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The GRE tests covers a surprisingly limited number of words. In the following lists, you will find words that occur frequently on the GRE. Granted, memorizing a list of words is rather dry, but it is probably the most effective way to improve your performance on the verbal section.

As you read through the lists, mark any words that you do not know with a check mark. Then, when you read through the list again, mark any that you do not remember with two checks. Continue in this manner until you have learned the words.

The first list, The Ubiquitous 400, contains words that have appeared frequently on the GRE. Over the years, our second list, Vocabulary 4000, has been an invaluable tool for students who have both the time and the determination to wade through it. It’s chock-full of words that are prime candidates for the GRE.


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abash  humiliate, embarrass
abdicate  relinquish power or position
aberrant  abnormal
abet  aid, encourage (typically of crime)
abeyance  postponement
aboriginal  indigenous
abridge  shorten
abstemious  moderate
acclimate  accustom oneself to a climate
accost  to approach and speak to someone
acquiesce  agree passively
acumen  insight
adamant  insistent
admonish  warn gently
adulterate  contaminate, corrupt
adversity  hardship
aegis  that which protects
aesthetic  pleasing to the senses, beautiful
affable  friendly
affinity  fondness
aggregate  total, collect
aghast  horrified
alacrity  swiftness
alienate  estrange, antagonize
alleviate  lessen, assuage
altruism  benevolence, generosity
amalgamation  mixture
ambiguous  unclear
ambivalence  conflicting emotions
amenable  agreeable
amorphous  shapeless
anachronistic  out of historical order
analogous  similar
anarchy  absence of government
anathema  curse
animus  hate
anomalous  abnormal
antipathy  repulsion, hatred
antipodal  exactly opposite
antiquated  outdated, obsolete
apathy  indifference
appease  pacify
approbation  approval
artless  naive, simple
ascetic  self-denying
assiduous  hard-working
assimilate  absorb
audacity  boldness
auspicious  favorable
austere  harsh, Spartan
autonomous  self-governing
avarice  greed
axiom  self-evident truth
banal  trite


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belie  misrepresent
belittle  disparage
bellicose  warlike
benefactor  patron
boisterous  noisy
boor  vulgar person
bourgeois  middle class
bucolic  rustic
buttress  support
cachet  prestige
cacophony  dissonance, harsh noise
callow  inexperienced
canon  rule
capacious  spacious
capitulate  surrender
castigate  criticize
cathartic  purgative, purifying
catholic universal, worldly
caustic  scathing (of speech)
censure  condemn
chagrin  embarrassment
charlatan  quack
chary  cautious
coagulate  thicken
coda  concluding passage
cogent  well-put, convincing
collusion  conspiracy
commensurate  proportionate
commiserate  empathize
compensatory  redeeming
compliant  submissive
conciliatory  reconciling
condone  overlook wrong doing
conducive  helping
connoisseur  an expert, gourmet
consensus  general agreement
contentious  argumentative
conundrum  puzzle, enigma
convoluted  twisted, complicated
covenant  agreement, pact
covert  secret
credence  belief
credulous  believing
cynical  scornful of the motives of others
dauntless  courageous
dearth  scarcity
defamation  (noun)  slander
deference  courteously yielding to another
deleterious  harmful
delineate  draw a line around, describe
demur  take exception
denigrate  defame
deprecate  belittle
desiccate  dehydrate
despot  tyrant
destitute  poor
desultory  without direction in life
deterrent  hindrance
devoid  empty
devout  pious
diatribe  long denunciation
dichotomy  a division into two parts
didactic  instructional
diffident  shy
digress  ramble
disabuse  correct a misconception
discerning  observant
discord  lack of harmony
discrete  separate
discretion  prudence
disingenuous  deceptive
disparate  various
disseminate  distribute
dissent  disagree
dissolution  disintegration
dissonance  discord
distend  swell
divest  strip, deprive
divulge  disclose
dogmatic  certain, unchanging in opinion
dormant  asleep
eclectic  from many sources
efficacy  effectiveness
effigy  likeness, mannequin
effloresce  to bloom
effrontery  insolence
elicit  provoke
eloquent  well-spoken
emancipate  liberate
embellish  exaggerate
endemic  peculiar to a particular region
enervate  weaken
engender  generate
ennui  boredom
enumerate  count
esoteric  known by only a few
esthetic  artistic
euphemism  genteel expression
euphoria  elation
evanescent  fleeting, very brief
exacerbate  worsen
exasperate  irritate
exhibitionist  one who draws attention to himself
exonerate  free from blame
expedite  hasten
extemporize  improvise
extol  praise highly
facetious  joking, sarcastic
facilitate  make easier
fallacy  false belief
fathom  understand
fervor  intensity
fickle  always changing one’s mind
filibuster  long speech
fledgling  just beginning, struggling
flout  to show disregard for the law or rules
foment  instigate
forsake  abandon
fortuitous  lucky
foster  encourage
frugal  thrifty
fulminate  denounce, menace
furtive  stealthy
gainsay  contradict
germane  relevant
glib  insincere manner
gratuitous  unwarranted, uncalled for
gregarious  sociable
halcyon  serene
hamper  obstruct
harangue  tirade
harry  harass
hedonism  excessive pursuit of pleasure in life
hegemony  authority, domination
histrionic  overly dramatic
homogeneous  uniform
hyperbole  exaggeration
hypocritical  deceiving, two-faced
iconoclast one who rails against sacred institutions
idiosyncrasy  peculiarity
imminent  about to happen
impecunious  indigent
imperative  vital, pressing
imperturbable  calm
impervious  impenetrable
impetuous  impulsive
implicit  implied
impolitic  unwise
impulsive  to act suddenly
impunity  exemption from harm
inadvertent  unintentional
incendiary  inflammatory
incipient  beginning
incontrovertible  indisputable
incorrigible  unreformable
indifferent  unconcerned
indigent  poor
indolent  lazy
indomitable  invincible
ineffable  inexpressible
inert  inactive
inherent  innate, inborn
inhibit  restrain
inimical  adverse, hostile
insatiable  gluttonous
insidious  treacherous
insipid  flat, dull
insufferable  unbearable
insular  narrow-minded
intangible  not perceptible by touch
internecine  mutually destructive
intractable  unmanageable
intrepid  fearless
inundate  flood
inure  accustom, habituate, harden
invective  verbal insult
inveigle  lure
irascible  irritable
irresolute  hesitant, uncertain
itinerary  route
judicious  prudent
laconic  brief, terse
lassitude  lethargy
laudatory  commendable
levity  frivolity
lucid  clearly understood
lurid  ghastly
Machiavellian  politically crafty, cunning
magnanimous  generous, kindhearted
magnate  a powerful, successful person
malevolence  bad intent, malice
malinger  shirk
malleable  moldable, tractable
misanthrope  hater of mankind
miscreant  evildoer
mitigate  lessen the severity
mundane  ordinary
nadir  lowest point
narcissism  self-love
nascent  incipient
neologism  newly coined expression
nonplus  confound
noxious  toxic
obfuscate  bewilder, muddle
obtuse  stupid
obviate  make unnecessary
odious  despicable
officious  forward, obtrusive
omnipotent  all-powerful
onerous  burdensome
opprobrium  disgrace
oscillate  waver
paean  a song of praise
paradigm  a model
paragon  standard of excellence
parody  imitation, ridicule
parsimonious  stingy
paucity  scarcity
pedagogical  pertaining to teaching
pedantic  bookish
penchant  inclination
penury  poverty
pernicious  destructive
perpetuity  eternity
perspicacious  keen
pervade  permeate
philanthropic  charitable
phlegmatic  sluggish
piety  devoutness
pious  devout, holy
piquant  tart-tasting, spicy
pithy  concise
platitude  trite remark
platonic  nonsexual
plethora  overabundance


