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Valentine, love, friendship GRE words

GRE Word List #23 | What’s with the Attitude?

Today’s GRE vocabulary blog is dedicated to words that you can use to define someone’s personality. We often see certain traits in people but aren’t sure how to describe these traits or the person. If you find yourself running out of words, then don’t worry! Below is a list of words from your must-learn GRE Word List that could aid you. In today’s GRE vocabulary blog we will cover: Introspection, Introvert, Extrovert, Braggart, Malevolent, Xenophile, and Xenophobia.

i. Introspection

Part of Speech – Noun

Definition – Examining one’s own thoughts and feelings

Synonyms – Self-analysis, soul-searching, self-reflection


1. One must begin one’s day with moments of quiet introspection in order to have a more productive and satisfying day. 

2. Constructive introspection helped the manager zero in on his insecurities.

Introspection is a term that is used in a scientific as well as a spiritual context. From a scientific standpoint, introspection refers to the process of observing one’s mental state. From a spiritual point of view, one may say that introspection is a journey of “soul searching”. While science and religion use this term from two different perspectives, one can amalgamate the two to understand introspection as “learning more about one’s state of being”.

Did you know that introspection has a fictional connotation too? In fiction writing, introspection is the tool used by authors to convey what the character is thinking. While visual media capture a character’s look and the environment better (when reading the book, did you imagine that Hogwarts would look the way it did in the movies?), introspection in books allows us to understand their motives and thoughts much better than even movies can show. 

Why are we talking about ‘introspection’ as a GRE word list word in this GRE vocabulary post about attitudes when it is not quite a word describing attitude, you may ask. We may not always do it consciously but we describe another person’s attitude based on our emotional reaction to their behavior. Are they being irritating or friendly? How are they impacting our attitudes? If we are prone to judging someone instantaneously, perhaps we should slow down, introspect how they make us feel before attaching a label to a person. 

So before we go ahead and label a shy friend or an annoying relative, we must first analyze their actions to better understand why they are conducting themselves in a certain manner and then introspect our feelings to understand how we are reacting or why we are annoyed by their actions – Deep right?!

ii. Introvert

Part of Speech – Noun

Definition – A reserved or shy person

Word of Origin – Introvert is derived from the modern Latin word “introvertere”, introto the inside + vertereto turn.

Synonyms – shy, withdrawn, reticent

Usage – Because she is an introvert, she found it difficult to face the mob of fans who were clamoring to take a picture with their favorite TV star.

The famous Introverts

Albert Einstein is one of the (if not the most) recognized theoretical physicists to have ever lived. He is well known for his Theory of Relativity and Special Relativity or E = mc2. When he said “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind”, Einstein not only declared himself an introvert but also credited his success and major breakthroughs to this trait.

If you are working on your GRE verbal and GRE vocabulary prep, one good source of learning GRE word list root words is the Harry Potter book series. Are you a Harry Potter fan? If so, you are in for a treat. J.K Rowling, author of the world-renowned Harry Potter series, too is an introvert. Many of you may know the story of Rowling dreaming about Harry Potter while taking a solo train trip. But do you know what led to her thinking about Harry Potter? Well the story goes that, while she was on that train, she wanted to ask a stranger for his pen. But being an introvert, she was too shy to approach someone, let alone a stranger. This compelled her to compose the story in her head – the rest is history! 

iii. Extrovert

Part of Speech – Noun

Definition – socially confident person

Synonyms – outgoing, sociable, people-oriented

Word of Origin – early 20th century: from extrovariant of extra, + Latin vertereto turn.

Usage – Because he is an extrovert, he has never had any problems traveling to new countries for work – in fact, he welcomes the chance to meet new people and gain new experiences. 

The GRE Word List word Extraversion (or extroversion) was first introduced as a concept by psychiatrist Carl Jung in the 1920s. According to him, every person has an introvert side and an extrovert side, with one being more dominant than the other. So if you are wondering why you aren’t able to sit in silence for even thirty minutes or if you find it extremely difficult to strike a conversation with a stranger, it is time for you to introspect and ask yourself which side of the scale you are on.

More often than not, especially in our professional lives, we are forced to shift gears and become a person we currently aren’t. Elon Musk is one notable example. He once said that it took him a lot of time and practice to get comfortable with going up on stage and speaking clearly, but as the head of a company, it’s something he had to learn how to do.

