For many GRE test-takers, vocabulary-building presents a special challenge. With so many words that might appear on your individual iteration of the GRE, it can be hard to fathom learning them all. Full vocabulary lists span thousands of words, with no guarantee that the terms you learn will be the ones you see on test day.

We have written previously on the benefits of game-ifying and strategizing effectively around GRE vocabulary. To that end, we’ve delineated a selection of common vocabulary into three levels of difficulty, so that you ascend in difficulty the more words you learn. If you want to expand your selection, try following Economist GRE Tutor on Instagram or downloading our GRE Daily Vocabulary app, for a new word every day.

Level One GRE Vocabulary: Least Difficult

Aberration: noun, a departure from what is normal, usual, or expected
“The Fed will probably need convincing that the latest labour-market report was an aberrationbefore tightening policy.”
Source: “When barometers go wrong” published in The Economist

Abreast: adjective, Up to date with the latest news, ideas, or information
Synonyms: in touch with, plugged into
“These daily updates were designed to help readers keep abreast of the markets…”
Source: “China’s market mess” published in The Economist

Abstain: verb, Restrain oneself from doing or enjoying something
Synonyms: refrain, desist, hold back
“The decision to abstain from such techniques, just and wise though it was, came at a cost.”
Source: “Standard operating procedure” published in The Economist

Abyss: noun, a deep or seemingly bottomless chasm
Synonyms: gorge, ravine, void
“Whose dire warnings about risks… seem most believable? Which abyss looks darker and deeper?”
Source: “The Brexit referendum on June 23rd will be all about David Cameron” published in The Economist

Adept: adjective, Very skilled or proficient at something
Synonyms: expert, proficient, accomplished
“An abundance of clever people—adept in English law as much as in finance—draws in banks, fund managers and so forth…”
Source: “From folly to fragmentation” published in The Economist

Agog: adjective, Very eager or curious to hear or see something
Synonyms: excited, impatient, in suspense
“We are now agog to know when, on the basis of its forecasts, the Bank will push up interest rates…”
Source: “The perils of planning on the basis of economic forecasts” published in The Economist

Allure: noun, the quality of being powerfully and mysteriously attractive or fascinating
Synonyms: attraction, lure, draw
“Yet it was the allure of the Model T for millions of consumers that finally drove the horse off the road.”
Source: “When oil is no longer in demand” published in The Economist

Altruism : noun, the belief in or practice of selfless concern for the well-being of others
Synonyms: selflessness, compassion, goodwill
“Dr Decety is not the first to wonder, in a scientific way, about the connection between religion and altruism .”
Source: “Matthew 22:39” published in The Economist

Ambivalent: adjective, having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone
Synonyms: equivocal, uncertain, unsure
“The first was a chronic lack of focus. Right from the start Yahoo was ambivalent about whether it should be a media or a technology company.”
Source: “From dotcom hero to zero” published in The Economist

Annul: verb, Declare invalid
Synonyms: repeal, reverse, rescind
“Last month’s election was a re-run of a vote in October 2015, the results of which were annulled after several candidates alleged electoral malpractice.”
Source: “Haiti’s probable new president” published in The Economist

Apathy: noun, Lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern
Synonyms: indifference, passivity, ennui
“Perhaps most difficult will be overcoming the cynicism, and apathy, of the public.”
Source: “As the North East rejects a devolution deal, the West Midlands embraces one” published in The Economist

Arbitrary: adjective, Based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system
Synonyms: capricious, random, chance
“The prevailing belief among linguists had been that the sounds used to form those words were arbitrary.”
Source: “Distant languages have similar sounds for common words” published in The Economist

Arbiter: noun, a person who settles a dispute or has ultimate authority in a matter
Synonyms: authority, judge, controller
“The viewer is, ultimately, the arbiter of influence: either partaking in the objectification, or actively challenging the power dynamic.”
Source: “Learning artists’ secrets from their studios” published in The Economist

Artless: adjective, without guile or deception
Synonyms: candid, direct, forthright
“He is loveably artless and embarrassingly awkward in his unstoppably cheerful attempts to win over the frosty members of the band…”
Source: “Talking to Frank” published in The Economist

Audacious: adjective, showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks
Synonyms: bold, daring, fearless
“It was as audacious as any heist and yet unlikely material for a Hollywood blockbuster.”
Source: “The Dhaka caper” published in The Economist

Austere: adjective, Having an extremely plain and simple style or appearance
Synonyms: unadorned, subdued, stark
“Not all Western airports have austere arrival concourses à la Heathrow; many have eateries and bars…”
Source: “Airport arrivals: something to celebrate” published in The Economist

Blight: noun, a thing that spoils or damages something
Synonyms: affliction, scourge, bane
“Yet the USFS predicts that within a couple of decades, because of slowing growth and climate-related blights, the forests will become an emissions source.”
Source: “Ravaged woodlands” published in The Economist

Blithe: adjective, showing a casual and cheerful indifference considered to be callous or improper
Synonyms: indifferent, unconcerned, blasé
“Mr. Cameron’s government was too posh, too cocky, too blithe about globalization’s merits, too metropolitan. Too Notting Hill. “
Source: “Britain’s new prime minister will regret appointing Boris Johnson” published in The Economist

Blowhard: noun, a person who blusters and boasts in an unpleasant way
Synonyms: boaster, bragger, show-off
“His name conjured up associations such as ‘arrogant’ and ‘blowhard’ …”
Source: “The art of the demagogue” published in The Economist

Bolster: verb, Support or strengthen
Synonyms: reinforce, prop up, boost
“If the results are confirmed, they will bolster voters’ belief in the system.”
Source: “Could a recount overturn the election result?” published in The Economist

Bombastic: adjective, High-sounding but with little meaning; inflated Synonyms: pompous, blustering, turgid
“Cynics may ascribe Mr. Rubio’s mild tone to the diverse population of his home state, and the fact that bombastic Mr. Trump trails in the polls there.”
Source: “A bloody week for America” published in The Economist

Boycott: noun, a punitive ban that forbids relations with certain groups
Synonyms: veto, shunning, rejection
“Conversely some prominent black women have called for a boycott, seeing Mr. Parker’s past as a disqualifying stain.”
Source: “Blood on the leaves” published in The Economist

Burlesque: noun, a variety show
Synonyms: skit, farce, striptease
“Madame JoJo’s, a burlesque bar in London’s Soho, had its license revoked in 2014 after two bouncers brandished a baseball bat at a rowdy crowd.”
Source: “Less than ecstatic” published in The Economist

Cacophony: noun, a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds
Synonyms: racket, noise, clamor
“In 1957 New York’s subway contained a haphazard mishmash of fonts, both serif and sans, and a typographic designer, sick of the visual cacophony, submitted a brief to the New York City Transit Authority…”
Source: “Fonts and cities: a love story” published in The Economist

Chronic: adjective, (Of a problem) long lasting and difficult to eradicate
Synonyms: constant, continuing, persistent
“Pessimists think the productivity problem is chronic. Technological advances, they say, are ever-less revolutionary…”
Source: “Econundrum” published in The Economist

Coda: noun, a concluding event, remark or section
Synonyms: ending, finale
“With distinct ballad, opera and hard rock sections—and a pensive intro and coda, for good measure—the song was not for listeners in a hurry.”
Source: “Bohemian Rhapsody’s long legacy” published in The Economist

Confound: verb, Prove (a theory, expectation, or prediction) wrong
Synonyms: contradict, counter, go against
“Yet in another sense, the Fed has confounded predictions—at least, those it made itself.”
Source: “The Federal Reserve prepares to raise interest rates again” published in The Economist

Deign: verb, Do something that one considers to be beneath one’s dignity
Synonyms: come down from one’s high horse
“If the Senate deigns to consider and confirm a nominee, do not expect changes overnight.”
Source: “How the election will shape the Supreme Court” published in The Economist

Disingenuous: adjective, not candid or sincere
Synonyms: dishonest, deceitful, duplicitous
“But shamelessly self-interested and probably contrary to his real views on the EU though it is, the mayor’s move is perhaps not entirely disingenuous.”
Source: “Boris Johnson is wrong: in the 21st century, sovereignty is always relative” published in The Economist

Docile: adjective, Ready to accept control or instruction; submissive
Synonyms: compliant, obedient, pliant
“Docile with humans, they are fierce defenders of territory and their young.”
Source: “Breeding cows that can defend themselves against jaguars” published in The Economist

Doff: verb, Remove (an item of clothing)
Synonyms: lay hold of, take hold of
“To don shoes, to doff them, or even to throw them at somebody?”
Source: “Putting their best feet forward” published in The Economist

Dote: verb, be extremely and uncritically fond of
Synonyms: adore, love dearly, be devoted to
“Falling birth-rates allowed parents to dote on fewer children, who were increasingly likely to go to school.”
Source: “Love’s labour” published in The Economist

Endow: verb, Provide with a quality, ability, or asset
Synonyms: equip, bless, give
“Good and inspiring teachers, meanwhile, such as… J.K. Rowling’s Minerva McGonagall, are portrayed as endowed with supernatural gifts…”
Source: “Teaching the teachers” published in The Economist

Ephemeral: adjective, Lasting for a very short time
Synonyms: fleeting, passing, short-lived
“One was Song Dong, just 19 and studying oil painting which he quickly abandoned. Now he is known for his performances and his ephemeral—sometimes edible—installations.”
Source: “Robert Rauschenberg: Ripe for reassessment” published in The Economist

Ethos: noun, the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community
Synonyms: character, atmosphere, climate
“Mr. Cotton presented himself as a member of the generation moved by the patriotic spirit… leaving civilian careers to join the army and learn a ‘warrior ethos.’”
Source: “Growing Cotton in Iowa” published in The Economist

Facetious: adjective, Treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humor
Synonyms: flippant, glib, tongue-in-cheek
“‘More disturbing,’ says Mr. Hart, I didn’t note that his column was facetious. In tone, it was indeed, and I should have noted that.”
Source: “The etymological fallacy” published in The Economist

Faction: noun, a small, organized, dissenting group within a larger one, especially in politics
Synonyms: contingent, section, sector
“One particular separatist faction is now widely accepted to have been responsible for a string of small bombs which detonated in August…”
Source: “The death of the Thai king throws the country into turmoil” published in The Economist

Fallow: adjective, Inactive
Synonyms: dormant, quiet, slack
“Their fickle attention might waver for a few fallow years of rebuilding, but Angel Stadium will still be standing…”
Source: “Why baseball’s best player should be sent packing” published in The Economist

Falter: verb, Move unsteadily or in a way that shows lack of confidence
Synonyms: stumble, fumble
“His early steps were faltering, and a frailer soul might have been daunted by his mentors’ fate…”
Source: “Obituary: John Glenn died on December 8th” published in The Economist

Flail: verb, Flounder; struggle uselessly
Synonyms: thrash, thresh, squirm
“This means that, a good accent, rhythm and grammar notwithstanding, the intermediate-to-advanced learner is likely to flail…”
Source: “The humble linguist” published in The Economist

