Having a large vocabulary and correctly using words which can have subtle meanings can expand and nuance your thinking and writing, improving them greatly. The more nuanced and subtle your thinking the more finely-spun your distinctions will be and the clearer your meaning.
In many courses, the purpose of writing a paper, or any written-word assignment, is to convince the professor that you’ve grasped the concepts pertinent to the study, and having a good vocabulary is more convincing to this end than an average vocabulary, no matter the subject.
If you have a smart phone, download a dictionary app such as Merriam-Webster or Dictionary.com. In addition to giving the definitions of words, these apps also have a word-of-the-day feature and an origin feature (which gives a brief synopsis of a word’s etymology); both are helpful. If you do not own a smartphone, keep a pocket dictionary on you. The importance of an expansive vocabulary cannot be overstressed. Educated language has the double advantage of clarity and brevity. The ability to express your ideas clearly and succinctly is a skill invaluable in college and in your career.
It is also just as important, as a way to test your understanding of any given concept, to explain your meaning in plain language, no matter how technical or sophisticated the concept. If your meaning cannot be expressed in words of a few syllables, and relies too heavily on technical jargon, it is likely that the idea isn’t adequately understood, and should be studied until it can be grasped enough to be simply explained.
Merriam-Webster sees an increase at the beginning of the school year of certain words being searched online, and has compiled a list of the “Top Ten Big Words on Campus”:
These Top Ten Big Words on Campus are near and dear to the hearts of educators. Without an understanding of these words, such as “Plagiarize”, you will be doing a disservice to yourself, and could possibly have severely negative consequences if you indeed do, even unknowingly, plagiarize, such as expulsion from school. Digging into the origin of words, understanding their roots and how they were formed, how our ancestors used them (and thus how our ancestors thought), is helpful in understanding the words on a deeper level, rather than just memorizing the word’s meaning. This is beneficial not only in understanding particular words, but in grasping larger concepts in which these words exist and have their meaning.
Your ability to convince any reader of your work that you’ve grasped and understand the subject is markedly improved with an agile and nuanced vocabulary; what some educators refer to as a “purple prose”. Your understanding of words and concepts, and thus your writing and communication ability, can always be improved, which will vastly improve your college and professional careers. In addition to having pragmatic educational and vocational benefits, knowledge of words and their meaning opens up new worlds of understanding, and makes the universe a larger place. For example, “vocabulary” and “vocation” both stem from the same Latin root “vocare”, which means “to name, call”. What is the calling for you and your career? Use our helpful Degree Finder now to find out which subjects really interest you, and request more information.