5 Cool Ideas to Improve Your Vocabulary

Tips on how to grow your vocabulary and look smarter.

There are 500,000 words in the English language.  The average person knows less than 5,000 words and tends to use only about 500 on a regular basis.  Fifty words, like “basically,” get used way too much.  Basically, you can remove that word from any sentence and the sentence will retain its meaning.  Here are 5 Cool Ideas on improving your vocabulary.

1.  People judge us by the signals we send.

Many schools and churches teach us to not judge others, yet we all judge.  On a simple level, a judgment can be a decision like “I am not safe with this person.”  People often judge us based on the signals we send.  The words we use are signals.  It stands to reason, therefore, that if we know a lot of words and we use those words well, that people will hold us in higher regard.  We can use words, for example, to convince people that we are intelligent.

2.  Words are signals.

There are two main ways to convince people that you are intelligent.  The first way is to tell them.  The second method is to show them.  One of the most dependable ways to show someone that you are smart is to use a word that the other person doesn’t know.  Don’t be snooty about it.  Just slip the word into a conversation and continue talking.  The effect can be remarkable.

3.  Systemize your learning.

The best and most consistent learning is routine and consistent.  Subscribe to an on-line dictionary that will send you a fresh word every day for free.  Remember that the challenging part of building your vocabulary is not finding new words.  The hardest task in building a vocabulary is practicing.

4.  Practice makes perfect.

Find fun ways to practice your new words.  I often call my brother Rob to practice my word-of-the-day.  The call is fun because Rob doesn’t know why I’m calling.  When he hears the new word, we both laugh and joke about it, which is a form of practice.  Sometimes, Rob calls me with the “word-of-the-day.”

5.  New words are gifts that keep giving.

A woman who attended one of my seminars wrote to inform me how she started sending a “word-of-the-day” to people with whom she worked.  Some workers post new words on the refrigerator in the break room.  Try to use your new word in an e-mail during the first 60 minutes of work.