Have you ever wondered how confusing English language can be at times?
Choosing the word that fits best for your purposes is often not an easy task especially when two words sound the same.
Take a look at these two sentences:.
The council voted in favor of the funding proposal.
The police counseled the authorities on the funding proposal.
Are you sure which one is right?
There are a bounty of words in the English language that look or sound the same but have very different meanings.
For instance, affect and effect or imminent and eminent. It’s very easy to get confused with words that are similar in pronunciation, spelling or meaning.
On the GRE, you are provided with a basic text editor without an auto correction feature. Hence, you won’t even know that you are incorrectly spelling a word unless you know the correct word.
To help avoid such blunders we have created a list of the most commonly misused/confused GRE words of all time. So this should help you the next time when you want to prescribe a remedy to someone but you instead proscribe. This is hands down the most extensive, and the most useful list of misused GRE words ever. So, make sure you save this for future use.
Here are the most commonly misused GRE words:
1. aberrant vs abhorrent
aberrant is an adjective, and means abnormal or untypical.
Example: This year has witnessed quite an aberrant weather, compared to the entire decade.
abhorrent is an adjective, and means repugnant or loathsome.
Example: She finds violence in films abhorrent.
2. accept vs except
accept is a verb, and means take, receive, or tolerate.
Example: I did not accept the gift she gave me for my birthday.
except is a preposition, and means other than; apart from.
Example: Everyone except him, was invited to the party.
3. adduce vs deduce
adduce is a verb, and means mention something as evidence or proof.
Example: In support of their decision, the committee adduced data from schools in the other districts.
deduce is a verb, and means reach a conclusion by reasoning or evidence.
Example: I can deduce from your behavior that you are frustrated.
4. adapt vs adopt
adapt is a verb, which means alter for new use.
Example: Those who adapt to changes end up being successful.
adopt is a verb, which means take on or assume something.
Example: You should adopt some good habits if you wish to be successful.
5. advice vs advise
advice is a noun, and means recommendation or counsel.
Example: A good advice is all you need to set yourself in the right path.
advise is a verb, and means offer advice to someone.
Example: My grandfather always advised me to not venture into the stock market mindlessly.
6. affect vs effect
affect is a verb, and means influence or change something.
Example: The cyclone affected the low-lying areas of the town.
effect is a noun, and means result; produce a result.
Example: The effect of over-medication is often underestimated.
7. afflict vs inflict
afflict is a verb, and means give pain or grief to.
Example: The disease afflicted an estimated two million people last year.
inflict is a verb, and means to impose something unpleasant on.
Example: Some bees are capable of inflicting a painful sting.
8. affluent vs effluent
affluent is an adjective, and means rich.
Example: He is more affluent than the king himself.
effluent is a noun, and means liquid waste.
Example: The factory has been accused of releasing various effluents into the nearby river.
9. allude vs elude
allude is a verb, and means refer to indirectly.
Example: The patient alluded to some health problems, without being specific.
elude is a verb, and means escape from, especially by cleverness.
Example: The culprit somehow managed to elude prison sentence.
10. allusion vs illusion
allusion is a noun, and means passing reference.
Example: The rapper’s lyrics contain misogynistic allusions.
illusion means false appearance; mistaken belief.
Example: Reality is an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
11. alternate vs alternative
alternate is an adjective, and means occurring by turns.
Example: She liked the shirt with alternate shades of white and grey.
alternative means thing done or had instead of something else; choice.
Example: Is there an alternative to this plan of yours?
12. amend vs emend
amend is a verb, and means change or correct.
Example: You should amend your current plan if you want to visit that place.
emend is a verb, and means edit or correct a text.
Example: The editor emended the intern’s article, which had several errors.
13. among vs between
among is a preposition, and means in the midst of.
Example: He was one among the three players who received the award.
between means in the middle of two points.
Example: I frequently travelled between New York and Chicago during my early career to make ends meet.
14. amoral vs immoral
amoral means without moral standards, principles or rules.
Example: Don’t do that. It is an amoral way of doing business.
immoral means transgressing moral rules.
Example: The psycho’s immoral acts were condemned by thousands of people.
15. ante- vs anti-
ante- means before.
Example: Antemeridian means the time of the day before noon.
anti- means against.
