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GRE Vocab Wednesday: “R” Words

Words beginning with ‘r’ tend to get lost in the fray of more interesting lettered words. The ‘q’ is the exotic animals in a menagerie; an ‘x’ always stands out like a giraffe amongst a pack of head-in-the-sand ostriches; and ‘v’ has the sulfurous whiff of the subversive.

Demure and unprepossessing as ‘r’s may be, there are many important ‘R’ words in the GRE lexicon. Here are six.



Interestingly, upon first seeing this word, very few pronounce it correctly (check out video for the correct pronunciation). To renege is to go back on a promise.

 Because the incoming president reneged on many of his pre-election promises, he has quickly alienated most of his base.



If you think ‘renege’ is hard to pronounce, you should try this one (again, you may want to take a look at the video). A rapprochement is reestablishment of harmonious relations between countries. The implication is that the two countries were not getting along for a while. For example, Russia and the U.S. had a rapprochement after decades of Cold War hostility (many believe that any such rapprochement was ephemeral as relations between the two countries have once again become strained).

Given that the protracted conflict had crippled the economies of both countries and cost thousands of lives, a rapprochement was imminent.



This word in no way relates to the refracting telescope. ‘Refractory’ means unmanageable and difficult. Examples include an adolescent who wants his way (which is almost all of them), or a wild horse with a saddle being placed on its back for the first time.

The refractory male lead—as talented as he was—refused to read the lines exactly as they were written, injecting his own asides and, to the director’s chagrin, affecting a southern drawl.



To lower to an inferior position is to relegate. We can relegate something we no longer consider important; indeed, we can be relegated ourselves, if our bosses deem us not up to snuff in our current roles.

As a leisure activity, television has been somewhat relegated, with most of us spending an increasing amount of time online.



‘Recrudesce’ refers to anything destructive or unpleasant, which breaks out anew. An illness, violence, indeed a case of acne can all be said to recrudesce if, after a period of quiescence, or dormancy, they break out again.

The recrudescence in gang warfare along the border can be traced to heightened drug trafficking.



To berate, harangue, reprove, rebuke, castigate, reprimand…the list of synonyms goes on and on. None include ‘to approach again.’ That’s because reproach means to express strong disapproval towards someone or something.

The fastidious vocabulary teacher reproached the boy for yet again thinking that ‘reproach’ means to approach again.


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2 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: “R” Words

  1. taru January 12, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    Wow!!!u made me imagine a zoo of words.every letter aptly possessing a characteristic trait.awesome!!!!!wont forget any adjectives used for them nw


    • Chris Lele
      Chris January 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

      I’m happy the words were memorable. Make sure your brain doesn’t relegate them until the GRE is over :).

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