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GRE Vocab Goes XXX

Yes, the title is tongue-in-cheek. But there will definitely be ‘x’ words on the GRE – and by that I mean ‘ex’ words. These vocab beasts have long been the bane of many a student, as many blur into one word. The key is not just learning the definition but coming up with an effective way not to mix them up.

Below are a few common ‘ex’ words. In this post, I will provide definitions and example sentences, as I usually do. For nifty mnemonics (memory tips to make sure you don’t mix the words together), check out .

 

Excoriate

To yell at someone is one thing; to excoriate them is a whole other. A martinet of a boss whom you’ve once again upset; a drill sergeant berating a feckless, smirking recruit; now we are closer.

So to criticize really, really harshly is to excoriate. Interestingly, the second definition of the word is to tear one’s skin from his/her body. To verbally excoriate is to figuratively rip off a person’s skin (with such an arresting visual, I don’t think I need an example sentence!).

 

Extenuating

Extenuating means making less guilty or more forgivable. The phrase ‘extenuating circumstances’ is common courtroom lingo. Say somebody broke into a drugstore to steal some expensive medication. Later we learn that medication was for that person’s wife, who was dying of some disease that only the medication could cure. Most of us, presumably, would be more likely to forgive the man. Why? Because of the extenuating factor of his wife’s disease.

 

Execrate

This word just sounds awful. The good news is the word has a very negative connotation. To execrate somebody is to curse and hiss at them. For instance a certain American basketball player left his team of many years so he could make more money with another team. Fans of the original team execrated the player for his perfidy and his mercenary motives.

Interestingly, the adjective form of ‘execrate’ is the relatively common GRE word ‘execrable.’ If something is execrable, we condemn it as awful (and worthy of hissing).

Though the new sitcom did decently in the ratings, Nelson railed against the show, saying that it was nothing more than execrable pastiche of tired cliché’s and canned laughter.

 

Exegesis

This word refers to a critical interpretation of a scholarly work. If you think that definition is intimidating, the adjective form is exegetical.

The Bible is fertile ground for exegesis—over the past five centuries there have been as many interpretations as there are pages in a Gideons.

 

Exhort

To exhort means to strongly urge on, encourage.

Nelson’s parents exhorted him to study medicine, urging him to choose a respectable profession that would do more than pay the bills; intransigent, Nelson left home to become a graffiti artist.

 

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