather We’re Having!

The following words come to us from the world of meteorology. While some mean exactly what they imply, e.g. inclement, most have a secondary GRE definition. Either way, next time somebody asks how the weather is you can give that person quite an earful.



The Sahara in July? Torrid. Hot and dry. Miami, or any city known for its humidity, Hong Kong, Mumbai, just about any time or year? Sweltering not torrid. Torrid can also refer to a relationship marked by passionate feelings. I am sure that many great poems and songs have come out of torrid relationships.



Want to sound GRE-y next time you are out with friends and the weather has taken a turn for the worse? All you have to do is whip out inclement, which means unpleasant weather-wise: “Wow, things have become quite inclement, wouldn’t you say?”

Interestingly, clement, which refers to pleasant weather, can also refer to somebody who is merciful. Clemency, meaning mercy, is the noun form of mercy. So hopefully your friends will grant some clemency if you begin referring to the weather using only GRE words.



Ladies and gentleman fasten your seatbelts, we have turbulence. No, not of the plane-shaking kind. If a person or a relationship is turbulent, it is filled with emotionally charged ups and downs, figuratively speaking.

Rarely are Hollywood relationships not fraught with emotional turmoil; marked by tabloid scandals, they are turbulent affairs, lasting less than a year.



Tempestuous, like turbulent, doesn’t just refer to story winds. If a person or thing is tempestuous, he/she is led by strong, conflicting emotions.

Beethoven’s 5th symphony captures the composer’s tempestuousness in its frequent changes from stormy brooding to sudden idylls.



This word is not quite a weather word, but as its backstory has something to do with calming winds, I thought I’d throw it in here.  The ancient Greeks believed that a giant bird would nest at sea every winter, calming the waves and the wind, with its massive flapping wings. This bird was called the halcyon.

Of course if you encounter halcyon on the GRE it will not be the following:

Mike spotted a ____ flapping over his beach chalet, calming the ocean’s turbulent waves.

Halcyon refers to bygone days when things were pleasant. Indeed, many of us are old enough to remember the halcyon days of the late 90’s, when the economy was soaring like a halcyon and it seemed like anybody with a .com idea could become an instant millionaire. Today, things are slightly more turbulent.


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7 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: Some Weather We’re Having!

  1. Wajhi July 13, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    I came across tempestuous the other day doing a sentence correction question. Informative article!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      Great! These words can definitely pop up test day :).

  2. jay July 13, 2012 at 3:04 am #

    Hi chris,
    That is another amazing post. My attempt at making a small paragraph using these words :

    The newly married couple sat beside the window observing how the sky became tempestuous, remembering the halcyon days of their school life. Even their classmates knew how torridly in love they were. The weather grew inclement and it reminded them of the turbulence in their relationship in the last year of the school. In spite of all the vicissitudes , they were always there for each other

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

      Great paragraph – and a nice way to throw ‘vicissitudes’ in there :).

    • Rubaet July 13, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

      Simply, Awesome!

  3. abhay July 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    Nice post Chris.
    Learnt myself a new word tempestuous.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm #


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