GRE Vocabulary Words, Letter P

Listed here are GRE vocabulary words that begin with the letter P. Use this list to drill yourself on these words. For best results, sign in to your MyGRETutor account and have the vocabulary tutor keep track of the words that you have seen and mastered. Keep in mind that memorizing vocabulary words is NOT the best way to increase your vocabulary. Instead, the best way to improve your vocabulary, and hence increase you GRE verbal score, is to read extensively and to become familiar with the GRE test format.

WordPart of Speech  Definition

pablum nSomething that is trite; something simplistic.
pacifist nSomebody who advocates peace; a person who opposes the use of force; a lover.
paean nA song of praise; an expression of triumph.
pageant nAn elaborate public spectacle depicting a historical event or conducted for the sake of a competition; a spectacular procession.
paladin nA champion of a cause; a knight-errant.
palatable adjEasily understood; agreeable; pleasing to the taste or senses; acceptable.
palate nThe roof of a person's mouth; the sense of taste.
palatial adjPertaining to or suitable for a palace.
paleontology nThe study of fossils and of prehistoric life.
palimpsest nA parchment or piece of writing material used for a second time after the original writing has been erased.
palingenesis nA rebirth; emergence; the state of being born again.
pall vTo become boring; to become less interesting.
palliate vTo lessen the severity of.
pallid adjPale and ashen; wan.
palpability adjBeing understandable; being able to be felt, touched, and recognized.
palpable adjTangible; easily perceptible; obvious.
palpitate vTo throb; to tremble and/or beat furiously.
paltry adjInsignificant; petty; negligible.
panacea nA cure-all; a remedy for all diseases; a solution for all problems.
panache nFlair; a seemingly easy manner of doing things; flamboyance.
pandemonium nA ruckus; a wild, noisy commotion; a disorder.
panegyric nA eulogy; a formal praise or oration in honor of somebody else.
panjandrum nA person who believes that he is important; a pretentious official.
panoply nA magnificent array; a display; an ostentatious exhibition.
panoramic adjPertaining to a complete, unobstructed view of an entire area; a full view.
pantheism nThe worship of all gods.
pantomime vThe art of acting without dialogue, often with exaggerations.
papyrus nAncient paper.
parable nA short simple story that teaches a moral.
paradox nSomething apparently contradictory in nature; statement that looks false but is actually correct.
paragon nA model of perfection; something that is esteemed and honored.
parameter nAn independent variable; an attribute of a system.
paramour nA secret lover.
paraphrase vTo restate a passage in one's own words while retaining the original thought and intent of the author.
parasite nAn animal or plant that lives on another; something that siphons energy or resources from another.
parchment nWriting material made from the skin of a sheep or goat.
pare vTo cut away the outer covering or layer; to remove the skin of; to trim using a knife.
paregoric adjA soothing medicine;
pariah nA rejected and loathed person; somebody who does not fit in well with others.
parish nThe area that is under the supervision of a single priest and which is served by one main church.
parlance nThe style of language; a manner of speaking; an idiom.
parley nA conference; a discussion; a meeting where two opposing sides discuss and/or argue.
parody nAn imitation, often humorous; a spoof; a travesty.
paroxysm nAn uncontrollable attack, which can be either of pain or laughter.
parquet nA floor made of wood strips that are laid out in a specific pattern.
parricide nThe act of killing one's father, mother, or similar close relative.
parse vTo examine closely; to separate into lots.
parsimonious adjExtremely economical; stingy; sparing; frugal.
parsimony nStinginess; excessive frugality.
partial adjFavoring one side over another; prejudiced; a particular inclination towards one object or idea over another.
partisan adjOne-sided; committed to a party; biased; prejudiced.
partition vTo divide into parts; to separate into distinct entities.
parvenu nSomebody who has just become wealthy; a newly rich person.
pastiche nA literary or musical composition imitating a previous artist, often with a satirical undertone.
