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Top 52 GRE Vocabulary Words

You will see GRE® vocabulary on test day in a variety of ways. Your verbal score is generated from your answers to 40 questions that are split up among two separate sections of 20 questions each. You will have 30 minutes to complete each section, so be ready to tackle Sentence Equivalence, Text Completion, and Reading Comprehension questions.

Knowing how to decipher difficult vocabulary by using the context is extremely helpful in maximizing your GRE verbal score. Take the quiz below to test your understanding of some of the 52 top GRE vocabulary words, and then review the examples and definitions of each word at the bottom of the page.

 

Top 52 GRE Words Definitions and Examples

  1. anomalynoun – something that is unusual or unexpected
    • The student’s poor performance on the latest test was an anomaly since she had previously earned excellent grades.
  2. equivocaladj. – not easily understood or explained
    • Politicians have been known to provide equivocal answers to reporters’ questions.
  3. lucid – adj. – very clear and easy to understand
    • The lecture was lucid and straightforward, allowing the students to fully grasp the concepts presented.
  4. precipitateverb – to cause (something) to happen quickly or suddenly
    • Unforeseen costs can precipitate a budget crisis.
  5. assuageverb – to make (an unpleasant feeling) less intense
    • A massage can assuage the soreness in your muscles.
  6. eruditeadj. – having or showing great knowledge
    • High school students often struggle with novels that are more erudite than they are entertaining.
  7. opaqueadj. –  not able to be seen through; not easily understood
    • Medical jargon includes many opaque terms like macrosomic, which describes a newborn who weighs more than 4,000 grams.
  8. prodigaladj. – wastefully extravagant
    • The prodigal prince bought lavish gifts and planned expensive events.
  9. enigmanoun – a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand
    • Scientists continue to research cancer to solve the enigma of its primary cause, which will hopefully lead to a cure.
  10. fervidadj. – intensely enthusiastic or passionate
    • The child showed a fervid fascination for superheroes, pouring over comic books for hours.
  11. placateverb – to make (someone) less angry or hostile
    • A parent may decide to placate a baby with a pacifier.
  12. zealnoun – a strong feel of interest and enthusiasm that makes someone very eager or determined to do something
    • The great emperor’s crusading zeal led him to conquer many lands.
  13. abstainverb – to restrain oneself for doing or enjoying something
    • Doctors encourage their patients to abstain from smoking cigarettes.
  14. audaciousadj. – a willingness to take bold risks / adj. –  showing a lack of respect
    • The new CEO pursued audacious initiatives to save the company from bankruptcy. / The student’s audacious remark earned her a seat in afternoon detention.
  15. desiccateverb – remove the moisture from (something)
    • The heat and energy from the sun can desiccate even the most hearty plants.
  16. gullibleadj. – easily persuaded to believe something
    • The gullible little boy gave his older sister all of his allowance because she told him she would buy a pony for him.
  17. laudableadj. – deserving praise and commendation
    • Providing affordable healthcare for all citizens is a laudable goal.
  18. pedantnoun – a person who makes an excessive display of learning
    • Professor Blackwell, a well-known pedant, required his pre-med students to speak in Latin throughout the entire semester.
  19. vacillateverb – to waver between different opinions or actions
    • Undergraduate students often vacillate among various majors before deciding which degree to pursue.
  20. adulterateverb – to make (something) impure or weaker by adding something of inferior quality
    • Many chefs use fresh produce and refuse to adulterate their dishes with canned ingredients.
  21. capriciousadj. – given to sudden changes of mood or behavior
    • The capricious supervisor would hand out raises one day and fire his entire staff the next.
  22. engenderverb – to produce, cause, or give rise to (something)
    • Political debates can engender controversy regarding the subjects discussed.
  23. homogenousadj. – of the same or similar kind
    • There are very few truly homogenous cultures since social diversity is increasingly widespread.
  24. loquaciousadj. – tending to talk a great deal
    • The loquacious professor was known for his five-hour lectures.
  25. pragmaticadj. – dealing with the problems that exist in a reasonable and logical way instead of depending on theories
    • A pragmatic approach to legislation can be difficult given the complexities of politics.
  26. volatileadj. – likely to change rapidly and unpredictably
    • It is possible for a country’s political climate to remain volatile for decades.
  27. apathynoun – lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern
    • Political parties try to engage young voters who are more prone to apathy than older citizens.
  28. corroborateverb – to confirm or make more certain
    • The scientist was able to corroborate his hypothesis with data gathered from multiple sources.
  29. ephemeraladj. – lasting for a very short time
    • An ephemeral moment of victory may last mere seconds, but it can remain as a triumphant memory for decades.
  30. laconicadj. – using few words
    • The student’s laconic response suggested  that she did not know very much about the topic the professor was discussing.
  31. mitigateverb – make less severe, serious, or painful
    • We want to mitigate students’ GRE stress by offering helpful study tools.
  32. proprietynoun – the state or quality of being correct or proper
    • The students were instructed to behave with the utmost propriety while on their class field trip.
  33. advocateverb – publicly recommend or support
    • The governor chose to advocate for a higher minimum wage rather than a tax incentive.
  34. cacophonynoun – a harsh, unpleasant mixture of sounds
    • The cacophony of the middle school band warming up was nearly unbearable for the audience.
  35. enervateverb – cause (someone or something) to feel drained of energy; weaken
    • The boxer used a swift left uppercut to the jaw to enervate his opponent.
  36. ingenuousadj. – innocent and unsuspecting
    • The scam artist preyed on ingenuous nursing home residents.
  37. misanthropenoun – a person who dislikes humankind
    • The neighborhood misanthrope surrounded his yard with barbed wire to keep people away.
  38. paradoxnoun – a statement that contradicts itself but might be true
    • The fact that the retired teacher claimed to hate all pets but adopted seven cats is an intriguing paradox.
  39. venerate – verb – regard with great respect
    • To venerate the fire chief’s forty years of service, the department held a special banquet.
  40. antipathynoun – a strong feeling of dislike
    • The students voiced their antipathy for homework very loudly.
  41. derideverb – to express contempt for; ridicule
    • The unreasonable supervise was known to deride his employees on a daily basis.
  42. eulogynoun – a speech that praises someone, typically some who has recently died
    • The rabbi’s eulogy was both heartfelt and inspiring.
  43. lethargicadj. – lacking energy
    • It’s not uncommon to feel lethargic for weeks or even months after major surgery.
  44. obdurateadj. – stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion
    • The obdurate three-year-old refused to eat any vegetables, no matter how they were prepared.
  45. philanthropicadj. – seeking to promote the welfare of others
    • The students were grateful to receive financial support from philanthropic organizations that promote education.
  46. waververb – to go back and forth between choices or opinions
    • Some citizens vote solely along party lines and never waver in their political decisions.
  47. bolsterverb – to support or strengthen
    • The prosecutor worked to find evidence that would bolster her case against the defendant.
  48. dissonancenoun – a lack of harmony or agreement
    • The school board’s meeting lasted for hours due to the length debate fueled by dissonance among opinions.
  49. garrulousadj. – excessively talkative
    • The garrulous hair stylist talked to each customer for hours at a time.
  50. malleableadj. – easily influenced; pliable
    • Children’s moods are often malleable since children are greatly affected by their surroundings.
  51. ostentationnoun – excessive display of wealth
    • Owning a mansion doesn’t imply ostentation, but traveling exclusively by private jet certainly can.
  52. prevaricateverb – avoid telling the truth by not directly answering a question
    • During the trial, the lead witness was willing to prevaricate in order to protect his friend.