1. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Trick for increasing writing vocabulary

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jannert, Jun 10, 2016.

    Just read a great trick for writers who want to increase their word choices.

    1) Get hold of a dictionary

    2) Go through at random and pick out 10 words you are familiar with, but are words you don't use in your writing

    3) List them

    4) Start using them in your writing

    Rinse/repeat
     
  2. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    I do something similar quite often. Randomly open my dictionary. Pick a word of 5 letters or more that I don't know and make a sentence up using it. That helps embed the word in my brain and the context it can be used in. More often than not I end up choosing a few more from the same page, depending on what jumps off the page at me. I love dipping in and out of my dictionary.
     
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  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, me too. Although I live in the UK now, I still use my Webster's more than any other dictionary. I think it's a more readable dictionary than the Collins, which is the UK standard. (And it's got pictures too. :)) Even my husband, who used to be a journalist here in Scotland, agrees with me. It's the Webster's he goes to more often than not. I have a Collins, and should probably read through it more often. However, even though I live here, I write as an American. My stories are set in the USA and/or Canada, so I don't want to lose sight of how Americans use words. I know my daily spelling has migrated to the British versions these days (for defensive purposes!) but I still 'write' as an American.
     
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  4. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Damn. All this time I've been reading your posts with a Scottish accent.
    It's just not going to be the same anymore.
     
  5. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    I use a Readers Digest one, but we have both Collins and Webster in the house too and have been known to have all three out together when deciding on correct use of spelling to use.
     
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  6. Cretacskies
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    Cretacskies New Member

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    What I use to do is learn a few new words a day and try to use them in a paragraph properly, this helps me remember the word better.
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, when in Rome, etc. I certainly use the Collins when I want to check a British spelling. In fact, that's why I bought my own copy. But I need to keep the Webster's handy for double-checking that I'm not using a British spelling when writing an American novel. One of my UK friends who beta reads for me has pointed out the fact that I occasionally use some British spellings now. Yikes. I'm a hybrid.
     
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  8. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I just try to use an interesting and diverse vocabulary. It tend to use some fancy words anyway. But this is a good suggestion. It is definitely useful for writers to have large vocabularies. And just for anyone, it's good to try and be educated and sophisticated to a degree. Though I also love plenty of casual stuff too.
     
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  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    What I liked about the suggestion is that it reminds the writer to use words they're already familiar with. It's more a memory boost than a 'learn new vocabulary' exercise. Learning new vocabulary is also a great exercise—don't get me wrong—but the point of this tip is to get you to use words you already know, but have 'forgotten.' I know I'm guilty of having favourite 'go to' words, and this helps break me out of the habit of always using the same ones.
     
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  10. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Yes, definitely. I wasn't proposing any specific approach. Just saying I don't have one, and just try to avoid repetition.
     
  11. ArQane
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    ArQane Member

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    Use a thesaurus. Problem solved :D
     
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  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well yes, that too. But again, not quite the same thing. My tip is for starting to use words (and concepts) you don't normally use. A thesaurus is geared towards zeroing in on a different (or more specific) word so you don't repeat yourself too often. Similar, but not exactly the same. However, it's just a tip. Folks can use it or not.
     
  13. Wayjor Frippery
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    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

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    Philistine!*

    Oxford!:cheerleader:Oxford!:cheerleader:Oxford!:cheerleader:


    *Oxford listed synonyms: lowbrow, anti-intellectual, materialist, bourgeois; boor, ignoramus, lout, oaf, barbarian, primitive, savage, brute, yahoo, vulgarian


    ;)
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, I mis-spoke myself. :oops: It's the Collins Thesaurus I use (along with Penguin's Roget's and Signet's Roget's.) It's the Oxford Pocket English Dictionary (Oxford University Press) I use for British words.

