General Question

JackAdams's avatar

Have you ever tried to increase your vocabulary, by learning a new word, every day?

Asked by JackAdams (6515points) August 30th, 2008

I used to do that, but I am not as good at remembering to do that, as I should be. When I was a kid and going to school every day, I tried to find and learn a new word each day (before leaving home), then drive my classmates crazy (or fascinate them) with my new-found knowledge.

What was really terrific about that, was that many of us would enter into a kind of competition with each other, seeing who could come up with the day’s most unusual word. It became commonplace for some of us to see each other in a school hallway and greet each other with, “What’s the good word?”

Yesterday, I learned a new word, and it was exciting, for some reason. It was part of a crossword puzzle clue, and the new word I learned was YEGG, which is a slang word for a thief, especially a burglar or safecracker.

I think the most unusual word I ever learned (assuming I could actually choose one) would be “vox populi” which has to do with public opinion.

I remember the feeling it gave me, when I heard that word (phrase?) uttered during the movie, NETWORK.

So, have you had similar “adventures” expanding your own vocabulary, by learning new words? What’s the most unusual one you know?

August 30, 2008, 8:89 AM EDT

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46 Answers

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

Yes, get these daily: but I find I have to write them down and make an effort to say them more than a couple times in a day….

Funny word to me: Glabrous Dr Phil’s glabrous head nodded in agreeement.

Bri_L's avatar

Yes. I try to do it on two fronts.

One, a word that is more proper. The type gail would use.

Two, I try to create something based on the topic of discussion that people can follow off the bat but effectively communicates what I need.

JackAdams's avatar

Seeker, thanks for the link, but it didn’t work. I believe you meant for me to use this one:

August 30, 2008, 9:37 AM EDT

beccalynnx's avatar

i tried. but got a tad bit lazy.
i used to open my parents massive webster’s dictionary and point to a random word.
sometimes i’d write it on my hand so i’d see it multiple times a day.
i liked finding odd adjectives the best.
especially when i found “gargantuan”.

i should start doing that again!

JackAdams's avatar

Interesting that you mentioned, “gargantuan.”

Many women utter that word to me, upon seeing me naked, for the first time.

I guess they were shocked at the size of my beer belly.

August 30, 2008, 11:17 AM EDT

2late2be's avatar

I try since I’m learning English, I need it so you Americans don’t say that we don’t even try!!! And plus I like the language.

JackAdams's avatar

What is your native language, if I may ask?

August 30, 2008, 12:10 PM EDT

2late2be's avatar

you talking to me JackAdams!?? My native language is spanish…

gailcalled's avatar

“Vox populi” is a two-word Latin tag that means “voice of the people or the commonfolk.”

Will Rogers said that in order to make a word yours, you had to use it three times.

For decades, ever since I started reading, I looked up the words I was unfamiliar with. Eventually, if you write a lot, they become ingrained. I still keep several old-fashioned dictionaries at hand. Knot just taught me “bourn” today…a good beginning to the day.

And (for you, Bri_L) having a giant list of vocabulary words per se doesn’t help you to be an interesting writer and speaker.

augustlan's avatar

I don’t purposely try to learn new words every day, but am always thrilled when I do come across one. Fluther is a good place to pick up new words…one of the reasons I love it!

@Gail: true, but it does make you a better Scrabble player!

augustlan's avatar

@2late: You’re doing a great job!

MarshallO's avatar

No. I have a considerable vocabulary as it is.

gailcalled's avatar

@Aug; you should play Scrabble with my family. We spend half the time challenging each other on our inventiveness. Still, the kids massacre me. (Together, we have seven languages other than English to cheat with.)

augustlan's avatar

Seven languages? I’d be a goner with your crowd.

JackAdams's avatar

@2late2be: Sí, me dirigía a usted. ¡Gracias!

August 30, 2008, 12:32 PM EDT

JackAdams's avatar

Speaking of SCRABBLE®

When I was studying the Russian language, in preparation for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow (which the USA eventually boycotted), I found out that the game was available in several foreign languages, including Scrabble® в русском.

I purchased that version for a Muscovite pen-pal, and one for myself. We then began a years-long correspondence, playing that game by mail. It really helped my understanding of the language, and the people who are native speakers of it.

August 30, 2008, 12:38 PM EDT

AstroChuck's avatar

I make every attempt to learn a new vulgarismo each day.

JackAdams's avatar

I have checked more than one (this time!) online dictionary, seeking “vulgarismo,” but not with much success.

Can you please assist me with finding it?

August 30, 2008, 2:11 PM EDT

AstroChuck's avatar

Sorry. Spanish for slang. Not necessarily vulgarisms, but often times they can be. Those are my favorites ones.

JackAdams's avatar

When I began to study Russian (1976, Denver, Colorado), in preparation for the 1980 Olympic Games, my Professor was a native speaker from the Ukraine, and she told me that, “When I first began to learn English after moving here in 1939, among the first words I learned, were the obscenities. But, Russians excel with profanities and vulgarities. In fact, a Russian can curse you for 30 continuous minutes, and never utter the same vulgarity or obscenity, twice.”

