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GRE Vocab Wednesday: “Pre” Words

A recurring theme in these posts is words that begin with a certain letter. Not that I’ve exhausted all such possibilities, but to mix it up — at least a bit — I’ve included words that not only begin with a certain letter, but also begin with “pre”. Notice, how I didn’t say the root, “pre-“, which means “before”. The reason is not all words beginning with “pre-” are actually using the root “pre-“.


A sage is a wise person; they know plenty. The “pre-“, in presage actually means before. Put those two together and you get a word meaning to know beforehand. But this word doesn’t describe someone with eccentric headgear and a crystal ball, making spurious predictions at five bucks apiece. Presage is reserved for abstract nouns that point out future trends.

Fewer people buying homes presaged a downturn in the economy.


Ferrari, Grey Goose — both are preeminent brands, leaders of their industries (in this case, sports cars and vodka). To be preeminent in your field is to be at the very top. You don’t have to be a commodity to be preeminent: Charles Dickens was the preeminent Victorian novelist, Beethoven was the preeminent Romantic composer, and, for a more contemporary reference, Lady Gaga is the preeminent diva of questionable evening-wear.


To preclude has nothing do with before; it’s all about the future—or lack thereof. To preclude is to make impossible. Walking in with zero prep will probably preclude a perfect GRE score, or even a competitive one. A 2.0 GPA will preclude admission to Harvard.


With this word, we can invoke the “pre” prefix. But knowing that “coc-” means to cook isn’t going to help much. To be precocious means to mature faster than others do. This word is usually reserved for those children who show incredible aptitude at a young age. Precocity can range from the wunderkind Mozart composing operas at six to the basketball player Lebron James, fresh out of high school, dunking over NBA legends.


A special right or privilege of a group or class is a prerogative. For middle class Americans owning a house is seen as a prerogative; if you are unable to own your home, then you really aren’t part of that class. For the 1% – or the richest of the richest — prerogatives include owning homes on both coasts, taking lavish trips around the world, and owning a private jet to make all this air travel possible.


Sometimes we don’t want give the real reason for doing something, so we come up with a fake reason. Let’s say your in-laws are coming for the weekend and you want to avoid them. Instead of stating that outright, you tell them you are taking a weekend seminar. Whether or not you actually are, the weekend seminar serves as a pretext so you can avoid your in-laws. In essence, a pretext is a lie (and, no, I don’t try to avoid my in-laws!).


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2 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: “Pre” Words

  1. AArendy April 23, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    Awesome set of words….
    There should be Monday and Friday Vocab posts as well or atleast Monday.
    I never forget words from your wednesday vocab post. Please increase the count…

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 23, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

      Hi AArendy,

      Thanks for the encouraging words! So far not too many people have asked for it, but as for now no plans to expand day-wise. Also, Vocab Wednesday just has a certain ring to it 🙂

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