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GRE Vocab Wednesday: ‘V’ is not for Vendetta

One of the most wonderful torrents of GRE-ese ever unleashed upon the world is found in the monologue of the movie V for Vendetta. The main character, V, when cornered (by a pretty, but verbally clueless heroine, no less) unspools the following:

“But on this most auspicious of nights, permit me then, in lieu of the more commonplace sobriquet, to suggest the character of this dramatis persona. Voila! View the humble vaudevillian veteran cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the “vox populi” now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin, to vanguard and vouchsafe the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.”

That is quite a torrent of ‘V’ words (notice how one of the very first words—auspicious—is a word from last week’s Vocab Wednesday). I’m sure that V would do very well on the GRE verbal. Now, I don’t want to be in violation of his veritable volubility, but I don’t think Vocab Wednesday can possibly account for all those ‘v’ words, so I’ve chosen those that are most likely to show up on the GRE (and that haven’t been part of Vocab Wednesday before.)



If something is disappearing, but every now and then you see traces of it, those traces are vestiges. Vestiges of chivalry can be seen when a man opens a door for a women; vestiges of America’s jazz tradition are still alive on the one jazz station on my FM dial; vestiges of Middle French on the English language can be found in quite a few GRE words (vestige itself comes from vestigium, which is Middle French for “footprint”).



To be valorous is to be brave, especially in the midst of battle. Soldiers are sometimes offered the medal of valor, meaning that they committed a heroic act in the middle of a war. V himself, as you’ll know if you’ve ever seen the movie V for Vendatta, is valorous, battling numerous foes with his saber, while bedecked in a black cape and a white mask.



The literal definition describes viruses and pathogens that are very harmful (the Ebola virus comes to mind). Figuratively speaking, a virulent attack on somebody’s character is a vicious and hostile attack. In the movie, V condemns the totalitarian government in a virulent and vituperative manner. (Vituperative, by the way, means harsh and abusive).



A group that forms the innovative front of any new idea or movement is the vanguard. Companies on the vanguard of technology, at least in our age, include companies doing genetic research.



The phrase to vouch for means to confirm that somebody is who he/she really says he/she is. Vouchsafe is a little different; it means to give or grant someone something in a condescending manner. So if lifted my chin a little and affected an aristocratic air and told you the meaning of vouchsafe, I’d be vouchsafing the definition of vouchsafe.



V is definitely guilty of this word! And as I look at some of my sentences above, I cannot completely escape charges of verbosity. To be verbose means to use too many (usually big and multisyllabic) words, either in speaking or in writing. It has a clear negative connotation, unlike the connotation of voluble, a word that means speaking a lot and with ease.


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16 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: ‘V’ is not for Vendetta

  1. Md. Nafiul Alam September 22, 2014 at 1:12 am #


    Wow!! There is plethora of GRE words on V’s famous introductory quote. I’m still trying to encode the overall meaning of full speech. Nevertheless, your post has made my task less daunting.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele May 18, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

      Yes, quite the plethora of words–and quite the speech :).

      Glad it galvanized you to learn those words, and more!

  2. Sriram April 28, 2014 at 3:28 am #

    Can Vouchsafe and patronize be regarded as synonyms?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

      Yes, the two are definitely similar words. Both connote a sense of condescension. Hope that helps!

      • H-MAN May 16, 2015 at 10:28 pm #

        Hi Chris,

        Can you please elaborate more on Vouchsafe? I looked into couple of example sentences – my understanding of the meaning of the word is, “to reveal or disclose something”. if you go by this definition , I do not understand how “Vouchsafe” and “patronize” will become either similar words or synonyms

  3. Hashir August 2, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    Hi Chris,

    So the words verbiage and verbose are synonyms. Right? and what about vestige and palimpsest? and one thing more does the word laconic only relates to using less words in speaking or can it be used to refer a writing with less number of words in it?


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 28, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

      Wow, I never saw this comment :(. I know it’s totally late, but hopefully a very late answer is better than no answer at all.

      So, great questions! Verbose is an adjective describing one who uses verbiage (noun).

      Vestige is a more general word meaning trace:

      1) Vestiges of Mayan civilization can still be found along the Yucatan peninsula.
      2) Vestiges of our arboreal heritage are on display on a high bar, on which a gymnast can hang by one arm for more than a minute.

      Palimpsest is specifically a document that has been written on numerous times, with traces of those other writings (think of a chalkboard in which old chalk is still smeared all over the place). The word can be used figuratively but even in this sense there is always a sense of something physical associated with another era still being visible–although perhaps subtly.

