IELTS vocabulary words: The ultimate list

By Edvoy• Last updated: Nov 8, 2023
IELTS vocabulary words: The ultimate list
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When it comes to preparing for the IELTS, one of the most important things you need to focus on is your IELTS vocabulary. Having a wide range of words and phrases at your disposal will help you to express yourself clearly and accurately in the writing and speaking sections of the test. In this guide, we have listed the most commonly used synonyms, antonyms, idioms and vocabulary words for IELTS to help you build a strong vocabulary.

Also Read: GMAT vocabulary you need to know to pass

IELTS vocabulary words with meaning

Vocabulary is an integral part of the IELTS exam, and having a solid grasp of the English language can make all the difference in gaining a high IELTS score. Therefore, when preparing for this exam, it’s essential to focus on learning new vocabulary words for IELTS to succeed.

Also Read: TOEFL vocabulary list

1. Synonyms for IELTS vocabulary

Learning common synonyms is a great place to start whether you’re preparing for the IELTS exam or just want to improve your IELTS vocabulary list.

Also Read: 100 GRE vocabulary words you should know

Here are commonly used synonyms in the IELTS test that can help you get an edge on the exam:

GoodExcellent, Outstanding, Superb
BadTerrible, Awful, Poor, Unpleasant
BigLarge, Huge, Massive, Enormous
SmallTiny, Miniature, Little, Petite
HappyDelighted, Ecstatic, Joyful
SadUnhappy, Miserable, Sorrowful
ImportantCrucial, Significant, Essential
InterestingFascinating, Intriguing, Engaging
DifficultChallenging, Arduous, Hard
EasySimple, Effortless, Straightforward
BeautifulGorgeous, Stunning, Attractive
UglyHideous, Unattractive, Repulsive
IntelligentClever, Brilliant, Smart
StupidDull, Simple Minded, Unintelligent
GreatWonderful, Marvelous, Fantastic
TerribleHorrible, Dreadful, Frightening
ManyNumerous, Several, Abundant
FewSeveral, A handful of, Limited
ImproveEnhance, Upgrade, Ameliorate
WorsenDeteriorate, Decline, Degrade
TalkSpeak, Converse, Communicate
BigSignificant, Substantial, Sizeable
SmallMiniature, Diminutive, Compact
GetObtain, Acquire, Secure
UseUtilize, Employ, Apply
ShowDemonstrate, Display, Exhibit
ThinkPonder, Contemplate, Reflect
ExplainElaborate, Clarify, Expound
StartCommence, Initiate, Begin
FinishConclude, Complete, Wrap up
HelpAssist, Support, Aid
HarmInjure, Damage, Endanger
BelieveTrust, Have faith, Convinced
UnderstandComprehend, Grasp, Perceive
RememberRecall, Recollect, Retain
ForgetNeglect, Disregard, Overlook
HavePossess, Own, Hold
LikePrefer, Admire, Enjoy
DislikeDetest, Loathe, Despise
ProblemIssue, Challenge, Difficulty
SolutionResolution, Answer, Remedy
DifficultChallenging, Complex, Demanding
EasyEffortless, Simple, Uncomplicated

2. Antonyms for IELTS vocabulary

Knowing antonyms - words that are opposite in meaning - is essential for achieving a high score on the IELTS exam. To help you prepare, we have compiled a list of commonly used antonyms on the IELTS exam:


3. Idioms for IELTS vocabulary

Idioms are a great way to spice up your IELTS essay and demonstrate your mastery of the English language. Below is a list of commonly used idioms to help you build your IELTS vocabulary list:

IdiomMeaningExample Sentence
A piece of cakeVery easyThe math exam was a piece of cake for him.
Hit the nail on the headTo be exactly rightJane hit the nail on the head with her suggestion.
A blessing in disguiseSomething good that wasn't recognized at firstLosing the job turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it led to a better opportunity.
Break a legGood luckBreak a leg in your performance tomorrow!
Cost an arm and a legVery expensiveThe new smartphone cost me an arm and a leg.
On the ballAlert and efficientThe staff at the hotel is always on the ball.
Piece of adviceA helpful suggestionCan I give you a piece of advice?
Don't cry over spilled milkDon't worry about something that has happenedYes, I made a mistake, but let's not cry over spilled milk.
Kill two birds with one stoneAccomplish two things with a single actionBy visiting my friend in the city, I can kill two birds with one stone – see the sights and catch up with her.
Hit the sackGo to bedI'm exhausted; I think it's time to hit the sack.
Get the hang ofUnderstand and become skilled at somethingIt took some time, but I finally got the hang of playing the guitar.
In the blink of an eyeVery quicklyThe thief disappeared in the blink of an eye.
Go the extra mileMake additional effortShe always goes the extra mile to help her colleagues.
Bury the hatchetMake peace with someoneAfter their argument, they decided to bury the hatchet and move on.
Break the iceTo start a conversation in a social settingShe tried to break the ice by asking about their weekend plans.
Beat around the bushAvoid directly addressing an issuePlease don't beat around the bush; tell me what's wrong.
Cross your fingersHope for good luckI'm crossing my fingers for a positive outcome.
Catch someone red-handedCatch someone in the act of doing something wrongThe police caught the thief red-handed.
A penny for your thoughtsAsking someone what they are thinkingYou seem lost in thought – a penny for your thoughts?

