A Dictionary – The Number One Most Important Tool for Writers

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Good writing really boils down to the smart use of words. Yet, a surprising number of writers often use the wrong word to describe something, or they simply reuse the same words till their copy drones on like a bad sitcom rerun. The fix is simple, and it actually predates all computers and related technology: It’s the dictionary.

First created in 1604, this ever-expanding diary of our language is still the best way to decipher word meanings and learn new terms. In fact, the average English speaker knows only 60,000 of the approximately one million words in the English language. Note that dictionaries can be used for purposes other than looking up a word.

For example, you can find statistics on population, locate lists of famous or historical people, or learn how words are pronounced. If you use an online dictionary, you can even take advantage of the audio content to hear the correct pronunciation of different words.

So our tip this month is to spend a few minutes each day improving your vocabulary. Get yourself access to a quality dictionary, whether it’s a traditional printed book, an online version, an app, or a search-engine based definition (that’s where you simply ask a search engine like Google to define a specific word). Then, make a goal to learn and use one new word a week. Not only will your working vocabulary expand, your writing will become more original and interesting.

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