Sometimes it is Greek: Sobriquet

A popular sobriquet for Texas? The Lone Star State.

Each week, “It’s not GREek!” will discuss a new word likely to appear on the GRE.  We aim not only to give you a new word to memorize, but also to provide you with some background and etymological history to help you remember it.  At the end of the post, we will also give you a sentence with a few other new words to add to your flash cards.  By following this weekly series, you should be more prepared than ever to tackle the sentence completion, sentence equivalencies, and reading comprehension questions on test day.

This Week’s Word:  Sobriquet

A sobriquet is a descriptive name or epithet, in other words, a nickname, cognomen or moniker.

One city with many sobriquets? Houston, Texas.  Its monikers range from Space City (NASA, obviously) to Bayou City (another obvious one) to H-Town (inspired) to Hustleton (one of many popular hip-hop nicknames for Houston).

Another particularly noxious category where sobriquets are popular:  all the pet names you give your significant other.  Just google “nicknames for significant other” and prepare to be nauseated by the suggestions on the Internet.  The most ridiculous one I saw before I had to click away? Muffin cakes.

Some historical sobriquets? Ghenghis Khan’s original name was actually Temujin.  Mahatma Ghandi’s real name is actually Mohandas Ghandi.

Remember how I told you nearly 30% of the words in the English dictionary can be traced back to having French origins? Sobriquet–also spelled soubriquet–is one of them. Sobriquet means nickname in French, too.  Other tricky GRE words that come from French and start with “s” include sluice–an opening or channel–soubrette–a cheeky female servant–and sorb–to absorb.

Sample Sentence:

Much to his partner’s chagrin, the sinister detectives assigned sleazy sobriquets to the murder victims.

Miss last week’s “Sometimes it is Greek?” Check it out here.  Want more GRE vocabulary? Click here for the free TestMasters GRE vocabulary list with over 2,000 words!

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