GRE Vocab Wednesday: ‘Ch’oice Words

Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll run out of vocabulary words for Vocab Wednesday. After all, the number of words the GRE tests is finite—though it may not seem that way to someone facing down a 3,500-word list. For those who’ve learnt many of those words and are hoping Vocab Wed. can find yet more words, no need to worry. Using the constraint of words beginning with “ch”, I was still able to find these five morsels, only one of which has been in a previous Vocab Wednesday. (“Charlatan” is such a great word, I couldn’t pass on it.)


If you don’t know the second definition of this word, then the post title might have thrown you off a little. So, I’m here to remove any confusion by telling you that “choice” has a few other definitions: if food is choice, that food is of a high quality (truffles, wine, and escargot exude choice). More loosely speaking “choice” means excellent, and can apply to more contexts than food (though this is where we typically encounter this usage). For instance, a choice location for your home would imply that you have found some coveted real estate.

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Interestingly, “choice,” when used with word or words, means something entirely different: abusive and rude. So if you upset somebody and they have some choice words for you, you can bet he or she has said something pretty nasty. Of course, I was playing around with these multiple definitions in the title, since I’m not going to verbally abuse you.


Guarded? Don’t want to say too much in case you give something away? Well, “chary” is the word for you. A GRE synonym is circumspect, chary basically means cautious. You are not willing to take risks. You are constantly on the alert. You don’t want to get caught unawares.


I can’t imagine this every being a correct answer to a GRE question, but I can imagine it making a great distractor. He was cherubic and happy to see me. This word doesn’t mean cheerful. Instead it describes those pudgy little kids, with golden locks and rubicund cheeks, who look angelic. Indeed, a cherub is a little child angel. Where, you exclaim, would anyone actually see literal child-like angels fluttering around? Well, just head to your local museum: Renaissance Art is full of cherubs.


Not who you say you are? Pretending to be something you are not? Something that requires knowledge and expertise? Well, you may indeed very well be a charlatan. A common synonym is quack, a word that pops up in medical circles. That is, if somebody dispenses medical advice but derives his or her knowledge from Youtube videos, that person is a charlatan. Were I to pretend to the know the word charlatan, claiming I was a GRE tutor (clearly, in the same rarefied realm as an M.D.), I would be a charlatan. Luckily, I am no charlatan, GRE-wise.


Another word with a second definition, “check” means to limit the progress of something, or to keep it from growing. The assiduous gardener must always check the progress of weeds. Unchecked, weeds would devour gardens. Your progress on the GRE could be kept in check by the numerous other responsibilities you have in life.

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7 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: ‘Ch’oice Words

  1. Pushkar December 6, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    cherubic countenance happens to be one of the choice in TC in real gre exam which my friend gave yesterday…and interestingly enough he said it was the correct answer choice…well thats why vocab wed is fun!! 🙂

  2. Pushkar December 6, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    cherubic countenance happens to be one of the choice in TC in real gre exam which my friend gave yesterday…and interesting enough he said it was the correct answer choice…well thats why vocab wed is fun!! 🙂

  3. Mireille December 4, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    …I guess I could come up with my own percentage now! 🙂 All I have left to do is to count how many words came up in Vocab Wednesdays and add those from the flashcards, then do a proportion. 🙂 Phew, luckily we’re past the first half at least…

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele December 4, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

      I appreciate your initiative 🙂

      And don’t worry, I’ll stop short long before the likes of quidnunc, borborygmus, and panjandrum.

      • Mireille December 4, 2014 at 2:56 pm #


        Yes, it would be nice of you to do so, considering that, in your benign intentions to inculcate these words into our subconsciousness, kind of doubled — and tripled those words at times, which will give a significant error margin to my proportion now! 😀 But hey, the main intention is what really counts! 😉

  4. Samy December 3, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the post. Earlier you’d posted about reading voraciously and reading widely to expand one’s vocabulary for the GRE, and also because reading actively is good practice for answering GRE RCs. In a previous post you suggested The Best American series that includes Science and Nature. While this is a book, do you have any solid suggestions for science based reads (articles/journals) that would serve as a good prep for the GRE RC? Yesterday, you posted about Music which was great. Science oriented reading passages seem to be very dull and/or convoluted, so would like to practice/read more.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele December 4, 2014 at 10:59 am #

      Hi Samy,

      It sees like a great place would be this site:

      It’s great for articles that are more story based and less technical, but still contain plenty of vocabulary and sophisticated sentence structure. On this very same site, you will be able to find essays on music, science, and everything in between.

      Hope that helps!

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