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GRE Vocab Wednesday: GRE Tricksters

English abounds with words implying deceit. A façade is a false face you put on to mislead. A ploy is a crafty plan to get the advantage. There is ruse, cunning, treacherous, and a whole other slew of words that don’t quite get GRE billing status—meaning they are known to most.



Getting ahead his tough, so many resort to trickery and falsehoods, or chicanery.  Typical chicanery includes accounting firms “cooking” the books, politicians clawing for every last vote, and general corporate misdeeds.


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A fancy word for lying and deceit, mendacious doesn’t appear too often in writing. Indeed, I don’t really see it much outside the standardized test world. So it wouldn’t be mendacity on my part to tell GRE aspirants to learn this word. A truly good antonym is veracious, which describes someone who speaks the truth.


Many T.V. shows rely on the lure of machinations: we love watching people scheme against one another, double crossing, triple crossing, and always crossing over the line from questionable to downright unethical. And I’m not just talking about daytime soaps. Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad consist of a group of characters machinating (that’s the verb form) against one another.


To collude is to conspire with another person. Typically, the end results aren’t totally wicked (nobody is going to get murdered), but if you are colluding, you are trying to get away with something. As kids, we often times would collude with a sibling if something broke in the house (quick, sweep the shard of the broken vase under the couch!).


This word sounds like ‘fact’, but that is actually a fiction. Factitious describes something that is artificial or contrived. You could put on a factitious air (meaning you’re being a phony); you could watch a factitious acting performance (meaning you should change the channel); or you could by a factitious piece of jewelry (meaning that those aren’t real diamonds).


This word doesn’t relate to old stuff hanging on walls, but to “art” in the second meaning: crafty skill. Magicians are known for their artifice, convincing those in the audience that they just pulled a rabbit from a hat, or cut somebody in two. The clever trickery implied by artifice can be found in anything ranging from the way a writers pulls off a story to the behavior of a politician trying to cover up a lie.


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