Some GRE Vocabulary Words You Need to Know

By Ron Woldoff, Joseph Kraynak

The GRE contains many commonly occurring words that you need to be familiar with. The following words and their definitions offer a partial list of terms you need to know. (For a full list, see GRE For Dummies, Eighth Edition [Wiley].)

As you review these words, pay attention to the word parts (prefixes, suffixes, and roots). Try covering up the definitions and discerning the word meanings from these parts. You can also make notecards and highlight the word parts. With practice, interpreting new words becomes much easier.

  • aberrant: Abnormal; different from the accepted norm

  • acquiescent: Agreeing without protest

  • admonition: A gentle reproof

  • allay: To reduce the intensity of

  • anecdote: A short account of an interesting incident

  • artless: Without deceit or cunning; sincere

  • audacious: Fearless, bold

  • blatant: Very obvious, offensively loud, or coarsely conspicuous

  • brevity: Briefness or conciseness

  • burgeon: To grow forth; to send out buds

  • candor: The quality of being open and sincere

  • churl: A rude, boorish, or surly person

  • cohort: A companion or associate

  • conciliatory: A state of seeking to reconcile or make peace

  • consternation: Unsettling dismay or amazement

  • contumacious: Rebellious

  • counterpart: A person or thing resembling or complementing another

  • curmudgeon: An ill-tempered person

  • decorum: Orderliness and good taste in manners

  • depravity: The state of being morally bad or evil

  • derivative: Something obtained or developed from a source

  • diffidence: Lacking confidence

  • disingenuous: Insincere, phony

  • dissonant: Out of harmony, incongruous

  • doctrinaire: A person who’s fanatical about enforcing a certain principle, regardless of its practicality

  • dupe: Someone who’s easily fooled; to fool someone

  • efficacious: Capable of producing the intended result

  • egregious: Seriously bad or wrong

  • elitism: Consciousness or pride in belonging to a select group

  • endemic: Characteristic of a specific place or culture

  • ennui: Boredom

  • equivocal: Ambiguous

  • eschew: To keep clear of, avoid

  • exculpate: To free from blame

  • extenuating: The state of explaining or justifying in order to lessen the seriousness of an action; for example, extenuating circumstances may lessen the punishment for a crime

  • facilitate: To make easier

  • ferret out: To track down, discover

  • forestall: To prevent by taking action in advance

  • fumble: To feel or grope about clumsily

  • generosity: The state of giving freely

  • grandstand: To conduct oneself or perform showily in an attempt to impress onlookers

  • gullible: Easily deceived

  • harbinger: Anything or anyone who makes known the coming of a person or future event; an omen

  • hyperbole: Exaggeration or overstatement

  • impartial: Objective, open-minded

  • imperious: Domineering, overbearing; urgent

  • implicit: Implied

  • inane: A nicer word for describing someone or something as stupid or idiotic

  • indigenous: Originating in a particular place or region

  • inert: Inactive; lacking power to move or react

  • innocuous: Harmless

  • insouciant: Free from worry or concern; carefree

  • invidious: Showing or feeling envy

  • jingoism: Professing one’s patriotism loudly and excessively, often used in terms of having an aggressive foreign policy

  • latent: Dormant

  • liken: To represent as similar to someone or something

  • magnanimity: Generosity

  • maverick: Rebel; nonconformist

  • mendicant: A beggar or homeless person

  • mitigate: To lessen in intensity; to appease

  • mordant: Sarcastic, harsh

  • myopic: Shortsighted or narrow-minded

  • neophyte: Beginner

  • obsequious: Servile; ready to serve

  • onus: Burden

  • painstaking: Characterized by being very careful and diligent

  • paragon: Model of perfection

  • paucity: Scarcity, insufficiency

  • perennial: Something long-lasting

  • pervasive: Spread throughout

  • placid: Peaceful

  • polarize: To divide into sharply opposing factions

  • porous: Full of holes; spongy, absorbent

  • precarious: Hazardous, perilous

  • presentiment: A feeling or impression that something is about to happen

  • prodigious: Immense

  • proliferate: To grow rapidly

  • prosaic: Commonplace or dull

  • pugnacious: Quarrelsome or combative

  • quibble: Minor objection or complaint

  • recant: To formally withdraw a statement

  • refutation: An act of disproving a statement or charge

  • repudiate: To refuse to have anything to do with

  • restive: Impatient or stubborn

  • rout: To drive out; to stampede

  • salacious: Lustful; sexually indecent

  • satiate: To satisfy or fulfill the appetite or desire of

  • security: Safety

  • shard: Fragment

  • skeptic: Doubter

  • slothful: Slow-moving, lazy

  • soporific: Causing sleep

  • spurious: Not genuine

  • stipulate: To make specific conditions

  • striated: Marked with parallel bands

  • supercilious: Showing careless contempt; arrogant

  • sybarite: A person devoted to luxury and pleasure

  • tangential: Only slightly connected or related

  • tempestuous: Stormy; impassioned

  • tepid: Lukewarm

  • timidity: Lacking in self-assurance or courage

  • torpid: Dull; sluggish; inactive

  • transience: A temporary state

  • trepidation: Nervous feeling; fear

  • tutelage: The act of training or being under instruction

  • unassuaged: Not soothed or relieved

  • ungainly: Awkward; clumsy

  • upbraid: To reproach as deserving blame

  • vainglorious: Excessive; pretentious

  • variegated: Many-colored

  • veracious: Truthful

  • viable: Capable of living or succeeding

  • visage: Face, especially in terms of its features or expression

  • volatile: Changeable, explosive

  • wary: Very cautious

  • whorl: A circular or spiral arrangement

  • yore: Time past