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

If you haven’t checked out this month’s article, I recommend you do so. It’s definitely the first time I’ve ever encountered the idea that the bond between man and his best friend (the dog) may be responsible for the demise of the Neanderthals. I know, it sounds like something two overly caffeinated grad students would hatch at 3 in the morning—but intriguing nonetheless.

Here are some of the vocab words that stood out from the pack, as it were. 🙂


From the Latin for fear, this word is more a mixture of fear and awe. For instance, if a grizzly bear were chasing you, you’d be petrified. I’m not sure if you’d be in awe. But if you were looking down at a grizzly bear in a zoo, you’d probably not to be too scared. You would be in awe of the grizzly’s formidable form, its muscles quivering at each step.

Formidable doesn’t just refer to big scary animals. If you’ve been a diligent learner of Vocab Wednesday word lists, you’ve probably developed a pretty formidable vocabulary. Hopefully, nobody will run from you upon hearing wield your formidable lexicon.


Two dinosaurs go for a walk. One gets run over by herd of brontosaurus: pretty disastrous (especially if you are that dinosaur), but hardly a cataclysm. Now imagine the entire dinosaur kingdom becoming wiped out by a meteor, especially the ensuing climate change. That’s a cataclysm: a sudden, violent large-scale upheaval. We don’t just get cataclysms in the animal kingdom; the beginning of the century saw a political cataclysm, when World War I shook up much of the old world order.


Since we no longer see dinosaurs roaming the earth, it would be easy to think that they had been extirpated—or totally rooted out and destroyed—by that cataclysmic meteor. Or, the remaining dinosaurs may have evolved into far smaller creatures: modern day birds. Indeed, extirpation rarely happens in the animal kingdom as species find ways to adapt so that they become a different species over a long enough time frame. Of course, if you have termites in your home, you’ll do your best to extirpate every last one of them.


Garner is typically used with the words “approval”, “information”, or “support”. Garner means to collect, to gather. So if you are a politician who has garnered the support of the electorate, you’re in pretty good shape. If you’ve garnered the approval of your peers, you are likely to feel good about yourself. As for garnering information on GRE vocab, you’ve come to the right place.


Ants: they are always working (and, I assume, doing a pretty a good job). There is perhaps then no better word than industrious to describe an ant (though there is the totally useless word formication, which means to experience a prickly sensation on your skin as though ants are running all over you—at least they’re not uncles).


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2 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: Words from the March Article of the Month

  1. Ben April 24, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    With regard to ‘industrious’ (and ‘formication’): Vade ad formicam, o piger!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 27, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

      Nice Latin — dig the biblical allusion!

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