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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Mmm…Time to Eat Some Vocabulary



Gary’s conduct was hardly meritorious; he ran through the halls after lights out and played pranks on students.

If your actions or behavior are worthy of praise and reward, they are meritorious. You could be Bill Gates, who has spent a great proportion of his vast wealth on improving the world, or the top-scoring student in your class. As long as others heap praise upon your deeds, you are leading a meritorious.

Notice how ‘merit’ forms the first part of meritorious.



By the time, Xander realized he had been pulled in by a meretricious dealership office, it was too late; all their promises about the integrity of their automobiles were moot when the car Xander had just bought gave out on the side of the highway.

This word is often confused with meritorious. But something or somebody that is meretricious is in no way meritorious. Meretricious conveys a surface charm, which is utterly bereft of any depth. Meretricious diet ads are filled with svelte models promising similar bodies to any who consume whatever product it is that they are hawking. The actual nutritional science behind the diet is scant at best, so these claims are meretricious—pretty to look at, but ultimately hollow and lacking in any real value.




Upon retiring from his job as office manager, Michael was amazed by the munificence of the company—they gave him a flat screen plasma TV.

If an uncle gives you a Starbucks gift card for $10, you won’t be too impressed (though you’ll likely enjoy your two lattes). On the other hand, if your uncle buys you and your significant other airplane tickets to Maui so you can enjoy a week at his beach house, you will be blown away by his munificence. This kind of lavish generosity is called ‘munificence’ and in this case describes the uncle. A gift, though, can also be considered munificent if it is lavish.



After the catastrophic earthquake, the greatest danger to civilians were the bands of marauding men at night, who’d seize what little food and provisions they had remaining.

To maraud is to take from others violently. The context is usually some band of armed folks, roaming about looking to steal from and attack from any weaker parties they encounter. Before Genghis Khan became a seemingly invincible foe with tens of thousands of men at his beck, he was a marauding lad, stealing horses from nomads and any loot he could get his hands on.



It was evident whenever Curtis was lying; though he usually spoke clearly an without hesitation, he’d become mealy-mouthed if he wasn’t being honest.

To not be able to speak directly and clearly, whether you are lying or whether you are simply shy, is to be mealy-mouthed. I imagine somebody stuffing his or her mouth with cornmeal and then trying to speak. It would be hard to hear what they were saying and they would likely struggle to say anything clearly.


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