      1) The castle grounds are a palimpsest to the predilections of former kings: a Rembrandt acquired by James II hangs over a fireplace commissioned by James I; the line of Edwards is visible in the immaculately kept grounds.

      2) For all its gentrification, the new downtown is a palimpsest that speaks of tougher times: ramshackle homes sidle up against modern apartment buildings; old junkyards glower at nearby offices.

      Finally, laconic typically refers to a person, but it can be used to describe a writing style in which there are few words. Nietzsche’s late works can be described as laconic, since the author often wrote in aphorisms.

      Hope that helps 🙂

      • Hashir April 29, 2014 at 10:44 am #

        Thanks Chris and yes late response is way better than none. Though i’m done with GRE but i still read your vocab wed lessons. I have a suggestion for you supposing you and other viewers are fan of Game of Thrones, otherwise you can just ignore the suggestion.

        I was thinking the other day what if Chris quotes some game of thrones character while describing a word, besides its general description. It would be more interesting and sticky to memory i guess. Like i can totally use word Machiavellian for Tyrells after finding out that they were behind the King murder and made it look like that Peter Dinklage/Sansa did it. Or you can just write for us a Game of thrones episode by episode GREish review:-) Just Kidding. Anyways its Just a suggestion, the former one. Cheers.

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele April 29, 2014 at 11:44 am #

          Thanks Hashir for getting back to me! And you’re right–a late reply is better than none at all. In this case, you’ve given me a great idea. GofT is a pretty huge show, esp. amongst the GRE demographic. I’ve only watched the first season but I can already tell that I let of GRE words could be used: nefarious, duplicitous, licentious (the dwarf), etc. We’ll also put some cool meme versions on the blog.

          Thanks 🙂

          • hashir May 1, 2014 at 4:00 am #

            Glad you liked the suggestion and I’m really looking forward to game of thrones mems. Thanks again Chris.

            • Chris Lele
              Chris Lele May 1, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

              You’re welcome! I’ll try to have it up before June 🙂

  4. Hesam August 1, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Hi Chris
    Hey man I must say, you are my favorite 🙂
    Absorbing these V-words, I found a nice piece on “virulent”
    I hope you found it interesting. Here it is
    The meeting of abusive words:

    Vituperative words; coarse, insulting speech; abusive language; virulent condemnation; reviling.

  5. Shanto August 1, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    Though not important as I dare (my apology) to say that there are two misspelled words (like your students; like me; ironically..).. I found in the monologue of the protagonist of “V for Vendetta” you provide. In the second sentence it is “voila” not “viola”(viola is a musical instrument and I am a violin dabbler) and in line number 6 it is “venal” not “venial”. My nerd (cram prone) brain inculcated such things while something is like this; sounds astounding.
    And I also do not understand the meaning of another dialogue from “Macbeth” which is also part of this movie
    “I dare do all that may become a man, who dares more is none”
    Would you please explain sir?
    Pardon my grammar.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 1, 2013 at 11:26 am #

      Thanks for catching that! I actually transcribed it via hand (since I couldn’t cut and paste) and it looks like I flubbed a couple of things :).

      I’m not too sure about the Shakespeare myself! I could interpret it a couple of ways, but I think context is important, so I’m going to abstain from being too creative.

      Hope that helps!

  6. DC July 31, 2013 at 9:39 pm #


    Thanks for the V-licious words. I think, between you and V, y’all ran the gamut of V words. I have nothing much to contribute there. But, that’s alright, my question is apropos of idioms.

    While my text completion & sentence equivalence goals are where I’d like them to be, I am, alas, having major problems with the reading comprehension passages. I realize the GRE has a bias towards American idiomatic expressions. Be that as it may, my question is, in your intro, you have used the phrase “no less”. When I looked it up, I culled the definitions and extrapolated it meant “surprisingly”.

    Now, read in the context you’ve used it, I don’t readily see a congruence. Could you please explain what “no less” means, at least in the context you used it?


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 1, 2013 at 11:54 am #

      Thanks for the kudos!

      Hmm…I can see how that can be confusing. You are right, “no less” means surprising in an ironic sense. I should have provided a little more context as my meaning is vague. What I was getting at was that there is this menacing, masked figure, ‘V’, and here is this pretty girl who, more or less, is standing up to him. (Because I saw the movie, I’m unconsciously filling in a lot of the blanks).

      I don’t want to confuse others — so I’ll change those lines a little :).


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