English Vocabulary

Learn the meanings of words and phrases with our English vocabulary resources, including extensive lists of phrasal verbs, idioms and irregular verbs.

Learn About English Vocabulary

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What is Vocabulary?

The term vocabulary refers to the words and phrases that a person or group of people knows. When you start off learning a language you won't know many words and you will therefore have a small vocabulary. As your knowledge of a language grows, your vocabulary will grow too. Someone who is fluent in a language will have a large vocabulary.

Active and Passive Vocabulary

Your active vocabulary is the words you use regularly, and your passive vocabulary consists of the words that you recognise and understand, but do not use regularly. Many native speakers use a relatively small active vocabuary- a few thousand words is common, but most have a considerably bigger passive vocabulary, which the use when reading or listening. One mistake that learners make is to think that if they acquire a huge vocabulary, they will master the language. In most cases, spending more time on learning the different uses of common and useful words would be better than learning obscure words. The word set has over a hundred meanings, so learning a fair few of them might be more useful than knowing what a sesquipedalian (a big word for someone who uses big words) is.  An individual's vocabulary is called their idiolect.

Technical Vocabulary

You might also hear the term Technical Vocabulary, which is words or phrases that are used primarily in a specific line of work or profession.

For example, people who work in the steel industry often use words like "Rockwell", "Olsen", "cup test", and "camber". These words have special meanings pertaining to the manufacture of steel.

Similarly, an electrician needs to know technical words such as "capacitor", "impedance", and "surge capacity"; words which most people outside of that industry never use.

Vocabulary Reference

Expand your vocabulary by learning useful English words and phrases, including phrasal verbs, idioms, irregular verbs, slang and more …

  • Word lists to help you learn or teach new vocabulary
    117 Lists
  • Dictionary of current English idioms and idiomatic expressions.
    7,232 Entries
  • Dictionary of English Phrasal Verbs, with definitions and examples
    3,603 Entries
  • Irregular verb list, including definitions of rare and antiquated forms.
    623 Entries
  • A reference of Cockney Rhyming Slang expressions.
    771 Entries
  • English Slang Members Only
    A reference of English slang expressions.
    1,735 Entries
  • Extensive glossary of football/soccer vocabulary.
    1,735 Entries
  • Search all the leading online dictionaries and English reference resources from one place.

Latest Vocabulary Exercises

Test your vocabulary by taking these language quizzes.

Level Quiz
Beginner Mr. Mrs. Miss Ms
Advanced Easily Confused Words
Beginner Lend & Borrow
Advanced Approve, Object, Oppose, etc.
Advanced Legs, Feet, Walk, etc
Intermediate Ban, Forbid & Prohibit
Beginner Explain & Tell
Intermediate Ache, Hurt, Pain & Sore
Beginner Units & Containers
Advanced Newspaper Headlines

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Latest Articles About Vocabulary

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