MBA bound? English Vocabulary Building

Japanese Noodle Shop Lantern

When I was in elementary school, I happened to watch a TV program in which a commentator was explaining how to increase vocabulary. He recommended that every time you see a word that you don’t know, look it up in a dictionary, and write down the word and its meaning in a notebook.

At the time I was sharing a room with a brother four years older than I, and his bookshelf was filled with books that I browsed, mostly classical literature (fiction). I started writing down words that I did not understand just as the commentator had suggested—and went a step further. From the novel borrowed from my brother, I wrote down the sentence containing the word that I did not understand.

As you can imagine, I filled up many notebooks over the next few years. It was a tedious process but eventually I came to the point that rarely would I find a word that I did not know. Thanks to my older brother (and his library!) and the tips given by that TV commentator, my reading level was always several years ahead of my age.

The takeaway I got in this experience was the importance of learning vocabulary through the context of reading itself. It’s as simple as this: if you want to improve your reading comprehension in English or in any other language, read.

For those of you preparing for the TOEFL iBT and GMAT or GRE standardized tests, you may be studying word lists to improve your vocabulary. These can be helpful to accelerate the acquisition of basic vocabulary but never restrict your study of English language vocabulary to a word list. Read English language materials daily, and read when possible on-line, as your tests are administered on-line.

If you are looking for a basic English language list containing words frequently found on TOEFL tests, check out the word list below.  It contains a basic set of English language vocabulary containing more than 1500 English words.

1.     Over time go through the list and check off the words that you believe you know.

2.     For those words, compose a sentence in which you use the word.

3.     Select any word that you do not know by clicking on the word.  It should open up to the website of Merriam-Webster, the English language dictionary that I have used since I was a kid.

4.     For example, select the world trivial. You can select the sound icon to hear the word pronounced. Pronounce trivial out loud. If you scroll down you will also find the word defined, sentence examples using the word trivial, and its antonyms and synonyms. Read the sentence examples out loud to exercise your tongue and reinforce your memory of trivial.

5.     If your file does not open up to the Merriam-Webster website, here is the URL: Use the search function to locate the word you are studying.

6.     Every time you use the vocabulary list, review the words you learned in the previous study session to make sure that you have not forgotten that vocabulary.

And read!

