How to Increase Your Vocabulary for the ASVAB - dummies

How to Increase Your Vocabulary for the ASVAB

By Rod Powers

Your vocabulary naturally grows throughout your life. But if the ASVAB is staring you in the face, you may not want to wait for life’s natural process. Here, you descry omnifarious contrivances to expedite progression of a comprehensive phraseology…or learn how to increase your vocabulary.

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People who read a lot have larger vocabularies than people who don’t read much. It doesn’t matter much what you read, as long as you make it a regular, daily practice. Your reading choices may be action-adventure or romance books for enjoyment, the daily newspaper, magazines, Internet articles and blogs, or even comic books.

When reading online, get into the habit of keeping an extra browser window open and pointed to an online dictionary site, such as If you run into a word you don’t know, you can quickly copy and paste it to the online dictionary.

Talk to people

Other people have vocabularies that differ from yours. If you speak to a variety of people, and you do it often, you’re exposed to a variety of different cultures and occupations, all of which expose you to new words.

Carry a small pocket notebook with you so you can write down new words and look them up in a dictionary later.

Add words to your vocabulary

Make a goal to learn at least one new word per day. A great way to meet that target is to visit or subscribe to one of the many Internet word-of-the-day websites. Here are a few suggestions:

  • You can visit the site daily or subscribe to the word of the day via e-mail.

  • Merriam-Webster Online: A new vocabulary word appears every single day.

  • A.Word.A.Day: Provided by, this free service presents a new word for you to check out every day, or you can subscribe to its e-mail list.

  • The New York Times Word of the Day: The New York Times offers a new word every day, along with an example of how the word was used in a recent New York Times story.

  • The Oxford English Dictionary: In addition to definitions, the page also provides pronunciation, spelling, etymology, and a date chart that shows when the word was first used. The word of the day is also available by e-mail subscription and RSS feed.

Use puzzles and games to improve your vocabulary

A fun way to increase your word knowledge is to do crossword puzzles or play word games. Scrabble and Mad Libs, for example, are great ways to reinforce new vocabulary words. Many online games are available as well, such as Scrabble and Words With Friends. You can improve your vocabulary while having fun playing online games! It’s a win-win.

Work with word lists

Learning a new word every day doesn’t do you much good if you forget it a week later. Learning often requires repetition, and that’s especially true when it comes to memorizing new words.

Just to get you started, here are 50 free words.

Word Part of Speech Meaning
Abrupt Adjective Beginning, ending, or changing suddenly
Acrid Adjective Harshly pungent or bitter
Becalm Verb To make quiet
Buffoon Noun A clown
Chaos Noun Utter disorder and confusion
Cognizant Adjective Taking notice of something
Defer Verb To put off or delay to a later time
Derision Noun The act of ridiculing or making fun of something
Effulgence Noun Great brightness
Enmity Noun Hatred
Famish Verb To cause extreme hunger or thirst
Fealty Noun Loyalty
Generalize Verb To draw general inferences
Grotto Noun A small cavern
Habitual Adjective According to usual practice
Hideous Adjective Extremely ugly or appalling
Ichthyic Adjective Fishlike
Icon Noun An image or likeness
Illusion Noun An unreal image
Irritate Verb To excite ill temper or impatience in something
Jovial Adjective Merry
Juxtapose Verb To place close together
Kernel Noun A grain or seed
Kinsfolk Noun Relatives
Laggard Adjective or noun Falling behind; one who lags behind
Laud Verb To praise
Maize Noun Native American corn
Malevolence Noun Ill will
Nestle Verb To adjust cozily in snug quarters
Novice Noun Beginner
Obese Adjective Exceedingly fat
Obtrude Verb To push or thrust oneself into undue prominence
Pare Verb To cut, shave, or remove the outside from anything
Pedagogue Noun Teacher; one who is fussily academic
Quadrate Verb To make square; to make conform or agree with
Quiescence Noun Quietness
Rancor Noun Malice
Raucous Adjective Loud and rowdy
Sanguine Adjective Cheerfully optimistic; having the color of blood
Sepulcher Noun A burial place
Teem Verb To be full to overflowing
Tenacious Adjective Unyielding
Umbrage Noun Injury or offense
Vacillate Verb To waver
Valid Adjective Founded on truth
Velocity Noun Speed
Wile Noun An act or a means of cunning deception
Wizen Verb To become or cause to become withered or dry
Yokel Noun Country bumpkin
Zealot Noun One who is enthusiastic to an extreme or excessive degree


As far back as 1885, a psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus, who specialized in memory research, published a study that detailed the effective use of flashcards. According to his rules, you should follow these steps:

  1. Review all the cards in the set, looking at each front and back.

    Go through the set several times.

  2. Test and sort.

    Read the front of the card. Try to say what’s written on the back. If you’re wrong, put the card in a “wrong” pile. Do the same for each card until the cards are sorted into “right” and “wrong” piles.

  3. Review the “wrong” pile.

    Read each card in the “wrong” pile, front and back. Go through the “wrong” pile several times.

  4. Test and sort with the “wrong” pile.

    Go through the cards of the “wrong” pile, testing yourself with them and sorting them into “right” and “wrong” piles just as you did with all the cards in Step 2. Keep working with the cards of the “wrong” pile until they’re all in the “right” pile.