GRE Vocabulary List

Memorizing vocabulary lists is not the best way to improve your vocabulary. The best way is to read more and read more challenging material. However, if you only have a couple of months till you take the test, memorization might be your only realistic option. I hope you are seeing this page in your first, rather than your last year of college. If so, consider taking courses in a broad range of disciplines. Doing so will prepare you for the wide range of reading comprehension topics you will get on the GRE, GMAT, MCAT, and LSAT, and improve your vocabulary as well. Include a course in logic for good measure (MSU students can take PHL 130 -- a basic logic course). However, if you're already a senior, you might want to learn all the words on this list. They are not all that uncommon, and you might run into them elsewhere than on the GRE.

At least two sections of the GRE, analogies and antonyms, depend largely on the test-taker's knowledge of vocabulary. Many of the following words have appeared in the GRE exams (based upon previous exams which ETS has has released for students to practice with). Others are, in my opinion, good candidates to appear on the GRE. I can't guarantee that you will see all (or any) of these words on the GRE. No one can (legally) do that, as the GRE is secret. However, because of the difficulty of coming up with good antonym and analogy questions, it is likely that some words will be "recycled".

The first column contains the vocabulary words, arranged in alphabetical order. The second column gives the part(s) of speech (noun, verb, adjective, or adverb) to which the word belongs, and the third gives a bief definition. In some cases, the third column also includes examples of other forms of the listed word. Knowing the part of speech to which a word belongs can often help you analyze questions and answer choices on the verbal sections of the GRE and improve your chances of figuring out the correct answer. This is especially true for analogy questions. For more information on this subject, see the Suffixes page.

As for learning the parts of speech, rather than memorizing what part of speech each word belongs to, try to become more aware of what the most common parts of speech are and how the are used in sentences. For the purposes of the GRE, nouns, verbs, and adjectives are most useful. Consult a basic grammar handbook for explanations. Then, try to learn the vocabulary by putting the words into sentences. This is the best way to become more aware of how the words are used and will help you analyze GRE Analogies questions.

Please remember that these are only brief and incomplete notes about these words. Many have alternate definitions or are modified to function as parts of speech not listed here. For complete and authoritative information, consult a good dictionary.

 

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Word

Part of Speech

Definitions, Other Forms, and Examples

aberrant

adj.

deviating from normal or correct.

abscond

v.

to leave secretly and hide, often to avoid the law.

advocate

v., n.

to speak, plead, or argue for a cause, or in anotherís behalf. (n) -- one who advocates.

aggrandize

v.

to make greater, to increase, thus, to exaggerate.

amalgamate

v.

to unite or mix. (n) -- amalgamation.

ambiguous

adj.

vague; subject to more than one interpretation

ambrosial

adj.

extremely pleasing to the senses, divine (as related to the gods) or delicious (n: ambrosia)

anachronism

n.

a person or artifact appearing after its own time or out of chronological order (adj: anachronistic)

anomalous

adj.

peculiar; unique, contrary to the norm (n: anomaly)

antediluvian

adj.

ancient; outmoded; (literally,before the flood)

antipathy

n.

hostility toward, objection, or aversion to

arbitrate

v.

to settle a dispute by impulse (n: arbitration)

assuage

v.

to make less severe; to appease or satisfy

attenuate

v.

weaken (adj: attenuated)

audacious

adj.

extremely bold; fearless, especially said of human behavior (n: audacity)

aver

v.

to declare

banal

adj.

commonplace or trite (n: banality)

barefaced

adj.

unconcealed, shameless, or brazen

blandishment

n.

speech or action intended to coax someone into doing something

bombast

n.

pompous speech (adj: bombastic)

breach

n., v.

a lapse, gap or break, as in a fortress wall. To break or break through.ex: Unfortunately, the club members never forgot his breach of ettiquette.

burgeon

v., n.

to grow or flourish; a bud or new growth (adj: burgeoning )

buttress

v., n.

to support. a support

cadge

v.

to get something by taking advantage of someone

caprice

n.

impulse (adj: capricious)

castigate

v.

to chastise or criticize severely

catalyst

n.

an agent of change (adj: catalytic; v. catalyze)

caustic

adj.

capable of dissolving by chemical action; highly critical: "His caustic remarks spoiled the mood of the party."

chicanery

n.

deception by trickery

complaisant

adj.

willingly compliant or accepting of the status quo (n: complaisance)

conflagration

n.

a great fire

corporeal

adj.

