50 difficult words with meaning

50 difficult words with meaning|Words for IELTS, TOEFL, & more.

Last Updated on March 12, 2021 by iSchoolConnect

Started preparing for your IELTS, TOEFL, or GRE exams and saw how hard the Vocabulary Section is? Don’t worry, our list of 50 difficult words with meanings, explanations, and examples has got you covered!

Who writes an article titled ‘50 difficult words with meaning?’ 

My answer is this – there are many benefits to improving your vocabulary. Like-

  1. It will help you tackle aptitude tests. Popular study abroad tests like GRE, GMAT, IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, SAT, etc. all have vocabulary sections and are very important when you’re applying to a university or looking for a job after graduation.
  2. It will make it easier for you to interact with your peers abroad. You don’t wanna feel lost when they drop one of these words in your conversation. Because you may not believe it, but they use these words way more often than we do.
  3. It will sharpen your mind. That’s right, learning new words and languages hones the critical side of your brain! Which, as I’ve already said, is super important to nail your aptitude tests.

Case in point, let’s take a look at these 50 difficult words with meaning and expand our knowledge!

Why should I care about your list of 50 difficult words with meaning?

The first thing you should do while preparing for your GMAT or GRE is take a mock test.

This will give you an idea of what your current aptitude levels are.

Mock tests are also a great way to find out what the exam is going to be like. You’ll learn what type of questions you’re gonna get, what is the duration of the test, if you have any breaks in between, etc.

So what does that have to do with learning difficult words?

When you take the mock tests, you will find it difficult to understand the questions.

Not because the questions are difficult in themselves, but because they are written using words that are difficult to understand.

What’s more, the options given for the answer are even tougher to comprehend!

For example, here’s a Sentence Completion question from the Verbal Section of GRE


Colleagues describe Padgett as both forthright and reticent, humble and (i)………….., good-natured and (ii) …………. . And in her behavior as a businesswoman, Padgett herself does little to (iii) …………. these contradictions. She says she is proemployee but is avowedly antiunion. She calls herself procustomer but acknowledges that she runs a store with higher profit margins and prices than almost any other grocer.


(i) – a) diffident b) eccentric c) arrogant

(ii) – a) pricky b) solicitous c) phlegmatic

(iii) – a) dispel b) fulfill c) accentuate

Do you see what I’m trying to say?

This is where our list of 50 difficult words with meanings comes in.

