A Guide to the GRE/Vocabulary List 4

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GRE Vocabulary List 4[edit]

Extenuate (v.) to lessen the seriousness of something; to mitigate or excuse

While touching, his sob story failed to extenuate the punishment imposed on him.

Luminous (adj.) (1) producing or conveying light; (2) clarifying or resolving some uncertainty

The Rosetta stone proved to be a luminous discovery with regard to understanding the language of ancient Egyptians.

Headlong (adv.) (1) headfirst; (2) impatiently and without thinking

Chuck was known for his poorly thought-out, headlong acts.

Aberrant (n.) different from or departing from what is normal

Though she had noticed her sister's aberrant behavior with regard to the pet raccoon, she thought little of it at first.

Pedantic (adj.) (1) resembling a pedant; (2) overly concerned with formal rules and trivial points of learning; showy with regard to knowledge and language

Though initially impressed by her Ivy League education, after an hour of conversation, Kristen found Saru to be nothing more than an endless sea of inflated, pedantic ramblings.

Transitive (adj.) of or relating to motion or change from one thing to another, especially when this involves multiple steps

Ludwig von Beethoven is often considered to be a transitive figure in European music, as evidenced by the changes through the course of his string quartets. Unprecedented (adj.) that which has never occurred before

Edmund Hilary's feat was, at the time, unprecedented.

Inalienable (adj.) Not subject to being taken away; permanent

Though the anti-execution advocates agreed that certain liberties could be forfeited, they maintained that life should be an inalienable right.

Beatify (v.) (1) to for a religious official to declare to have achieved the blessedness of heaven (2) to make a person very happy

His gift of a new dough mixer proved to beatify her greatly.

Rubric (n.) a direction as to how something should be conducted, often in the context of a church service

The administrator provided each intern with a description of the rubric by which their performance would be evaluated.

Cozen (v.) to trick, fool, or deceive

While he had fooled Mrs. Korbel, Jeff was not about to cozen Mrs. Patsel with his story about the lawnmower and his homework.

Lugubrious (adj.) appearing to be sad or depressing in some way

Given the lugubrious look on her face, Erin was certain that her roommate had been fired from her job.


Exacerbate (v.) to worsen an existing problem

They found that arguing with the woman at the traffic ticket office only served to exacerbate their problems.

Debase (v.) to reduce in value or worth

The construction of the tar factory proved to debase the rest of the properties in the neighborhood, much to Mrs. LaPorte's dismay.

Multifarious (adj.) having many parts, types, styles or aspects

The people who hung out and raced near highway 315 were a diverse, multifarious gang of hooligans.

Duplicity (adj.) the state of having two parts, sides, variations, or the like

Kenny failed to see the duplicity of Romeo & Juliet as story of both love and tragic lust.

Metamorphosis (n.) the process of changing from one thing into another

The metamorphosis from Weiz Corp. to W&W Holdings took more than ten years.

Proxy (n.) (1) a person authorized to act on behalf of another; (2) something which acts as a substitute for something else

Since Lauren would not be around to vote, she designated Gabby as a proxy.

Goad (v.) to provoke or taunt to prompt some desired action; (n.) a pointed stick for herding cattle

Seeking to unite Germany, Bismark managed to goad the French into war in the late 1800s.


Dispassionate (adj.) lacking strong feeling

Carlos was rather dispassionate when it came to the choice of where to stop for dinner.

Intersperse (v.) to scatter or mix such that one thing is varyingly distributed within another

Chinese cooks intersperse olive oil with canola oil and use this blend for both cooking and frying.

Bombast (n.) remarks or writing which are inflated or exaggerated

Jared's latest bombast was his claim to have been valedictorian in high school.

Serenity (n.) the state of being calm or tranquil

The serenity of the forest was a pleasant relief from life as an accountant in the big city.

Untoward (adj.) that which is unexpected and inappropriate or inconvenient

Andre found the comment about his hat to be rather untoward, and did not appreciate it.

Fortuitous (adj.) merely the result of happenstance or good luck

It was rather fortuitous that the old Dodge pickup truck made it to Escanaba and back without breaking down.

Remonstrate (v.) to say in protest or opposition

In political science class, Dr. Jackson would typically spew out his conservative views, and the students would remonstrate their own opinions back to him.


Rarefy (v.) to lessen in density or solidity

Jenkins' lack of complete knowledge of the situation served to rarefy his culpability in the matter.

