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GRE Vocab Wednesday- Hell‘O’ Words

Not sure if anybody can guess the theme based on the title. Nope, this week is not about words dealing with greetings. The theme is actually GRE words that end in ‘o’. You wouldn’t think there are many such words, but I’ve actually been able to corral quite a few!



I was always think of a little armadillo when I think of this word. However, this word is not about small armored mammals of the Mojave or any animal for that matter (nope, not even the peccary, a gregarious South American pig). A peccadillo is a minor sin. From the Latin ‘peccare’, which means ‘sin’, and the Spanish suffix ‘-dillo’, making the word a diminutive, peccadillo is reserved for small transgressions.

If my friend has a habit of running fifteen minutes late, I’d consider that a peccadillo. If he runs an hour late that more like a pecca-grande (not a word). Rolling through a stop sign would be a peccadillo, blasting through it at the twice the speed limit would be a felony (or at least something close to it).



In order to impart a sense of order and conduct, my daughter’s daycare center has a list of little points of etiquette that each student—and by extension each parent—must adhere to. We must take our shoes off upon entering, lunchboxes must go in the assigned area, ditto the water bottles, and a ledger must be signed (the 3-years old don’t do this). Each one of these small points of etiquette and conduct is a punctilio. The word also carries a sense of pettiness, which isn’t quite the case with the daycare. Were they to ask us to put our shoes in an assigned box upon entering than that would be a clear punctilio.

If you’ve been studying your advanced GRE words, you might have noticed that punctilio looks very similar to punctilious. Indeed, punctilious describes somebody who is fond of enforcing petty rules of conduct.



A proviso is the little condition added on to the end of the agreement. Provisos abound in life and, as I’ve come to learn in the last year, fairytales. Cinderella agrees to being whisked away in a magical carriage to a grand ball, with the proviso that she return before midnight. More sinisterly, Ariel, the Little Mermaid, can assume human form, only if she gives the evil sea witch her beautiful singing voice.

Provisos also inhabit the more mundane realm. Many people are offered jobs with the proviso that they produce results within the first few months.



A popular crossword clue, olio has an interesting etymology. In Spain, homemade stew is stored in small jars call olla. The stew then sits for a while and becomes a little, eh, fermented (it’s apparently yummy). The name of the stew is olla podrida, the podrida meaning rotten in Spanish. Olio comes from the olla part and means a mix of things (that’s the stew aspect; the rotten connotation is not part of the word).

My desktop is an olio of stuff: a bag of half-finished cashews, a picture of my family, a formidable stack of prep books, and…it looks like some bananas that have apparently gone podrida.



This word derives from middle Latin, meaning to nod at. The etymology makes sense when I tell you that an innuendo is a remark that has multiple layers of meaning that aren’t explicitly stated, but merely nodded at. That is, we must infer that a person is deliberately using a word or phrase that functions both literally and at some deeper level.



Knowing Spanish will help with this word. Simpatico, in Spanish, means nice and kind; in English, it describes a person who is easy to get along with…which I guess is really the same thing. Good adjectives include congenial, affable, and amiable.


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2 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday- Hell‘O’ Words

  1. BB July 30, 2016 at 5:00 am #

    I really like the way to explain the meanings with a story attached to it. really helps to remember the words. 🙂
    Great work Chris!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 30, 2016 at 9:19 am #

      Thanks for letting us know you enjoyed the post, BB! 🙂

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