Fluke: noun, Unlikely chance occurrence, especially a surprising piece of luck
Synonyms: coincidence, accident, a twist of fate
“Was this a fluke? Mr. Baker is not the first to notice the anomaly.”
Source: “Risk and the stockmarket” published in The Economist

Forage: verb, (of a person or animal) search widely for food or provisions
Synonyms: hunt, scavenge, grub
“And you must be ready to abandon tired orthodoxies of the left and right and forage for good ideas across the political spectrum.”
Source: “The next supermodel” published in The Economist

Fortuitous: adjective, Happening by a lucky chance
Synonyms: fortunate, advantageous, opportune
“Thanks to these sensible policies, and the fortuitous tailwind of higher productivity growth, the economy boomed and prosperity was shared.”
Source: “Can she fix it?” published in The Economist

Fringe: noun, the unconventional, extreme, or marginal wing of a group or sphere of activity
Synonyms: peripheral, radical, unorthodox
“Fringe beliefs reinforced in these ways can establish themselves and persist long after outsiders deem them debunked…”
Source: “Yes, I’d lie to you” published in The Economist

Garner: verb, Gather or collect (something, especially information or approval)
Synonyms: accumulate, amass, assemble
“Labs that garnered more pay-offs were more likely to pass on their methods to other, newer labs…”
Source: “Incentive malus” published in The Economist

Gist: noun, the substance or essence of a speech or text
Synonyms: quintessence, main idea
“Machine translation, too, has gone from terrible to usable for getting the gist of a text…”
Source: “Finding a voice” published in The Economist

Gossamer: adjective, Used to refer to something very light, thin, and insubstantial or delicate
Synonyms: gauzy, gossamery, fine
“Like a saintly relic, the gossamer threads that tie the two halves offer the promise of miraculous healing by evoking the vulnerability of the suffering body.”
Source: “Die and do” published in The Economist

Grovel: verb, Act in an obsequious manner in order to obtain someone’s forgiveness or favor
Synonyms: be servile, suck up, flatter
“She writes…in the knowledge that some of these lovers will snoop into her diary to see what she’s written. ('Does she get a kick out of my groveling in the last two years?)”
Source: “When she was good” published in The Economist

Harangue: noun, a lengthy and aggressive speech
Synonyms: tirade, diatribe, rant
“State-run China Central Television (CCTV) has broadcast harsh criticisms of some multinationals, including an absurd harangue over Starbucks’ prices…”
Source: “A harder road ahead” published in The Economist

Impetuous: adjective, Acting or done quickly and without thought or care
Synonyms: impulsive, rash, hasty
“The report holds many lessons, including for this newspaper, which supported the invasion of Iraq: about the danger of impetuous decision-making…”
Source: “The dangerous chill of Chilcot” published in The Economist

Indictment: noun, a formal charge or accusation of a serious crime
Synonyms: arraignment, citation
“A criminal indictment would, in all likelihood, force the prime minister to resign.”
Source: “A new scandal rocks Israel’s prime minister” published in The Economist

Inert: adjective, Lacking vigor
Synonyms: idle, inactive, underactive
“America’s founders, he argued, put their faith in reasoned discussion among citizens and believed that the ‘greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.’ “
Source: “Citizen Brandeis” published in The Economist

Ingrate: noun, an ungrateful person
“Greater liberty… over the past generation is abused by ingrates who think it funny to depict their leaders pantless…”
Source: “Run!” published in The Economist

Insipid: adjective, Lacking vigour or interest
Synonyms: boring, vapid, dull
“It was a stultifying procession of patriotic songs… insipid skits and bald propaganda.”
Source: “Core values” published in The Economist

Lax: adjective, Not sufficiently strict, severe, or careful
Synonyms: slack, slipshod, negligent
“Mario Draghi has faced attacks from critics in Germany (for being too lax) and Greece (for being too tight).”
Source: “Rethinking central bank independence” published in The Economist

Listless: adjective, (Of a person or their manner) lacking energy or enthusiasm
Synonyms: lethargic, enervated, lackadaisical
“Ukraine is brimming with weapons and thousands of militiamen, angry with a corrupt and listless government they feel has hijacked the revolution.”
Source: “Mr. Saakashvili goes to Odessa” published in The Economist

Livid: adjective, furiously angry
Synonyms: infuriated, irate, fuming
“A livid Vladimir Putin minced no words in his response, calling the downing a ‘stab in the back’…”
Source: “Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet was a confrontation waiting to happen” published in The Economist

Loll: verb, Sit, lie, or stand in a lazy, relaxed way
Synonyms: lounge, sprawl, drape oneself
“The pair loll on a green hillside at Murnau south of Munich where Münter had bought a house.”
Source: “Eye music” published in The Economist

Lurid: adjective, Presented in vividly shocking or sensational terms
Synonyms: melodramatic, exaggerated, overdramatized
“Their absence from the public eye, especially in a Western country with an abundant supply of good hospitals, tends to spark lurid rumours of illness and even death.”
Source: “Malawi’s president disappears” published in The Economist

Mar: verb, Impair the quality or appearance of
Synonyms: spoil, ruin, damage
“These oversights mar an otherwise engaging and interesting account, but perhaps it is natural that a history of space should have a few gaping holes.”
Source: “The uncanny physics of empty space” published in The Economist

Mince: verb, Use polite or moderate expressions to indicate disapproval
“President Barack Obama didn’t mince his words in a tweet on June 21st, the day after the Senate failed to pass four proposals…”
Source: “Senators fail the American people (again)” published in The Economist

Minion: noun, a follower or underling of a powerful person
Synonyms: henchman, yes-man, lackey
“Its minions have set up thousands of social-media “bots” and other spamming weapons to drown out other content.”
Source: “Yes, I’d lie to you” published in The Economist

Mirth: noun, Amusement, especially as expressed in laughter
Synonyms: merriment, high spirits
“A further proposal, to cut the salaries of senior public managers by 25%, has caused both anger and mirth.”
Source: “Letting go, slowly” published in The Economist

Modest: adjective, not excessively large, elaborate, or expensive
Synonyms: ordinary, simple, plain
“They can be seen in the modest dress, office decor and eating habits of Angela Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor…”
Source: “How Martin Luther has shaped Germany for half a millennium” published in The Economist

Morose: adjective, Sullen and ill-tempered
Synonyms: sullen, sulky, gloomy
“Mr. Macron’s can-do political energy stands out in morose France, home to 10% unemployment and growth last year of just 1.1%.”
Source: “Beardless youth” published in The Economist

Muse: noun, a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist
Synonyms: inspiration, influence, stimulus
“Mr. Blackwell’s mother was Fleming’s mistress, muse and supposedly the model for Pussy Galore.”
Source: “Island story” published in The Economist

Oblique: adjective, Not explicit or direct in addressing a point
Synonyms: indirect, inexplicit, roundabout
“‘Fire at Sea’ has been praised for offering an oblique, poetic alternative to a more conventional campaigning documentary…”
Source: “The odd, award-winning migration movie ‘Fire at Sea’” published in The Economist

Opaque: adjective, Not able to be seen through; not transparent
Synonyms: cloudy, obscure
“But Mr. Kim is so opaque and so little is known about how decisions come about in the capital, Pyongyang, that deterring North Korea is fraught with difficulty.”
Source: “A nuclear nightmare” published in The Economist

Overwrought: adjective, (of a piece of writing or a work of art) too elaborate or complicated in design or construction
Synonyms: overblown, contrived, exaggerated
“She made prodigious strides as a writer and learned to temper her overwrought outpourings.”
Source: “Charlotte Brontë’s classroom fantasy” published in The Economist

Pertain: verb, be appropriate, related, or applicable
Synonyms: concern, relate to, be related to
“Religious exceptions to the law, such as those pertaining to animal welfare, should ideally be ended…”
Source: “Like other old institutions, England’s state religion uses artful adaptation” published in The Economist

Pine: verb, Miss and long for the return of
“Few DJs pine for the days of ones-and-twos; the possibilities of modern technology are too alluring.”
Source: “Now that anyone can be a DJ, is the art form dead?” published in The Economist

Placate: verb, Make (someone) less angry or hostile
Synonyms: appease, pacify, mollify
“The government has tried to placate voters without abandoning its policies.”
Source: “It’s cold outside” published in The Economist

Platitude: noun, A remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful
Synonyms: cliché, truism, commonplace
“For most of her end-of-term grilling by the liaison committee… she wore an aquiline scowl, quibbling with the questions and, when pushed, cleaving to evasive platitudes…”
Source: “Assessing the first six months of Theresa May” published in The Economist

Plethora: noun, a large or excessive amount
Synonyms: excess, overabundance, surplus
“Podcasts were facing fierce competition for audiences’ attention from a plethora of other new digital-native products including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.”
Source: “2016: the year the podcast came of age” published in The Economist

Posit: verb, Put forward as fact or as a basis for argument
Synonyms: postulate, propound, submit
“Mr. Ansar and his co-authors assume this margin is 40%: they posit a ratio of expected benefits to costs of 1.4 for every project.”
Source: “Opinion is divided on China’s massive infrastructure projects” published in The Economist

Prodigal: noun, a person who leaves home and behaves recklessly, but later makes a repentant return
“As the 73-year-old Mr. Obiang becomes frailer, his sons, including the prodigal Teodorín, have begun jockeying to succeed him.”
Source: “Palace in the jungle” published in The Economist

Prophetic: adjective, Accurately describing or predicting what will happen in the future
Synonyms: predictive, visionary
“As the depleted council began, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware… said he still hoped it could avoid being mired in Orthodoxy’s internal woes and ‘speak in a firm, prophetic voice’ to humanity.”
Source: “The autumn of the patriarchs” published in The Economist

Purist: noun, a person who insists on absolute adherence to traditional rules or structures
Synonyms: pedant, dogmatist, perfectionist
“From this purist point of view, there is only one Christian church worthy of the name…”
Source: “Eastern Christian leaders face ultra-conservative grumbles as they prepare for a summit” published in The Economist

Pyre: noun, a heap of combustible material, especially one for burning a corpse as part of a funeral ceremony
“Yet Ms McInerney takes the story deeper, skillfully setting a funeral pyre ‘for that Ireland’…”
Source: “Irish charm” published in The Economist

Quack: noun, a person who dishonestly claims to have special knowledge in some field
Synonyms: swindler, charlatan, fraud
“That can cause malnutrition and eating disorders—and supports a vast, quack-ridden diet industry.”
Source: “Declare war on misleading metaphors” published in The Economist

Reticence: noun, the quality of not revealing one’s thoughts or feelings readily
Synonyms: reserve, introversion, restraint
“Mr. Harding is more comfortable with facts; with classic English reticence, he buries his family’s responses in footnotes and summaries.”
Source: “Vantage point” published in The Economist

Rue: verb, Bitterly regret (something one has done or allowed to happen)
Synonyms: deplore, lament, bemoan
“Meanwhile, Mr. Showalter will now have a long six months to rue his slavery to the save rule before his club plays another game.”
Source: “Progressive managers are finding sweet relief by unshackling their closers” published in The Economist

