I read an article the other day about words people should use to sound more intelligent. I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone actually took the article seriously. It included words such as: red herring, idiosyncratic, tête-à-tête, etc. I’m all for expanding your vocabulary and learning new words, but I feel there are much more productive ways of increasing the amount of words you know and incorporating them into daily use other than memorizing a list of random words and hoping to slip them into conversations.
Growing up, my parents owned a restaurant and didn’t always have the time to find productive activities for my sister and I, so in order to get me to turn off Barney my mother would walk us over to the library and leave us there for hours. Not the most responsible thing as I could have been kidnapped (have I mentioned I’m extremely paranoid?) , but I loved it. I absolutely loved reading and I still do. I remember checking out the maximum amount of books they allowed every trip. I know I sound like the kind of child that got beat up on the playground, but reading has always been and always will be a major facet of my life. It’s the single most effective way I believe for someone to increase their vocabulary. The vast amount of words you take in from a single book (not picture book) is incredible and even if you know all of the words on every page, you’re bound to come across some that you haven’t used in a while.
Writing is like talking, except planned. When you write, there are do-overs. Nothing is set in stone until you’re ready for it to be. Writing often gives you a great chance to exercise words you might have forgotten about. It’s an incredible way to familiarize yourself with the English language and use words you might not use in real life. I mean seriously, who really ever says, “tête-à-tête”?
To me, a thesaurus is more valuable and more often used than a dictionary. Using a thesaurus is such an easy way to say things in a more intelligent way. Of course, make sure that what you’re saying is what you mean or you’ll end up sounding the opposite of how you want, kind of dumb and “special”. However, when used correctly a thesaurus opens up a huge pool of vernacular that may not often be used and it’s a great way to discover words that you’ve never read or heard of. So, please don’t pull a “Joey” as demonstrated in the video below.
Photo credits: http://bit.ly/iO3w6l, http://bit.ly/kyMu0p, http://bit.ly/lZJzpV