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Vocabulary Place

Knowing vocabulary words is an important part of understanding a story.  Unfortunately, most of us don't have time to stop and look up a word every time we find one we don't know.  Preparing students for difficult words can help them better understand the story.    In this section I have words that appear in various stories and their definitions.  I also have a page of ideas for helping students better retain their vocabulary.

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There are many activities that can help students better remember their vocabulary words.  There are a few guidelines that can help a teacher plan for vocabulary instruction.  The guidelines are a) instruction should help relate new words to words the student already knows b) Instruction should help students learn more about words in general c) Instruction should include active participation from students and d) Instruction should teach students strategies for learning new words on their own.
These are just guidelines, and many different vocabulary techniques can be effective.  Here are several examples:
  1. Show videos with captioning that can help reinforce terms.
  2. Have students make a video where they illustrate the definition of a word.
  3. Have students create vocabulary quizzes for one another using a computer
  4. Have students bring in words that they would like to study.
  5. Word Walls--recently learned words are recorded on sheets of paper that are affixed to the classroom wall.  While daydreaming, they're also staring at vocab words!
  6. Pictographs--have students draw a symbol or small picture to represent a word's definition.
  7. Graphic organizers--the word goes in the center with webs that cover defintion, synonyms, antonyms, examples, etc.
  8. Categories--students are given several vocabulary words that fit into various categories.  They look up the definition of the word and then place it in the correct category.
  9. Vocabulary charades--students pick a vocabulary word at random from a bowl.  They act it out for other students to guess.
  10. Word origins--organize a group of vocabulary words that come from a certain area, for example, farming.  Write all the words that apply and then work with students to understand their origin. 


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Accentuate-draw attention to

Accretion-to increase in size, addition

Accrue—gather together, increase

Acquisitive—eager to own things, quick to learn


Amateur—someone who does things for pleasure, not money; someone who hasn’t done something before

Amiable—friendly and pleasant

Anecdote—a short personal story

Arcane—difficult or hard to understand

Ascend—move upward, climb

Assiduous—very careful

Audacity—boldness or daring; lack of respect


Barren—bare, not able to grow things; unable to have children

Blight—something that spoils or damages things

Buoy—to keep something up (v); an object that floats in the water (n)

Burgeon—grow quickly, flourish



Cavernous—very large and empty, like a cavern


Cipher—written in code

Clamor—to demand noisily; shout


Commodity—a traded item; useful thing

Condescend—to act better than someone else; to do something that normally you feel too important to do

Conjecture—guess; something based on a guess

Conjunction—combining several things, things happening at the same time

Contagious—able to be passed to others through contact; likely to affect others

Contemplate—consider; think about

Contempt—hatred or disgust

Conspirator—member of a group planning something (usually illegal)

Convivial—pleasant, sociable

Cryptic—mysterious, secret

Curt—rudely brief, terse


Debase—to make something lower in quality

Delineate—describe, draw, portray visually

Demeanor—someone’s manner or appearance

Dexterous—good with your hands

Diminish—to make smaller

Discreet—careful not to offend people; good at keeping secrets; subtle

Dormant—not actively growing; not active; sleeping

Dumbfounded—make speechless


Elude—avoid; escape

Entreat—plead, beg

Excruciating—very painful, hard to bear

Exploit—to take advantage of someone or something


Fastidious—concerned with details, exacting

Feign—pretend; copy

Fetid—something with a rotten or offensive smell


Fjord—narrow dips into a coast

Flabbergasted—shock someone completely

Futile—with no useful result


Gastritis—inflammation of the stomach lining

Gingerly—very cautiously

Gracious—kind and polity; elegant and comfortable


Hiatus—pause, break


Impromptu—done without preparation

Inconsequential—not important



Inextricable—impossible to escape from; unable to untangle

Ingenuous—innocent; honest

Ingratiate—to try to please someone; kiss up

Initiate—to start something; to someone about something new


Kosher—pure; lawful or proper; real


Lenient—not harsh


Luminous—brightly lit; emitting or reflecting light

Luscious—sweet and juicy; desirable; romantic and emotional


Malleable—easily influenced; able to shaped and bent

Mallow—flowering plant


Marvel—be amazed


Mimic—copy something; imitate somebody


Modulate—alter something, change sound

Mortician—funeral director



Oratorio—religious, classical music

Ostentatious—rich and showy

Ostracized—removed from society, excluded; banish


Penchant—strong liking or tendency toward something


Perpetual—lasting forever; occurring repeatedly; blooming throughout

Pilfer—steal small items of little value

Pilgrimage—religious journey; trip to a special place

Placate—make someone less angry

Posterity—people in the future; descendants

Premonition—warning about the future

Preoccupy—fill someone’s thoughts

Prospective—likely to happen

Provincial—narrow-minded, unsophisticated


Raucous—unpleasantly loud

Recalcitrant—hard to do or handle; resisting control

Regime—form of government; controlling group; established system

Rescind—cancel something

Resurrect—raise someone from the dead; bring something back


Ruinous—damaging, decayed

Rustic—plain and simple; country-like; made of rough branches


Serration—notches like saw teeth

Servitude—state of slavery, work to be done as a punishment

Sheepish—embarrassed, timid

Simultaneously—at the same time

Sodden—very wet, drunk

Solace—relief from emotional stress; source of comfort

Speculate—guess; consider something

Staccato—in quick, separate notes

Subjugation—putting one person under the control of another

Sully—spoil, make dirty

Symposium—formal meeting, published collection of opinions

Synapse—gap between nerve endings


Taunt—make fun of someone

Teem--full of; rain heavily

Temporal—relating to time

Tenuous—weak; extremely delicate

Tenure—permanent status (usually for a university professor)

Thwarted—prevent something from being successful

Timpani—drums in an orchestra



Unbidden—not wished for; not asked for or invited


Vicinity—surrounding area; near

Vigil—night watch; religious services at night

Vigilant—watchful, alert

Viscous—thick and sticky