Manhattan Prep 1000 GRE Words: Usage

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abate

Her stress over spending so much money on a house abated when the real estate broker told her about the property's 15-year tax abatement.

abdicate

King Edward VIII of England famously abdicated the throne in order to marry an American divorcée. / Parents can be charged with neglect for abdicating their responsibilities towards their children.

aberrant

The teen's aberrant behavior made his family suspect that he was using drugs. / Losing rather than gaining weight over the holidays is certainly an aberration.

abhor

"Go out with you?" she replied. "I abhor you! I would rather stab myself with a rusty bread knife than be your girlfriend!"

abjure

To become a citizen of the United States, you must abjure loyalty to the nation of your birth. / Since enrolling in that nutrition class, she has abjured sugar and saturated fats.

abrasive

Could the inside of this mascot costume be any more abrasive? It's rubbing my skin raw! I have some seriously abrasive remarks for whoever designed this thing.

abridge

Our romantic vacation was abridged when the babysitter called to say that the kids were sick and we should come home. / Audio books are almost always abridged, since few people want to listen to a 200-hour book.

abstain

The church board voted on whether to hold an abstinence rally to encourage young people not to become sexually active; while most members voted in favor, one voted against and two abstained, with one abstainer commenting that, as far as she knew, the church's teens were pretty abstemious already.

acme

The acme of my vacation was when I finally climbed to the acme of the mountain and enjoyed the gorgeous vista.

activism

Lindsay's parents had a hard time accepting that, after incurring $100,000 in student loans, their daughter had decided to enter the low-paying field of environmental activism.

adhere

I have a message board that adheres to my refrigerator with magnets; on it, I've written some affirmations to help me adhere to my diet plan.

admonish

She was an exacting boss who upbraided an employee for jamming the copier, yet she merely admonished her five-year-old for the same offense.

adverse

Pioneer women persevered despite adverse circumstances, even when fording a river—baby in one arm, leading a horse with the other—against an adverse current.

advocate

I cannot possibly vote for a candidate who advocates oil drilling in federally protected nature preserves. / Children often have advocates appointed to represent them in court.

aesthetic

The twins were so different—one possessed a truly baroque aesthetic, preferring golden, gilded decor. The other lived in a world of pure logic, untouched by any aesthetic sense whatsoever; art did not move him, his house was bare, and he married his wife solely because she was a master of calculus.

affable

The professional wrestler played at belligerence in the ring, but in real life, he was quite an affable fellow—sociable, easy-going, and always ready to lend a hand.

affectation

I'm annoyed whenever Americans move to England and suddenly start speaking with an affected British accent; such affectations, when practiced by celebrities, are only likely to alienate their fans.

aggrandize

I can't stand when my coworker aggrandizes her role in our group projects. / Stop it with your constant self-aggrandizing—we don't care how many automobiles you own!

aggregate

While some of the company's divisions did better than others, in aggregate, we made a profit. / Concrete is created when crushed rock or glass is aggregated with cement; in aggregate, concrete is stronger than cement alone.

alacrity

Any boss wants an employee to respond with alacrity to his or her requests, handling them promptly and with enthusiasm.

alienate

The talk-show host was trying to help, but only alienated her viewers when she suggested that they cope with a tough economy by checking themselves into a spa.

alleviate

The stimulus package has alleviated the pangs of the Great Recession, but times are still tough.

ambiguous

The meaning of this ancient text is ambiguous—either we are missing some cultural context, or else the writer actually wanted to be mysterious.

ambivalent

I've been accepted to two amazing graduate programs, one inexpensive and close to home, and one in a big, exciting city. I'm ambivalent—I don't know how I'm going to decide. / When I asked you if you thought we'd get married some day, your ambivalence hurt my feelings.

analogous

In the U.S., whenever opponents of a war want to suggest that the war is unwinnable, they point out all the ways in which the war is analogous to the Vietnam War.

anarchy

Once the dictator was assassinated, the country fell into total anarchy, as none of the opposition groups were strong enough to seize power.

anoint

After Principal Smitters raised test scores over 60% at her school, it was only a matter of time before she was anointed superintendent by a fawning school board.

anomaly

While the cosmetics division of this company has many female executives, it is an anomaly—in the rest of the company, sadly, only 4% of management positions are filled by women.

