“As a child she was calm and even-keeled, but, as a teen, she became mercurial: her friends and family members never knew what to expect.”
As used in the above sentence, what is the best meaning for mercurial?
Mercurial (adjective) – characterized by sudden, unpredictable, or extreme changes of the mood or of the mind; or, less commonly, having characteristics similar to the Roman god Mercury (i.e. being clever and eloquent but cunning)
GRE pro tips:
Although there are a few definitions of the word mercurial, the most common and the most likely to show up on the GRE is: rapidly and unpredictably changing, particularly in mood or in mind. You can better remember this definition by relating it to the planet Mercury. Unlike earth, Mercury has a thin atmosphere, so it’s susceptible to rapid, extreme fluctuations in temperature (between -279 and +809 degrees Fahrenheit!). Likewise, someone with a “mercurial” disposition could suddenly switch from hot to cold, or happy to sad, or sweet to angry. Think of moody like Mercury to remember this word.
“Unlike her sister, who was consistently level-headed and calm, Mary had a rather mercurial disposition.”
“Although my overall preferences for Netflix bingeing are mercurial, I am always up for watching The Office.”