I usually use thesauruses, but they're only good for synonyms. I also tried using visual dictionary, but they don't really help you expand your vocabulary that much. For example, if you type flower, you won't get all of the words related to them including parts of the plant and names of various plants falling under that category.

I found this, but then again it doesn't include everything you would want, and it's a bit confusing to use.


When looking for flower, you don't get anther, corolla, pistils, sepal, calyx, stamen, filament, ovary, ovule, peduncle, etc., so you can see it doesn't quite work as it's supposed to work, so I was wondering if you knew anything better?

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    Learn from my error: don't read a dictionary cover to cover. That way leads to madness and confusion. Dictionaries may claim to note what is regional and what is archaic. However, those claims were most accurate when the dictionary was being researched, and for printed dictionaries, that's always going to be some time ago. Electronic dictionaries aren't so amenable to the cover to cover approach. Language is dynamic; some regional words go mainstream, some common words become archaic or regional. It's all in flux. – Ed Grimm Feb 9 '19 at 4:35
  • However, by using rare words you are risking to be not understood. – rus9384 Feb 9 '19 at 9:42
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    Number one way to increase your vocabulary: Find a good book and read it. Rinse and repeat. – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Feb 9 '19 at 17:32
  • This sounds like a language learning question. See How can I expand my active vocabulary? on Language Learning Stack Exchange, which accepts questions about improving one's native language skills. – user28941 Feb 9 '19 at 19:35

Read. Read. Read.

When you are reading something (fiction, non-fiction, periodicals, blogs, instant messages from your friends, bulletin boards in public places, the menu in the café or restaurant), you are getting exposed to new words all the time. Sometimes, the meanings are guessable based on context. Sometimes, the meanings are guessable, based on context and root words. Sometimes, the meanings are not guessable at all based on context. You have to look the term up in the dictionary.

Pursue academic and intellectual hobbies.

Maybe you like reading about languages and linguistics. Maybe you like reading about theology and philosophy. Maybe you like reading about astrophysics. Whatever your academic interests are, you pursue them by reading peer-reviewed scholarly literature. If you go to university, then you may be assigned to read a lot of peer-reviewed scholarly literature. If you wish to do a research thesis, then you have to do a lot of reading and a lot of writing, and you have to speak the technical language so that other people will take you seriously.

If you go into chess club as a high school student, then you should expect chess-related terms. If you go into creative writing club as a high school student, then you should expect creative-writing-related terms. If you go into computer programming and software design, then you will be acquainted with lots of programming-related terms. And you learn them all contextually.

English can be a tricky language

One of the big trickiness of English is that there is really strong preference for making a whole different, seemingly unrelated word. Take your examples.

anther, corolla, pistils, sepal, calyx, stamen, filament, ovary, ovule, peduncle, etc

How are they related? Look up the etymologies!

anther: early 18th century: from French anthère or modern Latin anthera, from Greek anthēra ‘flowery’, from anthos ‘flower’.

corolla: late 17th century (in the sense ‘little crown’): from Latin, diminutive of corona ‘wreath, crown, chaplet’.

pistils: early 18th century: from French pistile or Latin pistillum ‘pestle’.

anther: 花药

corolla: 花冠

pistils: 雌蕊

In the Chinese language, the fact that the terms are all related to plants is pretty obvious. The 艹 part (grass radical) is telling.

Arguably, if you look up the etymologies in English or look up the meanings of Chinese characters, then they may actually help you remember the information. And of course, if you look at a flower diagram, you should label the flower diagram with flower anatomy terms. That way, you can remember the flower anatomy.

That's the easy part. If you take college anatomy class, then you'll have to remember a whole list of Latin words; and you may have to use mnemonics like "Oh, Oh, Oh, To Touch And Feel Virgin Girls Vagina And Hymen" for the cranial nerves.

  • Added notes in this direction: I tend to find Wikipedia helpful for targetted vocabulary growth, though any books about the subject will help a lot more than a dictionary. It's slower, but you learn the ins and outs better. – Ed Grimm Feb 9 '19 at 4:40
  • they're related, because they are parts of the flowers. – repomonster Feb 9 '19 at 12:50

And keep reading.

Your example are parts of a flower. To have the thesaurus list those words under flower would be like expecting it to list foot, elbow, humerus, tibia, leg, shin, calf,head, nose, etc under a listing for man.

As Double U suggests - read. If you really want to improve your vocabulary, read older works. Sadly, there has been significant pressure towards the dumbing down of English. Journalists once used precise words, but now they must be certain that even the poorly educated among their readership will comprehend it.

Parents used to encourage their children to expand their vocabulary. If their son said something was great, the parent might ask if they can think of a better word than great.

People with a more extensive vocabulary are asked why they use five dollar words when simple words mean the same thing. Simple words have fewer shades of meaning and less precision.

Read the classics. They will entertain you and elevate you, improving your vocabulary in the process.

My grandfather owned a set of encyclopedias and spent the winter reading them A to Z. He became a fount of trivia, his vocabulary improved and he improved his awareness of the world in which he lived.

Back when I was young and facing the SATs, one of my classmates asked how we were to study for it. The teacher told us, only by being well read. Later, SAT prep companies cropped up, guaranteeing to raise your score significantly so that the right university would be interested in you. Being well read, I took comfort from that and knew that my classmate, who had read little aside from the required reading, had a problem.

Read as much as you can, but reach back in time too. Read the account of the loss of the Titanic and you will surely note that those journalists use terms rarely if ever seen in modern journalism.

Sign up for a word of the day app. Keep reading and learning - it ought to be a lifelong pursuit.


There is this website called Mariam Webster and if you subscribe to them they will send you a new word every day by email. I've been subscribed to them for almost a year now and I learned so many new words from them.

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