Very likely, Musk did not have much of a choice other than to adapt his personality to suit the job. Several large organizations use ‘personality tests’ to gauge your fit in a particular role. For example, if a Fortune 500 company is recruiting interns for several roles, they may use personality tests to figure out which team an intern should work with, in order to give the intern the best opportunity to succeed. The most popular of these tests – the MBTI – was designed based on Jung’s theories, including his study of introverts and extroverts. With that we have come full circle in this GRE vocabulary discussion on GRE word ‘extrovert’ – beginning and ending with Jung!

iv. Braggart

Part of Speech – Noun

Definition – a person who boasts about his/her achievements or possessions

Word of Origin – Braggart comes from the French word “braguer”, which means “to brag”

Synonyms– brag, show-off, trumpeter


1. Living with his arrogant sister has made him a braggart – their competitive nature and her sense of superiority have contributed to his attempts to outshine her.

Since I am a huge Harry Potter fan, let me remind you of the story of the tale of the three brothers. Once, three brothers decided to cross a river that was known to have claimed many lives. They used their magical wands and conjured up a bridge that could help them cross this river with ease and thus “cheat” death. Malevolent death appeared in front of them and decided to award each brother a ‘gift’ of their choice. The eldest brother asked for a wand so powerful that he could defeat anyone who ever challenged him. Later that night the eldest brother – being a braggart – boasted about his newfound power down at a pub. Envious of the wand’s power, a wizard slit the brother’s throat in his sleep and stole the elder wand.

Morale: No one loves a braggart. So be careful, especially if you decide to go to a close by pub to boast about your achievements :’)

v. Malevolent

Part of Speech – adjective

Definition – malicious, evil, showing ill will

Word of Origin – derived from the 16th century Latin word malevolentwishing evil’. Maleill + volentwishing

Synonyms – evil minded, cruel, vindictive

Usage – Since my brother is older than I am, I outwardly show him respect when he gives me a dressing down, but in my mind, I give him the most malevolent replies.

While learning the meaning of words from your GRE word list, it is a good practice to notice the root of these words and understand the meaning accordingly. Take for instance the GRE word ‘malevolent’, which stems from the root word “mal” (Latine: male). The root word mal, meaning ill/bad, can be used to understand and learn other GRE words such as malpractice (ill-practice), malice, malediction, maleficent, malady, malignant, maladroit, malware, malign, and malaise. That is ten words to boost your GRE vocabulary in one go!

vi. Xenophile [zen-uh-fahyl, zee-nuh-] 

Part of speech – Noun

Definition – A person who gets attracted to that which is foreign – people, manners or cultures.

Word of Origin – First recorded in 1945-50 Greek. The word is a modern coinage from the Greek xenosstranger, unknown, foreign and philialove, attraction

Usage – The Dean of the university is a xenophile, particularly interested in Greek mythology.

Xenophile is a GRE word list word that is often used in international politics and relations. A nation may find the culture and traditional norms of another quite fascinating and thus may offer concessions and privileges in order to build cultural ties and a long standing relation.

George Washington, the first president of the United States, described this act of having allegiance to more than one nation as negative. He stated that a passionate attachment toward a nation could lead to a variety of evils. For instance, showing favoritism to one country could lead to jealousy and ill-will from another nation, leading to quarrels and wars without adequate inducement. This philosophy of the founding fathers was also seen during the Second World War when the USA tried to remain neutral and not support the allies or the axis powers, until Pearl Harbour. 

If you decide to get an education in another country, as a student, you will be exposed to other students with different cultural backgrounds. You may find yourself getting “too fond” of a particular culture, value, language, food, etc. If so, you now know what to call yourself :’)

vii. Xenophobia 

Part of speech – Noun

Definition – Dislike against people or cultures of other countries

Word of Origin – Xenophobia comes from the Greek words xenos- stranger or guest and phobos fear or flight

Synonyms – Racism, bias, prejudice


1. Glen’s xenophobia makes it difficult for her to attend social events with people of diverse backgrounds.

2. If you wish to become a foreign aid volunteer, you cannot be xenophobic. 

The history of the Ancient Romans is riddled with xenophobic sentiments as they (Ancient Romans) thought themselves superior over all others. The military commander Marcus Junius Brutus is one such example. While he was preparing for the battle of Philippi in 42 BC, he met an Ethiopian outside the gates of his camp. Considering this meeting a bad omen, his soldiers instantly cut the man to pieces – to the superstitious Roman, black was the color of death.

We are all aware of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because it was first reported in the city of Wuhan, China, there has been an increasing number of cases of racism and xenophobia against the people of East Asia and Southeast Asia. People from these hotspots have reported being victims of discrimination and violence in parts of Europe and America. 

Xenophobia has never benefitted any person or nation. To establish world peace it is necessary to shun this attitude and refrain from sharing or promoting this sentiment. 

And with that sobering thought, we bid you adieu, until the next post on GRE word List!

#1 – It’s all Greek and Latin!
#2 – Welcome to the Blob!
#3 – Must-Know GRE Words Set 1
#4 – GRE-Ology
#5 – Reading Apprehension

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