GRE Verbal : Understanding the Meaning of Words in Multiple-Answer Questions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Meaning And Structure In Multiple Answer Questions

Passage adapted from Thomas Paine's Common Sense (1776).

It hath lately been asserted in parliament, that the colonies have no relation to each other but through the parent country, i. e. that Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, and so on for the rest, are sister colonies by the way of England; this is certainly a very round-about way of proving relationship, but it is the nearest and only true way of proving enemyship, if I may so call it. France and Spain never were, nor perhaps ever will be our enemies as Americans, but as our being the subjects of Great-Britain.

But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families; wherefore the assertion, if true, turns to her reproach; but it happens not to be true, or only partly so, and the phrase parent or mother country hath been jesuitically adopted by the king and his parasites, with a low papistical design of gaining an unfair bias on the credulous weakness of our minds. Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.

What does the word "credulous" mean in this context?

Possible Answers:






Correct answer:



Paine is making the point that their uncritical loyalty to the King is weakness. "Credulous" means uncritical or trusting, so the meaning in this passage is conventional.

"Selfish" means overly concerned with one's own interests. "Rampant" means unceasingly proliferating (usually of a negative thing). "Unnoticed" means unseen or not perceived. "Useful" means able to be helpfully or effectively used.

Example Question #2 : Meaning And Structure In Multiple Answer Questions

Passage adapted from Homer's Odysseus, the Hero of Ithaca trans. Samuel Butler (1900).

"And what, Telemachus, has led you to take this long sea voyage to Lacedaemon? Are you on public or private business? Tell me all about it."

"I have come, sir replied Telemachus, "to see if you can tell me anything about my father. I am being eaten out of house and home; my fair estate is being wasted, and my house is full of miscreants who keep killing great numbers of my sheep and oxen, on the pretence of paying their addresses to my mother. Therefore, I am suppliant at your knees if haply you may tell me about my father's melancholy end, whether you saw it with your own eyes, or heard it from some other traveller; for he was a man born to trouble. Do not soften things out of any pity for myself, but tell me in all plainness exactly what you saw. If my brave father Ulysses ever did you loyal service either by word or deed, when you Achaeans were harassed by the Trojans, bear it in mind now as in my favour and tell me truly all."

Menelaus on hearing this was very much shocked. "So," he exclaimed, "these cowards would usurp a brave man's bed? A hind might as well lay her new born young in the lair of a lion, and then go off to feed in the forest or in some grassy dell: the lion when he comes back to his lair will make short work with the pair of them- and so will Ulysses with these suitors. By father Jove, Minerva, and Apollo, if Ulysses is still the man that he was when he wrestled with Philomeleides in Lesbos, and threw him so heavily that all the Achaeans cheered him- if he is still such and were to come near these suitors, they would have a short shrift and a sorry wedding. 

What does "paying their addresses" mean in this context?

Possible Answers:

Showing respect to Telemachus and his mother

Trying to get word to Ulysses about the end of the war

Begging to hear about the Trojan War from Menelaus

Wooing Telemachus's mother in hopes of marrying her

Buying property from Telemachus

Correct answer:

Wooing Telemachus's mother in hopes of marrying her


We know from the context that Telemachus is trying to get rid of these men who are surrounding his mother, trying to get her attention. We learn from Menelaus that any of the men who succeed in marrying her will face Ulysses's vengeance. These clues help us decode "paying their addresses."

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