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GRE Vocab Wednesday: April/May Article of the Month Words (Part 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of the vocabulary list that I drew from our recent April and May article(s) of the month. You can find Part 1 here. Let’s jump back in:


This is a confusing word since it can mean one of two things, and these two things tend to be contradictory. Appropriation can be the taking of something from another person or entity without permission. If the government appropriates your land so that it can conduct top secret studies, you are likely to lose your land. On the other hand, if the government forms an appropriation committee, it plans to pool together resources that it will allocate to certain parties, even those outside of the government (you might even get your land back).


It is difficult to talk about semantic without talking about the related semantics. Semantic has to do with meaning and is usually reserved for linguists describing the specific meaning of a word. For instance, the semantic content of GRE words is rich with words expressing disapproval (censure, rebuke, reprimand, etc.).

Semantics, a similar word, deals with the subtleties of meaning contained in a single word. For instance, the word discriminating can mean something bad (to discriminate unfairly against others), something neutral (to discriminate between two shades of color in the kitchen wallpaper), or something positive (he had discriminating taste and always picked out the most apt outfit). Hopefully, I’ve helped you discriminate between the semantics of semantic and semantics.


To improve something (poverty, crumbling infrastructure, living conditions) is to ameliorate it. Amelioration is simply the noun form of to ameliorate.

Reading the classics brings with it an amelioration of the mind—all the senses are enlarged, and we emerge a better person.


Many people have heard of Goliath, he who was struck done by the stone cast from David’s sling. Goliath was a member of the Philistine tribe, a tribe noted for its backwardness and general lack of civility. Were Goliath alive today, I couldn’t imagine him at the Met gawking at the latest Picasso exhibit or at the Lincoln Center soaking up the sonorous strains of a Brahms symphony. In other words, I’d imagine that Goliath the Philistine would hold the arts, and high-minded stuff in general, in contempt.

The meaning of philistine—though it doesn’t actually come from Goliath himself—is anybody who strongly dislikes the arts or is simply indifferent to them. So if you don’t know Monet from Manet, Bach from Boccherini you might just be a philistine.


Yet another word in the ever pliable English language that takes on both a literal and figurative meaning, pliable can mean easily bent or flexible (my limbs were pliable after an hour-long session of yoga), or pliable can describe anyone who is easily influenced.

Teenagers are highly pliable, easily smitten with the latest pop tune as long as it comes packaged with a pretty face.


Let’s say you wake up and look at your clock and it is 8:21 am. Later, you are number 821 at the deli and you end up paying $8.21 for your sandwich. Then, your best friends calls you and tells you that she is engaged to be married on 8/21. Whoa, something mysterious is going on with this number 821. It’s kind of creepy and vaguely unsettling (is there a hidden order to the universe that you’re not aware of?) This is the essence of uncanny, a word that describes these strange occurrences.

Sarah’s grandpa grew his hair out, only to realize he had an uncanny resemblance to Einstein; tired of young whippersnappers yelling out “E=mc squared” at him in public, he shaved his head.

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4 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday: April/May Article of the Month Words (Part 2)

  1. Prasad N R April 1, 2018 at 6:50 am #

    I do not wish to be a philistine when I am at a beautiful deli. However, I do not wish to be so pliable as to leave tips for the beauty of a deli.

  2. H-MAN May 25, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for nice collection of words!!

    Let me make a paragraph by using these words.

    Elon musk is my latest inspiration to study for GRE, so my paragraph will be on him 🙂

    Few days back I came to know about Elon Musk (All these days I was ardent fan of Steve Jobs) and his “Uncanny” ability to make impossible dreams reality (ex: Space X), he says everything in this world can be ” pliable”, all one needs to do is to work SUPER HARD (more than 100 Hrs per week). He mentions on numerous occasions in his interviews that you have to be surrounded by GREAT PEOPLE to build great products, and he says Luddites, charlatans and “Philistines” needs to be kept away, as aforementioned people spends most of their precious working Hours in appropriating the credit for the work other people have done.

    At least once a day I go through his motivational speeches to ameliorate my frustration at work place.

    Please let me know if I have used the words in context properly.

    Thanks you so much for your help.

    • Anupama Aili June 2, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

      Great idea to combine all..good job.liked it

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 3, 2015 at 3:19 pm #


      Great paragraph! I liked how you used the words philistines and Luddites to describe how Elon Musk feels about working with the wrong kinds of people.

      Keep up the good work 🙂

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