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GRE Vocab Wednesday: ‘W’ Words

It’s without doubt a wide world of words, and in honor of such an alliterative outpouring, I present you with the unsung and unwieldy letter ‘W’. Nowhere nearly as fecund as other letters, as far as starting words go, ‘W’ still shows up in some important GRE words.



Waggish doesn’t describe a happy dog, though, I suppose, it could describe that comment itself. See, to be waggish is to possess a mixture of humor, playfulness, and mischief, and that opening was my attempt at waggishness. A wag, by the way, is person who jokes about serious matters. Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, with his irreverent wit, is a well-known wag.



Woe is great distress. To be woebegone is to look like you’ve experienced lots of woe. A person who has lost his job and has been forced to move into a slum dwelling will likely appear woebegone—ambling the streets, disheveled, face heavy with sorrow.



When you are faced with a deluge of things—whether vocabulary words, household chores, or spam—welter is an apt word. Suggesting a confused jumble or even general disorder, welter is a word that, in our sped up, multitasking lives, is germane. A good way to remember this word is to think of welterweight boxers, who at a lean 145 pounds (66 kg), throws a welter of punches especially in the later rounds.



Not happy with something? Well, then you should wrangle. Got bad service? Well, that’s what customer service lines are for: we can air our grievances and wrangle with the person on the line. The connotation of wangle is a long and complicated dispute, which, if you’ve ever complained about something, is the perfect word to describe those 30-minutes of your life you spend arguing heatedly on the phone.



An act that is excessive and sometimes even spiteful is wanton. This word is usually coupled with “disregard” to imply a total lack of morality.

The serial killer was sentenced to death for his wanton disregard for human life.

Of course, wanton can be used alone to describe actions that are excessively bad.

The vandals did not stop at merely robbing valuables; their wanton plundering of the home included smashing garden gnomes, spray painting graffiti on the garage door, and egging the parked cars.



Every contest or tournament involves eliminating participants until only one is left. That process is the essence of winnowing, which means to select only the best (though there can oftentimes be more than one participant remaining). For instance, the recent NCAA college basketball tournament featured 64 teams. Each round eliminated half of the participants, winnowing down the pool to the number one team.

Even I do a little winnowing each week, as I select words that show up on Vocab. Wednesday (sorry, wry, winsome, and wary).


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2 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: ‘W’ Words

  1. Teju April 11, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    Just started my preparation for GRE and started accessing your blog as well.

    Thank You! 🙂

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 11, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

      You are welcome!

      Feel free to ask me any questions along the way :).

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