What is the most efficient way to expand my vocabulary?


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Thread: What is the most efficient way to expand my vocabulary?

  1. #1

    What is the most efficient way to expand my vocabulary?

    Many times when I write I cannot think of the word that sounds best in a certain place and also has the right meaning. I attribute this to my own poor vocabulary. Because of this, I need to check the thesaurus often. But I know that this is not good since I don't know the right way to use all the words I find in the thesaurus. I think I need to expand my vocabulary. So I want to ask what is the easiest and quickest way to do this.

    I usually don't read much fiction, but informative texts, which uses a vocabulary closer to my own than that which fiction uses. So, should I read more fiction and look up all the words I encounter which I don't know? I think it would probably be good for me to read more fiction anyway since I have been wanting to write fiction. But whenever I try to read a fiction book, I encounter so many words I don't know. But I don't want to write them all down with their definitions and memorize them thoroughly before I can read the chapter with full understanding. But maybe this is the only way to do it.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Try playing around here: https://www.dictionary.com/

    Also, read. A lot. Watch documentaries on things you have an interest in. Go find interesting videos on YouTube. Not the idiotic kid stuff, but vids on how to do things.

    When you run across words you aren't familiar with, go look 'em up.

    When I was younger, I'd sit and just browse through a dictionary. I also read an entire set of encyclopedias by the time I was 12.
    ( The encyclopedias weren't as helpful as you might think... It was a 1954 set, which put it 21 years out of date by the time I got through it. Looking up the space program, for instance, was a complete waste of time. )

    Granted, that's probably a little extreme, but it'll improve your vocabulary for certain.

    The bottom line is, expose yourself to all the words you don't use on a daily basis, then try working them into your writing.


    Hope that helps.


    G.D.
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    Screw with it, and it'll eat you alive.

    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
    "Freedom is the value, not protection."

  3. #3
    https://www.thesaurus.com/

    A useful way to find lots of words with similar meanings, giving you more choices.

  4. #4
    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Hey, BAR... You realize we just hit him with basically the same place twice?

    That site is part of the one I gave him... Look at the tab at the top of the page there, and you have the option to swap between the two as needed.

    It's one of the places I keep a window open to while I'm writing.




    G.D.
    Leave it be and it won't bother you.
    Screw with it, and it'll eat you alive.

    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
    "Freedom is the value, not protection."

  5. #5
    Read. Read. Read. A thesaurus gives you synonyms and antonyms, yes, but it does not give usage context. Consider that without correct context, one ends up sounding like Vizzini. As Inigo said, 'You keep using that word, and I do not think it means what you think it means.'

    Working vocabulary is acquired through active use. And reading, being an active process, puts words in a working construct, not merely a list of synonyms. It is a skill set that is universal across fiction and nonfiction. Look into authors who write across genres, subjects, and formats. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays. Consider what you read, compare amd contrast. This is why taking time to critique helps make one a more effective writer. There is no fast, easy way it is basic roadwork.

    Also remember that while thesauri are excellent tools, they need to be used wisely. Inundating a piece with a surfeit of obscure linguistic choices can have a disastrous impact on the clarity of an author's message. Basically, be conscious about word choice, does the word mean what you think it means in its surrounding context.

    - D.


  6. #6
    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkkin View Post
    A thesaurus gives you synonyms and antonyms, yes, but it does not give usage context.
    One of the reasons I like Dictionary/Thesaurus dot com is because it does give usage and context for words. It's just a matter of scrolling down the screen to see 'em.

    But yes, reading like your life depends on it is the best way, along with looking up words you don't know or understand.

    Unfortunately there ain't no quick fix, and it will take time.



    G.D.
    Leave it be and it won't bother you.
    Screw with it, and it'll eat you alive.

    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
    "Freedom is the value, not protection."

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by lumino View Post
    Many times when I write I cannot think of the word that sounds best in a certain place and also has the right meaning. I attribute this to my own poor vocabulary. Because of this, I need to check the thesaurus often. But I know that this is not good since I don't know the right way to use all the words I find in the thesaurus. I think I need to expand my vocabulary. So I want to ask what is the easiest and quickest way to do this.

    I usually don't read much fiction, but informative texts, which uses a vocabulary closer to my own than that which fiction uses. So, should I read more fiction and look up all the words I encounter which I don't know? I think it would probably be good for me to read more fiction anyway since I have been wanting to write fiction. But whenever I try to read a fiction book, I encounter so many words I don't know. But I don't want to write them all down with their definitions and memorize them thoroughly before I can read the chapter with full understanding. But maybe this is the only way to do it.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?
    Read more.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

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  8. #8
    Mentor Dluuni's Avatar
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    Read things with difficult words. I once had to read a short paper by Bourdieu, one of the old postmodernists. It took a few hours with a dictionary picking apart each and every word, and my head was buzzing for two days, but my vocabulary got much bigger.

  9. #9
    Member Sir-KP's Avatar
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    The rush way is to write and alter your words with synonym by using the help of Thesaurus.

    Otherwise, read classic literature maybe. Because there will be context and once you get the 'click', you'll remember and add new vocab immediately.

    Unfortunately, most likely you will rarely use your newly-added vocab and eventually forget them in a matter of time. So...

  10. #10
    Member NathanielleC's Avatar
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    Read, read, read some more. You can also make up words. It worked for Lewis Caroll.
    I write because if I did anything else with the ideas in my head, I'd go to prison.

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