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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Words that Sound the Same

Trying to cram hundreds (okay, thousands!) of words in your head is really tough. Part of this has to do with the fact that many words start blending into one another. This phenomenon has spawned many a vocabulary Wednesday post. Yet, there are so many confusing words out there that I think it will be awhile before I exhaust the confusing pairs, trios, and quartets motif.

Below, the words that are high-frequency GRE words are bold-faced. That doesn’t mean that the other words do not appear on the GRE; they are just not as likely to.

Inter – to bury

Inure – to become accustomed to

Immure – to confine against someone’s will

As a gravedigger, Joseph had become inured to nightly interning bodies, yet he was shocked to find himself immured behind the walls of a tomb when the door accidentally shut behind him.


Arrogate – to take something (usually a right or a privilege) without justification

Abrogate – to overturn, repeal

The punishment to imprison those guilty of arrogating government privileges was abrogated by Congress last month. 


Fastidious – nitpicky, very concerned with trivial details

Facetious – joking around

Facet – an aspect or feature of something

One of his curious facets is the ability to be facetious around even those individuals who are fastidious when it comes to matters of propriety.


Impeccable – without a flaw

Impecunious – having very little or no money

Impetuous – not thinking before doing something, rash

Given his impeccable academic record, Spencer surprised his friends when he later became impecunious after making several impetuous gambles in the real estate market.


Parlous – dangerous, precarious

Parlance – a way of speaking common to a certain group

Parley – a discussion or conference between opposing sides

Parlay – to increase one’s winnings

The situation had become parlous for both sides in the intractable conflict, so a parley was held; in the parlance of gamblers, there was no parlay for either side, as both had already lost thousands of men. 


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