antagonize

"Josie! Stop antagonizing your little brother! Give him back that firetruck and tell him you're sorry for pulling his hair!"

apathy

Many parents of teenagers are concerned by their indolent teens' apathy about the future. Few teens are totally apathetic, however—many get quite excited about video games, flirting, or trips to the mall.

apocryphal

I'm sorry, but this putative letter from George Washington that you found at a garage sale is clearly apocryphal—it is riddled with anachronisms (for instance, Washington was long dead by the time silent films were invented), and also, Washington most certainly didn't refer to Martha Washington as "hey baby."

arcane

To win at Jeopardy, you must be full of arcane knowledge. / The wizard's shop was full of arcana, from Latin-to-Ancient Greek dictionaries to entire books on magic spells relating only to elephants.

archaic

The school's archaic computer system predated even floppy disks—it stored records on tape drives! / Sometimes, when you look a word up in the dictionary, certain definitions are marked "archaic"—unless you are a Shakespeare scholar, you can safely ignore those archaisms.

arduous

The arduous hike up rocky terrain was all worth it once the hikers reached the summit. / It was an arduous winter on the prairie; the family barely survived.

articulate

She's so articulate that I'm sure she'll make a good lawyer. / The group voted on who would be the best spokesperson, able to articulate their needs to the panel.

artifact

The archaeologists dug up countless artifacts, from simple pottery shards and coins to complex written tablets. / The girl's room was full of the artifacts of modern teenage life: Justin Bieber posters, Twilight books, and a laptop open to Facebook.

artless

Children can be so artless that, when you try to explain war to them, they say things like, "But isn't that mean?"/ His artless attempt at negotiating a raise began with "I need more money, please" and ended with "Okay, sorry I asked."

ascertain

Hopefully, the investigation will allow us to ascertain who is at fault here.

ascetic

Ascetics such as monks actually take vows of poverty. / The graduate student lived an ascetic existence, her apartment containing only a futon couch and a single bowl and set of chopsticks, which she used to eat ramen noodles every night.

assuage

After losing a million-dollar account, he tried to assuage his furious boss by pointing out that he was close to winning a new account worth at least as much.

audacious

He audaciously asked for a raise after working at the company for less than two months!

augment

If you memorize the definitions on all of these flashcards, you will have notably augmented your vocabulary!

austere

Her design sense was so minimalist as to be austere; all-white walls, hard, wooden furniture, not a single picture, throw pillow, or cozy comfort anywhere. / The graduation speaker delivered an austere message: the economy is bad, and academic success alone isn't enough to succeed in the job market.

autonomous

As leader of an autonomous region, the newly-elected president was received as a peer by some world leaders, although he was not entitled to send a representative to the United Nations. / It is normal for young people to desire greater autonomy as they grow up.

aver

"Despite your insistence that ethics are completely situational," said the philosophy professor, "I aver that the existence of natural rights inevitably leads to certain immutable ethical boundaries."

avid

An avid cyclist, she was on her bike every weekend, and even bought the same bike that Lance Armstrong last used in the Tour de France. / Avid of power, the young Senator compromised every principle to gain the support—and money—of large corporations.

balk

At the company retreat, he reluctantly agreed to participate in the ropes course, but balked at walking over hot coals as a "trust exercise."

base

His philanthropy was underlied by truly base motives—he not only craved the fawning publicity his donations brought, but he was actually funneling drug money through the Children's Defense Fund! / The supposed "gold bricks" were really base metals covered in a very thin layer of real gold.

belie

The actress's public persona as a perky "girl next door" belied her private penchant for abusing her assistants and demanding that her trailer be filled with ridiculous luxury goods. / The data belie the accepted theory—either we've made a mistake, or we have an amazing new discovery on our hands!

benign

He was relieved when the biopsy results came back, informing him that the growth was benign. / He's a benign fellow. I'm sure having him assigned to your team at work will be perfectly pleasant, without changing the way you do things.

bogus

The back of this bodybuilding magazine is just full of ads for bogus products—this one promises 22-inch biceps just from wearing magnetic armbands!

bolster

The general requested reinforcements to bolster the defensive line set up at the border. / Many people use alcohol to bolster their confidence before approaching an attractive person in a bar.

