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…
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 fully 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.
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.
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!
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 😍
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 words 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!
read (hAHA I TRICKED YOU)
“BUT ABBY THIS POST IS HOW 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.
Writing isn’t all about fancy words and elegant prose… but it sure is fun to add 😉 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! 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.