All the best,

Warren J. Devalier

English 1500+ Word List

abandon abase abate abbreviation abduct
abhor abject able abolish abominate
abort abrupt absolve abstain abstruse
absurd abundant abyss accessible acclaim
accomplice accurate accuse acid acquaint
acquiesce acrid actuate acute adamant
adapt adept adequate adhere adjacent
adjourn admonish adorn advent adverse
advocate affable affect affiliate affinity
affliction affluent aggravate aggregate agile
agitate agrarian ailment akin allegiance
alleviate allocate allot allude aloft
aloof alternative amateurish amazing ambient
ambiguous ambivalence ambivalent amelioration amenable
amiable amicable amnesia amnesty amphitheater
analogous anecdote annex annual anonymous
antagonism antagonist antebellum antedate anticipate
antique anxious apathy apollonian apparent
appealing appease applaud appraise apprise
approbation apt aqueous arable arduous
arid armistice aroma arrogant articulate
artificial ascertain assail assault assert
assiduous assimilate astonishing astute atone
atrocious atrocity attain attribute audacious
auditory augment august austere authentic
authorize autocracy automaton autonomy avalanche
avarice aver aversion avert aviator
avid avoid avouch awkward bacchanalian
bachelor backbreaking baffle bald balmy
ban bankrupt bar bare barren
barter bashful bead beam bear
beckon becoming befall bellicose belligerence
belligerent beneficial beneficiary benefit benevolent
bequeath besiege bestow betray beverage
bias bicker bilateral biography bland
blatant blend blizzard bloom bluff
blunder blunt blurry bold bolster
bond boom bothersome bough brace
breakthrough breathtaking breed breeze brilliant
brisk brittle broach brochure brutal
bulky burrow buttress cajole calamity
calisthenics calm camouflage canvass capable
captivate captor carefree caricature carnage
carve cast casual cataclysm catastrophe
caustic cautious cavity celebrated censor
censure census centennial chaffer chaos
charming chasm cherish chicanery chide
chilly choice chop chubby cicerone
cite clandestine clash classify clever
cliché cling clumsy coalescence coalition
coax coherent coin collaborate colossal
commence commerce commitment commodity compact
compel competent compile complement compliment
comply component comprehensible comprehensive comprise
compulsory concede concerted concise concoct
concord concrete concurrent condemn condone
conducive confer confidential configuration confiscate
conflict conform congenial congestion conglomerate
congregate conjecture consecutive consequential consistent
conspicuous construe contaminate contemplate contempt
contention contrive controversial controversy convenient
convey conviction conviviality cope with copious
cordial corporeal corpulent corroborate courteous
covert cozy crave crease criminology
crooked crouch crucial crude cruel
cryptic cultivate cumbersome cumulative curb
curious curt curtail damp dangle
daring daunt dazzling decadent decay
deceit deception decipher declare declivity
decompose decorate decorous decrement decriminalize
dedicate deduction deem de facto defame
defect defective defer defiant deficient
definitive defraud degenerate dehydrate deity
dejected deliberate delicate delightful Delphic
deluge delusion demise demolish denote
denounce dense deprave depress deprive
derelict deride descry desecrate deserted
desiccate desist desolate desultory detect
deteriorate detract detrimental deviate device
devise devoid dexterous didactic digress
diligence diligent dilute dim dimension
dingy dip dire directory discard
discern discipline disclose discord discrepancy
disdain dismal dismay dismissive disparity
disperse disposition disprove dispute disrobe
dissect disseminate dissolve distinct distinguished
distract diverge divulge docile dodge
dogged doleful dominate donate dot
downfall doze drain drastic drawback
dreary drench drip drought drowsy
dubious dull dumbfound dunce dungeon
durable dwell dwelling dwindle dynamic
eclipse ecology ecumenical edible edifice
eerie efface effuse effusion elaborate
elasticity elderly elegant elevate elicit
eligible elucidate elude emanate emancipate
embed embitter emblem emboss eminent
emit emulate enamored enchant enchanting
encomium encounter endeavor endorse engender
enhance enigma enlist enmity ennui
ensue enthrall entice enumerate enunciate
envelope environ envisage ephemeral epiphyte
epitaph epithet equitable equivocal era
eradicate erect escalate eschew espouse
essay essential estate esteem estrange
eulogy evacuate evade evanescent even
evenhanded evolve exacerbate exacting exalt
excavate exceed excerpt excrete excursion
execute exhaustive exhilarating exhortation expendable
expire explicit exploit explore expose
expunge extensive extol extract extraneous
extravagant fable fabled facet facile
facilitate facility fade faint fake
fallout falter famine fancy fare
fasten fatal fatigue faulty feasible
feat fee feeble feign felicity
ferocious fertile fervent fickle fidelity
fiery finance finite fire fitting
flagrant flatten flaw flee flexible
flimsy flip florid fluctuate foggy
fold fool forego foremost forestall
forlorn formative foul fragile fragment
fragrant frail framework fraud fraudulent
frenetic frustrate fugitive fundamental fuse
fusion futile gain gainsay gala
gale gap garrulous gaudy genial
gentle genuine germane germinate ghastly
glisten glitter glorify glory glossy
goad gorgeous grab grace graphic
grasp grassroots gratuitous grave gravid
gravitas gravitate gravity graze gregarious
grim grip gross grueling grumble
guile gullible gusto haggle hamper
handpick handy haphazard harangue harass
hardship harm harmony harness harsh
hasty haul havoc hazardous hector
hedonism hedonist heed heighten helical
herald heretic heterogeneous heyday hilarious
hinder hoax hoist holocaust homogeneous
homonym hospice hospitable hospitality hostage
hostel hostile hub hue huge
humiliate hurl hyperbole hypocrite idea
ideal idiosyncrasy idle illiterate illusion
illustrate imaginary imbibe immense imminent
immortal immune immutable impair impartial
impecunious impediment impel impending imperceptible
implement impose impromptu improvise impute
incalculable incandescent incense incentive incessant
incipient incise incognito incompatible incongruous
inconsonant increment incriminate incumbent indemnify
indict indifferent indigenous indigent indignant
indiscriminate indispensable indistinct induce inept
inevitable infamous infinite infinitesimal infringe
infuriate ingenious ingenuous ingredient inhabit
inherent inhibit inhospitable inimical initial
injurious innate innocuous innovative inopportune
