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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Mystery Connection

All the pairs of words below are high frequency words (okay, fine, maybe not macerated). Besides that the words don’t have any connection—save for one. Can you spot how these words relate? (hint: it has nothing to do with the definitions).


Pair #1


A beautiful mosaic is surely prosaic—the two words rhyme, after all. Actually, a beautiful mosaic is anything but prosaic. A prosaic mosaic would be one that is totally unoriginal and lacking in inspiration. So next time you see another dull, run-of-the-mill creation (hopefully not this Vocab Wednesday!), you can call it prosaic.


Off and on at irregular intervals is the essence of sporadic. Perhaps you study vocabulary sporadically, gobbling up vocab for a few days in a row, then not looking at a single word for an entire week, before devouring 5o words in an hour.


Pair #2


Entail is a difficult word to define—its definition must surely entail a lot of words…wait, that’s it! Entail means to involve or require. Doing well on the GRE verbal entails learning many words, one of which is entail.


Standing out and conspicuous is the definition of salient. Is the connection between the words in each pair salient? Maybe. Maybe not. Salient can also mean important, as in a salient point.


Pair #3


One who is tenacious does not give up easily. A tenacious athlete holds on and persists, not letting his opponent gain the upper hand.


To inoculate means to provide protection from, and is usually used in a medical context as a synonym for to vaccinate (e.g., the doctor inoculated the children against small pox). The word is by no means common on the GRE, but it is good to have in your vocabulary arsenal, just to inoculate you against the horrors of the GRE.


Pair #4


Not a common word GRE, but it fits in nicely with the theme (have you been able to guess yet?). To macerate means to become soft by soaking in liquid.


Have an insensitive roommate, one who leaves his stuff everywhere? Well, it is time to set off your boundaries so you won’t find a half-eaten burrito in your socks drawer. To demarcate means to set up boundaries. Maps are full of demarcations—indeed all countries have borders and all borders are demarcations. The word can also be use in a more figurative sense, e.g., the approach of hard sciences is clearly demarcated from those of the soft sciences, which allow subjectivity to creep in.


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6 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: Mystery Connection

  1. Hayden July 16, 2015 at 8:10 am #

    They also all have a long A sound…that’s what I guessed at first!

  2. Anirudha November 9, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    The words have the same vowels, is that the connection? btw i scored 334 on gre, and I must thank you for your excellent articles.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele November 12, 2013 at 10:20 am #

      Good job on the score!

      As for the connection above, yes, the words do have the same vowels. But it goes a little further than that–the words have all the same letters, except for one word actually adds another letter — entail adds an ‘s’ and with rearranged letters to yield an entirely new word: salient.

  3. rat November 9, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I just signed up for your premium package. Your lesson videos are awesome.

    I have a question. Does your vocab Wednesday words overlap with those of your flashcard words?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele November 12, 2013 at 10:22 am #

      Hi Rat,

      Good question! Many of the words in our deck are taken from old vocab Wed. Most of the words in the Vocab. Wed. are words not in the deck–though sometimes I’ll throw in high-frequency flashcard words into the mix.

      Hope that helps!

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