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GRE Vocab Wednesdays: It’s About Time

Many words on the GRE relate to time. How fast something happens, how slowly. Perhaps something happens unceasingly, perhaps not at all. Below are a few words that you should learn before you run out of study time.



If you do something sporadically, you do it at irregular intervals. I check my iPhone sporadically (to see if anyone has texted). Perhaps you eat sporadically, since you are busy and unable to keep to a strict schedule. Sporadic can also mean occurring in isolation. For instance, one of the presidential hopefuls is having a sporadic surge in support, though it likely will not be enough.



Intermittent is similar to sporadic, but implies that something is starting and stopping. Rain can oftentimes be intermittent, annoyingly so. We’ve all probably taken an umbrella only not to use it; we’ve all darted out during a respite in rain, only to be drenched minutes later.



If something terminates, it ends. If something is interminable, it is without end. The word is often used figuratively. For instance, I was at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) last week. I made the mistake of walking in without an appointment. The wait was truly interminable. What’s worse is the computer systems went down as soon as it was my turn. Now I must brace myself for another interminable wait at the DMV.



Antediluvian is a fun word. It is by no means a high-frequency or, for that matter, a low-frequency word. It is employed in a comical fashion to express that something is very old.

Given the proliferation of smartphones, the rotary phone—with that annoying spin dial—seems downright antediluvian.



To be dilatory is to take one’s time. Sometimes this delay can be intentional.

The class’s dilatory tactics worked up until a point; with only 10 minutes left to class, the teacher finally gave them the quiz.



It makes sense to end with a word that, root-wise, means out of time. Ex- = out, Tempor- = time. Extemporaneous means done without any planning. So if you have to give an extemporaneous speech, then you will have no time to prepare it. You must simply walk onto stage and speak. In such an instance, one is likely to resort to dilatory tactics.


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7 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesdays: It’s About Time

  1. Muhammad Usama Khan October 10, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    I did not understand this

    ‘”We’ve all probably taken an umbrella only not to use it; we’ve all darted out during a respite in rain, only to be drenched minutes later.”

    • Chris Lele
      Chris October 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

      The sentence is saying that people have taken umbrellas but then not used them (it doesn’t rain). Conversely, people have gone outside without an umbrella when there is a break in the rain, only to get soaked when it suddenly starts raining.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Denis October 3, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Hi Chris,

    I think the following synonyms are felicitous considering this Wednesday’s vocab ‘time’ motif:
    – Fitful for Intermittent and Sporadic or,
    – Perpetual and Unremitting for Interminable and,
    – Ad Hoc or Extempore for Extemporaneous

    What do you think?


    • Margarette Jung
      Margarette October 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

      Hi, Denis

      Those are great, and definitely fit the theme! 🙂


    • Jagrati October 5, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      Hi Chris,

      I am planning to give GRE exam in November last of this year. I am Indian but right now I am in oxford, MS.I crammed all the words from magoosh vocabulary ebook. Now should I need to learn more??? If yes please tell me from where?? Whether I should start learning from Barron’s 1100 Words You Need to Know or Manhattan GRE 500 Essential Words Flash Card set???? Please tell me.

      • Margarette Jung
        Margarette October 5, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

        Hi, Jagrati

        There’s a section at the end of the Vocab eBook that explains where to find more words to learn :). But between Barron’s and Manhattan, I’d recommend Barron’s 1100 words. Let us know how it goes!


        • Jagrati October 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

          Hi, Margarette

          Thanks a lot

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