The 357 Best GRE Vocabulary Words: Complete List


You probably know that the Verbal section of the GRE has a lot of complex vocabulary. But how do you know which words you need to know? If you’ve been looking for the best GRE vocabulary list out there, look no further—we’ve got it!

What makes this list the best one around? It strategically synthesizes the best expert GRE lists with words from official GRE practice material. We’ll let you in on the whole process and then present the 357 GRE words you need to know.


How We Made This GRE Word List

Well, first we opened our magical GRE grimoire. Just kidding! First, we combed through all available official GRE practice material and flagged all the words that might slip a student up. All of those words were pulled into their own list. Words that appeared at least twice were automatically pulled into the final vocab list.

Then, we found GRE vocabulary lists from major test prep companies and sites—Barron’s, Magoosh, Kaplan, Manhattan GRE, and the Princeton Review. We combined all of those lists with our own GRE word list from the practice material. Finally, all words that appeared 3+ times across the test prep lists and GRE practice material were pulled into the final vocabulary list. Then we defined them in clear, to-the-point ways.

This left us with 357 battle-tested GRE vocabulary words, ready for you to study!


It was an intellectual battle.


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The 357 Best GRE Vocab Words

Without further ado, I present the 357 best GRE vocabulary words, in alphabetical order. Definitions begin with part of speech. Additional definitions go on a second line.

Word Definition
abate v. to diminish in intensity

v. to cause to diminish in intensity

aberrant adj. diverging from the standard type
abjure v. to reject or renounce
abscond v. to leave secretly, evading detection
abstain v. to voluntarily refrain from doing something
acumen n. keen judgment and perception
admonish v. scold or to advise firmly
adulterate v. to contaminate or make impure by introducing inferior elements
advocate v. to recommend, support, or advise

n. one who advocates

aesthetic adj. concerned with the nature of beauty and art
affectation n. fake or artificial behavior, often meant to impress or conceal the truth
aggrandize v. enlarge or increase, esp. wealth, power, reputation
alacrity n. promptness and eagerness
alleviate v. to relieve a problem or ease a burden
amalgamate v. to combine to or mix together
ambiguous adj. unclear

adj. open to multiple interpretations

ambivalent adj. having mixed or contradictory feelings about someone or something
ameliorate v. to improve or mitigate a situation
amenable adj. easily convinced or persuaded
anachronism n. something old-fashioned

n. something appearing in a time period where it does not belong

analogous n. comparable

n. appropriate for analogy

anoint v. to choose for a particular office or position

v. to use oil on a person in a religious ceremony

anomaly n. an exception or unusual case
antipathy n. strong dislike or hatred
antithetical adj. contrary to the very nature of
apathy n. state of total disinterest or unenthusiasm
appease v. to placate

v. to satisfy (an appetite, a need)

arbitrary adj. seemingly chosen or designated without reason or purpose
arcane adj. secret or known only to a select group
archaic adj. old-fashioned

adj. no longer in the common usage

arduous adj. difficult, taxing, requiring considerable effort
articulate adj. exhibiting considerable communication skills, well-spoken
artless adj. without artifice

adj. natural, untrained

ascetic adj. austere or self-denying
assuage v. to provide relief from an unpleasant feeling

v. to satisfy a need or appetite

astonishment n. total surprise, shock
audacious adj. very bold or presumptuous
austere adj. severe, unadorned
avarice n. greed
aver v. to assert or allege
banal adj. boring, cliché
belie v. give a false impression (intentional or unintentional) in word, appearance, or deed
benign adj. gentle, harmless
biased adj. prejudiced, displaying partiality
bolster v. to shore up or support
bombastic adj. overblown, theatrical
brazen adj. bold or open to the point of shocking

adj. shameless

bucolic adj. pastoral, rustic, countryfied
burgeon v. flourish, bloom, expand or increase quickly
cacophony n. loud and chaotic noise
calumny n. lie or slander
candid adj. honest, open
canon n. accepted rules and tenets of a discipline

n. sacred works/scripture; in this sense it is also used to refer to notable literary and artistic works of a culture or discipline

capacity n. the capability to perform a particular action or fulfill a given function

n. the total amount a container can hold

n. a particular position or role (i.e. “she served in an advisory capacity”)

capricious adj. mercurial, unpredictable, whimsical
castigate v. to scold or berate strongly
catalyst n. something that speeds up a process or causes action
caustic adj. corrosive