Example: The anti-communists marched along the city’s central station, with slogans and placards.
16. appraise vs apprise
appraise is a verb, and means assess the value, quality or worth of something.
Example: The realtor appraised the value of the house to those innocent foreigners.
apprise is a verb, and means make someone aware of something.
Example: Let me apprise you of your current situation.
17. assure vs insure
assure is a verb, and means promise or guarantee.
Example: I assure you that your money is safe with me.
ensure means make certain.
Example: I will ensure that your children will have access to the best education possible.
18. aural vs oral
aural means of or relating to the ears or hearing.
Example: People today are seeking relief from the overload of aural stimulus due to traffic.
oral means of or relating to the mouth.
Example: While intravascular injections tend to cure the illnesses faster, oral pills are recommended for infants and children.
19. biannual vs biennial
biannual is an adjective, and means twice a year.
Example: The biannual convention of agriculturists was a huge success, where the new agricultural policies were discussed.
biennial is an adjective, and means every two years.
Example: The twenty-over Cricket World Cup is a biennial event, and brings together the top teams from around the world.
20. blatant vs flagrant
blatant is an adjective, and means glaringly obvious.
Example: The driver showed a blatant disregard for the lives of the children crossing the road.
flagrant is an adjective, and means openly outrageous.
Example: Several communities have condemned the flagrant remarks of the minister.
21. climactic vs climatic
climactic is an adjective, and means pertaining to a climax or an ending.
Example: The film’s climactic chasing scene won many accolades from the critics.
climatic is an adjective, and means pertaining to the climate.
Example: Sudden climatic changes have resulted in widespread influenza all over the country.
22. complacent vs complaisant
complacent is an adjective, and means self-satisfied.
Example: One should not be complacent in life, no matter how many riches or accolades they possess.
complaisant is an adjective, and means willing to please.
Example: The complaisant acquit lost all hope in getting a reduced sentence from the judge.
23. conscience vs conscious
conscience is a noun, and means sense of right or wrong.
Example: Self-conscience is what separates the good people from the bad.
conscious is an adjective, and means alert and awake.
Example: Thankfully, the man was conscious by the time the ambulance arrived.
24. defuse vs diffuse
defuse is a verb, and means remove tension (from); calm.
Example: The teacher finally managed to defuse the two quarreling kids
diffuse is a verb, and means spread out; scattered.
Example: The different colors of ink diffused into the water in a beautiful pattern.
25. desert vs dessert
desert is a noun, and means dry or lifeless region.
Example: I was thinking of going on a camp to the Saharan desert this winter.
dessert means sweet food served after a main course.
Example: Despite being on a diet, I couldn’t resist my temptation. I ate a lot of dessert at the party.
26. disinterested vs uninterested
disinterested is an adjective, and means detached or impartial; unbiased.
Example: The police were disinterested in the petty qualms made by the thief.
uninterested means indifferent; unconcerned; apathetic.
The teacher was fed up of teaching to a bunch of uninterested students.
27. ensure vs insure
ensure is a verb, and means make certain something happens.
Example: Can you please ensure that the package is delivered carefully?
insure is a verb, and means take cover against loss or damage of something.
Example: The car was insured by the company, and hence I did not have to pay a lot for the damages.
28. envelop vs envelope
envelop is a verb, and means cover or surround something.
Example: The atmosphere envelops the earth.
envelope is a noun, and means paper covering a letter.
Example: She was ecstatic, after she received the envelope that had her offer letter.
29. flaunt vs flout
flaunt is a verb, and means show off; boast; brandish.
Example: She flaunted her new car in front of her jealous friends.
flout means defy; disregard; spurn.
Example: Despite repeated warnings, the duo continued to flout the court’s orders.
30. flounder vs founder
flounder is a verb, and means falter, struggle or make mistakes.
Example: Being a newbie, he was floundering around in the swimming pool.
founder is a verb, and means sink; break down or fail.
Example: Her career foundered when she was caught taking a bribe.
31. glance vs glimpse
glance is a verb, and means look rapidly or briefly.
Example: I glanced through the important formulae right before the test began.
glimpse is a noun, and means brief, incomplete view.
Example: The visitors at the museum were shown glimpses of the horrid images of war.
32. historic vs historical
historic is an adjective, and means important or significant.
