30 Top GRE Vocabulary Words

Get set for test day! GRE® Vocabulary shows up in different ways. We have compiled a list of the most highly frequent 30 words that you would come across on the test day.

In the GRE Verbal Reasoning section, there are two parts with a total of 27 questions. The first part has 12 questions, and the second has 15, giving you a total of 27. You’ve got 41 minutes to handle questions about reading, completing sentences, and finding equivalents.

Understanding tricky words using context is key for a great GRE® verbal score. Below, check out 30 important GRE words, each with meanings and examples at the bottom of the page.

GRE® Vocabulary: Top 30 Words with Examples

1.  Anticipated – Verb – expect, predict 

  • Sentence: The organizers anticipated a successful event.

2.  Arcane – Adjective – known or understood by very few, mysterious or secret

  • Sentence: Mr. Allan had a very arcane way of teaching mathematics.

3. Belie – Verb – to give a false impression

  • Sentence: His gentleness belied his evil nature.

4. Benign – Adjective – having no harmful effect, pleasant and kind

  • Sentence: The officer was kind and benign.

5. Circuitous – Adjective – not straight or direct, roundabout

  • Sentence: We took a circuitous route to school and missed the class.

6. Cynical – Adjective – believing the worst of human nature and motives, negative or pessimistic

  • Sentence: The cynical woman did not believe a word the boy told her.

28. Contentious – Adjective – controversial or involving conflict.

  • Sentence: She has some very contentious views on education.

7. Disparate – Adjective – fundamentally different or distinct in quality or kind

  • Sentence: You can’t compare both vehicles; they have disparate features in each.

27. Derivative – Adjective – imitates another work in a way that is unoriginal or uninspiring

  • Sentence: A number of critics found the film derivative and predictable.

29. Discern – Verb – To perceive the difference between two or more things

  • Sentence: We must discern between the truth and lies.

8. Distort – Verb – misleading or false impression

  • Sentence: The funhouse mirror was designed to distort the visage of anyone who stood in front of it.

9. Dubious – Adjective – open to doubt or suspicion, doubtful or uncertain

  • Sentence: In such a crazy world, it is hard not to be dubious of a stranger’s intentions.

10. Enigma – Noun – a person or thing that is mysterious or difficult to understand

  • Sentence: Aristotle’s philosophy on life is an enigma for ordinary people.

11. Esoteric – Adjective – known or understood by very few people

  • Sentence: Ruling an entire kingdom successfully is an esoteric business known by only a few kings.

12. Exacerbate – Verb – make worse

  • Sentence: Interfering in the already heated debate would further exacerbate the situation.

13. Exaggerate – Verb – show something as larger, better, or worse than it really is

  • Sentence: He tends to exaggerate the difficulties.

14. Indispensable – Adjective – absolutely necessary, vitally necessary

  • Sentence: Sleep and exercise are indispensable to good health.

15. Innocuous – Adjective – not harmful or offensive

  • Sentence: He’s a perfectly innocuous young man.

16. Meticulous – Adjective – showing great attention to detail

  • Sentence: She inspected the house in meticulous detail.

17. Nebulous – Adjective – not clear, vague, ill-defined

  • Sentence: He has a few nebulous ideas about what he might like to do in the future, but nothing definite.

18. Obscure – Verb – make less visible or unclear

  • Sentence: The big elm tree obscures our view of the valley.

19. Ominous – Adjective – giving the worrying impression that something bad is going to happen

  • Sentence: There was an ominous silence in the house.

20. Pedestrian – Noun – a person who travels by foot, lacking inspiration or excitement, dull

  • Sentence: The speeding car barely missed the pedestrian.

21. Pervasive – Adjective – (especially of an unwelcome influence or physical effect) spreading widely throughout an area or a group of people

  • Sentence: Violence and crime are pervasive features of city life.

22. Preclude – Verb – prevent from happening or arising, make impossible

  • Sentence: Your role in the projects precludes your involvement in the competitive project.

23. Precursor – Noun – a similar thing that happened or existed before and indicates the approach of something or someone else

  • Sentence: Sulphur dioxide is the main precursor of acid rain.

24. Prosaic – Adjective – not challenging, dull, unimaginative, and lacking excitement

  • Sentence: Edward was a prosaic man who stood out in a room filled with creative people.

25. Susceptible – Adjective – liable to be influenced or harmed by something

  • Sentence: Most people are susceptible to heat stroke.

30. Subtle – Adjective – Sly; insinuating; artful; cunning; crafty; deceitful; treacherous

  • Sentence: He didn’t seem to understand my subtle hints.

26. Tenuous – Adjective – weak, unimportant, or in doubt

  • Sentence: The rope became so tenuous that a slight pull could break it.

Read on: How to master the GRE vocabulary?


One Response

  1. Thank you, Sir, for sharing valuable words. I hope these words will be helpful for GRE aspirants. Waiting for list of 300 most repeated words.

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