Quiz: Are you a word whiz? See How Many of These Smarty Pants Words You Can Get Correct!
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Are you a word whiz? See How Many of These Smarty Pants Words You Can Get Correct!
By: Maria Trimarchi
Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Abscond. Magnanimous. Rancor. Can you handle all these words? Well, we've got harder ones coming!

Shakespeare, it's estimated, used about 34,000 words in his writing and communications, but he probably knew closer to 66,000 words. And what about you? Did you know that you learn one new word every one to two days, until you reach middle age? It's true -- it's been found that you'll know 10,000 words by age 8, and by the time you're 20 years old, if you're an average native English speaker, you'll know about 42,000 words, By the time you're ready to retire? You know as many as 48,000 words.

Having a big vocabulary and knowing how to use it, well, that's two different things, isn't it? One way to score well on academic tests like the SAT is to have a good vocabulary -- and to memorize ten-cent words that are considered to be "SAT words," But how much of that is just for the test, and how much of that vocabulary stays with you? Between common nouns and adjectives and verbs, and the jargon that comes from industry or specific interests, there are a lot of words out there to learn. In fact, although each of us have tens of thousands of words at our disposal in our dictionaries, most people typically only use about 5,000 words in their speech, and about double that in written communication.

Having a good vocabulary isn't just going to help you score well on tests -- it's practical, plus, it boosts your powers of persuasion. You'll understand more of what you read and hear, and you'll communicate more effectively, both in speech and in writing. (And now just when it comes to understanding the Bard.) Are you ready to find out if you're a word whiz? Let's get down to it.

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