Example: His superhuman skills proved vital during the team’s historic win last week.
historical is an adjective, and means pertaining to history.
Example: All the presidents were listed in a historical order.
33. ingenious vs ingenuous
ingenious is an adjective, and means skilful; clever; original.
Example: He came up with an ingenious plan to escape the legal case he was stuck in.
ingenuous means honest or sincere; naïve.
Example: Being the head of a large company, she often rewarded her ingenuous employees.
34. intense vs intensive
intense is an adjective, and means of great strength or degree.
Example: Yesterday’s boxing match was quite an intense battle.
intensive is an adjective, and means using concentrated effort or resources.
Example: It was a rather intensive course on effective writing.
35. intensely vs intently
intensely is an adverb, and means in an intense way.
Example: She began to dislike him intensely after she came know about his criminal background.
intently is an adjective, and means closely or attentively.
Example: The little boy watched intently as his brother showed him how to dance to the song.
36. lay vs lie
lay is a verb, and means put, place (something somewhere).
Example: The teacher asked you to lay this book on her table.
lie is a verb, and means recline, rest, or lounge.
Example: After a hard day’s work, Jim decided to lie down for a bit.
37. lightening vs lightning
lightening is a verb, and means becoming less dark.
Example: The sky began to lighten in the east, as the sun rose over the seas.
lightning is a noun, and means electrical discharge in the sky.
Example: That unlucky man was struck by lightning twice, during his lifetime.
38. loath vs loathe
loath is an adjective, and means unwilling, opposed to, averse.
Example: I was loath to leave her company, because I liked her.
loathe is a verb, and means hate, despise, abhor.
Example: I loathe him for his bullying attitude over children.
39. loose vs lose
loose is an adjective, and means not firmly held.
Example: My trousers were too loose, and made me feel uncomfortable.
lose is a verb, and means to misplace something; be defeated.
Example: I promise you that I will never lose this book.
40. luxuriant vs luxurious
luxuriant is an adjective, and means rich and abundant or elaborate. It is mostly used in reference to hair or vegetation.
Example: The luxuriant fields all across the country meant that famine was farther than ever.
luxurious is an adjective, and means something that is expensive, comfortable, and sumptuous.
Example: She always liked to live a luxurious life.
41. personal vs personnel
personal is an adjective, and means belonging to a particular person.
Example: I felt uncomfortable as the police asked me several personal questions.
personnel is a noun, and means people who work for an organization.
Example: The boss did not like his personnel being late to work.
42. practicable vs practical
practicable is an adjective, and means possible; feasible.
Example: This plan looks quite practicable for me. Let’s do it.
practical means sensible; pragmatic; realistic.
Example: My mother always gives me practical advice.
43. precede vs proceed
precede is a verb, and means happen before something else.
Example: Babur preceded Humayun as the king of the Mughal empire.
proceed is a verb, and means start or continue to do something.
Example: I proceeded right towards the stage as they called upon my name.
44. prescribe vs proscribe
prescribe is a verb, and means order something; write a prescription.
Example: The doctor prescribed me some medication.
proscribe is a verb, and means ban or forbid something.
Example: The government proscribed some dangerous medicines this year.
45. rout vs route
rout is a noun, and means overwhelming defeat.
Example: The army’s bitter rout brought on great shame on the country.
route is a noun, and means road or path chosen to reach a destination.
Example: I took a different route, and ended up wasting more time and fuel.
46. sceptic vs septic
sceptic is a noun, and means a person who doubts what others believe.
Example: The sceptic did not believe in the priest’s words.
septic is an adjective, and means infected with poison.
Example: The nurse cleaned and dressed the septic wound.
47. there vs their vs they’re
there is a preposition, and is used to say that something does or does not exist, to show position or direction.
Example: I want to go there this weekend.
their is a determiner, and is used to indicate that something belongs to a group of people or things.
Example: Why did you take their money and run away?
they’re is a contraction of they are
Example: They’re our relatives.
48. tortuous vs torturous
tortuous is an adjective, and means curved, twisted or winding; deceptive.
Example: The entire route was tortuous and full of potholes.
torturous is an adjective, and means causing pain or torment; pertaining to torture.
Example: Last night was a torturous experience as the beg bugs did not allow me to sleep at all.
49. venal vs venial
venal is an adjective, and means easily bribed; mercenary; corrupt.
Example: The clerk was such a venal man. He deserved to be fired.
venial is an adjective, and means easily forgiven; pertaining to a minor sin.
Example: The judge had to forgive the acquit’s venial misdeed.
50. weather vs whether
weather is a noun, and means the condition of the atmosphere in one area at a particular time, i.e. what it is like outside.
Example: The weather looks good today, doesn’t it?
Whether is a conjunction, and is used when you are talking about a choice or doubt between two or more alternatives.
Example: I don’t know whether you are joking or not.
51. wander vs wonder
wander is a verb, and means walk around in a casual way.
Example: All those who wander are not lost.
wonder is a verb, and means be amazed at something.
Example: I wonder what will happen to the future of humans.
52. bought and brought
bought is a verb, and is the past tense of buy.
Example: I bought the apartment last month.
brought is a verb, and is the past tense of bring.
Example: I brought you some flowers from the market.
53. adept and adopt
adept is an adjective, and means to be skilled at something.
Example: He is adept at abstract painting.
adopt is a verb, and means to take on a certain form or to accept something/someone.
Example: The couple decided to adopt an orphan kid.
54. principal and principle
principal is an adjective, and means important.
Example: The unity of its people is a country’s principal concern.
principle is a noun, and means a general rule.
Example: Every man must have his own principles.
55. ardent and arduous
ardent is an adjective, and means an intense emotion.
Example: He has an ardent affection for her.
arduous is an adjective, and means grueling, straining.
Example: Studying for this test was such an arduous task.
56. ascent and assent
ascent is a noun, and means a climb or a walk on an upward slope.
Example: The first ascent of the Mt. Everest was an unprecedented record.
assent means an agreement.
Example: The president expressed his assent on the new company policy.
57. attain and obtain
attain is a verb, and means to gain something with effort.
Example: I attained this job with a lot of effort.
obtain is a verb, and means to have something in possession.
Example: I obtained this rare coin from my grandfather.
58. amoral and immoral
amoral is an adjective, and means not having any morals.
Example: An otherwise pious man, he always seemed amoral to his colleagues.
immoral is an adjective, and means having bad morals, or not adhering to ethical morals.
Example: Immoral acts of terrorism have been condemned by many countries.
59. abstruse and obtuse
abstruse is an adjective, and means difficult to understand.
Example: Calculus has always been an abstruse subject for me.
obtuse is an adjective, and means lacking intellect.
Example: Obtuse people are hard to argue with.
60. chaotic and inchoate
chaotic is an adjective, and means disorderly.
Example: What a chaotic display of football it was. No wonder they lost the game.
inchoate is an adjective, and means imperfect or vague.
Example: The young country suffered from inchoate democracy.
61. complement and compliment
complement is a verb, and means to complete something.
Example: Her shoes complemented her beautiful skirt.
compliment is a verb, and means to praise something or someone.
Example: He complimented his assistant on her sense of humor.
62. connote and denote
connote is a verb, and means to express something indirectly.
Example: The term “modern science” usually connotes a complete openness to testing.
denote is a verb, and means to indicate something.
Example: Let us assume that X denotes the number of fruits.
63. childish and childlike
childish is an adjective, and means immature.
Example: His childish mischiefs were why he often received a lot of criticism.
childlike is an adjective, and means exhibiting simplicity and innocence like a child.
Example: That girl, though very intelligent and mature, often seems childlike to me.
64. council and counsel
council is a noun, and means a governing body.
Example: The council will finalize the decision tomorrow.
counsel is a verb, and means to help someone with suggestions.
Example: The teacher counselled the struggling student.
65. discreet and discrete
discreet is an adjective, and means modesty.
Example: Though a rich man, he always remained discreet about his wealth.
discrete is an adjective, and means different, or separate.
Example: Speech sounds are produced as a continuous sound signal rather than discrete units.
66. deprecate and depreciate
deprecate is a verb, and means to disagree strongly with someone.
Example: My father deprecates the value of the internet.
depreciate is a verb, and means to lower the value of something.
Example: The value of the currency depreciated due to the economic slowdown.
67. eminent and imminent
eminent is an adjective, and means of great quality or position.
Example: Eminent leaders from all over the world attended the convention.
imminent is an adjective, and means about to occur.
Example: Global warming is imminent very soon, with all the pollution that we are causing.
68. evoke and invoke
evoke is a verb, and means to make something occur.
Example: Their dislike for each other evoked the quarrel between the two groups.
invoke is a verb, and means to call earnestly for something.
Example: She invoked his help on the issue.
69. exhort and extort
exhort is a verb, and means to appreciate or support.
Example: The media have been exhorting people to turn out for the demonstration.
extort is a verb, and means to take something by force (looting).
Example: He was convicted of trying to extort $1 million from the company.
70. faint and feint
faint is an adjective, and means lacking clarity.
Example: I only have a faint idea of what he is planning to do.
feint is a verb, and means to deceive someone.
Example: The boxer feinted his opponent with a fake move, and then punched him in the face.
71. inveigh and inveigle
inveigh is a verb, and means to complain bitterly.
Example: He inveighed against the wasteful ways of modern society.
inveigle means to influence.
Example: He inveigled her into going to the party.
72. insidious and invidious
insidious is an adjective, and means attractive but harmful.
Example: One should not indulge in insidious pleasures.
invidious is an adjective, and means prejudice or partiality.
Example: The juror was obviously invidious towards the plaintiff.
73. incite and insight
incite is a verb, and means to urge.
Example: She incited me to sacrifice my career for her.
insight is a noun, and means a deep perception.
Example: I would like your insight on this matter.
74. necessary vs essential
Necessary is an adjective, and means unavoidable.
Example: It is necessary that you take this medicine every day.
Essential he means fundamental.
Example: Water is an essential part of our life.
75. accede and exceed
accede is a verb, and means to allow or agree.
Example: The leader of the group acceded the new rule.
Exceed is a verb, and means to be greater than or superior to.
Example: I hope you exceed my expectations.
76. meretricious and meritorious
meretricious is an adjective, and means pretentious.
Example: What a meretricious person he is. He should be ashamed.
meritorious is an adjective, and means having merit or a good quality.
Example: He was always a meritorious student.
77. militate and mitigate
militate is a verb, and means to influence forcefully.
Example: Politeness has been militated against his opinions.
mitigate is a verb, and means to make something less severe.
Example: The circumstances have somehow mitigated the crime he could have committed.
78. prodigy and protégé
prodigy is a noun, and means a young, talented person.
Example: The child prodigy has already won numerous awards.
Protégé is a noun, and means a person who trains under a skilled or influential coach.
Example: The youngster was an aide and protégé of the former senator of state.
79. reluctant and reticent
reluctant is an adjective, and means unwillingness to do something.
Example: He was reluctant to withstand any violence against his family.
reticent is an adjective, and means unemotional.
Example: The reticent criminal was punished severely by the jailer.
80. veracious, vociferous, and voracious
veracious is an adjective, and means accurate.
Example: It was a veracious account of his attitude.
vociferous is an adjective and means very loud.
Example: The vociferous mob was silenced by the police.
Voracious is an adjective, and means greedy.
Example: The voracious businessman met the fate he deserved: jail.
81. adverse and averse
adverse is an adjective, and means contrary to something.
Example: He had to face adverse conditions during his trip.
averse is an adjective, and means strongly opposed to something.
Example: He was always averse to taking risks in life.
82. aggravate and aggregate
aggravate is a verb, and means to make something worse.
Example: Your hatred towards her is only aggravating the situation.
aggregate is a noun, and means a sum total.
Example: What is the aggregate score of our team during the tournament?
83. a lot and allot
a lot means many.
Example: I have a lot of mobile phones with me.
allot is a verb, and means to give out or allocate.
Example: I was allotted the smallest of all the dorm rooms.
84. bisect and dissect
bisect is a verb, and means to divide something into two parts.
Example: The road bisects the two states.
dissect is a verb, and means to cut something open.
Example: The trainee doctor dissected the frog.
85. emigrate and immigrate
emigrate is a verb, and means to leave one’s country for another.
Example: Thousands of Indians emigrate for the Middle East every year.
immigrate is to come to a new country from another.
Example: Many people immigrated to the US at the beginning of the 20th century.
86. exacerbate and exasperate
exacerbate is a verb, and means to make something worse.
Example: The situation is already pretty bad. Do not try to exacerbate it.
exasperate is a verb, and means to make someone angry.
Example: The judge’s cynical comments are exasperating the performers.
87. hoard and horde
hoard is a noun, and means a secret store.
Example: He came back to rescue his little hoard of gold.
horde is a noun, and means a large, moving crowd.
Example: Hordes of people are migrating to the west every year.
88. imply and infer
imply is a verb, and means to indicate indirectly.
Example: The salesmen used technical jargon to imply his superior knowledge.
infer is a verb, and means to conclude by reasoning.
Example: What did you infer from this new experiment?
89. inherent and inherit
inherent is an adjective, and means built-in.
Example: His inherent talents have proved useful to him throughout his career.
inherit is a verb, and means to obtain from someone.
Example: I have inherited some property from my forefathers.
90. jive and jibe
jive is a noun, and means a happy dance.
Example: The kids liked the jives and the gaming sessions at the picnic.
jibe is a noun, and means an aggressive remark on someone.
Example: His jibe at the ruling party’s inefficiency was such a shocking remark.
91. perpetrate and perpetuate
perpetrate is a verb, and means to perform an act.
Example: The group of criminals perpetrated the crime together.
perpetuate is a verb, and means to continue something.
Example: People are still perpetuating the myth of the Loch Ness Monster
92. perspective and prospective
perspective is a noun, and means a view or way of looking at things.
Example: Our perspectives on this issue may be different, given our different backgrounds.
prospective is a noun, and means something related to the future.
Example: The prospective students just attended the admissions seminar.
93. elicit and illicit
elicit is a verb, and means to extract something.
Example: We elicited some interesting data from the experiment.
illicit is an adjective, and means forbidden by law or illegal.
Example: He was arrested for possessing illicit drugs.
94. censure and censor
censure is a noun, and means disapproval.
Example: The sensitive girl could not withstand such harsh censure from the crowd.
censor is a verb, and means to condemn or remove unacceptable material.
Example: The news channel had to censor many swear words from yesterday’s speech.
95. travesty and tragedy
travesty is a noun, and means a parody.
Example: I can’t help but laugh at this unbelievable travesty.
tragedy is a noun, and means a sad incident.
Example: What a tragedy it was yesterday when the minister was shot dead in front of the media.
96. refute and refuse
refute is a verb, and means to prove something as false.
Example: I refute your stance on this issue.
refuse is a verb, and means to not accept.
Example: I refuse to join your corrupt political party.
97. enormity and enormous
enormity is a noun, and means of great importance.
Example: The universities have recognized the enormity of their student profiles.
Enormous is an adjective, and means of great size.
Example: The country decided to cut back on its enormous military budget.
98. decimate and decimal
decimate is a verb, and means to kill.
Example: The bomb has decimated several thousands of people.
decimal is a noun, and means a number.
Example: The decimal system is the most popular system of numbers.
99. less and fewer
less is used for uncountable nouns, like water.
Example: I drank less water yesterday compared to today.
fewer is used for countable nouns, like people.
Example: There were fewer people at the gym today.
100. premier and premiere
premier is an adjective, and means first or top ranked.
Example: The premier institutes received the biggest financial help from the government.
premiere is a noun, and means a first time performance/show.
Example: The premiere is about to begin in a few minutes.
101. amused and bemused
amused is a verb, and means to be happy.
Example: I am amused by this new comedy movie.
Bemused is a verb, and means to be perplexed, in a deep thought.
Example: I was bemused by his deeply philosophical questions on life and death.
So, those are the most commonly misused GRE words ever. Hope you got some value from this list. If you want to learn them regularly, save them in a doc, or print them and stick them somewhere in your study room.
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Also, don’t forget to come back to this list in a few days, and quiz yourself to see how many of these 101 most commonly misused GRE words you can actually remember right. Remember, unless you revise on newly learned material, you are likely to forget it sooner than you think.
Now It’s Your Turn
We created this list with a lot of care and effort so that students who are short on time don’t have to skip learning vocabulary entirely and we really hope this serves as a reference point to you.
Also, we’d love to hear your insights. Any words that you learned that you didn’t see here? How about a word that you’ve also seen first-hand? Or maybe there’s a word you think should be on this list? Either way, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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