The Top 60 GRE Vocabulary Words You Need To Know


For GRE test-takers, acquiring an expansive vocabulary is one of the milestones that marks the stage of test preparation. The verbal reasoning section of the GRE requires test-takers to know and understand the meanings of lots of different words. A great vocabulary is the means to achieving a high verbal reasoning score and also performing well in other aspects of the test, like the Analytical Writing section. So, let’s take a look at what GRE vocabulary contains and why it’s essential to have a high-functioning level of GRE vocabulary. In this blog, we’ll also provide a list of the top 60 GRE vocabulary words that appear on the test.

What Does GRE Vocabulary Include and Why Do You Need It?

GRE vocabulary comprises many high-level words that learners may typically not come across in their daily life. They’re also words that are not used in their usual sense—which means that the GRE often tests the second or third layer of meaning of the word, not just the first and common meaning. For example, take the word astronomical. The common meaning of the word that most people would immediately think of is ‘relating to astronomy or the study of space.’ However, in the GRE, this word could be tested in its secondary meaning, ‘enormously large or extensive.’ The GRE tests many secondary (and sometimes uncommon) word meanings like this, which is why learners need to have a good grasp of all the multifaceted aspects of a word. 

The verbal reasoning section of the GRE tests how well you’re able to decipher words in the context they appear in—in larger bodies of text such as passages or within shorter texts like paragraphs and sentences. A good GRE vocabulary will help test-takers perform excellently in the reading comprehension, sentence equivalence, and text completion sections that are part of the verbal reasoning assessment. That’s why it’s essential to not only know lots of GRE words but also to know how those words work. 

How to Attain A High-Functioning Level of GRE Vocabulary

How much is too much when it comes to learning vocabulary? If you’ve glanced at GRE prep books, you know that the GRE test is expansive in nature, covering a wide range of verbal reasoning material. But before you give in to your urge to rush to the dictionary and start consuming words feverishly, stop and listen. Attaining a high-functioning GRE vocabulary is not easy, but it is definitely not a herculean task either. It’s a matter of knowing where to start and what to start with: your first step to acquiring a great GRE vocabulary is getting the right resources.

  • Gather Your Practice Material. Decide where you are going to study from—a GRE vocabulary wordlist, a vocabulary app, or GRE flashcards. Choose the study medium that will be the best fit for you as a learner and then stick to it. Or, if you’re a thorough learner and have more time on your hands, you can use more than one study resource.

  • Make a Study Schedule. Plan how to study the vocabulary words each day. If you have a plan in place, it will help you to study in an organized and systematic manner.

  • Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More. You will have to keep reviewing the words as you go along because vocabulary learning is not a one-time experience—it is an ongoing process. Repeat the words you’ve learned systematically so that they remain in your memory for a long time.

Top 60 GRE Vocabulary Words You Need To Know 

Now, we come to the highlight of this blog: the top 60 GRE vocabulary words you need to know. These words appear most frequently on the GRE and have been handpicked by GRE experts. We’ve included easy-level, medium-level, and hard-level words across the alphabet so that you can grasp a good range of vocabulary.

Take a look at the first 20 GRE words that appear in the Easy section of our GRE Vocabulary Flashcards: 

Word Meaning Word in Context of a Sentence
Abbreviate shorten Peter wasn't sure how to abbreviate his speech.
Blare a loud, raucous noise The blare of the trumpets announced the arrival of the king.
Catastrophe unhappy conclusion In times of catastrophe, both the best and the worst of human nature come out.
Defer give in respectfully; submit Please defer all applause to the end of the award presentation.
Emulate copy the actions of My niece flatters me every time she tries to emulate my wardrobe.
Fallacy mistaken idea based on flawed reasoning Lee failed his exam because of the fallacy of believing that guessing is better than trying to answer the questions correctly.
Gaffe social blunder Please don't commit the gaffe of butchering the company president's name.
Haphazard without plan or organization Everything in Jordan's closet was simply tossed about in a haphazard fashion.
Imperial like an emperor; related to an empire The Chairman of the Board had a haughty, almost imperial air about him.
Jargon language used by a special group Please drop the medical jargon and just explain to us what the treatment for this type of cancer will be.
Kindred related; belonging to the same family We had a kindred affiliation; he was my cousin.
Lineage descent; ancestry The lineage of the kings and queens of Europe was far from clear.
Malicious pernicious His malicious behavior could no longer be tolerated.
Nepotism favoritism (to a relative) My boss's use of nepotism is disgusting; he has already given high-paid positions to both his children and a nephew.
Oaf awkward person Her former husband was an oaf.
Prodigal recklessly wasteful He is a prodigal son who returns home bearing heavy secrets.
Relic surviving remnant He was a relic of a time when men were chivalrous and held doors open for women.
Seethe be very angry I tried to control myself, but the seethe of rage almost choked me.
Turbulence state of violent agitation The turbulence of the plane was distressing, and many passengers clutched their armrests with white knuckles.
Virtue moral excellence She was admired for her beauty, appreciated for her goodness, and respected for her virtue.

