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GRE Vocab Wednesday: More Words from the New ETS Verbal Guide

Yes, the new verbal guide (ETS’s new Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions book) is full of a trove of GRE words yet to appear in Vocab Wed., so here are a few more. That said, the majority of the words in the guide have been in Vocab. Wed., so it seems like I’m on to something. 🙂



Nobody is being shot out of a cannon in this word. However, you will get canonized if you are so important in an artistic or literary way that you’ve become enshrined as one of the greats. Originally taken from church lexicon referring to old manuscripts that became part of the Bible, canonize now refers to the likes of Bach (classical music), Mark Twain (American literature), or Pablo Picasso (20th century art).



The ‘to cut off or remove’ definition of this word might be familiar to some of you in a physiological context (excising tumors is common). However, the GRE tends towards the figurative definitions. To excise a person from a process would be to completely remove them from it (that’s more or less the gist of the sentence in the verbal guide). If you feel the GRE should be excised from the admissions process, then you may not be alone. (Though, there will always be some form of standardized test, poised to excise).



A great word that shows how roots can mislead. Trans- across and gress- to move. Therefore, transgression must mean to move across. Ah yes, I transgressed the American continent in my convertible. While that may be the case, to transgress has nothing to do with movement and everything to do with naughty behavior. To transgress is go beyond the bounds of moral principled behavior. For now, let’s leave “transgressing” the continent to the Beat generation.



So, while this word has yet to be featured on Vocabulary Wed., it is part of our free Vocab Builder app—which is a good thing. Apparently, the GRE loves this word since it shows up in two of the questions in the guide. And always remember, there is no one vocab resource that is a panacea for your vocab ills, so use a variety of resources. Oh, panacea? It comes from the Greek meaning cure-all. The word is bandied about a lot in political and social circles. Come election time, candidates will be promising various panaceas for the many problems that plague our society.



You might have heard of orthodox: the correct, accepted way. Ortho- comes from the Greek for correct; dox means opinion. Hetero- means other. A heterodox opinion goes against the common opinion. Heterodox opinions include the following: Justin Bieber is free of transgression and should be canonized alongside the Beatles and Elvis; four cups of coffee a day is a panacea for any mental state of unease; and California should be excised from the American landmass and be an independent nation island in which there is no such thing as a transgression (actually, that might be the orthodox view in some parts of that state).



If you want to state something forcefully, then you contend it. A synonym is the word maintain, a GRE favorite. People in high places tend to do a lot of both. The courtroom is filled with people contending one thing or the other. Political talk shows are full of contending (and contention—a related word that means heated disagreement).


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15 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: More Words from the New ETS Verbal Guide

  1. Prasad N R May 20, 2018 at 12:38 am #

    I am trying to learn this by making a sentence up:

    “Canonizing heterodox transgressors probably is an act of transgression in itself”

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert May 24, 2018 at 4:07 pm #

      It’s great that you are learning these words so actively! Keep up the good work 🙂

  2. Anurag October 31, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    Can the word Excise be a synonym for Expunge?
    Or is expunge a much stronger word?
    Just for my info 🙂

  3. Amanda August 30, 2014 at 2:10 am #

    Hi Chris,

    I took the GRE two weeks ago and scored in the 95th percentile for English (165). Since I’m applying to a Ph.D in English though, I don’t feel like that is quite high enough (UC Berkeley says that their students average at the 97%). I also have several friends who scored 170 in English, so I know it’s definitely possible. I’ve just been frustrated because prior to the test I worked on every ETS-released question in English, including the new material that came out in the new ETS verbal guide, and I never scored higher than 166. It feels like I am plateauing out.

    I’m going to retake it again at the end of this month. Do you have any helpful hints or advice on how I should study to improve my score in English? I have the Barrons book and my ETS official guides.

    Thanks so much to you and all your staff for being so responsive in the comments. I’m sorry if I’ve overlooked a response that would be helpful in answering my question.

    • Prasad N R May 20, 2018 at 12:41 am #

      I would have jumped in joy and cried with tears in my eyes if I were to have scored that 165 in GRE Verbal. I have a score of 148 in GRE Verbal currently. It would also be helpful if you could put up your strategies here and that will be of great help to people like me.

  4. Karan August 22, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    I am learning magoosh flashcard. So, did you find any of those words in the new gre practice book??

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 22, 2014 at 10:38 am #

      Hi Karan,

      Yes, I believe quite a few of those words come up in the GRE Verbal Practice book :).

  5. farsa August 21, 2014 at 3:53 am #

    Hello Lucas, thanks a million for your helpful post. Are you going to add these new words from the new ETS guide to your Magoosh Flashcards and Vocabulary Builder?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 22, 2014 at 10:39 am #

      Hi Farsa,

      At the moment that’s not the plan. Who knows, in the future we might expand those words. I’d say the best tactic is to go through all the Vocab. Wed. videos and turn those into flashcards on Quizlet.

      Good luck!

      • farsa August 25, 2014 at 7:42 am #

        First let me apologize to you for addressing you by mistake Lucas instead of Chris! that mistake was made because I visit both your TOEFL and GRE Blogs.

        I think updating your flashcards may be very helpful. Having GRE vocabulary scattered through several resources (Flashcards, blog, videos, etc.) is a little bit tiresome, it does not let students stay focused. It would be a more organized way to have all the GRE vocab in one place so that students do not need to jump from one place to the other in order to study the vocab. Furthermore, at the moment the only vocab resource mentioned in all of your study plans is the flashcards,books and magazines. You have not included the blog posts or the ones you mentioned in your previous comment. A lot of students need a precise study plan. Having a disorganized plan would decrease their efficiency. For instance, I myself am following your 3 month verbal focused plan from A-Z, and if you did not put your previous comment I was not aware of the fact that I have to study the blog posts in addition to the flashcards. Even now that I am informed, I feel a little bit unmotivated about studying vocab from several resources, its not the matter of the number words, it is the matter of organization, I prefer to study from one resource, but a complete one. I hope you would ponder over my suggestion. Thanks a million for your unique GRE services

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele August 25, 2014 at 2:49 pm #


          That is very helpful feedback :). You’re right–the vocabulary is sprawled over a few resources. I think the Vocab Builder and the flashcards may be all you need for now, as they focus most on words likely to show up on the exam. They also overlap with the words that are on the blog (except for the newest ones). The newer words tend to be the less high frequency words.

          That said, we want to make you guys more efficient, without the feeling that you are overwhelmed or disorganized. We’ll do our best to keep improving Magoosh 🙂

          • farsa September 6, 2014 at 1:23 am #

            Thank you very much Lucas 🙂

  6. Ankur Gupta August 20, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    The word heterodox means against common opinion . My point is can it be used in similar lines with heretic and unorthodox?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 22, 2014 at 10:42 am #


      I’d say the overlap between heterodox and unorthodox is pretty significant. Heretic though implies attacking the sacred cows. How a scientist with a heterodox approach is viewed by the scientific establishment can vary widely. If a scientist is heretic, he violates the very principles of science (no double blind studies! how dare you :)).

      Hope that helps!

      • Ankur Gupta August 22, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

        Hi Chris,


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