analogy FIRM : IRONCLAD :: smart : brilliant

jorgecanta47

Senior Member
Spain, native of Spanish
Hello
I have just found an already solved GRE analogies exercise for which I do not understand the solution purposed. I do not understand why according to the solution, C) is the best answer instead of D). The sentence I have built to understand this exercise is "brilliant implies smart" the same as "ironclad implies firm". But "stiff implies hard" as well. So I would not know why C) is better than D)

FIRM : IRONCLAD::
a)bruised : broken
b)polished : shining
c)smart : brilliant
d)hard : stiff
e)jovial : merry

I would appreciate if anybody could tell me why the best solution is C) instead of D). Does anybody know?
Thanks
 
  • tepatria

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Smart is not as clever as brilliant, firm is not as binding as ironclad. Firm and stiff are pretty much the same thing, in one sense of their definitions.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    The relationship between the correct pairs of words is degree:

    broken is more damaged than bruised
    shining is brighter than polished
    brilliant is more intelligent than smart

    However, hard and stiff do not have this relationship, they describe somewhat different qualities rather than degrees of the same quality.
     

    Lis48

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The relationship between the correct pairs of words is degree:

    broken is more damaged than bruised
    shining is brighter than polished
    brilliant is more intelligent than smart
    However, hard and stiff do not have this relationship, they describe somewhat different qualities rather than degrees of the same quality.
    I disagree with Matchingmole on this I´m afraid.
    Surely the whole point of the exercise is to find the two words that relate to each other in degree in the same way as the example firm and ironclad.
    Smart and brilliant is the only other couple that is similar in that a brilliant person is also very smart one just as an ironclad handshake is a very firm one.
    Broken/bruised, shining/polished etc. are not related in the same way.
    A broken arm is not the same as a very bruised one, a polished stone is not always a very shiny one, a stiff neck is not a very hard one etc.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    You may be right Lis48, but I wouldn't put money on it either way. And if we native speakers cannot agree on what it means, what hope do learners have? I agree with tepatria, I'm glad I didn't have to take this test. It's not the first time that tests and exercises have appeared here that have confounded native speakers, and it really makes me wonder who is devising them.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    The analogy is supposed to be that "firm is to ironclad as ____ is to ____".

    An ironclad agreement is one that is very, very firm; extremely firm; firm to the highest degree.

    If something is very bruised, is it broken? No; one may have a terribly bruised leg, but that does not mean it is a broken leg.

    If something is highly polished, does that mean it is shining? No; a mirror is highly polished, but that makes it reflective, not shining.

    If "stiff" the same thing as "very hard"? No; some things are very stiff, but are also very fragile. A baked meringue, for example, is extremely stiff, but is not hard at all.

    Being "merry" may be a result of having a "jovial" personality, but a person who is "very jovial" is not necessarily "merry".

    The only pair that is in the same relationship os (C): a person who is very very smart, or extremely smart, is brilliant.
     
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