When you think about the GRE verbal section, what comes to mind?
Obscure vocabulary, right?
Fortunately though, the new GRE is definitely less dependent on vocabulary than the old GRE. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t depend on vocabulary at all.
To score well on the verbal section, you should have a sound knowledge of vocabulary and must know how and when to use words. So, knowing the contextual usage of words is the key to score well on the verbal section.
Preparing for the GRE verbal section can be cumbersome, especially when the time required to build a strong vocabulary is considered. There are various GRE word lists out there which have words anywhere from 333 to 3500.
But to score well, should you learn all the 3500 GRE words in those lists?
Not at all. In fact, the questions on the new GRE rely often on the same words, and these frequently reappearing words provide you with a smaller subset of words to study.
840 High Frequency GRE Words
There are countless GRE word lists and flashcards out there already. Why did we create one?
Simple! A lot of students have asked us over and over again that if we could send them a concise list of important GRE words that they can learn in a week or two. That’s when we realized how big a problem this is for many students who are running short of prep time.
Below you will find an ultimate list of high frequency words that appear on the GRE.
Knowing these 840 most common GRE words can improve your chance of scoring high on the test day. On the other hand, not knowing these GRE words will only hurt your chances.
This list is a one-size-fits-all solution. It can be used by anyone and everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are taking your GRE test within the next couple of weeks, or if your exam in a few months away. If you are not sure about your vocabulary, and like several thousands of international students who are a bit concerned about the verbal section, you should start off with this list. Learn every word perfectly, along with its contextual usage, and then do some practice questions, and trust me, you will be off to a great start.
TIP: Use Control + F (Window)// Command + F (Mac) to quick search word you want to find.
Hands down, the most concise high frequency GRE word list!
address (v.) (uh-dres)
to address is to:#
- deal with
- put clothes on
- attach significance to
- delve into#
a*.) to address something is to deal with it, or to draw attention to it.
upon being elected chairman, he immediately addressed the group’s financial problems.
to address also is to give a speech or formal talk:
“whenever bob has to address the whole student body, he gets very nervous,” the dean’s wife confided.
to address also is to direct speech toward: he addressed the king directly.$
abysmal (adj.) (uh-biz-mul) abysmal means:#
- beyond reach
- infinitely deep
- full of ups and downs#
d*.) abysmal means infinitely or immeasurably deep, limitless, her abysmal sadness sapped her energy for many months, abysmal also means hopelessly bad, wretched.
“it’s an abysmal day and i’m not going to cheer up,” declared aunt ida defiantly.$
complement (n.) (kahm-pluh-munt) a complement is:#
- something that flatters
- something that organizes
- something that completes
- something that doesn’t cost anything
- something that enfolds#
c*.) a complement is something that completes, perfects, or goes really well with something else; garlic bread is a complement to spaghetti, popcorn is a complement to a good movie; a good book may be the perfect complement to a rainy Sunday afternoon, a dvd player complements a stereo system.
“does red wine or white wine best complement fish?” asked sheila.$
clique (n.) (kleek) a clique is:#
- a nautical design
- a distinctive pin
- an exclusive group
- a harem
- a hair style#
c*.) a clique is a tight group from which others are excluded.
“who wants to belong to that clique of snooty girls anyway?” exclaimed naomi.$
ascendancy (n.) (uh-sen-dun-see) ascendancy refers to:#
- a period of dominance
- a great height
- a phase of popularity
- an increase
- a hierarchy#
a*.) ascendancy is a controlling influence, a time of dominance.
thankfully, the fascism that had risen to ascendancy in europe in the 1930s faded after world war ii.$
bourgeois (adj.) (boor-zhwah) bourgeois would describe:#
- wealthy people
- poor people
- the Parisian working class
- the middle class#
e*.) bourgeois means middle class, bourgeois is a term first used in franee to describe a city dweller who was neither a farmer nor a noble, today it is used to describe anyone with middle class values of materialism and respectability, the person who uses the term “bourgeois” usually feels that he is more “hip” than the person he is describing.
philip’s brother has a cell phone and season tickets to the opera, he is just so bourgeois.
bourgeois is pronounced boor-zhwah$
ambivalent (adj.) (am-biv-uh-lunt)
if you are ambivalent you:#
- are hesitant
- have mixed feelings
- are passionately involved
- can do things with either hand
- are judgmental#
b*.) ambivalent means having mixed feelings, holding attitudes that contradict one another leading to uncertainty, if you sometimes love the city where you live and sometimes hate it, you can be said to be ambivalent, if you think jacob is extremely good looking, but also is selfish and conceited, you might be ambivalent about dating him.
