Words, words

OK, so that previous post was the angry, negative outlook on things. On the positive side, all this GRE studying is giving me a nice brush-up on vocabulary. Words are funny things. When you study them and stare at them over and over they become like little living creatures. They have personality (sound funny, sound strong, etc). And a word can change when placed in different contexts.

GRE study guides usually have some proprietary version of their “Big 500.” My Kaplan guide has its 500 and my Watermelon guide has its 500. There’s a lot of overlap. As I study, I’ve been writing down the words I don’t know or that I like and forming them into my own sentences, or putting them into relationships, all in an effort to remember them. Things like: “He expatiated a speech meant to expiate for his wrongdoings.” or “His irascible personality is implacable.”

One of my sections has “Words that I thought I knew but didn’t.” As follows:

Anathema: Vehement dislike of something. (I thought it meant a counter-belief.)
Circumspect: Cautious; alert to possible consequences. (I thought it meant “suspicious.”)
Contrite: Apologetic, sorrowful, or feeling guilty. (This one made me feel stupid. I always thought it meant “brief.”)
Inimical: Hostile and unfriendly. (It does not mean “particular or unique.” Maybe I was thinking of the word “inimitable.”)
Inter: To bury. (It does not mean to get within or between something.)
Investiture: A ceremony conferring authority. (Way off base on this one — I thought it meant “investment.”)
Malinger: To fake illness. (I was thinking “malign,” but I guess it’s more attached to “malady.”)
Mannered: Artificial, unnatural in character. (It does not mean “well mannered.”)
Meretricious: Gaudy; falsely attractive. (It has nothing to do with “merit.”)
Precipitate: To spark, instigate (v). Rash, reckless (adj). (This one really surprised me; I was sure it meant “to come before.”)
Reticent: Silent or reserved. (It does not mean “hesitant.” Maybe I was close enough on this one.)
SpartanSelf-disciplined, frugal, austere. (I always thought spartan meant “sparse.”)

The GRE seems to like words about money, such as: largess, amortize, requite, and usury. There are also a lot of words about having, not having, or spending money: prodigal, impecunious, penury, and profligate.

There are several words for wandering around from place to place: peregrinate, peripatetic, errant, maunder, itinerant. Some advice: If you are feeling itinerant, you’ll want to innervate so you don’t feel enervated.

Then there are those words that are just fun to say. My current favorite is legerdemain (trickery), which sounds like a cool band name. And how could I have lived this long and not known stentorian (excessively loud). While I’m on the senses, noisome does not mean noisy, it means “stinky.”

It would be fun to work these into conversation. But most people I would use them on would probably just wind up nonplussed.


2 Responses to “Words, words”

  1. I can see your Walnut Creek education emphasizing Latin roots. You were thinking concise, not contrite. I thought precipitate meant rain. I thought reticent meant holding back. Interesting. Good luck.

  2. I like the part about wandering around from place to place. In Spanish there’s a word for that: vagabundear. I’m not sure I’m spelling it correctly, but it means “to wander aimlessly about.” Why do I know this? Because it was my college Spanish teacher’s favorite verb to have us conjugate when learning new tenses. A big mouthful, every time!

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