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how to widen your vocabulary WITHOUT reading books // learn new words (and actually remember them!)

Ever watch old BBC shows and wonder, huh, I wonder why we don’t talk like that anymore?

We’re in 2018 — a year where the words ‘lit,’ ‘slay,’ and ‘fleek’ are used on the daily and generally accepted by the public. Maybe it’s just the fact that I have no idea what those words mean, but it’s in my highly esteemed opinion that we should be using much better vocabulary than we do now.

We do tend to disregard ‘old fashioned’ words in favor of simpler ones nowadays, but there is a lot of charm and class associated with those words. Not to mention, they’re super useful to use as a writer. They make you look like a clever and educated author, even if you’re 99.89% sure you have no idea what on earth you’re doing. SO VOCABULARY IS HELPFUL TO ALL OF US.

It’s hard to find where to start when it comes to learning more of the English language, but lucky for you, I’ve already made a handy-dandy list of ways to begin! So pull up a chair. Grab a dictionary and a journal. We’ll be speaking like the King James Bible in no time!!

Well, not that fancy. People will begin mistaking ‘thine’ for ‘Vine’ and the world will explode. Maybe just stick to obscure words…

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repeat new words

People say to remember the name of someone you meet, you should repeat it three or four times back to them in conversation. While I think that would come off as a little irritating, it apparently words! Studies show to fullyΒ establish a word into your vocabulary, it takes 10 to 20 repetitions. SO START SAYING THOSE WORDS. OUT LOUD.

Just don’t be annoying about it.

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this gif does not align with the context at all but i’m sure as heck gonna use it 😼

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play some games

Last month, I met some blogging friends in Atlanta and learned about the miracle that is Baulderdash. Lord, I wish I’d known about this game so much sooner! Basically, Baulderdash is a game where players hear an obscure word and have to guess at the definition. Some of the definitions that come from players’ guesses are pretty memorable, so you end up with a few extra words in your vocabulary.

Board games aren’t the only games for word lovers! Word puzzles have become more than plentiful with the age of the internet. My Google search of ‘Crossword Puzzle’ retrieved 106,000,000 results. hahaha thATS A LOT. There are even topic-specific ones, so you know what kind of words you have to guess.

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use the thesaurus (rigorously)

I LOVE THESAURUSES. IM LIKE OBSESSED. If I could have one single book to learn from? I would pick my friend Mr Thesaurus immediately thank you very much. I mean, you just look up a word that you already know and find brand new words that mean the same thing!! MY LITTLE MIND IS BLOWN.

I’m serious! You know the synonym and thesaurus menus in Word documents? Use them. You know the dictionary/thesaurus app we all have but never use? FIRE IT UP BUDDY. Use the actual physical book if you have to, for pete’s sake!! That thing is a vocabulary goldmine!

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keep up with a word of the day list

You may not want to be bothered with new words every single day, but, writers. This has helped me so darn much with building prose and characterization. LISTEN UP.

As they’re randomized, a word of the day list is probably the best way to learn obscure words you wouldn’t know otherwise. You can usually subscribe to them by email, so you get a nice little addition to your vocabulary every morning. One of my friends actually studies her list and makes it a goal to use the word of the day in conversation at least once, every day. Consistent.*

Mrs. Linda, you are an icon.


*evan hansen has wrecked my life 😍

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write down words you need to look up

According to the Oxford Dictionary, there are 171,476 commonly used words in English. There will be plenty of the more obscure words you hear in passing that you don’t quite know yet. No big, dudes. Make a quick note — on your phone, your napkin, your brother’s face, whatever — and take time to go over these wordsΒ later.

It’s tempting to look up a new word right where you are, but how much do you actually remember when you’re in a rush? the answer is zero, by the way. it’s zero. It’s much better to make a list and spend time with it later than look it up and attempt to remember what the word was and what it meant.

I had a page in an old journal for words I needed to search when I had time, especially in sermons. This helped a lot, especially the physical act of spelling out the words, but writing in a phone is cool beans, too!

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read (hAHA I TRICKED YOU)

“BUT ABBY THIS POST ISΒ HOWΒ TO LEARN NEW WORDS WITHOUT READING–“

I KNOW WHAT I WROTE. And let me admit that we are going to dance around the end of the rules here for a sec, whoops. But this is good, I promise!

To find a few more words, keep a bit of paper around while you’re reading to take note of all the new words you come across. When I was little, I would attack sticky notes and bookmarks and mark pages with words I didn’t know. Then, my mom and I would talk about the meaning and put it into context I could understand. Now, I go over them myself after I’m finished reading.

That might seem like overkill, but it’s interesting to see a new word in an actual real-life setting instead of just looking it up on the internet where you might nEVER SEE IT AGAIN.

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Writing isn’t all about fancy words and elegant prose… but it sure is fun to add πŸ˜‰ Soon you’ll find yourself becoming more aware of new words until you become a bonafide logophile. (*cough* dictionary that *cough*)

Now, what about you? What’s your best resource for new words? What words have you learned recently? BECAUSE I WANNA KNOW MAN. Do you kinda sorta wish we talked like BBC people? Or do ‘gucci’ and ‘dope’ catch your fancy? To each his own, I guess.