when he brought up going to the shore on robin’s birthday, i felt ambivalent, but robin assured me we could celebrate another time.$
austere (adj.) (aw-steer) austere means:#
- poverty stricken#
d*.) austere means stark, without frills, stripped down, extremely simple
the monk’s room was austere, without so much as a picture or a book, other than the bible.
austere also has the meaning of stern, cold, solemn and unemotional, his austere personality made people both respect and fear him.
as a noun, austerity refers to stark simplicity, self-denial, times of austerity are lean times:
in the course of his life, the buddha experienced both opulence and austerity.$
capricious (adj.) (kuh-prish-us) capricious means:#
e*.) capricious means unpredictable, impulsive, erratic, arbitrary, subject to whims, prone to change without warning.
the bill of rights is a guarantee that the government will never act capriciously
against any american citizen just because of appearance, ideas or beliefs.$
ameliorate (v.) (uh-meel-yuh-rayt) to ameliorate is to:#
- wish for
- release from#
a*.) ameliorate is to improve, to make better, to make tolerable.
- burns hoped that allowing young patients to watch m-tv would ameliorate their attitudes about visiting the dentist.$
appreciate (v.) (uh-pree-shee-ayt)
- to smile
- to embrace
- to value
- to uplift
- to love#
c*.) to appreciate something means to be conscious that it is valuable, to feel gratitude for it, to not take it for granted.
“i so much appreciate the help she gives me with algebra,” said ian with a meaningful smile.
to appreciate also means to increase in value.
her stock portfolio has appreciated substantially over the years.
to appreciate also means to have an understanding of, or to acknowledge:
“i certainly can appreciate your dilemma,” said emily, “but i am not willing to lie for you.”$
ardent (adj.) (ahr-dent) ardent means:#
b*.) ardent means impassioned, fervent, strongly enthusiastic.
he is an ardent grateful dead fan and has traveled all over the country to attend
concise (adj.) (kun-cyse) concise means:#
- to the point
d*.) concise means to the point, something that is concise is both brief and precise.
her concise explanation told us all we needed to know within ten minutes.$
arcane (adj.) (ahr-kayn) arcane means:#
c*.) arcane means secret in the sense of known to or understood by only an enlightened few. the secret teachings of a cult would be said to be arcane knowledge, the ability to create fire by rubbing sticks together could be called an arcane skill.$
catalyst (n.) (kat-uh-list) a catalyst is:#
- a harsh chemical
- an incentive
- a cat doctor
- an activator
- a symbol#
d*.) a catalyst is an activator, something that causes something else to happen.
“add the right catalyst to this mixture and it will blow sky high,” said nick as he held up the test tube.$
benevolent (adj.) (buh-nev-uh-lunt) benevolent means:#
a*.) benevolent means kindly, generous, prone to good deeds, having good intentions.
his benevolent nature made it really hard for him to turn away anyone in need.$
augment (v.) (awg-ment) to augment means:#
- to debate
- to repair
- to substitute for
- to argue against
- to add to#
e*.) augment means to add to, to make bigger or more intense.
he augmented the information he found in the encyclopedia with interviews of people who had fought in the war.$
castigate (v.) (kas-tuh-gayt) castigate means:#
- to remove
- to harshly criticize
- to put down
- to order around
- to question#
b*.) to castigate is to reprimand, to harshly criticize for a perceived wrong.
when jake showed up fifteen minutes late and without a tie, maria castigated him mercilessly, she really chewed him out.$
burgeon (v.) (bur-jun) to burgeon means:#
- to grow
- to plant
- to explode
- to club
- to carry#
a*.) to burgeon is to grow, to flourish, to blossom forth.
“there has been a burgeoning interest in physics since he came to the department, admitted mr. manning.$
cajole (v.) ( kuh-johl)
to cajole means:#
- to enliven
- to coax
- to spice up
- to wear out
- to massage#
b*.) to cajole means to coax, wheedle, attempt to persuade with a persistent emotional appeal.
“i didn’t want to come,” said ashley, “but joshua cajoled me until just to shut him up, i agreed.”$
appropriate (v.) (uh-proh-pree-ayt)
to appropriate is to:#
- make acceptable
- dole out#
c*.) to appropriate means to confiscate, to seize, to claim or set aside for oneself.
“i’m going to appropriate four chairs from the library,” said mrs. carmody. to appropriate also can mean to earmark or set aside for a specific purpose: i have appropriated 10 dollars a day for spending money.
as an adjective “appropriate” is pronounced as uh-proh-pree-it and means apt, fitting, suitable.
it is always appropriate to bring a small token when you are invited to someone’s house.$
blasphemy (n.) (blas-fuh-mee) blasphemy means:#
- extreme criticism
b*.) blasphemy is sacrilege, profanity, holding or stating opinions that a religion would find to be shockingly disrespectful of its beliefs.
