Thursday, March 20, 2008

5 Ways to Learn New Words

Managing more words reveals new layers of meaning in your life. Not only do you understand more of what's going on around you, it's easier to express yourself clearly and in the right number of words. (Don't get pleonastic!)

Given time and energy constraints, how does one get a handle on new words? The first step is to commit to doing so. Merely having this intention clear in your mind will make you see learning opportunities that were previously invisible to you.

1. My sister recommends They have a veritable surplus of treasures on their site, including new words each day, interesting quotations, hangman, spelling bees, matching games. Visiting this site and subscribing is one way to go. Try to use the new word right away. Write it in an email, or call a friend and make some comment. Say something pithy.

I learned the meaning of the word "phronesis" just before taking my doctoral qualifying exam last October. I used that word in each of the 8 essays I wrote for that test. I was intrigued that none of my professors commented on that flash of "brilliance". Maybe they really didn't read those essays...

2. Another possibility is subscribing to's Word of the Day. They don't email it to you, it shows up on your home page. Use that word as soon as you can. Write it down in your journal. Use it.

3. Yet another option is to buy a page-a-day calendar with new words each day. Print media still works.

4. Read, and look up words you're not sure about. Read, and figure out the meanings of words from the context of the sentence. Reading expands your vocabulary without you're realizing it.

5. Get a doctorate. It's expensive, but you will learn many new words, guaranteed.

Learn new words. Try for at least one a day. Be a maverick!