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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Words of Degree

Life is about ups; life is about downs. Life is even about the middle. Thus, we have words of degree. Indeed, we’ve been using them most of our lives: ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘okay’ are part of a three-year old’s lexicon. But there are a plethora of words that modify the degree of something. Below are a few that you may see on the GRE.



A consummate musician plays in front of a large audience; a consummate athlete dashes (or jumps) on our T.V. screen. In a word these people are all accomplished. Consummate, however, does not always carry a positive connotation. A consummate liar is an absolute liar.

Dominant in several sports at once, Bo Jackson was the consummate athlete of the 1980’s.

A consummate pianist, Vladimir Horowitz, a formidable classicist, was known to dabble in jazz.



It is one thing to perform poorly. It is an entirely other thing to perform abysmally. Abysmal means very, very bad (think of an abyss in the ocean; it’s about as low as you can go). Abysmal can also refer to the general state of things. So next time it is 45 degrees and raining in June you can declaim, “The weather is abysmal.”

The comedian’s jokes were so abysmal that many in the audience grimaced.



Speaking of really bad, ‘egregious’ is a good way to modify something that is already bad, say an egregious foul in sports, or an egregious oversight. Notice that ‘abysmal’ (see above) can modify a neutral word.

Daryl’s driving was an egregious violation of safety: he would oftentimes hit highway speed limits in residential neighborhoods.



This word sounds negative (it reminds me of ‘inimical’, which describes a hostile environment). ‘Inimitable’ means unparalleled, as in the best.

The French Laundry, a famous restaurant in Northern California, offers inimitable fare, though at nearly $500 per meal, many balk at the price. 



Life is not about one extreme or the other. Sometimes we have to deal with middle of the road, the mediocre and the downright middling (oops, I invoked the extreme again with ‘downright.’). ‘Requisite’ means just the necessary amount to get the job done.

Harold did the requisite amount of studying and, unsurprisingly received a ‘C.’


Editor’s Note: 

Hi, all!

This post is a day late (Vocab Thursday? :)) because we were a bit busy at the Magoosh office yesterday celebrating Chris’s birthday! Here’s a picture of his “cake”, can you guess what it’s made out of? 


The letter tiles you see on the table are from Bananagrams, a Magoosh favorite! Again, sorry for the delay, and be sure to wish Chris a happy belated birthday! 🙂



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41 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: Words of Degree

  1. Harvey September 26, 2015 at 12:11 am #

    Belated wishes chris:) Enjoy!!!

  2. Mrs. Gibson October 10, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Happy belated birthday Chris! Thank you for helping me take the requisite GRE test. My hope is to avoid an abysmally low GRE score by learning from your expertise. Rumor is you are also the consummate athlete who demolishes the Tough Mudder half triathlon course with inimitable skill. Thanks for all of your help! 🙂

    • Chris Lele
      Chris October 10, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

      Hi Mrs. Gibson,

      I am happy you are finding my posts helpful (I am confident they can help you avoid an abysmal score!). As for the Tough Mudder that may be a rumor (though I must say having very little hair helped me deal with the heat!).

  3. Akshay September 27, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    Happy belated birthday Chris..Hope u had a good one.. cheerio!.

  4. Mahboub September 26, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Belated wishes chris:)

    • Chris Lele
      Chris September 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

      Thanks for the wishes!

  5. Sushobhan Sen September 26, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    Hi Chris & the Magoosh GRE Team!

    Just wanted to tell you that I’ve been following the blog for a year now, particularly Vocab Wednesday. I wrote my GRE last week and my raw score is 165/170 in each section, which is great. Incidentally, this is the highest score I ever got in the Verbal Section, and it happened to be in the actual exam!

    So thank you for the great work you guys do!

    • Nitish September 26, 2012 at 11:01 am #

      Hello Sushobhan

      What material would you suggest for practicing GRE Reading Comprehension?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris September 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

      That is a great score!!! Congratulations :). I’m very happy we could be a part of it!

