"Give them the gift of words"

One Word A Day – Start Improving Your Vocabulary Now!





You don’t need an expensive tutor or a five-year plan in order to improve your vocabulary. All you need is the determination to learn just one word a day.

One word a day doesn’t sound like much, does it? If you’re wondering how this works, read on!

Read

Today more than ever, your access to quality online content is super easy, super instant. You can read on your tablet or your smartphone on the way to work, you can read a print book in the park, and you can read at home while taking a bath or listen to an audio book while you’re cooking.

In other words, there are no excuses here when it comes to finding the time to read. So grab a book (or download one, whichever is your thing) and delve right into a story.

Even if you read just a few pages, you will probably stumble upon a new word or phrase. Look it up and try to use it that day or the next day. This way you will be able to recall and use your new vocabulary again when the circumstances call for it.

Dictionaries are your new best friend

I’m not talking about the bulky dictionaries that seem to weigh as much as a car. I’m talking about an app you can download on your smartphone or tablet so that you have an offline dictionary at your disposal at any given time.

Whether at school, college, or work, the world’s knowledge will be literally at your fingertips. When you come across a word you don’t know, tap the app, learn what the word means and how to use it, and go back to your life. It doesn’t get easier than this!

Subscribe to a word a day service

To help you stick to your a word a day pledge, do the most sensible thing possible: subscribe to a service that provides exactly that. Most online dictionaries offer this feature, usually in the form of a daily email. Here are a few you should give a try:

Dictionary.com: Word of The Day

Merriam-Webster Dictionary: Word of The Day

WordSmith.Org: Word A Day

Don’t wait any longer. Start improving your vocabulary today!


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How Did April Get Its Name?





Ever wonder why the months are named the way they are? What is it about the last month of the year that makes “December” an apt name for it? What about April and March – what are their stories?

We know for certain that for August through December, the months’ name correspond to their order of appearing in the year. September was the seventh month, October the eighth and so on, back when March was the first month of the year. However, April’s name has nothing to do to its position in the sequence.

April, the blossoming of Nature

The most prevalent theory as to how April got its name says that it goes back to the Latin word ‘aprilis’ and the verb ‘aperire,’ both of which denote an opening, to open, or blossom. This is a well-grounded hypothesis considering that April is the time when both animals and nature resume their activities after the long winter. Signaling this activity by naming the month after it seems like a sensible thing to do.

Another theory, however, says that ‘April’ got its name from the Greek goddess of Beauty and Love, Aphrodite. Again, this could be seen as an attempt to denote the beauty of this time of the year as the trees and flowers begin to blossom, showing off their radiant colors.

April is a month commonly mentioned in literary works, music and other forms of oral culture and arts. T. S. Eliot’s Waste Land opens with the line: “April is the cruellest month” and George Orwell’s 1984 novel opens with this strong image:

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks  were striking thirteen.”

April Proverbs and Sayings

Cultures around the world have proverbs about the month of April that help us better understand the significance and role it had to play in their daily lives.

“March Winds and April showers bring forth May flowers”

This well-known proverb perfectly illustrates how the weather in March and April ensures the abundance of May and early summer.

This proverb signals the anticipation of spring and all the images this conjures up of blossoming flowers and buzzing nature. In many countries and especially the UK and Ireland, April has heavy rain (or ‘April showers’) due to the jet stream.  The Spanish face the same phenomenon as illustrated by their own saying which is very similar: “En abril, aguas mil.” This proverb says that during the month of April, there’s a lot of rain, ‘millions of water.’

In previous centuries when people use to forecast weather based on the weather of particular days and months, April was among the months whose weather was under scrutiny. Such forecasts include:

– After a wet April, a dry June

– Fogs in April, floods in June

– Moist April, clear June.

At the same time, the French have a saying that counsels patience. The proverb says that April is not yet the time to don your summer outfits:

-En avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil.

The French caution you not to put away your winter clothes yet as cold is still a fact.

Is there a special proverb or saying in your language about April? Let us know in the comments below!


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How Months Got Their Names (HINT: Gods Are Involved!)





Ever wondered how the months got their names? Then read on!

January

The first month of the year is named after the Roman god Janus, the god in charge of beginnings and passages. This was an apt name for January as it marked a review of the year that just ended and the optimism associated with a new year ahead.

February

This month took its name from ‘februa’, the cultural practice taking place halfway through the month. The Februa feast culminated between the 15th and 13th centuries as a form of ritual purification.

March

This one is easy! March got its name from the god of war, Mars. Several cultural practices devoted to Mars were taking place around this season, hence the name.

