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How to Expand Vocabulary

5 Easy Ways to Expand Your Vocabulary

Just because you haven't had a vocabulary quiz since the eighth grade doesn't mean you can't keep expanding your word knowledge. Discovering new words can help give meaning to the world around us, and learning is always fun, no matter what the age. Here, some easy, breezy ways to enlarge your lexicon.

  • Use apps: While you can go the traditional learning route with dictionaries and flash cards, the great thing about apps is that you can learn while you're out or on the go. There are many out there, but comprehensive ones like Vocabulary HD let you choose word sets based on your learning level, offer quizzes to test your knowledge, and even give pronunciation help. If that sounds like too much to get started, opt for simpler, straightforward apps like Vocabology — Word of the Day.
  • Play games: Become a walking thesaurus by having some fun. Many word games that might not exactly be geared toward expanding vocabulary — like Scrabble or crossword puzzles — will challenge you to recall words you may have forgotten or force you to look them up yourself when you're competing with someone else.
  • Latin or Greek: Another great way to learn new words is to get back to their roots. Becoming familiar with Latin and Greek prefixes, suffixes, and roots will only help you because so many English words are based off of them. Anomal, for example, which comes from Greek and means "uneven," has spawned words like anomaly and abnormal.
  • Read: Perhaps one of the most powerful ways to digest new words is to read, read, read. If you stop at words you're not familiar with — and look them up — while you're in the middle of a good book, it won't feel so much like a task as it will a hobby. Plus, you'll get context right then and there.
  • Use the new words: This might be one of the few times the phrase "Use it or lose it" actually applies. When you don't use the new words you're learning, chances are you'll forget them as fast as you picked them up. Practice integrating them into your speech or emails. If you're afraid of sounding too formal in your everyday interactions, you might want to consider pairing up with a vocab buddy to learn together. Retention is key!
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