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GRE Vocab Wednesday: April/May Article of the Month Words (Part 1)


If you haven’t yet, I recommend checking out the April and May article(s) of the month, in which the following vocabulary pops up. Since there was a wealth of GRE words, I spread them out over two Vocab Wednesdays. Here is the first part.


Felonious is a potentially intimidating word that really shouldn’t be, provided you know what a felon is. He (or she) is one who commits a terrible crime, usually involving violence. “Felonious” can described a person who is wicked and commits vile crimes, or it can describe an abstract noun relating to the breaking of law,

Though the gun didn’t fire, the perpetrator acted with felonious intent, aiming to kill the visiting dignitary.


A GRE favorite, this word sounds like it means something positive. For one it sounds like mosaic (who doesn’t like a beautiful tiled wall!) and it begins with “pro”. However, the word comes from the “prose”, as in writing, and surprisingly carries a negative meaning. That is, we tend to think of prose as something creative. Yet compared to poetry, prose is the far less creative and colorful. So the word prosaic actually means dull, commonplace, ordinary.

Many imagine the life of spy to be filled with intrigue and derring-do, but in reality a spy must attend to prosaic concerns that come with trying to assume an identity that aims to draw little attention.


A fancy sounding words that means nothing more than “up until now”, heretofore is something that is okay to employ in academic-minded prose but that sounds like you are trying to show off if you happen to use it in day-to-day conversation.

Heretofore I have avoided using the word “heretofore” in conversation, but in order to come across an intellectual in my grad program, I plan to use this word on a daily basis.


To attenuate is to weaken in effect or intensity. You typically wouldn’t use this word to describe a person, but something that exercises an effect over another thing.

Her attention attenuated towards the end of class.

Since the aspirin had been expired for four years, it only exercised an attenuated effect, and Harold continued to feel the remnants of a headache.


Literally, this word refers to areas far away from the city and often unexplored. For instance, in the United States the hinterlands tend to be located in the middle of the country. Were you to venture into Idaho, Nebraska, or Wyoming, you’d be in the hinterlands of the US. More figuratively speaking, the hinterlands are those parts of a large subject that are little known.

Magoosh once existed in the hinterlands of GRE prep, known of by only a few of the more intrepid test takers willing to venture from the familiar terrain of the classroom setting.


Any one who takes part in a conversation or dialogue is an interlocutor. Were you to chat with a colleague, he or she would be your interlocutor. Were you to take part in a debate with several of those in your classroom or at your office, those people would be your interlocutors.

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