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Build Your Vocabulary To Reach Your Potential

Updated on October 8, 2014

A Good Vocabulary: One Key to Unlock Your Potential and Find Success

Does increasing vocabulary really increase income potential? If it does, how can I improve on mine?

Motivational speaker, Earl Nightingale, followed some college graduates for 20 years. His purpose? He wanted to see if the vocabulary they left college with had an effect on their earning power. The remarkable result is this: every person he followed, that left college with a high vocabulary, earned more than those who had a more average vocabulary.

I read about this a loooong time ago and it always stayed with me. Maybe because I enjoy words and find it amazing how powerful they are. Of course, there are other factors related to a person's financial success such as what field of work they go into. Some types of work are naturally more lucrative than others.

Whether you believe vocabulary is a key to earning power or not, I do know that a poor vocabulary holds people back. Even though they may be smart they don't sound smart and potential employers will notice. If you have your own business those you do business with will notice a poor vocabulary. A good grasp of words does not make a person smarter or guarantee success, but it has a great deal to do with how a you, or anyone else, is perceived.

Why Bother with Vocabulary?

How many words does a person need, anyway?


A better vocabulary allows you to use more descriptive words which provide interest and get your point across.


A good vocabulary helps you understand what others are saying and improves reading comprehension.


Having a good vocabulary gives you more options in a conversation. Your sentences will flow better and be easier to listen to.


Using colorful words helps create an impression of an intelligent person - and sometimes you only get one chance to impress someone.


If you know more words you will be better at Scrabble!

The Truth?

A low vocabulary decreases the effectiveness of talents people are born with.

This is true in any culture.

What Do You Think?


See results

10 Ways To Build Your Vocabulary

1. Find things you enjoy reading. Read widely, perhaps trying out reading material that is in a different style than you would normally pick. But don't force yourself to read material that genuinely bores you.

2. Look out for new words as you read. Make a game of guessing at their meaning, then looking them up to see if you were right. You can learn a lot about a word from the context in which it is used, but its important to make sure you get the correct definition as well.

3. Listen out for new words when people speak. Remember them and look them up later. Or better still, ask when you don't know what they mean. Most people will love to share their knowledge and will think better of you for wanting to learn than if you just pretend to understand.

4. Use one of the powerful software products available today to train yourself in important vocabulary power words in a fraction of the time it would take you by more old-fashioned means.

5. When you learn a new word, find an opportunity to practice it as soon as possible. If you don't find a conversation to use it in, how about using it in an email to a friend? Or you could even just use it when you talk to yourself!

6. Circle or highlight words in your dictionary the next time you happen to visit that page you'll be unconsciously reviewing the word you learned last time.

7. Subscribe to a word of the day service be sure to use your new word the same day. Share it with a friend whenever you can.

8. Try out new word games, and find friends to play them with regularly.

9. Be goal oriented have specific targets to hit as you build your vocabulary, and be sure to reward yourself when you achieve them.

10. Use your imagination when you learn a new word, play with it and bring it to life in your mind. This is how children learn and you can do the same. It will help you remember your new words almost effortlessly.

Most importantly, you should pick the methods that YOU enjoy the most, and use them regularly as you take your vocabulary to new levels of success.

Build A College Entry-Level Vocabulary - or prepare for your SATs


Light Speed Sat-Vocabulary
Light Speed Sat-Vocabulary

Entertaining and comedic skits that a use real-world illustration of the meanings of the words makes some of the most challenging SAT* vocabulary words easy to understand. The vocabulary section goes over 150 of the most frequently used SAT* words.


[The SAT Reasoning Test (formerly Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test) is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. The SAT is owned, published, and developed by the College Board, a non-profit organization in the United States.]


Origins of the Word Vocabulary


Medieval Latin vocabularium, noun use of neuter of vocabularius of words,

equivalent to Latin vocabul ( um ) vocable + arius -ary


Remembering New Vocabulary

Studies since the 1930's show a close relationship between a large, precise knowledge of words and level of achievement in life. Financial success and management status are related to vocabulary scores. A limited vocabulary has proven to be an major factor in holding both men and women back from achieving their potential.

Learn While Commuting - or when you're not commuting

AUDIO BOOK (unabridged)

I cannot recommend this vocabulary building kit enough. Many many words can be found here. There are 9 cd's. As you go from cd to cd the words increase in difficulty, but it's up to you if you prefer to skip ahead of course. (amazon reviewer)

Word Master: Improve Your Word Power (Your Coach in a Box)
Word Master: Improve Your Word Power (Your Coach in a Box)

Using the science of word order, multiple voices, and exclusive music written and recorded to help you listen and learn, WordMaster is specifically programmed to maximize your vocabulary building with minimum time and effort. In place of the anonymous routines of other vocabulary programs, master motivator Denis Waitley adds his own trusted perspective to keep you focused and engaged. This dynamic program:

features 500 vocabulary words that are pronounced, spelled, defined and used in context

utilizes "suggestopedic" background music to make learning almost effortless

gives you the tools you need to make you words work for you

offers synonyms exposing you to over 1,500 more words that you want to know (amazon)


Definition: Vocabulary

vo·cab·u·lar·y [voh-KAB-yuh-ler-ee]

-noun, plural -lar·ies.


the stock of words used by or known to a particular people or group of persons: His french vocabulary is rather limited. the scientific vocabulary is constantly growing.


a list or collection of the words or phrases of a language, technical field, etc., usually arranged in alphabetical order and defined: Study the vocabulary in the fourth chapter.


the words of a language.


any collection of signs or symbols constituting a means or system of nonverbal communication: vocabulary of a computer.


any more or less specific group of forms characteristic of an artist, a style of art, architecture, or the like.

Vocabulary Terminology

CONTEXTUAL ANALYSIS: A strategy of predicting the meaning of a word from the context it is used in.

EXPRESSIVE VOCABULARY: A writer or speaker creates a specific label for a specific meaning.

MORPHEMIC ANALYSIS: A strategy of determining a word's meaning by looking at parts of the word such as prefixes, suffixes, roots, etc.

RECEPTIVE VOCABULARY: A reader must associate a specific meaning with a given label while reading or listening.

What's Your Favorite Obscure Word? - or comments

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      thanks for sharing your lens..

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      nice information

      thanks for sharing your ideas


    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 

      7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      My favorite obscure word is quark...I like the way they move and being sub-atomic particles it is very difficult for scientist to study their orgin, make up, and mechanics because of their constant movement. They just want be still!

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 

      7 years ago

      Interesting lens...and I have to comment on the comment...I believe a Quire is a quantity of paper folded to make a book, or portion of a book. That's the impression I got from the priont folk while working at North Star Publishing as a salesperson.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens for any person who needs to improve their vocabulary!

    • dotpattern profile image

      Pat Moire 

      7 years ago from West Village, New York City

      Very hard to choose just one! So many lovely phonetic nightmares and typographic letterforms to choose from. My latest favorite is Quire, for the sound and the look of the word. And the meaning? - see the #1 Way To Build Your Vocabulary, above.


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