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GRE Vocab Wednesdays: From Rags to Riches

The socioeconomic divide is vast: from panhandlers who do not know where their next meal is coming from to billionaire moguls with fifty Lamborghinis in their garages. To capture this divide, the English language has a wide range of vocabulary.



If a person is begging for loose change, he or she is a mendicant. Basically, a mendicant is nothing more than a fancy name for beggar. The word ‘mendicant’  should not be confused with ‘mendacious’, which means to be deceitful, prone to lying.



Speaking of rags, a person, usually a child, dressed in such a manner is called a ragamuffin. A bonus word, but definitely not a GRE-word, is the obscure, but fun to say, tatterdemalion.



To be indigent is to impoverished and without means. Do not confuse ‘indigent’ for ‘indigenous,’ or ‘indignant.’ ‘Indigenous’ means native to a certain area. ‘Indignant’ means angry over some perceived injustice.



If you are bereft of the basic necessities in life, you are destitute. This word is a synonym with ‘indigent.’



If your are generally unkempt, your hair untidy, your clothes unwashed, then you are disheveled. True, one does not to be indigent to be disheveled. Even a millionaire can go about slovenly attired.



Speaking of millionaires, an affluent person is one who is well off. Sure, he or she does not necessarily need to own a million dollars. But if you live in a very nice part of town, and drive a luxury sedan, then you are probably affluent.



Debonair has more to do with manners than wealth, though we typically associate a debonair person, i.e., one who is elegant, stylish, and well-mannered, with wealth.



‘Opulent’ is used to describe abundant wealth and luxury. It is a word that usually reminds me of palaces. The rajahs’ palaces in India are opulent. Versailles, in France, is opulent. A useful synonym for ‘opulent’ is ‘sumptuous.’ As far as ‘sumptuous’ goes, I usually think of banquet halls filled with caviar and $500 bottles of champagne.



If you hang out at such lavish banquet halls, you’ll be likely to spot a tycoon. Similar to a mogul or magnate, a tycoon is a rich person who is usually amassed their fortune in business. The late Steve Jobs was a tycoon, though I don’t think he frequented many opulent banquet halls.

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.

14 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesdays: From Rags to Riches

  1. maulik January 2, 2013 at 12:07 am #

    Hi chris,

    I am planning to give gre in 2nd week of Feb. I am very much worried about vocab part. Currently, I am preparing words from BigCD flash cards which has around 3800 words, out of which i have completed around 1100. But as I am progressing, my worries are increasing about remembering these many words.
    Now, I am planning to buy your product, but how will it help me to reduce my worries?
    do you have any concise wordlist from which I can prepare and get good score?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris January 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

      Hi Maulik,

      First off, I think the 3800 words may be a little bit of overkill. Secondly, the new GRE is not just about how many words you kind of know, it is about how well you understand how words function in context. And that’s how we’ll help :).

      You will get hundreds of practice questions that will show you how vocabulary functions in context. Once you learn this way, you will have a better understanding of the words. Since most of the words you encounter are high-frequency GRE words you are definitely not wasting your time :).

      As for a concise list of words, check out our vocabulary ebook.

      Let me know if that helps answer your question :).

      • maulik January 2, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

        Hi Chris,

        Thanx for your quick response.

        I already have all your free materials. I am going through it and I am also going to buy your product. But, is it enough or still I have to learn 3800 words?

        because I am losing my confidence while going through this huge wordlist.
        or else please suggest me some other wordlist.

        • Chris Lele
          Chris January 4, 2013 at 6:32 am #

          Hi Maulik,

          Do not go through the 3800 word list. Learning words that way is not only tedious and defeating, it won’t help much with the new GRE (it worked somewhat with the old GRE format). Again, continue to learn words as you encounter them in context. Use Quizlet for flashcards, to reinforce what the words that you have learned either in practice questions or from reading.

          Hope that makes the process less daunting :).

  2. Ben December 29, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Somehow ragamuffin reminds the smurfs…. Lol

    I am currently on track with Manhattan 1000 words and about to move on to Barron 1100 words following Mike’s 90 days schedule. All the recommendations you guys elaborate are extremely helpful. I will be taking GRE on March 9. Hope I can nail a perfect score!!!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris January 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      Good luck Ben :).

  3. derek December 28, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    Hey, where are you guys getting your words from? I studied kaplans 500 words but with the words you guys are using in your quizes I don’t know where they are coming from.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris December 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

      Hi Derek,

      That is a great question! I choose words that come up often on standardized tests (SAT, GRE), words that are typically found on the usual lists. I also pay attention to words that show up often in professional writing (, Economist, etc.). In general, I think, what words would ETS expect brainy, educated people to know? Really obscure words don’t make the cut; words that professional/academic writers use, on the other hand, are fair game.

      Hope that helps shed some insight into the process :).

      • Derek December 28, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

        Thanks for your reply Chris :). I am studying barrons 1100 words to know and
        the magoosh ebook, is there any other words that I should be studying? I have been watching all the videos and they have been very helpful with the strategies, but it really all comes down to vocabulary and knowing most of the words.

        Thanks 🙂

        • Chris Lele
          Chris January 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

          Hi Derek,

          It wouldn’t hurt to pick up Manhattan GRE’s flashcards, at least the basic level (the challenging words contain some obscure words that you won’t actually find on the test).

          Otherwise, I say go through all the TC/SE questions in the Magoosh. We literally have hundreds of them. The scope of the words covered throughout the questions is vast. Any word you encounter you can turn it into a flashcard on Quizlet (indeed, somebody has already turned all the vocab words in our TC/SE into flashcards).

          Hope that helps give you direction :).

          • Derek January 2, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

            Thanks Chris :). The basic knowledge is there I just don’t know enough vocabulary words. If i study barrons 1100 and the magoosh ebook do u think i have a shot of around 75 percentile on verbal? I know the shifts, context clues, hidden clues, but sometimes I can’t break down the words and eliminate them because I really just have no clue what they mean! LOL


            • Chris Lele
              Chris January 4, 2013 at 6:48 am #

              Ultimately, knowing the words vs. having no idea makes a huge a difference. Going through Barron’s and Magoosh should help you know enough words to get to 75 percentile.

              As a Magoosh Premium user you should also make sure you know most of the words you’ve encountered in the TC/SE questions (many of which overlap with the Barron’s/ebook). Doing so will definitely help get a good shot at the 75% level.

              Hope that helps 🙂

  4. Srav December 25, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Are there any particular set of words that repeat in the exam? I am giving my exam in Jan so would like to learn the popular words which appeared in December.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris December 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

      Hi Srav,

      Good question. There are no set words, alas. However, there are high-frequency words. A great place to find these words is right here. Our vocabulary e-book (link below) contains over 20 words that were found on the recent powerprep exam. So learn words from vocabulary Wed., and I assure you, you are bound to see quite a few test day :).

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