Ruminate: verb, Think deeply about something
Synonyms: contemplate, consider, mull over
“Alfred Sauvy, the French thinker… was prone to worry that the first world would become ‘a society of old people, living in old houses, ruminating about old ideas.’”
Source: “Age invaders” published in The Economist

Stigma: noun, a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person
Synonyms: shame, disgrace, dishonour
“A stigma against adults having fun, strong in the aftermath of the Second World War, has faded.”
Source: “Toymakers bounce back in the land of adult nappies” published in The Economist

Strut: verb, Walk with a stiff, erect, and apparently arrogant or conceited gait
Synonyms: swagger, prance, parade
“Dogs strut their stuff on its pavements tricked out in tutus, hoodies, boots, overalls and trousers.”
Source: “Furry fashionable” published in The Economist

Sublime: adjective, of very great excellence or beauty
Synonyms: awe-inspiring, awesome, majestic
“Yet life in the ocean can still mount sublime spectacles.”
Source: “If the ocean was transparent” published in The Economist

Surly: adjective, Bad-tempered and unfriendly
Synonyms: ill-natured, grumpy, glum
“Here, poverty and economic decline has led to the surly separation of a left-behind, resentful white working class and a Muslim minority.”
Source: “Integration nation” published in The Economist

Syncopation: noun, A displacement of the beat or accents in (music or a rhythm) so that strong beats become weak and vice versa
“She dances an assortment of lissom steps, marvelously shedding shoes and socks as the Beethoven famously shifts from solemnity to syncopation.”
Source: “Her final steps” published in The Economist

Taunt: noun, A remark made in order to anger, wound, or provoke someone
Synonyms: jeer, gibe, sneer
“But in the past two years taunts have turned into deadly attacks.”
Source: “Murder for profit” published in The Economist

Tawdry: adjective, Showy but cheap and of poor quality
Synonyms: gaudy, flashy, garish
“A team of 21 organisers resigned from the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (NPBCU), throwing the festival of tawdry pop into doubt.”
Source: “Why Ukraine’s Eurovision song contest is in crisis” published in The Economist

Temperate: adjective, Relating to or denoting a region or climate characterized by mild temperatures
Synonyms: mild, clement, pleasant
“It can remain temperate in such a close orbit only because Proxima is a red dwarf, and thus much cooler than the sun. “
Source: “Proximate goals” published in The Economist

Terse: adjective, Sparing in the use of words
Synonyms: curt, brusque, abrupt
“In a terse phone-call on Thursday night, President Barack Obama paused only briefly to congratulate Mr. Netanyahu on his victory…”
Source: “Picking up the pieces” published in The Economist

Tome: noun, a book, especially a large, heavy, scholarly one
Synonyms: volume, work, opus
“It is a tome to which most recent arguments about regulation and economic reform are merely annotations.”
Source: “Britain’s newly interventionist economic consensus is a question, not an answer” published in The Economist

Torrid: adjective, Full of difficulty or tribulation
“The pound, after a few torrid days of trading immediately after the vote, has stabilized.”
Source: “How Britain’s post-referendum economy is faring” published in The Economist

Transgression: noun, an act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct
Synonyms: offense, crime, sin
“We can forgive most kinds of transgression—anger, adultery, avarice—but we cannot forgive absurdity.”
Source: “Can we forgive Anthony Weiner?” published in The Economist

Treacherous: adjective, Guilty of or involving betrayal or deception
Synonyms: traitorous, disloyal, perfidious
“It sang of domineering men, treacherous women and the manly solace of tequila.”
Source: “Mexico’s mirror” published in The Economist

Vapid: adjective, offering nothing that is stimulating or challenging; bland
Synonyms: insipid, uninspired, uninteresting
“Mr. Silver delighted in savaging commentators who relied on vapid clichés like ‘momentum shifts’ and ‘game-changers.’”
Source: “Pushback” published in The Economist

Vestige: noun, a trace of something that is disappearing or no longer exists
Synonyms: remnant, remainder, fragment
“He said this would remove a ‘lingering vestige of the cold war.’ “
Source: “Politics this week” published in The Economist

Vilify: verb, Speak or write about in an abusively disparaging manner
Synonyms: disparage, denigrate, defame
“Its publications and social-media accounts, however, have vilified Turkey ever since the country decided last year to open its airbases to coalition jets…”
Source: “Soft target” published in The Economist

Viscous: adjective, having a thick, sticky consistency between solid and liquid
Synonyms: gummy, glue-like, gluey
“Not all barrels of oil are alike. Crudes can be viscous like tar or so ‘light’ they float on water.”
Source: “Crude measure” published in The Economist

Volatile: adjective, Liable to change rapidly and unpredictably, especially for the worse
Synonyms: tense, strained, turbulent
“The period from the 1940s to the 1970s, when governments took primary responsibility for keeping economies out of slumps, was more volatile and inflationary…”
Source: “The desperation of independents” published in The Economist

Waffle: noun, Lengthy but trivial or useless talk or writing
Synonyms: prattle, hot air, drivel
“Most voters say they know little about the candidates or their policies, some of which are pure waffle.”
Source: “No walk in the Park” published in The Economist

Waft: verb, Pass or cause to pass easily or gently through or as if through the air
Synonyms: drift, float, glide
“The acrid scent of smoke wafts from his clothes.”
Source: “Despite tough talk, Indonesia’s government is struggling to stem deforestation” published in The Economist

Wanton: adjective, (of a cruel or violent action) deliberate and unprovoked
Synonyms: malicious, malevolent, spiteful
“Over the decades these Muslim non-people, without legal or any other sort of protection, have been the victims of wanton discrimination and violence…”
Source: “Myanmar’s shame” published in The Economist

Whitewash: verb, Deliberately attempt to conceal unpleasant facts about (a person or organization)
Synonyms: cover up, sweep under the carpet
“Indeed, in trying to whitewash the past, the government may stir up prejudice instead.”
Source: “The politics of memory” published in The Economist

Whittle: verb, Reduce something in size, amount, or extent by a gradual series of steps
Synonyms: erode, wear away, diminish
“Democrats had spent a nervous September watching that lead whittle away after Mrs. Clinton’s bout of pneumonia…”
Source: “Hillary Clinton’s polling compared with Barack Obama’s” published in The Economist

Winsome: adjective, Attractive or appealing in appearance or character
Synonyms: engaging, charming, winning
“By the time Mr. Pattinson came along as the winsome vampire in “Twilight”, the teenage rebels were starting the movie already dead.”
Source: “James Dean, death-cult idol” published in The Economist

Wizened: adjective, Shriveled or wrinkled with age
Synonyms: lined, creased, withered
“His son, himself a wizened old man, is nonplussed by the news; he looks like an eccentric, or maybe the village drunk…”
Source: "The meandering, sure-footed genius of “Thithi” published in The Economist

Wry: adjective, Using or expressing dry, especially mocking, humor
Synonyms: ironic, sardonic, satirical
“Catherine Merridale is one of the foremost foreign historians of Russia, combining wry insights with deep sympathy for the human beings…”
Source: “Missed connection” published in The Economist

Zeal: noun, Great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective
Synonyms: passion, zealousness, fervor
“But it was his zeal in amassing land by borrowing heavily that gave him his edge—and ultimately brought him down.”
Source: “A gambler on shale” published in The Economist

Level Two GRE Vocabulary: Medium Difficulty

Abasement: noun, the action or fact of abasing or being abased; humiliation or degradation
Synonyms: belittlement, disgrace
“But of course, Europe needs more than humility or self-abasement if it is to absorb the migrants who are now sailing or trudging towards its heart.”
Source: “A non-European pope is hailed as the greatest European” published in The Economist

Abate: verb, become less intense or widespread
Synonyms: subside, die away, die down
“A broad cash crunch and broken supply chains threaten a sharp economic slowdown—albeit one that will abate…”
Source: “The dire consequences of India’s demonetization initiative” published in The Economist

Accession: verb, the action or process of formally joining an association or institution
Synonyms: joining, signing up, enrollment
“China had expected to win the status of a market economy in December, 15 years after its accession to the World Trade Organization…”
Source: “An obsession with stable growth leads to vulnerabilities in China” published in The Economist

Acerbic: adjective, (Especially of a comment or style of speaking) sharp and forthright
Synonyms: sardonic, biting, caustic
“Mr. Zhang presented a friendly face in Hong Kong, prompting the Big Lychee, an acerbic local blog, to note: ‘Few sights are more painful to behold than a senior Chinese Communist Party official attempting to be nice…’”
Source: “Rocking boats, shaking mountains” published in The Economist

Acolyte: noun, a person assisting the celebrant in a religious service or procession
Synonyms: assistant, helper, follower
“Critics refer to a ‘cult’ of ‘acolytes’ around a ‘Great Leader’, unwilling to challenge him or engage seriously with the work of non-Chomskyan scholars.”
Source: “Noam Chomsky” published in The Economist

Acumen: noun, the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions, typically in a particular domain
Synonyms: astuteness, awareness, acuity
“Literary critics admire his summer reading selections, musicians his playlists, scientists and tech entrepreneurs his acumen and curiosity.”
Source: “A reflection on Barack Obama’s presidency” published in The Economist

Apostle: noun, a vigorous and pioneering advocate or supporter of a particular cause
Synonyms: proponent, promoter, propagandist
“On the website of this apostle of anti-Americanism, there is an article rejoicing in the fact that the United States need no longer be treated as an enemy… “
Source: “Russian anti-liberals love Donald Trump but it may not be entirely mutual” published in The Economist

Apprise: verb, Inform or tell (someone)
Synonyms: notify, let know, advise
“If not exactly legitimate, secret information is often useful in apprising countries of the intentions of others.”
Source: “What are the spies for?” published in The Economist

Armada: noun, a fleet of warships
Synonyms: flotilla, squadron, navy
“This month he also unveiled plans to send an armada of tiny spaceships, powered by laser beams and equipped with all sorts of sensors…”
Source: “Crazy diamonds” published in The Economist

Arson: noun, the criminal act of deliberately setting fire to property
Synonyms: incendiarism, pyromania
“The political landscape already feels as ready to burn as any… drought-stricken forest, so that throwing inflammatory statements around would be as wicked as any act of arson.”
Source: “A bloody week for America” published in The Economist

Ascribe: verb, Attribute something to (a cause)
Synonyms: attribute to, assign to, blame on
“He had spent years training to be a neurosurgeon; his doctor first ascribed his sharp pains and dwindling frame to the demands of residency.”
Source: “As he lay dying” published in The Economist

Barrage: noun, A concentrated outpouring, as of questions or blows
Synonyms: abundance, mass, profusion
“Whatever the outcome of individual claims, the barrage of litigation will probably prompt firms to adjust their online terms.”
Source: “Ticking all the boxes” published in The Economist

Bevy: noun, a large group of people or things of a particular kind
Synonyms: group, crowd, cluster
“Of the bevy of bullet points in Mr. Obama’s new package of executive actions, the most consequential is his decision to require significantly expanded background checks.”
Source: “Obama’s new push for tougher gun controls” published in The Economist