Illusory (adj.) the state of being an illusion; not real

Fanny's sense of security in the matter would prove to be illusory.

Salient (adj.) predominant, noticeable or important; (n.) a part of a landmass or structure which comes to a point

Most of the voters saw the economy as a particularly salient concern.

Conversion (n.) the act of changing something into something else; the act of converting

Cassius Clay changed his named to Muhammad Ali upon his conversion to the religion of Islam.

Dirge (n.) a sad or mournful melody, often played at a funeral

Though typically brighter, when Largo was played by the pit orchestra that night it sounded more like a dirge.

Assuage (v.) to ease the severity or intensity of

Wendel's promises of better sales next year failed to assuage the fears of the stockholders.

Perfidious (adj.) not capable of being trusted; dishonest or deceitful

Yolanda thought that the man she had hired was perhaps the only lawyer in the state who was not a perfidious parasite.


Ordinance (n.) an authoritative decree or rule, often by a municipality

Mr. Palmer was alleged to have violated the city's loitering ordinance.

Catalyst (n.) that which enables a reaction or chain of events to occur

The assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, as well as the events which happened thereafter, proved to be the catalyst for World War I.

Solvent (n.) something causes something else to be absorbed or eaten away; (adj.) having sufficient assets to pay all of one’s liabilities

Though deep in debt, Kelly's business remained solvent.

Bellicose (adj.) predisposed towards starting conflicts

Mr. Hopkins, who had a history of being bellicose, was immediately believed to have been the instigator of the fight.

Fastidious (adj.) having a great deal of concern with regard to order, precision and detail

Luigi was known to be the most fastidious taxidermist in all of British Columbia.

Paucity (n.) a lack of something

The great paucity of qualified tax professionals in the area was the source of substantial disappointment for Marge and her husband.

Simper (n.) a flirtatious smile; (v.) to display a simper

He had seen that simper on her face before the last time they went shopping at Macy's.


Typify (v.) to be a fair representative example of something

Being just under five feet tall, Brenda certainly did not typify basketball players.

Reconnoiter (v.) to make an observation of a region, often with reference to a military objective

Stacy went to reconnoiter the dessert table with regard to any remaining cupcakes.

Incubation (n.) a stage of isolated development

Before being launched nationwide, the business model was put through an incubation phase at a single location in Ohio.

Impugn (v.) to dispute or call into question

Her speech went on to impugn the claims of BP about the oil spill cleanup effort.

Vehement (adj.) passionate or intense

Heidi was a vehement supporter of ending the Cuban embargo.

Gauche (adj.) Lacking in ease or grace; socially awkward

His speech was rather gauche, full of stuttering and jittering.

Succor (n.) assistance or aid; (v.) to provide succor

The purpose of the Berlin Airlift was to succor the portions of Germany which had been roadblocked by the Soviets.

Rapacious (adj.) aggressively greedy or self-indulgent

Corporate litigators were known to be rapacious, and he was no exception.

Jejune (adj.) overly simple, naive or uninteresting

Her jejune outlook towards the world would prove to get her in trouble.

Fledgling (n.) (1) a young bird; (2) that which is new or just getting started

Once a fledgling computer repair center, Turtle Computers now dominated the local market.

Perigee (n.) (1) the orbital point at which a satellite is closest to the object it orbits; (2) the lowest point of something

For hardware retail, January and February was the perigee of the year.

Pulchritudinous (adj.) having great physical beauty, invariably with regard to other persons

The pulchritudinous bride stood out amongst the other bridesmaids.

Undulate (v.) to move in a wavy patterned motion; (adj.)the state of being wavy

The undulate pattern on her scarf was noticeable, even in the large crowd.

Distill (v.) to reduce into something more concentrated

This particular brand of vodka is distilled five times over.

Imbroglio (n.)a confusing or socially problematic situation

Brian then joined the imbroglio by arguing with Samantha about the best way to get to Covington.

Defamatory (adj.) having the effect of injuring a person’s reputation

The defamatory statements, while hurtful, did not cause any lasting harm.

Detriment (n.) a problem or source of trouble

The property was moved out of state, to the detriment of creditors who would have seized it.

Superfluous (adj.) unnecessary; extraneous

It was so hot that they began to remove many superfluous articles of clothing.

Construe (v.) to clarify or elaborate on the meaning of something; to interpret

She had a tendency to construe the meaning of poetry in vary unusual ways.

