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Top 10 Ways to Build Vocabulary

Written by: Editorial Staff

October 9, 2012
Filed Under Books 


build vocabularyContributed by Info Guru Terri Wallace

There comes a time when you realize that there are more words to the English language than “like” and “dude.”

When that happens, it is time to start expanding your verbal repertoire.

10. Flashcard and Board Games

vocabulary games

Board games that involve words are a good way to learn new words while having fun. Games like Scrabble, UpWords, and Bananagram encourage players to stretch their command of the language to utilize lesser known words during the game. These games are also a good excuse to pop a bowl of popcorn and plan a “Family Fun Night.”

9. Online games

online games

Online games and apps can also help to sharpen the mind and increase your mental word bank. Unlike board games, online games are often more portable and more convenient to play in your spare moments.

8. Word a day

word jar

Trying to use a new word each day will also help to jump start your linguistic skills. Or even better, try to learn a new word in a language in which are not already fluent!

Fair warning, though, it can be a challenge to work some of the words into your day to day conversation, and it can also result in some of your acquaintances believing you to be a bit of an aeolist. (If you are not familiar with the word “aeolist,” please refer to Tip #7.)

7. Look for new words

new words

To make sure you don’t get bored as you grow your vocabulary, make sure to find words that are interesting. There is a certain satisfaction to using a newly assimilated word, especially if the word is uncommon. As a bonus, the reaction of others to your newly expanding vocabulary can be foudroyant!

6. Etymology


One way to learn new words and to help retain that knowledge is to study the etymology of the words. Understanding what the prefix and suffix of a word may help to give a better understanding of the word and its history.

5. Make it fun


Making the learning of new words fun/funny can make building your vocabulary a habit that you enjoy, and when you enjoy something you are more likely to stick with it. Word teasers, crossword puzzles, limericks, haikus, puns and jokes can all help to build vocabulary while you have fun. Just think, having fun can actually make you more articulate!

4. Associations


Learning new words won’t do you any good if you can’t remember them. Try to give the words context and imagery to help with recall. Associating the new words with words you already know can help to cement the meaning in your mind for later use.

3. Repetition


As you start building your new and improved vocabulary, make sure to use your expanding vocabulary frequently. Repetition helps you to commit the newly acquired words to memory. Now take a moment to read this tip again so you don’t forget it.

2. Keep a word journal

word journal

Another way to mark your progress as you learn new words is to write down the words as you master them. Create a notebook or journal dedicated to your word mastery. This technique is especially helpful in assisting visual or kinesthetic learners with committing the new words to memory. It also provides a history of your linguistic growth (a/k/a “bragging rights”) and serves as a handy reference tool!

1. Read


One of the best things you can do to increase your vocabulary is to read more. Reading exposes you to unfamiliar words in context, allowing you to infer the meaning of the word, and you get to indulge in a good story at the same time! No time to sit down with a book? Try listening to audio books while you drive, garden or do housework. Either way, keep a dictionary handy to look up unfamiliar words so you can add them to your vocabulary in the right context.

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