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Archive | Word Origins

GRE Vocabulary: Around the Globe in Five Words

English is truly the global mutt of languages. Indeed, centuries of colonization and commerce has had the curious effect of both making English the global language and swelling the pages of English dictionaries with such loanwords as sauna and safari. (Sauna comes by way of Finland; safari comes via African-rooted Arabic and, somewhat inexplicably, means […]

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GRE Vocabulary: Animal Mnemonics

Many of us associate certain tendencies with animals. Cats are independent and aloof; dogs are loyal and loving. Owls apparently are wise, and elephants…well, they’re just big. Certain animals have actually changed into verbs (not literally, of course). Below are a few such vocabulary words that you should definitely know for the GRE.   Badger […]

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Negation words: Misleading Roots

Though Halloween is now over, beware of these trick-or-treaters. They are disguised as something they are not. You’ll notice that, in each case, there is a prefix that typically negates the word (in-, im-, un-). In the cases below, these roots are misleading.   Insufferable Think of somebody, or something, that you simply can’t tolerate. […]

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Commonly Confused GRE words

Sometimes, I think that ETS once walked around and took a survey of the most commonly confused words in the English language, and then put those words on the test. In truth, ETS actually did something very similar to that. Over the years, it gave experimental sections to figure out which words people tended to […]

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The Top 10 GRE Words Beginning with the Letter ‘A’

I have always told students that one sure way to induce dementia is to methodically study words in alphabetical order. The brain simply will fall asleep somewhere around the ar-, words blending into an amorphous mush, your soul yearning for any letter, as long as it is not ‘A’. While this is still sage advice, […]

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GRE Vocabulary List– From Deep Inside Us

I always tell my students that GRE vocabulary is all around us. A mean looking person is truculent. A friend who is running late is dilatory. And, if they are habitually late, they are potentially feckless. But don’t become truculent! In some cases, GRE vocabulary is not only around us, but actually lurks within us. […]

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GRE – Interesting Word Origins

Interesting Word Origins Many vocabulary words don’t come from exotic languages, but via Greek or Latin. Still, some very interesting back stories (etymologies) accompany these words, and, hopefully, make these words easier to remember.   Supercilious Cilia are small, thick hairs. One area on our bodies that contain cilia are our eyebrows. Supercilious is derived from […]

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GRE Vocabulary From Unlikely Places

  GRE Vocabulary From Exotic Tongues Juggernaut To many, this word was forever immortalized in X-Men 2 X-Men 3 (thanks to @awwwyoutried for pointing out this mistake!), when one of the main characters, Juggernaut, ran through walls, pulverizing them. This power to knock over and destroy anything in its path can also be traced to […]

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Roots be Damned! GRE Vocabulary Can Spring from Exotic Tongues

Did You Know? English is a voracious language—wherever it encounters a new word, it swallows it up and makes that word one of its own. As a result, many words from foreign tongues and distant dialects have made their way into the English language. They’ve also made their way onto the GRE. And on these […]

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Sacre Bleu! What do you mean there is French on the GRE?!?

Many English words are derived from French words. This shouldn’t be too surprising—the two countries are separated only by a sliver of water, The English Channel (or Chunnel, if you prefer). However, only after the Norman Conquest, in the year 1066, did the two countries become culturally intertwined. Today, many English words reflect this influence. Their […]

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