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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Rhyme Time

That words rhyme is no surprise. That some of these words show up on the GRE makes things interesting.



To become accustomed to something unpleasant is to become inured to it. The constant hubbub outside my apartment window (revving motorbikes, rambunctious revelers) is something I hope one day to become inured to, though earplugs are my best bet for now.


From the Latin for ‘without care’, a sinecure is a job in which little effort is required. Oftentimes, when politicians retire from their important positions, they find a post within the government that doesn’t require too much effort (and allows plenty of time for golf), but still offers a decent salary. For most, it doesn’t take much time to become inured to a sinecure.


Roil is used to describe when water is stirred up so that the sediment below muddies things up. More generally speaking, to roil means to move about in a swirling manner. In this sense, roil can refer to things on a more figurative level: after being rejected by multiple suitors, her emotions roiled inside her.


As a verb, moil means to work hard at something. As a noun, moil is drudgery, boring work. To moil can also mean to move about in an agitated and confused manner; however, this meaning is less common.


A male-given name, or abrupt, usually in a rude manner. I’ll be curt: The latter is the one we care about for GRE purposes.


Saucy, cheeky and impudent, pert is usually used to describe a female who possesses these traits. However, unlike curt, pert—to the best of my knowledge—is not a name given to a person.


Both of these words come from the animal kingdom. If an animal attacks someone, he or she mauls that person. To maul, more generally speaking, means to treat somebody harshly, i.e. after three successive box office flops, the director was unsurprisingly mauled by the critics in his latest effort.


Cats may maul you, or at least big cats may. But when you hear a caterwauling, there is usually no blood—just lots of shrill howling. This word can be removed from the animal kingdom, when you have people shrilling and howling terribly. The first couple episodes of American idol (where mostly amateurs try to be America’s next top singing star), usually feature some caterwauling—both vocally and after one of the acerbic judges compares the person’s singing to a pack of cats given free reign to a chalkboard.


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