This vocabulary guide introduces you to 11 words you should learn this year. Read on for our top vocabulary words of 2023.

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Having an expansive vocabulary not only helps your reading comprehension but can also make you seem more intelligent and engaging in casual conversations. If you haven’t already been learning new English words and picking up brand new phrases consistently, there’s no better time to start than now. 

This vocabulary word guide for English speaking learners will review some of the top words you should know this year, examine their meaning, and investigate the best methods for pronouncing them accurately. Nothing is worse than trying to sneak a vocabulary word into a conversation and mispronouncing it!

Fortunately, you’ll learn how to avoid this type of situation entirely by using text-to-speech (TTS) tools like Speechify and virtual flashcards to help you properly pronounce every vocabulary word before speaking it out loud. 

Whether you’re a native English speaker, a high school student who just won the spelling bee, or someone just learning English and English listening, learning these words is in your best interest.

If you’re ready to dive in and improve your English vocabulary, let’s start going through the list and covering the top vocabulary words of the year from start to finish.

1. Serendipity

Pronunciation: [ ser-uhn-dip-i-tee ]

Definition: “[1] an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. [2] good fortune; luck.”

We’ve all likely had a “serendipitous moment” in our lives at one point or another, one where we continuously make desirable discoveries and feel like luck is on our side. Most people have likely heard this word used in casual conversations or speeches in the past, but it’s an essential vocabulary word to know and understand this coming year. 

To pronounce serendipity correctly, consider using Speechify to read the word aloud and take note of its pronunciation. By using a TTS tool, you’ll ensure that you’ll be pronouncing it correctly in your next conversation. 

2. Keen

Pronunciation: [ keen ]

Definition: “[1] finely sharpened, as an edge; so shaped as to cut or pierce substances readily. [2] characterized by strength and distinctness of perception; extremely sensitive or responsive.”

Words like keen have multiple definitions, but one of the most common is a finely sharpened edge (i.e., “a keen razor”) or a distinct strength in perception (i.e., “a keen sense of smell”). 

When out and about your everyday life, you can use “keen” to describe something that’s sharp or shows great mental acumen. It’s the perfect word to use in English conversations, especially if you’re trying to use new words and improve your basic vocabulary.

This word is much easier to pronounce than others on this list, but we recommend running it through Speechify to ensure you have the pronunciation down. 

3. Dubious

Pronunciation: [ doo-bee-uhs, dyoo- ]

Definition: “[1] doubtful; marked by or occasioning doubt. [2] of uncertain outcome.”

Dubious is another word you’ve likely heard used in the past, especially when describing something uncertain or doubtful. Why not start using this word in your own conversations, especially when the perfect situation arises for when you can use “dubious” in a sentence?

The best synonym for dubious is “doubtful,” and this is one of those words that most word lists would have as essential to know, including this vocabulary list.

Plug “dubious” into Speechify to hear how it’s pronounced, and if you need more clarity, replay the TTS output several times until you know exactly how it’s pronounced. 

4. Susurration

Pronunciation: [ soo-suh-rey-shuhn ]

Definition: “[1] a soft murmur; whisper.”

Now here’s a word you don’t hear very often – “susurration.” If you want to impress your friends, colleagues, or coworkers, next time you’re trying to keep your voices down, you can tell them how you’re “uttering a susurration.” 

Compared to the words we’ve looked at up to this point, this isn’t a vocabulary word you’ll hear on a frequent basis. To ensure you’re absorbing the right pronunciation, listen to “susurration” in a text-to-speech (TTS) tool like Speechify. 

5. Onomatopoeia

Pronunciation: [ on-uh-mat-uh-pee-uh, ‐mah-tuh‐ ]

Definition: “[1] the formation of a word, as cuckoo, meow, honk, or boom, by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent.”

If you’ve ever taken English grammar classes, you’ve likely heard the word “onomatopoeia” mentioned at one point or another. In short, this vocabulary word refers to words that are meant to imitate sound, like “boom,” “meow,” or “honk.”

