"Give them the gift of words"


How an Excellent English Vocabulary Gives You Power

Categories: ESL Vocabulary, SAT Vocabulary, Vocabulary Building Words, Vocabulary for Success | Tags:

When you have a good command of English, and know a wide variety of powerful and expressive vocabulary words, you’ll have the ability to effectively communicate with people in any situation. Knowing the right word to use at exactly the right time is like having a magic wand that allows you to change and control situations to get the results you want.

In fairy tales and mythology, people with extraordinary powers were often called wizards. The word comes from the Middle English word for “wise” (wys). Wisdom comes in many forms, from learned behaviors to acquired skills to comprehensive knowledge on one or more topics. When you’re able to use words skillfully, you present an image of someone who is wise, and who has complete confidence in their knowledge of the topic. When this is the image you project to your audience, they’ll believe in your wisdom, listen attentively, and be open to your ideas and suggestions.

A good way to gain more skill with English vocabulary is to spend some time studying the history of a word, and what root words it comes from. This helps you expand both your knowledge of that word in particular, and in general of the words related to and connected to the specific word you’re studying. Equally important is the knowledge of which words are not related to each other, though they seem to share the same origins. Linguists call these pairs “false cognates” – the words wizard and wizen form one such pair.

If you look at the history of the word wizened (an adjective meaning “shriveled, shrunken”) you’ll see that it comes from a completely different root, unrelated to the word “wise.” Instead, this word has its origins in the Old English verb wisnian, meaning “to dry up, wither.” A plant that doesn’t get enough nutrients or water might look wizened: frail, desiccated, and not standing up straight. This adjective is sometimes used to refer to people as well when they’re very old, and their skin is dry and wrinkled, their body is shrunken and stooped over, and in general they have a very frail appearance.

As time goes by and you acquire more knowledge of English vocabulary and how to best use it, you’ll start to see the magic of words.