GRE word study for the visual learner - picture dictionary of GRE words. Click on the alphabetical list to see the complete list of words.

Monday, September 3, 2007

CHESTNUT: an old chestnut - an old joke or overly familiar saying © 2010 Miranda Haeg | more info (via: Wylio)

Boring old joke or saying
clipped from
Although its origins are in an English melodrama, it was an American
actor who coined its usage. The actor, William Warren, found occasion
to quote from 'The Broken Sword', a rather mediocre play by William Dillon.
One of the characters has the irritating habit of telling and retelling
the same stories and jokes. He is embarking upon one such tale about a
cork tree when his companion, Pablo, interrupts crying.'A Chestnut, I
should know as well as you, having heard you tell the tale these
twenty-seven times, and I'm sure it was a chestnut'.
Warren, who played the part of Pablo in the melodrama, was at a dinner
one evening when a fellow guest started to recount a well-worn and
rather elderly anecdote, whereupon Warren murmured, 'A chestnut. I
have heard you tell the tale these twenty-seven times'.The rest of the
company was delighted with Warrens very appropriate quoting from the
play and it was not long before news of the incident had spread amongst
their aquaintances and beyond.
blog it

Sunday, September 2, 2007

CORUSCATE: "Be lively or brilliant or exhibit virtuosity"

Mamma Mia!, originally uploaded by canadianlookin.

NONAGE: "Any age prior to the legal age"

my nonage, originally uploaded by aliasgar2007.

MATUTINAL: "Pertaining to or occurring in the morning"

"matutinal coffee"
clipped from
 blog it

JEREMIAD: "A long and mournful complaint; word originates from prophet Jeremiah"

From Wikipedia:

"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."
clipped from
 blog it

JEREMIAD: "long literary work lamenting the state of society"

clipped from


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

A Jeremiad is a long literary work, usually in prose, but sometimes in poetry, that bitterly laments the state of society and its morals in a serious tone of sustained invective, and always contains a prophecy of its coming downfall.

The word is an eponym, named after the Biblical prophet Jeremiah, and is inspired by the tone of his surviving literary works, the Book of Jeremiah and the Book of Lamentations. The Book of Jeremiah prophesies the coming downfall of the Kingdom of Judah, and asserts that this is because its rulers have broken the covenant with the Lord

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.
 blog it

JEREMIAD: "A long and mournful complaint"

"a jeremiad against any form of government"
jeremiad \jair-uh-MY-uhd\, noun:
A tale of sorrow, disappointment, or complaint; a doleful story; also, a dolorous or angry tirade.
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').
-- Roy Porter, English Society in the Eighteenth Century
Johnson's jeremiad against what he sees as American imperialism and militarism exhaustively catalogs decades of U.S. military misdeeds
-- Stan Crock, review of The Sorrows of Empire by Chalmers Johnson, Business Week, February 2, 2004
Economics ministers in general were taken aback when a recent World Bank report -- after a year of jeremiads -- suggested the crisis was being exaggerated
-- Lance Castle, "The economic crisis revisited", Jakarta Post, April 1, 1999
Jeremiad comes from French jérémiade, after Jérémie, Jeremiah, the prophet.
 blog it

Saturday, September 1, 2007

TRENCHANT: "Having keenness and forcefulness and penetration in thought, expression, or intellect"

From the French: "to cut"

santoku knifephoto © 2008 Adventures of Pam & Frank | more info (via: Wylio)

"trenchant criticism"
"a trenchant argument"
"trenchant distinctions between right and wrong"

trenchant \TREN-chunt\, adjective:
1. Characterized by or full of force and vigor; as, "a trenchant analysis."
2. Caustic; biting; severe; as, "trenchant criticism."
3. Distinct; clear-cut; clearly or sharply defined.
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.
-- Judith Squires, "Susan Moller Okin", The Guardian, March 26, 2004
His revolutionary music, abrasive personality and trenchant writings about art and life divided the city into warring factions.
-- Jonathan Carr, Mahler: A Biography
Trenchant comes from Old French, from the present participle of trenchier, "to cut." It is related to trench.
blog it

CHARY: "Characterized by great caution and wariness"

"chary of the risks involved"; "a chary investor"
chary \CHAIR-ee\, adjective:
1. Wary; cautious.
2. Not giving or expending freely; sparing.
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?
-- "U.S. trampling rights at home and abroad", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 17, 1998
Investors should be chary, however, for the returns are far from sizzling.
-- "The Stampede Into Variable Annuities", Fortune, October 13, 1986
Bankers, consulted as to whether or not they believed that the full force of the decline had spent its fury, were chary of predictions.
-- "Leaders See Fear Waning", New York Times, October 30, 1929
When I visited Sissinghurst with my growing family she was always welcoming, eager for our news but chary of her own.
-- Nigel Nicolson, Long Life
Chary comes from Old English cearig, "careful, sorrowful," from cearu, "grief, sorrow, care."
 blog it

RIPOSTE: "(fencing) a counterattack made immediately after successfully parrying the opponents lunge"

clipped from
 blog it

RIPOSTE: "A quick reply to a question or remark (especially a witty or critical one); (fencing) a counterattack made immediately after successfu

"his opponent riposted"
riposte \rih-POST\, noun:
1. A quick thrust given after parrying an opponent's lunge in fencing.
2. A quick and effective reply by word or act.
intransitive verb:
1. To make a riposte.
She had an agile, teasing sense of humor that included a sure grasp of the absurd and an instinct for punchy ripostes.
-- Sally Bedell Smith, Diana in Search of Herself
It was an inelegant riposte, especially for one so quick-witted as Neumann.
-- Peter Gay, My German Question
When she told him how much she hated being called an old trout, he'd riposte: "The trout is the most beautiful of fish."
-- Angela Carter, Shaking a Leg
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."
 blog it

PROPITIATE: "Make peace with"

propitiate \pro-PISH-ee-ayt\, transitive verb:
To render favorably inclined; to appease; to conciliate (one offended).
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.
-- Anton Chekhov, "Lights"
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.
-- Helen Gibson, "Rewards and Fairies", Time Europe, April 30, 2001
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.
-- Henry Chadwick, "Greasing the 4th-Century Palm", New York Times, November 15, 1992
Propitiate derives from Latin propitius, "favorable."
 blog it

Word Index