“to say that about jesus is blasphemy,” said alexis.
in a less formal way, more “tongue in cheek” way the term blasphemy, or its adjective form blasphemous, can be applied to anyone who defies convention:
“oh, the board of directors finds her quite blasphemous,” smiled brandon, “but the workers love her.”$
catholic (adj.) (kath-lik) catholic (small c) means:#
d*.) catholic (small c) means universal, broad, or all embracing.
joey has very catholic tastes in music, his collection includes everything from opera to alternative^
agnostic (n.) (ag-nahs-tic) an agnostic is:#
- one who believes in god
- one who disbelieves in god
- one who doesn’t know whether god exists
- one who knows with certainty that god exists
- one who does not care one way or the other#
c*.) an agnostic is one who doesn’t know if god exists, an agnostic is a doubter who neither believes or disbelieves.
since claims about god cannot be proved by science, atheists reject them, and agnostics point out that we cannot know if they are true.$
chastise (v.) (chas-tyze) to chastise is to:#
- strip naked
b*.) to chastise is to punish, to severely criticize or reprimand.
“if he pulls the cat’s tail again,” said zach, “he must be immediately chastised.”
sometimes chastise is used in a less formal sense to mean a chiding from someone
when he referred to women as “girls”, we got about 10,000 chastising letters from our readers.$
coerce (v.) (koh-urs) to coerce means:#
- to yell
- to meet
- to mend
- to tear
- to force#
e*.) to force, usually through pressuring with threats, irresistible temptations, promises, or intimidation, etc.
“she didn’t want to go in the first place,” said michelle. “she was coerced.”
you might hear it said that someone’s testimony was coerced, in which case it implies they were pressured, and the testimony might not be true.$
archaic (adj.) (ahr-kay-ik) archaic means:#
- awkwardly large
- relating to spiders#
c*.) archaic means ancient, and most of the time also carries the implication of outmoded and obsolete, an archaic word is one that was once commonly used, but no longer is. mesopotamia is an archaic culture.
“isn’t it a bit archaic to refer to him as your beau?” asked madison.$
circumscribe (v.) (sur-cum-skrybe) to circumscribe means:#
- to outline
- to describe
- to write about
- to give attributes to
- to shape#
a*.) to circumscribe means to outline in the sense of to literally draw a line around.
she carefully circumscribed on the map the area we would cover the following day. to circumscribe also means to define by setting boundaries:
“liberty is circumscribed by law,” professor howard was fond of saying, to circumscribe also means to restrict or limit by setting boundaries: armed guards circumscribed the prisoner’s movements.$
avarice (n.) (av-ur-is) avarice refers to:#
- the love of birds
d*.) avarice means greed, the excessive craving to accumulate more, note: it’s
one of the seven deadly sins, (the others are pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, and sloth.)
“no matter how much he gets, his avarice will keep him wanting more,” said rachel.$
alleviate (v.) (uh-lee-vee-ayt) alleviate means:#
- to cause
- to repair
- to relieve
- to reap
- to worsen#
c*.) alleviate means to relieve, to make bearable, to improve by lessening, to soothe.
watching the school bus drive away seemed to alleviate his symptoms.$
civil (adj.) (siv-ul) civil is:#
- by the book#
c*.) civil means polite, courteous, observant of social standards, but with the implication of unexpectedly, just barely, or because of pressure, you might say someone was quite civil when there was an expectation they might not be. you might say that they were just barely civil or not civil at all. but you couldn’t compliment a mother on how nice and civil her little, in that instance, you would have to say polite.
dave and samantha were fighting, she hardly said a civil word to him all
cadence (n.) ( kayd-uns)
b*.) a cadence is a rhythmic pattern.
“your language has such a beautiful cadence” he whispered to maria.$
apocalypse (n.) (uh-pahk-uh-lips) apocalypse refers to a:#
- punctuation mark
- healing herb
- gaping hole#
a*.) an apocalypse is a term applied to a cataclysmic disaster so huge as to threaten planetary existence.
“the cuban missile crisis is as close to an apocalypse as i ever want to get,” said uncle sid.
the word apocalypse also refers to specific judeo-christian writings regarding the ultimate battle between good and evil.
the last book of the bible, the book of revelation, is sometimes called the book of the apocalypse.$
alacrity (n.) (uh-lak-ri-tee) alacrity means:#
e*.) alacrity is eagerness or cheerful willingness expressed in briskness of response, alacrity describes responding with a sense of vigor.
he did not fail to notice the alacrity with which fred raised his hand when a volunteer was needed.$
bureaucracy (n.) (byoo-rahk-ruh-see) bureaucracy refers to:#
- dresser drawers
- administration of government
- relations with foreign powers
- the need to control
- a sovereign state#
b*.) bureaucracy refers to the often complicated, wasteful, and inefficient administration of the government or other large organizations; red tape.
