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Vocabulary List

Jessica Deforest reminds us....

... 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.

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 another’s 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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