When it comes to enhancing your vocabulary, the two easiest methods are to understand a word from its roots and to associate a word with something with which you are more familiar.
It is well-known that at least two-thirds of English vocabulary is derived from Latin and Greek. In fact, English owes more to Latin than to Greek when it comes to most words, expect perhaps for political terms. If you were to understand a difficult (or for that matter simple) word from its origins, the word will not only be more fully understood, but the process of learning the word will be fun too.
Getting to the root of the word is just what it sounds like, getting to the bottom of the matter. The real fun of learning more words is knowing where a word comes from, how it found its way into the English vocabulary, and what its roots are.
Start with a simple word, such as culpable or culprit. Haven’t you heard the phrase, mea culpa innumerable times, perhaps in Church or school? It simply means ‘my fault’ in Latin. Both culpable and culprit, derive from that single expression. A person who commits a mistake is a culprit; the punishable offence is the culpable offence. Thus, learning one root word can help you learn two (or more) words that derive from it. Here's one more example--the word alphabet. It was originally used to denote the set of words that start with the Greek letters ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’.
Word association, or thinking of familiar things to learn unfamiliar words, is another great way to improve your vocabulary. Take a look at an unusual word like ‘aristate.’ The meaning is ‘bearded.’
What does aristate sound like? Doesn’t it sound a lot like the name of the famous philosopher, Aristotle? And wasn’t that man bearded? This is one really simple, yet fun way of associating a related thing with a word.
Let's look at another example. There are a few words that have crept into English from another ancient language: Sanskrit. With the advent of computers, you may have heard the word ‘avatar’ a lot. The meaning of this word is ‘incarnation.’ Since Sanskrit is the original language for the Hindus, to whom Karma is a central religious belief. Karma is what a human being accumulates through good and bad deeds throughout several births (or incarnations). This is the easy way of associating with this word. Hindus believe that God incarnated in many forms or avatars.
For some, association is one of the easiest ways to remember a word.
Playing word games is another simple tactic for expanding your vocabulary. Start with a simple game that requires no tools other then your friends and your brain.
The method can be alternated in as many ways as one wants to. The point is that all this should bring about an element of novelty and fun in learning words.
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