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30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary

4.5 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0671743499
ISBN-10: 067174349X
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Norman Lewis was an author, grammarian, lexicographer, and etymologist. Lewis was a leading authority on English-language skills, whose bestselling 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary published by Pocket Books in 1971 promised to teach readers to improve their skills in fifteen minutes a day.

Lewis started his teaching career at New York University and the City College of New York. From 1964 to 1995, he taught English—including grammar, etymology, and vocabulary—at Rio Hondo College, a two-year community college in Whittier, California. For more than a decade, he was also the chairman of Rio Hondo’s communications department.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Give Us Fifteen Minutes a Day

Your boss has a bigger vocabulary than you have.

That's one good reason why he's your boss.

This discovery has been made in the word laboratories of the world Not by theoretical English professors, but by practical, hard-headed scientists who have been searching for the secrets of success.

After a host of experiments and years of testing they have found out:

That if your vocabulary is limited your chances of success are limited.

That one of the easiest and quickest ways to get ahead is by consciously building up your knowledge of words.

That the vocabulary of the average person almost stops growing by the middle twenties.

And that from then on it is necessary to have an intelligent plan if progress is to be made. No hit-or-miss methods will do.

It has long since been satisfactorily established that a high executive does not have a large vocabulary merely because of the opportunities of his position. That would be putting the cart before the horse. Quite the reverse is true. His skill in words was a tremendous help in getting him his job.

Dr. Johnson O'Connor of the Human Engineering Laboratory of Boston and of the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, gave a vocabulary test to one hundred young men who were studying to be industrial executives.

Five years later, all, without exception, of those who had passed in the upper 10 per cent had executive positions, while not a single young man of the lower 25 per cent had become an executive.

Some of the factors that lead to success can be measured as scientifically as the contents of a test tube, and it has been discovered that the one and only common characteristic of outstandingly successful people is "an extensive knowledge of the exact meaning of English words."

Vocabulary is one indication of intelligence. Learning power measurably sharpens when vocabulary increases. Here's the proof.

Two classes in a high school were selected for an experiment The ages and background of the members of both groups were the same, and each group represented a similar cross-section of the community. Otoe, the control class, took the normal courses. The other class had, in addition, special and rigorous vocabulary training. At the end of the period the grades of the students in the vocabulary class surpassed the grades of the members of the control group, not only in English, but in every other subject, including mathematics and the sciences.

Similarly, Professor Lewis M. Terman of Stanford University has found that a vocabulary test is as accurate a measure of intelligence as any three units of the standard and accepted Stanford-Binet I. Q. tests.

Words are the tools of thinking. It naturally follows, then, that the more words you have at your command, the clearer and more accurate your thinking will be.

Words are your medium of exchange, the coin with which you do business with all those around you. With words you relate to people, communicate your feelings and thoughts to them, influence them, persuade them, control them. In short, through words you shape your own destiny. For your words are your personality; your vocabulary is you.

Words are explosive. Phrases are packed with TNT. A single word can destroy a friendship, can start or end a marital battle, can land a large order. The right phrases in the mouths of clerks have quadrupled the sales of a department store. The wrong words used by a campaign orator have lost an election. Four unfortunate words -- "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion" -- used in a Republican campaign speech threw the Catholic vote and the Presidential victory to Grover Cleveland.

Armies fight for phrases: "Make the world safe for Democracy"; "V for Victory"; "Remember Pearl Harbor."

Words have changed the direction of history. Words can also change the direction of your life. They can raise a man from mediocrity to success.

We submit that if you methodically increase your vocabulary you will improve your chances for success.

This book enlists active cooperation, continuous written and oral response. It will test you every step of the way, it will demand unceasing feedback from you, and thus it will make words your friends and allies.

We expect to prove to you that developing a rich and robust vocabulary can be both fun and challenging.

Give us fifteen minutes a day, and we will guarantee that at the end of a month, when you have turned over the last page of this book, your words, your reading, your conversation, and your life will all have a new and deeper meaning for you.

For words can make you great!