ALSO!! SHOUTOUT TO EVERYONE EMBARKING ON THEIR NANOWRIMO JOURNIES SOON!Β I won’t be joining in the excitement this year (phew lol), but I am cheering SO LOUD for you ambitious souls!! GO KICK NANO BUTT.

abby

30 thoughts on “how to widen your vocabulary WITHOUT reading books // learn new words (and actually remember them!)”

  1. I want to play Baulderdash now. πŸ˜‚ It sounds epic! (just as an unrelated note, a game I personally love is Telestration. πŸ˜‰ You know the game Telephone, where you whisper something to the next person, and they try to whisper what they hear to the next until you get to the end and it’s all scrambled? Yeah, it’s like that, except with ILLUSTRATIONS. πŸ˜‚ You get a word, write it down, and then draw it. The next person looks at your drawing and writes down what they think it is. The next person looks at what the last wrote, and tries to draw that, and so on, until it comes in a full circle. Then you get to each take turns and see what happened. You get a point if it stayed the same the whole way, but it’s WAY more fun when it gets mixed up πŸ˜‚ There have been some super crazy ones in the past… like from going from a fish to a guy going over a waterfall…)

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  2. Wow! Never thought of this! Thanks for this post! I love Mr. Thesaurus. πŸ˜‰
    And EPP I’m doing NaNo for the first time and it’s so close. And super scary! πŸ˜†

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      1. Haha yep! πŸ˜†
        My book is a Historical Fiction set in Ancient Greece. The theme is surrender. I’ve been writing on it for a while, but now I’m finally going to finish it! πŸ˜‰

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  3. THIS IS AWESOME and probably one of my favorite posts you’ve done!! I’m always trying to grow my vocabulary, and I love word of the day lists – I use merriam-webster.com’s word of the day emails. πŸ˜€ I also love using Grammarly – if you add the free version as a browser extension then you can select any word to see its definition and you can highlight any word that you’re typing to see a list of synonyms! And of course reading is one of my favorite ways to learn new words – Lemony Snicket’s books are full of interesting new words and he often includes their definitions! Also haha thanks for reminding me about NaNo… I don’t think I’m going to do it but part of me wants to try. XD Thanks for the fantastic post!!

    -Clara ❀

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    1. awww! 😍 thank you, clara, that means a lot haha!! hugs tightly
      haha, you’re already ahead of the game my friend! those are all super helpful tools, especially GRAMMARLYY. oh, i’ve never read a snicket book before, but now i’m sort of tempted just to find more words… πŸ˜‰
      ahh, i’m in the same boat. it’s like, you’re so busy but you kinda want to try your hand at it.. sigh did you end up going for it, or not this year? πŸ˜‹ THANK YOU LOVELY πŸ’™β˜€

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      1. You’re so welcome!! ❀ Oooh, you should totally read some Lemony Snicket books. They’re full of sarcasm and they always make me laugh out loud. XD
        I ended up deciding to go for it! I had a spark of inspiration a few days ago and decided to try to flesh out the idea this month. Classic last-minute me. πŸ˜€ How about you?

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      2. ok i’ll have to mark some for my tbr πŸ™‚ haha, you gotta love the last-minute decisions! i am doing nano but more of a blogging nanowrimo, so i’m writing a post every two days which will give me 15 posts by december 😁 how’s your book going then??

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  4. AHHH I love this! I get so annoyed at myself with my little vocabulary WHICH IS STRANGE BECUASE I READ LOTS OF OLD BOOKS. i think my problem is remembering the words, heh. I hate it because I get stuck with ONE adjective when I’m on a photoshoot and it drives me crazy! I need to use my thesaurus more. nods seriously Although, my dad when he was twelve, needed a synonym for his alarm system business, so he named it Consternation Systems. XD XD :’D

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    1. WOW THANK YOU ARIA 😊✨ oh i know the feeling, it’s just hard to remember so many new things and it’s? just? ??? 🀭 OH MY GOODNESS! THAT’S HILARIOUS HAH! i applaud him, give him an A+ for effort. it’s definitely memorable! πŸ˜›

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  5. Thou art correct, the old language hath been reduced to Bible and Thor

    Ok, but like…rant time sorta AM I THE ONLY ONE THAT SEES THE BRITISH DOING EVERYTHING BETTER THAN US AMERICANS? Language is better, tv shows are better, better at football…continues…why can’t I be fancy too πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜­πŸ˜’

    *srry,….month problems i think…oof

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  6. As always, I LOVE THIS POST. I feel like I definitely say that every time I comment on one of your posts, but you know what, sometimes it just needs to be said. πŸ˜‰
    I love using a thesaurus! It saves me every time I have to write for English, let me just say. XD And I can’t say enough good things about reading, either, as you probably know…I’m convinced that’s where my entire vocabulary came from.

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    1. AAH OLIVIA. every time you comment i smile so big, you’re so sweet love πŸ™ƒπŸ™ƒ thesauruses are so helpful!! who thought to have them because they’re honestly a genius. haha, i understand, i grew up on disney and books so basically everything i know comes from them πŸ˜‰

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