In general, vocabulary words are considered to be all of the words a single person knows. This includes the words they know but hardly ever use, as well as the words that person uses all day every day.
However, when your teacher assigns a list of vocabulary words alongside a reading, it’s usually a list of words that are new, strange, or difficult to understand. The list could be made up of terms that were common when the book was written or it might be terms that have to do with the topic of the book, but you’ll find the words on the list throughout the assigned reading. Knowing those words will help you understand the assigned reading.
Sometimes a list of vocabulary words will provide the definitions of each word, and other times you’ll need to do the work of looking up each term’s definition(s) and comparing it to how the term is used in the assigned reading.
Even when you read for the fun of it, it’s a good idea to look up words you come across that are unfamiliar. Understanding the language or wording of a piece of writing will help you to better understand its message.
The following is a list of 10 vocabulary words pulled from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Wakefield” (1835). The bold terms have to do with the subject of the story, and the remaining terms were common in the 1800’s (and defining them will make the language of the story a little easier to understand).