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Archive | Confusing Words

GRE Vocab Wednesday: Weird Sounding Words

There are some strange looking words in the English language. Quite a few of them appear on the GRE. Here is a handful!   Bailiwick This funny-looking word, which I believe is the only English word besides ‘kiwi’ to have the letters ‘iwi’ in a row, is derived from the word bailiff, a legal officer […]

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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Homophones

A homophone is a word that sounds like another word but has a completely different meaning, though it isn’t necessarily spelled the same way. Too, two, and to is a classic example. Some of the words below are a bit of a stretch in terms of how closely like another word they sound; others sound […]

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What to Do When You Don’t Know a Word on the GRE

Chances are pretty good that a word may pop up on the exam that you’ve never seen before — no matter how many GRE vocabulary lists you’ve reviewed. If English is not your first language, this is even more true. I had a student learn over 5,000 words to be prepared. But it’s hard to […]

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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Misleading and Commonly Confused Words

Over the last couple of years, there have been two recurring themes on vocab Wednesdays: misleading words (words that look like a common word but mean something totally different) and easily confusable words (two GRE words look very similar but mean something very different. Today, I’ve tried to combine both those qualities, by choosing words […]

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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Words that Sound the Same

Trying to cram hundreds (okay, thousands!) of words in your head is really tough. Part of this has to do with the fact that many words start blending into one another. This phenomenon has spawned many a vocabulary Wednesday post. Yet, there are so many confusing words out there that I think it will be […]

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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Compound Words

What do you get when you cross two common English words together? Well, in the instances below, the definition has become transmogrified into something very different from the combination of the two words would suggest. Can you guess the definitions without looking? Hoodwink Imagine somebody winking to you from underneath a hood (a menacing image, […]

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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Words Students Always Mix Up

Comprehensive vs. Comprehensible Many mix up these two words, thinking that both refer to comprehend, as in to understand. However, only ‘comprehensible’ relates to comprehend, and means intelligible. Comprehensive, on the other hand, means thorough, wide-ranging in scope. Until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, hieroglyphics were not comprehensible, but seemed nothing more than a […]

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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Similar Word Pairs (and Trios!)

Words in the English language are often confused because they look the same, sound the same, or somehow get tangled up in your synapses. Indeed, the experience can be so frustrating that many students fulminate, “English makes no sense!” By and large, they are right. Nonetheless, we have to contend with the mongrel language that […]

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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Masquerading Words

Some words masquerade—hiding behind a false appearance, ready to deceive and lead us astray. I’m not talking about words that look like other words (e.g., loath and loathe) but words whose definitions themselves speak of duplicity and the counterfeit. 1. Mountebank 150 years ago, about the time that Wyatt Earp was corralling the bad guys, […]

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