By: Ian Pinkerton, Columnist
Words are one of the most important aspects of human communication. Without them, it would be pretty hard to tell your friends about the tasty meal you had for lunch. Because of this crucial importance, it is difficult to claim that expanding one’s vocabulary warrants anything but positive results.
Albeit, working to create a well-rounded vocabulary is a grueling task that seems not worth it, it pays off in the long run. Personally, it took a few months before I noticed any results. Now, after two years of working to expand my vocabulary, I notice results left and right. A well-rounded vocabulary can mean understanding older or more academic works of literature, being able to express ideas more effectively, having greater ease in making connections, and much more. Whether it’s to liven up some writing or to spice up a conversation, a well-rounded vocabulary is always a useful tool to have under one’s belt.
How can you work to expand your vocabulary? It’s simple. Whenever you come across a word you don’t know the exact definition of, whether from reading, listening, or some other medium, take note of it. Later whenever you find yourself bored, go back to these words and jot down their definitions in a journal or make flashcards. Eventually, they will stick in your head and you will start to notice those new words you learned everywhere you go. But, since that takes a lot of time, here are ten words that are useful, fun, interesting, and practical:
- Myopic – “Myopic” is a great word to use in an argument. It means to be narrow-minded and short-sighted, lacking foresight. It’s useful to help rebuttal an opponent who is ignoring the big picture of something, either in an essay or an argument with friends.
- Effervescent – To be effervescent is to be lively and enthusiastic, often used synonymously with “bubbly.” This is the perfect word to describe someone who is excited; it might as well be a fancier way of saying someone is excited about something, or in a particularly good mood. Effervescence is also the name for the fizz and bubbles in a carbonated drink.
- Antipode – Personally, I think that this is a fun word to say. An antipode is something that is the direct opposite of another thing. For example, going to sleep is the antipode of staying awake. It’s similar to an antithesis except the word “antithesis” is usually used to show a contrast between two opposite things.
- Aitch – This word is a fantastic ice breaker. Imagine you’re having trouble talking to someone new. What easier way is there to start a conversation than by sharing a cool fact and bonding over its bizarre nature? Aitch simply means the letter “H” … Yep, just the letter “H”. Obsolete words are always great for conversations!
- Sesquipedalian – This one may be a mouthful, but it is also great for conversations! Ironically, “sesquipedalian” means something that is characterized by a lot of syllables (go figure). A fun way to use this word is to mention it to some friends with an alliterative buzz: it’s fun to blabber “the suspiciously sesquipedalian Susquehanna,” isn’t it?
- Dogmatic – Dogmatic is a super useful word to describe someone who won’t give up their principles no matter what. Someone who is dogmatic feels obligated to set principles and claim they are undeniably true. If you ever meet someone who says they always sleep early, even though they often stay up late, they are being dogmatic.
- Scintillating – This is the perfect word to describe Towson’s community. To be scintillating is to be brilliant, clever, and skillful. If that doesn’t sound like Towson, then I don’t know what does; aside from describing Towson, this word is great to use in an essay to introduce a prominent source in a paper; “… the scintillating William Nye, in his study about…” is just one example of how to use this word.
- Supercilious – Have you ever been corrected by someone snobby and couldn’t find a word to describe the encountered person? Look no further, the word “supercilious” fits perfectly. To be supercilious is to be pretentious and condescending: to act above someone else because you think you’re superior. This word could also be helpful when drafting historical essays about oppressive conditions.
- Eunoia – “Eunoia” is the shortest word in the English language to use all five vowels. How cool is that!? In rhetoric, to have eunoia is to have goodwill between the speaker and the audience. In other words, it is when the audience believes the speaker is trying to do good. You can see a lot of this at the Climate Change protests that are happening all over the world. In addition to this rhetorical meaning, “eunoia” is rarely used in the medical sphere to describe someone who is living with a normal mental state, the perfect middle between euphoria and depression.
- Sycophantic – This is a fancy word to describe a kiss-up. To be sycophantic is to be overly obedient to someone in order to gain an advantage over others. To be someone who does this is to be a sycophant. It is a fantastic word to describe this kind of behavior without giving off an informal vibe, making it perfect for academic writing.
I hope these ten words will inspire you to work to build your own vocabulary! Actually, here’s an extra word for you: “tautology.” Essentially, a tautology is when you say the same thing twice in succession with different words, like I did by saying “your own.” It’s not like your vocabulary isn’t already yours, right? Why add “own”?
The English language is a goldmine of fun and useful words, you never know what you’re going to discover. Without working to build my vocabulary, my academic writings would be filled with overused diction and complex googled words that barely make sense. A strong vocabulary can aide and enrich one’s life, allowing for greater communication, understanding, and agility.
In addition to the tips for learning new words mentioned above, if you’re thirsty for more fantastic words, you can go to a Word of the Day website like wordthink.com, or simply browse a dictionary for a few minutes. You’ll be surprised what fun words stick with you.