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Introduction to Analogies

Analogy questions ask you to determine the relationship between the two words in a pair
and then to recognize a similar or parallel relationship between the members of a different
pair of words. You are given one pair of words and must choose from the given answer
choices another pair whose words are related in the same way. The relationship between
the words in the original pair will always be specific and precise, as will the relationship
between the words in the correct answer pair.

Analogies come from a wide variety of fields. You need to know that musicians study in
conservatories and ministers in seminaries, that panegyrics praise and elegies lament. You
need to be aware of catalysts and conundrums, augers and auguries, and know in which
contexts these words are found.. You are not, however, dealing with these words in isolation;
you are always dealing with them in relationship to other words.

Once you have analyzed analogy questions, you will find that they fall into certain patterns.
You should be able to answer them reasonably rapidly. Tackle them after you have warmed
up with the some questions.

Note how an analogy question is set up. First you have the two words linked by a symbol.
Take a look at a few examples.

Fresco : Wall
A fresco is related to a wall. How? A fresco or mural painting is painted on a wall.

Stammer : Talk
Stammer is related to talk. How? To stammer is to make involuntary stops or repetitions
when talking. It is to talk in a halting manner.

Tile : Mosaic
Tile is related to mosaic. How? A mosaic is made up of tiles. Notice the wording of the last
sentence. You could also have said “Tiles are the pieces that make up a mosaic” and
maintained the word order of the analogy. Sometimes, however, it is easier to express a
relationship if you reverse the order of the words.

Next you come to the answer choices. See if you can tell which pair best expresses a
relationship of the tile to mosaic.

a. Hoop : Embroidery
b. Wick : Candle
c. Whalebone : Scrimshaw
d. Easel : Painting
e. Knot : Macrame

The correct answer is choice E : macrame is made up of knots. Just as the tiles in mosaic
make a pattern, so too the knots in a piece of macrame make a pattern.
Some analogy questions are as clear as this. Others are more complex. To answer them
correctly involves far more than knowing single meanings of individual words : it involves
knowing the usual contexts in which they are found, and their connotations as well.

Strategies For Analogy Questions


Strategy 1.
State the Relationship Between the Word Pair in the Question Stem

In answering an analogy question, your first problem is to determine the exact relationship
between the two words in the question stem. Before you look at the answer pairs, make up a
sentence that illustrates how these words are related. Then test the possible answers by
seeing how well they fit in your sentence.

Let’s Try
Deluge : Droplet
a. Beach : wave
b. Desert : oasis
c. Blizzard : icicle
d. Landslide : pebble
e. Cloudburst : puddle

A deluge (drenching rain or flood) is made up of droplets. A landslide or fall of rocks is made
up of pebbles. Choice D is correct.

Don’t let choice E fool you: while a cloudburst, like a deluge, is a drenching rain, it is not
made up of puddles; rather, it leaves puddles in its aftermath.

Strategy 2.
If More Than One Answer Fits the Relationship in Your Sentence, Look for A Narrower
Approach

When you create a sentence to express the relationship between the two words (in the
question stem), occasionally you come up with excessively simple a sentence, one that fails
or neglects to incorporate enough details to particularize your analogy. In such cases, more
than one answer may fit the relationship , and you will need to examine the original pair
again.

Let’s Try
Bouquet : Flowers
a. Forest : Trees
b. Husk : Corn
c. Mist : Rain
d. Woodpile : Logs
e. Drift : Snow
Your sentence to express the relationship between Bouquet : Flowers could be
“A bouquet is made up of flowers”. But you have not stated the relationship that is precise
enough. After all, forests are made up of trees, woodpiles are made up of logs, and even
drifts are made up of snow. You need to focus on some aspect of the relationship between
the words in the original pair that corresponds to an aspect of only one of the answer pairs.

Let’s try to create another sentence to establish the relationship precisely. We are trying to
narrow the relationship. So, go back to the original pair of words for more informations or for
closer dictionary meaning. A bouquet is made up of flowers that have been plucked, cut or
picked and gathered into a bunch. In contrast, a forest is a tract of land covered with densely
growing trees. A drift is a mass of snow driven together by the wind. Neither the relationship
in choice A nor that in choice E exactly parallels the relationship between the word pair
Bouquet : Flowers. Choice D, however, is perfect: a woodpile is made up of logs that have
been cut and gathered into a stack.

In answering analogy questions, pay special attention to how a dictionary would define the
words involved. Do not settle for what “may be” a good relationship. Precision is important in
analogies: a bouquet is not simply made up of flowers, it is made up of flowers that have
been cut. Strive to identify the relationship that exists “by definition”.

Strategy 3
Consider Secondary Meanings Of Words As Well As Their Primary Meanings

Frequently, the test-makers attempt to mislead you by using familiar words in relatively
uncommon ways. When an apparently familiar word seems incongruous in a particular
analogy, consider other definitions of that word.

Let’s try the following

Amorphousness : Definition
a. Lassitude : Energy
b. Spontaneity : Awareness
c. Angularity : Intricacy
d. Rectitude : Drabness
e. Precision : Uniformity

What relationship exists between amorphousness and definition? Amorphousness means


formlessness or shapelessness; an amorphous idea lacks form or shape. But what does
formlessness have to do with definition? After all, a definition is a statement of a meaning of
a word or phrase.