    My husband has an old version of the Oxford complete dictionary ...the huge 2-volume set that came with a magnifying glass. I decided when I first moved here that I needed a more user-friendly dictionary—never mind an American one—which is when I got my hardback Websters New World College Dictionary, published by McMillan. It cost me an arm and a leg at the time, but I've certainly got my money's worth out of it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
  15. Sack-a-Doo!
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    LOL! I did just the opposite for Aliens DBATK. I purposely cut back on my vocabulary because the first-person MC is a country boy living in the 1960s in a town that frowns on education (which never comes up in the story, but it makes for a fun narrative voice).

    Every time I find myself using a word the character wouldn't use (or might get beaten up for using) I struggle to find a way to express whatever he's saying (either in dialogue or narrative) in a way the country boys I knew would have done. I must say, it's been a challenge at times.
     
  16. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I didn't want to give the impression that my tip was geared towards fancying up the language. I meant to find ordinary words you might not be using in your writing at the moment, and start using them. This can produce less 'educated' words as well as more educated ones.

    For example, my current list includes 'mouthy.' It's a word I hear a lot—he's a mouthy little shit, etc ...but I don't think I ever used it in my writing.
     
  17. Wayjor Frippery
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    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

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    I do have a paper copy of the Concise Oxford English (twenty years old), but these days I tend to use Oxford Dictionaries Online and Merrian-Webster online. Oxford Dictionaries Online (as opposed to the OED online – same dictionary;different presentation) is good because its listings are based on modern use, whereas the OED is etymological/historical. It also has synonyms for most words so you don't need a separate thesaurus.

    Until recently I had a subscription to Oxford Dictionaries Online that gave access to the New Oxford Style Manual, among other things, which was great. But it seems they've withdrawn that service at the moment. It's now only available to institutional customers, which is annoying.

    You're in Scotland, right? You must have heard 'he's a gobby little shite!' aplenty. ;)
     
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  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh yeah, certainly But I'm an ex-Yank, and write as such. I would only use a term like gobby (or gabby) if I was trying to write a modern central belt dialect ...and may the graces of gods forgive me if I ever do that! :eek: The longer I live here, the less I'd be likely to take that on.
     
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  19. Wayjor Frippery
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    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

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    Most of my family use 'gobby' (amongst a plethora of other gems). They're all from Brighton, daairn saairf, and often accuse me of constantly speaking with my telephone voice (I'm an EFL teacher in Spain). When I go home for visits, I'm always bowled over by the richness of the language. You do start to lose touch when you live away from your roots – I guess you could relate to that!
     
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  20. Sack-a-Doo!
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    I see your point. This sounds exactly like the type of word I'd use. ;)
     
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  21. Laze
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    Laze Active Member

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    I find www.vocabulary.com to have a good level of retention.
     
  22. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've never heard of that, but I don't like it now that I have.

    They basically copied the game that FreeRice uses to send food to the hungriest regions of the world, but they don't do the same thing that FreeRice does when you play. Literally the only thing that they're doing is diverting potential players away from a fantastic humanitarian program.

    0/5 stars

    EDIT: Just added FreeRice to the list of resources
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
  23. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    That and finding obsolete words and writing down their definitions on paper so you don't forget them. That way you maximize your learning curve, because some words aren't in the dictionary anymore.
     
  24. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Get a Thesaurus. And no you're not going to have to go to a museum to see one. :p Also read at a higher reading level, and look up the words that you don't understand. Or hang out with a word wiz nerd. :supergrin:
    Thesaurus.jpg
     
  25. mashers
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    mashers Senior Member

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    I like dictionaries and thesauruses on the computer as you can click words like links. The dictionary on the Mac is particularly nice because you can use CMD+1 and CMD+2 to switch respectively between the dictionary and thesaurus while looking at the same word. I often explore new vocabulary by looking up a word I'm interested in to find a definition, then quickly switching over to the thesaurus to find synonyms. Any interesting synonyms I see can then be clicked on and I can then quickly switch back to the dictionary to find a more specific definition of that word.

    I also like reading about the etymology of words, partly because I find it intrinsically interesting, but also because I find it helps me to remember the word and its meaning.
     
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