GRE Vocab Wednesday: GRE Tricksters

English abounds with words implying deceit. A façade is a false face you put on to mislead. A ploy is a crafty plan to get the advantage. There is ruse, cunning, treacherous, and a whole other slew of words that don’t quite get GRE billing status—meaning they are known to most.



Getting ahead his tough, so many resort to trickery and falsehoods, or chicanery.  Typical chicanery includes accounting firms “cooking” the books, politicians clawing for every last vote, and general corporate misdeeds.


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A fancy word for lying and deceit, mendacious doesn’t appear too often in writing. Indeed, I don’t really see it much outside the standardized test world. So it wouldn’t be mendacity on my part to tell GRE aspirants to learn this word. A truly good antonym is veracious, which describes someone who speaks the truth.


Many T.V. shows rely on the lure of machinations: we love watching people scheme against one another, double crossing, triple crossing, and always crossing over the line from questionable to downright unethical. And I’m not just talking about daytime soaps. Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad consist of a group of characters machinating (that’s the verb form) against one another.


To collude is to conspire with another person. Typically, the end results aren’t totally wicked (nobody is going to get murdered), but if you are colluding, you are trying to get away with something. As kids, we often times would collude with a sibling if something broke in the house (quick, sweep the shard of the broken vase under the couch!).


This word sounds like ‘fact’, but that is actually a fiction. Factitious describes something that is artificial or contrived. You could put on a factitious air (meaning you’re being a phony); you could watch a factitious acting performance (meaning you should change the channel); or you could by a factitious piece of jewelry (meaning that those aren’t real diamonds).


This word doesn’t relate to old stuff hanging on walls, but to “art” in the second meaning: crafty skill. Magicians are known for their artifice, convincing those in the audience that they just pulled a rabbit from a hat, or cut somebody in two. The clever trickery implied by artifice can be found in anything ranging from the way a writers pulls off a story to the behavior of a politician trying to cover up a lie.


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6 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: GRE Tricksters

  1. Saurav August 4, 2014 at 2:29 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Is it worth learning the 3000 words given in Barrons? I have covered around 1500 and am finding myself forgetting already. I only have another month left for my GRE.

    Should I go with the Mogoosh flash cards instead, now?


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 4, 2014 at 11:58 am #


      Oh no, don’t use that list :). That’s exactly what happens when learning words from a list, esp. one that is 3,000 long. Flashcards are WAAAYYYY better. Also, the vocab contained within is also more relevant to the GRE, which changed about 3 years back (the Barron’s list was concocted before some GRE aspirants were even born :)).

      So Magoosh flashcards all the way 🙂

  2. Mendacious chick August 2, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    Haha! That was too funny!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 4, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

      Glad you liked 🙂 — and I’ll sign off as “Chicanery Man”

  3. Hashir August 1, 2014 at 2:11 am #

    Hey Chris,

    Thanks for these ‘deceptive and trickery’ words. I stumbled while reading Chicanery

    description. Can you please elaborate the phrase [‘Getting ahead his tough’] and

    chicanery example [“cooking” the books]. One thing more, would it be possible for you

    to upload Vocab Wed videos on streaming sites besides Youtube? Like Dailymotion

    maybe. Anyways,thanks for the efforts you put in, for every Vocab Wed lesson. Means a

    lot to all of us.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 4, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

      Hi Hashir,

      Thanks for the feedback!

      “Getting ahead” means doing better at something. “Cooking the books” is when accountants falsify numbers to make a company look like its making more money than it really is.

      Thanks for the Dailymotion suggestion :).

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