GRE Vocabulary List: Difficult Words in Context

The following new GRE words have something in common: they both are difficult to understand if one relies only on their definitions. To really understand how they are used, one has to be familiar with them in context. Of course, this goes for any new GRE word; however, the more abstract the definition, the more you will need to rely on context recognition.

The words below can also be common as part of the sentence(s) that make up Text Completions and Sentence Equivalence, so it is important you understand them.

Inure – to become accustomed to something unpleasant

After college, Mason took a while to become inured to the daily grind, yearning for those days he could sleep until noon.

With the glut of insipid dialogue on primetime TV, we have long been inured to Hollywood’s hackneyed scripts.

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Confer – 1. to speak over with another   2. to bestow

This word has two definitions – and it is the second one that is more difficult to recognize.

The father conferred his blessing on the groom before the latter asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Construe/misconstrue – to interpret, usually in an ambiguous situation/misinterpret 

He construed her reticence as timidity – little did he know she was contriving a way to undermine him.

When we first meet someone, we tend to misconstrue any negative behavior as directed towards us, though that person may simply be having the proverbial bad day.


Michelle incurred her boss’s wrath each time he caught her in a patent fabrication.

Bobby had incurred so many parking fines that, one day, he returned to his car to see that it had been “booted” .

Consign – 1. to entrust with   2. to permanently place or commit irrevocably

The dying tycoon consigned three of of his Picassos to the Met, hoping that the museum would take good care of them.

Gleefully, he consigned his old GRE material to the large green dumpster behind his apartment.



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