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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Standing Out

Not that you’d want to, but you can stand out pretty easily. Beat your chest and scream; don a muster yellow sweater and pink sunglasses; or bring an audience to its collective feet with a rousing rendition of Elvis (okay, that one isn’t necessarily easy). Below are words that capture the range of ways in that you can stick out from the crowd.



This great word comes from the weather. When a wind blows wildly, sending leaves and other light objects scurrying along the pavement, you have blustery winds. In the context of speaking, somebody who blusters speaks loudly and angrily, but to little effect.

Oftentimes I see sporting events in which one player harasses another, screaming at him loudly and dropping a choice epithet or two. What usually happens is one of two things: the player getting the verbal battering becomes intimidated and is unable to play well; or the perpetrator riles up the other guy so that he ends up scoring, making said perpetrator former words nothing but mere bluster.



We’ve all seen countless people take the stage in front of us. Some of them begin to drone right away, sending the audience into a collective sleep. At the other end of the spectrum, you have those who speak with panache, play an electrical guitar with panache, or gyrate their hips with panache (or whatever it is you watch people on stage do). Panache then is that flamboyant confidence that sense of being able to capture the audience and set them standing in applause.



To do something enthusiastically and with great zest is to do it with elan. Last weekend during the Super Bowl (the final game in American football—a true spectacle), the cheerleaders leaped and flailed their pom-poms with elan, dazzling the estimated 100 million viewers. As for the Denver Broncos—the losing team—there was not much elan or panache to their performance (it must have been all the bluster coming from the Seattle Seahawks).



Forget great style and enthusiasm—ostentatious is a far dirtier word. It’s all about drawing attention to yourself, no matter how shamelessly. Pink Lamborghini, shiny silver pants, an Elvis coiffure—now you are in the land of ostentatiousness. So think pop stars and star athletes off the field wanting to draw the same attention they do on the field.



Enough with the tacky “ostentatious”. It’s time to shift gears with the more refined and eye-catching resplendent. Come Oscar time, many beautiful actresses will adorn the carpet in resplendent evening dresses. That is they are dazzling and delightful.



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