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GRE Word List

Most commonly used GRE words

abscond To leave secretly. The patron absconded from the restaurant without paying his bill by sneaking out the back door.
abate To reduce in amount, degree or severity. As the hurricane's force abated, the winds dropped and the sea became calm.
abyss an extremely deep hole.
Adulterate To make impure. The restaurateur made his ketchup last longer by adulterating it with water.
Advocate To speak in favor of. The vegetarian advocated a diet contain no meat
Aggrandize To increase in power influence, and reputation. The supervisor sought to aggrandize himself by claiming that the achievements of his staff were actually his own.
Ameliorate To make better; to improve. The doctor was able to ameliorate the patient's suffering using painkillers.
Anachronism Something out of place in time. The aged hippie used anachronistic phrases like groovy and far out that had not been popular for years.
Antipathy Extreme dislike. The antipathy between the french and the English regularly erupted into open warfare.
Arbitrate To judge a dispute between two opposing parties. Since the couple could not come to agreement, a judge was forced to arbitrate their divorce proceedings.
Archaic ancient, old-fashioned. Her archaic commodore computer could not run the latest software.
Ardor Intense and passionate feeling. Bishop's ardor for landscape was evident when he passionately described the beauty of the scenic Hudson Valley.
Audacious Fearless and daring. Her audacious nature allowed her to fulfill her dream of skydiving.
Austere Severe or stern in appearance undecorated. The lack of decoration makes Zen temples seem austere to the untrained eye.
Banal Predictable, cliched, boring. He used Banal phrases like Have a nice day or another day, another dollar.
Bombastic Pompous in speech and manner. The dictator's speeches were mostly bombastic his boasting and outrageous claims had no basis in fact.
Cacophony Harsh, Jarring noise. The junior high orchestra created an almost unbearable cacophony as they tried to tune their instruments.
Capricious Changing one's mind quickly and often. Queen Elizabeth I was quite capricious her courtiers could never be sure which of their number would catch her fancy.
Caustic Biting in Wit. Dorthy Parker gained her reputation for caustic wit from her cutting, yet clever, insults.
Chauvinist Someone Prejudiced in favor of a group to which he or she belongs. The attitude that men are inherently superior to women and therefore must be obeyed is common among male chauvinists.
Chicanery Deception by means of craft or guile. Dishonest used car salesmen often use chicanery to sell their beat up old cars.
Cogent Convincing and well reasoned. Swayed by the cogent argument of the defense, the jury had no choice but to acquit the defendant.
Corroborate To provide supporting evidence. Fingerprints corroborated the witness' testimony that he saw the defendant in the victim's apartment.
Credulous Too trusting; gullible Although some four year olds believe in the Easter Bunny, only the most credulous nine-year-olds also believe in him.
Deference Respect, Courtesy The respectful young law clerk treated the supreme court justice with the utmost deference.
Desiccate To dry out thoroughly. After a few weeks of lying on the desert's baking sands, the cow's carcass became completely desiccated.
Desultory Jumping from one thing to another; disconnected. Diane had a desultory academic record; she had changed majors 12 times in three years.
Diatribe An abusive, condemnatory speech. The trucker bellowed a diatribe at the driver who had cut him off
Diffident lacking self-confidence. Steve's diffident manner during the job interview stemmed from his nervous nature and lack of experience in the field.
Dilatory Intend to delay. The congressman used dilatory measures to delay the passage of the bill.
Dilettante Someone with an amateurish and superficial interest in a topic.
Dirge A funeral hymn or mournful speech Melville wrote the poem "Adirge for James McPherson" for the funeral of a union general who was killed 1864.
Disabuse To set right; to free from error Galileo's observations disabused scholars of the notion that the sun revolved around the earth.
Disparate Fundamentally different; entirely unlike Although the twins appear to be identical physically, their personalities are disparate.
Dissemble To present a false appearance; to disguise one's real intentions or character.
Dissonance Harsh and disagreeable combination, often of sounds Cognitive dissonance is the inner conflict produced when long-standing beliefs are contradicted by new evidence.
Dogma A firmly held opinion, often a religious belief Linus's central dogma was that children who believed in the great pumpkin would be rewarded.
Dogmatic Dictatorial in one's opinions The dictator was dogmatic - he, and only he was right.
Efficacy Effectiveness. The efficacy of penicillin was unsurpassed when it was first introduced; the drug compleely eliminated almost all bacterial infections for which it was administered.
Elegy A sorrowful poem or speech Although Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" is about death and loss, it urges its readers to endure this life, and to trust in spirituality.
Eloquent Persuasive and moving especially in speech. The gettysburg Address is moving not only because of its lofty sentiments but also because of its eloquent words.
Enervate To reduce in strength The guerrillas hoped that a series of surprise attacks would enervate the regular army.