“the bureaucracy is ridiculous,” stormed daniel. ” i went to four rooms, talked to six people, filled out three pieces of paper, and i still have to go back on Wednesday.”
one who administers a bureaucracy is a bureaucrat.$
bane (n.) bayn bane refers to:#
- a bath tub
- a herbal remedy
- a smell
- a poison
- a wolf pack#
d*.) a bane is a poison — often referring to someone who poisons enjoyment, technically, a bane is a scourge, an affliction, that which torments and causes misery and death, but the word is often used tongue in cheek as in the phrase “he is the bane of my existence,” meaning he is a real annoyance.
she was the bane of the entire english department, we were all glad when she retired.$
cerebral (adj.) suh-ree-brul cerebral refers to:#
d*.) cerebral is that which is characterized by intellect, someone who is cerebral is all head and no heart, he uses big words, thinks things through, and is rational.
“let’s stop being so cerebral and go rent a trashy movie,” said nancy after six hours of studying.$
choleric (adj.) (kahl-ur-ik)
- quick to anger
- sour faced
b*.) choleric means quick to anger, hot tempered, volatile, as a noun it means someone who is quick to anger, hot tempered, volatile.
the violent criminal was subject to choleric outbursts of temper.$
assuage (v.) (uh-swayj)
to assuage means to:#
e*.) to assuage is to soothe, to relieve, to alleviate, to calm.
at first i didn’t want to go, but he assuaged my concerns by assuring me that there was indoor plumbing. $
avow (v.) (uh-vow) to avow is to:#
a*.) to avow is to openly and categorically declare, assert, admit, or state something forcefully and in no uncertain terms.
ralph avowed he was no where near the scene of the crime.$
absolute (adj.) (ab-suh-loot)
- without exception
- made with good vodka
b*.) absolute means total, complete, entire, exact, beyond question, without exception, when you answer a question with the word “absolutely” you are saying yes in a way that is complete and unequivocal, the absolute last day for registration means that it will be impossible to register after that.
“he’s an absolute idiot,” said bethany as carlos sped past them at twice the speed limit.$
conjecture (n.) (kun-jek-chur) conjecture means:#
- absolute knowledge
- something read
- long and boring#
c*.) conjecture is supposition, speculation, assumption, guesswork, inference.
“that’s pure conjecture,” stormed monica. “don’t you dare pass it along as if it were truth.”
as a verb, conjecture means to speculate, assume, make an educated guess, etc.
“he conjectured about what the defendant knew and didn’t know.”$
assimilate (v.) (ussim-uh-layt) assimilate means to:#
- lap up
- shy away
e*.) assimilate means to absorb, to take in; to swallow up; to make part of oneself.
when a big company takes over a little company, the smaller company loses its separate identity and is assimilated into the bigger one. when you take in what you read and make it part of yourself, you are said to have assimilated the material.
“he’s read it all,” admitted Stanley, “but how much of it has he really assimilated?”$
amnesty (n.) (am nuh-stee) amnesty refers to:#
- a pardon
- lack of memory#
c*.) amnesty refers to a pardon, usually given to a whole group of people,
particularly for political offenses, it is technically a “forgetting”, amnesty international is a group that seeks to get pardons for political prisoners and others whose human rights are being violated with imprisonment, if your local library calls an amnesty it means that on that day you can return overdue books without penalty.$
brevity (n.) (brev-i-tee) brevity means:#
c*.) brevity means briefness.
he spoke clearly and with brevity, we were out of there within an hour.$
compendium (n.) (kum-pen-dee-um) a compendium is:#
- a collection
- an allowance
- a recommendation
- a revision
- a dictionary#
a*.) a compendium is a collection, a compilation, a summary, an anthology, a digest, a summary.
luis gave her a beautifully bound compendium of Shakespeare’s sonnets.$
celibacy (n.) (sel-uh-buh-see) celibacy means:#
- level of education
- degree of acceptance
- state of mind
- refraining from sex
d*.) celibacy is the practice of refraining from sex, also referred to as abstinence, chastity.
