Jaundice is a condition of the liver that has the side effect of turning the skin yellow. The seconddefinition—and the one you have to know for the GRE—may seem completely unrelated: to be biased against as a result of envy or prejudice. In the 17th Century, being yellow, apparently, was associated with having prejudice. Hence, we have the second definition of the word jaundice. It is important to note that yellow now, at least colloquially, means to be cowardly. This definition does not relate to jaundice.
To be jejune is to be dull, insipid and lacking flavor.
But it gets even worse for poor jejune—it is derived from the first part of the large intestine, thejejunum, where food is digested. Now jejune does not only mean boring, it also conjures up imageswe’d rather leave in the dark.Finally, jejune has a second definition. Jejune, though, is yet again a victim of bad PR.
To be jejune(secondary definition) can also mean to be childish and immature.
Speaking of nasty stuff in the body, bilious comes from bile—you know, that yellow stuff in your liver that every once in a while makes a very unwelcome gustatory appearance.
To be filled with bile, however, doesn’t mean to have a bad taste in your mouth.
According to Hippocrates, he of the bodily humors, if we are filled with too much bile, we are angry.Therefore, to be bilious is to be constantly irritable and ready to bite somebody’s head off.
Hippocrates, along with the Roman physician Galen, believed that the body was filled with humors, orfluids. The balance of these humors led to certain moods. If a person had too much black bile he(usually not she) would be said to be choleric, or highly irascible (choleric was more Galen’s nomenclature, as Hippocrates stuck to bilious, a synonym for choleric).
sanguine means to be cheerful, optimistic.
While sanguine has a positive definition, the word sanguinary—note the sang- root—means a carnage or bloodbath. Yes, I know English can be a confusing language. But, if you learn these high-frequency GREwords, you will have something to be sanguine about!