It’s always a good idea to make sure you know every word that has appeared in official materials. The GRE tends to reuse words in future questions. The recently released verbal question guide is no exception. You should carefully go through the book, making sure you know each word.
Below are some important words that have yet to be featured in Vocab Wednesday.*
Mean looking, irritable and unfriendly, surly is not a word you’d want to invite to the vocabulary party. People who are surly are standoffish and look like they want to start a fight. The word is typically reserved for men; just make sure not to call any surly-looking man Shirley. You may get a knuckle sandwich.
From the noun enigma, which is a puzzle or mystery, enigmatic can describe anything that is puzzling. Enigmatic streaks in the sky are often taken as signs of UFO’s (at least in certain parts of the country). The disappearance of flight 370 is enigmatic. The process by which GRE selects the exact vocabulary words to put on the test is enigmatic.
If something is harmful or damaging, it is detrimental. The word is typically wrapped up with the preposition “to”, and used with non-human agents. You wouldn’t say I am detrimental to him, because I punched him after he called me Shirley. Rather, noise can be detrimental to your performance on a standardized test. Smoking can be detrimental to your health.
Blah, don’t talk to me. I want to crawl into a corner and veg out. That’s the credo of the phlegmatic, one who is generally unemotional and doesn’t react too much. That said, a phlegmatic type is loath to even have a credo. Not reacting, sluggish-even, a phlegmatic person wouldn’t be fun to have at the vocabulary party. Then again, who is phlegmatic and who is not is often a matter of context. Every time I ride public transportation, I can see many phlegmatic expressions (and a few surly ones!).
Stubborn to the point of being resistant just for the heck of it, obdurate is best left for extreme situations. “I will not do what you are asking of me. End of story.” That’s basically what anybody who is being obdurate is saying.
I think of things bouncing in water when I think of buoyancy. And I’m not too far in that regard, since buoyancy is the property of water that allows thing to float. The GRE isn’t after this definition so much as the definition of the word in its figurative sense. A person who is buoyant is upbeat and cheerful (buoyancy is definitely coming to the vocab party!!!). Just as the buoys stay above water, so too do the buoyant souls—keeping their heads above the waters of vicissitudes that life always brings.