My kind of people!

August 30, 2008, 2:48 PM EDT

generalspecific's avatar

yes, i love learning new words. and the vocab lists in my english class has actually helped quite a bit, i’m proud to say. it always makes me happy when i can use vocab words in casual speech :)
some i’m trying to get used to are antipathy, assiduious, capricious, adamant, discursive…

JackAdams's avatar

I’ll have to go look up all of those words you just listed.

Thanks for the “extra work” you have created for me. (j/k)

August 30, 2008, 3:54 PM EDT

generalspecific's avatar

haha here, let me make it easy and also get some studying in for myself

antipathy – intense dislike, hatred
assiduous – persistent
capricious – impulsive, spur of the moment
adamant – stubborn
discursive – chatty, rambling
and another just for fun…
dour – sour, gloomy


charliecompany34's avatar

we do it all the time at my job. we have a daily word of the day and we use it all day in whatever conversation. it’s really fun.

augustlan's avatar

@General: I love the word ‘capricious’. Another favorite is ‘obtuse’ for this definition: not sharp or quick of wit.

generalspecific's avatar

@augustlan; i know, i can’t wait to incorporate it into normal conversation
obtuse is a good one as well.. i learned that last year in english. i love when i can see that all these years of school actually pay off..

gailcalled's avatar

@Seeker; the opposite of “glabrous” is “hirsute,” neither of which you’d drop into most conversations, I learned them on the day before I took my SATS.

And I have seen the “word-of-the-day” calendars, You learn the word and then tear off the sheet.

generalspecific's avatar

@gail: my parents bought me one of those at the begining of this year, but i’m not a very good caldendar person and would forget to tear them off for weeks or even months. but the words were kind of odd, anyway

AstroChuck's avatar

What about Marie Caldendar?

augustlan's avatar

Well she does make a delicious pot pie.

gailcalled's avatar

@General; you’d be amazed at how some of those “odd” words will show up, in the strangest places. What if you put the calendar (sn’t it little -c. 5” x 5”?) in the bathroom and read while you brush your teeth?

AstroChuck's avatar

Who has time to brush? Think I’ll take another nap.

gailcalled's avatar

@General: how did your teacher say to pronouce “dour”? There is “dure” and “dower”.

augustlan's avatar

@Gail: I’ve always pronounced it as “dower”, is that wrong? then again I was 38 years old before I realized that “forte” was pronounced “fort”

JackAdams's avatar

I remember a news item, a few years ago in Florida, when a high school English teacher told a black student, quoting verbatim, “Don’t be so NIGGARDLY with your money,” using a synonym for STINGY. (The teacher was always using unusual words, to help increase his students’ vocabulary.)

The student was offended and reported the teacher to the school board, who, in a knee-jerk reaction, suspended the teacher for “uttering racial epithets.”

Fortunately, the Associated Press (may Gawd bless them) picked up (and ran with) the story, generating nationwide headlines for the hapless teacher, resulting in the school board having to order barrels of “egg remover” for their faces.

The teacher was reinstated with full back pay and benefits, plus PLENTY of public apologies from the school board members, who admitted that their own vocabulary knowledge was “lacking.”

Today, as many of you know, another teacher is in a similar situation, because he uttered a word commonly used among blacks themselves (in jest) and someone thought he was uttering a racial slur, but his word ends in the letter A, and not in the letter R.

It will be interesting to see how that story unfolds, if it is still “active.”

August 30, 2008, 7:10 PM EDT

gailcalled's avatar

@Aug. I have heard both. I still remember giving an oral news report in 6th grade and announcing that it took place in “Tukson,” Arizona. And my mother met a young woman in her Freshman English class. She introduced herself as “Pish.” Apparently her mother on a remote farm in the midwest read alot and loved the look of Psyche.

AstroChuck's avatar

@auggie dawgie- You were pronouncing forte correctly if you were using whilst discussing music.
—How do you like me using whilst in a sentence?

augustlan's avatar

sounds slightly British, to me :)

JackAdams's avatar

Wildflower just taught me a new word, in another thread.

The British word SUSS.

August 30, 2008, 8:26 PM EDT

Bri_L's avatar

@ gail – Nicely played on the “and” and my teacher said “dower”.

@ generalspecific – nice word list!

stratman37's avatar

Why use a big word, when a diminutive one will do?

augustlan's avatar

@stratman: Well played!

MarshallO's avatar

“Forte” can be pronounced both as “fort” and “fortay”—depending upon how you are using it, and both noted pronunciations of “dour” are considered acceptable.

I’m glad that you are all so interested in learning new words. Now—if many of you would also learn to spell, too—you’d have it made!

JackAdams's avatar

Speaking of spelling…

Is your nickname Marshall OH, or Marshall ZERO?

I can’t tell, really.

August 31, 2008, 7:58 PM EDT

Trance24's avatar

In 8th grade my English teacher made us learn a new word every day. After about 25 -30 words she would give use a small quiz. This would test us on the spelling, and the meaning of the word. We would also have to use it in a sentence. I thought it was great because it expanded our vocabulary, and I still remember some of those words today.

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