Compared to the other words we’ve covered so far, this is one of the most challenging vocabulary words on the list, and its pronunciation can be tricky if you’ve never heard it said out loud before. Input “onomatopoeia” into Speechify to hear exactly how it should be pronounced. 

6. Corpus callosum

Pronunciation: [ kawr-puhs kuh-loh-suhm ]

Definition: “[1] a great band of deeply situated transverse white fibers uniting the two halves of the cerebrum in humans and other mammals.”

Ready to take your vocabulary to the level of a doctor or physician? You’ll be well on your way by learning what “corpus callosum” means! For most, this is a new vocabulary word that’s not usually a part of common words spoken in the English language on a daily basis. This is a word you’d picture someone with an advanced vocabulary uttering, not someone trying to learn English or speak English for the first time.

To put it simply, the “corpus callosum” is a large bundle of nerve fibers, over 200 million to be exact, that connects the right and left hemispheres of your brain, allowing them to communicate with each other. 

Enter this vocabulary word into Speechify to hear how it’s pronounced out loud. 

7. Toothsome

Pronunciation: [ tooth-suhm ]

Definition: “[1] pleasing to the taste; palatable. [2] pleasing or desirable, as fame or power.”

When something or someone is toothsome, it is said to be pleasing or desirable. This desire can be in the form of taste, such as with food, or with an attraction towards the person or thing, such as an attraction to fame or power, or a sexual attraction to an individual. 

Next time you find something pleasing or desirable, consider calling it toothsome. You might get some weird looks, but you’ll solidify your vocabulary with the crowd. 

Even though “toothsome” isn’t the most difficult word to pronounce, we recommend running it through Speechify to hear the proper pronunciation.

8. Bibliophile

Pronunciation: [ bib-lee-uh-fahyl, -fil ]

Definition: “[1] a person who loves or collects books, especially as examples of fine or unusual printing, binding, or the like.”

We all know of people who collect antiques, art, collectibles, or even stamps, but have you ever heard of someone who collects fine or unusual books? If you have any book collectors in your life, you can start calling them bibliophiles – they may even appreciate the fact that you know the term. 

Input “bibliophile” into Speechify to hear how it is pronounced out loud and to ensure you’re using the correct pronunciation on each syllable.

9. Azure

Pronunciation: [ azh-er ]

Definition: “[1] of or having a light, purplish shade of blue, like that of a clear and unclouded sky. [2] the blue of a clear or unclouded sky.”

While “azure” may seem like a simple word, it is frequently mispronounced. It describes a light, purplish blue color, similar to what you would see on a day when no clouds are present. 

If there was any word from this list that you should listen to in Speechify, “azure” should be at the top of your list. 

10. Hydrangea

Pronunciation: [ hahy-dreyn-juh, -jee-uh, -dran- ]

Definition: “[1] any shrub belonging to the genus Hydrangea, of the saxifrage family, several species of which are cultivated for their large, showy flower clusters of white, pink, or blue.”

If you know your flowers, you’ll very likely be familiar with “hydrangeas.” Unfortunately, many still don’t know how to pronounce this vocabulary word correctly, and you should ensure you have the right pronunciation in mind if you’re considering using it in the near future.

Run “hydrangea” through a TTS tool like Speechify to hear how it should sound. 

11. Isthmus

Pronunciation: [ is-muhs ]

Definition: “[1] a narrow strip of land, bordered on both sides by water, connecting two larger bodies of land. [2] Anatomy, Zoology. a connecting, usually narrow, part, organ, or passage, especially when joining structures or cavities larger than itself.”

“Isthmus” can be a tricky word to pronounce due to the silent letter “t” at the beginning of the word. By definition, an isthmus is a narrow strip of land surrounded by water on both sides, connecting two larger bodies of land together. 

Run “isthmus” through Speechify to hear how you pronounce it out loud. 

Additional vocab words

If you’re looking for some more vocabulary words that you can learn the definitions of and explore on your own time, here are some additional words to consider:

  • Worcestershire
  • Colonel
  • Quinoa
  • Yttrium
  • Pensive
  • Anemone

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