GRE Vocab Wednesday: J-Words

Jumping Jehoshaphat! In all these years of Vocab Wednesday the letter ‘J’ has never gotten its moment in the lexical sun. Well, let me redress that omission with the five GRE ‘J’ words below.

Also, in keeping with the change I inaugurated in the previous Vocab Wednesday, I will be starting off each entry with an example sentence, so you will be able to guess the meaning. My hope is that extra little workout at the beginning will allow



Caitlyn had enough of her brother’s jejune commentaries on the latest fall fashions: if he thought all women’s magazines silly, why did he feel that he had to say “so lame” after every picture? 

For such an interesting sounding word, the definition is a bit ironic: lacking substance. It describes idea, thoughts, or commentaries that lack any real intellectual substance. They are simplistic and superficial, and even a little immature. I know I might come off as a little snobbish by saying this, but there are certain magazines out there whose commentaries and insights I find a little jejune. I won’t name them, but I am not referring to the fashion magazines in the example sentences.

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Tina could not help but feel jaundice towards her twin sister Elaine: Elaine was a 4.0 student, Tina could barely muster ‘C’s; Elaine was the star volleyball player, moving unnecessarily gave Tina cramps; Elaine was the heartthrob of every boy in the senior class, Tina asked her iPhone on a date—only to be rejected by Siri.  

Jaundice is a word that anyone who is a parent knows well. Babies are uncommonly prone to developing this condition in the first few weeks after birth. Due to complications in the liver, the baby’s skin turns a ghastly yellow.

The definition the GRE is concerned about has little to do with maternity wards and everything to do with the way humans tend to associate certain colors with certain complex emotions. In this case, yellow was, back in the 16th century, associated with jealousy (so much for Shakespeare’s green-eyed monster!). Jaundice is that toxic admixture of bitterness, envy, and resentment—jealousy’s three sidekicks.



Beethoven’s 7th symphony is a study in jarring oppositions: the elegiac 2nd movement that has all the existential weight of a Hamlet soliloquy is followed by a jaunty third movement that seems suited for a 19th century beer hall.

Upbeat, sprightly, lively and ultimately self-confident, jaunty is a great word to describe somebody’s appearance or even his or her personality. Are you jauntily attired? Then, you might be wearing a purple beret bright. Are you the life of the party and are you aware of that fact yet shrug it off with cool acceptance? Well, you’re likely the jaunty type.



Setting off on his alpine odyssey laden with 50 pounds of baggage, Steven jettisoned the nonessentials–namely 30 pounds of items, including a glow-in-the-dark compass.

This word has a nautical provenance. When boats became too bloated with weight, sailors would throw the not-so-important items overboard. Today, generally speaking, to jettison is to discard anything that is deemed unnecessary.



Schooled in the ways of jurisprudence, Agnes turned a very astute eye on any Supreme Court decisions, teasing out the subtleties in her erudite blog posts.

Jurisprudence is an intimidating looking word, exuding the same gravitas as a Supreme Court justice. But really, all jurisprudence means is the theory and philosophy of law.


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