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Product Summery

You should know at the outset what this book does not attempt to do. It does not,save to the extent that its own special purpose requires, concern itself with the many and intricate problems of  grammar, rhetoric, spelling, punctuation, and the like; or clarify the thousands of individual difficulties regarding correct usage. All these matters are important. Concise treatment of them may be  found in THE CENTURY HANDBOOK OF WRITING and THE CENTURY DESK BOOK OF GOOD ENGLISH, both of which manuals are issued by the present publishers. But this volume  confines itself to the one task of placing at your disposal the means of adding to your stock of words, of increasing your vocabulary.
It does not assume that you are a scholar, or try to make you one. To be sure, it recognizes the ends of scholarship as worthy. It levies at every turn upon the facts which scholarship has  accumulated. But it demands of you no technical equipment, nor leads you into any of those bypaths of knowledge, alluring indeed, of which the benefits are not immediate. For example, in  Chapter V it forms into groups words etymologically akin to each other. It does this for an end entirely practical—namely, that the words you know may help you to understand the words you do  not know. Did it go farther—did it account for minor differences in these words by showing that they sprang from related rather than identical originals, did it explain how and how variously their  forms have been modified in the long process of their descent—it would pass beyond its strict utilitarian bounds. This it refrains from doing. And thus everything it contains it rigorously subjects  to the test of serviceability. It helps you to bring more and more words into workaday harness—to gain such mastery over them that you can speak and write them with fluency, flexibility,  precision, and power. It enables you, in your use of words, to attain the readiness and efficiency expected of a capable and cultivated man.
There are many ways of building a vocabulary, as there are many ways of attaining and preserving health. Fanatics may insist that one should be cultivated to the exclusion of the others, just as  health-cranks may declare that diet should be watched in complete disregard of recreation, sanitation, exercise, the need for medicines, and one's mental attitude to life. But the sum of  human experience, rather than fanaticism, must determine our procedure. Moreover experience has shown that the various successful methods of bringing words under man's sway are not  mutually antagonistic but may be practiced simultaneously, just as health is promoted, not by attending to diet one year, to exercise the next, and to mental attitude the third, but by bestowing  wise and fairly constant attention on all. Yet it would be absurd to state that all methods of increasing one's vocabulary, or of attaining vigor of physique, are equally valuable. This volume offers  everything that helps, and it yields space in proportion to helpfulness. 
Aside from a brief introductory chapter, a chapter (number X) given over to a list of words, and a brief concluding chapter, the subject matter of the volume falls into three main divisions.  Chapters II and III are based on the fact that we must all use words in combination—must fling the words out by the handfuls, even as the accomplished pianist must strike his notes. Chapters  IV and V are based on the fact that we must become thoroughly acquainted with individual words—that no one who scorns to study the separate elements of speech can command powerful  and discriminating utterance. Chapters VI, VII, VIII, and IX are based on the fact that we need synonyms as our constant lackeys—that we should be able to summon, not a word that will do, but  a word that will express the idea with precision. Exercises scattered throughout the book, together with five of the six appendices, provide well-nigh inexhaustible materials for practice. 
For be it understood, once for all, that this volume is not a machine which you can set going and then sit idly beside, the while your vocabulary broadens. Mastery over words, like worthy  mastery of any kind whatsoever, involves effort for yourself. You can of course contemplate the nature and activities of the mechanism, and learn something thereby; but also you must work— work hard, work intelligently. As you cannot acquire health by watching a gymnast take exercise or a doctor swallow medicine or a dietician select food, so you cannot become an overlord of  words without first fighting battles to subjugate them. Hence this volume is for you less a labor-saving machine than a collection and arrangement of materials which you must put together by  hand. It assembles everything you need. It tags everything plainly. It tells you just what you must do. In these ways it makes your task far easier. But the task is yours. Industry, persistence, a  fair amount of common sense—these three you must have. Without them you will accomplish nothing. Even with them—let the forewarning be candid—you will not accomplish everything. You  cannot learn all there is to be learned about words, any more than about human nature. And what you do achieve will be, not a sudden attainment, but a growth. This is not the dark side of the  picture. It is an honest avowal that the picture is not composed altogether of light. But as the result of your efforts an adequate vocabulary will some day be yours. Nor will you have to wait long  for an earnest of ultimate success. Just as system will speedily transform a haphazard business into one which seizes opportunities and stops the leakage of profits, so will sincere and well- directed effort bring you promptly and surely into an ever-growing mastery of words. 

English Vocabulary