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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Fallen Through the Cracks

None of the words below are actually related to falling and fissures in the ground. Indeed, the words aren’t really related at all, as is typical with the words from other Vocabulary Wednesdays. The words below are simply common GRE words that just never made it on to the Vocab Wednesday list.


To be intensely infatuated with something is to be besotted with it. Perhaps, you find yourself studying words into the wee hours of morning, Vocab Wednesdays playing continuously through your head as you sleep. If so, you are besotted with words. Typically, our affections or infatuations take human form, as all of us at some point, have been besotted with another person.


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Have you ever woken up after a really long sleep, or perhaps been jolted awake when you are in deep sleep? In either case, you are likely to feel stupefied, a state in which you are unable to think or even function—basically, you’re kind of like a zombie.


Birds chirping, balmy air, a flower bud poking out through thawing snow—all are harbingers of spring. That is they announce or foretell the coming of spring. Harbingers don’t just relate to the seasons but can take on a variety of different forms: high unemployment has been a harbinger to a change in government; strange visual auras are, for many, a harbinger for a migraine headache.


To chasten can mean to scold, and in this sense, the word is very similar to chastise. Think of a principal chastening a pupil for too many absences. To chasten can also mean to have a moderating or restraining effect on. Let’s say that same pupil was “playing hooky”, staying at home and watching hours of television with a smug smile plastered on his face. Well, if the phone rings and the caller ID says it’s the principal’s office, the boy will feel like he’s been caught—even if he doesn’t pick up the phone. In other words, an event that has a moderating effect can be chastening.


Anything that is obscene—that is, it totally disregards moral standards relating to sexual matters—is salacious. Usually, I try to be as descriptive as possible, but in this case I’ll keep it at that: salacious means obscene.


To speak out against something is to decry it. Each day, bloggers take to the blogosphere and speak out against government corruption, government ineptitude, government policy, and just about anything relating to the government. Of course, you can decry just about anything, such as those who unfairly criticize the government (though that tack doesn’t usually make for great blog fodder).

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