Word Traveler: Being a word explorer

This feature is for all word lovers as well as those studying for the SAT and seeking to learn new vocabulary.

Be a word explorer. Just as Columbus and other explorers of the past looked for new lands, you should be on the lookout for new words. They are all over the place - the Internet, magazines, newspapers, ads, movies, television, and other people's conversations. Capture them by writing them down as soon as possible. Look them up, too. Dictionary.com even has the Millennium Dictionary full of new words and senses. Look up agroecology, cracked wheat, lavosh, orthorexia, and tweenager.

Be a word detective. Just as Sherlock Holmes and other detectives of the past attempted to uncover facts and secrets, you can be an investigator of words. Look up those new words and read complete entries, especially the etymologies (word history or origin). Make sure you understand the definition and try to find the word in context. Keep a dictionary by the bed, in your backpack, in your purse, in your car. What's the origin of aikido, dormitory, or osmosis?

Be a word user. The best way to make a new word yours is to use it. If you cannot fit it in a conversation, try it in writing - a paper, a diary, an e-mail. The more you use a word that is new to you, the more it will be engrained in your vocabulary. Can you use ubiquitous in a sentence? How about Ursprache? So put on your explorer, detective, and user hats and build a great vocabulary.

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