Boor: noun, an unrefined, ill-mannered person
Synonyms: lout, oaf, ruffian
“End a sentence in a preposition, and there are still people who will think you a boor.”
Source: “Do you make Scandinavian mistakes?” published in The Economist

Bucolic: adjective, Relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life
Synonyms: rustic, rural, pastoral
“General Electric… is now swapping its bucolic site for a collection of warehouses on the Boston waterfront.”
Source: “Leaving for the city” published in The Economist

Canonical: adjective, (Of an artist or work) belonging to the literary or artistic canon
Synonyms: established, authoritative
“The medium now mostly consists of recycling the same canonical works by European men from centuries past.”
Source: “Can classical music be cool?” published in The Economist

Capricious: adjective, given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior
Synonyms: fickle, inconstant, changeable
“But there is a body of academic work that supports the idea that elections often misfire. For one thing, voters can be capricious.”
Source: “X marks the knot” published in The Economist

Chauvinism: noun, Excessive or prejudiced loyalty or support for one’s own cause, group, or gender
Synonyms: jingoism, excessive patriotism, sectarianism
“As recently as 2014, a biannual survey of right-wing attitudes in Germany found that xenophobia, chauvinism, anti-Semitism and authoritarian longings were declining.”
Source: “Radikale Rechte” published in The Economist

Circumspect: adjective, Wary and unwilling to take risks
Synonyms: cautious, wary, careful
“‘This is an area where we need to be extraordinarily careful and circumspect’, he said. ‘We’re literally talking about life and death.’”
Source: “How assisted suicide is gradually becoming lawful in America” published in The Economist

Coalesce: verb, Come together and form one mass or whole
Synonyms: merge, unite, fuse
“As they radiate away, the waves tend to coalesce to form two main shock waves.”
Source: “How supersonic jets may become less noisy” published in The Economist

Coffer: noun, the funds or financial reserves of a group or institution
Synonyms: resources, money, finances
“This scheme drains public coffers and is horribly corrupt.”
Source: “State of denial” published in The Economist

Condone: verb, Accept and allow (behavior that is considered morally wrong or offensive)
Synonyms: disregard, let pass, excuse
“Rashad Ali… argues that deradicalisation can be worse than useless if practitioners, while condemning IS, condone other violence.”
Source: “A disarming approach” published in The Economist

Contrite: adjective, Feeling or expressing remorse or penitence
Synonyms: regretful, sorry, apologetic
“As the election results were coming in, a contrite Mr. Turnbull took ‘full responsibility’ for the government’s poor performance.”
Source: “The churn down under” published in The Economist

Credulous: adjective, having or showing too great a readiness to believe things
Synonyms: gullible, naive
“Supplements boast a unique trifecta: lax regulation, potent marketing and millions of credulousconsumers keen to pin their hopes of a healthier life on a pill.”
Source: “Miracle healers” published in The Economist

Demur: verb, Raise doubts or objections or show reluctance
Synonyms: object, take exception, take issue
“Mr. Sasse demurs. He does not want less fighting between the left and right. He wants more “meaningful fighting” about issues of substance.”
Source: “Ben Heard” published in The Economist

Depravity: noun, Moral corruption; wickedness
Synonyms: vice, perversion, deviance
“He condemned the ‘anarchical plutocracy’ he lived in, scorning the depravity of modern society and its politics.”
Source: “The discomfort of words” published in The Economist

Deride: verb, Express contempt for; ridicule
Synonyms: mock, jeer at, scoff at
“Mr. Trudeau’s domestic critics—so far a minority—deride him as ‘Prime Minister Selfie’ for posing incessantly with fans and celebrities…”
Source: “The last liberals” published in The Economist

Diatribe: noun, a forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something
Synonyms: tirade, harangue, onslaught
“CNN and other outlets were wrong to turn one disgruntled passenger’s Facebook diatribe into headline news. “
Source: “One can of worms, please. Unopened” published in The Economist

Dictum: noun, a short statement that expresses a general truth or principle
Synonyms: saying, maxim, axiom
“Sometimes the old army dictum ‘Don’t volunteer for anything’ must be broken.”
Source: “Lights, camera, action men” published in The Economist

Diffuse: verb, Spread out over a large area
Synonyms: scattered, dispersed, not concentrated
“The political economy of trade is treacherous: its benefits, though substantial, are diffuse…”
Source: “The consensus crumbles” published in The Economist

Dilate: verb, Make or become wider, larger, or more open
Synonyms: enlarge, expand
“By being able to increase heartbeat, while dilating blood vessels, theobromine can help reduce high blood pressure.”
Source: “Confection of the gods” published in The Economist

Discordant: adjective, Disagreeing or incongruous
Synonyms: divergent, opposing, clashing
“It represents an opening of musical trade routes between two often discordant sides of the world.”
Source: “Omar Souleyman, not a debaser but an Arab conduit to the West” published in The Economist

Divest: verb, Rid oneself of something that one no longer wants or requires, such as a business interest or investment
“So far the protesters have managed to persuade 220 cities and institutions to divest some of their holdings…”
Source: “Fight the power” published in The Economist

Droll: adjective, Curious or unusual in a way that provokes dry amusement
Synonyms: funny, humorous, amusing
“Karo Akpokiere, from Nigeria, will present a series of droll paintings inspired by the fast-moving pop culture that has emerged in Lagos…”
Source: “New on the Rialto” published in The Economist

Echelon: noun, a level or rank in an organization, a profession, or society
Synonyms: level, rank, grade
“The social shock of the arrival of online education will be substantially greater if it devours the top echelon of public universities.”
Source: “The disruption to come” published in The Economist

Eddy: verb, (of water, air, or smoke) move in a circular way
Synonyms: swirl, whirl, spiral
“Above all, Hokusai was a master of line and pattern, inscribing his forms within contours that eddy and spill like the currents of a mountain stream.”
Source: “Riding the crest” published in The Economist

Effigy: noun, a sculpture or model of a person
Synonyms: statue, statuette, figure
“The tradition of lighting bonfires and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes began shortly after the foiled plot, and schoolchildren still learn the ghoulish rhyme ‘Remember, remember the fifth of November.’”
Source: “In Cuba, app stores pay rent” published in The Economist

Elucidate: verb, Make (something) clear
Synonyms: explain, make plain, illuminate
“One was from almost 600 people who had completed… a questionnaire intended to elucidatethe different tendencies of people to engage in sexual relationships without a deep emotional commitment.”
Source: “Cads and dads” published in The Economist

Endemic: adjective, (Of a disease or condition) regularly found among particular people or in a certain area
Synonyms: local, regional
“One of the mysteries of epidemiology is why Asia does not suffer from yellow fever. The disease is endemic in Africa, the continent where it evolved.”
Source: “A preventable tragedy” published in The Economist

Epistemology: noun, the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope
“The only way to know for sure is to run the experiment (Mr. Lind’s exotic epistemologynotwithstanding).”
Source: “Michael Lind’s bad argument against anything” published in The Economist

Epithet: noun, an adjective or descriptive phrase expressing a quality characteristic of the person or thing; a term of abuse
Synonyms: name, label, smear
“Preposterous’ and ‘absurd’ were among the milder epithets that could be overheard in the multilingual din.”
Source: “Snafus and successes at the Olympics” published in The Economist

Errant: adjective, Erring or straying from the proper course or standards
Synonyms: offending, guilty, culpable
“He could admit the error and fire the errant speechwriter.”
Source: “Melania Trump’s excruciating blunder” published in The Economist

Esoteric: adjective, Intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest
Synonyms: abstruse, obscure, arcane
“The subjects at hand often sound esoteric, if not silly, but the questions may prove more than merely academic.”
Source: “Sneaking with the fishes” published in The Economist

Exemplar: noun, a person or thing serving as a typical example or excellent model
Synonyms: epitome, perfect example
‘At times ‘Utopia’ seems less an exemplar of idealism, and more of a satire on it.”
Source: “500 years on, are we living in Thomas More’s Utopia?” published in The Economist

Extol: verb, Praise enthusiastically
Synonyms: go wild about, wax lyrical about
“This is likely to become a media circus, with patient advocates likely to attend and extol the benefits of the treatments they received.”
Source: “A dish called hope” published in The Economist

Façade: noun, the face of a building
Synonyms: front, frontage, exterior
“Its grey stone façade and arched doorways convey a feeling of prosperity, a splash of high finance in this small county town in eastern China…”
Source: “Big but brittle” published in The Economist

Fetid: adjective, smelling extremely unpleasant
Synonyms: stinking, smelly, foul-smelling
“The fetid smog that settled on Beijing in January 2013 could join the ranks of these game-changing environmental disruptions.”
Source: “The East is grey” published in The Economist

Florid: adjective, using unusual words or complicated rhetorical constructions
Synonyms: extravagant, grandiloquent
“A victorious Governor Jerry Brown, his voice gruffer, his pate sparer and his metaphors more florid than during his first stint in office…”
Source: “Brownian motion” published in The Economist

Flout: verb, Openly disregard
Synonyms: defy, refuse to obey, go against
“It relies on its members, and on institutions… to shame and discourage people who flout important political norms.”
Source: “How strong are the institutions of liberal societies?” published in The Economist

Foible: noun, a minor weakness or eccentricity in someone’s character
Synonyms: idiosyncrasy, eccentricity, peculiarity
“The elder Bongo had a gift for politics as outsized as his personality (among other foibles, he liked to show off his pet tiger to guests).”
Source: “Trying to get past oil” published in The Economist

Forestall: verb, Prevent or obstruct (an anticipated event or action) by taking action ahead of time
Synonyms: pre-empt, get in before, get ahead of
“To forestall a social crisis, he mused, governments should consider a tax on robots; if automation slows as a result, so much the better.”
Source: “Why taxing robots is not a good idea” published in The Economist

Frenetic: adjective, Fast and energetic in a rather wild and uncontrolled way
Synonyms: frantic, wild, frenzied
“Frenetic multi-tasking—surfing the web while watching TV while listening to music—is a formula for distraction, rather than good management.”
Source: “Here comes SuperBoss” published in The Economist

Gall: noun, Bold, impudent behavior
Synonyms: insolence, nerve, audacity
With enough gall and entrepreneurial spirit, it suggests, anyone can end up driving a Porsche and living in a marble-floored luxury apartment.
Source: “War games” published in The Economist

Galvanize: verb, Shock or excite (someone), typically into taking action
Synonyms: jolt, impel
“‘The decay of American politics,’ Mr. Fukuyama writes, ‘will probably continue until some external shock comes along to catalyze a true reform coalition and galvanize it into action.’”
Source: “Pandering and other sins” published in The Economist

Gambit: noun, a device, action, or opening remark, typically one entailing a degree of risk, that is calculated to gain an advantage
Synonyms: plan, scheme, strategy
“What began as a gambit to hold together his divided Tory party is turning into an alarmingly close contest.”
Source: “The real danger of Brexit” published in The Economist

Goad: verb, Provoke or annoy (someone) so as to stimulate some action or reaction
Synonyms: spur, prod, egg on
“Her words were meant to goad officials into action, not (presumably) to describe how she saw the coming four years of her term.”
Source: “A series of unfortunate events” published in The Economist