of or having to do with material, as opposed to spiritual; tangible. (In older writings, coeporeal could be a synonym for corporal. This usage is no longer common)

corporal

adj.

of the body: "corporal punishment." a non-commissioned officer ranked between a sergeant and a private.

corroborate

v.

to strengthen or support: "The witness corroborted his story." (n: corroboration)

craven

adj., n.

cowardly; a coward

culpable

adj.

deserving of blame (n: culpability)

dearth

n.

lack, scarcity: "The prosecutor complained about the dearth of concrete evidence against the suspect."

deference

n.

submission or courteous yielding: "He held his tongue in deference to his father." (n: deferential. v. defer)

depict

v.

to show, create a picture of.

deprecation

n.

belittlement. (v. deprecate)

depredation

n.

the act of preying upon or plundering: "The depredations of the invaders demoralized the population."

descry

v.

to make clear, to say

desiccate

v.

to dry out thoroughly (adj: desiccated)

diatribe

n.

a bitter abusive denunciation.

diffident

adj.

lacking self-confidence, modest (n: diffidence)

disabuse

adj.

to free a person from falsehood or error: "We had to disabuse her of the notion that she was invited."

disparaging

adj.

belittling (n: disparagement. v. disparage)

dispassionate

adj.

calm; objective; unbiased

dissemble

v.

to conceal one's real motive, to feign

dogged

adj.

stubborn or determined: "Her dogged pursuit of the degree eventually paid off."

dogmatic

adj.

relying upon doctrine or dogma, as opposed to evidence

eclectic

adj.

selecting or employing individual elements from a variety of sources: "Many modern decorators prefer an eclectic style." (n: eclecticism)

efficacy

n.

effectiveness; capability to produce a desired effect

effluent

adj., n

the quality of flowing out. something that flows out, such as a stream from a river (n: effluence)

emollient

adj., n.

softening; something that softens

emulate

v.

to strive to equal or excel (n: emulation)

encomium

n.

a formal eulogy or speech of praise

endemic

adj.

prevalent in or native to a certain region, locality, or people: "The disease was endemic to the region." Don't confuse this word with epidemic.

enervate

v.

to weaken or destroy the strength or vitality of: "The heatenervated everyone." (adj: enervating)

engender

v.

to give rise to, to propagate, to cause: "His slip of the toungue engendered much laughter."

enigma

n.

puzzle; mystery: "Math is an enigma to me." (adj: enigmatic)

ephemeral

adj.

lasting for only a brief time, fleeting (n: ephemera)

equivocal

adj.

ambiguous; unclear; subject to more than one interpretation -- often intentionally so: "Republicans complained that Bill Clinton's answers were equivocal." (v. equivocate)

erudite

adj.

scholarly; displaying deep intensive learning. (n: erudition)

esoteric

adj.

intended for or understood by only a few: "The esoteric discussion confused some people." (n: esoterica)

eulogy

n.

a spoken or written tribute to the deceased (v. eulogize)

exacerbate

v.

to increase the bitterness or violence of; to aggravate: "The decision to fortify the border exacerbated tensions."

exculpate

v.

to demonstrate or prove to be blameless:"The evidence tended to exculpate the defendant."(adj: exculpatory)

exorbitant

adj.

exceeding customary or normal limits, esp. in quantity or price: "The cab fare was exorbitant."

explicit

adj.

fully and clearly expressed

extant

adj.

in existence, still existing: The only extant representative of that species."

fathom

n., v.

a measure of length (six feet) used in nautical settings. to penetrate to the depths of something in order to understand it: "I couldn't fathom her reasoning on that issue."

fawn

v.

to seek favor or attention; to act subserviantly (n, adj: fawning)

feign

v.

to give false appearance or impression: "He feigned illness to avoid going to school." (adj: feigned)

fervid, fervent

adj.

highly emotional; hot: "The partisans displayed a fervent patriotism." (n: fervor)

fledgling

n., adj.

a baby bird; an inexperienced person; inexperienced.

florid

adj.

flushed with a rosy color, as in complexion; very ornate and flowery: "florid prose."

floundering

adj.

struggling: "We tried to save the floundering business."

garrulous

adj.

verbose; talkative; rambling: "We tried to avoid our garrulous neighbor."

gossamer

n., adj.

fine cobweb on foliage; fine gauzy fabric; very fine: "She wore a gossamer robe."

guile

n.

skillful deceit: "He was well known for his guile." (v. bequile; adj: beguiling. Note, however, that these two words have an additional meaning: to charm (v.) or charming (adj:), while the word guile does not generally have any such positive connotations)

guileless

adj.