pastoral adjRural; relating to shepherds or to those that herd animals.
pastry nA combination of flour and water that is the basis of many dessert- like tarts, biscuits, etc.
pathetic adjCausing sadness or affecting the emotions.
pathogen nSomething that causes disease; a bacteria or virus which causes damage or which inflicts pain and suffering.
pathological adjPertaining to or related to disease.
patina nA green crust substance that accumulates on old bronze and copper surfaces.
patois nA local or provincial dialect.
patriarch nThe ruler or leader of a family, a tribe, or a group of people; any person regarded as a father or central leader and progenitor of a race of people.
paucity adjScarcity; a lacking of; dearth.
pauper nA very poor person; a peasant.
pebble nA small stone; a rock fragment that has usually been worn down to a small size by erosion.
peccadillo nA small offense or fault; a minor sin; a minor weakness.
peccant adjSinful or unruly; guilty of violating a rule or violating a standard practice or common mode of conduct.
peckish adjIll tempered or irritable; easily annoyed.
peculate vTo embezzle monetary funds or another person's property.
pecuniary adjPertaining or related to money.
pedagogue nA teacher; somebody who instructs.
pedant nA teacher who overemphasizes minor details; somebody who focuses and dwells on trivial book knowledge rather than on broad ideas and concepts.
pedantic adjBookish; showing off learning; marked by an excessive ostentatious concern for book learning; absurdly learned.
peddle vTo travel about and to carry items with the intent to sell; to hawk.
pedestrian adjCommonplace; ordinary; trite; unremarkable; overly dull.
pediatrician nA medical doctor who specializes in treating children's diseases.
pedigree nAncestry; lineage; the classification and identification of progenitors.
peer nA person who has equal standing with another.
peerless adjWithout equals; incomparable.
peevish adjBad-tempered; irritable; easily annoyed.
pejorative adjNegative in connotation; having a belittling effect.
pelf nCurrency; wealth; riches, especially if acquired illegally or unscrupulously.
penance nSelf-imposed punishment for sin.
penchant nAn inclination; a strong liking.
pendulous adjHanging loosely; suspended; hanging and/or limp.
penitent adjExpressing regret.
penology nThe study of prison management and criminal rehabilitation; the study of the punishment of crime.
pensive adjOverly contemplative; thoughtful, often to the extent of being sad.
penumbra nThe partial shadow that is caused by an eclipse.
penurious adjNot willing to part with money; stingy; poor; destitute.
penury nExtreme poverty; dearth; scarcity.
peon nAn agricultural worker who does not own land; a menial laborer.
perceptive adjKeen; insightful; wise.
perch nA branch or rod where a bird rests; a resting place.
percolate vTo pass slowly through a sieve; to move through a material that has small holes or openings in it.
peregrination nA trip; a travel; an excursion.
perfidious adjTreacherous; having a faithless or disloyal disposition; tending to cheat, lie, and mislead.
perforate vTo pierce; to put a hole through by means of punching, boring, etc.
perfunctory adjDone routinely and as a duty; done with little care; superficial.
perilous adjExtremely dangerous; treacherous and risky.
peripheral adjOf or pertaining to the periphery or border; related to the outer edge, the margin, or some extreme.
perish vTo destroy; to disappear completely; to vanquish.
perjury nFalse testimony that is given while under oath.
permeable adjAble to be penetrated; allowing liquids or gas to pass through; porous.
pernicious adjHarmful; dangerous; deadly.
perpetual adjLasting for eternity; lasting for an indeterminably long time.
perpetuate vTo make perpetual; to make something last for a long time; to cause to remain in existence.
persiflage nGood-natured talk; banter.
perspicacious adjInsightful; penetrating; astute and scholarly.
perspicacity nKeen insight and understanding; quick in perception.
perspicuity nClearness of expression; freedom from ambiguity.
perspicuous adjPlainly expressed; clear; easy to understand.
