Words from Books and RC Passages

Monday, August 24th, 2020

Words from Books and RC Passages

In one of the earlier posts on this blog, we had discussed the important books for CAT preparation and how reading helps with tackling the verbal ability section. If you go through a lot of the reading comprehension passages asked in exams you will realize they are similar in tone to these books or newspaper articles and that is why reading helps.

But just reading will not help. To really shave off time required in answering a question (especially in RCs) it is best if you know what the words mean eliminating the need to guess or take time to understand what the passage is talking about.

So in this post, we will discuss some words I came across in books and RC passages. These are in no ways the most frequent words in passages, but just highly likely ones. How do I know that? I picked the sentences from such books and passages.

In the part that follows, there is a sentence and a word is marked in bold. Subsequently, the meaning of the word and how it fits in the sentence has been discussed. Here goes:


“The rising economic growth shows that the growth can profit more from a friendly economic climate than from a coercive political environment”  

Coercive relates to using force or threats. Here the sentence says threatening political environment is not good for economic growth.


“Their overall impact has been to exaggerate the non-material and arcane aspects of the Indian traditions”

Arcane means understood by few or something that is difficult to understand. Here the line talks about exaggerating or calling out the difficult to understand aspects of Indian culture.


“Charles Hucker has pithily described this intensely polemical work and the rather bizarre controversy it generated”

Polemical means critical. Something that you do not agree with strongly and are critical about. In this line, we are talking of a critical work (let’s say a book) and the controversy it generated.


“Indeed the thought that these non-appreciating foreigners are being willfully contrary and obdurate is a frequently aired suspicion”

Obdurate means to stubbornly refuse to change your opinion. Here the sentences implies it is frequently suspected that the foreigners are being stubborn with the intention of causing harm (willfully)


“The reviews in the major newspapers were almost uniformly disparaging

Disparaging means having an opinion that something is of little worth. So here what it says is almost all major newspapers gave a negative review.


“One of the penalties of increased focus on religious and communal identities is a weakening of pursuit of egalitarian commitments”

When something relates to the idea that all [people are equal and deserve equal rights, it is egalitarian. Here it says, if the focus is on religious and communal identities, the perspective of seeing everyone as equals is lost.


“Monetary Policy is, of course, the domain of the ostensibly independent Federal Reserve”

Ostensibly means apparently but not actually. The Federal Reserve is not really independent, it should ideally be so or appears to be so, but is not in reality


“We have to identify the societal tensions that we may see between pugnacious spokespersons of communities”

Pugnacious means eager to fight (or be at loggerheads, if you recall the discussion from the earlier post on idioms) and there is a sense of social tension seen when these people fight or argue.


“But this is too facile a response”

In this context, facile means superficial. The response does not take into considerations the complexities and nuances of the issue.


“We need to urgently look beyond the hackneyed 19th century dogmas of ‘socialism’ and ‘market will solve all’ mantras”

Simply put, hackneyed is something that has been used so many times that it is not seen as significant and is clichéd or overused. Here it is being said that socialism has been considered too many times as a solution to economic problems that it is now not even thought of as a serious contender.


“Companies that focus only near-term profits and not invest for long-term build an edifice on a shallow foundation”

Edifice is a huge building. So looking at short term targets only is like constructing a huge building on a shallow foundation.


“He thought there was a real danger that India would slide into an abyss of sectarianism

When we talk of a sect, it is generally a group of people with somewhat different religious beliefs. from those of a larger group to which they belong. Here, what the writer is saying that there was a danger that India (with its population divided on the lines of so many castes, sects, religions etc.) would get fragmented on these lines.


“He was a great pilot and a wonderful raconteur

Raconteur simply means someone who has a knack for great storytelling. So here, a compliment is being passed – that’s all.


“On 26th Jan 1950, the country threw off the last vestige of British rule by declaring itself a Republic”

Vestige means remnant. So by declaring ourselves as a Republic, we shed the last remaining bits of British Raj away.


“These lacunae are among the major inadequacies in the use of democracy in India”

Lacunae is a big gap or shortcoming. So whatever this line was talking about was among the major inadequacies in the use of democracy in India.


“The creation of linguistic states gave a fresh fillip to regional theatre”

Filip simply means to give a boost. So when the states were created on a linguistic basis, the state administration would promote its local language theatre artists which gave a boost to the industry.


“Even those inclined towards hedonism were stalled by the absence of choice”

Hedonism means being in the pursuit of pleasure or someone who seeks luxury. This line tells us those who wanted to indulge in the luxury did not have a choice. You want to buy designer clothes, but all that is available in the market are the ones made using cheap synthetic fibre.


“That government gave way to others, but the reduction of the autarky of closed economic policies has continued”

Autarky is economic independence or self-sufficiency. If you know this, you what the line means – that is, reduction of independence of economic policies had continued.


“I ask you to forgive me for the dogmatism of my style, the dogmatism of brevity”

Dogma refers to a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as true. Here the writer is always being concise and using limited words (brevity) so here she says ‘Please excuse me for being fixed on my concise style and using very limited words to express things’.


“He is known for his dark, macabre sense of humour”

Macabre refers to something that is disturbing and horrifying because of involvement with or depiction of death and injury. So here, the line refers to someone who has a sense of humour influenced by death or similar dark events.


“It is difficult to ascertain the veracity of these tales, but one cannot deny the geographical importance of this king”

When someone states something as a fact, you look for the source as a means to validate its accuracy. This is what veracity means – correctness or reliability of something. And in this case, it seems it was difficult to find out if the stories were indeed true.

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