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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Pirate Words

(Words beginning with ‘R’)

It seems fashionable to water down a pirate’s speech to a mere, but aggressive, trilling of the tongue—Rrrr. In honor of pirates, I’ve chosen words that begin with ‘R’, and words that could reasonably be applied to pirates.


Bawdy and vulgar, making light of prurient matters is the essence of ribald. Coarse and crass are two other good synonyms. I imagine a boat full of pirates cracking jokes not fit for print in these pages—ribald jokes.

In business dealings, the lead pirate was deadly serious, but as soon as the grog started flowing he engaged in ribaldry that had the bar maids plugging their ears.


If anything warrants laughter, it can be rightly called risible. The laughter provoked can range from the funny (watching the home videos of cats making weird human sounds) to the derisive (movies with two-dimensional actors hamming it up).

The landlubbers found the pirate’s get up risible—but paid the price for their laughter by walking the plank.


We’ve all been the victim of an accusation, but we don’t always sling an accusation back. When we do, that accusation is called a recrimination. Witness the dialogue between two angry pirates:

Pirate #1 – You said you’d split the gold down the middle, but you made off with a good 80%.

Pirate #2 – Arrgh! I’ll split you down the middle. Last time, when you said we’d split the treasure, I didn’t end up getting even a single doubloon.

Pirate #2 has hurled a recrimination back at Pirate #1. Something is tell me that Pirate #1 has a recrimination (or a brandished sabre) in response.


When someone continually commits wicked acts, we expect some form of retribution, which means punishment or moral comeuppance. That is you can’t keep on being a bad guy; there is some form of payback or retribution around the corner.

From years of taking from wealthy merchant vessels, the pirate himself became rich; when he was mugged outside of his favorite tavern, the townspeople saw this as an act of retribution.


Have you ever felt cheated or slighted in some way? Have you wanted to bring this slight to the attention of the culprit? If so, you have remonstrated with that person, hoping to point out in a very plain way that he or she has duped you.

Even though the pirate wielded a machete the size of an elephant’s trunk, the tavern owner remonstrated that the pirate had cheated at cards, and that the so-called losers shouldn’t have to give the pirate a single piece of gold.


Perhaps, you know somebody who is hardheaded and inflexible when it comes to authority. As soon as that person is told to do something, they do the opposite just to be difficult. Well, that person is recalcitrant. And if you don’t know a person who stubbornly defies authority, I got one for you: the pirate.

Surrounded by a fleet of police boats, the pirate was recalcitrant, neither giving into a single demand nor disembarking from his boat.

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