Where and how do I find words I don't know?

There are three strategies that you can use to help you when you come across a word that you don't know. These three ways are:
  1. Use Context Clues
  2. Use a Dictionary
  3. Use a Thesaurus

Let's figure out how to use each strategy.


Sometimes you read or hear words that are new to you.  Words that come before and after a new word may help you find its meaning.  These clues are called context clues.  Context Clues help you understand meanings of new words. 

    Example: The teacher talked about addition, subtraction, and geometry.

Geometry? That may be a new word for you! But, look at the words that came before it.  Addition and subtraction are both math terms.  Geometry is also a math term.

Sometimes you may need a dictionary to help find the meaning of a new word.  A dictionary explains what a word means.  You may need to look through many meanings to find the one that will make sense and explain what you are reading.

 glory- 1. great honor and praise that is given to someone or something by others; fame.  2.something that brings great honor and praise.
3. brightness; great beauty and splendor.

For which meaning of glory is this an example sentence.

Example- The autumn leaves blazed in all their glory.   For this example the best fit for the meaning of glory in this sentence would be number three. Brightness, great beauty and splendor is describing the autumn leaves.

Sometimes you may be reading or  writing a word and may want to find another word that means the same thing (synonym) or maybe  the opposite (antonym). A thesaurus is a great tool to use for just this occasion!              

Example: The word is easy.
Cathy completed the easy crossword puzzle.

Synonym (same)- Cathy completed the simple crossword puzzle.

Antonym (opposite)- Cathy completed the difficult crossword puzzle.


To find meanings for words you may not know, use:

  • Context Clues-read before and after to help define words you may not know.

  • Dictionary-look it up-what does it mean. Read carefully, there may be more than one meaning.

  • Thesaurus-finding words that mean the same or the opposite.

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