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.