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GRE Vocab Wednesday: More Vocabulary from the Official Guide

The Official Guide to the GRE is not just a trove of GRE words it is a trove of GRE words for which the writers of the test have a penchant. Thus, I tell students that they should be familiar with every word in the book. Of course that’s quite a few words. The good news is that these words overlap with many of the words in the Magoosh vocab ebook. But not every word in the Official Guide is in the Magoosh vocabulary ebook. Below are a handful of such words, words that are high-frequency GRE vocabulary words.



To disseminate means to scatter or spread. Information, for one, is something that can be disseminated. Indeed, typically when we encounter the word dissemination or disseminate it is modifying the word information.

Though thousands of news sources disseminate information each day, many of the stories are very similar, if not identical.



Copious is used to describe something is in great abundance. In the The Official Guide, for instance, difficult words are copious (as they will be the day of the test). Turning my eye to the Internet, I can find many things that are copious: newsblogs, daily tweets, Facebook status updates, and those crazy, flickering adds with the hidden white ‘X’.



Many of the great wits of the last 150 years had an acerbic style: with a few words Oscar Wilde could humble many; Dorothy Parker could pierce through the pretentions of her time with an artfully crafted line. Acerbic typically describes writing or style that is biting and cutting.



Unseemly is definitely a misleading word, since we are wont to associate it with ‘seem’ however, the ‘seem’ in unseemly is not what it seems. From the Middle English soemer, which means ‘fitting’, unseemly describes behavior or words that are not socially appropriate. For instance, if somebody cuts me off while I’m driving and I decide to stick my arm out the window and extend my longest digit, then my behavior would be unseemly.



Indecorous is a synonym of unseemly.  It is also the opposite of decorous, which means well-mannered, following social etiquette.

To those who lived during the age of the Lindy Hop and the Madison, the way people dance in clubs today—where spasmodic hip-thrusting has replaced defined steps—must seem indecorous. 



Something that is marked by boundaries is circumscribed. Your daily routine can be circumscribed. Indeed, depending on where you live, your rights are circumscribed by where you live. These uses are the figurative use of circumscribed, a use you will see on the test. The more literal use of circumscribed you may also see on the test, but in the math section. Does this sound familiar, “A square is circumscribed in a circle.

Though much music dating from before the Baroque era sounds similar, we shouldn’t be too surprised since the few tonal scales available to composers circumscribed their range of expression. 


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.

7 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: More Vocabulary from the Official Guide

  1. sonny July 9, 2015 at 4:24 am #

    circumscribed is the most interesting word here tho……..would have fumbled if i saw it in an Rc passage. Thanks

  2. Samaksh Sharma June 5, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    let me thank you firstly for providing this wonderful platform to learn. I would like you to make a small correction here, i think indecorous means unseemly (Improper behavior) opposite of decorous. i hope i’m right? 😛 thanks !

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 6, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

      Yes, you are exactly right 🙂

      It seems as though that’s what I wrote above. Hopefully, I didn’t flub that definition in the video 🙁

      • Samaksh Sharma June 6, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

        ohh yeah you are correct. i’m sorry for that comment. i got confused with it.

        thanks for replying though 🙂

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele June 11, 2014 at 11:47 am #

          No prob 🙂

  3. Vidya January 23, 2014 at 7:05 am #

    First of all I would like to thank magoosh for coming up with such wonderfully written materials. Learning words has never been so easy ,but with magoosh materials and the fun explanations , I not only learned these words fast but also use them .I think the magoosh team should come up with their own university and deploy all these great teaching methods in classrooms.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele January 23, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

      Hi Vidya,

      Thanks for the amazing kudos :)! That sounds like a great idea– Magoosh U :). Who knows, maybe one of these days!

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