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Start flexing a larger vocabulary now with these simple tips. reports that there are at least a quarter million words in the English language.

The average English speaker only utilizes a small fraction of words but as writers we tend to have an insatiable lust for a larger lexicon.

Step 1: Read

Rule numero uno is and always has been, read. A writer must be a reader, a voracious, spellbound bookworm. That is, after all, where all the good words are! Read different genres and disciplines for each has its own unique vocabulary. Read novels, histories and poems. Read nonfiction, magazines and blogs. Go word hunting through as many literary landscapes as possible.

Step 2: Record

When you encounter a word you are unfamiliar with write it down in a special journal or a piece of paper you use as a book mark. I like to take a blank sheet of computer paper and write down new words while I utilize it to mark my spot. I look up the words daily and re-write them down with a definition.

Step 3: Repeat

After you identify and record the new word say it out loud and if you are so bold, practice it in speech. The more you say it the more you are likely to retain your fledgling word. So flaunt your new words to strangers on the bus.


A thesaurus should be your best friend. Paper is sooo last century, so put in your navigation bar and use it often. Read through your last few blogs or writings. What words do you use often? Look these up and start swapping fresh words that fit the same meaning. can also translate over 50 languages so don’t hesitate to start educating yourself on foreign words that cross your path.

To locate the meaning of a word look no further than Google. Google’s Define Operator works by simply typing define: followed by the word in the Google search box. Like define: travel

Should you not know how to pronounce your new 5 dollar word head to,
 a free online Talking Dictionary of English Pronunciation. Type in any word and a stately gent speaks it back with with pitch perfect pronunciation.

Put your vocab boosting on auto pilot by signing up for a word of the day email. There are tons of Word of the Day services like Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster ,

However I particularly enjoy, and also

If you are ready to take you love of language to new heights, check out The Free Games, articles, quotes, a toolbar and a customizable homepage make this one of the ultimate lounge sites for language lovers.

Here are a few words to get you started:

  • anathema 1. A detested person or thing. 2. A curse of the Church, excommunicating someone or denouncing a doctrine, or a person or thing so cursed. Her new boyfriend is anathema to me.
  • bellicose Eager to fight; warlike. Jimmy and his gang were in a bellicose mood.
  • emacity A fondness for buying things. During our trip to Paris, my wife demonstrated her remarkable emacity.
  • halcyon Originally referred to a mythical bird said to calm the winds and the waves. The phrase “halcyon days”, referring to an idyllically happy period is occasionally incorrectly turned into “halcyonic days”. Remember those halcyon days at university?
  • imbroglio A confused or complicated situation. Jeff tried in vain to explain how he had got himself into this imbroglio.
  • laconic (of speech or writing, or a speaker or writer). Brief, concise, terse. Mark was in a strangely laconic mood at dinner.
  • operose Involving or displaying a lot of effort. That has to be the most operose way of changing a light bulb.
  • paucity Smallness of number or quantity. We canceled the embroidery classes because of a paucity of attendants.

  • turpitude Baseness, depravity, wickedness. She felt depressed by the turpitude of modern society.

If your knew more than 5 of these then you already flex a meaty vernacular, good work!


What are your vocab boosting tricks? For that matter, what is your favorite word?

  • Travel Writing Tips


    About The Author


    Joshywashington is a Travel Media Ninja from Seattle who enjoys writing, climbing trees and strong coffee.

    • Ana

      I love words, adding to all the suggestions I would say playing scrabble and bananagrams gives you a special perspective into language.

      An example is I am now convinced that Q shouldn´t be a letter. It´s impossible to use without a U, at least in spanish.

      Anyway, thanks for the tips.

    • Candice

      Sweet, totally guilty of most of these things.

    • Shannon OD

      Love this list!! I have a love of words – my tip – get the “A Word a Day” email – they are really great and fun – those are what I use as my “try-to-slip-it-into-conversation” phrases every day :-)

    • Valerie

      Great piece! This is exactly what I’m trying to do now as I try to expand my vocabulary as a writer. Another invaluable resource is the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus. It’s one of the best investments I’ve made.

    • JoAnna

      Funny you should ask … I was just thinking about my favorite word the other day. When I started thinking about it, I realized I had a pattern with my favorite words … esoteric, aesthetic and eclectic. For me it’s the sound, not the meaning.

    • Joshywashington

      My current favorite word is masticate. Followed by Josh. ;)

    • Sarah

      I’m with Joanna- sound is important. Bellicose is a great word – it sounds like a potbellied, angry general.


      Great article on boosting your vocab. is a great resource. If you use Word, utilize the thesaurus to find new words. Keeping a vocab journal is a wonderful idea. When you can’t think of a word to use, you can refer to your list of words.

    • Steven

      Knowing a lot of fancy words is fun. But the key thing is that your readers understand you. The easiest thing for a reader to do is to stop reading.

    • Renae White

      Omg wanna do all if these!!!

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