Petrous (adj.) (1) hard as stone; (2) of or relating to rock

The petrous foundation below the house prevented it from suffering serious damage during the earthquake.

Garner (v.) to gather or collect, often in the context of necessary evidence or permission

Julia's request would ultimately garner approval from the water board, but it would take several months.

Inopportune (adj.) occurring at an inconvenient time, place or situation

Baxter would always telephone at the most inopportune time.

Apogee (n.) (1) the point at which an object, such as the Earth, is furthest from the object which it orbits; (2) a high point or climax

Verdi and Wagner arguably represented the apogee of 19th century opera music in their respective nations.

Burgeon (v.) to grow or expand, often rapidly

Arlington continued to burgeon as more highways were built.

Nexus (n.) a connection by which multiple things linked together

The nexus between the pollution and the poor health of the populace was of great concern to Andy and Mary.

Infer (v.) to deduce something to be true which is not explicitly stated

They could infer, based on the writing style, that whoever wrote the note was not particularly skilled in the English language.

Propagate (v.) to cause to be reproduced and spread

Joseph Smith went on to propagate his ideas amongst the masses, and he attracted many followers.

Stanza (n.) a blocked group of lines in a poem

The final stanza of a sonnet is shorter than the first three.

Lambast (v.) to strongly criticize

Hillary went on to lambast uncle Hal for not doing enough about the leaky roof.

Byzantine (adj.) (1) of or relating the ancient city of Byzantium or its area of influence; (2) (typically not capitalized) that which is devious and secretive

Her byzantine agenda was known only to a few in the office.

Sate (v.) to completely satisfy

Though able to sate Belinda's appetite, the spaghetti left Martha still hungry for more.

Raffish (adj.) vulgar, racy, unconventional (especially in a sexual manner)

Aloysius was tired of the raffish programs she always saw playing on television.

Pundit (n.)an expert or notable figure in a field who regularly gives opinions to the public

Whether or not a pundit, Mr. Barrows had a point about the current federal budget.

Monotonous (adj.) having little variation in tone or style; boring

While Cally loved watching European movies with subtitles, her boyfriend found the reading involved in watching them monotonous.

Vigor (n.) a person’s strength, healthiness or enthusiasm

Edna still demonstrated great vigor for a woman of her age.

Castigate (v.) to subject something to harsh criticism or punishment

The penalty was both to castigate Donald for his behavior but also to deter others who might do the same.

Voracious (adj.) having a very strong or insatiable appetite

The lacrosse players were particularly voracious, and ate all of the stromboli.

Baseness (adj.) lack of worthiness in some regard due to absence of some higher understanding

Wesley chuckled at Jimmy's baseness when it came to exotic cars.

Lethargy (n.) a lack of energy or motivation

Patty had been meaning to write a book about lethargy, but had never quite had the motivation.

Viscous (adj.) having a thick composition such that free flowing is slow, typically in the context of liquids

Meredith didn't want to get any of that viscous engine oil on her nice blue dress.

Curmudgeon (n.) a grumpy and unpleasant person, usually an elderly male

Brian was well on his way toward becoming a curmudgeon.

Sinecure (n.) a position of great title and financial benefit which involves little work or liability

"Hiring management supervisor" was essentially a sinecure for relatives of the company's owners.

Recede (v.) to move back or fall away from a previous position

The ocean would ultimately recede, allowing the sunken boat to be retrieved.

Abstruse (adj.) obscure, difficult to understand, or known by very few, often with relation to knowledge

The abstruse nature of 17th century architecture was a little known subject in Davenport.

Tourniquet (n.) an item used to stop blood flow when tightly tied around an appendage

A former boy scout, he was trained in treating rattlesnake bites with a tourniquet.

Harangue (n.) aggressive speech

While "Cross of Gold" was Brian's most famous oration, it was not his only harangue.

Mitigate (v.) to lessen the severity or immorality of a particular action

Stephanie hoped that her youth and inexperience would mitigate her punishment from the disciplinary committee.


Penury (n.) an extreme state of poverty or lack of resources

The penury of the residents of the public housing development was all too apparent.

Imperious (adj.) asserting of authority, often excessively

The store security guard was rather imperious when it came to asking to check peoples' pockets.

Anomaly (n.) that which ordinarily does not happen

Chet insisted that his accomplishment in the chess tournament was an anomaly.