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GRE Vocab Wednesday: More Vocabulary from the Official Guide

The Official Guide to the GRE is not just a trove of GRE words it is a trove of GRE words for which the writers of the test have a penchant. Thus, I tell students that they should be familiar with every word in the book. Of course that’s quite a few words. The good news is that these words overlap with many of the words in the Clemmonsdogpark vocab ebook. But not every word in the Official Guide is in the Clemmonsdogpark vocabulary ebook. Below are a handful of such words, words that are high-frequency GRE vocabulary words.



To disseminate means to scatter or spread. Information, for one, is something that can be disseminated. Indeed, typically when we encounter the word dissemination or disseminate it is modifying the word information.

Though thousands of news sources disseminate information each day, many of the stories are very similar, if not identical.



Copious is used to describe something is in great abundance. In the The Official Guide, for instance, difficult words are copious (as they will be the day of the test). Turning my eye to the Internet, I can find many things that are copious: newsblogs, daily tweets, Facebook status updates, and those crazy, flickering adds with the hidden white ‘X’.



Many of the great wits of the last 150 years had an acerbic style: with a few words Oscar Wilde could humble many; Dorothy Parker could pierce through the pretentions of her time with an artfully crafted line. Acerbic typically describes writing or style that is biting and cutting.



Unseemly is definitely a misleading word, since we are wont to associate it with ‘seem’ however, the ‘seem’ in unseemly is not what it seems. From the Middle English soemer, which means ‘fitting’, unseemly describes behavior or words that are not socially appropriate. For instance, if somebody cuts me off while I’m driving and I decide to stick my arm out the window and extend my longest digit, then my behavior would be unseemly.



Indecorous is a synonym of unseemly.  It is also the opposite of decorous, which means well-mannered, following social etiquette.

To those who lived during the age of the Lindy Hop and the Madison, the way people dance in clubs today—where spasmodic hip-thrusting has replaced defined steps—must seem indecorous. 



Something that is marked by boundaries is circumscribed. Your daily routine can be circumscribed. Indeed, depending on where you live, your rights are circumscribed by where you live. These uses are the figurative use of circumscribed, a use you will see on the test. The more literal use of circumscribed you may also see on the test, but in the math section. Does this sound familiar, “A square is circumscribed in a circle.

Though much music dating from before the Baroque era sounds similar, we shouldn’t be too surprised since the few tonal scales available to composers circumscribed their range of expression. 


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