Look closely at the term definition. When you define a word, you distinguish its essential
characteristics; you make its features clear. Definition in fact possesses a secondary
meaning: “sharp demarcation of outlines or limits; distinctness of outlines or details.” With
this meaning in mind, you can state the essential relationship between the capitalized words:
amorphousness is a lack of definition. Analogously, lassitude (listlessness, weariness) is a
lack of energy. The correct answer is choice A.
Strategy 4
Watch Out for Errors Caused By Eye-Catchers

When you look at answer choices, do you find that certain ones seem to leap right off the
page? For instance, when you were looking for an analogy similar to

Embroider : Cloth
a. Chase : metal
b. Patch : quilt
c. Gild : gold
d. Carve : knife
e. Stain : glass

Ostensibly, this is a simple analogy. One embroiders cloth to ornament it, embellishing it with
needlework. The relationship between the capitalized words is clear. However, only 9% of
the examinees who answered this question answered it correctly. The problem lies not in the
original analogy but in the answer pairs.

Consider the answer choices closely. Choices b, c, d and e are clear enough: one patches a
quilt, either repairing it or putting it together (patch has both senses); one gilds something,
overlaying it with ornamentation, but none seems precisely right. But how does one chase
metal? Certainly not the way one chases an ambulance! Among the straightforward answer
choices, choice A seems strangely out of place.

When an item in an analogy strikes you as out of place, take a second look. Remember that
the test-makes usually place more difficult analogies toward the end of the analogy section.
Therefore, if one of the final analogy questions in a set looks simple, suspect a trap. In this
case, the trap is a double one. Choice b, patch: quilt, is an eye-catcher: because
embroidery and quilt making both are related to sewing, choice b has an immediate appeal.
Choose it and you fall into the test-makes’ trap. Choice a, the odd-seeming choice, is the
real answer: chase, as used here, means to ornament a metal surface, as silversmiths
decorate silver with hammered pattern; chasing metal, thus, is directly analogous to
embroidering cloth.

EMBROIDER : CLOTH, did the term related to stitchery catch your eye? These words are
eye catchers. They look good — but not good if you take a second glance.

In an analogy you have two capitalized words that relate in a particular way. In creating eye-
catchers, the test makers tempt you with pair of words that are related, but in a
grammatically or logically different way. See how eye-catchers work in an example below.

PROCTOR : SUPERVISE ::
a. prophet : rule
f. profiteer : consume
g. profligate : demand
h. prodigal : squander
i. prodigy : wonder
Just as there are many possible relationships liking word pairs, there are many possible
ways an eye-catcher may attract your eye. First, an answer choice may somehow remind
you in subject matter of one or both of the terms in the original pair. Thus, Choice A is an
eye-catcher: rule reminds you of supervise; both words, the same semantic field. Second,
the answer may masquerade as a clearcut, precise, dictionary-perfect: while there is a clear
relationship between the nouns prodigy and wonder, there is no such clear relationship
between the noun prodigy and the verb wonder. See how this works:
Noun/Noun A prodigy (marvel) is a wonder . CLEAR ANALOGY
Noun/Verb A prodigy wonders (ponders; marvels). VAGUE ANALOGY

A prodigy excites wonder in others; he is not necessarily astonished or full of wonder


himself. The relationship is vague. Eliminate vague analogies when you find them; their only
function is to catch your eye.

You have rules out Choice E; you are suspicious of Choice A. How do you determine the
correct answer? In this case, ask yourself who is doing what to whom.A proctor (monitor)
by definition supervises students or examinees. You can eliminate Choices a, b, c because
no necessary relationship links the words in these pairs. Prophets prophesy; they do not
rule. Profiteers sell goods (at excessive prices) that others consume. Profligates waste their
fortunes; they do not necessarily demand.

The correct answer is Choice d. Just as a proctor supervises students, a prodigal or wastrel
squanders wealth.

Strategy 5
Look at the Answer Choices to Determine a Word’s Part of Speech

Look at the question words. What parts of speech are they? Words often have several
forms. You may think of run as a verb, for example, but in the phrase “hit a home run” run is
a noun.

When you look at the question word, you may not know whether you are dealing with a
noun, a verb, or an adjective. Harbor, for example, is a very common noun; in the phrase “to
harbor a fugitive,” to give refuge to a runaway, it is a much less common verb.

If you suspect that a question word may represent more than one part of speech, don’t
worry. Grammatical information built into the question can help you recognize analogy types
and spot the use of unfamiliar or secondary meanings of words.