“monks and nuns now often wear street clothes, but they still practice celibacy,” explained sister mary joseph.$
acerbic (adj.) (uh-sur-bik)
b*.) acerbic means sharp and stinging, bitter or pungent, harsh, it is most often used figuratively to describe harsh speech rather than to describe an actual taste or smell.
his acerbic comments left her in tears.$
consecrate (v.) (kahn-suh-krayt) to consecrate is to:#
- make earthy
- make sacred
- make clean
- visualize intensely#
b*.) to consecrate is to make or declare sacred, to bless, to sanctify, to ordain.
abraham lincoln said that the brave men who died at gettysburg consecrated the ground of that battlefield.$
beleaguer (v.) (bi-lee-gur) to be beleaguered means to be:#
- called together#
d*.) beleaguered means besieged, surrounded, overwhelmed, swamped, harassed big time.
the beleaguered crew was out-manned, outgunned, and outranked, but they valiantly refused to surrender.$
agenda (n.) (uh-jen-da)
your agenda refers to:#
- your time
- your money
- your family
- your education
- your youth#
a*.) your agenda refers to your time and how you will manage it. an agenda is a to-do list, a docket, a schedule.
“tell ted he is on mr. allison’s agenda, but i can’t tell him what time, carol.$
blatant (adj.) (blay-tunt) blatant means:#
- absolutely correct
- loudly offensive
- quietly fuming
b*.) blatant means loudly offensive, brazenly obvious, you will often hear the phrase “blatant disregard” meaning glaring and shameless disregard.
he acted with blatant disregard for the facts.$
concurrent (adj.) (kun-kur-unt) concurrent means:#
- over top of
- regarding the present time
- just before#
b*.) concurrent means simultaneous, happening at the same time.
“i think the two concerts are happening concurrently on separate stages,” said margo, “so we can’t go to both.”
concurrent also means being in accord or harmony, when two people concur they agree, think the same way at the same time.$
aesthetic (adj.) (es-thet-ik) aesthetic refers to:#
- good breeding#
b*.) aesthetic as an adjective or adverb means related to beauty in the form of art, literature, music, dance, etc.
“your food should not only taste good,” explained ms. morgan on the first day of cooking school, “it should also be aesthetically pleasing.$
belittle (v.) (bi-lit-ul)
- to shrink
- to ignore
- to put down
- to fold up
- to call by a pet name#
c*.) belittle means to put down or find fault with, to diminish, literally to make small.
“she belittles him so constantly,” said marianne, “i wonder why he stays married.”$
belligerent (adj.) (buh-lij-ur-unt) belligerent means:#
a*.) belligerent means hostile, quarrelsome, warlike.
“he continued to be belligerent, so i sent him to the office,” said ms. green.
as a noun, belligerent refers to the parties in a war.
the belligerents lined up on either side of the battlefield.$
commensurate (adj.) (kuh-men-sur-it) commensurate means:#
- of higher rank
- of lower rank
e*.) commensurate means equal or equivalent.
“the two girls were commensurate in their ability, so i hired both of them,” said elaine.
commensurate also means fitting, appropriate to.
“in six months, i will give you a raise commensurate with your performance,” said mr. ludlow.$
conciliatory (adj.) (kun-sil-ee-uh-tor-ee)
- unwilling to quit
- willing to make concessions
c*.) conciliatory describes an attitude that is apologetic and expresses willingness to make concessions or to meet another half way. it implies a desire to make up after a fight.
“he apologized with his words,” said hazel, “but there was nothing conciliatory about his attitude.
conciliatory can also describe an attitude that expresses flexibility, willingness to compromise, and agreeableness.
“his conciliatory words were a soothing balm after their fierce disagreement.”$
acrid (adj.) (ak-rid) acrid means:#
- having a burnt reddish tone
e*.) acrid means pungently bitter in taste or smell; the acrid smell of smoke was overwhelming.
acrid can also be used figuratively to refer to caustic, cutting expression, she could not get his acrid comments out of her mind.$
broach (v.) (brohch) to broach is to:#
- join up
- pin down
c*.) to broach is to initiate, suggest or bring up for the first time, subjects, topics of conversation, ideas, and issues are all open to being broached.
“i wanted to tell donald about jim,” said kirn, “but i didn’t know how to broach the subject.$
tout (v.) (tout)
to tout is to:#
- put up with
- took down upon#
d*.) to tout is to promote, sing the praises of, to brag publicly about in an attempt to sell or influence.
“is he still touting amway?” asked rick when i told him michael was coming to the party. $
exemplify (v.) (ig-zem-pluh-fye) to exemplify is to:#
- admire no matter what
- imitate aspects of
- serve as a model of
- make easier
- crave attention#
c*.) exemplify means to serve as a model or be a very good example of.
“Jonathan exemplifies what it means to be a pacifist,” said mr. mcsorley. “he even captures wasps and releases them outside rather than killing them.”$
strife (n.) (stryfe) strife is:#
b*.) strife is bitter conflict, discord, enmity, antagonism.
my grandmother is very upset at the strife in northern ireland,” said kathleen. “her brothers are still living there.”$
eclectic (adj.) (i-klek-tik) eclectic means:#
d*.) eclectic means varied, composed of elements from many different sources, implying an unusual or interesting mix.