Gossamer: adjective, Used to refer to something very light, thin, and insubstantial or delicate
Synonyms: gauzy, gossamery, fine
“Like a saintly relic, the gossamer threads that tie the two halves offer the promise of miraculous healing by evoking the vulnerability of the suffering body.”
Source: “Die and do” published in The Economist

Gouge: verb, Overcharge; swindle
“They do not want monopolists to gouge consumers and stifle innovation, yet they often struggle to determine the extent to which such things are happening.”
Source: “It’s complicated” published in The Economist

Grandiloquent: adjective, Pompous or extravagant in language, style, or manner
Synonyms: pompous, bombastic, magniloquent
“The authors give it a rather grandiloquent name: the desire ‘to force destiny, to create serendipity.’”
Source: “In praise of misfits” published in The Economist

Grouse: verb, complain pettily; grumble
Synonyms: moan, groan, protest
“Some economists grouse about such rules, which can interfere with the smooth functioning of competitive labour markets…”
Source: “Apps and downsides” published in The Economist

Hapless: adjective, (Especially of a person) unfortunate
Synonyms: unlucky, luckless, out of luck
“By the 1970s, many fans argued that the spectacle of hapless pitchers feebly trying to fend off blazing fastballs was turning their at-bats into a mockery of the game.”
Source: “Is it ever a good idea to let a hurler hit?” published in The Economist

Homage: noun, Special honour or respect shown publicly
Synonyms: tribute, acknowledgement, admiration
“Over the past year, numerous young directors have been paying gushing homage to the movies which enchanted them in their youth.”
Source: “The dangerous chill of Chilcot” published in The Economist

Imbue: verb, Inspire or permeate with a feeling or quality
Synonyms: saturate, fill, suffuse
“Some feminists argue, moreover, that the very framework of economics is imbued with subtler forms of sexism.”
Source: “A proper reckoning” published in The Economist

Immutable: adjective, Unchanging over time or unable to be changed
Synonyms: permanent, set, steadfast
“After all, whom institutions choose to celebrate and how they depict the past are choices to be debated, not immutable facts.”
Source: “The colliding of the American mind” published in The Economist

Impasse: noun, a situation in which no progress is possible, especially because of disagreement
Synonyms: deadlock, dead end, stalemate
“The Catalan impasse is part of a wider Spanish gridlock. Elections on December 20th splintered the political landscape.”
Source: “The chore of the Spanish succession” published in The Economist

Inculcate: verb, Instill (an attitude, idea, or habit) by persistent instruction
Synonyms: imbue, infuse, inspire
“The tests and ceremonies were to start inculcating a sense of common values that had previously been lacking.”
Source: “Integration nation” published in The Economist

Indolence: noun, Avoidance of activity or exertion
Synonyms: laziness, idleness, slothfulness
“The indolence of a society brought up to expect that oil riches will be lavished upon them is another large hurdle.”
Source: “Saudi Arabia’s post-oil future” published in The Economist

Inquest: noun, a judicial inquiry to ascertain the facts relating to an incident, such as a death
Synonyms: enquiry, investigation, inquisition
“A jury at a second inquest ruled that they were unlawfully killed.”
Source: “The significance of the Hillsborough inquests” published in The Economist

Irascible: adjective, having or showing a tendency to be easily angered
Synonyms: irritable, quick-tempered, short-tempered
“He survived, but some of his contemporaries thought that the accident changed his personality from pleasant to irascible.”
Source: “From neurosis to neurons” published in The Economist

Itinerant: adjective, Traveling from place to place
Synonyms: peripatetic, wandering, roving
“Her first America-set film is a freewheeling road movie in which an 18-year-old escapes a dysfunctional family by joining a group of itinerant young misfits.”
Source: “Noblesse oblige at Cannes” published in The Economist

Laconic: adjective, (of a person, speech, or style of writing) using very few words
Synonyms: brief, concise, terse
“After decades in obscurity, he has been resurrected as an important literary figure, praised for his laconic style and eyewitness testimony…”
Source: “Darkness before dawn” published in The Economist

Largesse: noun, Generosity in bestowing money or gifts upon others
Synonyms: liberality, munificence, bounty
“All else equal, such largesse should indeed give the economy some temporary vim.”
Source: “King of debt” published in The Economist

Leery: adjective, Cautious or wary due to realistic suspicions
Synonyms: careful, circumspect, on one’s guard
“The past two decades have left working-class voters in many countries leery of globalisation.”
Source: “Trade in the balance” published in The Economist

Limpid: adjective, (especially of writing or music) clear and accessible or melodious
Synonyms: lucid, plain, understandable
“Unlike many writers of Spanish, he preferred short, simple sentences, and they gave his writing a limpid intensity.”
Source: “Poet of a magical Latin American world” published in The Economist

Loquacious: adjective, Tending to talk a great deal
Synonyms: talkative, voluble, communicative
“Edwina, Williams’ mother, was judgmental, frigid and pious, but also as loquacious as her husband was laconic.”
Source: “Making Tenn out of Tom” published in The Economist

Lucid: adjective, Showing ability to think clearly
Synonyms: rational, sane, in one’s right mind
“But his style is lucid and his judgments scrupulously fair.”
Source: “A near-run thing” published in The Economist

Malign: adjective, evil in nature or effect
Synonyms: harmful, bad, malevolent
“Other, darker interpretations of what malign force the monster may represent once again abound…”
Source: “A well-loved monster takes Japan’s box office by storm once again” published in The Economist

Maudlin: adjective, Self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental
Synonyms: emotional, tearful, lachrymose
“Alas, he never really fixed his state’s finances, and voters at home have tired of his maudlintheatrics…”
Source: “Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina drop out” published in The Economist

Milieu: noun, a person’s social environment
Synonyms: sphere, background, backdrop
“Armed with a view of themselves in a seething milieu of particles careening around a stretchy space-time, readers are reminded they are ‘an integral part of the world which we perceive…’”
Source: “The universe, writ small” published in The Economist

Mire: verb, involve someone or something in (a difficult situation)
Synonyms: entangle, tangle up, embroil
“Ms Park is hopelessly mired in an ever-deepening influence-peddling scandal.”
Source: “Why Park Geun-hye should resign” published in The Economist

Modish: adjective, Conforming to or following what is currently popular and fashionable
Synonyms: modern, trendy, in
“With these modish safety demonstrations becoming the norm, the question is what, exactly, do they accomplish?”
Source: “Why airline safety videos are getting catchier” published in The Economist

Morose: adjective, Sullen and ill-tempered
Synonyms: sullen, sulky, gloomy
“Mr. Macron’s can-do political energy stands out in morose France, home to 10% unemployment and growth last year of just 1.1%.”
Source: “Beardless youth” published in The Economist

Nascent: adjective, just coming into existence and beginning to display signs of future potential
Synonyms: emerging, beginning, dawning
“Weakening the legislature in a nascent democracy will not fix corruption by itself.”
Source: “Why politicians are granted immunity from prosecution” published in The Economist

Natty: adjective, (of a person or an article of clothing) smart and fashionable
Synonyms: stylish, dapper, debonair
“The British Museum, the National Gallery and the Wallace Collection have all flirted with nattycontinental leaders…”
Source: “Two new museum heads herald a generational shift in advocates for the arts in Britain” published in The Economist

Nexus: noun, a connection or series of connections linking two or more things
Synonyms: union, link
“Some chapters read like a thriller, because they offer a microscopic look at the unwholesome nexus between Germany’s media, politics and judiciary.”
Source: “An unwholesome nexus” published in The Economist

Nonplussed: adjective, (Of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react
Synonyms: baffled, confounded
“And as usual, internet commenters seemed nonplussed by what seemed to be a venerable institution (i.e., Oxford) validating teenage slang.”
Source: “How dictionary-makers decide which words to include” published in The Economist

Normative: adjective, Establishing, relating to, or deriving from a standard or norm
“…Japanese philosopher and merchant, Tominaga Nakamoto, who was highly critical of the normative thought of his time and favoured free trade.”
Source: “Craig Wright reveals himself as Satoshi Nakamoto” published in The Economist

Opine: verb, Hold and state as one’s opinion
Synonyms: suggest, say, declare
“The voters may opine on the overarching principle but the voters cannot get involved in the minutiae of policy implementation.”
Source: “A recipe for Parliamentary chaos?” published in The Economist

Pallid: adjective, (of a person’s face) pale, typically because of poor health
Synonyms: white, pasty, wan
“Its protagonists (played by the suitably pallid and slender Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton) are named Adam and Eve.”
Source: “Nonfatal attraction” published in The Economist

Panache: noun, Flamboyant confidence of style or manner
Synonyms: self-assurance, style, flair
“Second, a quick mind: he wrote with speed and panache, after strolling round leisurely with a big cigar beforehand.”
Source: “The Fab One” published in The Economist

Paragon: noun, a person or thing regarded as a perfect example of a particular quality
Synonyms: model, epitome, exemplar
“Despite the reasons to see it as a paragon of modernity, Odebrecht has long been accused of winning business in an old-fashioned and less admirable way.”
Source: “Principles and values” published in The Economist

Parry: verb, Answer (a question or accusation) evasively
Synonyms: evade, sidestep, avoid
“In the course of his business career, the president-elect has shown a remarkable ability to dodge and parry and reverse himself on everything…”
Source: “How the Supreme Court will change under President Trump” published in The Economist

Penchant: noun, A strong or habitual liking for something or tendency to do something
Synonyms: fondness, inclination, preference
“Mr. Gorsuch also shares Mr. Scalia’s literary talents: he is an elegant writer with a penchant for playful eruditio.”
Source: “Donald Trump taps Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court” published in The Economist

Pithy: adjective, (of language or style) terse and vigorously expressive
Synonyms: concise, brief, compact
“Academics are not known for brevity in writing. And physics does not lend itself to pithy introductions.”
Source: “The universe, writ small” published in The Economist

Plethora: noun, a large or excessive amount
Synonyms: excess, overabundance, surplus
“Podcasts were facing fierce competition for audiences’ attention from a plethora of other new digital-native products including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.”
Source: “2016: the year the podcast came of age” published in The Economist

Posit: verb, Put forward as fact or as a basis for argument
Synonyms: postulate, propound, submit
“Mr. Ansar and his co-authors assume this margin is 40%: they posit a ratio of expected benefits to costs of 1.4 for every project.”
Source: “Opinion is divided on China’s massive infrastructure projects” published in The Economist

Presage: verb, be a sign or warning of (an imminent event, typically an unwelcome one)
Synonyms: point to, mean, signify
“Stock markets are set to open down today, and the election could presage a longer slump if investors feel that the uncertainty generated… will harm growth and corporate profits.”
Source: “The economic consequences of Donald Trump” published in The Economist

Prolific: adjective, (of an artist, author, or composer) producing many works
Synonyms: productive, creative, inventive
“It is true that few artists have been so prolific. On average, he released a studio album every year…”
Source: “Everything flowed through Prince” published in The Economist

