GRE word study for the visual learner - picture dictionary of GRE words. Click on the alphabetical list to see the complete list of words.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Monday, September 3, 2007
Boring old joke or saying
Although its origins are in an English melodrama, it was an American
Sunday, September 2, 2007
"The Prophet Jeremiah that the book describes was a priest from Anatot in the land of Benjamin, who lived in the last years of the Kingdom of Judah just prior to, during, and immediately after the siege of Jerusalem, culminating in the destruction of Solomon's Temple and the razing of the city by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. According to the book, for a quarter century prior to the destruction, Jeremiah issued prophecies repeatedly predicting its occurrence if the Jews did not repent and viewed the failure of his efforts, the destruction of everything he knew, the exile of the Jewish elite to Babylonia, and the fleeing of the remainder to Egypt."
As such, the name jeremiad is given to moralistic texts that denounce a society for its wickedness, and prophesy its downfall. Authors from Gildas to Robert Bork have had this label hung on their works. In contemporary usage, it is frequently pejorative, meant to suggest that the tone of the text is excessively pessimistic.
jeremiad \jair-uh-MY-uhd\, noun:
This age in which leisure and letters were gilded with commerce did not see the decline and fall of art, despite the jeremiads of such artists as William Blake ('Where any view of money exists,' he prophesied, 'art cannot be carried on').
Johnson's jeremiad against what he sees as American imperialism and militarism exhaustively catalogs decades of U.S. military misdeeds
Economics ministers in general were taken aback when a recent World Bank report -- after a year of jeremiads -- suggested the crisis was being exaggerated
Jeremiad comes from French jérémiade, after Jérémie, Jeremiah, the prophet.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
"a trenchant argument"
"trenchant distinctions between right and wrong"
trenchant \TREN-chunt\, adjective:
Her insistence that women's rights should be upheld universally, notwithstanding concerns about cultural diversity, led some to criticise her for being too narrowly entrenched within western liberalism, while others celebrated her trenchant defence of egalitarianism.
His revolutionary music, abrasive personality and trenchant writings about art and life divided the city into warring factions.
Trenchant comes from Old French, from the present participle of trenchier, "to cut." It is related to trench.
chary \CHAIR-ee\, adjective:
What do you suppose the Founding Fathers, so chary of overweening government power, would make of a prosecutor with virtually unlimited reach and a staff the size of a small town?
Investors should be chary, however, for the returns are far from sizzling.
Bankers, consulted as to whether or not they believed that the full force of the decline had spent its fury, were chary of predictions.
When I visited Sissinghurst with my growing family she was always welcoming, eager for our news but chary of her own.
Chary comes from Old English cearig, "careful, sorrowful," from cearu, "grief, sorrow, care."
RIPOSTE: "A quick reply to a question or remark (especially a witty or critical one); (fencing) a counterattack made immediately after successfu
riposte \rih-POST\, noun:
She had an agile, teasing sense of humor that included a sure grasp of the absurd and an instinct for punchy ripostes.
It was an inelegant riposte, especially for one so quick-witted as Neumann.
When she told him how much she hated being called an old trout, he'd riposte: "The trout is the most beautiful of fish."
Riposte derives from Italian risposta, "an answer," from rispondere, "to answer," from Latin respondere, "to promise in return, to answer," from re- + spondere, "to promise."
propitiate \pro-PISH-ee-ayt\, transitive verb:
Azorka, a black house-dog, probably conscious of his guilt in barking for nothing and anxious to propitiate us, approached us, diffidently wagging his tail.
Yet the Fairy Bridge . . . didn't get its name for nothing. Here the locals lift a hand ever so slightly and mutter "Hello, little people," to propitiate the fairies underneath.
Cultivated pagans long survived but retreated to form private societies, practicing secret rites to propitiate the gods to avert drought or earthquake from their home cities.
Propitiate derives from Latin propitius, "favorable."
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
salutary \SAL-yuh-ter-ee\, adjective:
Alexis de Tocqueville famously observed during his sojourn in this country that America was teeming with such associations -- charities, choral groups, church study groups, book clubs -- and that they had a remarkably salutary effect on society, turning selfish individuals into public-spirited citizens.
Surviving a near-death experience has the salutary effect of concentrating the mind.
"observant and thoughtful, he was given to asking sagacious questions"
"an astute and sagacious statesman"
"to say that something is 'adequate enough' is a tautology"
Examples of tautology
The British supermarket Tesco sells a brand of lemon thyme which it describes as having an "aromatic aroma".
"free gift" is tautologous because a gift, by definition, is something given without charge.
The Yogi Berra-esque statement "If you don't get any better, you'll never improve" is another example. A very frequently used tautologous phrases are "PIN number"- the "N" stands for number
Tautology in popular culture
Comedian Alan King used to tell this story: His lawyer asked him if he had ever drawn up a will. Alan said "No". The lawyer, in shock and horror, said, "If you died without a will, you would die intestate!" Alan looked up the word and found that it means "without a will". "In other words, if I die without a will, then I'll die without a will. This legal pearl cost me $500!"
recalcitrant \rih-KAL-sih-truhnt\, adjective:
This recalcitrant fellow was the only dissenter in an otherwise unanimous recommendation.
If they lingered too long, Clarice hurried them along in the same annoyed way she rushed recalcitrant goats through the gate.
As Mr. Lincoln and his Union generals insisted on unconditional surrender, the end of slavery, and the specter of an egalitarian nation where race and class were in theory to be subordinate ideas, so recalcitrant Southerners by the summer of 1864 dug in deeper for their Armageddon to come.
Recalcitrant derives from Latin recalcitrare, "to kick back," from re-, "back" + calcitrare, "to strike with the heel, to kick," from calx, calc-, "the heel."