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GRE Verbal Words #4

GRE Verbal : GRE-Ology

Hello folks, welcome to the 4th blog in a series of GRE Verbal Vocabulary Blogs that we bring you, to help you ace the GRE Verbal section.

#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


We’re back with a set of words that are connected by a theme.

This week’s words are all branches of study that you’ll need to know a bit about to ace those GRE Verbal Section RCs!

This week’s words are Entomology, Etymology, Anthology, Epistemology, and Pathology, along with a set of uncommon branches of medicine that all end with -ology!


i. Entomology

Part of Speech – noun
Definition – the branch of zoology concerned with the study of insects.
Origin –  from Greek entomon (denoting an insect) + -logia (study of)
Usage – She decided to specialize in entomology after graduation.


Creepy-Crawlies

Most of us would’ve heard this fact – there are more than 200 million insects for each human on the planet. That really makes one shudder.

Each year, several species and sub-species of insects are discovered and the list of things to be afraid of (watch out for next week’s blog!) keeps growing longer. One such much-feared insect is the spider.

But, did you know that the spider isn’t an insect?
It’s an arachnid. All arachnids have eight legs, and unlike insects, they don’t have antennae.

Arachnids derive their name from Arachne, an ancient mythological Greek seamstress. Arachne’s story serves to remind mortals (that’s us!) not to have hubris, which means excessive pride or self-confidence.

Arachne was a gifted seamstress but was very conceited about her talents. She was so conceited, she challenged Athena, the goddess of wisdom and warfare to a weaving contest. (Bad idea!). At the end of the contest, Arachne’s tapestry appeared to be the better of the two.

When Athena couldn’t find a single flaw in Arachne’s tapestry, she beat Arachne with a sewing implement. (OMG, right?) Ashamed, Arachne hung herself. Out of pity, she was turned into a spider.

Another version of the story skips the morbidity and has Athena herself, turn Arachne into a spider for her insolence.

The next time someone tells you cleanliness is next to godliness, tell them this story, to be very wary of humans putting themselves on the level of gods.

I merely jest! Back to the words!


ii. Etymology

Part of Speech – noun
Definition – the study of the origin of words and how their meanings have changed throughout history.
Synonyms – derivation, origin, source.
Usage – The etymology of the word Pali is uncertain.


iii. Anthology

Part of Speech – noun
Definition – a published collection of poems or other pieces of writing/art.
Origin –  from Greek anthos ‘flower’ + -logia ‘collection’
Synonyms – collection, compilation, potpourri.
Usage – Black Mirror is an anthology about the dangers of technology.


Haunt-ologies

Anthologies, in the modern sense, have come to represent a series of ‘connected by theme, unconnected by plot’ TV shows. The most prominent among them, is Black Mirror.

Love, Death, & Robots is another excellent show that started strong but hasn’t lived up to itself in its second season, which is out now.

Seeing a pattern?

Closer home, Netflix has forayed into anthologies in partnership with Indian directors.
‘Paava Kadhaigal’ is a wonderful, Tamil-language series that explores fate, societal pressures, caste-ism, and ‘a series of unfortunate events,’ if you will. Check it out here.

Ghost Stories is a four-segment horror film that while seemed promising, didn’t pan out well.

‘Ray’ is a series of four gripping stories inspired by the works of renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray, and might have been released when you’re reading this! (June 25). Check it out here.


iv. Epistemology

Part of Speech – noun
Definition – the theory of knowledge, especially about its methods, validity, scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion.
Origin –  from Greek episteme ‘knowledge’ + -logy ‘study of
Usage – She saw that the theories of the origin of knowledge in idealistic epistemology are unsound.


Epistemologists study the origin and scope of knowledge. Over the years, there have been various determined efforts to document knowledge for posterity. There have been, and still are various civilizations, societies, and tribes that could not/cannot pass on their knowledge directly, due to lack of a means of communication or differences in ideologies.

For a long time, the considerable knowledge held by the ancient Egyptians was inaccessible to the medieval world. That all changed with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone.

The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone is an ancient stele issued in Memphis, Egypt in 196 BC. It bears inscriptions of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Ancient Greek.

Because the stele had both these languages, historians and linguists were able to decode Egyptian scripts. That allowed us, as non-Egyptians, to decode centuries worth of anthropologically valuable information and learn from it. Due to the magnitude of the impact this stele had, it became a byword for ‘an essential clue in a new field of knowledge.’

PS: A ‘byword‘ is a person or thing cited as a notable and outstanding example or embodiment of something.

E.g., Benedict Arnold became a byword for a traitor in America after he deserted them to join the British, during the American War for Independence.


v. Pathology

Part of Speech – noun
Definition – the science of the causes and effects of diseases.
Origin –  from Latin patho ‘of disease’ + -logy ‘study of’
Usage – He earned a master’s degree in plant pathology from the University of Wisconsin.


Because we brought up pathology, we also wanted to discuss other branches of medicine that ended in -ology. Most of us know the meanings and origins of branches like cardiology, ophthalmology, etc. So, let’s look at some more of those words

Do you know what these Fields of Medicine are about?

  • Oncology is the study of cancers.
    From Greek onco – meaning spike/barb/burden/mass, and ology – meaning the study of.

  • Anesthesiology is the study of anesthetics.
    From Greek root an meaning not, and aisthesis meaning sensation.

    General anesthesia is used during a major surgical procedure to render a patient unconscious. Another variant, local anesthesia, may be used for less drastic, or localized procedures such as dental surgery.

  • Endocrinology is the study of endocrine glands.
    From Greek endo meaning within, and krinein meaning to sift/secrete.

    Endocrine glands regulate hormones that affect the development of our body, and psychological factors as well.

  • Immunology is the study of the body’s immune system.
    From Greek immunis, meaning ‘exempt from.’ This refers to the immune system’s function of keeping the body exempt from diseases and conditions.

  • Rhinology is the study of the nose.
    From Greek ‘rhin’ for nose.

On the Nose

Speaking of noses, the Rhinoceros gets its name from ‘rhin’ meaning nose, and ‘keros’ meaning horn.

There are several species of rhinos, but there’s one specific subspecies that was in the news for quite a while. It is the Northern White Rhino, formerly native to several countries in East and Central Africa. The last male of the subspecies, Sudan, had to be euthanized in 2018.

As a result, there are only 2 northern white rhinos in the world, both living at the Ol Pejeta Conservatory currently. However, efforts are being undertaken for assisted reproduction. Kenyan and San Diego zoologists are creating viable embryos.

Read more about the northern white rhinos here.

That’s all, folks!
See you next week!

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