Proxy: noun, a person authorized to act on behalf of another
Synonyms: representative, substitute, stand-in
“…Mr. Thaksin’s sister Yingluck, who took over his political movement after he left the country and who in 2011 was elected prime minister as his proxy.”
Source: “The death of the Thai king throws the country into turmoil: Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina drop out” published in The Economist

Prudish: adjective, having a tendency to be easily shocked by matters relating to sex or nudity
Synonyms: puritanical, prim, goody-goody
“Several Pacific nations ban cross-dressing (another hand-me-down from prudish Victorians).”
Source: “Knife-edge lives” published in The Economist

Qualm: noun, an uneasy feeling of doubt, worry, or fear
Synonyms: misgiving, doubt, reservation
“Qualms about the force’s quality extend beyond their handling of demonstrators.”
Source: “The force is with who?” published in The Economist

Quell: verb, Suppress (a feeling, especially an unpleasant one)
Synonyms: calm, soothe, pacify
“So the correct response is to…plump up the capital cushions of its vulnerable banks with enough public money to quell fears of a systemic crisis.”
Source: “The Italian job” published in The Economist

Quibble: verb, Argue or raise objections about a trivial matter
Synonyms: object to, criticize, nitpick
“One can quibble with some of the detail; perhaps the labour market participation rate can rise again, particularly if baby boomers find they don’t have enough money with which to retire.”
Source: “Nevsky’s prospects: China, fat tails and opaque markets” published in The Economist

Quotidian: adjective, Ordinary or everyday, especially when mundane
Synonyms: day-to-day, average, daily
“They are seers, and mystics unfettered by the quotidian, connecting with the divine and reporting back.”
Source: “The figure of the mad artistic genius is compelling, but unhelpful” published in The Economist

Recalcitrant: adjective, having an obstinately uncooperative attitude toward authority
Synonyms: uncooperative, intractable
“In a move that may test the mettle of recalcitrant Senate Republicans, Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a widely respected and politically moderate judge…”
Source: “Barack Obama nominates Merrick Garland to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat” published in The Economist

Recant: verb, Say that one no longer holds an opinion or belief
Synonyms: renounce, disavow, retract
“Analysts who predict turmoil are warned to shut up or recant.”
Source: “The muzzle grows tighter” published in The Economist

Salient: adjective, Most noticeable or important
Synonyms: conspicuous, noticeable, obvious
“The reason for that emphasis may in part be because of the salient threat of terrorism…”
Source: “The Democrats’ orchestral finale” published in The Economist

Sardonic: adjective, grimly mocking or cynical
Synonyms: satirical, sarcastic, ironic
“Ms Jefferson, it must be said, is a master of the arched-eyebrow, sardonic quip.”
Source: “A world apart” published in The Economist

Savant: noun, a learned person, especially a distinguished scientist
Synonyms: intellectual, scholar, sage
“The more a society treats its businesspeople as hero savants based on their professional successes, elevating them to positions of political power.”
Source: “Let them die” published in The Economist

Soliloquy: noun, an act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud when by oneself, especially by a character in a play
Synonyms: monologue, speech
“Patrick Stewart, for instance, reworked Hamlet’s soliloquy as an ode to the letter B (‘B or not a B, that is the question’).”
Source: “Big Bird, big brain” published in The Economist

Stigma: noun, a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person
Synonyms: shame, disgrace, dishonour
“A stigma against adults having fun, strong in the aftermath of the Second World War, has faded.”
Source: “Toymakers bounce back in the land of adult nappies” published in The Economist

Stipulate: verb, Demand or specify (a requirement), typically as part of a bargain or agreement
Synonyms: set down, set out, lay down
“In trade negotiations, size matters. Larger economies can stipulate terms that suit them.”
Source: “Britain’s excruciating embrace of Donald Trump shows how little independence it has gained from Brexit” published in The Economist

Stratum: noun, a thin layer within any structure
Synonyms: level, class, echelon
“But exalting Western aviation security to a higher stratum than that found in Africa is a delusion.”
Source: “The troubling case of the bomb on a flight from Mogadishu” published in The Economist

Subpoena: noun, A writ ordering a person to attend a court
Synonyms: summons, mandate, court order
“Subpoenas issued by a federal grand jury earlier this year demanded that the Port Authority hand over Mr. Samson’s personal travel records…”
Source: “The chairman’s flight” published in The Economist

Syntax: noun, the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language
“The three decided to record their reactions to Belinda’s not-particularly-erotic escapades and the author’s idiosyncratic syntax.”
Source: “2016: the year the podcast came of age” published in The Economist

Tenet: noun, a principle or belief
Synonyms: doctrine, precept, creed
“In the Warren and Burger courts of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, religious accommodation was a liberal tenet.”
Source: “Left, right” published in The Economist

Tout: verb, Attempt to sell (something), typically by pestering people in an aggressive manner
Synonyms: endorse, urge
“Providers have focused on the home, touting products such as coffee pots that turn on when the alarm clock rings…”
Source: “Where the smart is” published in The Economist

Urbane: adjective, (Of a person, especially a man) courteous and refined in manner
Synonyms: suave, sophisticated, debonair
“Beneath its urbane surface all Mr. Hough’s music is, in one way or another, a crusade.”
Source: “He’s the piano man” published in The Economist

Verbose: adjective, Using or expressed in more words than are needed
Synonyms: wordy, loquacious, long-winded
“But in recent years they have become particularly verbose, bombarding consumers with any small detail that might enhance the brand.”
Source: “It’s the real thing” published in The Economist

Whet: verb, Excite or stimulate (someone’s desire, interest, or appetite)
Synonyms: arouse, rouse, trigger
“But sham democracy often whets people’s appetite for the real thing.”
Source: “The road less travelled” published in The Economist

Level 3 GRE Vocabulary: Most Difficult

Abeyance: noun, a state of temporary disuse or suspension
Synonyms: suspense, remission, reserve
“With the euro crisis in abeyance, high oil prices have become the latest source of worry for the world economy.”
Source: “The new grease?” published in The Economist

Abjure: verb, Solemnly renounce (a belief, cause, or claim)
Synonyms: relinquish, reject, disavow
“Since 1986 he has been asking candidates for public office to sign his Taxpayer Protection Pledge, in which they abjure tax increases of any sort forever.”
Source: “It’s not over for Grover” published in The Economist

Anodyne: adjective, not likely to cause offence or disagreement and somewhat dull
Synonyms: bland, inoffensive, innocuous
“The prospect of a day spent milling around… at the G20 summit this week, with nothing to show for it but an anodyne communiqué, must be depressing enough.”
Source: “Agreeing to agree” published in The Economist

Bilk: verb, Obtain or withhold money from (someone) by deceit or without justification
Synonyms: swindle, defraud, deceive
“Partly because they are not paid properly, they bilk the system and get away with it, thanks to political contacts.”
Source: “A tale of two villages” published in The Economist

Canard: noun, an unfounded rumor or story
Synonyms: piece of gossip, whisper
“In March 2014 Newsweek… identified a man living in California… as the real Satoshi, but this turned out to be an embarrassing canard.”
Source: “Craig Steven Wright claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto. Is he?” published in The Economist

Catalyst: noun, a person or thing that precipitates an event
Synonyms: stimulus, impetus, spark
“Europe, which is where the global refugee regime began 65 years ago… will have to be the catalyst for change.”
Source: “Looking for a home” published in The Economist

Catharsis: noun, the process of releasing and providing relief from strong or repressed emotions
Synonyms: emotional release, relief
“…Robin Hanbury-Tenison, another British explorer, who is president of Survival International, calls ‘the gosh factor’—that rush of amazement and catharsis when a pinnacle is reached or a mad exploit in some jungle or desert achieved…”
Source: “A new age of discovery” published in The Economist

Cloture: noun, (in a legislative assembly) a procedure for ending a debate and taking a vote
“‘If you do not have the support of 60 Senators to invoke cloture and end a filibuster… you cannot pass such a deeming resolution in the Senate.’”
Source: “Why the Senate hasn’t passed a budget” published in The Economist

Compendium: noun, a collection of concise but detailed information about a particular subject
Synonyms: compilation, anthology
“He relies on a crowdsourced compendium of fishermen’s tales.”
Source: “Wiki-fishing” published in The Economist

Conscript: verb, Enlist (someone) compulsorily
Synonyms: draft, recruit, call up
“Most Jewish Israelis are conscripted into the military; about 100,000 new recruits, fresh out of secondary school, are drafted each year…”
Source: “Tales from Silicon wadi” published in The Economist

Cosset: verb, Care for and protect in an overindulgent way
Synonyms: indulge, pander to
“With a big haul, Scotland’s politicians could perhaps afford to cosset oil firms. Without one, the young nation might have to milk them harder than ever.”
Source: “Running on fumes” published in The Economist

Coterie: noun, a small group of people with shared interests or tastes
Synonyms: clique, circle, inner circle
“He rules through a tight coterie of loyal aides, many of whom worked with him in his previous job as governor of the state of Mexico…”
Source: “The unspeakable and the inexplicable” published in The Economist

Daguerreotype: noun, A photograph taken by an early photographic process employing an iodine-sensitized silvered plate and mercury vapor
“Indeed, the earliest applications of multimedia for remembrance were the post-mortem daguerreotypes used by grieving Victorians as mementos of their dear departed.”
Source: “Difference Engine: Facebook for the dead” published in The Economist

Dilettante: noun, a person who cultivates an area of interest without real commitment or knowledge
Synonyms: dabbler, potterer, tinkerer
“This is not the work of a dilettante, but a strong follow-up to her acclaimed short stories that came out in 2007.”
Source: “Magical realism” published in The Economist

Diurnal: adjective, (Of animals) active in the daytime
Synonyms: daily, everyday
“People walk on two legs like most avian species. They are also largely diurnal and rely upon sight as their primary sense.”
Source: “Fairy creatures” published in The Economist

Dross: noun, something regarded as worthless
Synonyms: rubbish, junk, debris
“Some of its best properties could be sold quickly, but the dross might take years to offload.”
Source: “How Donald Trump should handle conflicts of interest” published in The Economist

Dyspeptic: adjective, Of or having indigestion or consequent irritability or depression
Synonyms: bad-tempered, short-tempered, irritable
“Pity V.S. Naipaul: every couple of years or so the dyspeptic writer makes a pronouncement so extreme that it sounds like a plea for attention…”
Source: “A bend in the logic” published in The Economist

Ebullient: adjective, Cheerful and full of energy
Synonyms: exuberant, buoyant, joyful
“And in Elon Musk, its ebullient boss, it has a figurehead whose relentless promotion has quickly established Tesla as a luxury brand…”
Source: “On a charge” published in The Economist

Edify: verb, Instruct or improve (someone) morally or intellectually
Synonyms: educate, instruct, enlighten
“Shows that revolve around women are so few and far between. The ones that exist are expected not only to entertain but to represent and edify us too.”
Source: “Great expectations” published in The Economist

Egress: noun, the action of going out of or leaving a place
Synonyms: departure, exit, withdrawal
“The government must ‘protect passenger safety by mandating minimum seat pitch standards to preclude ingress/egress and health issues.’”
Source: “A passenger revolt against squashed legroom” published in The Economist