“nathaniel has wonderfully eclectic taste in music,” said katie. “in the past month we’ve gone to the opera, to a fiddle contest, and to a reggae concert.”$
proficient (adj.) (pruh-fish-unt) someone described as proficient would be:#
b*.) proficient means skilled, competent, adept, good at.
“she’s taken music lessons for eight years and is still not as proficient as she wants to be,” said marty.$
indigenous (adj.) (in-dij-uh-nus) indigenous means:#
- opposed to
- native to
c*.) indigenous means native to. something that originates in a place is indigenous to that place.
drive-in movies are indigenous to america.
the term indigenous person generally refers to tribal peoples, native american indians, australian aborigines, and african pigmies, are examples of indigenous peoples.
she spent the summer exploring indigenous cultures.$
verbose (adj.) (vur-bhos) verbose means:#
d*.) someone who is verbose uses lots of words to say something that could be said in many fewer words, verbose means long winded and implies boring.
“she is so verbose that once when she called, my mom put the phone down and went to the bathroom without her ever realizing it.”
the noun form is verbosity and means the quality of being verbose or using too many words.
“the kids make fun of his verbosity and call him a wind bag,” laughed connie.$
spurious (adj.) (spyoor-ee-us) spurious means:#
a*.) spurious means false, counterfeit, not what it is cracked up to be.
when his wife died, he became the victim of spurious rumors, and it took him years to clear his name.
spurious can also mean misbegotten, born out of wedlock.
the nobles rebelled when the king’s spurious offspring tried to ascend to the throne.$
malinger (v.) muh-ling-ger to malinger means:#
- to hang on
- to waste away
- to fake illnes-s
- to spread rumors
- to yearn for#
c*.) to malinger means to fake illness with the intent of avoiding work or responsibility.
“mr. jamison thinks i was malingering,” said joey, “i need you to write him a note and tell him i really was sick.”$
mendicant (n.) men-di-cant a mendicant is:#
- a minstrel
- a beggar
- a tailor
- a jester
- a monk#
b*.) a mendicant is a beggar.
“i spent the most incredible afternoon talking to a mendicant about literature, said carla. “he lives in a doorway, eats out of garbage cans, and knows more
about Shakespeare than anyone i’ve ever met.”$
adroit (adj.) (uh-droyt)
b*.) adroit means skillful, deft, dexterous, nimble; someone who is adroit is quick, graceful, and well coordinated, it comes from the french word “droit”, which means right (the opposite of left) and gets its meaning from the fact that the right hand is usually the more skillful hand.
the chef adroitly fashioned the cakes into works of art.
adroit also means skillful as in clever, quick-witted.
the politician was adroit in making his weaknesses seem like strengths.$
utopia (n.) (yoo-toh-pee-uh) utopia means:#
- an ideal society
- a perfect relationship
- a wish come true
- past glory
- a futuristic world#
a*.) utopia is a perfect society, an ideal place, a perfect political system, the word came from a work of fiction that a man named sir thomas moore wrote way back in 1516, which described a perfect society on an island called utopia.
“his idea of utopia includes no taxes and lots of Chinese food,” joked jasmine.$
defame (v.) (di-faym) defame means to:#
- slip into oblivion
- stay in the background
- give someone else the credit
- overcome a bad reputation
- ruin someone’s reputation#
e*.) to defame means to ruin someone’s good name, to slander or libel, to publicly cast doubt on their character, you will often hear the term “defamation of character” meaning an untrue attack on someone’s morals, ethics or reputation.
“i will not defame his memory by exposing the letters,” said alyssa. “i am going to burn them.”$
encroach (v.) (en-krohch) to encroach means:#
- to trespass
- to make smaller
- to claim
- to dominate
- to throw up#
a*.) encroach means to trespass, especially in the sense of making gradual inroads into.
“his garden is encroaching on my land,” complained uncle henry, “i should start charging him rent.”
encroach also means to trespass on or interfere with the rights or domain of another.
