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Word Clues

Textbook-Workbook in Word Study and Vocabulary Building by Amsel Greene

Experience the wonder of words by focusing
on the various approaches to vocabulary learning.

Excerpts from the "Introduction" of Word Clues

Knowledge of the root meanings of words is a safeguard against their misuse.

Whoever you are, and whatever you plan to become, you will have need for a knowledge of words.

Everyone must read, whether for information or for pleasure. If your knowledge of the meanings of words is hazy, you will miss the full value of your reading, whatever its purpose.

Possibly you have acquired the habit, common to many people, of skipping over such words which are unfamiliar to you, relying upon the remainder of a sentence or a paragraph to reveal the general meaning.

Those who know only the general significance of a word often weaken what they say by a lack of appreciation of its full value; for example, we cannot say "very uniqe" or "quite unique" without absurdity, for a thing is unique only when it is the only one of its kind in existence. The word, therefore, cannot be qualified or enhanced.

Similarly, the word abyss means a "bottomless pit", and to say "a deep abyss" is to enfeeble rather than to strengthen its meaning.

A general meaning of the word ephemeral is fleeting, but it would be poor usage to say that "time is ephemeral", since ephemeral really means "lasting but a day".

A dream, a fancy, a mood may be called either fleeting or ephemeral, but when applied to time the word becomes contradictory.

The more we study words, the more we shall come to realize their importance to us individually. Many of us, crippled by a vague and inadequate vocabulary, comprehending only in general the language of those better equipped, are entirely unaware of their handicap.

Words are Keys

Often the meaning of a whole sentence or paragraph in a newspaper or magazine or textbook depends upon a single word.

To all of us, words are keys.
—Amsel Greene

For example, the statement that too many modern writers are engaged in the producion of "iconoclastic biographies" would be meaningless to anyone who is unfamiliar with the key word.

Don't permit yourself to remain without the keys with which to unlock the full meanings of what you read or hear.

The value of the roots of words

To perceive the underlying, esential values of many words, it is necessary to know the original meanings of the roots from which those words are composed.

Words can be most quickly acquired, most accurately understood, and remembered longest through the elements that compose them.
—Amsel Greene

The study of roots will also prove not only the most trustworthy, but the most economical method of acquiring vocabulary, since one root may appear in many English words; for instance, Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, lists 112 words beginning with the root anthrop.

Words are said to average two roots or word elements. The simplest mathematics, therefore, will indicate that by learning the one root anthrop, people will put themselves into the potential possession of one half of 112 words, or 56 words at a single stroke.

Such figures do not include the indeterminable number of words; such as, philanthropist, in which the root appears as the second element.

Many roots are far more productive than anthrop. Count the words in an unabridged dictionary beginning with pseudo. It is possible to find well over 800 of them. What a vocabulary leap we can make when we learn the meaning of pseudo!

—"Introduction", by Amsel Greene; Word Clues; Harper & Row, Publishers;
Evanston, Illinois; 1962; pages 10-12.

Pointing to English words for our modern age from Latin Greek sources English words for a Modern Age, especially those from Latin Greek sources or etymologies (prefixes,roots, suffixes).

This site includes many words that are used in our modern age,, especially those from "Latin-Greek sources".

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This is another way to find information on this Word Focus site or on Google.

The more words you know, the more clearly and powerfully you will think and the more ideas you will invite into your mind.
—Wilfred Funk

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