honest; straightforward (n: guilelessness)

hapless

adj.

unfortunate

headlong

adj., adv.

headfirst; impulsive; hasty. impulsively; hastily; without forethought: "They rushed headlong into marriage."

homogenous

adj.

similar in nature or kind; uniform: "a homogeneous society."

iconoclast

n.

one who attacks traditional ideas or institutions or one who destroys sacred images (adj: iconoclastic)

impecunious

adj.

penniless; poor

imperious

adj.

commanding

implication

n.

insinuation or connotation (v. implicate)

imply

v.

to suggest indirectly; to entail:"She implied she didn't believe his story." (n: implication)

improvidence

n.

an absence of foresight; a failure to provide for future needs or events: "Their improvidence resulted in the loss of their home."

inchoate

adj.

in an initial or early stage; incomplete; disorganized: "The act of writing forces one to clarify incohate thoughts."

incorrigible

adj.

not capable of being corrected: "The school board finally decided the James was incorrigible and expelled him from school."

indelible

adj.

permanent; unerasable; strong: "The Queen made an indelible impression on her subjects."

ineffable

adj.

undescribable; inexpressible in words; unspeakable

infer

v.

to deduce: "New genetic evidence led some zoologists to infer that the red wolf is actually a hybrid of the coyote and the gray wolf."

ingenious

adj.

clever: "She developed an ingenious method for testing her hypothesis."(n: ingenuity)

ingenuous

adj.

unsophisticated; artless; straightforward; candid: "Wilson's ingenuous response to the controversial calmed the suspicious listeners."

inhibit

v.

to hold back, prohibit, forbid, or restrain (n: inhibition, adj: inhibited)

innocuous

adj.

harmless; having no adverse affect; not likely to provoke strong emotion

insensible

adj.

numb; unconscious: "Wayne was rendered insensible by a blow to the head." unfeeling; insensitive: "They were insensibile to the suffering of others.:

insipid

adj.

lacking zest or excitement; dull

insular

adj.

of or pertaining to an island, thus, excessively exclusive: "Newcomers found it difficult to make friends in the insular community."

intransigent

adj.

stubborn; immovable; unwilling to change: "She was so intransigent we finally gave up trying to convince her." (n: intransigence)

irascible

adj.

prone to outbursts of temper, easily angered

laconic

adj.

using few words; terse: "a laconic reply."

latent

adj.

present or potential but not evident or active (n: latency)

laudable

adj.

praiseworthy; commendable (v. laud)

leviathan

n.

giant whale, therefore, something very large

loquacious

adj.

talkative

lucid

adj.

clear; translucent: "He made a lucid argument to support his theory."

lugubrious

adj.

weighty, mournful, or gloomy, especially to an excessive degree: "Jake's lugubrious monologues depressed his friends."

magnanimity

n.

generosity and nobility. (adj: magnanimous)

malevolent

adj.

malicious; evil; having or showing ill will: "Some early American colonists saw the wilderness as malevolent and sought to control it."

misanthrope

n.

one who hates people: "He was a true misanthrope and hated even himself."

misnomer

n.

incorrect name or word for something

misogynist

n.

one who hates women

mitigate

v.

to make less forceful; to become more moderate; to make less harsh or undesirable: "He was trying to mitigate the damage he had done." (n: mitigation)

nefarious

adj.

wicked, evil: "a nefarious plot."

noisome

adj.

harmful, offensive, destructive: "The noisome odor of the dump carried for miles."

obdurate

adj.

hardened against influence or feeling; intractable.

obviate

v.

to prevent by anticipatory measures; to make unnecessary:

occlude

v.

to close or shut off; to obstruct (n: occlusion)

opaque

adj.

not transparent or transluscent; dense; difficult to comprehend, as inopaque reasoning

ossified

adj.

turned to bone; hardened like bone; Inflexible: "The ossified culture failed to adapt to new economic conditions and died out."

panegyric

n.

a writing or speech in praise of a person or thing

peccadillo

n.

a small sin or fault

pedantic

adj.

showing a narrow concern for rules or formal book learning; making an excessive display of one's own learning: "We quickly tired of his pedantic conversation." (n: pedant, pedantry).

perfidious

adj.

deliberately treacherous; dishonest (n: perfidy)

petulant

adj.

easily or frequently annoyed, especially over trivial matters; childishly irritable

philanthropy

n.

tendency or action for the benefit of others, as in donating money or property to a charitible organization

phlegmatic

adj.

