We can all benefit from taking the time to get to know our language better, increase our vocabularies, and improve the art of communication. Playing with words in games is a great way to do this. Here are a few ways that you can increase your vocabulary in social settings:
1) Scrabble: I have talked about my love of Scrabble before (which you can read by clicking here). This game involves arranging letters on a board to form words. The length of the words and the letters that you choose to use will give you a certain number of points for each round; at the end of the game, the player with the most points wins. Although you can still choose short words of three or four letters, you will likely earn more points if you think outside the box and form more unusual words.
2) Scattergories: This game is a little bit like a cross between Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble. A dice with nearly all of the letters of the alphabet on it (instead of numbers) is tossed. A timer is set for a couple of minutes, and your aim is to answer 12 questions from a card (such as "4-letter word", "dessert", "boy's name", "country") - all of your answers must start with the same letter that was rolled on the dice. This game also makes you think creatively. If the letter "C" comes up and one of the questions is "animal", you probably want to try to be more creative than "cat", because it is likely to be a word that the other players will also think of. If another person shares your answer, neither of you get points.
You earn more points if your answer is two words with the same letter (for example, using the answer "James Joyce" when the question is "famous author" and the letter is "J"). This game is bound to have a lot of laughter involved as silly answers turn up when players can't think of anything for a good answer.
3) The Dictionary Game: A game invented by the mother dear, father dear, sistertraveller and I, this game involves one person looking through the dictionary and picking an unusual word. They then say the word out loud, and the other players have a minute or two to come up with a definition for the word. Sometimes players will use logic to try to guess what the word might mean; other times, the answers might be complete silliness. At the end of the round, everyone shares their answers and then the person who chose the word tells everyone what the definition is. The closest person to the real definition wins.
With all of these games, you need to have a dictionary on hand - there are bound to be words that some players have never heard of before, so fact-checking is helpful. Using another resource like the Internet will also benefit you when players are unsure about the answer (for example, in a recent Scattergories game, I used the word "jicama" for the answer to "fruit". We looked it up and it turns out I was wrong; a jicama is a vegetable!). It can also be a good idea to keep a special notebook specifically for these games. Whenever you come across a word that you don't know, write it down in the notebook. We often retain information better if we write it down for ourselves.
Share other favourites in the comments section below!