Every now and then somebody will ask me whether the “Word of the Day” featured on dictionary.com is good to know for GRE purposes. Though every month there are couple of good GRE words in there, they are buried in the likes of omphaloskepsis, gibbosity, cryptesthesia, three words that my spellchecker has underlined in a strident red.
But I’m here today to comb through the last few months of Word of the Days, from the cryptic to the cryptesthesia, to bring you some GRE words.
Movies, though they can be highly formulaic, are always rewarding for me when the bad guy get what’s coming to him. This karmic justice is known as comeuppance, or “just desserts”, as it’s known in culinary circles. Yes, I know, I’m prone to ridiculous wordplay. When, after the opportunity for a pun just seems to come up in conversation and I slip the pun in there with the subtlety of an atomic bomb blast, I’m met with an aghast silence. I guess you can say I get my come up puns.
The body of work of an artist is known as that artist’s oeuvre. Beethoven’s oeuvre consisted of nine symphonies (any of which you should check out on youtube); Shakespeare’s plays numbered more than several dozen (quite the oeuvre from an educated lad from up north); and Monet’s oeuvre consisted—surprisingly—of more than just water lilies.
Hey, what did the artist’s friend tell him when the artist lost all of his paintings in a fire? You’ll get oeuvre it.
Okay, I promise: no more puns.
A downright frightening looking word harkening back a few thousand years to ancient Greek, panegyric seems to pulse with negativity. So it’s surprising that it actually means high praise, usually in written form. Over the years, I’ve gotten a few panegyrics in the comments section (these always make my day), though at the rate I’m going with the puns, I’ll far more likely be the victim of invective than the recipient of panegyric.
This word just can’t mean something good. And unlike the arcane etymology of “panegyric”, bugbear is made up of two words we all know (neither of which one invokes feelings of ease and tranquility).
A bugbear, though, is not some quadruped that gobbles up insects, but anything that fills you with great fear and loathing. Perhaps you are here reading these words, because vocabulary—with the attendant memories of unpleasant memories of pop quizzes and failing grades—has long been a bugbear of yours.
When the decorative goes beyond the merely pleasing to the outright tawdry, we have entered the realm of frippery. Of course, it’s hard sometimes to tell when fanciness becomes gaudiness. I guess you can say it is a frippery slope (see how subtle that was). The Notre Dame reposes in splendor; Versailles, for all its grandeur, revels in frippery. Frippery can also relate to dress. Anytime I happen to catch Downton Abbey, the aristocrats represent frippery in motion—or lack of motion: some are bedecked in clothing so ornate they can scarcely walk.