50 difficult words with meanings and sentences

Without further ado-

  1. Belie
  • Meaning – To give a false representation to; misrepresent
  • Example – The smile on his lips belies the pain he’s been feeling 
  1. Arrant
  • Meaning – Complete and wholly
  • Example – You are an arrant fool
  1. Untoward
  • Meaning – Inconvenient
  • Example – I find attending lectures on Zoom untoward as it does not make me feel included in the class
  1. Byzantine
  • Meaning – Complex and intricate
  • Example – You can’t just end a marriage like that, you have to complete the byzantine procedures of filing a divorce case in the courts
  1. Conciliate
  • Meaning – To make peace with
  • Example – All attempts at conciliation have failed and civil war seems inevitable
  1. Equivocate
  • Meaning – To speak vaguely, with the intention of misleading someone
  • Example – Politicians often say that they will work on the issue of climate change, but they are just equivocating to get the votes
  1. Truculent
  • Meaning – Have a fierce, savage nature
  • Example – The truculent attitude of farmers to cheaper imports is inspiring
  1. Diatribe
  • Meaning – A verbal attack against a person
  • Example – Because Sheila was unhappy with the administration, she launched a lengthy diatribe against the board during lunch.
  1. Quisling
  • Meaning – A traitor
  • Example – He had the quisling owner of the factory arrested
  1. Artless
  • Meaning – without cunning or deceit
  • Example – My artless comment was mistaken for rudeness
  1. Blinkered
  • Meaning – To have a limited perspective
  • Example – They’ve got a very blinkered view of life
  1. Maudlin
  • Meaning – Overly emotional
  • Example – You didn’t invite me out here to listen to my maudlin rambling.
  1. Invective
  • Meaning – Abusive language
  • Example – A woman had hurled racist invective at the family.
  1. Remonstrate
  • Meaning – To make objections while pleading
  • Example – Whenever I refuse my young daughter anything, she likes to remonstrate by stomping her feet on the floor
  1. Sartorial
  • Meaning – Related to fashion
  • Example – The wedding party arrived in sartorial splendor.
  1. Sybarite
  • Meaning – A person who indulges in luxury
  • Example – A Sybarite on an inadequate income, he was ever the man of action.
  1. Inundate
  • Meaning – Flooded
  • Example – Her office was inundated with requests for tickets.
  1. Curmudgeon
  • Meaning – A surly person
  • Example – Clearly, I only play a curmudgeon in the newspaper. 
  1. Anodyne
  • Meaning – Something that soothes or relieves pain
  • Example – Morphine is the greatest anodyne we possess, and no drug yet discovered equals it in pain-relieving power. 
  1. Gaffe
  • Meaning – A socially awkward act
  • Example – He didn’t realize what a gaffe he’d made.
  1. Vie
  • Meaning – Compete for something
  • Example – They are both vying for the same managerial position.
  1. Decimation
  • Meaning – Killing a large part of the population
  • Example – It is likely the category five hurricane will decimate the small beach town.
  1. Garrulous
  • Meaning – Talking too much
  • Example – He was so garrulous that he could not keep a secret.
  1. Hubris
  • Meaning – Overbearing pride
  • Example – Her humble attitude was refreshing in society to be saturated by hubris.
  1. Dovetail
  • Meaning – To fit together tightly
  • Example – I’m following up on a few things that might dovetail.
  1. Impetuous
  • Meaning – Characterized by undue haste and lack of thought
  • Example – In the past, impetuous young men would drop out of college and run off to join the army.
  1. Circumlocution 
  • Meaning – Expressing someone in an indirect way
  • Example – His admission came after years of circumlocution.
  1. Surreptitious
  • Meaning – Taking pains not to be caught or detected
  • Example – He made a surreptitious recording with a concealed hand-held machine. 
  1. Peripatetic
  • Meaning – Traveling by foot
  • Example – He had a peripatetic career as a salesman.
  1. Magisterial
  • Meaning – Someone who exercises unwarranted power
  • Example – Their jurisdictions coincide for the most part with the magisterial and fiscal boundaries.
  1. Asperity
  • Meaning – Harsh in manner 
  • Example – There was a touch of asperity in his tone.
  1. Decry
  • Meaning – Express strong disapproval of 
  • Example – He is impatient with those who decry the scheme.
  1. Puerile
  • Meaning – Displaying a lack of maturity 
  • Example – Since my son is thirty-three years of age, I do not find his puerile behavior amusing.
  1. Incontrovertible
  • Meaning – Impossible to deny
  • Example – We have incontrovertible evidence of what took place.
  1. Inviolate
  • Meaning – Something that must be kept sacred 
  • Example – The constitution proclaims that public property shall be inviolate.
  1. Puissant
  • Meaning – Powerful 
  • Example – The young man has a puissant body.
  1. Cosset
  • Meaning – Excessive indulgence
  • Example – He cosseted her with flowers and champagne.
  1. Eclectic 
  • Meaning – Deriving the best ideas and styles from a diverse range of sources
  • Example – My universities offering an eclectic mix of courses.
  1. Iconoclast 
  • Meaning – Someone who criticizes or attacks cherished ideas and beliefs
  • Example – His son Gegnesius in 722 was taken to Constantinople, where he won over to his opinions the iconoclast emperor, Leo the Isaurian. 
  1. Anachronism
  • Meaning – Something that is inappropriate for the given time period
  • Example – In today’s computer world, a floppy disk is an anachronism
  1. Enormity
  • Meaning – An act of extreme wickedness 
  • Example – She stared at the fire, shocked by the enormity of what she had done.
  1. Dolorous
  • Meaning – Showing sorrow
  • Example – Sally stopped. Then she uttered a dolorous phrase that we could all understand. My dog is dead, she said, as tears filled her eyes.
  1. Solicitous
  • Meaning – showing hovering attentiveness
  • Example – I appreciated his solicitous inquiry about my health.
  1. Impugn
  • Meaning – Attack as false or wrong 
  • Example – Her motives have been scrutinized and impugned.
  1. Despot
  • Meaning – A cruel and oppressive dictator 
  • Example – The despot claimed to be the chosen instrument of divine providence.
  1. Splenetic
  • Meaning – Very irritable 
  • Example – Next in line for the splenetic outburst of a disaffected supporter: Martin Chuffing Edwards.
  1. Abrogate
  • Meaning – To revoke  
  • Example – The Supreme Court can abrogate laws deemed unconstitutional.
  1. Inveterate
  • Meaning – Habitual
  • Example – She is an inveterate gambler.
  1. Officious
  • Meaning – Intrusive in a meddling or offensive manner 
  • Example – ‘I’ll see,’ the nurse said, with an officious toss of her head.
  1. Pillory
  • Meaning – Ridicule or expose to public scorn
  • Example – The offensive thing is that he has been so widely pilloried for doing so.

