One of the best purchases I’ve made in 2017 has been my copy of Merriam-Webster’s Vocabulary Builder (only about $6 on Amazon). It sits on my dining room table and I pick it up most days while I sip my morning coffee. My wife enjoys making fun of me for it. “Are you reading from the dictionary again?” Well, not entirely. I’m not that much of a nerd.
The Vocabulary Builder organizes words by shared roots (usually Latin or Greek) in groups of four or five. It defines each word, gives an example of its use in a sentence, and includes a paragraph on its origin and common use. After every other set and at the end of each chapter you are quizzed on your comprehension of your newly-learned words.
I had a boss at my summer job with a superior vocabulary. It was just fun and interesting to listen to him talk. My conversations with him inspired me to seek out and purchase this book. I, and I assume most others, quit intentionally growing our vocabularies after grade school. But why stop there? I’ve found it to be enjoyable and rewarding to challenge myself to learn a new word or two each day.
Some words in it are familiar to me while others are entirely new. Either way I find joy in learning how the word came to be part of the English lexicon. Check out these lovely words by the poet Robert Service from the paragraph on the word “equable” (p. 113):
Avoid extremes: be moderate
In saving and in spending.
An equable and easy gait
Will win an easy ending.
In my quest to phase out Facebook and Twitter as part of my daily routine, this has been a great, low-commitment way to spend a few minutes each day learning something new. I highly recommend you pick up your own copy if you don’t already have one.