Super-Charging Your Vocabulary Lists

We at are very excited to announce some great new improvements we're rolling out for making vocabulary lists. Vocabulary lists were already a popular feature of the site, and with these changes we're confident that the experience of exploring and making lists will be better than ever.

The first change you'll notice is right up front, with an improved look and feel. On the home page, you'll see featured lists on the bottom right. And if you're logged in to the site, you'll see your own vocab lists on the home page as well. Then, if you click through to our vocabulary lists page, you'll find a new set of tools that will help you explore the thousands of lists that have already been created, and also make your own with ease.

On the left side of the lists page, we've organized hundreds of preexisting lists into six categories: test prep, literature, historical documents, speeches, just for fun, and news. We've selected the best vocabulary lists in each of these categories, and we'll keep adding new ones to keep the content fresh. You'll also notice a search box (both on the main vocabulary lists page and on each category page) that allows you to navigate through our entire collection of lists to find just the one you're looking for.

Making your own vocabulary lists has never been easier. Just click on the "create new list" button, and you'll be taken to the list builder, where you can get started making a list from any words or text. Whether you want to keep track of your favorite words, study for a test, or grab vocabulary from an article or book chapter, we've made the list-making experience a breeze.

When you're making a new list, you'll have three options for entering words: one at a time, all at once, or from a text. If you enter words one at a time, then you'll see a box in which you can start typing your first word. Just like in the main search box, as soon as you start typing, we'll make our best guess at the word that you'd like to type before you've even finished, with lightning-fast results. When you have the word that you're looking for, we'll also provide a definition for the word, but you can click "choose definition" if you'd like to pick another one from the word's dictionary entry. You'll also find options for adding notes and example sentences for each word.

If you choose to enter words to your list all at once, then you can enter up to 1,000 words at one time. The words can be separated by commas or new lines. That makes it easy to copy and paste a list of words that you're studying. After you've entered the words in that fashion, you can always go back to the "one at a time" view and select definitions for the words and add notes and example sentences.

What if you want to study vocabulary words from a given text? We've made it easier than ever to make a list from any text you're interested in. Select "from text" and paste the text into the box — anything up to 100 pages is fine, whether it's from a novel, news source, or online textbook. As soon as you paste the text and click the "grab vocab" button, we'll generate a list of top vocabulary words that appear in that text. You'll be able to choose an example sentence for each word as well. After you've selected the words for your list and the sentences that illustrate them, returning to the "one at a time" view will display the words and sentences, once again giving you the choice to pick definitions and write any additional notes you want for the words in your list.

Regardless of the input method you choose for entering words, you can keep adding more words to your list any way you want. You can build a list out of vocabulary words found in multiple texts, or grab vocab from a text and supplement it with other words that you enter in one at a time or all at once. When you've got the list how you want it, click "save list" and you'll be prompted to enter a title and description for your creation. Voilà!

We've added some other cool bells and whistles, too. Let's say you're looking up words in the dictionary from the dictionary search box. At any time, you can click on "list builder" and start adding words to a new or saved vocabulary list. This is especially useful if you're using our "advanced search" feature, which allows you to find words that fit many different criteria, like parts of speech, letter combinations, rhymes, and number of syllables, or you can search for words that are related to other words by being a type of, example of, or part of something else. So, for instance, if you want to make a list of different ways of walking, all you need to do is enter "walk" in the "type of" box in advanced search, and then click "list builder" to start selecting any of the words that fit that description, whether it's amble, clomp, promenade, or trudge. We'll also preselect the definitions for the words to fit what you're searching for.

One handy tip for when you're building a list from a text or a search query: if you see a long display of words and you want to select a range of them for inclusion in your vocabulary list, click on the checkbox for the first word in the range and then shift-click on the checkbox for the last one to select all of them at once. That makes it even easier to deal with creating longer lists.

After you've saved a vocabulary list, you'll be able to go to that list and review it. In the review display, by default we list the words with all of their accompanying definitions, notes, and example sentences. If you prefer, you can select a display that only shows the definitions of the words, or simply display the words themselves in a list separated by commas. A pull-down menu allows you to sort your words from A to Z, Z to A, easy to hard, or hard to easy. Or you can just revert the sorting back to your original list order. And finally, you can always go back to any of your lists and click "edit" to pick up where you left off, adding and removing words, notes, examples, or definitions as much as you want.

