My vocabulary is the result of a life-long love affair with words. It didn’t hurt that I was raised by a former proofreader for Merriam-Webster and a New York Times crossword puzzler.
I keep a vocabulary notebook. Next to this notebook I keep my dictionary (an old-fashioned printed dictionary, a Merriam-Webster of course). Whenever I encounter a word I don’t know, I put it in my notebook and look it up.
I learn a lot of new words; I probably forget a lot more. I have found the best way to retain new words is to use my new words. Also, I –
Read – I think this is by far the best way to learn new words. Magazines, books, blogs, websites. If you carry a book around and read while waiting at the doctor or Motor V, keep an index card and pen in your pocket or purse for new words you encounter on the go.
Google – Try Googling WOTD (word of the day) and you’ll be amazed at what happens! You will find a long list of WOTD sites to help you increase your vocabulary. You will find one just right for your needs.
Sign up – Subscribe to a word-a-day site and get new words sent to your inbox.
Learn in chunks – Dictionary.com has a great theme-related way to study words under subject headings, for instance culinary, performing arts, and sports. There are currently 76 decks of cards under the sports heading, so you can see where this can lead!
Pick up the thesaurus – When you discover a new word, pick up (or click) the thesaurus and find its synonyms, antonyms, etc.
Flex the word muscles – Play words games like Scrabble or do word puzzles or crosswords. Learn Q words – they help a lot in Scrabble!
Write sentences – A couple of months ago I read “carmine” in a book. I wasn’t sure what it meant so I looked it up. It means vivid red. So I wrote it in a few simple sentences. That lava is carmine. New Mexico sunsets are often carmine. I am angry and I am seeing carmine!
Use your new words – And look smarter! Use new words in correspondence, emails, Facebook posts, on your blog. Your friends will be impressed.
Here are a few of the recent entries to my vocabulary notebook – conciliate, plinth, carapace, fecund, susurration, portending, erudite, and farcical.
Please use one of my new words (from the list above) when you comment on this blog post!
“One forgets words as one forgets names. One’s vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die.” – Evelyn Waugh