Improve Your Vocabulary With The Funny Dictionary Featured

Just a few days ago, I released an online version of my book The Funny Dictionary. The full text of The Funny Dictionary is now available to everyone, for free. As I have written in the preface to The Funny Dictionary, the main purpose of the book is to entertain; but The Funny Dictionary also has an ulterior use: to improve your vocabulary. Find out how to use The Funny Dictionary to improve your vocabulary, by reading on...

In order to understand much of the humour in The Funny Dictionary, you must have a fairly good working English vocabulary and good general knowledge. For example, a schoolboy defined "admonition" as "what you fight with". To appreciate the full humour in this classroom clanger, and the kid's accidental insight, you need to realise the school student confused "admonition" with the similar-sounding "ammunition". It also helps when you realise that "admonition" means "a firm warning or reprimand" — certainly, something that might cause a fight! (And "ammunition" means a supply or quantity of bullets or weapons.)

Likewise, when the schoolboy defined "anatomy" as "the study of heavenly bodies", you will appreciate the humour when you realise the boy confused "anatomy" with "astronomy". By "heavenly bodies", he meant the bodies in the heavens — that is, the stars and the planets in the sky. But "heavenly body" can also mean a beautiful physique. When you understand that anatomy is the science that studies the structure of the body (in this context, the human body), then you appreciate the full humour of the teenage boy's definition of anatomy as, effectively, "the study of beautiful physiques".

Thus The Funny Dictionary provides a fun incentive for improving your vocabulary and expanding your general knowledge (the incentive is to understand the joke).

I have explained similar examples in The Funny Dictionary before. But now that all the definitions in The Funny Dictionary have been published online, you can find a lot more examples.

Also new, are the illustrations that will accompany many of the definitions in The Funny Dictionary. This week, I have commissioned American illustrator Tosh Bibb to illustrate 50 of the schoolboy and schoolgirl bloopers. This will provide another aid for working out the humour in some of the more difficult examples.

And, sometimes, the illustrations will just be yet another way of adding to the humour of the book. Take, for example, this illustration of "à la carte", which the schoolboy defined as "when you can have all the desserts that’s on the trolley". In fact, à la carte refers to food that can be ordered as separate items, rather than part of a set meal. The schoolboy evidently believed "carte" means "cart", as in trolley:

Funny Dictionary drawing

So, if you initially don't understand the humour in The Funny Dictionary, look up the real meaning of the word in a real dictionary (the website at allows you to double-click a word for its definition in The Free Dictionary). If The Funny Dictionary's definition includes an illustration, then look at the illustration for some hints about the humour in the funny definition.

If all else fails (or, even better, as your first-resort), improve your vocabulary with vocabulary-building software such as Ultimate Vocabulary.* Ultimate Vocabulary itself can be a fun way to increase your vocabulary. Ultimate Vocabulary comes with exercises, flash cards, definitions, examples, and real-life audio pronunciations, and uses other proven techniques to help you build a good vocabulary. Visit Ultimate Vocabulary for details.

*Denise and I recommend only products that we have tried and tested. These include Ultimate Vocabulary. We have agreed to receive a commission from some sales of the Ultimate Vocabulary software because we are happy to endorse this award-winning vocabulary software.




Last modified on Wednesday, 18 November 2015 03:23
English Language Skills (Troy)

English Language Skills (Troy)

I have a law degree, I've run an award-winning business, and I am a published author.

My most popular book is Funny English Errors and Insights: Illustrated.

My new book is The Funny Dictionary.

I have a particular interest in vocabulary improvement and speed reading.

Website: E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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