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GRE Vocab Wednesday: “V” Words

One of the first vocabulary Wednesdays I did was a ‘V’ for vocabulary, a play off of the movie ‘V’ for Vendetta. Since then, there have been few other ‘v’ words. Today, I’m providing five important GRE words beginning with ‘v’.



Oh, the Super Bowl. Where you get to see celebration taken to the extreme. A player doesn’t just score a touchdown; he spikes the ball, does backflips, and, when facing the camera, either waves a menacing finger or says “Hey mom”. When somebody takes an excessive amount of pride in his or her accomplishments that person is vainglorious. A good way to remember this word is to combine ‘vain’ – pride and ‘glory’ – scoring a touchdown or some other major feat.


Airheaded, empty-headed, lacking substance all sum up vapid. Athletes commenting on their victory (“we knew we had to score some points), one of the Kardashians sharing the meaning of life, or the latest pop song telling you that you can be anything you want are all vapid. That is, they lack any real substance, fail to impart any real meaning, and are often better left unexpressed.


Venial is a confusing word if you have ever memorized the word venal. The latter means “corrupt and likely to take bribes”. Venial on the other hand mean pardonable, forgivable. A good antonym is the word egregious, which means shockingly bad. Say a soccer player falls down on the ground and says a curse word. Definitely not the kind of manners I espouse, but definitely venial in the scheme of things. Say another soccer players falls down and then blames an opponent, walking up to him and hitting him in the face. That would be egregious. The ref turning a blind eye? That would be venal.


On one level this word can describe anything that features many colors and patterns. Inevitably, every Christmas I’ve given a sweater that can best be described as variegated: a patchwork of five different colors so that I look like how TV screens look when they switch to the Emergency Broadcasting System.

Variegated, more generally speaking, can mean anything that displays variety. A butterfly’s wings are variegated; the butterfly kingdom (order Lepidoptera) itself is variegated, since there are so many different kinds of butterflies. Then, there is the English language itself. Even the words you can use to describe a variety are variegated: polychromatic, heterogeneous, varied.


It is apt that I have this word last, since valedictory means pertaining to goodbyes or farewells. A valedictory address is one a speaker makes when he or she is saying goodbye. Not too long ago Jay Leno, of the Tonight Show, gave his valedictory monologue, saying goodbye to over twenty years as the show’s host, and letting Jimmy Fallon take over. But don’t worry: this isn’t the valedictory Vocabulary Wednesday, as I’ve still got plenty of words up the sleeves.


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