April

This name was presumably derived from the Latin word ‘aprillis’ coming from the verb aperio, which means “to open.” Given the agricultural focus of civilizations thousands of years ago, April was a busy, thriving month for farmers that signaling the opening of new agricultural possibilities ahead.

May

The fifth month is named after Maia, a goddess who, according to Greek mythology is Hermes’ mother and Atlas’ daughter. She was celebrated as a deity with a nurturing, motherly attitude.

June

Named after the Roman goddess, Juno, June is a month dedicated to marriage, childbirth and women’s well-being. Often Juno was associated with her Greek counterpart, Hera.

July

Named after Julius Caesar as a way to commemorate him, July is the first month of the calendar year not named after a deity, and it’s the month Caesar was born in.

Now let’s take a breather and a brief history lesson to understand the naming of the remaining months.

Hundreds of years back, the Romans had only ten months. These were what we now know as March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December. They also had a dead or idle period of about 60 days in which nothing major happened , at least not anything related to agriculture.

So, according to the Roman year, the year started in March and ended about 60 days after the end of December.  So considering that March was the first month, that makes August the sixth, September the seventh and so forth.

Now, Numa Pompilius, the King of Rome 2,700 or so years ago, decided to spice things up a bit. He said that the year should start earlier than March, and so he divided and named that dead winter time, creating January and February.

August, September, October, November, December

Before being named August, the six month was known as Sextilis (the ‘sixth’, see history lesson above). It was renamed as August in honor of the first Roman emperor.

September is the seventh month, October is the eighth month, November the ninth and of course, December, the tenth. These all come from the Latin words for those numbers: septem, octo, novem, decem.

Now you know why months are named the way they are!


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Social Media, Interaction and A Lot More Knowledge From What’s Next Blog Author BL Ochman





BL Ochman


Internationally-known internet marketer, blogger, and consultant B.L. Ochman has the ability to help clients move their business into the online marketplace – and then to make a success of that online business. Not only that, she’s created some online best-sellers herself! In a recent interview, she talked about a few of her favorite projects.

UV: You have helped worldwide companies like IBM and Budget Car Rental develop and succeed in their social media campaigns. Are the problems that huge multinationals face the same as those that a 20-year-old hopeful web entrepreneur would have to deal with too?

No not really.

Large multinational companies have huge marketing budgets compared to 20-year-old hopefuls. The goals are the same because they want to protect their reputation and have engagements with their clients. But, the way that a big company has to go about it is different because they are generally so siloed. So, my work to IBM, and so on, has been to interrupt those siloed to get people to talk to each other.

For example, when I went to a very large publishing company, I found that there were different people handling different PR in different divisions who have never met. They were essentially working on the same projects with different budgets & tools. Once they were introduced to each other, they were able to pool their resources and learn from each other this resulted to an ongoing open communication.

In a big company, I always start from the bottom-up. Learning what everybody’s level of understanding is of  social media and marketing in regard to their jobs and responsibilities helps me formulate recommendations for changes. I love with working with entrepreneurs because they’re more likely to be open-minded and willing to experiment.

Getting everything done in bigger companies is really challenging. If you work with small companies or you work with entrepreneurs, you can get things moving quickly.

UV: Part of public relations is knowing how to make a quick and successful connection with each client so that you’re communicating with them directly (or at least give them the impression that you are) and that means knowing the right words to use. What new vocabulary skills do online entrepreneurs need to develop to really get the most out of social media?

They need the willingness to put in some time. Communication is a must in social media since it is the new customer relationship marketing. But there’s no magic quick way to establish traction and interaction in social media.

The first thing that I have to  explain to every business I work with, is that social media is not advertising and not a broadcast medium. Everyone should be willing to create actual relationships by having conversations. I use the 12-to-1 rule: twelve times you help other people, provide information that is useful for them and one time you promote yourself.

I teach people it is more than telling people what you want to tell them.  You have to tell people things that they will want to share. What companies and individuals share are quite different from each other. And I strongly advise my clients not to include press releases in their blogs or social media posts. When did anyone ever share a press release in social media – unless they were making fun of it.

“Don’t forget you have a day job.” I believe Cisco was the first company to include that statement in their social media policy. If you go rogue on social media, there are consequences for that. The thing that every company needs, both large and small, is training on how to use social media.

One client said they don’t care whether it’s bots that are following them on Twitter as long as they get big numbers. What is the point of that? I told them that I would rather have engagement with 100 real people than a thousand who are spammers and bots. I zap the bots and spammers every day in my Twitter account and in the ones I run for clients.

UV: What’s the story behind the name of your website “What’s Next Blog”?