Ersatz: adjective, (Of a product) used as a substitute, typically an inferior one, for something else
Synonyms: artificial, substitute, imitation
“As any computer scientist will tell you, creating an ersatz version of something in software is inevitably less precise and more computationally costly than simply making use of the thing itself.”
Source: “You’ve got a nerve” published in The Economist

Erstwhile: adjective, former
Synonyms: old, past, one-time
“The stake of the Co-operative Group, its erstwhile owner, was reduced to just 20%.”
Source: “The Co-op Bank puts itself up for sale” published in The Economist

Euphony: noun, the quality of being pleasing to the ear
Synonyms: melodiousness, musicality
“‘Good news—clarity’s a-coming!’ extol choristers from the Hot Air Ensemble in jouncing Harlemesque euphony…”
Source: “Blasting the bombast” published in The Economist

Expiate: verb, Atone for (guilt or sin)
Synonyms: make amends for, make up for
“So, among the countless humiliations endured by a defeated nation, this was a petty one, now forgotten. It will be expiated on May 26th…”
Source: “Rebuilding bridges” published in The Economist

Extant: adjective, still in existence; surviving
Synonyms: living, still existing, remaining
“The earliest extant painting dates to 1825 and shows him with vivid eyes and thin, sculpted lips.”
Source: “Bosom buddies” published in The Economist

Fracas: noun, a noisy disturbance or quarrel
Synonyms: scuffle, brawl, affray
“By the time the broadcaster took the video off its website a day later, it had caused a diplomatic fracas between Turkey and Germany.”
Source: “There once was a prickly sultan” published in The Economist

Frieze: noun, a broad horizontal band of sculpted or painted decoration, especially on a wall near the ceiling
“A frieze on the wall of America’s Supreme Court shows some of the great law-givers of history, including the Roman emperor Justinian, Moses and Muhammad.”
Source: “Shalt or shalt not” published in The Economist

Fusillade: noun, a series of shots fired or missiles thrown all at the same time or in quick succession
Synonyms: salvo, volley, bombardment
“But thanks to poor communication, many saw it as China’s first fusillade in a global currency war. “
Source: “Taking a tumble” published in The Economist

Gaffe: noun, an unintentional act or remark causing embarrassment to its originator
Synonyms: blunder, mistake, error
“Personally he is likeable. But he is also gaffe-prone and the progenitor of a series of undiplomatic comments…”
Source: “Britain’s new prime minister will regret appointing Boris Johnson” published in The Economist

Gainsay: verb, Speak against or oppose (someone)
Synonyms: be against, object to, be hostile to
“She was too young to know better, let alone gainsay her wicked uncle.”
Source: “Royally embarrassed” published in The Economist

Gerontocracy: noun, a state, society, or group governed by old people
“But Muhammad bin Salman is not merely a young face in a gerontocracy; he is a dynamic and apparently purposeful one.”
Source: “The challenged kingdom” published in The Economist

Halcyon: adjective, Denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful
Synonyms: happy, golden, idyllic
“In their halcyon days the mainstream parties used to share most of the vote between them.”
Source: “The churn down under” published in The Economist

Hegemony: noun, Leadership or dominance, especially by one group over others
Synonyms: leadership, dominance, dominion
“Yet if the hegemony of the dollar is unstable, its would-be successors are unsuitable.”
Source: “Dominant and dangerous” published in The Economist

Hermetic: adjective, Insulated or protected from outside influences
Synonyms: airtight, sealed
“More worryingly, there was a hermetic logic to them which, with the passions they aroused, made it possible to see how they could beguile and thrill many more.”
Source: “How a nation went mad” published in The Economist

Heterodox: adjective, not conforming with accepted or orthodox standards or beliefs
Synonyms: unorthodox, heretical, dissenting
“Among those discriminated against for holding heterodox religious views, the Bahai community continues particularly to suffer.”
Source: “Human rights in Iran are still atrocious” published in The Economist

Homogeneous: adjective, of the same kind; alike
Synonyms: uniform, identical, unvaried
“It also has proportionately more immigrants than almost anywhere else. Next to London, famously cosmopolitan cities like Paris and Berlin are actually rather homogeneous.”
Source: “Britain’s unparalleled diversity is here to stay” published in The Economist

Iconoclast: noun, a person who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions
Synonyms: critic, skeptic, dissenter
“He has overtaken Manuel Valls, the centre-left prime minister, as the left’s most outspoken iconoclast, and shown up the Socialist left as die-hard conservatives.”
Source: “How France’s economy minister is trying to change the country” published in The Economist

Idyll: noun, an extremely happy, peaceful, or picturesque episode or scene
Synonyms: perfect time, ideal time, honeymoon
“That might just persuade them to forgive the scriptwriters for the unwelcome disruption to their rural idyll.”
Source: “Violence in the shires” published in The Economist

Ignoble: adjective, not honorable in character or purpose
Synonyms: dishonorable, unworthy, base
“Moreover, by controlling the body he controlled the equally unruly mind, keeping it pure from ‘ignoble strife’.”
Source: “Raising the temple” published in The Economist

Impugn: verb, Dispute the truth, validity, or honesty of (a statement or motive)
Synonyms: call into question, challenge
“Impugning Mr. Abe’s motives is too cynical. His commitment to economic revival was no doubt sincere…”
Source: “Three-piece dream suit” published in The Economist

Incise: verb, Mark or decorate (an object or surface) with a cut or a series of cut
Synonyms: engrave, etch, carve
“This 12th-century incense burner is incised with calligraphy that identifies its maker and first owner.”
Source: “Centuries of glory” published in The Economist

Incubus: noun, a cause of distress or anxiety
“The Japanese people, freed of the incubus of a war industry which by 1938 was absorbing 61 per cent of their national income, have a chance of recovering…”
Source: “Victory in the East” published in The Economist

Knell: noun, the sound of a bell, especially when rung solemnly for a death or funeral
Synonyms: toll, ringing, chime
“The change in policy is a blow to the prison industry, but it hardly sounds a death knell for its business model.”
Source: “America is phasing out the federal use of private prisons” published in The Economist

Lachrymose: adjective, Inducing tears; sad
Synonyms: sad, tearful, weepy
“This morning the world is not talking about a dubious song by the host, a lachrymose speech or even an appalling outfit.”
Source: “Normal for Hollywood” published in The Economist

Lacuna: noun, an unfilled space or interval; a gap
Synonyms: interval, gap
“This insane lacuna in the justice system reflects extreme systemic prejudice by drivers against cyclists, and would be easy enough to fix.”
Source: “The American right-of-way” published in The Economist

Lambaste: verb, Criticize (someone or something) harshly
Synonyms: castigate, chastise, condemn
“Yet the president was lambasted for his otherworldly complacency.”
Source: “Learning to live with it” published in The Economist

Larceny: noun, Theft of personal property
Synonyms: stealing, robbery, pilfering
“But there are still no checks and balances on its exercise, as the larceny of governors illustrates.”
Source: “With an unfriendly neighbour, Mexico needs to strengthen itself” published in The Economist

Libertine: adjective, a person who rejects accepted opinions in matters of religion
Synonyms: freethinker, hedonist, profligate
“There are aunts for every worldview, from libertine to puritan and from reactionary to radical.”
Source: “Whatever should I do?” published in The Economist

Lugubrious: adjective, Looking or sounding sad and dismal
Synonyms: mournful, gloomy, sad
“The lugubrious strains of ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ waft across a sunny beach in Acapulco.”
Source: “Girlfriend in a conga” published in The Economist

Maelstrom: noun, a situation or state of confused movement or violent turmoil
Synonyms: turbulence, tumult, turmoil
“The execution of its leaders, as much as the Easter Rising itself, triggered a maelstrom of events: a surge of anti-British rage…”
Source: “A terrible problem is born” published in The Economist

Magnate: noun, a wealthy and influential businessman or businesswoman
Synonyms: industrialist, tycoon, mogul
“Several of America’s great industrialists built empires in Pittsburgh, including Andrew Carnegie, a steel magnate. “
Source: “From zero to seventy (billion)” published in The Economist

Malaproprism: noun, the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect
Synonyms: misuse, solecism, blunder
“And so on down the list of supposed malapropisms. ‘You can observe a lot by watching,’ means plenty…”
Source: “Yogi Berra, linguistic savant” published in The Economist

Misanthropy: noun, a dislike of humankind
Synonyms: cynicism, hatred of mankind
“[Labour] did not fall into the traps of the old left: confusing individualism for misanthropy…”
Source: “The land that Labour forgot” published in The Economist

Monolithic: adjective, large, powerful, and intractably indivisible and uniform
Synonyms: inflexible, rigid, unbending
“Four things have made Europe a harsher environment for the centre left: its own success, structural change in the economy, a reduced fear of political extremes and the decline of monolithic class groups.”
Source: “Rose thou art sick” published in The Economist

Munificent: adjective, Larger or more generous than is usual or necessary
Synonyms: bountiful, lavish, handsome
“Anyone with a few million dollars to spare can join in. The initial awards for physics, for example, were followed by equally munificent prizes in life sciences and mathematics.”
Source: “The Breakthrough prizes” published in The Economist

Myopic: adjective, nearsighted
Synonyms: short-sighted, insular, small-minded
“They are also myopic, judging politicians’ economic management on the basis of only the very recent past.”
Source: “X marks the knot” published in The Economist

Nadir: noun, the lowest point in the fortunes of a person or organization
Synonyms: the all-time low, zero
“Between its pre-crisis peak in late 2007 and its nadir at the end of 2009, the economy contracted by 11.2%”
Source: “Celtic phoenix” published in The Economist

Neophyte: noun, a person who is new to a subject, skill, or belief
Synonyms: beginner, learner, novice
“Mr. Gioia also delves into musical theory, in a way that will help both jazz neophytes and experts understand what they are listening to.”
Source: “Steps to heaven” published in The Economist

Noisome: adjective, having an extremely offensive smell
Synonyms: irritating, disagreeable, unpleasant
“Last July the Internal Security Ministry placed a follow-on order for Skunk, worth $45,000. So far the noisome substance has not been used abroad…”
Source: “A whiff from hell” published in The Economist

Nostrum: noun, a pet scheme or favorite remedy, especially one for bringing about some social or political reform or improvement
Synonyms: cure, prescription, answer
“It became a nostrum among rank-and-file Republicans that mainstream opinion polls are biased and should be ignored…”
Source: “State of denial” published in The Economist

Occlude: verb, Stop, close up, or obstruct
Synonyms: block, cover, shut in
“Mars will be as far away as 370m kilometres in 2013, and occluded for two weeks by the sun to boot…”
Source: “Interplanetary broadband” published in The Economist

Paean: noun, a song of praise or triumph
Synonyms: song of praise, hymn, alleluia
“‘It is the right that has inherited the ambitious modernist urge to destroy and innovate in the name of a universal project,’ Tony Judt, a British historian, lamented in ‘Ill Fares the Land’, a paean to social democracy he dictated on his death bed.”
Source: “Rose thou art sick” published in The Economist

