Chat Replay: What Are the Best Ways to Expand Your Vocabulary?

I know so many writers who begin to question themselves when they encounter another writer who seems to have a much richer vocabulary. I know I do. When I read my first book by the late David Foster Wallace, I was astonished by how many powerful and interesting words were available to him -- and seemingly unavailable to me.

But anytime I face such a problem, I look to other writers for solutions. From research and practice, I've compiled a list of 10 ways to enrich your reading and writing vocabularies.

George Orwell argued that we should never use a long word when a short one will do. Shakespeare, I've recently learned, had a writing vocabulary of about 25,000 words, twice that of his nearest rival. And the Anglo-Saxon poets used to refer to their poetic language coming from a "word hoard" using similar language for the hoarding of gold. The word Thesaurus means "treasure."

So, yes, words, even the dullest, are gems in the right setting.

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<a href="…" >What Are the Best Ways to Expand My Vocabulary?</a>

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    Roy Peter Clark

    Roy Peter Clark has taught writing at Poynter to students of all ages since 1979. He has served the Institute as its first full-time faculty member, dean, vice-president, and senior scholar.


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