I had a print newsletter called “What’s Next”, it was a $350 a year subscription public relations newsletter with thousands of subscribers. But, as soon as I saw the internet (which was around 1995), I was so seduced by it and that I moved my newsletter online. I started blogging in  2002.

That absolute minute that I could have a blog on WordPress, I started What’s Next BlogIn my experience, the more you give, the more you get back. I don’t worry about giving away with information because information does not mean anything until it is shared.

Also, I just love to write. What’s Next Blog is just my way of sharing the information I know to my readers and subscribers. Research and writing is fun for me.

UV: Another website you started, Pawfun.com is for pet lovers, so you probably have pets of your own. What motivated you to create this website?

I actually have a dog and a cat, and I adore them both. Pawfun is more of a hobby.  

I started Pawfun.com 8 years ago and the idea originally was to help people create t-shirts with pictures of their pet. However, once you own a t-shirt with your pet’s photo, when will you buy another? So, it wasn’t really a sustainable business.  People can use the interface to make e-cards with pictures of their pets and send them.

UV: Finally, we have to ask the logical question:  What’s next?

In addition to adding video to your marketing mix, it is definitely paying attention to the new Google AboutMeProfileGoogle for some reason has named your profile “AboutMe” even though there is a long-term website called “About Me”. I wrote a blog post explaining it http://www.whatsnextblog.com/what-you-must-know-about-google-about-me-profile/

So now, it is Google About Me and that is where your real Google profile is going to reside. That profile is going to be part of every Google platform that you use, whether it be Youtube, Google Play or any Google platform. Whatever platform you use, that bio will go with you. That bio also will have an impact on your search optimization. That is definitely what’s next, along with Snapchat, Vine and Facebook livestreaming.

Everything that Google do is an experiment. Therefore, we should always keep an eye with their updates.


B.L. Ochman is a uniquely experienced digital pioneer who has been helping blue chip brands incorporate social media into their marketing strategy since 1996. She blogs at What’s Next Blog, co-hosts and produces the award-winning Beyond Social Media Show podcast and contributes to AdAge DigitalNext. On Twitter, she’s @whatsnext.

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Why Are Wikipedia Pages At Number 1 In Google Search Results?




Elizabeth Farquhar



Wikipedia is “a vast site with millions of pages and thousands of editors offering unique vital content on multitudes of subject matters,” the SEO specialists at UK-based Intelligent Positioning admitted back in 2012, but that didn’t stop them from questioning exactly why Wikipedia pages pop up in the #1 position most of the time when people use search engines like Google.

The team of SEO consultants and researchers used a list of one thousand randomly-generated nouns, and then used each one as a separate search term. (While they did test other search engines, the focus was primarily on Google.) They tabulated the results and found that just under 56% of searches put the Wikipedia entry for that term at the top of the list, and a link to at least one Wikipedia article was on Google’s Page 1 listing in 99% of the searches.

The team had no argument when using words related to major scientific concepts, historical events, or geographical features resulted in top-ranked Wikipedia pages, because those pages were generally full of useful, relevant information. However, they state that “there are ultimately flaws in Google’s offering of Wikipedia content” when a word like “Air” generates a list with Wikipedia’s disambiguation page at the #2 spot. They argue that pages like this should not be ranked so highly by Google, because they’re only clusters of links designed to lead users to the information they’re actually looking for on another page entirely.

On the other hand, you could also argue that a disambiguation page is actually a better way to find information. Instead of scrolling through a list that might go over two pages on a search engine display, and might be ranked in a fairly random order, users get a concise, organized list that helps them quickly find the precise reference they need. In other words, the disambiguation page is just like an index to an encyclopedia – and that’s exactly what Wikipedia is.

Yes, search engine marketing is a huge business (over $24 billion in the United States alone this year so far) and anyone can pay to bump their web page up in the rankings, but not everyone can afford to spend that kind of money year after year. It’s better to build a good, solid website that your customers will return to over and over, and set up an informative Wikipedia page on your company that will direct people to your website and to information about your products. For example, eReflect’s Wikipedia page gives you links to recent reviews of the company’s award-winning software.

Once you know how to use Wikipedia to benefit you and your business, you’ll appreciate the fact that Wikipedia pages consistently rank at number 1 in Google search results.


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Everything You Need To Know About March Is Here





March took its name from the Roman god Mars, the God of War, and it’s the third month in the Gregorian calendar year observed throughout the world. But that’s not all there is to it. Let’s see what else is worth knowing about March.

At one point, March was the first month of the year

March was named after the god Mars and it has 31 days. It wasn’t always the third month in the calendar year, though.

