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Build GRE Vocabulary through Etymology

Posted on April 27, 2014
Build GRE Vocabulary through Etymology

 
Etymology is the study of the origin of words. Many words in English have been adapted from foreign sources. And many of the big GRE words do in fact share similar roots. This of course leads us to a very important question:
 
How does understanding Roots help you build GRE vocabulary?
 
 
1.They help make connections with words you know and the words you will eventually come to know. This ensures that you can remember a vast volume of words that share similar roots, even if they have quite different usages and meanings.
 
2. Roots act like mnemonics. They help you remember words more effectively: even if you forget what the word means you might still remember the “theme” and that might be all that is needed to make an educated guess during the exam!
 
3.They can help you learn new words that have related roots or share the same root. And remembering these words are so much easier since you already know what their base meaning is!
 
 
Still not convinced? Let me take you through some words and their roots and some other words that share the same roots. You’ll  realise how awesome roots are for building GRE Vocabulary by the time you finish reading this post!
 
 
1.Circum– The root circum means “around” (like circumference). Here are some words that use the root “circum”:
 
circumnavigate:  meaning to navigate or travel all around
 
circumambulate:  meaning to amble or walk all around
 
circumspect:  ‘spect’ means to see (like spectator, spectacle); when someone is circumspect he or she is very vigilant and cautious. Think of it as someone who always looks over their shoulders and behind them to ensure everything is fine – some one who is extremely cautious.
 
circumscribe: scribe means to draw or write. Here it means to restrict or limit something – to constrain. Think of it as drawing a circle around someone and prohibiting them from crossing it. You are constraining them to within that limit.
 
circumlocution: Loqui means to talk. Circumlocution is to talk evasively and avoid the topic / issue at hand. It means to beat around the bush!
 
 

2. Loqui: As an off shoot of this we could explore the root “loqui” which means to “talk”. Some words of interest with “loqui” are:
 
loquacious: Someone who is loquacious is capable of talking a lot : a very talkative person.
 
eloquent: Eloquent people talk very effectively – they can convince others. They are characterised by their good use of language.
 
soliloquy: Solo = single. Soliloquy therefore means the act of speaking to oneself.
 
monologue: Mono = one. When just one person speaks (and no one else contributes) it’s a monologue.
 
grandiloquence: Speaking loftily and bombastically – in a grand manner is what grandiloquence means.
 
magniloquence: Again, magniloquence means to speak pompously in a highly exaggerated manner.
 
somniloquy: Like in the word insomnia – somn = sleep; somniloquy is the act of sleep talking!
 
 
Watch the Video (Opens in a new tab)  to learn how the suffixes interact with the roots and how the meaning of these words are formed by these roots. Stay tuned for more GRE vocabulary related perspectives.
 
Want to learn many more words the fun way? Check out our GRE flashcards, tailored for the Indian test-taker!
 

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