A Useful Tool
By Annette Rey
A book I support for writers and for just any person who wants to increase their vocabulary is: The Penquin Rhyming Dictionary. On first glance, a person who is not a poet might think this book has no use for them. But this is a great source for expanding your knowledge of words.
This book is used by starting in the second half where an alphabetical list of words exists. Behind each word is a number code. You then go to the first half of the book and find the number, listed numerically. There you will find rhyming words for the word you are researching. Some of the more rare words may have a brief definition in parentheses, but this is in no way an exhaustive definition.
Among the list of words in the numbered section you will find words you have never heard before. I found scrouge. Briefly, it is defined as a word used in a particular dialect, meaning “to crowd.” Now I can look that up in a dictionary and perhaps find where that word originated. Merriam-Webster tells me the word is a verb, an alteration of English dialect, scruze, to squeeze, circa 1755. Granted, that is a word no longer used. But you can use it where appropriate. Do not use rare words with the intent to prove how well-read you are or to confound your reader (you never want to do that).
My belief is the more words you know, the more your brain turns analytical, the more versatility you create in your ability to write. If I have a street urchin from that period of time, I can implant that word in his dialogue. I then will use my experience to show the reader what that word means by contextual reference.
I find just looking at a list of words gives me ideas for writing articles. Also, looking up one word in a book that suggests other words often helps me insert a different word than I had initially planned, giving my writing more diversity in word choice.
I could give you a challenge to complete an exercise with new (old) words like this you have not heard before. And I think I will, so look out. But you can do this for yourself with this book.
A rhyming dictionary is not just for poets.