How to remember difficult English words with meanings?

I know! I’ve been there. This is why I’m going to share an amazing trick that Memory Athletes use to remember difficult words.

Sure, you’ll find a lot of resources both online and offline (we’re gonna cover that soon). Some of them will tell you to speak out loud and memorize the words every day until the day of your exam. Others will ask you to look at examples and use these words in your everyday life.

But they can only help you remember these words for maybe a week or two.

The method used by Memory Athletes, on the other hand, helped me so much I can remember the meanings of these words even today!

So here’s how to remember difficult English words with meanings

  1. Read the word and try to relate it to something you already know. Break it into two words if that makes things easier for you.
    For example – for the word Inundated – I broke it into 3 words – ‘in’ ‘a’ and ‘date’
  2. Create a mental image of these words in your mind
    I imagined myself being on a date with a guy
  3. Relate this image to the actual meaning of the word! How? Let’s see-
    Inundated means Flooded
    So I imagined that the restaurant I was in started to flood!

I know what you’re thinking – it’s crazy.

But it works, doesn’t it? 😛

Now, you’ll never forget what inundated means.

Try out this trick with the words on this list and have fun while memorizing them. You’re welcome!

Where can I find more such words?

You’ll find online articles giving you multiple suggestions, including books like Six Weeks to Words of Power, Merriam-Webster’s Vocabulary Builder, and 1100 Words You Need to Know.

But instead of being swamped with so many books to read, I suggest you use only these 2 resources

1. Word Power by Norman Lewis

This book is a delightful read!

In it, you will have to learn only 10 words a day.

But the teaching method (breaking down the word etymology) of the author is so phenomenal, that you’ll end up understanding the meanings behind a thousand words by the end of this book.

What’s more, it has several exercises in the middle, that help you improve your grammatical and syntactic skills. This is perfect for those attempting tests like GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, etc

2. The GRE Vocabulary Flashcards on Magoosh

This app has hundreds of flashcards you can read from.

Go through a few flashcards every day, over and over again. Read the meanings, use the trick I gave above to remember these words, look at the examples.

Then do it all over again.

Because when it comes to remembering vocabulary words with meaning, practice will make you perfect!

There you have it – 50 difficult words with meaning, resources to find more, and tips to remember these oh-so-new words.

If you think we should add something more to our blog about ’50 difficult words with meaning’, reach out to us.

Or…drop a comment!

See you in the next blog.

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