Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Taking Control of YOUR Vocabulary: Comedy Edition

By Dan Altano

Preparing for the verbal sections of the SAT or GRE can be overwhelming. The day finally comes when you decide to quit procrastinating and buckle down on studying, but before you know it you're staring helplessly at a massive list of big words that you don't use on a daily basis. "Now what?" you ask yourself once your head stops spinning. Well, unfortunately, there aren't many ways around itto get a good SAT and GRE score you need to know your vocabulary. But how to begin?

The answer to your question may be in an unexpected place: your funny bone. Laughter may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you're thinking about SAT and GRE vocabulary retention, but for lots of VocabSlammers, comedy and vocabulary is a match made in test score heaven. Having fun with words lightens the burden of studying and makes the whole process much more enjoyable.

VocabSlam and Comedy

No matter what kind of sense of humor you have, making yourself laugh can be instrumental to retaining vocabulary. Maybe you like slapstick comedy where people smash into walls and slip on banana peels or maybe you have more of a sarcastic wit. Either way, It all boils down to coming up with examples that will help the words stick in your mind. Take a look at some VocabSlam submissions that leave us laughing and learning at the same time!

A Spray for the Ages
WordNonchalant (adjective); having an air of easy unconcern or indifference  

YouTube sensation LA Beast is famous for his bizarre and hilarious eating habits. But did you know he also has an appetite for vocabulary? In one of the most outrageous VocabSlam submissions ever, the LA Beast tries to stay nonchalant under some extreme circumstances. Don't try this at home:

Sit and Learn
Word: Penchant (noun); a strong and continued inclination 

When stand-up comedian Will Garre isn't making people spit out their drinks with laughter at comedy clubs around New York City, he's spending time with his other love: seat pads...

May the SLAM be with you 
Word: Quibble (verb); to bicker

Friends quibble over their differences while foes settle their quibbles the George Lucas way:

Cigarettes and Paychecks
Word: Squander (verb); to spend extravagantly or foolishly  

A group of VocabSlammers teach us about all the things you can squander:

The Finer Things
Word: Assimilate (verb); to absorb into the culture or mores of a population or group

This guy does not assimilate with the Occupy Wall Street crowd and he's proud of it:

SLAM Horse
Refulgent (adjective); a radiant or resplendent quality or state :  brilliance 

Funnyman Marc T. Engberg is a comedian on the rise, but here he puts on his critic hat to review a stand out performance in the Oscar nominated movie War Horse:

Minute Men
Brevity (noun): shortness of duration

This VocabSlammer tries to find a variety of examples for the word brevity but it seems that some people only want to talk about one thing:

Word: Skeptic (noun); a person holding an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity

Not everyone sees pro wrestling the same way:

"The movie was terrible"
Word: Disdain (noun); a feeling of contempt for someone or something regarded as unworthy or inferior ; scorn

The Twilight Saga, television personality Nicole Scherzinger, cheating girlfriends, and the Parks Department are all targets of disdain in this submission compilation:

Keeping it Civil
Word: Contentious (adjective); likely to cause disagreement or argument

This VocabSlammer offers up some helpful dating advice:

When you tailor sentences to your own unique sense of humor, you take control of the learning process. Personalizing vocabulary can be essential to retaining words and there's no better way to do that than to make it fun. As long as you are using the word in the correct way, there is no reason to settle for a bland example.

Now it's your turn to give it a shot. Channel your inner comedian and write some funny sentences with words you didn't know before you started studying and see if it works for you. And remember: studying doesn't have to suck!

About the author:  Dan Altano is Marketing Director at VocabSlam. He also teaches in the English Department at the City College of New York. You can reach him at

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