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GRE Vocab Wednesday: “In” Trouble

Sometimes “in” is a root that negates a word. Notice how equity, or fairness, becomes it’s opposite with the added ‘in-‘. However, oftentimes the ‘in-‘ is connected to a group of letters that doesn’t mean anything alone (what exactly is a “veigle”?  See if you can figure out which word falls into which category.



Something that is unstoppable, no matter what you do, is inexorable. The passage of time, of course, is inexorable, as is the advance of technology into every facet of our lives. This word can also relate to a person, one who cannot be stopped in his or her objective.

J. Edgar Hoover was inexorable in hunting out and vilifying any who had double crossed him.



Not to be confuse with ‘iniquity’, which means utter wickedness, inequity is about the lack of fairness.

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The inequities in the justice system against African Americans — as so poignantly captured in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird — were some of the major catalysts of the Civil Rights Movement.



One of my favorite words, ineffable means incapable of being described in words (which is kind of an oxymoron). A sunset that leaves your jaw on the carpet; the experience of having your first child; the feeling from getting a perfect score on the GRE — all are ineffable.



Something that cannot be imitated because it is so great is inimitable. The word has a positive connotation. So if you do something ridiculously bad in a way no one else can — like the funky chicken dance while holding your breath — that isn’t inimitable so much as it is embarrassing.

When Vladimir Horowitz performed the piano for audiences worldwide, his playing was inimitable.

Make sure not to confuse inimitable with inimical. The latter means “hostile to”, as in “a land so scorched and arid as to be inimical to any life”.



My two-year-old is not too subtle when she wants something. If I’m eating a cookie, she will come over and say, “My cookie” (and I, of course, surrender said cookie). As we grow older, though, we become far better at inveigling, or obtaining through flattery and deception. So if someone is eating a limited supply of cookies, you might subtly remind them that cookies contain lots of sugar and stuff that’s not very healthy. After that person has second thoughts about demolishing the cookies, you’ll slide in and grab a few.


In cahoots

Okay, I know — it’s two words. But it is a phrase, in the sense that you rarely just hear cahoots alone. But what the devil are cahoots, and what exactly does it mean to be ‘in’ them? Well, cahoots are conspiracies and to be in cahoots means to be conspiring with one group or another.

JFK conspiracy theories are quite a tangled web; it appears just about everybody was in cahoots in offing the president: the mafia, LBJ, Hollywood, the Commies — you name them, they were, according to some account, colluding with one another.


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