Nietzsche accurately conveyed the power of words. Words can create imagery, paint a picture, or launch a war. They can hurt or heal, build, or destroy. Words can infuse life with meaning, joy, and understanding. The right word can do many things, and no one understands this as well as a writer does. Masters of the pen, writers use words to create worlds, convey ideas, and express concepts like no one else can.
Being that words are so powerful, having a vast vocabulary in your arsenal will only make you a stronger writer. Mastering a wide array of words helps you express yourself more clearly, improves your writing quality, and gives your content a more intelligent and varied tone.
But for some people, building a broader vocabulary is harder than constructing the tower of Babel. Stuck on simple verbs? Can’t get past words that are “nice”? It’s time to boost your vocabulary. Use these simple tricks to build your word power in no time and start sounding smarter, writing better, and crystalizing your ideas like you never thought possible.
Tip #1: Learn a New Word Each Day
You do your research to write accurate content. Why not use this time to expand your vocabulary? While researching, make note of a new word you’ve never used before. Jot it down or create a sticky note to reference later. There are also Word-a-Day apps that feed you an interesting new word and its definition daily. The more words you encounter, the greater your vocabulary will be.
Tip #2: Use It or Lose It
Learned a new word? Great! But unless you use it, you’re likely to lose it. If you’ve recently acquired a new word, put it to use right away. Try to work that new word somewhere into the text you’re writing to create a concrete pathway in your brain. This solidifies the word in your mind, making it easier to remember it in the future.
Tip #3: Get Contextual
While it’s good to learn new phrases, expanding your vocabulary indiscriminately isn’t always the best way to go. If you work in a specific industry, learning the trade language will benefit you far more than picking up random words. When it comes to industry jargon, try to learn synonyms for terms that will help both industry and non-niche readers get the gist of what you’re saying.
Tip #4: Use a Grammar Checker Online App
Grammarly’s built-in synonym generator is one of the best grammar checking tools around. Click on the word, and Grammarly will produce a list of synonyms for it. Grammarly’s thesaurus helps you zero in on just the right word to express your idea. What’s more, Grammarly’s tool will also make suggestions for word phrases, so if you wrote “walked quietly,” Grammarly might suggest you use “crept” instead. Doesn’t that more succinctly convey the idea of walking quietly across a room?
Another good grammar app for learning as you go is Ginger. It has a dictionary that defines words on the spot. Ever have a word in mind but you’re not completely sure of what it means? The one-click dictionary feature helps you define those terms so you can learn words and use them properly in your next article. Most grammar checkers today allow you to click on a word to get its definition, the modern version of looking up a word in the dictionary.
Tip #5: Eliminate the Fluff!
Have you ever caught yourself saying “um” when thinking of what to say next? We do this in writing too, but it’s more subtle. Read through your writing and sniff out any fluffy, empty words or phrases that are just taking up space. Cutting out extraneous words will tighten up your piece and express your ideas more succinctly.
Tip #6: Rinse and Repeat
To fully embed a new word into your vocabulary, you’ll need to use it numerous times. Try to incorporate the word repeatedly and in different ways to solidify the learning process. You can write the word on paper, type it into your next article, use it in conversation with a friend, sneak it into an email, or even compose a little song about it as you write.
Tip #7: Use Visualization
Visualization creates mental pathways to a new concept, allowing us to easily access the idea in the future. Once you’ve learned a new word, use visualization to concretize the idea in your mind. For example, if your new word is “kindred” (i.e. of a similar nature or character), visualize yourself sitting by a campfire with a good friend (kindling and kindred are similar words). The picture will help you associate the word with its meaning in the future.
Boost Your Vocab to Sound Smarter and Write Better
Boosting your vocabulary is a great way to make your writing sound better, more professional, and more interesting to your readers. In addition to the tips above, improve your vocabulary by playing word games, doing crossword puzzles, or reading an interesting book. Take a writing course, create word lists, or start journaling. Have fun with the learning process and see how quickly you boost your vocabulary to enhance your writing daily.