What is the best way to enrich / increase your vocabulary?

A close relative advised me that the best way to increase one’s vocabulary – and make it stick – was to read and understand Shakespeare. I suggested plan old fashion word study. That is, simply find a source that gives you the most used words and go down the list – starting at about word 18,000(?) and start looking for the words you don’t know — then learn them. Seems the most direct and least time consuming way to learn word meanings. I’m told, however, that the words will never stick if learned that way. Why? “No context.” “Nothing to think about.” “Too barren.” “There is no royal road to a good vocabulary.”

So — the question is as the subject heading indicates – What IS the best way to increase one’s vocabulary - in your opinion(s)?

Read books.

Why? Shakespeare’s more fun. :wink:

Hey you! is right. I’ve been asked many times, and all I can tell folks is the way I learned. Seeing how a variety of authors use words in different ways gradually soaks inand emerges when you speak or write. The only problem I’ve ever faced is saying a word that I’ve read many times but which I’ve never heard spoken. A love of reading will take you far.

Short Answer: Read Books

Long Answer: Read books. Write down any word you don’t know the definition of, then look it up in a dictionary. Do you really know what that means? If the person next to you asked you what that word meant, would you be able to define it for them? No? Then you don’t know the word. You’ll be surprised how many words you know, but can’t explain. Looking them up, will clarify the nuances of the word.

Yes, by all means read books.[ul][li] Another superb way to conveniently increase your perspicacity is to do crossword puzzles. (In ink, of course.)[/li]
[li] Speaking a foreign language is an additional (if not obvious) way to decrease vocabulary retrieval times.[/li]
Finally, writing articles, papers and lengthy works increases one’s eloquence.[/ul]

Pardon me, I was not sufficiently carried away before.

Certainly, howsoever you might wish to, do indeed indulge in bibliophilic pursuits.[ul][li] Expedient expansion of thine expressiveness is suitably obtained by execution of sundry diacrostic conundrums. (Indelibly inscribed, indubitably.)[/li]
[li] Conversing via unfamiliar communicative channels provides patently surplus methods of shrinking verification intervals involving one’s verbal veracity.[/li]
Synoptically speaking, scribbling summaries, screeds and scrolls of certainly extensive scope expands verisimilitude.[/ul]

Well, one way to embiggen your vocabulary is find one of those word-a -day calenders. All of those new, cromulent words will help.

You could kill an English professor and eat his brain.

William F. Buckley

I recommend you skip the Shakespeare advice. By all means, read him if you enjoy it, but what a horrible way to increase your vocabulary. Read stuff that’s more likely to contain new words that are relevant to you.

For me, doing “dictionary tag” (there may be a more official name for it) has added any number of new words to my vocabulary, although I must admit that only about 10-20% of the looked up words have “stuck” in my normal usage. What I mean is to look up a new word (from whatever source – usually in a new book!) and as you read the definition for that word, look up any other word(s) you didn’t already know. I have spent many fun minutes, ranging to hours, in that pastime.

Another less rewarding dictionary game is to try to locate words you don’t know how to spell! I spent no telling how long to locate kudzu because I just knew it had to start with a “c.” So many words are not spelled how they sound, or how you might first think they’re spelled.

Use a thesaurus; (crude, improbable, hasty, incomplete example):

“We went to a really nice beach and the weather was nice; one of the guys hauled out a great big picnic hamper and we all tucked into a really nice meal; all in all it was a great day - we all had a really nice time”

Turns into something like:

“We went to a wonderful beach and the weather was magnificent; one of the guys hauled out an immense picnic hamper and we all tucked into a superb meal; all in all it was a delightful day which we all found exceedingly pleasant”

Now, I’m not suggesting doing this all the time, but when you are aware that you are repeating use of an expression, it is a useful way of breaking out of the habit.

Subscribe to Reader’s Digest - “It pays to enrich your word power”.

I have loved this idea the other way round: take a famous poem, song, speech, piece of writing, whatever, and locate bland and lifeless substitute words to take all the zing and spirit out of the original. It can help to understand the power of well chosen words. It can also produce some hilarious results.

I have always wanted to produce some “poem” with everyday words and simple sentiments to show how weak a “poem” could be if handled properly. Reusing words like “nice” and “fun” can be a great start.

Another similar approach would be to insert your favorite “meaningless intensives” into famous works. Just imagine something like Poe’s The Raven with “fucking” and “asshole” and “shit” interspersed randomly to “spice it up.”

I definately agree about the word-a-day thing. The important thing is for YOU to use it in a couple contexts during the day otherwise it won’t become a functional part of your vocabulary. This would be a lot faster than by simply reading. If you do get some sort of word-a-day or flashcards, be sure to get one that also gives a phonetic spelling, part of speech, and uses it in a sentence.

“Should I bother, or top myself, that’s what I’m wondering. Is it better to get pissed off about random bad shit, or to try to make the best of things, and hopefully make all the bad shit go away?”

We should have a thread for that idea; who wants to start it? jjimm?

Learn Latin. So much of English derives from it.

No pococurante here — these eleemosynary posts move me from velleity to volition.

[Hannibal Lecter]

Temporal or parietal?

[/Hannibal Lecter]

Evidently, you haven’t yet gotten to the page with “definitely” on it.