In 1903, two brothers from North Carolina did something that many experts at the time thought impossible, if not downright daft: fly an airplane. Indeed, few believed this feat would end in anything but death. There were, in other words, only naysayers — doubters and those in opposition to idea. The Wright Brothers of course proved the naysayers wrong.
A confusing word that has little to do with transportation, inroads can mean two very different things: progress and advance, or a hostile attack.
In the first sense, we’ve made inroads in the fight to prevent and cure AIDS, not finding an outright cure but devising medicines that are able to hold the disease at bay indefinitely. We’ve made inroads in research to cure cancer and just about any serious diseases that plagued earlier centuries (polio, measles, smallpox).
The more martial variant of the word — the hostile attack — is not as common. But if you do see it, the word would be used more like this:
The Battle of the Bulge was so costly for both sides that neither can be said to have made inroads into the other’s territory; significant advances, however, would later be made by the Allies because the German munitions supply had been so thoroughly depleted in the Battle of the Bulge.
Let’s say we’re having an argument about who is the greatest athlete of all time. I’m rallying behind Michael Jordan, claiming he not only elevated over players but elevated an entire game. You agree, but point out that he was not a team player in the same way that Wayne Gretzky, the hockey legend, was. I think for a moment, realize you have a point, and then agree with you.
That is called conceding. I’m not giving up on my argument that Michael Jordan is the greatest, but I’m conceding the point that he was not the greatest team player.
Most people recognize this word as a synonym for peacemaking. That is, when you reconcile with a person, you make up and the two of you are no longer enemies.
The second definition, however, is the one you are more likely to see on the GRE. To reconcile means to be in balance or harmony with, in a figurative sense. If two things don’t match up, then they have not been reconciled.
For some reason, scientists could not reconcile the fact that the local coyote population was thriving with the fact that the deer population — the coyote’s primary prey — had plummeted.
She could not reconcile his petty ways — never offering to pay the bill, always picking up pennies on the street — with the fact that he often gave generously to charities.
Constitutive is another word for component. A constitutive of the GRE is Verbal Reasoning, of which vocabulary recognition is a large part.
Features such as Vocabulary Wednesday and the Article of the Month are constitutive of The Magoosh Blog, as are blog comments and students’ success stories.