Analogies Exercise
(1) Prologue : Play ::
a. Chapter : Novel
b. Overture : Opera
c. Intermezzo : Symphony
d. Epilogue : Oration
e. Gesture : Pantomime

Ans : b

(2) Serrations : Saw ::


a. Incision : Scalpel
b. Butchery : Cleaver
c. Mortar : Trowel
d. Cogs : Gear
e. Division : Ruler

Ans : d

(3) Thirst : Drive ::


a. Inebriety : Excess
b. Success : Ambition
c. Indifference : Passion
d. Taste : Gusto
e. Smell : Sense

Ans : e

(4) Spike : Sledge ::


a. Runner : Sleigh
b. Pole : Ski
c. Nail : Hammer
d. Clip : Paper
e. Trestle : Train

Ans : c

(5) Ephemeral : Permanence ::


a. Erratic : predictability
b. Immaculate : cleanliness
c. Commendable : reputation
d. Spurious : emulation
e. Mandatory : obedience

Ans : a

(6) Chaff : Wheat ::


a. Mote : dust
b. Gold : lead
c. Dregs : wine
d. Loaf : bread
e. Yolk : egg

Ans : c

(7) Ogle : Observe ::


a. Haggle : outbid
b. Clamor : dispute
c. Discern : perceive
d. Flaunt : display
e. Glare : Glower

Ans : d

(8) Abstemious : Abstinence ::


a. Irascible : militancy
b. Gregarious : reticence
c. Truculent : dogmatism
d. Comatose : sobriety
e. Pusillanimous : cravenness

Ans : e

(9) Ineluctable : Avoid


a. Ineffable : utter
b. Impalpable : desire
c. Impermeable : endure
d. Irascible : provoke
e. Irreconcilable : estrange

Ans : a

(10) Pardon : Offense


a. Repent : sin
b. Detect : violation
c. Arraign : indictment
d. Forgive : wrong
e. Surrender : fugitive

Ans : d

(11) Circuitous : Route ::


a. Problematic : solution
b. Devious : argument
c. Elliptical : brevity
d. Judicious : selection
e. Profound : depth

Ans : b

(12) Nonplussed : Bafflement


a. Discomfited : embarrassment
b. Parsimonious : extravagance
c. Disgruntled : contentment
d. Despicable : contempt
e. Surly : harassment

Ans : a

(13) Gully : Canyon


a. Eagle : bird
b. Cliff : granite
c. Pebble : boulder
d. Detour : road
e. Shore : lake

Ans : c

(14) Helpful : Officious


a. Dutiful : assiduous
b. Effusive : gushing
c. Gullible : incredulous
d. Enigmatic : dumbfounded
e. Deferential : sycophantic

Ans : e

(15) Bronze : Patina


a. Wood : veneer
b. Plaque : honor
c. Mold : yeast
d. Iron : rust
e. Lead : tin

Ans : d

(16) Mellifluous : Cacophony


a. Dulcet : euphony
b. Compliant : obsequiousness
c. Fragrant : noisomeness
d. Florid : embellishment
e. Thrifty : parsimony

Ans : c
(17) Mason : Wall ::
a. artist : easel
j. fisherman : trout
k. author : book
l. congressman : senator
m. sculptor : mallet

Ans : c

(18) Fire : Ashes ::


a. accident : delay
n. wood : splinters
o. water : waves
p. regret : melancholy
q. event : memories

Ans : e

(19) Goose : Gander ::


a. duck : drake
r. hen : chicken
s. sheep : flock
t. dog : kennel
u. horse : bridle

Ans : a

(20) Carpenter : Saw ::


a. stenographer : typewriter
v. painter : brush
w. lawyer : brief
x. seamstress : scissors
y. runner : sneakers

Ans : d

(21) Captain : Shoal ::


a. lawyer : litigation
z. pilot : radar
aa. soldier : ambush
bb. doctor : hospital
cc. corporal : sergeant
Ans : c

(22) Horns : Bull ::


a. mane : lion
dd. wattles : turkey
ee. antlers : stag
ff. hoofs : horse
gg. wings : eagle

Ans : c

(1) Judge : Courthouse ::


a. carpenter : bench
hh. lawyer : brief
ii. architect : blueprint
jj. physician : infirmary
kk. landlord : studio

Ans : d

(24) Helmet : Head ::


a. pedal : foot
ll. gun : hand
mm. breastplate : chest
nn. pendant : neck
oo. knapsack : back

Ans : c

(25) Gullible : Duped


a. credible : cheated
pp. careful : cautioned
qq. malleable : molded
rr. myopic : misled
ss. articulate : silenced

Ans : c

(26) Dungeon : Confinement


a. church : chapel
tt. school : truancy
uu. asylum : refuge
vv. hospital : mercy
ww. courthouse : remorse
Ans : c

(27) Hermit : Gregarious ::


a. miser : penurious
xx. ascetic : hedonistic
yy. coward : pusillanimous
zz. scholar : literate
aaa. crab : crustacean

Ans : b

(28) Mendacity : Honesty ::


a. courage : cravenness
bbb. truth : beauty
ccc. courage : fortitude
ddd. unsophistication : ingenuousness
eee. turpitude : depravity

Ans : a

(29) Marathon : Stamina


a. relay : independence
fff. hurdle : perseverance
ggg. sprint : celebrity
hhh. jog : weariness
iii. ramble : directness

Ans : c

(30) Naive : Ingenue ::


a. ordinary : genius
jjj. venerable : celebrity
kkk. urbane : sophisticate
lll. crafty : artisan
mmm. modest : braggart

Ans : c