This story from the Panchatantra contains 19 high-frequency GRE words. See if you can understand the meanings from the story otherwise, the meanings are given below.
Mandavisarpini was a white flea. She lived in the folds of the luxuriant bedclothes on the bed of a king in a certain country; she lurked about in them at night and fed on his blood without anybody noticing. One day, a bug managed to enter the beautifully decorated bedroom of the king. When the flea saw him, she cried, “O bug, what are you doing in the king’s bedroom? Leave at once before you get caught!”
The bug replied, “Madam, even if I were just a nugatory good-for-nothing pest (which I most certainly am not), it would not be right to treat me this way, because I am your guest, and one should welcome a guest with comity and humility. It is the duty of the host to offer refreshments,” the bug continued, “and though I have fed myself with all types of blood, I never have I had the opportunity to savor the blood of a king. It must be very savory, for a king’s life is filled with all kinds of opulence, and so he must satisfy his palate with only the most magnificent culinary marvels. So, if you will permit, I would love to taste the king’s blood.”
The flea was dumbfounded.
“O Bug, you have a painful bite which feels like a barb perforating the skin, she said, “so the king will surely wake up when you bite him. I feed on the king’s blood only when he is in profound sleep. I can permit you to feed on the king’s blood only if you promise to wait till he is asleep.”
The bug agreed: “I promise to wait till the king is asleep, and only after you yourself have fed will I feed on his blood.”
Soon after they had resolved on this plan, the king came and lay down to sleep. The bug could not control himself, and decided to take a tiny bite of the king right away. As the king had not yet fallen asleep, he jumped when he felt the bug’s sharp bite. Distraught, the king shouted to his servants: “There is something in my bed that has bitten me! Look for it!”
On hearing this, the bug quickly ran to a corner of the bed and camouflaged himself by standing in front of the dark wood of the bedframe. The servants scrutinized the bedclothes sheet by sheet, and found the flea in one of the folds. They killed her at once, thus allaying the king’s anxiety, and the king then went to sleep in peace.
Thus the wise say: Beware the false promises of strangers and friends alike. You are the one who will end up paying for them.
GRE Vocabulary and Meanings
- luxuriant (adjective): splendid, shining, and beautiful: “He watched her as she combed her luxuriant brown hair.” “The actress came to the awards ceremony dressed in a luxuriant green sari.”
- lurk (verb): to move stealthily and cautiously so as not to be seen: “At night, rats lurk in the ground-floor rooms of our house.” “I never walk on the university campus at night, because they say that thieves lurk in the woods there.”
- nugatory (adjective): worthless: “Throughout my teens I continuously wrote poetry, most of which now seems nugatory or positively hilarious.” “A degree from a third-rate university is nugatory.”
- comity (noun): courtesy; consideration; kindness: “Political refugees deserve to be treated with comity by the host state while their applications are being considered.” “I wouldn’t recommend that hospital: I sensed a distinct lack of comity on the one occasion when I was treated there.”
- humility (noun): humbleness; lack of pride: “Despite his fame, the actor always treated his fans with humility and gratitude.” “When approaching the god in worship, you must always assume an attitude of humility.”
- savor (verb): to attentively appreciate a positive experience, particularly a taste: “Just savor the bold flavor of this new Italian wine I bought today.” “I hate it when other audience members talk at concerts while I’m trying to savor the music.”
- savory (adjective): tasty; having a pleasing taste: “This bhaji is much more savory than I expected: in fact, on the basis of its appearance, I thought it would taste disgusting.” “A little spice makes food more savory; too much spice just drowns out the taste.”
- opulence (noun): splendor of wealth; splendid show of wealth: “Having been quite poor before he became famous, the young actor was unprepared for the opulence of his new lifestyle.” “He’s a man of simple tastes, so he is very uncomfortable with the opulence of the expensive new house his wife forced him to buy.”
- palate (noun): the top of the mouth, once thought to be the location of the faculty of taste; the faculty of taste: “Our food will delight your palate with tastes you’ve never even imagined.” “There’s no point in taking him to fancy restaurants: He has the palate of a street dog.”
- culinary (adjective): relating to cooking and food: “Among the things that most attracted her to him were his culinary skills.” “For me, the most memorable thing about our trip to Europe was the great variety of culinary experiences we had in the countries we visited.”
- dumbfound (verb; almost always in the form of the past passive participle dumbfounded): astonish; appall: “Philosophers of every generation concern themselves with the same set of eternal mysteries that dumbfound the human mind.” “I was dumbfounded when my wife of twenty years sold all our property, emptied our bank account, and fled to Bolivia.”
- barb (noun): a thorn; any sharp piercing object: “As he ran through the forest, barbs and branches tore his clothes.” “Bees and wasps have a poisoned barb in their tail with which they sting their enemies.”
- perforate (verb): to penetrate; to cut through: “The bullet perforated his left side and lodged between his left lung and his heart.” “Use this machine to perforate the pages so that they can be bound.”
- profound (adjective): very deep: “The wreck of the Titanic lies at the bottom of one of the Atlantic Ocean’s most profound chasms.” “The old professor’s students were amazed by his profound knowledge of his subject.”
- resolve (verb): to decide (also resolve on): “I resolve to study Japanese for an hour a day until I have attained native fluency.” “After ten hours of deliberations, the prime minister and his cabinet resolved on a declaration of war.”
- distraught (adjective): distressed; upset; alarmed: “At the airport, distraught friends and family of the passengers waited anxiously for news of the missing plane.” “I became distraught when my wife still had not returned home at eleven PM.”
- camouflage (verb): to conceal something by making it look similar to its surroundings: “Deer camouflage themselves by standing amidst tall dry grass that is similar in color to their brown coats.” “He camouflaged his cricket bat by leaning it against the trunk of a tree.”
- scrutinize (verb): to examine or search very carefully: “Even if you have edited your written work thoroughly, you will find errors that you had missed earlier if you scrutinize it again” “Every day I scrutinize the online newspapers for stories about genetically modified crops.”
- allay (verb): to neutralize or lay to rest (fear, anger, hunger, or some other negative feeling or experience): “She tried to allay my fear of flying by telling me that in fact one is more likely to be stabbed to death by a monkey than to die in a plane crash.” “The health minister sought to allay the public’s anxiety about Ebola by announcing that every person coming into the country would now be thoroughly screened for the disease.”