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GRE Vocab Wednesday: The Julius Caesar Story

Some words get lost when I throw out my vocab fishing net. That is, they don’t quite fit into a pre-designed category. So to make sure important words aren’t forever lost at sea, to continue the metaphor, I have caught words at random from the vast ocean of GRE vocabulary.

(Somewhere along the line, Chris realized that all of this week’s words perfectly describe the rise and fall of Julius Caesar. Stay tuned … you don’t want to miss his impression of one of history’s most infamous rulers.)



I have three words to describe perfidious: Et tu Brute. For those who think that Shakespeare is written in a foreign language or that history is for the birds, these are the last three words Julius Caesar spoke before falling to the ground dead, a victim of a knife wielded by his best friend, Brutus (and a bevy of other assassins). An act of perfidy is one of ultimate disloyalty, one in which your friend stabs you in the back, or, in Brutus’s case, face-to-face.



In May, one of the most anticipated boxing matches since the Rumble in the Jungle will grace the screens of $200 pay-per-view channel. Leading up to this showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather will be plenty of calumny, esp. on the notoriously loose lips of Mayweather. In other words, each will make slanderous, defamatory statements about the other (“he hits with the panache of an anaesthetized banana slug”; “When I’m done with his face, he’ll look like Mr. Potato head after an earthquake). Well, when they calumniate each other, it is unlikely to be as colorful.



When somebody is angry, whether it is a small child who has not gotten her daily dose of sugar or a person honking at you to stop texting now that the red light has been green for the last 15 seconds, we seek to mollify, or make less angry, these people. Mollification can take the form of a chocolate chip cookie or a swift push of the accelerator.



Napoleon could not stop conquering stuff. A little over 200 years ago, he nearly took over the entire continent of Europe. He was a man obsessed with power; once he had power, he wanted more of it, so assured was he of his self-worth. A person who is obsessed with power—and with wielding that power—is a megalomaniac.

If you ever happened to watch a cartoon back in the 90’s called Pinky and the Brain you might know exactly how this word fits. The Brain was this megalomaniacal mouse that started off each episode with, “today Pinky, you and I are going to take over the world”. This never happened, no thanks to the Brain’s vaunted ambition and the fact that Pinky was a couple of bulbs short of an average mouse.



The verdant fields of France producing a bounty of wine crops; the mind of Mozart, daily turning a desultory tune into a full-fledged sonata; and Steven King’s imagination, turning out yet another 1,000 page work of twisted brilliance, are all fecund. That is all three are fertile, producing a lot of something typically desirable. Notice how the last two cases are figurative.

By the way, make sure to pronounce the ‘d’, or others might think you are saying something else.


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