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GRE Vocabulary Wednesday: “G” Words

Note from Margarette: We’re a day late this week, sorry! So it’s technically a Vocab Thursday :). Also, it is Chris Lele’s birthday today! 🙂

There aren’t too many GRE words that begin with ‘G’. Beyond garrulous and gregarious, we oftentimes have difficult thinking of any others. Nonetheless, there are still some high-frequency ‘G’RE words.


I know what you’re probably thinking: This relates to the restaurant bill. And that’s just what the GRE wants you to think. Gratuitous, however, has nothing to do with gratuity—or the tip you pay on a restaurant bill. Gratuitous means uncalled for given the situation. If you are hanging out with your friends, and you suddenly start dropping GRE words into the conversation, they will probably find that gratuitous. Or if somebody curses for no good reason (maybe just to come off as cool), his or her profanity is gratuitous.



Gambit sounds like “gamble”, and indeed there is an element of risk involved. A gambit is a move in which you risk something up front in the hopes of future gain. The word comes from a play in chess, in which you give up an early pawn so that you can better gain a position. More generally, gambit can be used to describe political maneuvers or just about any situation where a person is trying to gain an upper hand, but first risks something.



If a person is friendly and cheerful, he or she is genial. In this sense, the word is very similar to congenial (minus the con-, of course). Genial can also describe an environment that is pleasant, usually as far as weather goes. So if you live on the East Coast of the United States, the climate is not very genial, especially in the winter (unless you are like my colleague Mike who wears shorts even when the mercury has dipped below freezing).



To glower is to look at someone in a hostile way. Basically, if someone is glowering at you, that person intends to harm you. An informal way of saying this is “to give someone a dirty look.”



One definition of grouse is a large game bird. That won’t help you much on the GRE, which would only test the second definition: to complain or grumble, usually about something unimportant. Not happy that your work is no longer subsidizing sodas for 50 cents a pop, so to speak? Instead of standing up and the weekly meeting and delivering an impassioned harangue, you will most likely grouse to coworkers sitting across from you (who will either concur or avoid the grousing party by bringing in their own 12-pack of soda).



Gestation is that period we’ve all gone through: from conception to birth, during our time in a womb with no view. The word gestate can also refer to an idea that grows in the mind over a period of time (think of the brain as a womb).

Though Einstein’s theory of relativity seemed to come to him in a flash, the idea had gestated in his mind for years.

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