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GRE Vocab Wednesday – Four letters, Many Meanings

Change is great. Well, at least some change. So, I’m trying out a little experiment. Instead of defining a word, I’m putting the example sentence first so you can try to derive the meaning of the word yourself. That way, there’ll be slightly more neural strain as you try to figure it out. And with neural strain, or trying to figure something out, you are more likely to remember it. I hope you like the new format.

Let me know what you think!


His bent for teasing out logical subtleties and inconsistencies made him a perfect fit for the philosophy department.

The definition I’m focusing on here as nothing to do with yoga. Having a bent (n.) at something is having a special talent or ability. A person with a musical bent will be able to hear a piece of music and possibly play it by ear. A person with a lexical bent will likely know the definition of the word bent and the ones that follow.


Saying that a person is either a math person or a verbal person is too neat of a distinction since many excel at both, and some, sadly, excel at neither.

Neat, in this sense, describes something that, for convenience’s sake, is overly simplified. Saying, for instance, that the GRE tests secondary definition is a little too neat for me. Many of these words have third, even fourth, definitions. Neat is exactly one such word. Hopefully, my examples weren’t neat, in that they overlooked some of the subtleties of this definition.


For those just beginning test prep, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between ETS-produced reading passages and those available for free from third parties online; for those who’ve prepped for many months, there is a definite albeit nice distinction in the quality of passages.

Nice has three definitions. One of which a 3-year old knows; one which the GRE wants you to know; and one that has become archaic and that the GRE doesn’t really care about (that would be nice meaning fastidious and nitpicky). The definition you
should know for the GRE is fine and subtle (the word is often collocated with distinction). In this sense, it is the opposite of neat, which connotes a disregarding of subtleties in order to make thing seem coherent and tidy.


A literary celebrity is fawned over by acolytes in much the same way a pop star is—though said fawners tend to be much older in the former case.

We are not talking about an afternoon of a fawn. The second definition of the word is a verb meaning to flatter in an exaggerated way because you complete adore somebody or something.


The tornado was so powerful that it rent the ramshackle home from the earth, sending it catapulting into the chaos above.

It’s a musical, it’s due every month, and, as you can guess from the sentence above, it’s also a verb. But it’s not any kind of verb: it’s the past tense of the verb rend, which means to tear forcefully, usually into pieces.


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5 Responses to GRE Vocab Wednesday – Four letters, Many Meanings

  1. Haris Asif September 29, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    Hi Chris
    Im learning vocab these days. I saw your book reviews and blogs. Ive concluded that i should follow 3 things
    1. 1100 words you need to know
    2. Magoosh gre vocablury
    3. Magoosh blogs and different articles

  2. VerronicaJang September 26, 2015 at 9:45 am #

    Can anyone tell me what can I do to improve my vocab beside magoosh vocab?
    I already completely mastered thoes thousand word.
    I also finished manhattan preps 1000 words.
    But I still have some time to study for GRE.
    I am reading Wall Street Journal, Economist, and New York times at least one hour per dat.
    I took full practice test every other day.

    But i still miss 3~4 TC question per section because I do not know some vocab……
    Should I just watch vacan Wednesday?

    • VerronicaJang September 26, 2015 at 9:48 am #

      I miss 3~4 RC question per section because I am a non native speaker and so read a little bit slow.

      So i miss total 7~8 questions per section, and so my verbal score will be something around 155 right now. I am aiming for 160 by trying to get ALL TC SE questions.

      And thats why i need more vocab to study…

  3. Tavo September 21, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    I just took my GRE and scored 163V/168Q. I am looking to get into CS-MsC at Stanford or MIT both of which publish that their admitted class averages 161V/167Q. I studied 2 weeks full time or this and feel I could do better in Quant while Verbal is probably as good as i will get. I got my engineering degree in 1999 outside the US and an MBA n 2013 – Indiana University.

    In your opinion would it make any significant difference, in my chances of getting admitted or getting financial aid, if I take it again and get 169 or 170 in Quant ?

    Tavo –

    • Jessica Wan
      Jessica Wan September 23, 2015 at 1:54 am #

      Hi Tavo,

      Chris wrote a blog post on retaking the GRE and factors to weigh in your decision. I hope it helps!

      All best,

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