boor

Milton was such a boor that, when Jane brought him home to meet her parents, he laughed at their garden gnome and made fun of everyone's hairstyles in old family photos. "Don't be so boorish!" said his mortified girlfriend.

buffer

During the colonial era, England wanted Georgia as a buffer between its original colonies and Spanish Florida. / A railroad car has a buffer (similar to a bumper on a car) to absorb shock in case of contact with other cars. / When Joel came out to his family, he used his mother as a buffer—he knew she would be supportive, so he allowed her to relay the news to everyone else, and to relay their responses back to him.

bureaucracy

Some nations have a worse reputation for bureaucracy than others—in order to get a visa, he had to file papers with four different agencies, wait for hours in three different waiting rooms, and, weeks later, follow up with some petty bureaucrat who complained that the original application should've been filed in triplicate.

burgeon

The dictator was concerned about the people's burgeoning discontent and redoubled his personal security. / Spending an hour a day on vocabulary studies will soon cause your lexicon to burgeon.

buttress

A self-defense class really helped to buttress Elaine's confidence. / David used his Ph.D. as a buttress against criticism. "I have a doctorate," he would say. "I just don't think you can understand."

bygone

At the nursing home, the time to reminisce about bygone days was pretty much all the time. / It's tempting to spend our whole high school reunion talking about bygones, but instead, let's toast to the future!

cacophony

The first day of elementary school marching band practice was nothing but cacophony, as students who hadn't learned to play their instruments at all nevertheless banged on or puffed air into them.

candid

Allow me to be candid: you do look rather portly in those pants, and I think you should wear something else. / You have been really secretive about where you've been going after work; we could use a little more candor in this relationship.

canonical

School boards often start controversies when replacing canonical books in the curriculum with modern literature; while many people think students should read works more relevant to their lives, others point out that Moby Dick is part of the canon for a reason.

capricious

The headmaster's punishments were capricious—break the rules one day, you get a warning; break them another day, you get expelled. / Who needs a plan? A date is more fun with a little caprice—let's just start driving and see what we find!

cartography

The invention of better navigation tools had major effects on cartography—the more ships knew precisely where they were sailing, the better the world could be mapped.

castigate

At the grocery store, the mother attracted stares when she castigated—rather than merely admonished—her child for throwing a box of instant oatmeal.

catalyst

The young manager was a catalyst at the stodgy old company—once he introduced employee laptops, telecommuting, and mobile workstations, even the most conventional of employees totally changed the way they worked. / Reaching 500 pounds on the scale was a catalyst for Marcus to really change his lifestyle.

caustic

Wait, those chemicals are caustic! You need safety gloves and goggles before performing this experiment, or else you risk not only getting your skin burned off, but also some seriously caustic remarks from our chemistry teacher.

censure

The senator was censured by the Senate for campaign fund improprieties—in fact, he narrowly avoided being expelled from office.

chauvinism

He's such a chauvinist that he denies that any other nation could be better than ours at anything—he insists our wine is better than France's, our ski slopes are better than Norway's, and even that we grow more rice than China! Absurd.

chronological

Joey, I'm afraid you've done the assignment wrong—the point of making a timeline is to put the information in chronological order. You've made an alphabetical-order-line instead!

clamor

As soon as a scent of scandal emerged, the press was clamoring for details. / The mayor couldn't even make herself heard over the clamor of the protestors.

clinch

When their best player was benched, the team fell behind, but once he was allowed back in the game, the team was able to clinch the win. / These two pieces have been clinched together with a clamp while the glue dries.

coalesce

While at first everyone on the team was jockeying for power and recognition, eventually, the group coalesced and everyone was happy to share credit for a job well-done. / East and West Germany coalesced into a single country in 1990.

cogent

Studying logic is an excellent way to improve at formulating cogent arguments. / Nurses who work in the Alzheimer's ward must develop skills for communicating with people who are often not cogent.

commensurate

According to the course catalog, you may take Advanced Japanese following Japanese III or commensurate experience with the language.

complacent

The coach gave a pep talk: "I know we've never won a championship before, but we do have an advantage over the six-time state champions we're about to play—they have grown complacent with their success, and now they just assume they'll win without having to sweat."

complementary

"That scarf really complements your outfit," said Elle. "Thanks for the compliment," said Danica. / The couple had complementary personalities—when Mark got overwhelmed with the details, Lee took care of everything, and when Lee got too introspective, Mark cheered him up with an insatiable zest for life.

