Question of the Week: Sentence Equivalence, Secondary Definitions

Verbal | GRE prep | GRE Challenge

A Rose by Any Other Name

Check out the Question of the Week:

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Attempt the question; then read the explanation below.

A GRE Favorite

Is this answer choice "appropriate?" What if we "appropriated" it? 

Where did you "obtain" those ideas? Do those ideas still "obtain?"

The "wag" sang a "rag" just as my energy began to "flag."


noun each of two or more words having the same spelling but different meanings and origins

An old favorite of the GRE is to present students with familiar words used in unexpected ways. Sometimes these words are homonyms, such as "pole" (a long rod) and "pole" (either of two points at which the axis of a sphere intersects its surface), and sometimes they are just secondary or less common definitions of familiar words, such as "yellow" (unscrupulously sensational, as journalism).

Do not always take words at face value on the GRE. Remember to consider alternative meanings to common words, especially if you find yourself stumped or unable to find a good match for your prediction.

Let's work through the problem above:  

  • Start by reading the stimulus to understand the intended meaning of the sentence.
    • "Lots of people are going home."
  • Next determine and predict the meaning of the blank.
    • "going," perhaps specifically "returning"
  • Write your prediction on your scratch paper along with the six answer choices.
  • Compare each answer choice to "returning"
  1. "wandering" might be in the ballpark of "returning," but it doesn't seem to be a good match. Mark it as a weak match.
  2. "diverging" does also have to do with movement (maybe) but does not match "returning." Eliminate it.
  3. "repairing" doesn't seem to be a match at first, but is there an alternative meaning for "repairing?" Yes, "repairing" can also mean "to return." This is in fact an exact match.
  4. "prevaricating" means "to avoid stating the truth, to equivocate." Not a match.
  5. "acquiescing" means to "assent or give in." Also not a match.
  6. "retiring" also has a less commonly understood, though primary, definition. It can mean "to withdraw or retreat." Another match.

Thus we can choose confidently answer choices C and F.

Notice that along with a solid process, strong command of vocabulary is an essential GRE Verbal skill. To get started with your GRE Vocab studies, you should take advantage of our free Repeat Offenders publication 

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