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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Words from Article of the Month Part II

This is the second week of words from the February/March Article of the Month (it was pretty jam packed with great words). These are high-frequency words, all of which are featured on Vocab Wednesday for the first time.



If you know the word uncanny, which means strange in this creepy way, the definition of canny might not make much sense. To be canny is be clever, shrewd, savvy. The focus is on business or money matters, e.g. a canny card shark, a canny financial adviser. So there is nothing uncanny about canny—unless you think



Plants love sunlight. Put one in a closet and it will quickly wilt. Darkness—or at least a lack of sunlight—stultifies a plant: it limits its growth. Stultify is almost always used in a human context, describing a process that limits or weakens one. A school with a strong disciplinarian bent will likely stultify the mind of a creative child. Any job where you do the same thing day after day will stultify you. Communist Russia stultified innovation by deifying the state at the expense of the individual.



My daughter loves Play Doh: she can mold it to any shape she wants (though, she’s often content to sit there and simply smell it). Anything that can be shaped or molded is malleable. The word isn’t just reserved for concrete things (though it doesn’t apply to actual concrete). A person, if he or she is easily susceptible to influences, can be malleable.

Independent voters are often the most malleable amongst the electorate, because they do no identify strongly with the values of either party.  



Something no longer functioning or existing is defunct. Video cassette recorders (VCR’s), the television networks of the 1950’s, Communism (at least in parts of the world) have all become defunct, tossed into the dustbin of history. But defunct isn’t only about the past; many of the things we use today will at some point become defunct. While Facebook is still pretty ascendant, amongst many high school students, who are mortified that their parents can view their “selfies”, the social network has long been defunct.



A tricky word—if you happen to know recapitulated, a word that’s popped up on Vocab Wed. before. The latter means to go over or recap. Capitulate, however, means to surrender.

With its munitions close to nil, the platoon was forced to capitulate.



When two opposing sides meet to resolve a conflict, both sides often refuse to budge. In such cases, the sides have reached an impasse—neither wants to give up any ground. Presently, the U.S. and Russia have reached an impasse. The U.S. doesn’t want Russia to use any military force; Russia doesn’t want the U.S. to tell it how to handle its own affairs. The rest of the world anxiously stands by, hoping that the two nations will be able to negotiate a way out of this dangerous impasse.


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