GRE Verbal

5 GRE Words With Indian Origins

As discussed in many of our previous blogs, the secret to building a formidable vocabulary is to learn them meaningfully and to make connections (Themes, Etymology etc.. ).

We’ve seen how some words have their origins in Greek Mythology. In this blog, let’s dig a little closer to home : below are 5  GRE words that originated in India.

GRE Word #1 Avatar


Not to be confused with the hybrid space clones from the movie with the same name! The word avatar was originally the sanskrit word avatarana which describes a deity (god) that has descended to Earth in human form.

In everyday usage, avatar refers to the incarnation, embodiment, or manifestation of a person or idea.

Eg: “So that was sort of the biggest discovery: that there isn’t one self-made man, there were all these different avatars of the idea.”


Other GRE Words with similar meanings:

Incarnation, Personification, Manifestation, Epitome


GRE Word #2  Juggernaut


Derived from the name of the Hindu God Jagannath, juggernaut means a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force. This usage originated as an analogy to the Hindu Ratha Yatra temple car, which, in many instances, was reputed to crush devotees under its wheels – therefore the idea of an ‘unstoppable force’.

Eg: “While such sales growth is far better than what other major retailers expect, it would mark a slowdown in growth for the Amazon  juggernaut.”

Other GRE Words with similar meanings:

Barrage, Blitz, Cavalcade


GRE Word #3 Mogul


The word ‘Mogul’ is described a member of the Muslim dynasty of Mongol origin that ruled much of India from the 16th to the 19th century. As a result, in today’s context the word is used to describe a person who wields a lot of power and is a leader i.e. a powerful businessman.

Eg: “Steve Jobs is proclaimed to be one of the most influential tech moguls of this century; his death made many question whether we will ever see another as charismatic and exuberant as he.” 

Other GRE Words with similar meanings:

Baron, Tycoon, Magnate


GRE Word #4 Nirvana


In Sanskrit, Nirvana means an extinction or disappearance (of the individual soul into the universal) it literally means  “to blow out, a blowing out”. This has relevance in Indian Religions in which nirvana indicates the attainment of moksha, where one is liberated from the endless process or rebirth or reincarnations and the soul finds eternal peace and stillness.

Therefore, in modern usage, the words is used to indicate an idilic state of peace, happiness and enlightenment.

Eg: “We’ve the slightly surprising news that Panama is actually the happiest country in the world, overtaking the former global nirvana of Denmark.”

Other GRE Words with similar meanings:

Oblivion, Serenity, Bliss, Tranquility


GRE Word #5  Mugger


The Indian Subcontinent has a species of crocodile called the Mugger Crocodile  or locally called magara. This species is attributed with being stealthy and quiet when it attacks its prey.

In modern use the word is used to describe a person who assaults and robs someone, especially in public places. If you’ve been robbed by such a person – you’ve been mugged!

Eg: “When a cop arrived, my dad pointed out that the muggers now had our home address and our house keys.”

Other GRE Words with similar meanings:

Highwayman, Brigand, Bandit