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polemic  a controversy
posthumous  after death
pragmatic  practical
precarious  dangerous, risky
precipitate  cause
precursor  forerunner
preponderance predominance
presumptuous  assuming
pretentious  affected, inflated
pretext  excuse
prevaricate  lie
probity  integrity
problematic  uncertain
prodigal  wasteful
prodigious  marvelous, enormous
prodigy  a person with extraordinary ability or talent
profligate  licentious, prodigal
profound  deep, knowledgeable
profusion  overabundance
prolific  fruitful, productive
propensity  inclination
proportionate  commensurate
propriety  decorum
prosaic  uninspired, flat
proscribe  prohibit
protuberance  bulge
pundit  politically astute person
pungent  sharp smell or taste
qualms  misgivings
quash  put down, suppress
querulous  complaining
quixotic  impractical, romantic
raconteur  story teller
recalcitrant  stubborn
recant  retract
redoubtable  formidable, steadfast
refractory  obstinate
relegate  assign to an inferior position
renege  break a promise
renounce  disown
reprehensible  blameworthy
reproach  blame
reprobate  miscreant
repudiate  disavow
requisite  necessary
rescind  revoke
resolute  determined
reticent  reserved
retribution  reprisal
reverent  respectful
rhapsody  ecstasy
rhetoric  elocution, grandiloquence
sanctimonious  self-righteous
sanction  approval
sanguinary  gory, murderous
satiate  satisfy fully
satire  ridicule
schism  rift
secular  worldly, nonreligious
sedulous  diligent
severance  division
skeptical  doubtful
solicitous  considerate, concerned
solvent  financially sound
sophistry  specious reasoning
specious  false but plausible
spurious  false, counterfeit
squander  waste
stolid  impassive
stupefy  deaden, dumfound
stymie  hinder, thwart
sullen  sulky, sour
supercilious  arrogant
superfluous  overabundant
surfeit  overabundance
synthesis  combination
tacit  understood without being spoken
temerity  boldness
tenuous  thin, insubstantial
terse  concise
torpid  lethargic, inactive
tractable  docile, manageable
transient  fleeting, temporary
trenchant  incisive, penetrating
truculent  fierce, savage
ubiquitous  omnipresent, pervasive
ulterior  hidden, covert
untenable  cannot be achieved
untoward  perverse
urbane  refined, worldly
vacillate  waver
venerable  revered
veracity  truthfulness
verbose  wordy
vernacular  common speech
vex  annoy
viable  capable of surviving
vilify  defame
virulent  deadly, poisonous
vitriolic  scathing
vituperative  abusive
vivacious  lively
volatile  unstable
voluminous  bulky, extensive
voracious  hungry
xenophobia  fear of foreigners
zealot  fanatic


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You may also want to check out our article on 11 GRE Verbal Practice Questions – Reading Comprehension

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