not easily excited; cool; sluggish

placate

v.

to calm or reduce anger by making concessions: "The professor tried to placate his students by postponing the exam."

plastic

adj.

related to being shaped or molded; capable of being molded. (n: plasticity n: plastic)

plethora

n.

excessively large quantity; overabundance: "We received a p lethora of applications for the position."

ponderous

adj.

heavy; massive; awkward; dull: "A ponderous book is better than a sleeping pill."

pragmatic

adj.

concerned with facts; practical, as opposed to highly principled or traditional: "His pragmatic approach often offended idealists." (n: pragmatism)

precipice

n.

cliff with a vertical or nearly vertical face; a dangerous place from which one is likely to fall; metaphorically, a very risky circumstance

precipitate

v., n.

to fall; to fall downward suddenly and dramatically; to bring about or hasten the occurrence of something: "Old World diseases precipitated a massive decline in the American Indian population."

precursor

n.

something (or someone) that precedes another: "The assasination of the Archduke was a precursor to the war."

prevaricate

v.

to stray away from or evade the truth: "When we asked him what his intentions were, he prevaricated."(n: prevarication; prevaricator)

prodigal

adj.

rashly wasteful: "Americans' prodigal devotion to the automobile is unique."

propitiate

v.

to conciliate; to appease: "They made sacrifices to propitiate angry gods."

Pulchritudinous

adj.

beautiful (n: pulchritude)

pusillanimous

adj.

cowardly, timid, or irreselute; petty: "The pusillanimous leader soon lost the respect of his people."

quiescence

n.

inactivity; stillness; dormancy (adj: quiescent)

rarefy

v.

to make or become thin; to purify or refine (n: rarefaction, adj: rarefied)

reproof

n.

the act of censuring, scolding, or rebuking. (v. reprove).

rescind

v.

to repeal or annul

sagacious

adj.

having a sharp or powerful intellect or discernment. (n: sagacity).

sanguine

adj.

cheerful; confident: "Her sanguine attitude put everyone at ease."(Sangfroid (noun) is a related French word meaning unflappibility. Literally, it means cold blood)

sate

v.

to satisfy fully or to excess

saturnine

adj.

having a gloomy or morose temperament

savant

n.

a very knowledgable person; a genious

sedulous

adj.

diligent; persevering; persistent: "Her sedulous devotion to overcoming her background impressed many." (n: sedulity; sedulousness; adv. sedulously)

specious

adj.

seemingly true but really false; deceptively convincing or attractive: "Her argument, though specious, was readily accepted by many."

superficial

adj.

only covering the surface: "A superficial treatment of the topic was all they wanted."

tacit

adj.

unspoken: "Katie and carmella had a tacit agreement that they would not mention the dented fender to their parents."

taciturn

adj.

habitually untalkative or silent (n: taciturnity)

temperate

adj.

exercising moderation and self-denial; calm or mild (n: temperance)

tirade (diatribe)

n.

an angry speech: "His tirade had gone on long enough."

tortuous

adj.

twisted; excessively complicated: "Despite public complaints, tax laws and forms have become increasingly tortuous." Note: Don't confuse this with torturous.

tractable

adj.

ability to be easily managed or controlled: "Her mother wished she were more tractable." (n: tractibility)

turpitude

n.

depravity; baseness: "Mr. Castor was fired for moral turpitude."

tyro

n.

beginner; person lacking experience in a specific endeavor: "They easily took advantage of the tyro."

vacuous

adj.

empty; without contents; without ideas or intelligence:: "She flashed a vacuous smile."

venerate

v.

great respect or reverence: "The Chinese traditionally venerated their ancestors; ancestor worship is merely a popular misnomer for this tradition." (n: veneration, adj: venerable)

verbose

adj.

wordy: "The instructor asked her verbose student make her paper more concise." (n: verbosity)

vex

v.

to annoy; to bother; to perplex; to puzzle; to debate at length: "Franklin vexed his brother with his controversial writings."

viscous

adj.

slow moving; highly resistant to flow: "Heintz commercials imply that their catsup is more viscous than others'." (n: viscosity)

volatile

adj.

explosive; fickle (n: volatility).

voracious

adj.

craving or devouring large quantities of food, drink, or other things. She is a voracious reader.

waver

v.

to hesitate or to tremble

wretched

adj.

extremely pitiful or unfortunate (n: wretch)

zeal

n.

enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal (n: zealot; zealoutry. adj: zealous)


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