The GRE Verbal Reasoning Test: Challenge Words: Challenge, List 8

This list of challenge words features some of the hardest words that you will encounter in the Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE. These are words that typically appear less frequently across different academic disciplines, so you are less likely to have encountered them before. Master these difficult words and watch your GRE score soar!
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. bacchanalian
    used of riotously drunken merrymaking
    In 1687, the minister Increase Mather, who believed that Christmas celebrations derived from the bacchanalian excesses of the Roman holiday Saturnalia, decried those consumed "in Revellings, in excess of wine, in mad mirth."Salon (Dec 24, 2020)
  2. bawdy
    humorously vulgar
    During the 1920’s, according to the history the War kids recounted from their parents, War was a wild, bawdy place of dance halls and gambling houses.October Sky
  3. bedizen
    decorate tastelessly
    Is it too much to speculate that beneath the swirling tattoos, asymmetrically trimmed hair, and bedizened robes, you would recognize someone much closer to yourself, at least in certain respects, than your own ancestors?1491
  4. cadge
    ask or beg for something and get it for free
    When they served grilled cheese or chicken sandwiches for lunch, I would cadge extras from the children who hardly ever cleaned their plates.Three Little Words: A Memoir
  5. carping
    persistent petty and unjustified criticism
    Despite the carping of younger critics, he remained ever faithful to his Romantic Realist principles.Wall Street Journal (Jun 18, 2018)
  6. cornucopia
    the property of being extremely abundant
    Long rows of tables display a cornucopia of cheeses, olives, oils and bright vegetables and fruits, honeys and jams, and of course Marseille soaps.New York Times (May 8, 2015)
  7. evocative
    serving to bring to mind
    Food souvenirs are food, but they’re also souvenirs, and as such are evocative of people and places.New York Times (Aug 17, 2010)
  8. extemporaneous
    with little or no preparation or forethought
    Many of the app’s users appear charmingly unpolished, posting shaky videos that cut their faces off at their foreheads or chins as they deliver breathless extemporaneous monologues.New York Times (Apr 26, 2022)
  9. feral
    wild and menacing
    “There may very well be feral giraffes and feral hippos living in Tokyo and a polar bear living freely in Calcutta. We just don’t believe there was a tiger living in your lifeboat.”Life of Pi
  10. gauche
    lacking social polish
    “I’m gauche and awkward, I dress badly, I’m shy with people. I warned you in Monte Carlo how it would be. You think I’m not right for Manderley.”Rebecca
  11. interregnum
    the time between two reigns or governments
    Oliver Cromwell headed the new English Commonwealth, and the period known as the English interregnum, or the time between kings, began.U.S. History
  12. meretricious
    tastelessly showy
    “Let us be thought over-much plain and simple, even bare, rather than gaudy, flashy, cheap and meretricious. Let us manifest the taste of gentlemen.”The Devil in the White City
  13. minuscule
    very small
    Microplastics— minuscule bits of bottles, bags, synthetic fibers and other plastic waste that have broken up in the environment—are influencing Earth’s climate as they circulate through the atmosphere.Scientific American (Oct 20, 2021)
  14. peregrination
    traveling or wandering around
    And thus the writer’s euphoric westward peregrinations, by motor car, kindled a new spirit of domestic US travel: On the Road rather than On the Railroad.The Guardian (Jan 29, 2020)
  15. preempt
    take action to prevent someone else from acting
    When she attended a talk with him, he would make sure to say it could have been better, or that the first ten minutes were boring, as though to preempt her own criticisms.Americanah
  16. refulgent
    radiating or as if radiating light
    There are few directors around with as much command of material culture as Coppola, who imbues the setting’s silks, crinolines, glassware and candle wax with refulgent depth and texture.Washington Post (Jun 29, 2017)
  17. simian
    relating to or resembling an ape or a monkey
    Those monkeys had been infected with simian fever and would have died anyway.The Hot Zone
  18. tangential
    of superficial relevance if any
    So, I was listening to him talk and waiting for an opportunity to tell him—but he just kept talking and talking, and it was strange and tangential and boring.Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
  19. tutelary
    providing protective supervision
    He appears as the protector of his younger self and as a kind of tutelary deity, infusing the story of his own life with a potent and implicitly political lesson.New York Times (May 22, 2014)
  20. valedictory
    of or relating to an occasion or expression of farewell
    There was no farewell tour, and they released a valedictory song — “We All Go Back to Where We Belong” — that is among the most beautiful in the band’s catalog.Seattle Times (Nov 11, 2019)
Created on November 30, 2022 (updated January 12, 2023)

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