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GRE Vocabulary Prep Word List

GRE Vocab List #10 – On Cloud Ten

Hello folks! This is the big one-oh. Ten GRE Vocab Blogs.

Thanks for the support. Hope you’re finding these valuable for your GRE Verbal Preparation. We’ll keep coming up with fresh and exciting themes each week. We hope you’ll continue reading!

If you haven’t yet, check out our other GRE Vocab blogs here.

Since this is our TENth blog, we have a special word list in store for you. We have not 5, not 6, but 10 WORDS for you. And the theme?

Well, you guessed it. All of them have the word ‘ten’. Having said that, the words are as ever, important in a GRE Vocab context.

The words are Ostentatious, On Tenterhooks, Attenuate, Detente, Portentous, Tenet, Abstention, Intenerate, Ghostwritten and Inadvertent.

We’ve also thrown in an 11th word. Read on to find out what/why.

i. Ostentatious

Part of Speech – adjective
Definition – characterized by pretentious or showy display; designed to impress.
Word Origins – from Latin ostentare, the verb form of ostendere ‘stretch out to view’.
Synonyms – pretentious, flamboyant, gaudy.
Usage – Her dress was too ostentatious to be worn at such a sombre event.

ii. On Tenterhooks

Part of Speech – phrase
Definition – in a state of suspense or agitation because of uncertainty about a future event.
Word Origins – tenterhooks are hooked nails in a device called a tenter.
Synonyms – anxious, nervy, jittery.
Usage – He was on tenterhooks all the way until his GRE Score was declared.

Hook, Line, and Sinker

Tenterhooks were wooden frames, used in the process of making woollen cloth. When the cloth was woven, it’d be cleaned of oil, and grease, and had a tendency to shrink. To prevent that, the cloth was stretched out in the open, with hooked nails attached to the ends of the cloth, hammered into frames, called tenters.

Over the years, the feeling of anxiety, waiting for something, came to be associated with feeling like being stretched like the cloth. So, on tenterhooks became a metaphor for nervous excitement.

iii. Ghostwritten

Part of Speech – past participle of the verb ‘ghostwrite’
Definition – written for, and in the name of another
Word Origins – Old English gāst (in the sense ‘spirit, soul’) + Old English wrītan ‘score, form (letters) by carving, write’.
Synonyms – surrogated.
Usage – Ten years after publication, it was revealed that the pro athlete’s ‘autobiography’ was ghostwritten.


iv. Détente

Part of Speech – noun
Definition – the easing of hostility or strained relations, especially between countries.
Word Origins – from French détente, ‘loosening, relaxation’.
Synonyms – de-escalation, rapprochement, reconciliation.
Usage – Citizens of the warring countries regularly pray for a détente.

The Great Thaw & A Flash Freeze

Though ‘détente’ is primarily used to describe the thawing of relations between the US and the Soviet Union, the term was first used for the Franco-German attempts at reducing tensions. Though they did Nazi it coming, we all know how that turned out.

In the 1970s, Richard Nixon, Kissinger, and Brezhnev sat down for diplomatic talks, and they made some progress. The Apollo-Soyuz project was launched in 1975, for the so-called ‘Handshake in Space’ that’d allow for international docking – two different spacecraft joining in orbit.

However, the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan effectively ended all talk of a détente.

v. Portentous

Part of Speech – adjective
1. of momentous significance
2. done in a pompously or overly solemn manner so as to impress.
Word Origins – from Latin portentum ‘omen, token’, from the verb portendere.
Synonyms – ominous, fateful, bombastic.
Usage – The act of lightning striking as soon as he stepped out of his house seemed portentous.

vi. Tenet

Part of Speech – noun
Definition – a principle or belief, especially one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy.
Word Origins – from Latin, literally ‘he holds’, from the verb tenere.
Synonyms – credo, canon, dogma.
Usage – Freedom of speech is one of the foremost tenets of a democratic society.

The Time-Traveller’s Wife

Tenet was a 2020 Christopher Nolan sci-fi film about a secret agent who learns to manipulate the flow of time to prevent an attack from the future that threatens to annihilate the present world. As per the film, reversing entropy is possible, which in turn means reversing time is possible.

It basically presents the concept of time as palindromic. Anything you do now / in the future has consequences in the other.
Aptly, the name of the movie is a palindrome (reads the same from front to back) as well.
Spoiler(?) – As with the 2009 classic film with the same name as the subheading for this tidbit, Tenet also has a man with ‘time-travelling’ capabilities and a wife who has difficulty coping with it.

vii. Abstention

Part of Speech – noun
Definition – an instance of declining to vote for or against a proposal or motion; restraint in one’s consumption, like abstinence from intoxicants.
Word Origins – from late Latin abstentio(n- ), in turn from abstinere, from ab- ‘from’ + tenere ‘hold’.
Synonyms – abstinence, self-restraint, forgoing.
Usage – There were 4 ayes, 5 nays, and 4 abstentions when the vote was taken.


viii. Intenerate

Part of Speech – verb
Definition – to make tender; soften.
Word Origins – from Latin in, ‘into’ and tener meaning ‘soft’
Synonyms – tenderize, soften.
Usage – The meat is marinating overnight for it to intenerate, and gain flavour.

ix. Attenuate

Part of Speech – verb
Definition – reduce the force, effect, or value of; make thin.
Word Origins – from Latin attenuat– ‘made slender’
Synonyms – weaken, diminish, impair.
Usage – This research provides a glimmer of hope that exclusively using renewable energy can attenuate the effects of global warming.

x. Inadvertent

Part of Speech – adjective
Definition – not resulting from or achieved through deliberate planning.
Word Origins – from in-1 ‘not’ + Latin advertent– ‘turning the mind to’ (from the verb advertere)
Synonyms – unintentional, unwitting, innocent.
Usage – Despite his inadvertent error, his GRE score turned out to be better than he expected.


You may be using the word ‘decimation’ wrongly.

Most people believe Decimation means destruction. And it does. But not complete destruction.

See, decimation derives from the ancient Roman punishment for legions. If a legion tried to mutiny/was cowardly, the higher-ranking officials would have soldiers draw lots. Every 10th man was executed by the other 9 in the lot, often by stabbing. The way Caesar was betrayed seems to make a lot more sense now, eh?

Modern linguists, however, claim that the current (mis)usage of the word has made it gain an additional, officially acceptable meaning – complete destruction. Similar to the literally/figuratively affair.

Watch this video to know more

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Do you know any such words people misuse ofTEN? Leave it in the comments!

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