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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Words from the December Article of the Month

This recent article dealt with confidence in what we know, and don’t know. In addition to featuring many words, it obliquely touches on something common in vocabulary: you are confident you know the word because you’ve seen it in context. But do you actually know the definition of the word? Oftentimes, what people think a word means and what a word means don’t quite mesh. Take a minute and write down the definition of each of the words below without actually looking at the definition.


Holy smokes! I’m very surprised that this word has yet to show up on Vocab Wednesday. It means untouchable or inviolable. In other words, something that can’t be messed with. A video must accompany this post—that’s sacrosanct in the short history of Vocabulary Wednesday. With Christmas around the corner, there are many sacrosanct traditions depending on one’s household. A Christmas without a tree is, for some, akin to treason. (That’s weird: treason is a combination of tree and season). What is sacrosanct to even more folks is the unwrapping of Christmas presents Christmas morning.


I think the person who invented the fortune cookie was an aphorist. Nope, an aphorist isn’t one who likes postprandial sweets. Rather, he or she likes to utter pithy sayings. Yogi Berra, a catcher for the New York Yankees about 50 years back, is renowned for his oddball (no pun intended!) aphorisms. “The future ain’t what it used to be”; “You can observe a lot just by watching”; “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” I think you get the idea.


The economy in certain parts of the world, the weather outside my window, the chances of the NY Mets winning a world series (sorry Mike!) are all dismal. Basically, dismal covers anything from gloomy (rain and more rain) to straight up depressing.


To have a natural tendency to do something is to have a propensity for it. I have propensity for using GRE words in conversation, laughing at my own egregious puns, and singing at full throttle when I am alone in the car—and apparently a propensity for TMI. We all have our propensities, whether it is the all too common propensity to procrastinate or the propensity to disregard stop signs in residential neighborhoods.


This word describes ruling bodies (governments, regions, countries, etc.) but also people. In the first case, any country that is autonomous is economically self-sufficient. It doesn’t need help financial or in matters of governance from any other country. In other words, to be autonomous is to be able to stand on your own two feet and take care of yourself.

People-wise, autonomy is often used to describe financial ability. For instance, many do not gain financial autonomy until after college, when they receive their first job. And still a few others, do not maintain financial autonomy until well in to their 30’s.

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