Panoply: noun, a complete or impressive collection of things
Synonyms: array, range, collection
“‘The panoply of restrictions results in greater disenfranchisement,’ the ruling read, ‘than any of the law’s provisions individually.’”
Source: “North Carolina voter ID law is struck down as racially discriminatory” published in The Economist

Pastiche: noun, an artistic work consisting of a medley of pieces taken from various sources
Synonyms: mixture, blend, medley
“Both enjoyed producing small articles and pastiches, she for the college magazine, he for avant-garde publications…”
Source: “The finger of fame” published in The Economist

Paucity: noun, the presence of something only in small or insufficient quantities or amounts
Synonyms: scarcity, sparseness, dearth
“Yet the paucity of businesses is not due to a shortage of opportunities to make money.”
Source: “Opportunities galore” published in The Economist

Pellucid: adjective, Lucid in style or meaning; easily understood
Synonyms: comprehensible, understandable
“Turning a crowd from hostility to adoration through pellucid, charismatic truthtelling is a venerable Hollywood trope…”
Source: “Fiction about stories” published in The Economist

Phalanx: noun, a body of troops or police officers standing or moving in close formation
“A collection of giant slabs surrounded by thick iron railings, protected by a phalanx of armed guards…”
Source: “Open for business” published in The Economist

Philistine: noun, A person who is hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts
Synonyms: oaf, anti-intellectual, boor
“By choosing such an unimpeachably serious and artistic project as its first film production, the company has made anyone who grumbles seem like a philistine.”
Source: “Netflix’s first theatrical release deserves to be watched at the cinema” published in The Economist

Pique: noun, a feeling of irritation or resentment resulting from a slight
Synonyms: annoyance, displeasure, indignation
“The Russians have responded with predictable pique—just as many refused to condemn the violence of their football hooligans…”
Source: “Russia’s track-and-field team has been barred from the Olympics for doping” published in The Economist

Polemic: noun, a strong verbal or written attack on someone or something
Synonyms: diatribe, invective
“Marion Nestle’s heavyweight polemic against Coca-Cola and PepsiCo comes at an odd moment for the industry.”
Source: “Popped” published in The Economist

Précis: noun, a summary or abstract of a text or speech
Synonyms: synopsis, summation
“His latest book, ‘Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking’, is a précis of those 50 years, distilled into 77 readable and mostly bite-sized chapters.”
Source: “Pump-primer” published in The Economist

Prosaic: adjective, Commonplace; unromantic
Synonyms: ordinary, everyday
“However, while it is large-scale evacuations at times of crisis that grab attention, the biggest risks that business travellers face are more prosaic.”
Source: “Risky business” published in The Economist

Puerile: adjective, childishly silly and trivial
Synonyms: immature, babyish, infantile
“Meanwhile, out of puerile spite, Mr. Trump launched an assault on his disapproving party leadership…”
Source: “Donald Trump’s disastrous fortnight” published in The Economist

Pundit: noun, an expert in a particular subject or field who is frequently called on to give opinions about it to the public
Synonyms: authority, adviser
“And yet the prevailing view among pundits is that Russia is indeed back in Asia.”
Source: “Russia’s pivot to Asia” published in The Economist

Querulous: adjective, Complaining in a petulant or whining manner
Synonyms: pettish, touchy, testy
“Their querulous, hostile or annoyed faces recur in her work from the late 1950s.”
Source: “Exposed” published in The Economist

Quiescence: noun, a state or period of inactivity or dormancy
Synonyms: inactivity, inertia, latency
“Horrible conditions do not guarantee revolts, and moderately bad conditions do not necessarily thwart them. The question is what to make of the relative quiescence of America’s poor.”
Source: “Why aren’t the poor storming the barricades?” published in The Economist

Quixotic: adjective, exceedingly idealistic; unrealistic and impractical
Synonyms: unrealistic, impractical, romantic
“In one chapter… the director probes some of the quixotic visionaries driving the digital revolution forward.”
Source: “Werner Herzog marvels at the internet” published in The Economist

Raconteur: noun, a person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way
Synonyms: storyteller, spinner of yarns
“The latest continental raconteur eager to spin Ireland’s tale is the European Union.”
Source: “The emerald shines again” published in The Economist

Redress: noun, remedy or compensation for a wrong or grievance
Synonyms: reparation, restitution, recompense
“There must be redress by an independent tribunal for those who have been mistreated.”
Source: “The solace of the law” published in The Economist

Repast: noun, a meal
Synonyms: feast, banquet
“Lunchtime, it is held, would be the optimal time to invade France. Little can distract a Frenchman from his sacred noonday repast.”
Source: “Point me at the SKY” published in The Economist

Ribald: adjective, Referring to sexual matters in an amusingly rude or irreverent way
Synonyms: bawdy, indecent, risqué
“When challenged… about human rights in Chechnya, he replied with a ribald offer to arrange for the questioner’s Islamic circumcision.”
Source: “Russia has always had an ambivalent relationship with Islam” published in The Economist

Rococo: adjective, Characterized by an elaborately ornamental late baroque style of decoration
‘The building, which once served as the local town hall, boasts rococo wall carvings, a statue of Pallas Athena…”
Source: “How foundations linked to Hungary’s central bank used $1 billion” published in The Economist

Sanguine: adjective, Optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation
Synonyms: hopeful, buoyant, assured
“Some fear a future of mass unemployment. Others are sanguine that people will have time to adapt.”
Source: “Retraining low-skilled workers” published in The Economist

Scintilla: noun, a tiny trace or spark of a specified quality or feeling
Synonyms: particle, iota, smidgen
“After a scintilla of regret over lost youth, to turn 50 should be to enter the prime of life, with a plenitude of projects and achievements.”
Source: “Time for a (long overdue) change” published in The Economist

Semantic: adjective, Relating to meaning in language or logic
Synonyms: lingual, semasiological
“Semantic parsing also ensued over whether the modifier ‘meaningful’ is significantly (or meaningfully) different from ‘significant.’”
Source: “The Supreme Court considers what states owe to disabled students” published in The Economist

Sobriquet: noun, a person’s nickname
Synonyms: appellation, moniker
“This provoked widespread debate about the role of intellectual property and earned him the sobriquet ‘Champion of Patents.’”
Source: “Land of hope and glory” published in The Economist

Soporific: adjective, Tending to induce drowsiness or sleep
Synonyms: sleep-inducing, somnolent, sedative
“In the soporific heat you would be forgiven for thinking that time had forgotten the New Jersey-sized nation.”
Source: “The superpowers’ playground” published in The Economist

Supine: adjective, Failing to act as a result of moral weakness or indolence
Synonyms: weak, spineless
“Last year Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, brought in a corporate-governance code which…requires hitherto supine institutional investors to keep a close eye on firms they invest in.”
Source: “Coming clean?” published in The Economist

Synoptic: adjective, Taking or involving a comprehensive mental view
Synonyms: concise, succinct, compressed
“They were mind-expandingly right in their synoptic vision, if frequently inexact and sometimes mistaken in their specifics.”
Source: “The see-through sea” published in The Economist

Toady: verb, Act in an obsequious way
Synonyms: be servile towards, grovel to
“Britain’s Conservative government is accused of sacrificing the steel industry to toady up to China.”
Source: “The 15-year hitch” published in The Economist

Truculent: adjective, Eager or quick to argue or fight
Synonyms: defiant, aggressive
“Mr. Boehner, having abandoned his long battle with his party’s truculent right-wingers and announced his resignation in September, wanted to ‘clear the barn’ for his successor.”
Source: “Cleaning the barn” published in The Economist

Turgid: adjective, (of language or style) tediously pompous or bombastic
Synonyms: overblown, inflated, grandiose
“It promotes a cult of personality around Mr. Baghdadi. It churns out turgid propaganda about repaired bridges and newly opened schools.”
Source: “Fighting near and far” published in The Economist

Tyro: noun, a beginner or novice
Synonyms: learner, neophyte, newcomer
“When he was a young tyro in Silicon Valley, his libertarian vision inspired many of his business decisions.”
Source: “The evolution of Mr. Thiel” published in The Economist

Umbrage: noun, Offense or annoyance
Synonyms: insult, affront
“Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, takes umbrage at charges that reforms are lagging.”
Source: “Commitment anxiety” published in The Economist

Upbraid: verb, Find fault with (someone)
Synonyms: scold, reprimand, rebuke
“In the past its neighbours isolated and upbraided Austria for its flirtations with nationalist extremism…”
Source: “Why Austria’s presidential election matters” published in The Economist

Verdant: adjective, (of countryside) green with grass or other rich vegetation
Synonyms: leafy, grassy, lush
“The Holey Artisan Bakery… overlooking a placid lake in Dhaka, was a foodie’s labour of love in a verdant corner of the chaotic capital.”
Source: “The new terrorism in Bangladesh” published in The Economist

Virulent: adjective, extremely severe or harmful in its effects
Synonyms: toxic, deadly, destructive
‘A more likely catastrophe, Mr. Rawles believes, would be a pandemic virulent enough to cause the breakdown of the national sewerage system as well as the grid.”
Source: “The last big frontier” published in The Economist

Vitiate: verb, Destroy or impair the legal validity of
Synonyms: put an end to, do away with, scrap
‘The firm admitted that it vitiated its stated standards for evaluating securities in an area where those standards put in question its ability to win business.”
Source: “Regulatory settlements raise questions about America’s financial markets” published in The Economist

Vitriol: noun, Cruel and bitter criticism
Synonyms: venom, nastiness
“Given the vitriol that has followed the film since its inception, it does well simply not to be a colossal misstep.”
Source: “Ghostbusters: funny and (almost) feminist” published in The Economist

Vociferous: adjective, (Especially of a person or speech) vehement or clamorous
Synonyms: blatant, clamorous, noisy
“Ten weeks of ever-more vociferous argument, claims and counterclaims stretch between now and June 23rd, when the vote will take place.”
Source: “Britain’s EU referendum campaigns are officially launched today” published in The Economist

Welter: noun, a large number of items in no order; a confused mass
Synonyms: confusion, jumble, tangle
“At the same time they are subjected to a welter of conflicting pressures—acting as spin-doctors and bean-counters as well as corporate strategists and auditors.”
Source: “The imperial CFO” published in The Economist

Winnow: verb, blow a current of air through (grain) in order to remove the chaff
Synonyms: sift out, filter out
“Many lawmakers from both parties join Mr. Obama in wishing to winnow America’s overstuffed prisons.”
Source: “How Barack Obama has reformed America’s prisons” published in The Economist

Xenophobia: noun, Intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries
“Denk will not win more than a few seats in next year’s general election, but it is posing a crucial question: at a time of rising xenophobia, can Europe’s minorities rely on the broad centre-left parties for which they usually vote?”
Source: “The politics of alienation” published in The Economist

Yoke: noun, a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull
Synonyms: bond, tie, subjection
“The existential consequences of throwing off the yoke of religion is debated in many countries.”
Source: “Getting into Valhalla” published in The Economist