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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Vocabulary from Article of the Month (Part I)

The first of the two articles in this article of the month was such a cornucopia of words that I have split into two vocabulary Wednesday posts. If you haven’t read the articles, I highly recommend them. It’s a different format than usual; it’s a debate of sorts, in which I pit two perspectives against each other.



Morton always complained about those around him, taking umbrage at any comment, no matter how innocuous, directed his way.

From Latin for shade (think “umbrella”), this word has taken on a very different connotation. If you leave an umbrella at work in the morning and somebody pinches it at some point, so that you are left without an umbrella on your return commute, you are likely to “take umbrage”. Umbrage, alone, means offence or annoyance. The word is almost always together with “take”. If somebody insults something you love, you are likely to take umbrage.



Everybody thought the lake was haunted, telling stories of men who would emerge at night and then disappear, of the wailing of small child that nobody every saw; Charles knew this was all Apocrypha and that the lake was just an ordinary lake.

The Bible is such a sturdy tome, passed down over the eons, that its current form seems preordained. Yet, what we have today is a very specific form of the Bible called the Vulgate Bible created in the late 4th century by St. Jerome. During the Council of Trent in the 16th century, the Catholic Church made the Vulgate Bible the official bible. This is a big deal because certain books from an earlier bible, the Septuagint (a Greek translation), did not make it into the Vulgate Bible. These books are called the Apocrypha.

Of course, the English language is all about appropriating very context specific words and applying them to a more general context. Apocrypha, then, means any story or report that is not considered genuine. Let’s say you go onto reddit or quora and you read that Vocabulary Wednesday is forever disappearing as of next week. Well, that is Internet Apocrypha (all too common!) because Vocabulary Wednesday is not going anywhere.



Recently, Russian fighter jets intercepted an American battleship on her waters, an incursion that set off alarms in the international community.

A brief attack or invasion into enemy territory is an incursion. We see this often in movies about World War I, which dealt with trench warfare. One side will often muster up the courage—or madness—to run out of the trench and charge into enemy territory. These incursions are usually short-lived, as these plucky souls are often felled by gunfire.

In a broader sense, an incursion is any advance by one thing into an area in which it is not welcome, e.g., The incursion of the sciences into psychology has changed what was once considered a humanity into a discipline driven by data and statistics.



Youtube comments section:

Comment 1: “I got knocked out last night. I was like totally unconscionable.”

Reply: “No, no, you twit. It is your grasp of diction that is unconscionable.”

Unconscionable has two definitions—neither of which is “unconscious”. Unconscionable can mean either excessive or something that is so wrong and morally objectionable as to be unforgivable (the comment above is employing the second definition, albeit in a hyperbolic sense).



Before entering medical school, Jonathan found Medical Journals opaque; after graduating, however, that opacity became translucent and he would recent the New England Journal of Review much the same way he had once read Time magazine.

This is a noun form of the more common adjective opaque. Opaque/opacity has two meanings. The literal definition is something that can’t be seen through (Walls are opaque; unless you are superman). Figuratively, opacity refers to meaning; if something is opaque, it is difficult to understand.


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2 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: Vocabulary from Article of the Month (Part I)

  1. Arnab November 20, 2015 at 11:05 pm #

    Thank you Cris, your teaching technique is fabulous, read the blog just fidgeting in the internet. And of course I’ll regularly follow you.

    • Dani Lichliter
      Dani Lichliter November 22, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

      Glad to hear it, Arnab! Best of luck with your studying! 🙂

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