Engender To produce, cause or bring about His fear and hatred of clowns was engendered when he witnessed the death of his father at the hands of a clown.
Ephemeral Lasting a short time The lives of mayflies seem ephemeral to us, since the flies' average life span is a matter of hours.
Equivocate To use expressions of double meaning in order to mislead When faced with criticism of his policies, the politician equivocated and left all parties thinking he agreed with them.
Esoteric Known or understood by only a few Only a handful of experts are knowledgeable about the esoteric world of particle physics
Estimable Admirable Most people consider it estimable that mother Teresa spent her life helping the poor of India.
Fawn To Grovel; Seek favor and attention by flattery and obsequious behavior The understudy fawned over the director in hopes of being cast in the part on a permanent basis.
Exculpate To clear from blame; Prove innocent The adversarial legal system is intended to convict those who are guilty and to exculpate those who are innocent.
Fervid Intensely emotional; Feverish The fans of Maria Callas were unusually fervid, doing anything to catch a glimpse of the great opera singer.
Garrulous Tending to talk a lot. The garrulous parakeet distracted its owner with its continuous talking.
Gregarious Outgoing, sociable. She was so gregarious that when she found herself alone she felt quite sad.
Iconoclast One who opposes established beliefs, customs and institutions His lack of regard for traditional beliefs soon established him as an iconoclast
Inchoate Not fully formed; disorganized The ideas expressed in Nietzsche's mature work also appear in an inchoate form in his earliest writing.
Inimical Hostile, unfriendly Even though the children had grown up together they were inimical to each other at school.
Intransigent Uncompromising; refusing to be reconciled
Inundate To overwhelm; to cover with water The tidal wave inundated Atlantis, which was lost beneath the water.
Irascible Easily made angry Attila the Hun's irascible and violent nature made all who dealt with him fear for their lives.
Lament To express sorrow; to grieve The children continued to lament the death of the goldfish weeks after its demise.
Malinger To evade responsibility by pretending to be ill A common way to avoid the draft was by malingering - pretending to be mentally or physically ill so as to avoid being taken by the army.
Misanthrope A person who dislikes others The character Scrooge in A Christmas Carol is such a misanthrope that even the sight of children singing makes him angry.
Mollify To calm or make less severe.
Obdurate Hardened in feeling; resistant to persuasion The president was completely obdurate on the issue, and no amount of persuasion would change his mind.
Obsequious Overly submissive and eager to please. The obsequious new associate made sure to compliment her supervisor's tie and agree with him on every issue
Obstinate Stubborn, unyielding The obstinate child could not be made to eat any food that he disliked.
Obviate To prevent; to make unnecessary The river was shallow enough to wade across at many points, which obviated the need for a bridge.
Occlude To stop up; to prevent the passage of A shadow is thrown across the Earth's surface during a solar eclipse, when the light from the sun is occluded by the moon
Onerous Troublesome and oppressive; burdensome The assignment was so extensive and difficult to manage that it proved onerous to the team in charge of it.
Opprobrium Public disgrace After the scheme to embezzle the elderly was made public, the treasurer resigned in utter opprobrium.
Paragon Model of excellence or perfection She is the paragon of what a judge should be: honest, intelligent, hardworking and just.
Pedant Someone who shows off learning The graduate instructor's tedious and excessive commentary on the subject soon gained her reputation as a pedant.
Perfidious Willing to betray one's trust. The actress's perfidious companion revealed all of her intimate secrets to the gossip columnist.
perfunctory Done in a routine way; Indifferent The machine like bank teller processed the transaction and gave the waiting customer a perfunctory smile.
Philanthropy Charity; A desire or Effort to Promote Goodness New York's Metropolitian Musuem of Art owes much of its colelction to the philanthropy of private collectors who willed their estates to the museum.
Plethora Excess Assuming that more was better, the defendant offered the judge a plethora of excuses.
Pragmatic Practical as opposed to idealistic While daydreaming gamblers think they can get rich by frequenting casinos, pragmatic gamblers realize that the odds are heavily stacked against them.
Precipitate To throw violently or bring about abruptly; Lacking deliberation Upon learning that the couple married after knowing each other only two months, friends and family members expected such a precipitate marriage to end in divorce.
Prevaricate To lie or deviate from the truth Rather than admit that he had overslept again, the employee prevaricated and claimed that heavy traffic had prevented him from arriving at work on time.
Pristine Fresh and clean; uncorrupted
Prodigal Lavish, Wasteful The prodigal son quickly wasted all of his inheritance on a lavish lifestyle devoted to pleasure.
Proliferate To increase in number quickly Although he only kept two guinea pigs initially, they proliferated to such an extent that he soon had dozens.