inordinate inroad insatiate insinuate insipid
insolent insolvent inspire instantaneous instigate
insult insurrection intact integral intelligible
intense interim interminable intervene intimate
intimidate intractable intrepid intricate intrigue
intrude invaluable inventory inveterate invincible
inviting involuntary irate irreversible irrevocable
irritable itinerant jagged jeopardy jolly
jolt jovial judicious juncture juvenile
keen key knack lack lag
laggard landscape landslide languid lapse
lassitude last latent laud lavish
lax leaflet leash leavening leeward
legendary legitimate lenient lessen lethal
lethargic levity lewd liable liaison
licentious likely linger link litigate
loafer loathsome locate locomotion lodestar
lofty long loom loophole lucid
lucrative lugubrious lukewarm lull lullaby
lumber luminous lunatic lure lurid
lurk luster lustrous luxurious magnificent
magnify magnitude maiden makeshift makeup
malady malediction malice malign malignant
mandatory manifest mar maritime marked
massacre masterpiece matriculation mature maxim
meager meddle mediate meek memorable
menace mend mercurial merge meritorious
mesmerize meteor meticulous mild millennia
mingle minuscule minute mirth misanthropic
misappropriate misdemeanor misrepresent mock moderate
molest monitor monotonous monumental moral
morale morbid mortify mournful mundane
murky mute mutiny mysterious mythical
naughty nausea neglect negligible negotiate
nestor nibble nimble nocturnal nonchalant
notable notify notion notorious novel
novice noxious obese obituary objective
oblique oblivious oblong obscene obscure
obsequious obsolete obstinate obtrude obvious
odd odor offhand offspring Olympian
omen ominous ooze opportune opulent
orbit ordeal ornamental orotund ostracize
outgoing outlet outlook outrage outskirt
outspread outstanding outworn overall overcast
overcome overdue overlook override overrun
oversee oversight overstate overt overtake
overwhelm pace pacesetter pacifist pacify
pact painstaking pale paltry panacea
panic paramour particle path patronage
peculiar pedantic penetrate penurious per capita
perceive perceptible perch perennial perforate
peril perilous periodic permeate pernicious
perpetual perplexing persecute perspicuous pertain
pertinent pervade petulant phenomenal pierce
pillage placate placid plague plausible
plead plethora plush poise poky
ponder portion portray posthumous postpone
potent pounce powerful preach precarious
precept precious precipitation precise predicament
preface premier prerogative presage prescribe
pressing presumptuous pretense pretext prevail
prevalent prior probe probity proclaim
procure prodigal prodigious profane profound
profuse proliferate prolific prolong prominent
promiscuous prompt pronounced prophesy proportional
propriety proscribe prosper protagonist protracted
provenance provisional provoke prow prudent
pseudonym pugnacious pulverize pungent pursue
puzzling quaint quake quandary quarrel
quashed quench query quest quicksilver
quote radiant radical ragged raid
random range rash ration raw
raze rebellion recede reception recess
reciprocal reckless reclaim recollect reconcile
recount recrimination recruit recurring redeem
redoubtable refine refuge refurbished refute
rehabilitate rehearse reign reimburse reiterate
rejoice rejoicing release relegate reliable
relinquish relish remedy reminisce remit
remnant remote remunerate render renounce
renowned repeal repel repercussion replenish
reproach reprobate reproduce reprove repugnance
repute rescind resent reserved residual
resolute resound restless resume resurrection
retaliate reticent retract retraction retreat
retrieve retroact revamp reveal reverberate
revere revoke riddle rigid rigor
rip ripe risky roam rotundity
rough route rudiment rudimentary rugged
rummage rumor rural ruthless salvage
sanction sanctuary sanguine saturate saucy
scale scan scant scarce scatter
scattered scent scholarly scope scorch
scorn scrap scribble scrupulous scrutinize
seasoned secluded secondhand sedition seduction
seemly self-reliant sensational sentinel sequential
sequester serene serpent sever severe
shabby shatter sheer shimmer shiver
shortcoming shred shrewd shrill shrink
shun shunned shy significant signify
simulate simultaneous singular sip skeptical
sketch sketchy skew skid skinny
slack slander slender slim sluggish
sly smolder snare snub soak
sojourn solace solicit somber sophisticated
sophistry sort sound sovereign span
Spartan spawn specific specimen spectacular
spell spin spirited splash splendid
splice spoil sporadic spot spouse
sprout spur spurious squamous squander
stable stagnant stain stale stall
stately stationary status quo staunch stealthy
steep stentorian stern stifled stifling
still stoic stout strenuous stretch
strife strive struggle stubborn stumble
stun stupendous sturdy sublime submerge
subsequent subside subsidiary substantial subterranean
subtle succumb sullen summit sundry
superb superficial supplant supple supplicate
surfeit surge surly surmise surpass
susceptible suspend sway sweeping swift
swivel sybaritic synagogue synopsis synthesize
taciturn tact tactic taint tale
tame tamper tangle tantalize tantamount
tardy tarnish tart taunt tautology
tawdry taxonomy tease tedious telling
temperate tempting tender tenor tentative
tepid ternary tether thaw thermal
thorough thoroughfare thrifty thrilling thrive
thwart tidings tilt timid tint
tiresome toil tolerant torpid torrent
torture toupee tow towering toxic
trailblazer trait trajectory tranquility transmute
transparent transpose traverse treacherous tremendous
tremor trepidation tribunal trickle trigger
triumph trivial trying tug tumble
tumultuous turbulent turmoil twinkle tyro
ultimate unalienable unattended unbearable uncanny
uncouth undercover undergo underlying underscore
undertake undulate unerring unintelligible ungainly
uniform unilateral unique universal unquenchable
unruly unscathed unsound upheaval uphold
upkeep uproar uptight urge urgent
urinary usurp utensil utter vacant
vacuous vague vain valedictory valiant
valid vanguard vanish vanity variable
variation vast vaunt vehemence vein
venerate venereal venomous venturesome venue
verbose verge verify versatile vessel
vex viable vicinity vie vigilance
vigorous villainous vindicate visceral vital
vivid vogue volatile voluptuous vomit
vouch vow vulnerable wade wag
wage wail walkout wan wander
wane ward ware warp wary
waxy weary well-to-do wholesome wicked
widen widespread wile wily winsome
wise withdraw wither withhold withstand
witty woe wonder wound wrinkle
yearn yield zealous zenith zone

©2011 Warren J. Devalier