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What is a Million Dollar Vocabulary?

Donna Reynolds
Donna Reynolds

People in business are frequently judged by how effectively they communicate. The manner in which a person speaks leaves an impression – either true or false – about that person’s intelligence, background, education, and job status. An individual with a comprehensive vocabulary will make a much more powerful first impression than one who lacks in this area, no matter how intelligent or well-educated that person may be. By using words with power, persuasion, and impact, or a million dollar vocabulary, a person can increase his or her communication and boost earning power.

Good communication skills are essential in today’s competitive job market. A prospective candidate may have all the necessary qualifications, but lose out on the job to an individual who is better able to verbally express his or her ideas. But the concept of a million dollar vocabulary takes this a step further and focuses on the selection of specific words that have been shown to contribute to an impression of power and success. Words considered part of a million dollar vocabulary are not necessarily obscure or complex; rather they are words that may be less frequently used and because they are less common, convey a sense of power and confidence.

Woman standing behind a stack of books
Woman standing behind a stack of books

The best way to illustrate the power of the million dollar vocabulary is to cite illustrations of power words. For example, using the word “gumption” to describe a person’s initiative or courage is far more effective than “nerve” or “guts.” “Augment” is much stronger than “add to” or “increase.” Using “ascertain” rather than “find out” or “discover” conveys more self-assurance. “Exemplar” or “paradigm” are much stronger words than “example” or “standard.”

A quick search of the Internet reveals a number of different training programs designed to teach the basics of attaining a million dollar vocabulary. There are also books, CDs, and DVDs that can be purchased to this end. However, there are also steps that a person can take individually to build his or her own million dollar vocabulary, and these are free of charge.

  • 1. Elevate your level of reading matter. If you’ve been reading the tabloids and romance novels, it’s time to switch it up and expose yourself to a higher quality of writing.
  • 2. Use the Thesaurus. When you are writing a document using Microsoft Word, employ the built-in Thesaurus on the Tools tab to consider alternative word choices in key sentences. For example, in the previous sentence substituting the word “employ” for “use” gives the sentence more strength.
  • 3. Commit to spending 30 minutes per day researching new words and practicing their use in an attempt to build your own million dollar vocabulary.

Building a million dollar vocabulary can help increase earning power and convey a sense of power and prestige. It’s a relatively simple endeavor, but one that is worth the investment.

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      Woman standing behind a stack of books