Having a good vocabulary isn’t just for authors or people trying to ace standardized tests. Having the ability to accurately articulate your thoughts and emotions is a skill set with utility beyond measure. Words are not arbitrary. They are specific and used to match sachems and concepts in our brains. They can pinpoint ideas and fabricate the most elaborate tales. They can mold entire cultures and separate civilizations.
Adjectives especially, I find, are some of the most specific words in the English language and the vivid imagery that accompanies their usage is the basis on which story telling withstands the test of time. It’s how history is shared generationally. You also have to understand that people may assign meaning to words in a way that is not necessarily consistent with the dictionary or “textbook definition.” That is the difference between a word’s connotation and its denotation.
A common example of this duality of words includes house vs. home or childish vs. childlike or youthful. The words share the same denotation (dictionary definition, which I remember because dictionary and denotation both start with “d”) but have different connotations (or social understandings/concepts, which I am able to remember because connotation and concept both start with c).
In grade school, we were given words weekly and expected to recite their spelling, pronunciation, and definition on a regular basis. Later, I found the most effective way for me to develop my portfolio of words is to read more and expose myself to a multitude of genres which will shed some light on various root words. Also, be sure to read with a dictionary handy dandy so you can look up definition and even annotate your reading if need be. Last, and arguably most importantly, use new words. Try them in everyday conversation and normalize the usage of an expansive vocabulary.
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