Copyright 1942 by Wilfred Funk, Inc.,

copyright © 1970 by Funk & Wagnalls, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (March 15, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067174349X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671743499
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.7 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on June 10, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While you can certainly finish the book in 30 days, you'll most likely forget the vocabularies in at least half of the chapters by the time you are done. The quiz in each chapter is useful. The diagnostic test at the beginning of the book can crush your self-esteem - which is to be redeemed after reading the book. "30 days" in the title is misleading, because readers probably need to go through the chapters again and again to make sure they truly remember the words. So make it "45-50 days to a more powerful vocabulary"!
Furthermore, believe it or not: it is not a bad cram book if you have less than 3 months to study for SAT or GRE! I find vocabulary builders (such as this title) much better study tools for SAT or GRE than conventional exam preparation guides like Princeton Review or Barron's - at least for the verbal section.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
On the back cover there is the promise that the book will "make words your slaves". Well, not quite but with perseverance, you are destined to achieve at least 50% of the intended result. You need 30 days of persistent study and more days for reinforcement. A bonus is that by the end of the book you would probably be inspired to acquire a lifetime habit of increasing your vocabulary.
Those who find this book useful should also consider the brilliant "Word Power Made Easy" by Norman Lewis, one of the co-authors of this book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
My brother-in-law recommended this book--he used it before he took his GRE tests, and found it really helpful. I also found it to be a helpful vocabulary book.

Each `day' introduces 10-20 words based on a specific theme or idea-sometimes, it is a group of words with similar roots (monologue, monogamy, etc.), sometimes it has words with opposite meanings, words are grouped by parts of speech.

The chapters/days then spend a few pages reviewing those new words through various methods--the author's theory is that by forcing you to write down and select the words within a number of contexts, you will learn the words faster.

Reviewers are correct that some words are used less often than they were in 1942, and one individual did not like the old practice of referring to generically to a doctor as "he" (by the way, all generic occupations/identifications were referred to as "he," including negative connotations such as thief, prisoner, and used-car salesperson).

This book is not a miracle--cure--don't toss out your high school GED just yet. Although you will learn a few scores of new words know how one goes about incorporating more, there is a long way to go. Just think of this book as a good start.
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By A Customer on July 2, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is excellent. I worked through this book in less than 30 days, because I found it difficult to stop after just one exercise. I improved my SAT verbal by 90 points thanks to this book, and it began in me a love of words that continues siepaternally. This is the best vocabulary builder I have come across.
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While this book is very helpful in building a more powerful vocabulary, a more appropriate title would be "45 days to a more powerful vocabulary in just 60 minutes a day!" Some lessons must be repeated if you want to really know some of the words. There are no really ground breaking vocabulary memorization techniques in this book either. However, it does a great job of organizing certain vocabulary terms. If you can spare an hour a day for 45 days, this books can be a great help!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great gift for anyone you love. I have been giving this out as gifts to high school, college level students for about 40 years as someone gifted it to me when I was in the Army in 1974. Excellent tool for vocabulary; has a method of teaching you so that you will remember using stories and redundant use of words.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ahh...the pleasure of words, how could a man deny himself this Empyrean delight! Asceticism, at least in the realm of vocabulary, is a mortal sin that a true logophile should not hesitate to denounce.
The organization of the book is worth heaping praises upon. Chapters, each of which should be finished in a day, are ordered thematically (eg Power Verbs and Foreign Words), that I personally found myself actually reading the book at whichever interesting chapter depending upon my particular inclination for that day. However, my advice should be taken with caution as the authors seemingly intended the book to be read in a particular order of progress. Well, tastes and aptitude may vary.
The book begins with an initial assessment of vocabulary and general language skills already possessed. Subsequent chapters are also supplemented with exercises (which are accompanied by helpful hints themselves), and the book ends with a final assessment of success.
At times the authors seem to be sermonizing on the values of the "American" language (as the authors call it), at times to be touting the importance of national linguistic pride, at times busily engaged in an exercise in Oprahesque you-can-do-it ad nauseam. As some reviewer(s) noted, the book has not been expurgated of the prejudices particularly prevalent at the time it was first written.
Despite the flaws which all books are guilty of in some degree or another, Dr Wilfred Funk and Norman Lewis have shown the path towards a greater experience of this esoteric enteprise. A path that is delightfully fun, rewarding and entertaining; it is definitely worth every penny!
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