adj. bitterly sarcastic

censure v. to express intense condemnation
chauvinist n. someone who believes prejudicially that their own group is the superior one
chicanery n. trickery or deception
chronological adj. ordered by time
coalesce v. to come together, esp. from disparate parts
cogent adj. clearly laid out and persuasive
commensurate adj. in accordance with, proportional
compelling adj. captivating

adj. very persuasive

comprehensive adj. complete and thorough
condone v. to approve or allow
confound v. to confuse or astonish
connoisseur n. an expert in a particular subject matter area, usually relating to the fine arts or cultural pursuits
consequential adj. as a result of

adj. significant or memorable

construe v. to interpret
consumption n. utilization (esp. of a resource)
contend v. assert or claim

v. grapple with

contentious adj. controversial

adj. involving conflict

contrite adj. remorseful
convoluted adj. roundabout, not straightforward
copious adj. plentiful or abundant
cosmopolitan adj. of or relating to a city or urban area

adj. sophisticated

covet v. to desire something that does not belong to you
craft n. cunning

n. skill

craven adj. cowardly to the point of being shameful
credence n. belief or trust
credulous adj. gullible, naïve
decorum n. appropriate behavior or good manners
deference n. respect or polite submission
deflect v. divert or cause to ricochet
deftness adj. skill, acumen

adj. manual dexterity

delineate v. to describe very accurately

v. to clearly demarcate a boundary

v. to render an outline

demur v. to object or raise concerns
denigrate v. say negative things about, particularly in a defamatory way
deride v. to mock or ridicule
derivative adj. imitates another work in a way that is unoriginal or uninspiring
desiccate v. to dry out completely

v. to suck out the vitality and passion

desultory adj. halfhearted

adj. inconsistent or random

detachment n. objectivity or aloofness
determinant n. a strong factor in an outcome
diatribe n. a rant or angry speech denouncing someone or something
didactic adj. educational or with an instructive purpose; often includes an element of moralizing
diffident adj. shy, timid, or reserved due to a lack of confidence
dilettante n. someone with an amateur, nonserious interest in something
dirge n. funeral or mourning lament

n. any sad, slow song

disabuse v. to dispel someone’s illusions or false impressions about something
discern v. to perceive
discrepancy n. inconsistency
disinterested adj. objective, unbiased

adj. not invested in the outcome

disparage v. to belittle
disparate adj. dissimilar to such a degree that comparison is not possible
dispassionate adj. impartial or cool
disregard v. to ignore or pay no attention to
dissemble v. to mislead or conceal the truth, esp. with respect to one’s motives
disseminate v. to spread widely (esp. information)
dissonance n. a clash between two elements that don’t blend well
diverge v. to split apart, esp. a road or path
dogma n. the official beliefs or tenets of particular sect or group
dupe v. to deceive or fool
ebullient adj. cheerful, enthusiastic, excited
eccentric adj. quirky or unusual
eclectic adj. composed of a variety of styles, themes, motifs, etc.
efficacy n. effectiveness
elegy n. sad poem or song, often in remembrance of someone deceased
elicit v. to provoke a response
eloquence adj. persuasive and articulate speech
eminent adj. well-known, respected, distinguished
empirical adj. based on evidence
emulate v. to imitate or attempt to equal in accomplishment
enervate v. to exhaust or drain of energy
engender v. to cause or give rise to
enhance v. intensify, increase, augment
entitlement n. belief that one deserves things one has not earned

n. the rights one is afforded under the law

ephemeral adj. short-lived or transient
equable adj. even-tempered

adj. not given to much change or variation

equivocate v. to use ambiguous language in order to mislead or deceive
erroneous adj. incorrect
erudite adj. learned
eschew v. avoid or abstain from
esoteric adj. obscure, arcane
estimable adj. deserving respect, esteem, and admiration
eulogy n. memorial speech for one who has passed, normally given at a funeral
exacerbate v. to make worse
exacting adj. challenging, demanding, grueling
exculpate v. to exonerate or vindicate
exigent adj. urgent or pressing
exonerate v. to clear of charges of wrongdoing
expatiate v. to elaborate on something in great detail
explicate v. to explain in detail
exposition n. a thorough explanation

n. a public show or fair

extraneous adj. irrelevant or superfluous
extrapolate v. to estimate or conjecture about the future based on presently available information or facts
facetious adj. glib or flippant
facilitate v. to make something easier or simpler
fallacious adj. relying on a fallacy and thus incorrect/misinformed
fastidious adj. meticulous