“now, grandma, please don’t encroach on our duty to discipline when the little fella needs it.”$
impotent (adj.) (im-puh-tunt) impotent means:#
- like a beggar
b*.) impotent means powerless, in a technical sense, it describes a man who cannot perform sexually, but its meaning extends to cover any lack of power, strength, or ability, impotence implies an inability to affect a situation, an inability to make an impact.
carl had never felt so impotent as he did standing there watching the flames engulf his home.$
adulterate (v.) (uh-duhl-tuh-rayt) adulterate means:#
- to have sex with someone else’s partner
- to act like an adult
- to read pornographic material
- to contaminate
- to act young#
d*.) to adulterate means to contaminate, to make impure.
in some countries people have become ill from using adulterated cooking oil.
adulterate is most often expressed in its negative form unadulterated, meaning pure, but often applied to something that is not pure.
that is unadulterated nonsense!” said barbara angrily.$
vindicate (v.) (vin-di-kayt) to vindicate means to:#
- prove innocent
- take revenge upon
- swear at
- stand up for
- hold a grudge#
a*.) to vindicate means to prove innocent, to clear one’s name, to disprove an accusation.
we thought josh took the money, but harry’s confession vindicated him.$
dearth (n.) (durth) a dearth is:#
- an abundance
- a hollow place
- a secret stash
- a scarcity
- an appalling truth#
d*.) a dearth is a scarcity, a lack.
“there is a surprising dearth of information on my chosen topic,” complained roberta. “my report might not be long enough.”$
decorous (adj.) (dek-ur-us) decorous means:#
- arranged in an interesting pattern#
d*.) decorous means proper, polite, well-mannered, in good taste.
the usually decorous group erupted in violence at the announcement of o.j. simpson’s acquittal.$
litigate (v.) (lit-uh-gayt) to litigate is to:#
- conduct a lawsuit
- find guilty
- find innocent
- press charges against#
a*.) to litigate is to bring suit, to try a case in court.
“i was so moved by ralph’s apology that i decided not to litigate,” said Virginia
people involved in a civil court case are called litigants.
the litigants finally agreed to settle the dispute out of court.$
covenant (n.) (kuv-uh-nunt)
a covenant is:#
- a carrying case
- a small cave
- a formal agreement
- a feeling of envy
- a hidden harbor#
c*.) a covenant is a formal agreement, a solemn promise.
the book of genesis relates that god made a covenant that promised the land of Palestine to the descendants of abraham.$
definitive (adj.) (di-fin-uh-tiv) to be definitive is to be:#
- highly educated
a*.) to be definitive is to be authoritative, conclusive, the most reliable or complete.
“jimmy claims to have written the definitive guide to dining out in Philadelphia, laughed rachel. he gained twenty pounds while writing it.$
abhor (v.) (ab-hor) to abhor means:#
- to run from
- to crave
- to feel sad
- to loathe
- to envy#
d*.) to abhor means to loathe, to detest, to hate very, very much.
“i abhor raw chicken livers,” said lauren, “you couldn’t force me to eat them.”$
facetious (adj.) (fuh-see-shus) facetious means:#
- not original
- not serious
- not well-intentioned
- not trustworthy
- not whole#
b*.) facetious means not serious, not really meant, tongue-in-cheek, when you put someone on, you are being facetious.
“when i told her dylan was going into the priesthood, i was being facetious,” said brittany, “but she took me seriously and told everyone.”$
martyr (n.) (mahr-tur) a martyr is known for:#
- being holy
- being good
- being generous
- helping others
- giving his or her life for a belief#
e*.) a martyr is a person who sacrifices his or her life for a cause or a belief.
- Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death around 36 a.d.
a martyr is also a person who is self-sacrificing in general, who is long-suffering, and who often creates feelings of guilt in others.
when victoria said, “that’s all right, if there’s not enough room, i’ll stay home,” ed got mad and told her to stop being such a martyr.$
despondent (adj.) (di-sphan-dunt) to be despondent is to be:#
- behind on letter writing
e*.) to be despondent is to be depressed, in a state of despair, feeling hopeless.
alexander was despondent for months after abigail broke off their engagements
respite (n.) (res-pit)
a respite is:#
- a harsh retort
- a second draft
- a note
- a bridge
- a rest#
e*.) a respite is a period of rest, of relief, especially from something difficult or uncomfortable.
the rains kept coming, offering no respite to the weary flood workers.$
zealous (adj.) (zel-us) to be zealous is to be:#
- especially beautiful
c*.) to be zealous is to be fanatical, gung-ho, aggressively enthusiastic, passionately involved with.