That about covers it! So what are you waiting for? Head on over to the vocabulary lists page and get cracking!

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Comments from our users:

Tuesday December 20th 2011, 6:01 AM
Comment by: Hasan M.
If there is an opportunity to get words in challenge from user's Vocabulary list to take preparation for the Test like GRE, GMAT etc., it would be helpful for us.
Thursday December 22nd 2011, 9:24 AM
Comment by: Aisynia
Formerly, the site had a list/learn button for either adding words to your list or adding them to learn. Now I only see the learn button. However, when I click on "learn" it doesn't seem like it goes through sometimes or that it adds the word to my list. Is the learn button supposed to meld the actions of list/learn? Or when I add a word to my list manually, does it automatically get added to my challenge words? Also, the updates otherwise have been splendid!
Thursday December 22nd 2011, 10:39 AM
Comment by: Ben Zimmer (New York, NY)Visual Thesaurus ContributorVisual Thesaurus Moderator
Hasan: We're working on making user-generated vocabulary lists learnable in the Challenge, so stay tuned for further developments!

Aisynia: The "learn" button should still add vocabulary words to your "Words I'm Learning" queue, which you can view by clicking on "My Progress" at the top of any page. As for adding words to vocabulary lists, we encourage you to try the new method described above: enter the word in the dictionary search box, and then click "List Builder" to add the word to a particular list.

Thanks for your feedback!
Thursday December 22nd 2011, 11:01 AM
Comment by: Payam M.
I love this site! :)
Thursday December 22nd 2011, 2:00 PM
Comment by: Aisynia
Thanks, Mr. Zimmer. The reason I asked was that I feel I'm having to do twice the work now to add words to my list and learn them as well (first clicking learn and then stopping longer to click to add it to a list) where before two mouse clicks and I could learn and list. Since I don't pull my words from the internet alone (books, newspapers) it's a bit much. Also the "all at once" option is a great idea. However, I went through typing words in it for it to tell me that a word was not found (whether it was misspelled or not in the dictionary for this site) and it did not indicate which one. So to find the culprit I had to get rid of all the new words I tried to add....=( The one at a time option indicates which words are not found. Thanks for the prompt reply too! 5 stars!
Thursday December 22nd 2011, 2:25 PM
Comment by: Ben Zimmer (New York, NY)Visual Thesaurus ContributorVisual Thesaurus Moderator
Thanks again for your useful comments, Aisynia, which will help us make further improvements.
Sunday December 25th 2011, 8:32 AM
Comment by: PerfectPa
Making vocabulary lists learnable in te challenge would be great. Also, it would be nice to have audible pronunciation button available on new (or all) words in the challenge.
Wednesday December 28th 2011, 1:21 AM
Comment by: Mohamad R.
Thank you for your greatful effort in this remarkable website, I just want to ask you if it possible to return back to us the list button among the other usfull buttons, because the new way to add words to my lists is not that practical, where previously it just take me a click to do so, without a need to select the list in each time and go to the list simultaneously with picking the word, without actual need for that as to remaine within the great definition page, I hope you may consider this request. Finally I want to tell you that I felt lucky when I saw this site and it continued to bleas me each time I used it, and Ialso told my freinds and teacher about it. Thank you again and it is truly admirable to see people how serve their language with pasion.
Thursday January 12th 2012, 9:21 AM
Comment by: Zsolt B.
Thank you, this vocabulary list feature is the heaven for a book reader. I miss only one thing. When I read a book, I highlight the unknown word and write a well-know synonym next to it. In this way, when I read (or just page through) the book again, I recognize the meaning almost immediately by the synonym. It would be a nice feature if I could choose a synonym as well, similar to selecting a word meaning.
Thursday January 12th 2012, 6:27 PM
Comment by: mei lily C.
I certantly love this site its so easy and useful!
Its just amazing I learned a lot with this.
Saturday August 29th 2015, 5:58 AM
Comment by: Ravi D. (GA)
I'm not able to shift-click and select multiple words for wordlist, I've got list of 2000* words and trying to figure out how to select all words in the list that showed up!
Tuesday May 2nd, 8:46 PM
Comment by: Mary Anne S. (Australia)
Can students add their own words to create individualised vocabulary lists that the teacher can track?

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