adj. invested in cleanliness

fluctuate v. to shift without apparent pattern
foment v. to foster unrest or discontent
forestall v. to hold off or try to prevent
fortuitous adj. fortunate and lucky
frugal adj. economical, thrifty
gainsay v. deny or oppose
galvanize v. to prod someone into action
garrulous adj. talkative
gauche adj. socially inept, inappropriate, or awkward
germane adj. relevant to the matter at hand
glib adj. talking volubly, but carelessly or insincerely
gregarious adj. sociable, genial
guile n. craftiness and cunning
hackneyed adj. cliché, trite, banal
harangue n. diatribe or rant
hedonism n. the pursuit of pleasure
hierarchical adj. arranged in rank order or hierarchy
homogenous adj. uniform, identical
hyperbole n. obvious exaggeration for effect
iconoclast n. a person who attacks traditional religious and cultural institutions
ideological adj. relating to a particular belief system or theory
imminent adj. about to happen
immutable adj. unchangeable
impair v. to hinder or weaken someone or something
impediment n. barrier, hindrance, or obstruction
imperturbable adj. remaining calm under any circumstance
implacable adj. unforgiving

adj. relentless

implicit adj. implied or insinuated without being directly stated
imprudence n. bad judgment
impudent adj. disrespectful
inadvertent adj. by accident or unintentional
Inchoate adj. rudimentary, in the beginning stages
inconclusive adj. indeterminate or unresolved
indebted adj. owing money

adj. owing gratitude to someone or something

indefatigable adj. cannot be made tired
indolent adj. lazy

adj. idle

infer v. to conclude from implicit evidence (as opposed to explicit facts)
ingenuous adj. naïve or innocent
inimical adj. harmful or hostile
Innocuous adj. harmless
inscrutable adj. enigmatic, incomprehensible
insipid adj. bland, uninspired, inane
insular adj. tight-knit and isolated; uninterested in matters outside one’s immediate sphere
intensive adj. concentrated and in-depth
intermediary n. a go-between
intimate adj. close (as in a relationship)

adj. particularly private

v. to imply

intractable adj. unmanageable

adj. stubborn or obstinate

intransigent adj. uncompromising, obstinate
intrepid adj. bold and adventurous
inveterate adj. ingrained, habitual
invulnerable adj. indestructible, impervious to harm
irascible adj. irritable, testy, touchy
irresolute adj. wishy-washy, hesitant
laconic adj. taciturn, reserved, succinct
laud v. to praise
laudable adj. praiseworthy
litigation n. legal proceedings
loquacious adj. talkative
lucid adj. clear and coherent
luminous adj. full of light
magnanimity n. generosity and nobility of spirit
maladroit adj. clumsy, awkward, inept
malign adj. evil or harmful

v. to speak negatively about someone or something

malleable adj. pliant or pliable

adj. easily influenced

maverick n. an unorthodox person or rebel
mendacity n. untruthfulness, dishonesty
mercurial adj. easily changeable, fickle
meticulous adj. paying close attention to detail
misanthrope n. person who hates humanity
mitigate v. to  improve a painful, unpleasant, or negative situation
modest adj. not boastful

adj. not overly showy

mollify v. placate
monotony n. boredom and repetition
mundane adj. everyday, boring
munificent adj. very generous
naïve adj. inexperienced or gullible
nascent adj. just beginning or in the early stages
neglect v. to abandon or leave uncared-for
nonplussed adj. confused and baffled
notoriety n. fame for doing something negative or criminal
nuance n. subtle shades of difference
obdurate adj. stubborn, obstinate
obscure adj. mysterious or not well-known

v. to cover something up or make it more difficult to perceive

obsequious adj. overly fawning and helpful in a way that is disingenuous
obstinate adj. stubborn, uncompromising
obviate v. to forestall the need for something

v. to prevent

occlude v. to block or obstruct
occult n. the mystical and supernatural
offset v. to counterbalance or counteract
olfactory adj. relating to smell or the sense of smell
omniscience n. the quality or state of being all-knowing
onerous adj. difficult or burdensome
opaque adj. not see-through; blocking light
opportunism n. the practice of taking advantage of opportunities as they arise without particular concern for morality or ethics
opprobrium n. criticism or condemnation
oscillate v. to swing back and forth between two points, poles, or positions
ostentatious adj. overly showy in a way that is gaudy or vulgar
outstrip v. to overtake or outrun
overshadow v. to literally cast a shadow over

