December 4, 2021

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November Vocabulary Challenge: Write a Story Using Our Words of the Day

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Note: The winners of the September Vocabulary Challenge have been announced.

Fervid, hasten, enclave, meander: What stories could these words tell?

Our story-writing challenge is back for a second school year. Middle and high school students are invited to choose four or more of the Words of the Day we published in October, then use them in a 50-word story. We will publish a few of our favorite submissions as examples for the January challenge.

We will publish a few of our favorite submissions as examples for the January challenge. Find more opportunities to practice vocabulary in our calendar of Vocabulary Challenges, and share any questions or feedback with us at [email protected]

Start by getting familiar with the vocabulary words published in October. It may help to read the linked definitions and examples of how the words have been used in The New York Times.

Then, create a 50-word piece of writing in which you correctly and creatively use at least four of the words. Submit your story (or poem, or song) by commenting on this post between now and Nov. 30.

Here is what we are looking for:

  • It is most important that you use each vocabulary word correctly — according to its definition. We will not consider any entries in which a word is used incorrectly.

  • Use as many vocabulary words as you can, but without crossing a line into gibberish or inanity. Do not simply list the words; we are looking for entries that demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary.

  • Finally, we are looking for pieces of writing that are creative, original and make sense. Your comment can be fact or fiction, silly or serious; we care most that you learn new vocabulary and have fun.

And here are a few more rules:

  • Your story must be 50 words or fewer and use at least four of the listed vocabulary words.

  • Identify your vocabulary words by writing them in ALL CAPS (see the bottom of this post for examples).

  • Submit your entry as a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Nov. 30.

  • It is acceptable to use a word in a different tense or to use the plural of a word that is listed in the singular.

  • However, you cannot change a word’s part of speech. For example, since the word “candor” is listed as a noun, you cannot substitute the adjective “candid.”

  • Minimum Age Requirements: Middle and high school students ages 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, can submit by commenting on this post. Teachers and parents can submit on behalf of students in middle or high school who do not meet these age requirements. If you are submitting on behalf of a student, please include the student’s name at the bottom of the comment.

  • Please submit only one story per student. You cannot edit your comment once it has been submitted.

Your piece of writing should draw from the words below. Each links to a Word of the Day post with the word’s definition and an example of how it has been used in The New York Times. To find more usage examples, consult the Vocabulary.com online dictionary.

joie de vivre
lugubrious
fervid
noxious
terra firma
allay
echelon
verbatim
ostentatious
meander
intrinsic
candor
bode
enclave
inadvertently
hasten
alma mater
churlish
doppelgänger
astute

Here are two examples from winners of last year’s Vocabulary Challenges. Note how Maia and Adam use each vocabulary word precisely according to its definition.

Maia Nehme, Washington International School, Washington, D.C.

A DISHEVELED teenager with UNKEMPT hair typed furiously, editing a political SATIRE and an article on DEFORESTATION. An untouched pizza slice sat before her, the newspaper staff’s INCENTIVE from the Editor-in-Chief. The ELATED girl shut her computer, ready to go home. But then — “could you edit my story, too?”

Adam Namkung, Hinsdale Central High School, Hinsdale, Ill.

My coach’s VEHEMENT voice roared across the track. Students GRIMACED as the one kid, whose HUBRIS was HITHERTO unshakable, was carried off the field. The MANIFESTATION of every runner’s fear presented before us. A freshman’s laugh at the sight was UNBECOMING, and others QUELLED his laughter with glares.

You can find several more examples of winning submissions at the bottom of challenge posts from March, April, May and June.

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