compliant

Those who are not compliant with the regulations will be put on probation and possibly expelled. / A compliant child, he never gave his parents any trouble.

concede

The negotiations were pointless, with each side's representatives instructed by their home countries to make no concessions whatsoever. / Quebec was a French concession to Britain in the Treaty of Paris in 1763. / I suppose I will have to concede the argument now that you've looked up evidence on Wikipedia.

conciliatory

The hotel manager was horrified at how the guest had been treated, and approached him in a conciliatory manner, offering him numerous freebies and apologizing repeatedly.

concur

John Locke wrote that justice is based on the social contract, and I concur—in fact, my latest book is all about contractual justice.

condone

While underage drinking is illegal, at many universities, it is tacitly condoned by administrations that neglect to enforce antidrinking policies.

confer

A Ph.D. confers upon a person the right to be addressed as "Doctor" as well as eligibility to pursue a tenure-track professorship. / Excuse me for a moment to make a call—I can't buy this car until I confer with my spouse.

connoisseur

A chocolate connoisseur, Mom eschews grocery store brands and will only eat 80% -cocoa-or-higher artisanal chocolate that is less than a week old.

console

I was unable to console Tina after she fell asleep at the console of her airplane and thereby failed her pilot's exam.

consolidate

She consolidated her student loans so she would only have to make one payment per month. / As group leader, Muriel will consolidate all of our research into a single report.

constrict

The children strongly disliked being gussied up in constrictive clothing for a formal wedding. / Tourism is now allowed in North Korea, but tourists must stay with official tour groups, and their movements are heavily constricted.

construe

I don't know how you construed my comment as an insult. All I said was, "Wow, I never knew you could sing."

contentious

The death penalty is a contentious issue. / My uncle is so contentious that every attempt I made to introduce an uncontroversial topic met with failure—he ranted and raved about the weather, trees, math, and my daughter's enjoyment of oatmeal.

contextualize

Virginia Woolf's feminism is hard to truly understand unless contextualized within the mores of the highly restrained, upper-class English society of her time.

conundrum

A classic conundrum is "What's black and white and red all over?" The answer, of course, is a newspaper. / How to count the entire population accurately—including those without fixed addresses—is a bit of a conundrum.

converge

I know we're driving to the wedding from different states, but our routes ought to converge when each of us hits I-95—maybe we could converge at a Cracker Barrel for lunch!

conversant

For an opera singer, she is unusually conversant in physics—she just explained to everyone the purpose of the Large Hadron Collider.

conversely

I am not here to argue that lack of education causes poverty. Conversely, I am here to argue that poverty causes lack of education.

convoluted

Your argument is so convoluted that I'm not even able to understand it enough to start critiquing it. / To get from the hotel room to the pool requires following a convoluted path up two staircases and down two others—to get to someplace on the same floor we started on!

copious

Although she took copious notes in class, she found that she was missing a big picture that would have tied all the information together. / The fertile, copious land yielded a rich harvest.

corroborate

You're telling me you were 30 miles away riding a roller coaster when the school was vandalized? I have a hard time believing that—is there anyone who can corroborate your story?

cosmopolitan

Trapped in a small town, he dreamed of a more cosmopolitan existence filled with world travel, exotic cuisine, and scintillating parties where he would meet famous authors and other cosmopolites.

countenance

Her countenance said it all—the look on her face was pure terror. / I saw you cheating off my paper, and I can't countenance cheating—either you turn yourself in or I'll report you.

counterintuitive

Although it seems counterintuitive, for some extreme dieters, eating more can actually help them to lose weight, since the body is reassured that it is not facing a period of prolonged starvation.

counterpoint

The play's lighthearted, witty narrator provides a welcome counterpoint to the seriousness and grief expressed by the other characters. / The hot peppers work in counterpoint to an otherwise sweet dish.

counterproductive

The candidate's attempt to win swing votes in Ohio was actually counterproductive—following his speech in Toledo, his poll numbers actually went down 5%.

covert

The soldier trained to be part of covert operations, moving silently and remaining out of the enemy's sight.

crafty

A crafty play in basketball is the "head-fake"—moving the head in one direction slightly prior to running in the other direction, to try to get a tiny head start on a disoriented pursuer.