Propriety Correct behavior; Obedience to rules and customs The aristocracy maintained a high level of propriety, adhering to even the most minor social rules.
Prudence Wisdom, caution or restraint The college student exhibited prudence by obtaining practical experience along with her studies, which greatly strengthened her resume.
Quiescent Motionless Many animals are quiescent over the winter months, minimizing activity in order to conserve energy.
Rarefy To make thinner or sparser Since the atmosphere rarefies as altitudes increase, the air at the top of very tall mountains is too thin to breathe.
Reticent Silent, Reserved Physically small and reticent in her speech, Joan Dion often went unnoticed by those upon whom she was reporting.
Repudiate To reject the validity of The old woman's claim that she was Russian royalty was repudiated when DNA tests showed she was of no relation to them.
Rhetoric Effective writing or speaking Lincoln's talent for rhetoric was evident in his beautifully expressed Gettysburg Address.
Satiate To satisfy fully or overindulge His desire for power was so great that nothing less than complete control of the country could satiate it.
Soporific Causing sleep or lethargy The movie proved to be so soporific that soon loud snores were heard throughout the theater.
Specious Deceptively attractive; seemingly plausible but fallacious The student's specious excuse for being late sounded legitimate but was proved otherwise when her teacher called home.
Stigma A mark of shame or discredit In the Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne was required to wear the letter "A" on her clothes as a public stigma for her adultery.
Stolid Unemotional; Lacking Sensitivity Their prisoner appeared stolid and unaffected by the judge's harsh sentence.
Sublime Lofty or Grand The music was so sublime that it transformed the rude surroundings into a special place.
Tacit Done without using words Although not a word had been said, everyone in the room knew that a tacit agreement had been made about which course of action to take.
Taciturn Silent Not Talkative The clerk's taciturn nature earned him the nickname "Silent Bob".
Torpor Extreme mental and physical sluggishness After surgery, the patient experienced Torpor until the anesthesia wore off.
Transitory Temporary, lasting a brief time The reporter lived a transitory life, straying in one place only long enough to cover the current story.
Vacillate To sway physically; to be indecisive The customer held up the line as he vacillated between ordering chocolate chip or rocky road ice cream.
Venerate To respect deeply In a traditional Confucian society, the young venerate their elders, deferring to the elders' wisdom and experience.
Verbose Wordy
Vex To annoy
Whimsical Acting in a fanciful or capricious manner manner; Unpredictable The ballet was whimsical, delighting the children with its imaginative characters and unpredictable sets.
Zeal Passion, excitement She brought her typical zeal to the project sparking enthusiasm in the other team members.
stoic Impassive; unmoved by joy or grief I wasn't particularly stoic when I had my flu shot; I squealed like a stuck pig.
relegate To assign to an inferior position; delegate; assign After Ralph dropped his second tray of drinks that week, the manager relegated him to a minor post, cleaning behind the bar.
levity Lightness; lack of seriousness Stop giggling and wriggling around in the pew; such levity is improper in church.
Precocious Advanced in development Listening to the grown-up way the child discussed serious topics, he couldn't help remarking how precocious she was.
Clemency Disposition to be lenient; mildness as of the water The lawyer was pleased when the case was sent to Judge Smith's chambers because Smith was noted for her clemency toward first offenders.
Conciliatory Reconciling; soothing. She was still angry despite his conciliatory words.
Censorious Critical. Censorious people delight in casting blame.
Prolific Abundantly fruitful My editors must assume I'm a prolific writer; they expect me to revise six books this year.
rebuff Snub; Beat back She rebuffed his invitation so smoothly that he did not realize he had been snubbed.
Preclude Make impossible; eliminate The fact that the band was already booked to play in Hollywood on New Year's Eve precluded their accepting the New Year's Eve gig in London.
Pragmatic Practical; concerned with the practical worth or impact of something. The coming trip to France should provide me with a pragmatic test of the value of my conversational French class
Immutable Unchangeable All things change over time; nothing is immutable.
Incite Arouse to action He incited his fellow students to go on strike to protest the university's anti-affirmative action stand.
Ostentatious Showy; Pretentious; trying to attract attention Trump's latest casino in Atlantic City is the most ostentatious gambling palace in the East.
Impecunious Without money. Though Scrooge claimed he was too impecunious to give alms, he easily could have afforded to be charitable.
Spurious False; counterfeit; forged; illogical The antique dealer gave us tips on how to tell spurious antiques from the real thing.
Quixotic idealistic without regard to practicality; Not sensible about practical matters
Caricature a representation of a person that is exaggerated for comic effect Jim Crow is an example of a caricature representing the negative stereotypes of blacks
Barrister A counselor at law
Lascivious Inclined to lustfulness; arousing sexual desire
Created by: adelancy
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