In fact, March used to be the first month of the year, due to the Vernal Equinox that takes place around March 20th every year, which was considered the official start of Spring. Many cultures still celebrate the New Year in March, including several regional Hinduist cultures in India, Nepal and  those observing Sikhism.

March symbolism and special days

The March birth flowers are the daffodil and violet, while one of its birthstones, bloodstone, stands for courage.

Little-known facts about March

Another name for March in Old English was “Hlyda’’ which means ‘loud’ or ‘roaring’ – presumably as a way of describing this month’s winds and stormy, volatile weather.

March is American Red Cross Month. During this month-long observance the organization raises awareness on the practices and activities of the Red Cross, inviting people to get to know its mission and to become part of the organization as a way of helping others through donations of funds and blood, volunteering, and other forms of support to communities in need across the United States.

If you’re born in March then you are either a Pisces (February 19 to March 20) or an Aries (March 21 to April 19).

In Britain, the New Year was celebrated on March 25th until the 18th century. It wasn’t until 1752 when the British started to celebrate the New Year according to the Gregorian Calendar, that is, on January 1st.

Sayings

If someone calls you ‘’mad as a March hare” they’re referring to some wild, uncontrollable behavior of yours  that resembles that of male hares during the mating season in March.

Another proverb that marks the significance of March as a passing from winter to spring is “March comes in a like a lion and goes out like a lamb”.

“March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers,” is another proverb in the English language tightly associated with the weather of the season and how March is the onset of spring, awakening, and growth. This proverb is quite often used in its condensed form:

“April showers bring May flowers.”

March is a colorful month that carries the excitement for spring and summer. Its humble show-offs of flowers blooming and trees waking up, gives rise to an attitude full of optimism and momentum for many people.

Is there any special event you’re planning to celebrate this March? Share it with us!

Spelling Activities To Improve Your Spelling Skills Fast





Spelling is fun.  Really, it is! But if you find spelling practice boring or repetitive, it’s probably because you’re using the wrong activities. Here are some ways to spice up your spelling practice and become a Master Speller in no time.

Word Sorting: Learn Words in Groups

To learn difficult or hard to remember spellings you can practice word sorting.  Word sorting helps you develop phonemic awareness so that you can know how a sound translates into a word.

For instance, phonemic awareness lets you know that the letter A has two pronunciations. Sometimes it’s pronounced with a short vowel sound (as in ‘mat’) and sometimes with a long vowel sound (as in ‘gate’), but in both cases it’s simply written as the letter ‘a.’

Another example is grouping words by their suffixes, or other similar characteristics. You might make up a list with a group of words ending in the letters –cious. You could also choose to learn a list of words where the letter K is silent, as in ‘knight’ and ‘knee.’

When you truly understand spelling patterns, you will be able to apply these when spelling unknown words. One such spelling pattern could be the soft and hard G.

The letter G is pronounced “hard” in words such as gate, gap, goat and grow but “soft” in words such as gym and giraffe.

You can learn this sound-letter pattern with this rule:

When followed by A, O, or U, the G is pronounced with a “hard” sound.

When G is followed by I or E or Y, then the sound is “soft.”  

Knowing these letter patterns helps you correctly guess the spelling of an unknown word when you hear it pronounced out loud. You will be able to decipher that the correct spelling of ‘gymnastics’ is with a G and not a J, because you’ll recognize the pattern and remember the rule.

This technique of word sorting can be applied to a number of spelling activities. You can learn spelling with groups of words like these:

1) Learning words ending in –at and –an, as in the case of ‘pat’ and ‘pan’

2) Words with a silent E such as ‘cake’, ‘love’, ‘dove’ and ‘jove’

3) Learning words with diphthongs, such as ‘oy’ and ‘ow’

4) Learning the difference between the long and short A sounds in words like ‘hat’ and ‘safe’

Spelling patterns help you make generalized rules on how spelling works. Implementing these rules, once you know them, helps you arrive at the correct spelling of new words.

Once your phonological awareness is expanded through this technique, you can start practicing with games and spelling activities to consolidate that knowledge.

Spelling Knowledge Consolidation: Spelling 24/7

In order for you to truly master spelling you need to practice in a consistent yet fun manner. In fact, you can incorporate spelling practice in almost everything you do! Here are some ways to do it:

Gather together newspaper clips or online content and look for spelling words you’ve learned in the previous week or two. Seeing words in context helps you form a mental image of the correctly-spelled word.

Create a story based on the words you’ve just learned, or use them to practice the one you learned a while back. Collect 5 to 10 words and create a short narrative with them.  The more creative and funny the story, the more enjoyable this will be.