  6. elvis September 24, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    Hi! i”m taking the gre at the end of Oct, and i have been studying since the beginning of sept.. My question is, when do you know you have learned enough words for the verbal section? i have memorized about 1500 words so far, and they are pretty much ingrained within my head. I’m just worried that i havent learned enough because i have been scoring 149 to 152 on verbal practice test from ets and kaplan. And the school i am trying to get into need a verbal of 149, i’m not sure how these scores would compare to the real test though.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris September 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

      Hi Elvis,

      That’s a great question, unfortunately one that is not easy to answer. One thing to keep in mind is the GRE verbal is not difficult only because of the vocabulary, but is difficult because of the convoluted synatx ETS employs, much like this very sentence. The key is training your brain to parse through loads of words in order to discern a larger meaning.

      Then of course there is the RC section, while overlapping with vocabulary to some degree, tests more your ability to answer difficult questions on an esoteric topic. Given that half of the verbal questions are RC, you will have to do more than just study vocab to get past the 150 bump.

      Of course every word counts–and I would still recommend learning more words–but remember to keep in mind the points above.

      Good luck!

  7. akshaya September 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Happy birthday Chris!!!

  8. Sarat September 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Happy belated birthday wishes Chris

  9. Christine September 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    Hey Chris,

    A very happy birthday to you 🙂

  10. JESSIE September 22, 2012 at 7:02 am #

    Happy Birthday, Chris! Hope you had a great celebration!!!!

  11. Prasanth September 22, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    Belated Happy B’day Chris

  12. Chris Lele
    Chris September 21, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    Thanks all for the happy B-day wishes! (And yes, those are wasabi-flavored almonds).

    • Santoshkalyan September 22, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

      Happy Belated Birthday wishes Chris.

  13. vignesh September 21, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    Happy belated birthday wishes to our Tutor!!!

  14. Gaia September 21, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Happy birthday, Chris!!

  15. Jagrati September 21, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Happy B’day Chris

  16. Arif September 21, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    Happy BIrthday Chris!!!

  17. vaidehi September 21, 2012 at 5:49 am #

    Hi Chris
    Belated happy birthday!!!!!Came to know about Bananagrams today ,interesting game …Well is your birthday cake made up of wasabi-flavored almonds????

  18. Aashish September 21, 2012 at 5:34 am #

    Hey Chris…Many Many happy returns of the day…have a blast….cheers…:)

  19. wajhi September 21, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    Belated wishes chris!

  20. Varun September 21, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    Hey Chris, Many many happy returns of D day, Cheers!!!!!!!!
    Thank you for making our GRE path walkable.

  21. Geet September 21, 2012 at 1:27 am #

    Wish you a very Happy Birthday Chris 🙂

    The cake seems to me like almonds , are they ?

    Thanks for the post 🙂

  22. Ashwini September 20, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    Hi Chris!

    Belated Happy Birthday! Wishes for a fantastic year ahead :))

  23. Japnam September 20, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    Belated Happy bday chris!

  24. Divya September 20, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Chris, Many Happy Returns of the Day!

    • Anupam September 20, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

      Hi Chris, Belated happy b’day !

      I always thought consummate means “sexual intercourse”, which I deduced from the standard reference “consummate the marriage”

      but a quick dictionary search confirms your definition, thanks !


      • Nitish September 21, 2012 at 6:55 am #

        It is indeed one of the meanings –>

        • Chris Lele
          Chris September 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

          I thought I’d level out that aspect of the word, as I don’t think it’ll be tested on the GRE ;).

  25. Abhishek September 20, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    The video that is attached is showing an error as the video is unavailable . Its not even performing at requisite level . I hope the video plays at inimitable level when the problem is fixed .It requires a granular amount of time for the abysmal situation to get abated and once its fixed , the consummate feeling experienced is inimitable.
    Wish you a belated Happy Birthday Chris ! Have a great time ahead !

    • Margarette Jung
      Margarette September 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

      Hi, Abhishek

      The video should be working now! YouTube just took longer than normal to process it. Let me know if you’re still getting the error :).


  26. Nitish September 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    Wishing you a very Happy B’Day Chris! 😀

    • Chris Lele
      Chris September 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

      Thanks for the belated wishes!

  27. karuna September 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    Happy birthday Chris

    • Chris Lele
      Chris September 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm #


  28. Asish September 20, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Happy Birthday Chris!!! Enjoy!!!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris September 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

      Thanks :).

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