pertinacious adjAdhering tenaciously to an action; stubborn; resolute.
pertinent adjRelevant; suitable; allowable.
perturb vTo disturb; to dislodge.
peruse vTo read carefully.
pervasive adjHaving the ability to permeate or the spread throughout.
perverse adjWicked; against social customs and without regard to manners; stubbornly wrongheaded.
perversion nCorruption; the state of being gross and wrong.
pervert vTo corrupt; to misuse; to turn from right to wrong.
pest nA destructive insect or person; a nuisance.
pestle nA tool that is used to grind substances, often herbs or medicines, in a hard bowl.
petrify vTo turn into stone; to stun or paralyze.
petrous adjLike a rock; referring to the hardness of a stone or rock; rigid and solid.
petty adjTrivial; not important; miniscule; irrelevant.
petulant adjTouchy; peevish; ill-tempered; very impatient; unreasonable; unruly.
pew nA bench or seat for the congregation in a church.
phalanx nA military formation in which soldiers form a wall-like defense by overlapping their shields and positioning their long spears to point outwards.
phantasm nA fantasy; an illusion produced by the mind.
phantasmagoria nA collection of imaginary items; a shifting series of phantasms that increase or diminish in size, pass into each other, or dissolve.
pharisaical adjExcessively pious; hypocritical.
pharisee nA self-righteous person; somebody who is a member of an ancient Jewish sect who is strict observant of traditional and written religious laws.
phatic adjHaving a function whose sole purpose is to express or convey emotion or to fulfill a social task; lacking informational content.
philanderer nA faithless lover; somebody who tends to flirt.
philanthropist nA lover of mankind. A person who does good deeds for the benefit of all mankind.
philatelist nA person who studies and collects stamps.
phlegmatic adjCalm; not easily disturbed; showing little emotion; having a calm temperament.
phobia nA very strong fear of something.
phoenix nSomebody or something of excellent worth and stature; a supreme idol.
picaresque adjRelated to daring, enchanting, and marvelous tales of adventure; involving often humorous mishaps and observations of an otherwise common individual.
piebald adjOf different colors; mottled; speckled.
pied adjMulti-colored; having patches of different colors.
pilfer vTo steal, especially items that are of small value.
pinnace nA small boat, usually non-motorized.
pious adjOverly devout; religious; adhering to duty and customs.
piquant adjAgreeably pungent or spicy; provocative; sharp.
pique vTo affect with irritation; to wound the pride of; to excite curiosity.
piscatorial adjPertaining to fishing.
pitch nThe sticky substance that is obtained from distilling coal tar or petroleum; the residue that remains after the processing of petroleum products.
pith nEssential part; the fundamental aspect; the core constituent.
pithy adjConcise and meaningful; substantial; meaty; containing ample substance in a compact form.
pittance adjA small amount; an trifling allowance or wage.
pivotal adjOf great relevance or importance; crucial and absolutely necessary; being the key component.
placard nA sign or notice for public display.
placate vTo pacify; to bring peace to; to appease.
placid adjPeaceful; calm.
plait vTo braid or to interweave.
plane nA carpenter's tool that is used to smooth and level a wooden surface.
platitude nA trite or banal statement; an object that is unoriginal.
platonic adjPurely spiritual; idealistic; theoretical; without sensual desire.
plausible adjFeasible; possibly valid, but sill open to doubt.
plead vTo appeal earnestly for; to put forward a plea.
pleat nA fold in a fabric or garment; a purposeful crease in a piece of fabric.
plebeian adjCommon; trite; vulgar.
plebiscite nA direct vote by the entire electorate.
pledge nA formal promise; a security to guarantee payment.
plenary adjAttended by all qualified members.
plenipotentiary adjHaving full power; characterized with absolute authority.
pliable adjFlexible; able to be changed; easily influenced; adaptable.
plight vTo pledge; to give one's honor; to commit to a future deed.
plod vTo continue without rest, often in a monotonous way; to continue to move around.
ploy nA plan of attack whose goal it is to gain an advantage.
plucky adjExhibiting spirit and heart in the face of unfavorable odds.
plumage nThe feathers on a bird; the outer covering of a bird.
plume nA feather, often ornamental.
plummet vTo fall sharply; to fall straight down without resistance.
plump adjPleasantly fat; nicely rounded; full in form.
plunge vTo fall or move quickly downward; to move suddenly and with excessive force.
plutocracy nA society ruled by the wealthy.
podiatrist nA doctor who studies and treats disorders of the feet.
podium nA pedestal; a raised platform; a place from which a speech is given or from where a slightly better view is attainable.
poise nGood judgment and composure; overall balance in body and mind.
polarize vTo split into opposite extremes; to separate into distinct camps.
polish vTo make smooth of shiny by repeated rubbing.
poltroon nA coward.
polygamist nSomebody who has more than one partner at any one time.
polyglot nA person who speaks several languages; somebody who is multilingual.
poncho nA one piece blanket-like garment that is worn over the shoulders and which covers the rest of the body.
pontifical adjRelating to a bishop or pope; pompous; pretentious.
poppycock nNonsense; blabber; balderdash; rubbish.
pore vTo study intently; to ponder; to scrutinize.
porous adjFull of pores; allowing passage.
portend vTo foretell; to presage.
portent nAn omen of am impending important event.
portentous adjPompous; ominous, or of momentous significance.
portly adjStout; corpulent; dignified.
pose vTo assume; to put up for consideration; to present.
poseur nA person who pretends to be sophisticated; a person who makes a concerted effort to portray himself as elegant.
posit vTo postulate; to assume the existence of; to stipulate.
posse nA group of men who are gathered at the request of a government official or gang-leader and whose goal it is to impose rules or to perform a specific task.
posterity nThe future populace or people.
postmortem adjOccurring after death.
postulate vTo assume or claim something as being true, without giving proof.
posture nPose; attitude.
potable adjSuitable for drinking; drinkable.
potentate nA monarch; a sovereign; a ruler.
potential adjPossessing possibilities.
potion nOf dose of some liquid; some amount of some medicinal or otherwise healing ointment; a liquid dose.
potpourri nA mixture composed of several types of items; a heterogeneous mixture.
poultice nA soothing ointment that is applied to irritated, inflamed, and sore parts of the body, usually used to relieve the symptoms of a burn.
practical adjGrounded or based on experience; of or acquired through practice.
pragmatist nA practical person; somebody who is not an idealist.
prate vTo talk idly; to jabber; to talk nonsensically; to boast.
prattle vTo talk idly; to babble; to mumble; to talk without any sense.
preamble nAn introductory statement usually at the beginning of a larger work.
precedent nA person or stature of authority; something that came previously in time and which has become the standard or ideal.
precentor nA person who leads and directs the choir at a church.
precepts nRules; standards; accepted means of conduct.
precinct nA subdivision of a city; a distinct area that is defined for the purpose of elections or to delineate police jurisdiction.
precipice nA cliff; a sharp cutoff; a risky or dangerous position.
precipitant adjSomething that is unduly sudden; rapidly or hastily forward; rash.
precise nExact; cutting.
preclude vTo make impossible; to prevent or prohibit.
precocious adjCharacterized by advanced or early development.
precursor adjA fore-runner; something or someone that comes before.
precursory adjPreliminary.
predecessor nFormer occupant; something or someone that came before.
predetermine vTo determine in advance; predestine; to settle beforehand.
predicament nA difficult situation; a tricky or dangerous scenario.
predilection nA preference; partiality; a bias; a desire of one thing over another.
preen vTo make oneself tidy; feel and show self-satisfaction or pride.
prefatory adjIntroductory; pertaining to a preface.
prefigure vTo foreshadow; to envision beforehand.
prehensile adjCapable of grasping or holding; eager; able to perceive.
prelude nAn introduction; a forerunner; something that is preliminary.
premature adjDoing or happening before the right or expected time.
premeditate vTo plan in advance.
premise nAn assumption; a postulate or proposition for an argument.
prepossessing adjAttractive; something that is engaging.
preposterous adjOutrageous; absurd; unreasonable or overly ridiculous.
prerogative nPrivilege; an unquestionable right.
presage nA sign of something that is about to happen; an omen; a foreboding about a future event.
prescience nThe ability to predict the future; knowledge of actions before they occur.
prestige nRespect or admiration resulting form achievements or reputation.
pretension nA claim or a title to an object; a claim to importance or dignity.
pretentious adjOstentatious; showy; pompous; making unjustified claims; overly ambitious.
pretext nAn excuse; a false, alternative, reason for an action.
prevail vTo triumph over; to overthrow; to become victorious.
prevaricate vTo lie; to hide the truth; to stray from the right course.
prey nThe target of a hunt; a victim.
prim adjNeat and formal; proper; tidy and well-kept.
primal adjFirst in rank; of highest importance; being the first; the original.
primate nA group of mammals including humans, lemurs, and monkeys.
primiparous adjBearing a first offspring; a woman who has borne but one child or who is pregnant for the first time.
primogeniture nSeniority by birth; state of being the first-born child; the right of the eldest child.
primordial adjExisting since the beginning.
primp vTo groom with care; to adorn; to extemporize.
privation nLack of the basic necessities or comforts of life; hardship; the result of deprivation.
privy adjMade a participant in something secret; belonging to a person in a private capacity.
probity nUprightness; honesty.
proboscis nThe trunk of an elephant; the long snout of certain animals, such as the anteater.
proclaim vTo announce; to state or show clearly; to make publicly known.
proclivity nInclination; tendency.
procurator nA person who is employed to handle the affairs of another; an agent.
procure vTo arrive at through effort; to achieve carefully and often unscrupulously.
prod vTo poke; to instigate; to stir up.
prodigious adjEnormous; wonderful; extraordinarily large and amazing.
prodigy nA child of exceptional talents; a wonder; a marvel.
profiteer nA person who makes unfairly large profits, usually through unscrupulous means.
profligate adjWasteful and licentious; extravagant and possibly immoral.
profound adjDeep; complex and thought-provoking; thoughtful; life-altering.
profundity nDepth; the condition of being profound.
profuse adjAbundant, lavish.
profusion nA great amount; an overabundance.
progenitor nAncestor; the person or thing that is responsible for all subsequent relatives.
progeny nChildren; offspring; the descendants of a person or of a group of people.
prognathous adjHaving a jaw that sticks out; having protrusive teeth.
prognosticate vTo predict the future; to foretell future events.
prohibitive adjPreventing an action; forbidding.
proletarian nA member of the non-elite; somebody of the working class; a blue-collar worker.
prolix adjTiring; unduly long and strung out.
prolixity nTedious, unnecessary wordiness; diffuse.
prominent adjProtruding outward; noticeable; eminent; widely known.
promiscuous adjIndiscriminate; choosing freely.
promote vTo raise in rank; to advance; to advocate; to publicize.
prompt vTo cause to happen; to urge; to provoke; to provide a cue for.
prone vInclined to; likely to suffer from something.
prong nA pointed part; a projection.
pronounced adjDistinct; noticeable; easily detected.
proof nA trial photographic print or otherwise other printed material.
prop nA support; an object placed under or against something to prevent it from falling.
propagate vTo spread; to increase in number; to multiply.
propensity nA natural inclination; an inkling.
prophetic adjHaving to do with predicting the future.
propitiate vTo appease; to conciliate.
propitious adjAuspicious; presenting favorable circumstances; benevolent.
proponent nA supporter of a particular cause; somebody who backs an idea.
propriety nProper fitness; quality of being proper; correct conduct.
propulsive adjdriving forward; having the power to propel.
prosaic adjSomething that is unimaginative and uninteresting; dull.
prosaic adjCommonplace, mundane, hackneyed, trite, pedestrian.
proscenium nThe part of a stage that is front of curtain.
proscribe vTo prohibit; to ostracize; to outlaw.
proscribe vTo denounce as dangerous; to condemn as harmful.
prosecute vTo confront; to conduct legal proceedings; to begin court action against.
proselytize vTo convert to a religion; to cause a person to accept a certain belief.
prosody nThe study of the metric structure of a poem or single verse; the art of versification.
prosperity nSuccess with financial matters, business matters, food production, etc.; a state characterized with positive profits.
prosperous adjSuccessful; affluent; fertile.
prostrate adjStretched out full and flat on ground.
protagonist nA supporter; the leader or noticeable supporter of an idea.
protean adjAble to take on many forms; versatile; able to eventually morph into many different forms.
protocol nThe normal mode of doing things; diplomatic etiquette.
protract vTo prolong; to make longer in terms of time; to draw out.
protracted adjProlonged; extended.
protrude vTo stick out; jut; to project forwards or out from the center of an object.
provenance nA place of origin; the origin or source of something.
providence nThe quality of being provident; preparation for the future; foresight.
provincial adjPertaining to a narrow region; limited in scope; unsophisticated.
proviso nA condition as part of an agreement; a stipulation.
provocative adjArousing the senses; annoying; arousing sexual feelings or strong emotions.
provoke vTo make angry; to cite to action; to anger.
proximity nNearness of one thing to another.
proxy nAn authorized agent; an authority to act for another.
prude adjOverly proper or righteous.
prudence nCareful forethought.
prudent adjCautious; careful.
prudish adjOverly proper; excessively modest.
prune vTo cut away; to make smaller; to remove excess; get remove the dead components.
pry vTo inquire about in a non-civil manner.
pseudonym nA fictitious name; a pen name.
psychiatrist nA doctor who treats mental diseases; a medical doctor that prescribes medicines for the treatment of mental disorders.
psychopathic adjDealing with mental disorder.
psychosis nA mental disorder that manifests itself via several symptoms, and which indicates a lapse in normal metal acuity or function.
psychosomatic adjReferring to the influence that the mind has over the body.
puerile adjChildish; immature.
pugilistic adjPertaining to fighting with one's hands; referring to boxing.
pugnacity nCombativeness; a predisposition to fighting.
puissance nStrength; force; might.
pulchritude nBeauty; comeliness.
pulchritudinous adjPhysically stunning.
pulmonary adjPertaining to the lungs.
pulpit nA raised platform used in preaching, most often found in a church.
punctilious adjPrecise; paying attention to trivialities; strict in observing customs.
punctuate vTo break the flow of; to stress; to emphasize.
pungent adjStinging; sharp tasting; strong smelling.
punitive adjPunishing; concerned with punishment.
purgatory nThe place where spirits dwell; in terms of religion, a temporary state or place where it is believed that souls reside after one's death and where such souls are cleaned.
purge vTo remove; to get rid of; to eliminate.
purloin vTo steal; to pilfer.
purloined adjStolen; embezzled.
purport nThe main intention; the purpose; the central meaning of something.
purported adjClaimed but as yet unproven; rumored; alleged.
purvey vTo provide food or beverages as part of one's job.
purveyor nA person who provides food items; a caterer.
pusillanimous adjCowardly; lacking courage; fearful.
putative adjSupposed; inconclusively accepted as true.
putrefaction nThe act of becoming rotten or impure.
putrefy vTo make impure; to contaminate; to make unusable.
putrescent adjTo becoming putrid; to stagnate and become rotten; putrefying.
putrid adjDecaying; rotten; foul.
pyre nA large pile of wood for burningĀ a corpse.
pyromaniac nA person with a strong, sometimes uncontrollable, desire to set things on fire.