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Enhancing Vocabulary Skills Through Vocabagrams

Updated on October 19, 2012

I have been enhancing my vocabulary skills through reading various books on words and vocabulary recently. When I got hold of Nurnberg and Rosenblum's All About Words, I found vocabagrams so interesting and fun that I decided to make a hub on it and share it here on Hubpages. I hope that readers would find it interesting, fun and helpful in building better vocabulary skills.

What is vocabagram?

Vocabagram is a game based on anagrams and authored by Maxwell Nurnberg and Morris Rosenblum.

Anagram comes from the Greek word ana, meaning backward and gram, meaning letter. Vocabagrams, in other words, are vocabulary words that spell the same but the letters could be twisted, interchange or rearrange backward and forward to form the word that is being defined. This is one of the many word activities that would painlessly increase or sharpen your vocabulary.

How Does It Work

Simple! For every given word, rearrange the letters backward and forward to form the word that is being defined.


1. wither (word given - anagram); twist in pain (definition) = writhe (word that is defined)

2. marital (anagram); warlike (definition) = martial (word that is defined)

3. dormant (anagram); bitter (definition) = mordant (word that is defined)


1. Rearranging letters only


  • editing = set afire ~ past tense → (ignited)

  • bleating = palpable → (tangible)

  • plane = relating to punishment → (penal)

  • undated = intimidated → (daunted)

2. Adding one letter as you rearrange the word to meet the definition given.


  • dried + e = to ridicule → (deride)

  • mental + b = flickering → (lambent)

  • odor + n = a movement in music → (rondo)

  • nine + u = boredom → (ennui)

3. Deleting one letter as you rearrange the word to meet the definition given.


  • grimace - c = optical illusion → (mirage)

  • ratio - r = an extremely small quantity → (iota)

  • pursue - e = seize power → (usurp)

  • entrails - r = outstanding → (salient)

4. By adding prefix as clue


  • timer = to send back /[ re_____ ] → (remit)

  • discern = cancel /[ re_____ ] → (rescind)

  • tale + x = lift up /[ ex____ ] → (exalt)

  • murder - r = to slander /[ mal____ ] → (malign)

5. By adding suffix as clue


  • clears + u = worldly, not religious /[ _____ar ] → secular

  • printed + i = fearless /[ _____id ] → intrepid

  • estimating - m = incite /[ ______ate ] → instigate

  • medicine - i = prevalent in a region /[ ______ic ] → endemic

6. By adding two words


  • sit + sea = afternoon nap → siesta

  • cool + port = ceremonial procedure → protocol

  • set + set = last six lines of a sonnet → sestet

  • mad + mile = quandary → dilemma

Samples of Vocabagrams

(click column header to sort results)
Word answer that is defined  
a ditch surrounding a castle
draw a conclusion
rapture + e
an opening
dismays - y
extreme cruelty
triad + o
cheat + mob
great sacrifice
lowest point
elated - e
sand deposit at mouth of river

Give the word that is being defined.

This is supposed to be in a quiz capsule but since there is no option for one and only correct answer which the participants must write, I suggest that those who are interested to answer the following vocabargams may write their answers in the comment section.

Instruction. Use the same procedure. The answer will be the name of somebody or something mythological or a word formed from such a name.

Word Answer
1. amused
best-known Gorgon
2. lout + p
god of the Lower World
3. stave
goddess of the hearth
4. dray + h
nine-headed monster
5. crate + n
drink of the gods
6. wroth - w
Teutonic god of war
7. torment - t
8. said + m
king with the golden touch
9. heel + t
river of forgetfulness
10. cant + bleacher
full authority in French (2 words)

Reference: All About Words: An Adult Approach To Vocabulary Building by Maxwell Nurnberg and Morris Rosenblum


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    • Astralrose profile image

      Astralrose 5 years ago from India

      @Kate Mc Bride-we share similar skill when it comes to cryptic crosswords! So far the answers you provided are correct! I'm glad you enjoyed this hub, too. Thanks for voting!

      @Ross Anziano-Thanks! Share it. Teachers and students will certainly enjoy vocabagrams!

    • Ross Anziano profile image

      Ross Anziano 5 years ago from West Deptford, NJ

      I'm going to school to be a teacher. You can bet I'm gonna throw this into the mix. Pretty cool hub.

    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 5 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      I really enjoyed this hub very much. As I have limited skill at cryptic crosswords, I had a great time with this alternative. The answers I got to your quiz were: Medusa, Pluto, ?, hydra, nectar,?,?,Midas,?,carte blanche .Voted this up, interesting and useful. Thanks!