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GRE Vocab Wednesday: Words from Clemmonsdogparkers

About a month ago, I polled people (mostly GRE aspirants) on my FB page as to what their favorite GRE words were. I got some very interesting responses. Here are a few of those words. Perhaps your favorite is among them!


Back in Victorian England, there were these exhibitions featuring shadows flashing on the wall. The effect was disorienting, causing a stream of unconnected images. The fact that these images happened to be ghoulish and frightening added to the effect. Perhaps, a more relevant example is when you are really sick. You know how you when you close your eyes you get a sense of flashing images that are almost hallucinatory in nature? Well, that is phantasmagorical. If you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, some of his stories describe a phantasmagorical world of constantly shifting scenes, each more macabre than the last.


If you’ve ever read Dicken’s A Christmas Carol you will remember Ebenezer Scrooge, who was known for pinching every penny, despite being a wealthy man. If a street urchin clambered up to him asking for a dime—even on Christmas eve—Mr. Scrooge would say no. Scrooge is the embodiment of parsimonious. This word should not be confused with frugal, which means spending money wisely.


How obscene that this would be someone’s favorite word! Well, not exactly. Though this word does describe things that are obscene in nature. There was, for instance, a certain congressman with a highly unfortunate surname. He would send women he worked with salacious texts (I won’t get into details here beyond saying that his surname completes another name: Oscar Meyer).


A grouchy person, a crank, an irritable type who goes out of his way to yell at tiny children frolicking in the street—this is a curmudgeon. Speaking of Ebenezer Scrooge, he was also a curmudgeon. Though, you don’t have to be parsimonious to be a curmudgeon. You can throw $100 bills in the air—as long as you are cursing those around you.

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