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GRE Vocab Wednesdays: It’s About Time

Many words on the GRE relate to time. How fast something happens, how slowly. Perhaps something happens unceasingly, perhaps not at all. Below are a few words that you should learn before you run out of study time.



If you do something sporadically, you do it at irregular intervals. I check my iPhone sporadically (to see if anyone has texted). Perhaps you eat sporadically, since you are busy and unable to keep to a strict schedule. Sporadic can also mean occurring in isolation. For instance, one of the presidential hopefuls is having a sporadic surge in support, though it likely will not be enough.



Intermittent is similar to sporadic, but implies that something is starting and stopping. Rain can oftentimes be intermittent, annoyingly so. We’ve all probably taken an umbrella only not to use it; we’ve all darted out during a respite in rain, only to be drenched minutes later.



If something terminates, it ends. If something is interminable, it is without end. The word is often used figuratively. For instance, I was at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) last week. I made the mistake of walking in without an appointment. The wait was truly interminable. What’s worse is the computer systems went down as soon as it was my turn. Now I must brace myself for another interminable wait at the DMV.



Antediluvian is a fun word. It is by no means a high-frequency or, for that matter, a low-frequency word. It is employed in a comical fashion to express that something is very old.

Given the proliferation of smartphones, the rotary phone—with that annoying spin dial—seems downright antediluvian.



To be dilatory is to take one’s time. Sometimes this delay can be intentional.

The class’s dilatory tactics worked up until a point; with only 10 minutes left to class, the teacher finally gave them the quiz.



It makes sense to end with a word that, root-wise, means out of time. Ex- = out, Tempor- = time. Extemporaneous means done without any planning. So if you have to give an extemporaneous speech, then you will have no time to prepare it. You must simply walk onto stage and speak. In such an instance, one is likely to resort to dilatory tactics.


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