Life is about ups; life is about downs. Life is even about the middle. Thus, we have words of degree. Indeed, we’ve been using them most of our lives: ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘okay’ are part of a three-year old’s lexicon. But there are a plethora of words that modify the degree of something. Below are a few that you may see on the GRE.
A consummate musician plays in front of a large audience; a consummate athlete dashes (or jumps) on our T.V. screen. In a word these people are all accomplished. Consummate, however, does not always carry a positive connotation. A consummate liar is an absolute liar.
Dominant in several sports at once, Bo Jackson was the consummate athlete of the 1980’s.
A consummate pianist, Vladimir Horowitz, a formidable classicist, was known to dabble in jazz.
It is one thing to perform poorly. It is an entirely other thing to perform abysmally. Abysmal means very, very bad (think of an abyss in the ocean; it’s about as low as you can go). Abysmal can also refer to the general state of things. So next time it is 45 degrees and raining in June you can declaim, “The weather is abysmal.”
The comedian’s jokes were so abysmal that many in the audience grimaced.
Speaking of really bad, ‘egregious’ is a good way to modify something that is already bad, say an egregious foul in sports, or an egregious oversight. Notice that ‘abysmal’ (see above) can modify a neutral word.
Daryl’s driving was an egregious violation of safety: he would oftentimes hit highway speed limits in residential neighborhoods.
This word sounds negative (it reminds me of ‘inimical’, which describes a hostile environment). ‘Inimitable’ means unparalleled, as in the best.
The French Laundry, a famous restaurant in Northern California, offers inimitable fare, though at nearly $500 per meal, many balk at the price.
Life is not about one extreme or the other. Sometimes we have to deal with middle of the road, the mediocre and the downright middling (oops, I invoked the extreme again with ‘downright.’). ‘Requisite’ means just the necessary amount to get the job done.
Harold did the requisite amount of studying and, unsurprisingly received a ‘C.’
This post is a day late (Vocab Thursday? :)) because we were a bit busy at the Magoosh office yesterday celebrating Chris’s birthday! Here’s a picture of his “cake”, can you guess what it’s made out of?
The letter tiles you see on the table are from Bananagrams, a Magoosh favorite! Again, sorry for the delay, and be sure to wish Chris a happy belated birthday! 🙂