craven

The nervous soldier feared he would turn craven in his first firefight, but he actually acted quite bravely.

credibility

Many famous "experts" with "Dr." before their names are not medical doctors at all. Any television "doctor" who turns out to have a Ph.D. in botany, for instance, ought to suffer a serious drop in credibility.

credulous

"Did you know you can wash your ears by turning your head on its side in the shower and letting the water run straight through your head?" said the father to his five-year-old daughter. "I'll try that!" said the credulous little girl.

crescendo

Mrs. Higgins did love the symphony, but she was also coming down with a migraine—by the time the music reached its towering crescendo, her head was pounding. / The administration tried to ignore the protest, but finally had to address the issue when the demonstration reached a crescendo.

culminate

A Ph.D. program generally culminates in a written dissertation and its defense to a committee.

cynical

Shilpa was so cynical that even when her friends threw her a surprise party, she figured that they only did it so they wouldn't feel so guilty about all the mean things they must be saying behind her back.

daunt

Amazingly undaunted after his accident, Devon vowed to complete a marathon in his wheelchair. Not even a dented rim on mile 19 could daunt him—he dauntlessly completed the race anyway.

debase

You have debased yourself by accepting bribes. / Members of the mainstream church argued that the fringe sect was practicing a debased version of the religion, twisting around its precepts and missing the point. / I can tell from the weight that this isn't pure gold, but rather some debased mixed metal.

debunk

Galileo spent his last years under house arrest for debunking the widely held idea that the Sun revolved around the Earth. / The show MythBusters debunks pseudoscientific claims.

decorous

Miss Etiquette writes an advice column about decorum. One writer asked, "What's the most decorous way to tell guests exactly what I want for my wedding?" Miss Etiquette replied, "Young lady, there is no decorous way to solicit gifts, and even asking that question is entirely indecorous of you."

deem

"You can take the black belt exam when I deem you ready, and not a moment before," said the karate instructor.

deface

Ernest was charged with three counts of vandalism after being caught defacing a row of townhouses with spraypaint.

default

The government is cracking down on for-profit colleges where a large percentage of the graduates cannot use their degrees to gain employment and end up defaulting on their student loans. / You must elect a new health plan by December 31st or by default you will be re-enrolled in the plan you selected last year.

deference

In many cultures, young people are expected to show deference to older people at all times. / I'm not an expert in databases—I'll defer to our programmers on that decision. / Ingrid deferred her college admissions for a year so she could travel the world.

deflect

The purpose of a shield is to deflect arrows or bullets from an enemy./ Every time he was asked a difficult question, Senator Warrington deflected by changing the topic, saying he'd answer later, or even—insincerely, it seemed—calling for a moment of prayer.

deleterious

The Resident Assistant told the first-year students, "I think you will find not only that drugs are illegal and will result in expulsion, but also that drug abuse will have a deleterious effect on anyone's grades."

delineate

I do need the cash, but I'm not signing up for this psychological experiment unless you delineate what's going to happen.

denigrate

Many jokes in the Meet the Parents trilogy come from Robert De Niro's character denigrating Ben Stiller's character for being a male nurse.

denote

The company's brand denotes quality; the marketing team has done a fantastic job of associating the company's image with fine service. / There's nothing in the denotation of "crotchety" (grumpy, having strong and irrational preferences) that indicates any particular group of people, but due to the expression "crotchety old man," the word connotes, for many people, an image of an especially unpleasant male senior citizen.

deride

The manager really thought that deriding his employees as "stupid" or "lazy" would motivate them to work harder; instead, it motivated them to constantly hide his office supplies as an act of revenge.

derivative

The singer's first album was a disappointment, derivative of several hit albums from the previous year, as though a management team had simply picked out the elements from other popular songs that they thought would make the most money.

desiccate

The key to maintaining odor-free shoes is to desiccate the insole by placing a drying agent, such as a small pouch of baking soda, inside the shoe between wears. / Beef jerky is a desiccated meat product.

detached

He found her detached demeanor inappropriate for a funeral. It's fine to politely ask how someone died, but it's not appropriate to coldly question a relative on the medical history of the deceased. / The divorce proceeding was full of anger and recriminations, but the judge was able to make a detached decision.