Shrink your spelling “black list” by studying your frequently misspelled words using a technique called “spelling stairs.” In this process, you start with the first letter, then add a single letter at a time until you form your word, like this:

T

Ta

Tab

Tabl

Table

Tablet

Play online spelling games and take advantage of the hundreds of spelling games that are variations of classic word games and spelling activities, like Scramble and Hangman. When you’re having fun, you’ll enjoy the practice, and you’ll spend more time at it.

Mnemonics: The Expert’s Technique

Invent mnemonics for tough words to help you remember them. Sometimes, no matter how much you study a word you always seem to get it wrong, and mnemonic techniques can help. For example, say you always misspell the word ‘dilemma.’ Create a mnemonic for it that helps you remember the correct spelling, like this one:

Emma faced a dilemma.

Here’s another example: you can memorize the sentence “Goofy George always exaggerates” to remember to spell ‘exaggerate’ with a double G.


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Words That Are Their Own Opposites





What would you say if I told you that go means both proceed and stop? You’d probably think I’ve lost my mind. Then you’d probably go tell everyone you’ve met a weird person.

The English language is so wonderfully chaotic that its actually beautiful. After all, what other language contains so many words that mean two entirely different things?

English is trolling itself – and boy, is it fun to watch.

Terrific

This word didn’t initially mean what it does now. We used to call things that induced terror and fear ‘terrific’.

Today, ‘terrific’ – just like ‘awesome’ which used to mean inspiring fear and awe – has lost its majesty and has become an exaggerated intensifier.

We use ‘terrific’ daily to refer to both trivial and uneventful activities and events. (So when your boss tells you, “You’ve done a terrific job!” you might want to think about whether he’s messing with you.)

Apology

Apart from its most popular meaning, which is to express one’s regret for doing or saying something bad, apology has another meaning.

It also refers to the defense of oneself against others’ accusations. So to give an apology can go two ways: the modest one where you acknowledge your failure or mistake, or the one in which you defend your integrity.

First Degree

There are two ways to use this phrase. If you say, ‘I’m lucky I only got a first degree burn,”  that’s a good thing. The redness and irritation is superficial and you will heal soon. But if someone is charged with a first degree murder, things won’t be going very well in the near future for them.

A first degree burn is minor, a first degree murder is a premeditated homicide.

Reservation

You might have a reservation for the finest new Chinese restaurant in town, or have your reservations about whether the wait will be too long if you just walk in.

Reservation can either mean making a commitment to a task, or expressing your hesitation or reluctance over something or someone.

Tremendous

Here’s another word like ‘terrific’ to add to your list.  We call things or events ‘tremendous’ and ‘tremendously good’ to signify just how positive or super they are. However, just like ‘terrific’, tremendous’ used to mean terrifying and fearful.

Smart

In Shakespeare’s time if someone referred to you as ‘smart’ they were explaining how much pain you cause them.

In Old English, smart described things that caused people pain, like a weapon or a nail. It was gradually imbued with subtly similar connotations like sharpness and quickness, Mental Floss’ Arika Okrent explains, only to end up being a synonym for someone that’s fashionable and witty.

Top

This word means either to put something on top of something else, or to remove the top of something. Confused? Here are two usage examples:

She topped the tree to boost its growth.

Marvel’s new superhero movie topped the box office rankings.

Facetious

Once upon a time, facetious meant having grace and elegance. A facetious person was someone witty, humorous or amusing. While it is still used to refer to such people, it’s most predominant meaning is now a negative one.

Today, a facetious person is someone who’s being humorous in an annoying or trivial manner.

Variety

Amusingly enough (or maybe not, depending on where you stand on words having the same definition as their opposites) variety can mean an assortment of different things – as well as one thing only. Let me explain with an example:

Our organic chocolate store has a variety of sugar-free chocolates, but only one variety is made with stevia.

Egregious

A few years ago if someone characterized you as ‘egregious’ they extolled your virtues. Today, if someone thinks you’re egregious they’re emphasizing just how extraordinarily shocking, outrageous, or disgusting your actions are in one way or another.

Cull

Cull means either to select the best out of a set or to take out the inferior or bad ones. For example, you cull the best works of an author for an anthology you plan to publish. But you also cull the bad apples from the harvest, and throw them away.

Secrete

When a flower secretes aromas, pleasant smells fill the air; these aromas manifest themselves. But when a treasure is secreted then it is hidden or concealed.

When you think about it, English is a very convenient language – you get two meanings for each of these words. A language bargain!


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Vocab1 guarantees to help you increase your vocabulary knowledge! Learn more words and apply them in your writings.