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GRE Vocab Wednesday: High-Frequency “E” Words

Last week, the theme was words beginning with ‘V’’, and I used the movie ‘V’ for Vendetta to provide the words. This week, I’ve been inspired to choose another letter, the letter ‘E’. Unfortunately, there is no movie called “E” is for Ebullient, in which the main character spews out a barrage of ‘E’ letter words. That doesn’t mean this list is absolutely dull (one of the few words containing five ‘e’s is here). Nor does it mean that the words below won’t show up on the GRE.


If something is around for only a short second and then disappears, it is evanescent. The bubbles a child runs after are evanescent, bursting just as child reaches out her hand. Joy can be evanescent (indeed it usually is).

The storm flashed into existence above us and lasted only a short time—an evanescent turbulence of wind and cloud.



Literally this word refers to bubbles, lots of them. But not the big kind of bubbles mentioned a moment ago. I’m talking fizzy bubbles. Of course, the GRE isn’t going to throw a Text Completion at you about soda. It will, however, test the figurative definition of effervescence: vivacious and full of life.

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After a record-setting quarter, the sales manager was in an effervescent mood, letting several employees leave work early that day.



As the ol’ platitude goes, “Life is full or ups and downs.” And most of us are down during those downs, but not he (or she!) of equanimity. No matter how stressful the events, a person known for their equanimity maintains calmness and composure.

As the stock market plummeted, losing 30% of its value in one day, Lance was the picture of equanimity, believing that the market would quickly shoot back up.



The word equitable describes something that is fair and balanced.  A just society strives for equitable treatment for all of its people (and animals!). An ideal courtroom strives for the equitable treatment of all those who take the stand.

The equitable distribution of ice cream to a group of 5 year olds will ensure that no fighting will occur—at least until the ice cream is gone.



We’ve all had those teachers who speak in a monotone voice, droning on, even about topics that should be interesting. Then there are those ebullient teachers who can infuse even prosaic topics with excitement. Ebullient, of course, doesn’t just refer to teachers, but anyone who has an abundance of energy and enthusiasm.

Around strangers, Cyrus was quiet, but around his friends he became ebullient, discussing most things with relish.



Fake and phony are such colloquial terms. So if you want to sound smart, you can throw in ersatz (though don’t try to be too phony!). Erstaz, from the German for replacement, means something that is not real or genuine. It can describe the “gold” watch you bought in an alley; it can describe the laughter of someone trying to get you to buy something (ersatz or not).

The car dealer’s ersatz laughter was immediately followed by a price quote, one that Shelley found highly inflated.


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