Vocabulary Building Tip of the Day: Not all Vocabulary Words Are Created Equal

By | November 28, 2011

The ability to retain the meanings of new vocabulary words can be a challenge every day for nearly anyone who embarks on the lifelong pursuit to build an ever increasing vocabulary. The words that are most difficult to remember are those with comprehensive, broad, and/or multiple meanings. Different dictionary sources will often define these words in slightly different ways, further convoluting the meaning. Conversely, people most easily remembered those words with simple definitions that can be explained in just one or two synonyms.

Easier to Retain: Deleterious – Harmful, detrimental

More Difficult to Retain: Ethos – The fundamental character or spirit of the culture or disposition of a community; group or person, etc.; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period.

Thus, to build an impressive vocabulary using the least amount of effort and time, one should give particular attention to picking the “low hanging fruit” by learning advanced words with simple, straightforward meanings that are synonymous with words we use every day.

That said, don’t be scared of learning words with more varied and broad meanings. Words like “ethos” are great words to learn and use. The next blog post will show you a simple way to retain these words from day to day as well.


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