GRE Vocab Wednesday: Writers in the Storm Part 1

Sometimes article of the months aren’t good place to find vocabulary. Either the vocabulary has been covered numerous times in prior vocabulary Wednesday or there simply isn’t too much high-level GRE vocabulary. With this month’s article, I’ve hit the vocab jackpot. Not only are there many excellent high-level GRE words, but also many have never been featured in a Vocab Wednesday post.



Jansen appears to be a one-hit wonder: his colossally popular first book has now been followed by two novels that have barely generated tepid reviews from the press.

Liquid that is tepid is lukewarm, or the same temperature when you turn on both the hot and cold faucets by the same amount (at least on most faucets). On a figurative level, tepid describes any response that isn’t overly enthusiastic. With the latest Star Wars film I was expecting a tepid response from critics. I was surprised when the film received generally ecstatic reviews from a majority of film reviewers. In fact, it’s not on my list of things to see.

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Scientists of the early 19th century offered colorful explanations of the natural world without ever backing them with empirical analysis; all of that changed with the likes of Lyell and Darwin.

Nothing to do with major civilizations (sorry, no Roman Empire here!), empirical is a word that is omnipresent in scientist. And that’s no surprise, given that every activity a scientist is engaged in is driven by empiricism: the collection of observations that can be measured. A simpler way of saying it? Data. Empiricism is diametrically opposed to subjective impressions. If I’m trying to determine the average daily highs during the month of January in Berkeley, Ca., I’d want to take precise measurements using a thermometer (that’s empirical). Saying, “it’s sorta cold today but warmer than yesterday” is subjective.



Sarah was invariably late, so her friends knew to always arrive 30 minutes after they’d agreed to meet her—they were usually still a few minutes early.

Do you always do the same thing? Eat the same food? Watch the same kind of shows? Well, you might do something invariably, or without ever changing. For instance, when I eat Thai food, I invariably get Pad Thai noodles. The word doesn’t have to refer to just you, or even everyone. But can apply to anything always seem to turn out a certain way, e.g., It invariably rains in Seattle during the winter.



Despite her calm facial expression and the fact that she gamely answered each question volleyed at her, Meredith tapping foot betrayed her impatience with the four-hour job interview.

Yes, you’re thinking Benedict Arnold, or anybody that has ever been disloyal. I don’t think I’m being disloyal to first definition of the word by giving it scant attention here; what the GRE is far more likely to use is the second definition: to reveal the presence of something that you might be trying not to reveal. For instance, in poker, amateur players betray the quality of their hand through unconscious gestures known as “tells”, which more experienced players often capitalize against.



Cedric tried to come across as a polymath—gratuitously dropping names, facts, and figures—but when pressed for any deeper knowledge on a given subject, he’d quickly change the topic.

From the root, poly-, meaning many, and math-, roughly meaning knowing/knowledge, polymath is a flattering word. It describes somebody who is highly learned in a variety of respectable fields. Can you expound on Rembrandt’s use of shadowing before effortlessly transitioning to the manifold causes for World War I? If so, you are likely a polymath.


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One Response to GRE Vocab Wednesday: Writers in the Storm Part 1

  1. babasola January 16, 2016 at 1:54 am #

    There is no link to the article of the month.

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