“he is so zealous about saving the whales that he cannot talk of anything else, said kyle.$
flout (v.) (flowt) to flout means:#
- to scorn
- to display
- to ignore
- to humor
- to let down#
a*.) to flout is to scorn, to disregard in a way that is disrespectful, to be mocking or contemptuous of.
the girl laughed as she flouted the school’s new rule about not smoking on the premises.$
amorous (adj.) (am-ur-us) to be amorous is to feel:#
d*.) the word amorous is related to the word love, an amorous nature is one that
is inclined to love; to feel amorous toward someone is to be in love with them, to be sexually or romantically attracted to them.
his amorous feelings led him to send janis fresh flowers every day for a week.$
manifesto (n.) (man-uh-fes-toh)
a manifesto is:#
- a log
- a statement of principles
- a wish list
- a pact with the devil
- a table of contents#
b*.) a manifesto is a statement of principles, a declaration of political beliefs, a document that spells out a doctrine.
we studied the communist manifesto in history last term.$
explicit (adj.) (ik-splis-it) to be explicit means to be:#
- scantily clad
d*.) to be explicit is to be definite, to be direct, clear, and detailed.
my father thought that the movie was too sexually explicit for a thirteen-year old. $
confluence (n.) (kahn-floo-uns) confluence is:#
- a flowing together
- an imitating of
- a movement
- a teacher-student relationship
- an intruding idea#
a*.) confluence is a flowing together of several rivers or streams or the point where they join, used in a more general sense, confluence is the flowing together of schedules, thoughts, ideas, objectives, passions, beliefs, etc.
there was a confluence of cultures in my neighborhood, i’d be hearing latin music, eating barbecued ribs, and smelling Chinese food all at the same time.$
vicarious (adj.) (vye-kar-ee-us)
- second handily
- by the book
- pertaining to flight#
b*.) vicarious means second handily, when instead of focusing on our own experience, we live our lives through other people, taking pride in their accomplishments, being thrilled at their risks, etc. we are said to be living vicariously, some people, for example, live vicariously through the characters on their soap operas.
Jennifer relived her youth vicariously through her teenage daughter.$
guile (n.) (gyle) guile means#
e*.) guile is deceitfulness, cunningness, manipulativeness, insincerity, someone with guile is not what they seem; they are pretending to be something they are not in order to get some result, to be without guile is to be genuine, sincere.
she was shameless in her use of guile, before the marriage, she’d played the part of a rich girl.$
impartial (adj.) (im-pahr-shul) impartial means:#
- not sorry
- not emotional#
a*.) impartial means unbiased, fair, without prejudice, not showing favoritism.
there was so much pre-trial publicity, it was hard to find enough impartial people to make up a jury.$
affable (adj.) (af-uh-bul) to be affable means:#
- to enjoy life
- to be gullible
- to have a pleasant nature
- to be financially well-off
c*.) to be affable means to have a pleasant nature, to be easy going, friendly, amiable, easily pleased.
his affable manner drew people to him at any social event.$
pervade (v.) (pur-vayd) to pervade means:#
- to win out
- to hold out
- to dodge
- to work at
- to spread throughout#
e*.) to pervade means to spread throughout, to infuse, to permeate, a scent that fills the air is said to pervade the room.
the fear that pervaded the group made them give up their search.$
predilection (n.) (pred-uh-lek-shun) a predilection is:#
- a forecast
- a tendency
- an impulse
- a phobia
- a pre-determined outcome#
b*.) a predilection is a tendency, an inclination towards, a fondness for. his predilection for the sea drew him to a voyage around the cape of good hope.$
histrionic (adj.) (his-tree-ahn-ik) histrionic means:#
- overly dramatic
- overly long
- overly dull
a*.) histrionic means overly dramatic, melodramatic, with excessive and somewhat contrived emotion.
her histrionic reaction to the mere prospect of giving blood was embarrassing.$
dubious (adj.) (doo-bee-us)
c*.) dubious means uncertain, skeptical, doubtful, questionable.
when he predicted that we would be out of debt in six months, we were dubious.
in that sentence, dubious means skeptical, but you could also say: he got into trouble for selling art works of dubious origin.
in that case dubious means questionable.$
singular (adj.) (sing-gyuh-lur) singular means:#
e*.) singular means unique, special, remarkable, exceptional.
she had a singular beauty that had captivated him from the first moment they met.
singular also means the opposite of plural, “i” is the first person singular; “we” is the first person plural.$
sanctimonious (adj.) (sangk-tuh-moh-nee-us) sanctimonious means:#
- phony holy
- sincerely pious
b*.) sanctimonious means phony holy, exaggerated religious feeling, hypocritical devotion or piousness, often “holier than thou.”
his sanctimonious attitude was called into question when he was caught with someone else’s wife, he’d been so unwilling to forgive others for the same offense.$
preempt (v.) (pree-empt) to preempt is:#
- to do better than
- to struggle against
- to look down on
- to supersede
- to deny#
d*.) to preempt is to supersede, to replace by prior arrangement.
a speech by the president always preempts normal programming.
during the cold war people used to talk about a “preemptive strike” meaning a first strike that would supersede any attack on the part of the enemy, the word “preemptive” carries the flavor of “preventive” that is not present in the word “preempt”.
preempt may also be spelled pre-empt.$