deterrent

Some argue that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime—that is, the point is not just to punish the guilty, but to frighten other prospective criminals.

diatribe

I'd stay out of the living room for a while—Grandpa's on another one of his diatribes about how it's un-American to call a large coffee a "venti." You can hear him ranting from here!

didactic

She might have been Teacher of the Year at work, but at home, her husband wished she would turn off her didactic personality. "Honey," he said, "I really don't need you to use everything as a learning opportunity." / The child was disappointed when the storybook turned didactic in the end, with the teddy bears—and the reader—being admonished never to lie.

digress

Grandpa digressed quite a bit while you were in the kitchen—he was telling us an old war story, but somehow now he's ranting about how nobody celebrates Arbor Day anymore. That digression could take awhile.

din

This hotel was described as "near all the hot spots," but I didn't realize that I wouldn't be able to sleep due to the all-night din from partygoers.

disabuse

Do you really believe that toilets flush one way in the Northern hemisphere and another way in the Southern? Any physicist would be happy to disabuse you of that silly notion.

discerning

In an age in which we are bombarded with advertising, it's important to be a discerning consumer. For instance, the term "all natural" is not federally regulated and doesn't have to mean anything at all, so a smart shopper still reads ingredients.

discredit

Congresswoman Huffman's opponent tried to use her friendship with a certain radical extremist to discredit her, even though the congresswoman hadn't seen this so-called extremist since sixth grade summer camp.

discrepancy

When there is a discrepancy between a store's receipts and the amount of money in the register, the cashier's behavior is generally called into question.

discriminating

He is a man of discriminating tastes—all his suits are handmade in Italy, and I once saw him send back an entree when he complained that black truffle oil had been substituted for white. The chef was astounded. / You can tell a real Prada bag by the discriminating mark on the inside.

disingenuous

Christine used the fact that her mother spoke limited English as an opportunity to be disingenuous. When her mother asked, "Will there be boys at this sleepover?" she replied "There won't not be boys there!"

disinterested

Let's settle this argument once and for all! We'll get a disinterested observer to judge who can sing the highest note!

disjointed

The novel seemed disjointed, as though whole chunks of it were missing, or as though the author had tried to stitch together drafts of several different stories. / To begin the recipe, you'll need a whole chicken that has been disjointed.

dismiss

"Before I dismiss class," said the teacher, "I want to remind you of the importance of dismissing biases in your research by ruling out or adjusting for factors other than the variable you are testing that may have led to your results."

dispassionate

The defendant tearfully described how much her young child needed her at home, but the judge, who dispassionately sentenced her to 10 years for selling drugs, was unmoved.

dispatch

So, you want to be a bike messenger? I need messengers who approach every delivery with alacrity, care, and dispatch—if the customers wanted their packages to arrive slowly, they'd use the post office. / Acting with all possible dispatch, emergency services dispatched a rescue squad to the scene.

disperse

Because the demonstrators didn't have a permit, the police showed up with megaphones, demanding loudly that the crowd disperse. / Get the hose so I can disperse the dirt on our driveway.

disposition

She was possessed of a kind and helpful disposition—she wouldn't just help you move, she'd bring home-baked muffins to the affair. / I could really use some help in the kitchen, if you are so disposed.

disquieting

Mr. Peters' lack of emotion at his wife's death was disquieting—so much so, in fact, that even his own family began to suspect he'd had something to do with it. / He was deeply disquieted by the racism he encountered in his new neighborhood.

disseminate

Many plants use attractive fruits to disseminate their seeds—animals eat the fruit and excrete the seeds, allowing new plants to grow. / In the 1760s, revolutionary ideas were disseminated via pamphlets such as Thomas Paine's "Common Sense."

dissent

Judge Antonin Scalia cast the only dissenting vote, explaining in his written decision why he thought all the other justices had it wrong. / Not every country has a right to free speech (and thus to dissent), although nations that throw dissenters in jail are condemned by the international community at large.

dissonance

After allowing her sixth-grader's heavy metal band to practice in her living room, Mrs. Rosen decided she'd better get used to dissonance.

distill

While traveling in certain countries, it is important to only drink distilled water so you don't get sick. / Bob, it's not necessary to read your entire PowerPoint presentation to us—can you just distill it down to the main point?

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