v. to appear more notable than

painstaking adj. attentive to detail, meticulous
partial adj. incomplete
partisan n. a devoted supporter of a group, cause, or person
patent adj. blatant, obvious
paucity n. scarcity, poverty
pedantic adj. overly concerned with irrelevant detail, fussy
pedestrian adj. boring, monotonous, run-of-the-mill
perfidy n. treachery or deceit
perfunctory adj. done without much effort, care, or thought
peripheral adj. on the edge or periphery; not centrally important
permeate v. to pervade or penetrate throughout
perseverance n. persistence in the face of obstacles
peruse v. to read something carefully and closely

v. to read something informally or quickly

(context is critical for this word!)

pervasive adj. found everywhere, widespread; often has a negative connotation
phenomena n. things that happen
phlegmatic adj. cool and unruffled
pith n. the essential substance of something
placate v. to calm, esp. an angry or upset person
plastic adj. easily shaped or molded

adj. made of plastic

platitude n. a trite or cliché statement
plausible adj. believable, reasonable
plethora n. a surplus or overabundance of something
plummet v. to fall quickly and far
polarize v. to cause a sharp division between two groups
polemical adj. angry, hostile, harshly critical
pragmatic adj. practical
precarious adj. uncertain or unstable
preceded adj. went before
precipitate v. to cause

adj. hastily and not well-considered

n. particulate matter formed within a solution

precursor n. a forerunner
prescient adj. knowing things before they happen, prophetic
presumptuous adj. overly familiar; invades social boundaries
prevail v. to succeed, esp. with respect to vanquishing an opponent

v. to convince or persuade

prevaricate v. to evade or deceive without outright lying
pristine adj. untouched, clean, pure
probity n. integrity and honor
prodigal n. a reckless spender
prodigious adj. enormous, immense, gigantic
profligate adj. extravagant and wasteful, esp. in an immoral way
proliferate v. to multiply and spread rapidly
propitiate v. to obtain special favor from someone, esp. a powerful person or deity, by performing a pleasing action

v. to appease someone who is angry

propriety n. appropriateness, manners, decorum
prospective adj. potential or likely

adj. applicable to the future

qualification n. credential

n. a modifying statement

quotidian adj. relating to the everyday or mundane
rationalize v. to attempt to justify with reasons that are only superficially valid
reconcile v. to bring into harmony

v. to repair a relationship

recondite adj. arcane or obscure
refute v. to rebut or disprove
relentless adj. never stopping, constant
relevant adj. relating to the topic or issue at hand
reproach v. to scold or express criticism
repudiate v. to renounce or disown
rescind v. to take back or retract (an offer or statement)
respectively adv. in the sequential order previously given
reticent adj. hesitant to speak

adj. introverted or silent

reverent adj. solemn and respectful
rhetoric n. the art of effective communication (written or verbal)
salubrious adj. health-promoting
sanction v. to give official permission

v. to impose a penalty for a particular action

n. punishments imposed for breaking a regulation

satiate v. to completely satisfy (with respect to hunger or appetite)
secular adj. of or relating to the world or worldly matters (as opposed to religious ones)
sediment n. material that settles at the bottom of a body of water
sedulous adj. dedicated and careful
simultaneous adj. occurring at the same moment
solicitous adj. considerate, attentive
soporific adj. makes sleepy
sparse adj. scattered or scarce

adj. austere and unadorned

specious adj. spurious; appearing true but actually false
sporadic adj. occasional or scattered
spurious adj. fake or false
stolid adj. calm and dependable
subjective adj. open to personal interpretation; not based in objective fact
substantiate v. to corroborate or give evidence of something
subversive adj. meant to undercut established institutions or norms
sufficient adj. enough for a given purpose
superbly adv. excellently
supine adj. laying back with the face upward (opposite position to prone)
supplant v. to overtake or replace
sycophant n. a fawning, insincere admirer
synthesize v. to combine disparate parts into a coherent whole
tacit adj. unspoken; implicit
taciturn adj. reticent or reserved; tending towards silence
temperance n. moderation and restraint, sometimes used to specifically describe abstinence from alcohol
tenuous adj. weak, flimsy, insubstantial
timorous adj. meek or timid
tirade n. an angry rant
torpor n. tiredness, lethargy
tortuous adj. winding or twisty

