If you spend all day e-mailing your pals, you may not need a large vocabulary.
But if you are working and socializing in the real world, a good vocabulary is a priceless asset. And if you like to solve word puzzles and games, a good vocabulary is essential. Here are some simple ways you can boost yours.
1. Don’t Dumb Down–Stretch Up
If you are reading this article, you are already thinking that your vocabulary could use a boost. That means you should expose yourself to new words from new sources. If you are currently reading Nancy Drew mysteries, for example, step up to Agatha Christie. If you read only the soap opera updates in the newspaper, try reading some editorial columns.
Try reading short articles, stories and books that are just a bit intimidating. Then keep a dictionary nearby or stay connected to an online dictionary as you read. And remember, just because you haven’t seen a word before does not mean you can’t figure out its meaning. If you reread the word in context, you can often discover its meaning from the words around it.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of Intellectuals
Just as you may need to stretch yourself on reading materials, it may also be helpful to stretch yourself in conversations with people who have great vocabularies. As you hear others correctly use new words, you will gain confidence in how to use them yourself.
If one of your friends has an amazing command of language, he/she really won’t mind if you ask, “What was that word again? I don’t think I’ve ever heard it before.” Then ask him/her to expound on it. You will learn something helpful, and your friend will bask in the glow of knowing something that another person values.
3. Don’t Discount the Value of Word Games
- Reader’s Digest’s quintessential column, Word Power, has run for decades. It provides challenging words on a single theme, along with answers and explanations. If you don’t subscribe the magazine, visit their website or browse through a copy the next time you visit the doctor’s office.
- Crossword puzzles and other clue-based word games are a great way to increase and practice vocabulary. Sometimes you will learn new meanings for words you already know. While word search puzzles can be fun for some, they usually don’t include word meanings, so their benefit is minimal at best.
- A great online activity can be found at www.FreeRice.com. Under “options” you can pick a starting level. You are given a vocabulary word with 4 choices of definitions. If you get an answer wrong, you can choose the option to be given the same word again a bit later until you get it right. For every correct definition you choose, the site donates 20 grains of rice through the United Nations World Food Program to help end hunger.
So cogitate on how best to magnify your lexicon, and soon your confidantes and colleagues will be utterly astounded!