4. Phrasal verb for IELTS vocabulary

A phrasal verb is a type of verb that consists of two or more words: a main verb combined with one or more particles (prepositions or adverbs). The combination of these words creates a new meaning that is different from the individual meanings of the verb and the particles.

Below is a list of commonly used phrasal verbs to help you build your IELTS vocabulary list:

Phrasal VerbMeaningExample Sentence
Carry outTo complete or perform a taskThe researchers will carry out the experiment.
Get alongTo have a good relationship with someoneI get along well with my colleagues at work.
Look afterTo take care of or be responsible for somethingCan you look after my dog while I'm away?
Take offTo remove or become airborneThe plane will take off in an hour.
Give upTo stop doing something, to quitHe decided to give up smoking for his health.
Turn onTo activate or start somethingCan you turn on the lights, please?
Put offTo postpone or delay somethingThey put off the meeting until next week.
Get overTo recover from an illness or emotional setbackIt took her some time to get over the breakup.
Bring inTo introduce or generate incomeThe company plans to bring in new technology.
Set upTo establish or arrange somethingWe need to set up a meeting with the client.
Call offTo cancel or terminate somethingThey had to call off the event due to bad weather.
Run intoTo encounter someone unexpectedlyI ran into an old classmate at the supermarket.
Get inTo enter or arrive at a placeWhat time does your flight get in?
Bring aboutTo cause or make something happenThe new policy will bring about significant changes.
Take onTo accept a responsibility or challengeHe decided to take on the project despite its complexity.
Put up withTo tolerate or endure somethingI can't put up with the noise from the construction site.
Find outTo discover or learn somethingI need to find out the time of the meeting.
Give backTo return something that was borrowed or takenCan you give back my pen when you're done using it?
Look intoTo investigate or examine somethingThe authorities will look into the matter.
Get outTo leave or exit from a placeLet's get out of here before it starts raining.
Show upTo arrive or appear at a place or eventShe didn't show up for the meeting.
Carry onTo continue doing somethingDespite the difficulties, they decided to carry on.
Make outTo understand or perceive somethingIt's hard to make out what he's saying from a distance.
Stand forTo represent or symbolize somethingThe initials NASA stand for National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Break upTo end a relationship or disperseThey decided to break up after years of dating.
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Tips to improve your vocabulary

A good understanding of a wide range of vocabulary is key to doing well on tests. Here are some tips to help you improve your IELTS vocabulary when preparing for IELTS exams:

1. Read a lot

Reading regularly will expose you to new vocabulary words for IELTS that can help expand your vocabulary. Try reading books that are written in a language that’s slightly more difficult than what you normally use so you can pick up new words and phrases.

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2. Use flashcards

Create flashcards with new words and phrases you learn while studying for the exam, and then test yourself frequently to help commit them to memory. Try creating digital cards as well so you can review them on the go whenever you have a few minutes of free time.

3. Take notes

 When reading books or other material related to the IELTS exam, take notes of any new words or phrases that stand out to you. This is another great way to track your progress and remember what words are important for the test.

4. Get creative

Being creative can help you find more effective ways of learning new vocabulary words for IELTS. Try playing word association games with yourself or create visual cues associated with individual words.

5. Memorize roots and affixes

Learning the roots and affixes of words can help you understand their meaning more easily. This will also make it easier to recognize similar words with the same root or affixes, even if they’re not exactly the same. Watch our IELTS Lessons Playlist on YouTube. Our expert instructor covers all modules: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Click here.


Learning new IELTS vocabulary words with meaning is essential for success on the IELTS exam. Through reading, memorization techniques, and learning about idioms and collocations, you can make sure you have an adequate understanding of the English language skills necessary to achieve a high score.

Frequently asked questions

Which IELTS vocabulary is best?

The best IELTS vocabulary includes a wide range of words that demonstrate your ability to use English effectively. A mix of general and academic vocabulary will help you express yourself clearly and concisely across various tasks.

How can I improve my vocabulary in IELTS?

To enhance your vocabulary for IELTS, engage in extensive reading of newspapers, magazines, academic texts, and online articles. Regularly listen to English podcasts, watch movies or documentaries, and engage in conversations to reinforce your word usage and comprehension skills.

Can I write 500 words in IELTS?

While there's no strict word count requirement for IELTS essays, it's recommended to write around 250 to 300 words for Task 2 essays to ensure you fully address the topic and maintain clarity. Exceeding 500 words might lead to overloading your essay with unnecessary content, potentially affecting the coherence and focus of your response.

How much is 150 words in IELTS?

150 words in IELTS would be considered too short for a Task 2 essay. In Task 2, you are expected to write around 250 to 300 words to provide a thorough analysis of the topic and support your arguments effectively.

How many vocabulary words for IELTS?

There's no specific number of vocabulary words required for IELTS, but aiming to learn and effectively use around 2,000 to 3,000 words can significantly enhance your language proficiency and help you tackle a variety of topics in the test.

Is there any IELTS vocabulary test?

IELTS itself doesn't have a separate vocabulary test. However, the test assesses your vocabulary skills through the four main language components: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

Is 7.5 a good score?

A score of 7.5 in IELTS is generally considered very good and can open doors to various educational and employment opportunities.

Is IELTS vocabulary important?

Yes, IELTS vocabulary is crucial. Demonstrating a wide-ranging vocabulary in your writing and speaking tasks can positively impact your score by showcasing your language proficiency, clarity of expression, and ability to discuss complex topics effectively.

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