adj. complicated

tractable adj. can be easily influenced or managed
transient adj. passes quickly; short-lived
ubiquitous adj. ever-present or universal
unadorned adj. plain; unembellished
undermine v. to weaken or compromise
underscore v. to line underneath for emphasis

v. to emphasize

untenable adj. weak or unsupportable, esp. with respect to an opinion or situation
vacillate v. to shift between multiple options or opinions
venality n. the state of being capable of being bribed
venerate v. to give a high degree of respect; may border on worship
veracity n. Truth and factual accuracy
verbose adj. long-winded; loquacious
vexation n. state of being frustrated, irritated, or concerned.
volatile adj. easily changeable or extreme; unstable
whimsical adj. fanciful or capricious
zeal n. passion or fervor


Can your zeal for GRE vocabulary be contained?


What Should I Do With This GRE Vocabulary List?

The first thing to do with this list is to look it over to identify any words you don’t know or are confused by. If you aren’t 100% confident that you can use a word correctly in a sentence, study it! Of course, you don’t need to study words that you are already totally solid on. That would be a waste of time.

Once you know which words you don’t know, you need to learn them! We provide quick and easy definitions for memorization purposes. And the best way to memorize a lot of vocab words is to make flashcards! Luckily, we’ve made them for you. If you’d rather study your flashcards online, I recommend Quizlet. You can make a free account and use various tools to study your own flashcard sets.

However, while a level of rote familiarity with the words is important, knowing how the words are actually deployed in context will help you on the test. To help with this, try reading publications with lots of GRE vocabulary, like The Atlantic, the New York Times, and The Economist. This will help you see how lots of words are deployed in actual writing. You can also use a plug-in for your browser that highlights GRE vocabulary words, like Pervasive GRE for Chrome.

So, once you know which words from the list you still need to know, you have two necessary prongs of attack. On one hand, you need to memorize the words and definitions with flash cards. On the other hand, you need to make sure you know how the words are used in context by finding articles where the words are deployed. In the next section, we’ll discuss the best way to study vocabulary flashcards.


This raccoon is just looking for some articles with GRE words in context!


How Do I Study All These Flashcards?

Now that you have the goods, how do you get them to deliver for you? Once you print out the flashcards, we advise using the waterfall method to study. 

Let’s say that you have 100 flashcards in a pile.


You’ll go through the cards one by one. For each card where you know the definition easily, you’ll put it in your “Know It” pile. If you don’t know the definition, put it in your “Struggled” pile.


When you’ve gone through all the words, pick up the “Struggled” pile. Next you’ll go through this pile. For words where you know the definition, place them in a second “Know It” pile next to but not combined with the first “Know It” pile. For words you don’t know, make a new “Struggled” pile.


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Repeat this process, placing new “Know It” piles in a row from left to right. This creates your “waterfall.” Repeat this until the “Struggled” pile only has 4-5 words.


Now, you’ll move back up the waterfall. Start with the last “Struggled” pile and go through it repeatedly until you know all the words in the pile. Then, add the most recent (the rightmost) “Know It” pile.


Go through those words. If you miss any, go through the entire pile again until you get all of them right.


Seems brutal, but it will guarantee that you learn those words! Continue this process until you get all the way back up the waterfall. This means you know all the words!

This is the best method to drill vocab flashcards because you study the words you don’t know as well much more than if you just studied the entire stack over and over. For more details on the waterfall method and using flashcards to study, check out our complete guide to GRE vocab flashcards.


Don’t actually send your flashcards down a waterfall, even if you want to.


Key Takeaways: Learning GRE Vocab Words

GRE words can make a real difference in your Verbal score: studying our GRE word list of these 357 essential GRE vocab words will help you be fully prepared for success on the test!

The first step is to look through our list and identify all the words you aren’t 100% solid on. Then, make sure you both know those words in context and study them as flashcards.

To memorize the words in flashcards, use the waterfall method. You’ll have a GRE-ready vocabulary in no time!


Collaborate with your flashcards and this list!


What’s Next?

Try our GRE flashcards or our GRE PDFs for more great vocabulary practice!

Have more questions about the GRE? Get a complete guide to the GRE format, check out an expert guide to what’s covered on the GRE, and learn how the GRE is really scored!

If you need more resources for prepping, get a list of the best GRE prep books, the four best GRE question of the day sites, and all the complete official ETS practice tests!

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Author: Ellen McCammon

Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics.