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GRE Vocabulary: Free Resources on the Internet

The Internet is a great resource for vocabulary. And, I’m not just talking about those New York Times articles with challenging words – many sites offer a word of the day, or, better yet, an entire write-up on a word (the latter is courtesy of The New York Times).

By immersing yourself in a world of words, you will allow your brain to pick up more words than when you simply subject it to a deck of flashcards. That is, varying backdrops keep your brain alert, so that it is more likely to hold a vocabulary word in long-term memory.

So, check out these links, and they should help you develop a stronger vocabulary:

This helpful word-of-the-day does more than just define a word. It cites the word as used in context from The New York Times galaxy of articles. These articles generally tend to be a trove of other useful words, so your word-of-the-day can become words-of-the-day…make sure, though, to have open, so as to get even more context on a word. Wordnik, you ask?…

I’ve already trumpeted the wonders of elsewhere on this site. But, if you didn’t catch those posts, here is the quick run down: any word (and by any, I mean any) you can think of is defined, along with a plethora of examples taken from a gamut of sources (from Shakespeare to the last Yahoo article). If you want context on a word, this is the place to get it.

Their word-of-the-day feature is great—a definition right below the word, along with popular uses of the word in media (this last part is great for getting the sense of context). And, the best part is the word-of-the- day has been archived; so, now you can go all the way back to 2000 or so, and learn words (okay, that may be a tad ambitious – but at least you won’t run out anytime soon).

With any word-of-the-day, always use common sense as to whether a word is a GRE word. So, if the word of the day is nares – another name for the nostrils – then you probably don’t need to learn it. Likewise, really obscure words – say, words that are from Old English (ferly is a recent one on, then don’t learn these words.

This is a dynamic, robust site for vocabulary. Word-of-the-day is just the beginning. There are word games (I like the synonym finder – though it may not be challenging enough for high verbal scorers), and Trend Watch, a feature that shows which words have gained a sudden ascendancy (pariah, meaning outcast, shot up in the ensuing days of Gaddafi’s death).

You can also see what other people have been looking up over the last 24 hours. As I look now, GRE words you have to know, such as pragmatic, didactic, and facetious, are all on the top 10 list (hmm, it seems a lot of SAT and GRE students – and maybe even some Magooshers! – have been visiting this site of late).

Finally – or perhaps not quite finally, as this site offers so much for the vocab hound – a seen and heard column features words people looked up and their respective motivations for doing so (hagiography, apparently, does not describe Steve Job’s top-selling biography).


So, avail yourself of the Internet and fill yourself with word-of-the-days. And, don’t forget to always check context.

Check out Magoosh’s big list of free GRE resources for more valuable study tools! 😀

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

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