Check out the first 20 GRE words that appear in the Medium section of our GRE Vocabulary Flashcards:

Word Meaning Word in Context of a Sentence
Acrimony sharpness, harshness, or bitterness of nature, speech, disposition, etc. The speaker attacked him with great acrimony.
Bane cause of ruin; curse My study group has been more of a bane than a boon for my test grades.
Camaraderie companionship Connor enjoyed going to the pub because he was able to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow football fans.
Deranged insane Your plan to rob the bank and live out your years in Mexico is deranged.
Ephemeral lasting a very short time In this city where luck is ephemeral, she talks of changing herself into a new person.
Foist force upon The pawnshop owner regularly foists off fake diamonds to customers.
Gamely bravely Although her manuscript was rejected yet again, Susan gamely submitted it to another publisher.
Hoodwink deceive Robin completely reveled in his cunning, and missed no opportunity to hoodwink the authorities.
Impale pierce The medieval king ordered his soldiers to impale the heads of his enemies.
Ken range of knowledge The citified ways of the visitor were beyond her countrified ken.
Lambast censure severely or angrily Various speakers took turns lambasting the board, saying any certification would be an act of “treason.”
Mercenary greedy for money The mercenary practices of many lawyers seem almost unethical.
Nicety minute distinction The blogger took pride in his works of great nicety.
Quip witty communication The emcee always had a devastating quip at the ready.
Rejoinder an answer or reply His rejoinder was short and not-so-sweet: no.
Stratagem clever trick Rick's stratagem at paintball is to lay low for the first half of the competition, then attack the opponent with a vengeance.
Tome Large volume Kathy has been writing a tome on the oyster wars of North Carolina for years.
Verve enthusiasm or vigor His verve and energy during our initial meeting made me confident that he was the right person for the job.
Wont habitual procedure Brad, as was his wont, was charming and delightful over lunch today with customers.
Yen strong want My sister had a yen for lima beans throughout her pregnancy.

Explore the first 20 GRE words that appear in the Hard section of our GRE Vocabulary Flashcards:

Word Meaning Word in Context of a Sentence
Aberration abnormality Her willingness to work in a group is an aberration.
Beget father; produce; give rise to One good deed can beget another.
Chary cautious; sparing or restrained about giving I am often chary about signing up for activities I know I might not be good at doing.
Deign lower oneself It was a shock whenever he would deign to speak to one of his subordinates.
Epicure connoisseur, gastronome As an epicure, I make it a point to sample local cuisine whenever I am traveling.
Gerontocracy society governed by old people The benefits of gerontocracy are that its members have experience and power.
Heresy opinion contrary to popular belief or religion Her views about women and the priesthood was considered heresy by many in the church.
Infinitesimal very small Jack could still see the infinitesimal number of crumbs sitting in the corners.
Limpid clear He stared down into her limpid green eyes and instantly fell in love.
Mollycoddle indulge excessively Pamela was raised as an only child in a wealthy home and was mollycoddled constantly by her parents.
Ossify change or harden into bone When tissue becomes bony, it means that it has started to ossify.
Perspicuous having insight James' style is perspicuous, which is one reason I can read his stories without much difficulty.
Querulous habitually complaining I am querulous and old, but I must try not to lose my temper when they arrive.
Recidivism habitual return to crime The rates of recidivism in young males are very high after they are released from jail.
Stricture critical comments; severe and adverse criticism Her constant strictures while monitoring the hallway caused many students to skirt around her.
Tawdry gaudy; showy and cheap Her brightly-flowered dress looked tawdry at the funeral.
Viscid having a glutinous consistency; sticky; adhesive; viscous The back of the leaves were viscid, so I had to peel them off my fingers.
Wastrel a wasteful person; spendthrift The wastrel had squandered his inheritance, and then came to her, looking for a handout.
Yoke to be or become joined, linked, or united If you agree, then I will yoke myself to you in life, and we will work together for the rest of our days.
Zephyr a gentle, mild breeze The air was completely still, and not even the softest zephyr could be felt.

In our GRE Vocabulary Flashcards, there are 1,440 more words divided into these three categories. These GRE Vocabulary Flashcards number 1,500 in total and include the essential GRE words that appear in the verbal reasoning section of the test. Every flashcard includes the pronunciation for each word, along with its meaning, 2 example sentences, and synonyms and antonyms. Thus, each GRE word is placed in its context, enabling the learner to grasp how the word functions in multiple aspects.

You can be sure of performing well in the verbal reasoning assessment with an array of 1,500 words in your arsenal. To learn more about how to study and acquire vocabulary effectively, read How To Use GRE Vocabulary Flashcards.


Acquiring an extensive GRE vocabulary is beneficial not only from the point of view of scoring high on the test but also essential for successin graduate programs. These GRE words have been compiled after thorough research and will save you the time of learning unnecessary words or thumbing through the dictionary. Here’s a helpful tip for learning these words: try to place them in context of your everyday experiences, while communicating, writing, or conversing with people. Remember, it’s not how many words you can recall but how many words you know.

All the best for your GRE!


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