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GRE Article of the Month – December 2013

A Nose for Words
By Joshua Henkin for The New York Times

This month’s article, from the New York Times, is short and sweet—and very relevant. That is, if you are studying GRE vocab nightly, wondering how to get all those words to stick (or adhere to your brain), you’ll be able to commiserate with the author of this piece entitled A Nose For Words. He recounts his first exposure with vocabulary (after he bombs the PSAT) and how he ultimately falls in love with words (he became a writer after all).

So if you find yourself at first recoiling from the horrors of such unwieldy constructions as perfunctoriness and heterogeneity, don’t despair. Over time, you can develop an affinity for certain words based on how they sound or look (diaphanous, gossamer, and crepuscular—at least to my ear—are beautiful sounding words). And perhaps, like the author, you can go on to develop a lifelong appreciation of the variety of colorful words offered up the English language.

After you read this article, you may wonder which of the words the author mentions could actually come up on the GRE. I’d say all of them—except perhaps quondam, which the author himself admits is pretty obscure. Erstwhile (also mentioned in the piece), is a synonym for quondam, and is not at all obscure: it has actually been one of the answer choices on an actual GRE Sentence Equivalence question.


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4 Responses to GRE Article of the Month – December 2013

  1. Dee December 16, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    Great choice of article again, Chris.

    I can relate to the author on so many levels – I am guilty of assuming my vocab will improve just because I visit on a daily basis; and when someone asks me to define “placate”, I would most probably say “You know, placate” :)

    There are some words that I will associate only with Magoosh since I have never seen these before in my life – recondite, palimpsest, picayune, etc. It’s too bad I don’t know what Magoosh smells like :p

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele December 17, 2013 at 10:54 am #

      Glad you liked the article–a very germane, considering the vocab angle.

      That’s cool that there are some words that “Magoosh words” (basically the pretty obscure ones). I imagine Magoosh smelling purple–though I’m not really quite sure what purple smells like :).

  2. Ravian December 16, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    Great article Chris.Loved it.Thanks for sharing.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele December 17, 2013 at 10:50 am #

      You are welcome! Glad you enjoyed :).

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